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Can NetBooks & Tablets Co-Exist? 291

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the gobble-gobble-gobble dept.
bsk_cw writes "According to Computerworld's Serdar Yegulalp, there has been a lot of talk about whether the iPad will take the place of the netbook — or, in fact, whether it will eat into the market share for more mainstream desktop and laptop computers. But, he continues, the iPad has a long way to go before it becomes a netbook killer — if only because it has created a space all its own."
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Can NetBooks & Tablets Co-Exist?

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  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:39AM (#33508282)

    Last summer I bought an EeePC because I was sick of lugging my full-size laptop to and from work to give myself additional screen space to watch Nagios in addition to other work I had going on. That was possibly one of the worst purchases I ever made. The keyboard was too small to type on, and the screen was barely big enough for passive activities, let alone if I required anything "real" to happen on it. I ended up just giving it away to a female friend who's only around 5ft tall (where as I'm 6'4") and thus better proportioned to using such a device.

    They only thing they really have going for them is that they're cheap, and it shows in the construction of the things. I haven't yet handled an iPad, but don't expect it to suffer from a feeling of flimsiness, like the scene in Jurassic Park where the lawyer tells the kid if the goggles are heavy, then that means they're expensive and so to put them down. But I think I could find more situations where I would benefit from having a pair of night vision goggles than an iPad. But maybe I'm not really in the target market for either of these things.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:40AM (#33508294) Homepage

    A proper open tablet could pretty much wipe out netbooks.

    However, the Tablet du jour is no such thing. It is artificially limited by it's creator.
    Therefore until more capable Tablets gain some visibility in the market, netbooks aren't
    going anywhere.

    People will still need to do things that Apple won't allow.

  • by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:41AM (#33508312) Homepage Journal
    You obviously don't ride public transport then. A HUGE advantage of tablets over netbooks for people that do is that you can actually use the tablet standing up. You aren't going to be typing a novel on it, but it is in fact usable. Just try to use a netbook while standing up, my guess is that you won't be making very many friends.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:44AM (#33508344)

    Gah. These summaries are getting worse and worse. Tablets have been around for awhile. Apple didn't invent the market with the iPad.

    No, they didn't invent the market.

    They just figured out how to make a product that would sell into the market.

    Tablets simply never sold before the way the iPad is selling.

    Apple developed a highly polished version that did well in that market.

    Normally I would agree, as that is what Apple does with most things.

    But there was nothing in the market to polish. There was nothing in the tablet space like the iPad. It was all PC/Stylus based, kind of the opposite to what the iPad is and why it works.

    Was there even a single touch-capible system in there? I don't remember any.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:50AM (#33508412) Homepage

    A proper open tablet could pretty much wipe out netbooks.

    Yeah, I'm calling bullshit.

    I know this isn't a popular opinion here on Slashdot, but guess what? *Most people don't give a shit about "open" or "closed" hardware*. Hell, they probably don't even realize the iPlatform is a closed ecosystem, as that's only evident if you try to develop for the thing.

    No, this idiotic meme that "if only they'd open the hardware, they'd destroy everyone!", no matter what "they" is (PS3, NDS, iPlatform, etc), needs to stop. It's so hilariously naive it just makes you look stupid.

  • by MrNiceguy_KS (800771) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:53AM (#33508456)

    If someone took my netbook and gave me an iPad to replace it, I would use the iPad to beat them until they agreed to give my netbook back.

    I bought my netbook before the iPad's release, but I bought it because I needed a *Computer*, not an appliance. I use it for work, and I'm essentially on-call tech support 24-7. I needed a laptop that was small enough I can take it anywhere, and cheap enough that I don't mind taking it everywhere. I need to be able to run the software I need to run. I need to be able to connect to a Windows Terminal Server. I also need something with an actual USB port, so I'm not limited in the hardware I can connect it to.

    Many of the things I use my netbook for, I could use an iPad instead. But not everything. I could probably replace my Acer netbook with a hypothetical Apple netbook - call it a MacBook Mini - but Apple has made it pretty clear that they don't want to get into that market.

    Actually, Apple has made it clear that they aren't interested in me as a customer. I want an inexpensive desktop machine that I can play a few games on, and can upgrade the video card every few years so I can keep playing games on. I also want the laptop I described above - small enough I can take it everywhere, and cheap enough that I'm willing to do so. I know people who use Apple's stuff generally love it, but they just aren't selling to me.

  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JeffSpudrinski (1310127) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:53AM (#33508462)

    Agreed. They serve different purposes with overlap in abilities.

    I like tablets, but I use a netbook on service calls. I can get a lot more freeware apps for troubleshooting networks for my netbook than I can for the tablet (think iPad). I'm also have a lot more freedom to tweak the netbook than I do the iPad and can run pretty much anything I want on the netbook.

    The iPad is really nice to sit down with and just have it be a nice interface without worrying about much.

    Think bottle of beer versus glass of wine. There are times you want one over the other, but both will get you plastered in the end.

    Just my $0.02.

    -JJS

  • Re:Yes. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:53AM (#33508466) Journal

    No, no, and no. Did I mention no?

    A proper open tablet might draw more of an audience, but I'm not even convinced of that. If I got a tablet, it would be for specific purposes. I might not mind a walled garden nearly as much for that purpose. It's not that a tablet would ever replace a main computer for me.

    I love netbooks, they are light and portable and great for carry-around computing until my cell phone can slide a paper-thin full-sized keyboard out of the side and project a 10-12" screen on any surface. I can tether my Blackberry to my eeePC and connect to work, I can do almost anything on them I can do on a full desktop, albeit more slowly and on a smaller screen.

    I still want a tablet, but it would be a replacement for my old paper kneeboard, AFD, backup GPS, and charts when flying. Trying to set one up as a temporary portable workstation would require that I carry some sort of keyboard, some sort of mounting rig to hold it upright, and a netbook is a better tool for that, and a tablet that can be expanded to that capability would be heavy and unwieldy for my tablet needs.

    Different niches, different form factors, very little overlap between the two in real world usage.

  • by irid77 (1539905) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:07AM (#33508658)

    The EeePc seems to vary in sturdiness based on the model. My 1000HE is rock-rolid and all-in-all it's the best-built laptop I've ever owned. My parents have the 1101HA and it's much flimsier.. the hinge for the screen is loose and the keyboard is spongy. Also, the graphics are noticeably slow, probably because of the extra pixels in the larger screen. Just have to pick the right one.

  • by Corporate Troll (537873) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:08AM (#33508672) Homepage Journal

    partly due to a hatred of Windows.

    WTF? Do you spend any time outside of slashdot? People definitely do not hate Microsoft. Heck, I've had people complaining to me upon giving them an XP laptop that it didn't have (back then) Vista on it. (Yes, this really happened) Try selling Linux to one of those so called people that "carry hatred towards Windows". You'll see how quickly they'll flee back to their "hated" operating system. You and I know that 95% of normal users needs are covered by Linux.

    I hope you realise that people do not blame Microsoft for their computer woes. As a matter of fact, people who understand that Windows is the source of their problems are the low-end power users and Apple Fanbois (Linux Fanbois too, lately). The high-end power users, know how to secure their machines and won't have problems. (I'm one of these weird people who has been running Windows XP for years as a limited user, and it fucking works. You just have to know how.) The non-power users will just point at the computer and say "my computer is acting up again". To them their is no separation of OS and hardware.

  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:09AM (#33508690) Homepage Journal

    Besides: Hardly anyone but Mac fans buy iPads [electronista.com]. That's how much impact they're going to have on the netbook market. None whatsoever.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vtcodger (957785) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:12AM (#33508736)

    ***I don't see that there's any niche for a netbook.. unless you really really want a proper laptop and you can't afford one.. because netbooks are just cheap laptops.***

    You might want to talk to my wife. She uses her computers for four things -- playing FreeCell, reading e-books, eMail, and web surfing. Her netbook does all those things well. She loves it.

    Until we get tablets with real keyboards with tactile feedback, I'm pretty sure that they are not going to replace her netbook.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:14AM (#33508764)

    So, what *exactly* are these two, somewhat overlapping niches you are referring to?

    To me there are four big differences between the netbook and the Apple i-things:

    1. Netbook has a keyboard you can type on, even if adapting to it takes some time.
    2. Netbook will run Windows and random Windows software.
    3. Netbook generally has better performance and is capable of running a lot of older Windows games (video is different as I believe i-things have hardware H.264 support and the netbook probably doesn't?).
    4. The netbook costs half as much.

    To me it's more a question of whether you want a small but real keyboard and the ability to run arbitrary software than anything else. If, say, you really want to run Windows for some reason then the i-things are a total non-starter.

    So I don't see how anyone can claim that they're interchangeable. Price, lack of keyboard and inability to run my applications mean I wouldn't even consider an i-thingy.

  • Re:Yes. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mongoose Disciple (722373) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:24AM (#33508872)

    I don't see that there's any niche for a netbook.. unless you really really want a proper laptop and you can't afford one.. because netbooks are just cheap laptops.

    Not quite. They're also often small/light laptops. Often their smaller screens and lower power also mean more battery life.

    My laptop is a high performance machine as laptops go, because its primary use (or most important use, if not always the one that's most common depending on what's going on with work) was to be a portable development machine for use at clients who preferred I provide my own hardware. It's not cheap, it's not especially light, and it goes through battery faster than a stoned college student goes through Taco Bell. It's perfectly suited to its purpose, and yet, it's very much NOT what I would want a netbook to be.

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @11:31AM (#33508984) Homepage Journal

    What about laptops and netbooks? Is the war over yet?

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pmontra (738736) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:09PM (#33509406) Homepage

    I don't see that there's any niche for a netbook.. unless you really really want a proper laptop and you can't afford one.. because netbooks are just cheap laptops.

    I just came back from a one month vacation in Australia. I had my netbook with me and I used it mainly to check mail (thunderbird with local folders backed up almost daily on a usb pen drive with rsync) and to upload pictures and notes of my travel to my website. However I also did some work for a couple of customers of mine who sent me mail about some bugs to fix. I wrote the code, tested it and pushed it into a git repository. I wouldn't be able to do that with an iPad and taking my notebook with me (I got one, I'm that wealthy) would have been very inconvenient as it's twice as large as the netbook and almost three times as heavy. I never ever considered to put it into my backpack.

    With this experience in mind I do believe that there is a niche for netbooks. Probably it's going to be a very small one because of what most people's computing needs are, but I'm happy we have cheap netbooks that are powerful enough to work on them (but I concede that I'm more productive with the notebook).

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:31PM (#33509690)

    The difference is, people from all over have iPods. That's an Apple device. So Apple's plan is working, make devices people really like and they will buy more. Who'd have thought?

    Many iPod users are also PC users BTW....

  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @02:07PM (#33510930)

    If you don't believe me, talk to product owners.

    Honest ones will tell you it can be a pretty annoying device.

    A friend told me about doing some internet banking on one the other day... halfway through a transaction set up he needed to use a calculator... but opening the calculator app would terminate the internet banking app and he had to re-login and select the accounts, and start the transaction every time he switched between them. For a web banking app its appropriate that it discard its session when you suspend it for obvious reasons...but it was effectively impossible to do any calculations at the same time as a result.

    What he really wanted was the two apps in their own window, so he could go back and forth, and have both on the screen at the same time - you know so he could see the source for the numbers rather than remembering them in his head.

    Ended up having to get a separate calculator.

    He also thought it was stupid that he couldn't easily use it to view other peoples pictures. (e.g. they'd visit, and have a CD/DVD or memory card of vacation or baby pictures, and there was no efficient way of viewing it on the ipad. Importing the photos to iphoto and then syncing them to the ipad was simply idiotic. It was too much work, and he didn't want to import the pictures into his computer.

  • by MrHanky (141717) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @02:57PM (#33511784) Homepage Journal

    Only 2% of those who don't own an Apple product are tempted to buy an iPad, and iPod sales have been slowing since 2008: it's a redundant device now that any new phone can play music (even through streaming services like Spotify). In addition, plenty of people are turned off from Apple's remarkably shitty products, e.g. iTunes, which is, after all, the hub of the iOS platform and experience.

    Apple is rapidly going the way of Sony: just like Sony responded to the mp3 craze by updating its iconic Walkman line to play ATRAC files (idiots), Apple responds to ubiquitous wireless by tying everything to iTunes (idiots). They make stuff that people don't want. Nobody wants iTunes (the software).

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @03:57PM (#33512628) Journal

    Hahaha, that's funny, reminds me of when I used to use a Treo 180.

    My last two PDAs have been used as standalone computers for the most part. I'd occasionally sync my Treo 650 to perform a remote backup or move lots of memos, but I probably didn't sync it for about 3 years...before I retired it. My N900 has never been synced with anything. It's a standalone PC, just like a netbook. I can freely move files over USB mass storage, Bluetooth OBEX, FTP, SCP, Samba, you name it. If I want to download anything I can always use wget in a worse-case scenario, and if the mobile browser ever gets in my way, I can just launch Firefox. Not Fennec or whatever it's called, but Iceweasel, the real-deal full desktop browser. Likewise there's evince for when the default PDF reader won't do the job. Video transcoding isn't a major issue. I have mplayer and VLC installed, and can play anything the hardware can handle - which is about 95% of my videos, 99% when overclocked. Oh and I can play them straight from my file server's samba shares.

    Eventually I plan to transition to VoIP only. I can already use SIP, Skype and Google Voice on any network technically capable of allowing me to connect to them (and I can use OpenVPN to get around artificial network restrictions). Some day the cell provider will just be a dumb pipe to carry my data.

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