iPads vs. Netbooks: Decisions, decisions…

6.7.2013 Daniel Jaramillo

When the iPad was first launched, it was taken as such an innovative, cool and sleek device that it was borderline intimidating! Common questions when first hearing about it or seeing it were along the lines of ‘what exactly is it?’

What makes this a weird, albeit cool-looking item, so different from what we already have? What can we actually do with it? When something like the iPad is rolled out and introduced to the public, the iPad, a device which initially didn’t fit neatly into existing technology categories, causes quite a kerfuffle and debate to boot. 

An efficient way of dealing with products like these is to place them under a category of devices it most resembles, devices that we already know and have come to love and compare them.

As a result, the iPad has been found to be the equivalent of a device that has grown in popularity over the past few years: the netbook. There is a heated debate going on as to which is more efficient, more user-friendly and actually useful in the long run. For this reason many schools are wondering which would be the right -nay- the best choice for their learners.

It is important for me to state that there is a clear distinction between netbooks and the iPad. I wouldn’t want the iPads potential for teaching and learning processes to be squandered by forming and image that the cheaper netbooks and the more upper-end iPads are one and the same. How the device differs from what is currently available is crucially important.

Netbooks’ Deficiencies

The most obvious features of a netbook are that it is a smaller, cheaper and less powerful version of its ancestor, the laptop. It has the same form factor, in that it’s based on the clam-shell design, the same operating system and most people use them in the same fashion that they would use their laptops. There is a broad range of netbooks that start at the bottom with the Asus range and go all the way through to the more expensive and objectively better built devices from Sony.

The point of the netbook is to address peoples’ increasing need/desire for mobility and on the cheap, so the netbook is a portable and cheap device and users don’t seem to mind the decrease of RAM and rich-imagery of desktop computers and laptops, but are happier off having a battery life upwards of 6 hours. They run the same applications for the most part, although it is difficult to do any worthwhile work with audio and video, but they can access the web, hence the name and so are used as web browsers, for the most part. In effect, netbook users’ behavior and activity don’t really differ from that of laptop and desktop users and what can be and is produced from one of these devices, won’t differ from everything we’re already accustomed to.

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