PC Magazines Gives Us 42 Reasons Netbooks Are Better Than The iPad

Are you tired of all the negative backlash from last week’s iPad announcement … or still tired from all of the hype leading up to the announcement? Probably some of both. Well, as Dan noted, Steve Jobs took an unwise swing at netbooks in his pitch, so naturally we now have a nice list from PC Magazine of things that make netbooks better than the iPad. Of course, since the iPad isn’t shipping, nor are the specs even final, such stuff is largely a useless exercise in … well, something. But it is still good fun to look at these lists!

If you just want to read the list yourself, head on over to the original article . I’ll take a look at ten (or so) things I agree with and disagree with from the perspective of a netbook owner and Apple user with no intent of getting an iPad, and also a few that are either interesting or odd. Note: when I say ‘disagree’, it isn’t that they are not true, but I either see them as irrelevant or not necessarily the advantage the author things they are.

Agree:

2) With a netbook, you can multitask, allowing you to run several apps at the same time.
4) Netbooks have USB ports, about 2 to 3 on average. The iPad has none.
7) Removeable batteries. You can buy an additional battery for your netbook if you want, allowing it to last for multiple days.
8) Every single netbook comes with a Webcam for video conferencing and chats.
10) Multi-format card readers are built-into every netbook, so you can download photos and videos from your camera.
17) With a netbook, you can get apps through other means besides iTunes.
19) Netbooks have an Ethernet port and some have a Gigabit Ethernet. Thus, if the Wi-Fi’s throughput is not enough for streaming HD video, you can always plug in a network cable.
30) You can print files from a netbook.
38) Your netbook can run multiple browsers, so you’re not stuck with Safari only.
40) Netbooks can run multiple Exchange Mail accounts.

Many folks have been wringing their hands over the lack of a multi-tasking OS for the iPad – and with good reason. For a device that is really looking to fill the space between a full laptop and an iPhone, no multitasking tends to say ‘big iPod Touch’ to many folks.

Other things such as the lack of ports, inability to direct hook-up camera for photo-upload, iTunes limitation, Safari lock-in, and so on are all pretty much similar complaints to the iPhone, but take on a special meaning due to the perceived potential for the iPad as a tablet computer in the same space as a netbook. I see all of those as valid concerns, especially as the public tries to figure out exactly what gaps the iPad will fill.

Disagree:

13) Netbooks use faster processors.
15) Netbooks can easily be “modded” with more RAM, bigger hard drive capacity, or a different operating system.
16) The Dell Mini 10v can be “hackintoshed” with a full blown version of Mac OS 10.
24) You’re not tempted to spend hundreds of dollars on accessories for netbooks.
29) Netbooks purchased from Costco or ASUS come with 2-year standard warranties. The iPad will likely give you one-year standard.
32) We know Intel and AMD processor and chipset technology will scale each year. The iPad is using an unproven, homebrewed chipset, so we don’t know how well it will scale.
33) With a netbook, you can connect an optical drive for all your Netflix and BlockBuster rentals.
34) You can buy turn-by-turn direction software for netbooks that have embedded GPS options.
35) Netbook can support multiple OSes. Most netbooks have Linux pre-boot environments that will get you access to a browser and email data within seconds.
36) Netbooks are more child-friendly. Disney and Nickelodeon have launched netbooks with a ton of child-friendly software. And netbooks like the Dell Latitude 2100 and HP Mini 5102 are being deployed in schools.
42) Netbooks with Nvidia’s Ion chipset can support external Blu-ray drives.

I am honestly surprised to see PC Magazine falling for the ‘megahertz wars’ argument … especially since we’ve already seen that a 500MHz ARM A9 keeps pace with a 1.66GHz netbook. Therefore they are just not right in the processor speed argument.

Many of these other items seem somewhat redundant, such as the whole ‘you can mod and install a different OS’ argument that is stated about a dozen different ways on the list. Those are somewhat true, though netbooks are the least flexible in that regard of any laptop I’ve used, and the success rate at installing other OS versions tends to be mixed. As for the Linux pre-boot … I have owned three netbooks and NONE have had such a thing.

But the interesting thing is the claim of high-end video (Blu-Ray, Netflix, Blockbuster) and other services. First, playing anything on a disc requires an external player, and that costs money (and is one of those ‘accessories’ netbooks supposedly don’t need) … and an Ion-based netbook with an external Blu-ray player actually costs more than most standard notebooks! And the video output is still not a strength: most netbooks struggle with 720p resolution, doing best with 480p which still loads the system down pretty badly. 1080p is also possible with an Ion chipset, but once again is far from satisfying based on the cost.

Some of the other stuff is whacky – like citing warranties based on a warehouse retailer? Turn-by-turn directions? Child friendliness? All I can guess is the goal was to get to 50 and even with these desperate shots and near replicates he ended up at 42. Not that it invalidates his points, I just think a good ’20 ways’ would have been better than a questionable 42.

Interesting thoughts:

1) Netbooks are cheaper. The majority of them run between $200-$400. And after you spend all that money on accessories and upgrade options for the iPad, you’d be able to buy 3 netbooks for the same amount of money.
3) Though it hasn’t been confirmed that there is absolutely no Flash support in the iPad, we at least know netbooks have full Flash support.
7) Removeable batteries. You can buy an additional battery for your netbook if you want, allowing it to last for multiple days.
9) They have physical keyboards, so you don’t have to spend extra money to buy a physical one that docks.
12) Netbooks have a clamshell design, so their screens are less likely to get scratched.
19) Netbooks have an Ethernet port and some have a Gigabit Ethernet. Thus, if the Wi-Fi’s throughput is not enough for streaming HD video, you can always plug in a network cable.
23) Netbooks can run a full-blown Windows OS.
25) Some netbooks have both VGA-Out and HDMI-Out, without the need for a connector.
26) Gaming is more advanced on a netbook, albeit not by much.
33) With a netbook, you can connect an optical drive for all your Netflix and BlockBuster rentals.
38) Your netbook can run multiple browsers, so you’re not stuck with Safari only.
39) Netbooks can run Java.
40) Netbooks can run multiple Exchange Mail accounts.
41) You don’t need another computer to sync your data.

The first point is interesting – netbooks are cheaper. Certainly on paper, where you can get one for ~$300 (most $200 deals include a 3G data plan sign-up), but even at the low end it is pretty easy to get closer to $400 is you want Windows 7 and any other options. Take a HP 311 and add enough power and add-ons to get it to run Blu-ray and do some of the other stuff mentioned and I was over $1000!

Obviously that isn’t typical, but it is very telling since one of the big things in the article had to do with all of the accessories. It is also telling that many of the ‘negatives’ have to do with running alternate OS, a full Windows OS, Java, Flash, multiple browsers, and so on. Those are all about freedom and flexibility – and the concern that while the closed Apple ecosystem works well enough on the iPhone and iPod Touch, it will not fly with consumers on a larger platform. Whether that is true remains to be seen.

It has been amazing to see all of the reactions for and against the iPad since the announcement just last week. So what are your thoughts on the iPad, netbooks, the relationship of all of these ‘secondary devices’ in your life, or whatever?!?! Add your thouhgts in the comments!

Source: PC Magazine

Want More? Follow Us Here!

Please be aware that when appropriate, we sometimes place affiliate links in our posts. If you make any purchases through those affiliate links, you will be supporting Gear Diary with a small percentage of your sale. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support!

For more info on Reviews & Disclosure, click here.


About the Author

Michael Anderson
I have loved technology for as long as I can remember - and have been a computer gamer since the PDP-10! Mobile Technology has played a major role in my life - I have used an electronic companion since the HP95LX more than 20 years ago, and have been a 'Laptop First' person since my Compaq LTE Lite 3/20 and Powerbook 170 back in 1991! As an avid gamer and gadget-junkie I was constantly asked for my opinions on new technology, which led to writing small blurbs ... and eventually becoming a reviewer many years ago. My family is my biggest priority in life, and they alternate between loving and tolerating my gaming and gadget hobbies ... but ultimately benefits from the addition of technology to our lives!