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Apple iPad v Netbooks: Which is better?

Carrying a traditional laptop around with you is not only unnecessary in 2010, it’s also likely to weigh you down and hurt your back.

These days, if you want to email on the move, edit documents, surf the internet and play games, then all you need is a Netbook or an Apple iPad.

But which one is best you may ask?

Well, instead of a Harry Hill-style fight to see which wins out, I’ve outlined the main differences so you can decide which is better for you.

And crucially, which deserves your hard-earned cash being splashed on it.

What is a Netbook?

A Netbook is a small laptop without a disc drive and commonly with a screen size of 10 inches or less. They are made for portability and mobile computing with ultra-light bodies and speedy processors. You can buy models from a range of manufacturers like Acer, Asus, HP and Samsung.

What is an Apple iPad?

The Apple iPad is the newest gadget from the American company behind the iPod and iPhone. It is a tablet computer, which means it does not feature a physical keyboard, just a 9.7 inch touchscreen. Like the iPhone and iPod touch, it can be updated with software apps for both fun and work.

How much can I store on them?

Netbooks come in both 160GB and 250GB versions giving plenty of room for masses of music, video, photos and documents.

The Apple iPad has 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage. That’s still plenty for holding enough films and tunes to watch and listen to as you travel, but it’s not enough to handle your whole digital life.

How easy are they to use?

Firstly, you need to decide how much typing you’ll be doing. If you’re likely to be tapping out long documents and messages throughout the day, then a Netbook is the gizmo to buy.

Having a proper QWERTY keyboard means you’ll race through such tasks.

But, if you’re just checking out Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, responding to friends’ emails and keeping on top of that office inbox, then the iPad is a worthy rival.

Its virtual keyboard runs the full width of the screen in landscape mode, and while it takes a bit of practice to get used to, you can touch-type speedily after a while.

The touchscreen also brings the internet to life in ways a Netbook can’t. You can flick through web pages with a finger swipe, zoom in by pinching your fingers on the screen and rotate to view in both portrait and landscape modes. The picture quality of the display is also far better.

You can also buy a keyboard docking station for the iPad and use it on a desk, and it works with Apple’s wireless Mac keyboards too.

How much fun can I have?

This is where the iPad wins hands down.

You’ll need to load extra software onto your Netbook using an external disc drive, which is an extra expense, although some programs such as anti-virus can now be downloaded directly from the internet.

But with thousands of exciting and innovative software apps available for the iPad, not to mention more than 200,000 iPhone apps that are also compatible, you’ll be spoilt for choice on how to use this device.

Many are free, too, and you can download them from iTunes over the air. They can also be sideloaded via iTunes using your home computer.

There’s a massive mix to ensure you never get bored and always have something to hand to help both your productivity and your social life.

From gaming to travel guides to quirky stuff and word-processing software, the sky really is the limit.

The iPad also works well as an electronic book reader and its design lends itself far more to watching movies and viewing photos.

How much will they cost me?

You can buy a Netbook for half the cost of the basic model of the iPad. The cheapest is £199.99 against that of the iPad, £429. In fact for that same price, you could get the top-price Netbook in Comet stores.

A top-of-the-range Apple iPad on the other hand weighs in at £699.

Two iPad models are available. One simply comes with Wi-Fi to allow you a wireless internet connection to your home broadband or at a hotspot in town.

The other is more expensive and has a mobile 3G connection built-in, using a SIM card which supplies always-on internet as long as there’s a network connection.

It works just like with your phone handset so you will have to pay an extra charge per month or via pay as you go for the data you use on the 3G network.

It is worth noting that some Netbooks now also come with built-in 3G and all feature Wi-Fi.

Which should I buy then?

 It’s a tough one. For less money you’ll possibly get more computing power, a keyboard, bigger storage and a better day-to-day working device with a Netbook.

But if you grab an iPad, you’ll get a mobile entertainment package like you’ve never experienced before. Movies, music, books, games, social media and even professional work use, it does the lot. And with up to 10 hours of battery life, it dwarfs the amount of time many Netbooks will last when you’re out and about.

Only you can decide though. The choice basically comes down to work with a bit of fun, or plenty of fun with a fair bit of work.

Oh and whether you can handle not having real keys. Assuming you can also afford the Apple iPad price tag!

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