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Goodbye Netbooks, Hello Transformer Tablets? :-)

Laptop?  No.  Netbook?  No.  Tablet?  Yes, with it's optional keyboard with trackpad.  The 10.1" Asus EEE Pad Transformer Prime.  Photo from www.engadget.com    Video review from Ritchie's Room here

I wrote a quick comparison of laptops, netbooks and tablets seven months ago to help friends decide which mobile productivity tool deserves their hard-earned money or the hard-earned money of their financial or gadget donors.

Now I am back since after only seven months I believe the mobile office worker, businessman, educator, minister, student, journalist, or practically any person for that matter is about to take the next step in their personal computing evolution.

Here's the ultimate (at least for now) difference between laptops and tablets as written by someone (sorry I lost the link to the article):

"Laptops are best at CREATING content while tablets are best at CONSUMING content."

This divide between content creation and content consumption, I believe, is a result of three major factors --

(1) input method;
(2) computing power; and
(3) memory capacity (both RAM and HD)

Hence, laptops are best at creating content because of their built-in input method -- the keyboard, their more powerful processors, and their large internal memory capacities.

Tablets, on the other hand, are best at consuming content because they are lighter devices, they are slimmer, they have touch screens for easy navigation, and you can hold them more naturally as when you're   holding "real" books.

So what happens to netbooks?  Netbooks, I believe, will die a natural death as tablets will more and more steal their niche.  Why are there netbooks in the first place?  -- Because they are cheaper than laptops, they are lighter than laptops, they have longer battery lives than laptops.  However,  their drawback is they are not as big and as powerful as "real" laptops.

Now the greatest drawback for netbooks is that tablets are occupying the same price range so their only real  advantage over tablets is their larger hard drive space and built-in keyboard.  However, with the release of tablets like the upcoming Asus Transformer Prime -- a powerful cutting-edge Tegra 3 dual core powered tablet with an optional keyboard, netbooks lose everything but one advantage -- storage space.

So without further explanation, bid farewell to netbooks and let the following photos do the talking. :-)

Netbook vs. iPad with keyboard dock.  www.anandtech.com 

My Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 inch paired with my ultra-slim full-sized foldable bluetooth keyboard.  This keyboard is now serving my 4th mobile device and is likely to serve me for a longer time :-)

The awesome 10.1 inch Asus Transformer Prime  (photo from www.xda-developers.com)  with its optional keyboard.  Can you believe this device can run for 18 hours since the keyboard has it's own battery?  Compare that with the first  two devices above (Apple iPad & Samsung Galaxy Tab) which consume more power, especially the bluetooth-paired keyboard.

So why do I still have that Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 with the bluetooth ultraslim foldable keyboard combo on my office desk?  Simple.  Aside from reasons I already wrote before,  the Transformer Prime's release has been delayed reportedly due to Wi-Fi issues.  My bluetooth keyboard also worked with all my devices  in the past and probably any device I will have in the future while the Transformer Prime's keyboard, despite it's awesome looks and battery power option, will work exclusively with the Transformer Prime due to it's proprietary docking system.

To wrap up.  Netbooks are about to die.  Why?  Because tablets are increasingly "transforming" into machines that can conveniently do both content creation and content consumption at almost the same price but with more convenience and intuitive user experience than netbooks.  But how about memory sizes?  Doesn't the netbook have more space for data?  Yes.  But who cares?  Tablets are not primary devices (for now) and you can always store your data in external hard drives.  And there is that new information age trend called "cloud computing". :-)

To simplify:

Device Type/Configuration
Major Uses
 Heavy computing and data storage for tasks  like photo editing (including everything that netbooks and tablets can do, less the easy touch screen navigation)
 Light computing and data storage (including everything that netbooks and tablets can do, less the easy touch screen navigation)
 Reading  ebooks, checking emails, Personal Information Management (calendar, contacts, tasks, notes),   light text input
Tablet with keyboard
 Reading ebooks, checking emails, Personal Information Management (calendar, contacts, tasks, notes), and heavy text input

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