Guide: iPad vs Netbooks. What to buy?

Nowadays, the iPad has really flooded the US market and left netbooks in the shadows (as the demand and sales figures show), but there are still a lot of things at which a netbook is good at and some things the iPad is. We’re going to do a little hardware and software comparison and tell you guys which one is perfect for you: Apple’s tablet or the trusty old netbook.


Operating Systems

First of all we’re going to talk about operating systems. The iPad runs an OS brewed by Apple itself, therefore it’s perfectly compatible with the hardware. Netbooks on the other hand, well, you have to hunt down for the perfect OS for yourself. Since a netbook is not that fast in terms of hardware, so you sometimes have to stick with a stripped down version of Windows, like Windows 7 starter or Windows XP home edition. If your netbook comes pre-installed with Windows XP and you want to upgrade to Windows 7, you have to pay the toll for that as well, but at the same time you have the option of trying out different OS’s on your netbook BUT at a minimum cost of $70 to $100 for the software upgrade (unless you want to give Ubuntu and other Linux variants a try). Since the iPad runs Apple’s own OS, therefore you have to live with it, but what’s the advantage? It’s perfectly compatible with iPad’s hardware! No drivers needed to be installed, no antivirus software needed and freedom from other such issues. The software upgrades that will be offered by Apple will cost no more than $20. Due to relaxation from these issues, the iPad has an edge over the netbook. You can just get an iPad and get on the Internet. Sometimes, with a netbook, you can’t do that.


iPad is designed in such a way that its hardware is perfectly compatible with it’s software, therefore anything you’ll get for it (apps.. etc) will run smoothly and you’ll face no lag at all! All thanks to Apple’s custom designed A4 1Ghz chip on board. A netbook usually comes with an Intel Atom processor, and although it might have a clock speed of beyond 1.2GHz but still, you have to admit it, it’s slow! You have to find the right software that would support the hardware otherwise you’re doomed – try opening a huge excel sheet on a netbook and wish for forgiveness for your sins. A netbook has a physical keyboard, that’s a huge advantage over the iPad but the iPad also has an awesome keyboard dock as well so we can call this one a tie when it comes to a real physical keyboard. The iPad lacks a camera and USB ports, so the netbook wins over here since almost every netbook comes with a built-in webcam. As for graphics hardware, whatever you throw at the iPad, it’ll handle it with ease. You can’t be too sure with this one on netbooks since high quality Flash video playback mostly sucks on them (it has only recently started to improve on them), you can’t play other kinds of high quality video and there’s no guarantee whether your favorite game with work well on your netbook or not.


Finding apps for a netbook that would run properly is a hunt! Most of the apps for Windows are made with a thought in mind that everyone has an Intel i7 chip and nothing less, but the edge over iPad in terms of apps is the amount of apps that are available for a netbook. Though not all of them might be of the same quality as that of the iPad’s (it also has some crappy apps in the App Store, so be careful with what you buy) but still, we can’t complain that they’re not there. Pricing for apps is a really huge factor which people consider – if you’re going to use Microsoft’s Office suite on your netbook, the starting price is around $70 to $100, depending on the region you’re living in. You can get Open Office for free, which is as functional as Microsoft Office, but Microsoft’s package is far more preferable, for some people spending $100 might not be that much but it’s a handsome amount of money. The iPad has Keynote, Pages and Numbers app which are equivalent to Microsoft’s PowerPoint, Word and Excel respectively and cost a mere $10 per app, combined together your total is $30. The apps are as good as they are on a Mac and are very functional! As we speak there are thousands of apps on the App Store made specifically for the iPad itself, which makes us wonder why isn’t there an app store for a less powerful machine like a netbook? Do keep in mind that if you want to buy software like an antivirus, Microsoft Office and others, the price will increase a fair amount. Granted, there are a number of free alternatives available, but then if you’re looking for free alternatives, you would be using Linux on your netbook, instead of Windows.

Battery Life

This is an easy one. If you want to watch videos or movies for 10 hours straight, iPad is the clear winner here. You might even be able to squeeze an hour more with just web browsing. There are many netbooks that claim good battery time such as 7 hours or even 13.5 hours, but if you check the footnotes ( or sometimes another webpage on the website), you’ll find out that these battery times come at a price – around 40% brightness mostly and power saver settings. Sometimes with even WiFI turned off. No such blatant battery time lies with the iPad. The 10 hour battery time is at full performance, with around 75% brightness and WiFi working. 

What to Buy?

Well, quite frankly if you ask me I would buy an iPad. Why? Because I want an internet device which I can easily carry around. It has a killer battery life, unlike any netbook’s battery life which is usually one third of what is claimed. But still, there are things which you can do on a netbook more easily, for instance, multitasking, though the iPad will get it in it’s next major update. If you’re amongst the few of those who want some serious office work done then the netbook might be a good option for you because of the physical keyboard. The iPad has a bluetooth keyboard as well but you have to carry it around as a separate accessory. Usually a good netbook price ranges from $399 to $499 and you can have different configurations depending on the usage, but for a price of $499 you can get an iPad which is an all in one package. It has dedicated apps and games which are made to take full advantage of the iPad’s hardware. Now, what would you buy? and Why?


  1. Netbook can be used standalone. iPad still needs a PC/Mac for downloading/syncing stuff. Go figure.

  2. This is a tough call, and a question I have been asking myself. The apps and unique design win me over for the ipad. BUT the netbook also gets my vote due to its convenience, easy use and speedy performance…

  3. You should have thrown in the most portable mix… an iPhone or Android smartphone synced with a foldable bluetooth keyboard.

  4. You could own two netbooks, with Ubuntu for the price of one iPad. The Ubuntu OS is very secure and there is lots of FREE and useful software available. With Ubuntu you really don't have driver issues like with Windows; and Ubuntu runs great with 1 or 2 GB of RAM and the full version of Ubuntu can run on an 8 GB Solid State HD, and still have room for extra toys, unlike Windows.

    iPads are nice but certainly overpriced. Windows is familiar but expensive in its own cost and needed hardware. A netbook with Ubuntu is secure, inexpensive and very functional.

  5. A netbook also has usb ports, so it is much easier to load pics from a digital camera. The later generations of Atom processors, (dual core) are speedy, and there is more storage available on netbooks, (i.e.)120 – 350 mb hard drives. I can download stuff for free on a netbook, you know, like movies and music.

  6. Maybe once iOS 4 comes out the iPad will be a better chocie, but right now there's no way I'd spend the money on an iPad. I get annoyed enough at my iPhone and its total lack of multitasking, I can't imagine using something bigger that has the same issues!

  7. I tried the iPad, but I like my Acer Aspire One netbook better. I prefer physical keyboard and mouse with larger screens. Touch is ok on small phone screens, but on the 9 inch iPad screen, it was cumbersome. There's still alot of websites that I go to that use Flash, and not having Flash on the iPad was annoying. Transferring pictures from my camera is done easily by SD card slot on the Acer. I use Garmin Mapsource to exchange GPS data between my eTrex and my netbook; that would be something that can't be done easily, if at all, with the iPad. My netbook's always on standby and it turns on at a push of the power button. I've gotten 6 hours on my 6 cell battery and that's more than enough for me. If I ever need it for longer, I can always get a spare battery. The keyboard, mouse, slots, etc. can be done with accessories on the iPad. On the netbook, they're already built-in and at a lower price.

  8. I have both an asus netbook with ubuntu and windows 7 and a 16 gb wifi ipad. They both have their advantages. If i want to watch netflix or stream other videos from online, the iPad actually performs better then the netbook. I've tried either way and the videos play like silk on an ipad, netbooks can get suttery. For office work, I use the netbook as the physical keyboard is what I'm used to for work. In short, iPad great for comsuning media/content, netbook great for creating/editing it.

  9. My impression for both Iphone and Ipad is: They can do a loooot of things but those are nether smooth nor practice. You can play games with bad fps (unplayable), you can use office but without mouse and keyboard (I`m sure that nobody can work office in a apple stuff) and you can watch your videos (but prepare yourself to find good solutions for codecs).
    Pcs are just pcs, more than 30 years of software develop and bug fixings. Built in keyboard and mouse is the ONLY way for PROPER work. You can try of course edit a excel sheet with your finger, good luck!! By the way in pcs you can download several kinds of stuffs: emulators for gamings, mp3, youtube videos, blablabla..
    Well in summary my choice is pc

    1. FYI, all the games and applications made for the iPad an iPhone are extremely playable/smooth and their frames rates are always high(unless your device is packed with stuff)
      iPads are better for multimedia, while netbooks better for work.PERIOD

  10. Netbook all the way! iPads may be cool, but their functionality lags behind of a netbook. Sure, ipads are better at multimedia and gaming, but netbooks are better at most work. For the same price, a $500 netbook or a $500 iPad, the netbook offers far more – or maybe even an ultraportable 12″ at that price!

  11. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! ipad is a OVERSIZED IPOD TOUCH. yea iphone and ipod touch were great, but making it a whole lot bigger and making it not have many new features? Yea you could say that ipad is a great multimedia device cuz of the “itunes store” and “app store” however i dont see many things that have changed from iphone and ipod. Not to mention how overpriced they made the ipad, 500 bucks? seriously how is that cheap? i baught my netbook for 300. ATLEAST add a webcam on this thing! Not to mention my NETBOOK has all the n64 games on it (using emulators) ipad would never allow that, you actually have to HACK it to make it run things a regular netbook would do. Talk about where is the USB PORTS!? ipad=fail. iphone=win. netbook=win. therefore, get an iphone for your phone and a netbook for your “mini internet device” also ipad does not have flash which SUCKS!

  12. This article could well be title, which is better, a Ferrari or a Mazda, as the author seemingly forgot something that seems to matter to some people, namely price.

    As I write this, I see that Best Buy Canada is selling a 10.1″ Netbook with a 160GB HD for $199. The lowest price IPad (16GB-WiFi only) is $549. So, I can buy two Netbooks, have 6 USB Ports, battery life of 10 hours, two screens, two keyboards, two cameras, 320GB of storage, 2GB of RAM and still have $49 in my pocket for the same price as the cheapest IPad.

  13. Are you crazy? For that amount of money you could get a netbook with nvidia ION graphics. Then how would the iPad compare. And my netbook last a average of 5~6 hours on high performance (Samsung NC10), to be truthfully honest, you don’t go on your netbook/ipad for 5~6 hours straight. Also iPad requires a actual base unit i.e PC/Mac to sync stuff in, not on a netbook.

  14. We own an iMac and bought an iPad. While travelling with friends who had an Acer netbook, the iPad wins hands down. Not even close.

  15. As Rich mentioned, you missed out the price in the ‘comparison’ there.

    My Acer Aspire one cost me £150, and does everything an ifad can do at a fraction of the price…? duh.

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