Netbooks and the Apple iPad are not comparable

With the launch of the iPad, the technology media has made lots of comparisons with the Netbook category – a recent example is this poll from Mashable. I guess in part it was Steve Jobs who hinted at that comparison during the presentation of the iPad some months ago now. Jobs figures they compete in the same space. Though I initially thought of “replacing” my laptop with an iPad, as my usage of the laptop is quite simple, I quickly came to the conclusion that you can’t really do that. As a side conclusion, I came to the understanding that you can’t really compare the iPad with a netbook.

For me, there are 3 important factors that do not permit us to really compare them:

  1. Like the iPhone, the iPad really needs to be paired with a computer in order to function fully. For instance, there is no straight-forward way of getting the music off a CD on my iPad without using iTunes on a computer.
  2. The iPad cannot really function as a “hub”. It is not the device you store all your media on, you connect your printer to, you connect your external storage to, you pair with your smartphones or does the dirty work of down loading torrents. It is really a client within the household set-up just like an iPhone or iPod Touch.
  3. Lastly, Steve Jobs is not known for presenting products that cannibalise other products its product portfolio. He places it alongside the Mac computers and iPhone, but not replacing either; it is a third category.

In turn, the more modern Netbooks, can do most of the things mentioned above: they can be your “hub”, can be a stand alone device and can be your only computer. This of course does not mean the iPad is worse than a Netbook, because the touch interaction and slick media experience appear to be really great, but it does make it another beast.

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