I stumbled into a Mac vs. PC argument the other night, at a gathering of people, where somehow I ended up as an impromptu speaker on technology. The beginning of the evening, it was just me and another gentleman doing what we always do when we're hanging out watching out wives do important stuff, talk about tech. Then we moved to the table for dinner.
The irony I suppose is that while I was checking my email looking for something from a friend on our Windows Phone 7 project, the subject of the iPad came up. Okay, not really irony, but it sounded good in my head. People are intensely curious and strangely... a little threatened by the device. The people with netbooks felt compelled to stand in the defense of their devices, proclaiming proudly that they did not need to even consider the iPad's form factor.
I agreed with them. Mostly. In my opinion the iPad only beats a netbook in two places... boot up time, and battery life. In those regards, it only does so by a slim margin depending on how much you use your device. What was interesting to me was that the conversation even came up?
Are other users of Apple as arrogant and intolerable as people claim? Am I part of the crowd that looks down their nose at people who "still" use Windows? Probably. I hope not, because I use Windows and the Mac OS in equal parts these days. Do I have my opinion about which one is better? Yeah, I got asked that at the gathering too.
I think the easiest way to describe the difference between Macs and PCs is by explaining the process required to delete a program. Roughly... it goes like this:
1. Click the Start Menu
2. Navigate to Control Panel
3. Click Uninstall Program
4. Click the Program you want to uninstall.
5. Let Windows know if you merely want to uninstall or attempt to repair the program.
6. Let Windows know you are sure of your selection.
7. Wait for process to complete.
8. Possibly restart machine.
9. Track down any shortcuts the uninstall process might have missed.
10. Delete any directories left behind, assuming there are no registry errors.
I probably left out a step or two.
1. Open your Applications folder.
2. Drag the Application you want to delete to the Trashcan.
That being said, one of the best computers I ever owned... was a Netbook running Windows XP. If you love Windows (or tolerate it with dignity) and want something small (with a physical keyboard), get a Netbook. Go ahead. You have my permission.
Then came the talk of cost. People often compare the $500 an iPad costs to the $250ish a netbook costs. Regular folks on the street, analysts, pretty much everyone. Most people consider only the cost to them at the time they purchase it, and don't think about the cost over time. I did some quicker thinking here than I did at the gathering.
Apple iPad: $500
Netbook: $250-$375 for a decent one.
Comparing the cost of those two devices this way is pretty simple, one is more than the other.
Both have free or nearly free software available for both platforms, but what happens when you look at comparable pay-for-use software? (Some rough numbers.)
Pages for iPad: $9.99
MS Word 2010 for your Netbook: $125
1st Person Shooter Game for iPad: $4.99
1st Person Shooter Game for Netbook: $49.99
Yep, that Netbook sure is cheaper, but only if you are running Linux and go all open source... and provide your own tech support... or have a relative like me who does it grudgingly for free.
Time is money.
Most people don't take notes, and even fewer folks take them digitally. I'm one of those fewer folks. As I've said in previous posts, my iPad blinks on 50-60 times a week, saving me an hour a week I would have spent watching a netbook boot up. As I've said before, instant on, and long battery life will eventually defeat all other considerations in the market place.
Most folks are impatient, and they don't want to spend a lot of time charging a device or worrying about battery life. Netbooks are catching up, and I've seen models that have a ten hour battery life... but most are scarcely more powerful or capable than the iPad. Yeah, you can set your netbook to sit in standby when you close the lid, throw it in the bag, and off you go.
I'd only do that if you have a solid state drive. Check the price of that... then compare your netbook to the iPad... which already has a SSD.
How is that Netbook cheaper again? Not sure that it is over the long term... even if you buy a bluetooth physical keyboard and a stand/case to pair up with your iPad. That's the trap though isn't it?
The iPad is probably cheaper, if you buy only what you need to make it a functional device. I don't know too many folks who have done that. I've bought over one hundred apps, but probably only regularly use fifteen or so. I've bought two cases, two bags, and a blue tooth keyboard. Was my iPad purchase cheaper than my Windows Netbook purchase?
My own argument makes sense... until I apply it to my own situation. Oops.
Getting to the point. Netbooks, iPads, Macs, PCs, and Linux? Choose what's right for you, gets the job done, and costs you what you're willing to pay for the privilege.