Consumers have shown a willingness to adapt somewhat and try new things. Some thought ultraportables would never catch on; their steep price tag and small screens didn't make sense to some, but road warriors have proven that these diminutive machines do actually have a place in society. Netbooks have a similar story. Many credit Asus' Eee PC line with really kickstarting the netbook craze, and even today, these tiny, inexpensive laptops are selling like hotcakes to individuals who just need a simple machine for web browsing and e-mail to take on the go. No bells and whistles leads to lower costs, and lower costs lead to increased attention and sales.
The iPad has arrived during an interesting time. It's a time in which many consumers are re-evaluating their computing needs, and they're striving to decide whether a full-sized notebook, a netbook, a tablet or something in between is best for them. The iPad has definitely driven more people than would traditionally consider a tablet, to investigate the iPad's usage model. That said, does it really make sense to buy this device over a netbook, or better still, a netbook / tablet hybrid? We covered the ins and outs of Apple's first tablet in our full review, but this article is intended to dig deeper and investigate whether an iPad or netbook / tablet hybrid is best suited for you. These two are the most similar of the machines currently available in terms of price, form factor and usability.
For our comparison, we're going to focus mainly on another machine that has just recently hit the market, Lenovo's IdeaPad S10-3t. It's a cutting-edge netbook / tablet hybrid with one of Intel's newest Atom processors, Windows 7, a full touch panel, a swivel screen to turn it into a full tablet, and of course something the iPad lacks: a real keyboard. The S10-3t starts at $549, while the iPad starts at $499, but if you want to add a USB port or SD card slot to the iPad, the starting price rises to $529, making these two machines comparable in terms of the initial investment.
Join us in the pages ahead to get a better idea of how the iPad does and doesn't live up to the standards set by modern day netbooks, and how the S10-3t outperforms and under-performs in a variety of tasks.