Many writers, myself included, try to get out of the office and write at the park or the coffee shop. If we don’t get regular doses of sunlight and human interaction, we are prone to getting a job as a caretaker at a winter lodge and chasing our family with an axe. So the question becomes, what should we use? I made a list of what I would need in a device: long battery life, easy to read screen, comfortable keyboard, compatible with popular writing software and applications, and I didn’t want it to break the bank.
I quickly decided that a laptop would not fit the bill because of weight and price restrictions. Also, it is much easier to hide an Ipad or netbook than it is to stash a laptop.
So, lets look at netbooks:
- Battery life – For most normal use like word processing and surfing the internet, a netbook will last between 3 and 5 hours. Not too shabby but the Ipad is the clear winner in this category.
- Screen size and quality – Most netbooks screens are in my opinion, a trifle on the small side. They range between 7 and 12 inches depending on the model. The quality varies as well. It is usually good enough for most writing jobs but you wont be watching many movies on it. Checkout this post on Liliputing for more information.
- Keyboard – Although they cant offer a full keyboard, if you can type on a laptop you can type on a netbook. The keys are responsive and generally have a good feel to them.
- Compatibility and data transfer - This is where the netbook really shines, the mighty USB connector. Those are the little flat sockets on all computers that allow you to plug in anything from an external hard drive to a digital camera. The Ipad doesn’t have one. Since netbooks run all of the operating systems that the big computers can, software compatibility is not a problem.
- Price – lowest price model that I found was 199$
Conclusion: On most fronts the netbook cant compare to an Ipad except when it comes to running programs and getting your data on and off the computer. So not a perfect fit but it is still in the running.
Now for the Ipad specs:
- Battery life – For general purpose activities and web surfing the Ipad weighs in at 11-12 hours and 9 hours of movie watching. Clearly outclassing the netbook
- Screen size and quality – 9.7 inch high quality display puts it in the middle of the netbook offerings but the difference is in the eye strain. The Ipad screen is much easier on the eyes and allows you to view movies, play games or read a book with ease
- Keyboard – I am still not a fan of the on screen keyboard, I need the feel of the keys being pressed. For every three letters I write I have to backspace and correct one. So while this may not affect everyone, I believe the netbook physical keyboard is better.
- Compatibility and data transfer – Up until this category I had been considering the Ipad the clear winner but this is a deal breaker for any professional writer. There are only three ways to get data onto or off of an Ipad: email, iTunes and Iwork.com. Not thumb-drives, DVDs or external hard drives. Also, the only software available to edit your documents are the ones available in the app store. As you may know, software made by third parties could be getting scarce in the app store as Apple cracks down on developers. Some are speaking out against the new Terms of Service, like this developer.
- Price – Lowest priced Ipad is 499$ and that does not include 3G support
Conclusion: I wanted an Ipad so bad that I cant even express it in words but I cant have my data tied up on a device with so few ways to transfer and such a small selection of software to edit my documents.
There is hope though. It looks like Google is developing a tablet device that will be running the Android OS. This could be the best of both worlds. Read the full article over at Mashable.