Tuesday, 16 November 2010

netbooks vs ipads

I've periodically ranted about pad based computers and their (dis)advantages vis a vis netbooks.

Well at last week's eResearch Australasia conference I periodically sneaked a peek at what other delegates were using. Given the sort of conference audience you get at computing events you'd expect them all to be technophiles, but it was quite interesting:
  1. roughly half the delegates in any presentation used pen and paper to take notes
  2. of the remaining half very few had full sized laptops
  3. there was a roughly 50/50 split between netbook users and ipad users
  4. most of the netbook users seemed to be running windows 7 (based on a small sample size generated by shoulder surfing)
items 1 and 2 are easy - just as I found when I went to Providence RI for two and a half days earlier this year, netbooks are lighter and easier to deal with than full size computers, and with pervasive wi-fi, being able to access cloud based services such as windows live and the google ecology frees you from the need for grunt. I was one of the pen and paper brigade, I took my office MacBook with me and found, elegant though it is, it was just too heavy and clunky to balance on my lap - using it in the departure lounge Brisbane airport to do some work left me with cramp in my left leg. After that the laptop stayed in my hotel room -next time I'm definitely taking a netbook.

Item 3 - I guess it's what you would expect given we're over six months into the ipad frenzy. What's interesting is that of this highly computer literate audience not everyone had rolled over - some people clearly preferred being able to have a versatile machine they could type on.

Item 4 was a surprise - I'd have expected more linux users, but then most netbook linux interfaces are dumbed down in an effort not to scare the children and windows 7 is (a) pretty good and (b) has a massive software base - it's windows that has an app for everything - not Apple. And, having installed Ubuntu 10.10 on a computer, it's good, but comparing it to both my windows 7 and OS X machines, not better.

And that's a consequence of Microsoft having put the Vista disaster behind them - Vista was unbelievably clunky and XP was distinctly unslick, which made linux an attarctive option, especially as you could upgrade these XP machines to Linux without having to buy new hardware.

Times have moved on, most of that hardware has been replaced by natural attrition and W7 is the product Vista should have been making it a highly attractive option. And machines running W7 are a lot cheaper than Apple's offerings.

I could imagine a scenario, especially given the current economic climate, where Apple could see MacBook sales cannibalized both by the iPad by people who just want a content access device, and W7 from those who want a general purpose computer ...

1 comment:

Vellum said...

And you might find that some of those windows netbooks are dual-boot machines. I know I've had to leave winXP on my netbook along with a flavour of ubuntu called "easy peasy" (see "not scaring the children") because oftentimes things arise. At Gothic Revival University, for instance, the wifi only works if you run their security check application -- which only works in windows or mac os. Also interesting is that the hassle involved has driven me back to paper and pen.