Battle of the Ultra-Mobiles: Tablets vs. Netbooks
Within a year of their creation, Netbooks occupied a whopping 20% of the entire laptop market. But now, Tablets are fast encroaching on Netbook territory, and would-be buyers are met with a choice: Netbook or Tablet? We’ve narrowed the battle down to several categories: Price, Performance, Productivity, Multimedia, Size, and Battery Life. The winner will be the one that performs best in the most categories. Ready… FIGHT!
Most Netbooks go for around $300, but sometimes upwards of $600 depending on features. It’s true that some Tablets are available around that same $300 price point, but these Tablets are generally plagued with quality issues, are grossly underpowered, and lack key features. Worthwhile Tablets, like the iPad and upcoming Motorola XOOM, cost upwards of $500. Close race, except some Netbooks are even available for free from some cell providers (with contract and data plan). Netbooks take this round.
Score: Netbooks 1; Tablets 0
Netbooks are almost by definition pretty low on the performance totem pole. Some (the more expensive ones) do sport dual-core processors and dedicated graphics units, but the most popular of Tablets still manage to best them slightly. The Tegra 2 platform (popular in today’s Tablets) already significantly trounces the Intel Atom and AMD Athlon Neo processors in Netbooks, and Tegra 3 is expected in Tablets sometime during the second half of this year. This one is a clear point for Tablets.
Score: Netbooks 0; Tablets 1
Netbooks have a keyboard; Tabets don’t. End of story. Even though Netbooks have an awkwardly small keyboard, it’s still a keyboard, making any task that involves typing easier and faster, and because Netbooks run your usual operating system, you can do things like printing, copying/pasting, and running the same applications you use at home or work. Score one more for Netbooks.
Score: Netbooks 2; Tablets 1
Let’s face it, Tablets are made for multimedia; they’re nothing but a great big screen. Netbooks may offer similar screen sizes, but the experience just isn’t the same. Their underpowered hardware also causes them to struggle with things like HD video and flash-based streaming, like Netflix. Both Tablets and Netbooks can be configured with cellular data connections, but Tablets just do it more seamlessly. This ties it up again.
Score: Netbooks 2; Tablets 2
Netbooks have very little variance in size, usually with 10 to 12 inch screens. Tablet screens don’t tend to get much bigger than 10 inches, but when portability is involved, this is a good thing. Tablets like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab have a 7-inch screen and can fit easily into a roomy pocket. Throw in the fact that Netbooks are up to an inch thicker, and Tablets pull ahead.
Score: Netbooks 2; Tablets 3
Tablets have more battery efficient hardware than Netbooks by far, but Netbooks have a bit of leeway in terms of battery size. In the end, both will get you a full day’s use out of a single charge, but Netbooks have one small advantage: removable batteries. If your Netbook battery dies, you can pop in a spare with essentially no down time; a Tablet is dead until you find an outlet. It’s a close category, but Netbooks take it.
Final Score: Netbooks 3; Tablets 3
It’s a Tie!
So which is better? It really comes down to what you need it for. If you’re looking for basic web browsing and productivity on a budget, grab a Netbook. If your focus is more on entertainment, a Tablet may be the way to go.