Laptop vs Netbook vs Tablet: Which Should I Buy?
After a few years, you may have noticed your computer becoming more and more sluggish. You're using an old Windows Vista laptop and you can't stand it. What should you do? You can upgrade your computer's RAM or even install a new operating system. Some people would rather ditch their old computer for a brand new one. Computer technology has advanced greatly. Performance and speed gaps between desktop and laptop computers have largely been eliminated. It doesn't make much sense to buy a desktop computer. They take up more space compared to even the largest laptops. Laptops are also cleaner than desktops when it comes to wire clutter.
While desktop computers fade away in popularity, most people will be shopping around for laptops, netbooks, and tablets. Each of these computers have advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a look at them and determine which one is best for you and which one you should buy.
Before we begin, you should ask yourself a few key questions. What are you going to use you new computer for? What do you need it for? Surfing the web? Emailing? Are you going to do video editing or graphic designs? Are you a heavy multi-tasker? Are you going to watch lots of video? Are you going to play games? How much are you willing to spend? These are all important questions you need to consider before making a purchase. Let's break down these three choices in detail.
Laptops Are In Desktops Are Out
Laptops are the new desktops. They are very versatile. Laptops can be easily folded and transported. Laptops are ideal for high school and college students. Today laptops can do just about everything desktops can do. They are also much cheaper than they once were. You can get a very good laptop for $800 today. High end laptops can handle nearly all the needs of your average user. Desktops still have the advantage over laptops when it comes to gaming although the gap is closing. The highest end laptops such as the Apple Macbook Pro and Sony Vaio Z Series will cost in excess of $2,000. If that is over your budget, Dell's Inspiron and Acer's Aspire line will run you between $500-$700.
The higher end laptops are ideal for power users and professionals that need the most power out of their devices. Unfortunately, a blazing fast processor and a large screen will mean short battery life. If you are always on the go, always bring your power cord with you. Mid-range to high end laptops are great as desktop replacements. This basically means you are going to use your laptop at home and not travel with it. If you are considering getting a laptop as a desktop replacement, get one with the largest screen you can afford. Consider getting one with a 17 inch screen. It doesn't make much sense to buy a laptop that is 14" and plugging in an external 17" monitor when you found out you prefer a larger screen. Make sure you buy a laptop with at least 3 USB ports.
As far as raw power is concerned, a laptop is the way to go. You can edit videos, surf the web, watch HD movies and even play graphic rich games. I would highly recommend spending at least $500 on a laptop. Cheap laptops are generally sold with slow single core processors. When shopping, take a look at the processor name. If it says "Sempron" or "Celeron", do not buy it. I recommend getting a dual core or quad core processor. Intel Core 2 duo and up are what you should look for. At this time, Intel's CPU's performs better than AMD's Athlon X2 but some laptops offer a dedicated graphics card to offset the difference. In comparison, most Intel cards offer graphic processing on its CPU, called an "integrated graphics card".
"Be smart and don't be intimidated by these clerks."
When buying from an electronics retailer like Best Buy, they may try to sell you virus protection, anti-spyware, and protection plans. Only consider the extended protection plans. You will not need the rest despite how much they try to push it onto you. If you are not tech savvy, get a friend to install you a proper anti-virus. When I purchased my Dell Inspiron 17, I told the store clerk that I didn't need all that stuff because I was going to install Linux. The clerk wasn't familiar with Linux and was surprised when I told him it didn't need those anti-virus softwares. Be smart and don't be intimidated by these clerks. Most of them aren't very smart.
Netbooks Are Tiny Laptops
If laptops are the new desktop replacements, then consider netbooks as the new laptops. Netbooks are like small laptops. They are generally between 7"-13" in screen size. Netbooks are smaller and less powerful than laptops. The appeal of netbooks is its portability. Its smaller size and light weight makes it easy to carry around. A netbook's footprint is considerably smaller than a biology textbook making it the ideal computer on the go. While a laptop has a battery life between 2-5 hours, some netbooks can last up to 9 hours before needing a recharge. Not only are netbooks smaller and lighter than laptops, but the longer battery life means you don't have to carry a plug everywhere you go. This is very convenient for those with heavy loads. Its just one less thing to carry.
"In other words, they are slow."
Despite the improved battery life and portability, netbooks are limited in terms of what you can do. Compared to laptops, netbooks lack processing power. In other words, they are slow. If you have high expectations, look elsewhere. Netbooks are good at web browsing and email but multi-tasking and flash can be painful. Netbooks are also good for taking note and word processing. Newer dual core netbooks are expected to improve the user experience. The cloak speeds can be misleading to the casual consumer. A single core atom processor at 1.8 ghz performs slower than the desktop Celeron which is considered the lowest class CPU Intel makes. AMD make the Neo processor which is faster than the Atom but it will drain more battery. If you are looking to buy a netbook, consider the advantages of portability and compare it to the disadvantages of performance. I would not recommend buying a netbook if you don't have a desktop or laptop. A netbook is a great compliment to your main computer but it should not be purchased as a laptop replacement. Some good netbook brands to consider are Dell Mini, Acer One, and Asus Eee PC. Expect to pay $250-$500 for a netbook.
Tablets Are Toys?
Tablets are a new breed of personal computers that aims to directly compete against netbooks. Tablets are slate-style computers that uses a touch interface as the primary method of input. The iPad is the main tablet on the market today soon to be followed by many competitors. New tablets like the iPad, BlackBerry Playbook, and Samsung Galaxy Tab are fast and responsive. Tablets are very versatile. They can be used for web browsing, music/video playback, e-book reading, digital picture framing, and much more. Tablets are highly portable. Some tablets, like the Galaxy Tab, can function as a phone if needed. While there is no official standard equipment on tablets, Apple iPad set the pace with its fast touch screen that others will have to match it. The iPad also received it share of criticism of being a big "iPhone" or a "toy". While still new to the market, tablets are generally geared more to buyers that want to consume media. Mainly focused on delivering entertainment, tablets should be perfect for generation X or Y members.
Tablets vary in size but are generally very compact. Some say the iPad is a bit too big to carry around while others don't mind at all. The Galaxy Tab is being advertised as being small enough to fit in a purse or a back pocket while being big enough to enjoy video media. Tablets are very expensive. It's true that you can buy a first generation Archos tablet for around $250 but if you want to get the most out of the tablet experience, expect to pay at least $500 for the entry level iPad. Now, some would argue that $500 for an iPad is about the same as a top netbook or a low/mid-range laptop. That's true but people believe tablets are expensive because aside from media and games, not much can be done on tablets. Like netbooks, tablets are meant to compliment your main computer. It wouldn't be smart to run heavy photo editing software on a tablet. It also wouldn't be ideal. Although the touchscreen is innovative, sometimes it becomes a chore to do simple tasks like copy and paste. Needless to say, it also wouldn't be great to type a term paper on a tablet. Sure it can be done but it wouldn't be very comfortable. This is where people see tablets as a consumer good rather than a useful tool. To some people, it may be the device they need.
"Don't buy a Cruz Tablet!"
If you are in the market for a tablet, don't buy anything with less than a 1 ghz processor. Don't buy a Cruz Tablet! It is ridiculously slow. It's embarrassingly slow. I tried it out at Borders and I wanted to smash it to 73 pieces. Don't waste your money. Spend a bit more for quality. Do some homework. You can try out the iPad at your local Apple store or Best Buy and determine for yourself if it is as "magical" as advertised. Tablet platforms have not been extensively tested yet. Android and iOS feels good on phones but they might feel differently on tablets. Google has come fourth and stated that Android 2.2 is not optimized for tablets. Don't count out some Windows 7 tablets and QNX coming soon on the BlackBerry Playbook. With all these different OS competing in the same market, its easy to get lost. Always try out the product before you buy it. What's nice and cool for some people may be lame and cheesy to others.
A laptop can be a great desktop replacement. Laptops are powerful and capable. Buy a laptop if you really need to replace your old computer and use it as a main. Laptops, can be fairly portable. Laptops are good for gaming and media editing. A netbook is a great second computer to compliment your existing main computer. Netbooks are very portable but not as capable or powerful as laptops. Netbooks are ideal for surfing the web, lightweight gaming, and word processing. Tablets are just as or even more portable than netbooks. Tablets computers are perfect for media consumption. They're ideal for music, watching videos, playing interactive games, e-book reading and browsing the web. They are not ideal for work related processes such as word processing or photo editing.
I am in the market for another computer. Since I already own a capable laptop, I am deciding to get a netbook over a tablet. For my needs right now, that's what I would buy. Your needs may be different. I hope this hub has helped you make a decision on your next computer!
My views have changed. There are a few updated reasons why you may want to buy a tablet over a netbook. Probably the biggest reason for me is portability. I think a 7" tablet is the perfect size to take anywhere and not be a complete hassle.