iPad, the netbook killer? I think not!

Why the rumor of the netbook's death has been greatly exaggerated, and why the iPad's fans are way off base

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Connectivity: The Mini 2140 I use bristles with connectivity options. I already mentioned the Bluetooth capability, Ethernet socket, and USB ports. In addition, the netbook has an 8-in-1 media card reader and an ExpressCard slot. Add to this a built-in 802.11n wireless adapter and there are very few connectivity or device integration scenarios that I cannot handle. By contrast, the iPad is pretty much a wireless-only solution, and the lack of a built-in media card reader or USB port really hamstrings you.

Hitting the road: Thanks to their light weight (my Mini weighs 2.5 pounds with the three-cell battery installed), netbooks are truly portable. I can hold mine in one hand and use the trackpad with the other. Or I can set it down on almost any surface, including my lap, and type away in comfort. I never have to worry about propping it up or stabilizing it while working on a moving bus, taxi, or train. It's about as close to mobility perfection as I've experienced, and I can't see how an iPad -- with its "one hand to grip and the other to touch/smudge" input model -- could ever improve on this.

[ See the iPad's key capabilities in our slideshow and learn what the iPad promises to do in our news story. | Then see which netbooks Randall C. Kennedy rates best for business users. ]

In the end, I seriously doubt that many netbook users will dump their units in favor of an iPad. Apple's newest jumble of ill-conceived ergonomics and missing features offers netbook users nothing in the way of real innovation; instead, it forces you to discard functionality in order to squeeze into its very restrictive confines.

If anything, the emergence of the iPad should boost netbook sales as users revisit the market for "tweener" solutions and discover that -- surprise! -- there truly is an ideal device that sits between the smartphone and the traditional laptop or desktop.

It's called a netbook. And no, it's not from Apple.

This article, "iPad, the netbook killer? I think not!," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments on mobile computing, netbooks, and the iPad at InfoWorld.com.


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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