The purpose of this is not to slam one device over the other, only to assist you in making a choice to get the best use for your money. Both the iPad and netbooks are designed for basic computer usage. The typical user of these has 4 main uses. Facebook, twittering, web browsing and watching videos.
For my comparison I’m using 4 different netbooks all with the an Intel Atom 166GHz processor; the Asus EeePC, Dell Mini 1012, MSI Wind and Samsung N230 running Windows 7 mobile and ubuntu. For the iPad I’m using the 32gig iPad with wifi.
First the hardware. The iPad and netbooks both have screens about 10 inches across. Built in speakers that aren’t very good, standard size headphone plug. Netbooks have builtin SD card slots, iPad you can purchase one seperatly. Netbooks have a physical keyboard while iPads have an on screen keyboard that actually works very well typing qwerty style but if you prefer you may use an Apple bluetooth keyboard also.
Facebook on the iPad is the same as Facebook for iPhone and iPod Touch. Great, none of the ads, all of your friend’s content. You are able to have pop-up alerts when a friend comments, sends you a message, wall, what ever and even the built in chat. The netbook does pull ahead a bit though, with a built in camera and sd card slot you can snap a picture with your friends right on the netbook or import them from your camera. The iPad you are still able to upload photos from your digital camera’s SD card. When you follow a link in the Facebook app you actually stay in the app and have the option to move out to the more powerful browser, Safari. Another thing I’ve noticed is most of the girl users of Facebook seem to like to open several tabs of different users. iPad has no tabs, single screen at a time. Most facebook apps work perfect on the iPad so you can still spend hours and hours farming away.
Twitter always looks much fancier on the iPad, such as Tweetdeck, Osfoora and the actual Twitter app. With a netbook users may install Adobe Air and use Tweetdeck or other programs. Uploading photos to Twitter is pretty much the same as Facebook. Following Twitter links to see photos, videos and webpages also work the same as the iPad, where you stay in the app instead of dropping out and having to go back.
Web browsing is where these start going separate ways. First off, the iPad does not support Adobe Flash. The biggest deal breaker for me is no Hulu. For the netbook hulu.com works great, for the iPad they do have an app for $9.99 a month. Another draw back for the iPad is uploading files. If you’re on a job site and they would like your resume included with a form you fill out, you just can’t. iPad does support multiple pages but it’s not the same as multi tasking like on a netbook. If you open a link on a netbook and it’s a video you can go into something else and let it buffer. On the iPad you open the link and wait for it to buffer, if you go away for even a moment you start buffering all over again. The same is true with all web pages on the iPad, you need to stay on the page to load it.
Videos, funny, news, conferences or your kids running around in the yard. You can still watch most of them on either one. Some online video sites have still not adopted the video format that Apple has told them to move to or you need their own app to view them. The netbook is pretty bad about playing flash videos since it’s power is limited, Youtube and Hulu at best work OK, the other pages are worse. Video chat on things like Skype and Google Talk aren’t even possible on the iPad.
The biggest factor for the iPad vs the netbook for me is if you have a netbook you can be a person that only has a netbook. To have an iPad you still need to treat it like it’s just a big iPod Touch. When you get it out of the big for the first time you still have to plug it into iTunes on your computer to make it start working. If you’d like to back up your data you need to plug it into iTunes again or have a Mobile Me account to backup your contacts and settings.
If you have any questions or would like hands on experience for any of these products the netbooks are available at BestBuy and the iPad is available at the Apple Store and BestBuy