What are tablets and netbooks used for?

The best netbooks and tablets

Thomas Rau

A year ago anyone looking for a PC on the go asked: Notebook or netbook? This year the question is: netbook or tablet?

EnlargeTablet or netbook: which device is better for on the go?

The cheap and small netbooks have had strong competition from tablet PCs such as the iPad. Both are ideal for on the go. But even if you want to sit comfortably on the couch or on the balcony while surfing or working, both device classes do a good job: They are light, last a long time on battery power, and you can comfortably surf wirelessly with both. But despite these similarities, a netbook can do some things that the iPad cannot and, conversely, there are situations where you are better served with a tablet than with a mini notebook.

Which device class suits you better depends on what you are using a netbook or tablet for. And of course about the specific product: When you talk about the tablet, you usually mean the AppleiPad. But there are also tablets with a smaller or larger screen. Another example of the differences between the individual tablet PCs: the iPad does not play Flash videos, tablets with Android can do this from version 2.2, while Linux or Windows tablets shouldn't have a problem with it.

Surf Internet
When it comes to web surfing, tablets are unbeatable. With some like the iPad or the WeTab, you see more of a website because they have a higher resolution than the netbooks. With simple finger gestures, web pages on the tablet can be enlarged or moved in a flash. And the position sensor always turns everything into the right format.

Photos and films
The tablets also make the most of their fingers when looking at photos: you rotate and enlarge images with one gesture and leaf through photo albums with a swipe. Photos also look better on a bright, high-contrast screen like that of the Apple iPad than on a netbook. But if you always want to take extensive photo collections with you, the netbook is the better choice: because the mini laptop offers more storage space. So it is better suited as a photo tank or storage for films.
On a Windows netbook, you always get films to run somehow: Because a missing codec can be downloaded and installed quickly. Tablets, on the other hand, are locked into certain video formats that you need to convert the movies to before playing them. However, this method has the advantage that the film is then played back smoothly. With netbooks, however, this is not guaranteed, especially when it comes to films in HD resolution.

A similar problem is also encountered with software for tablets and netbooks: the whole Windows world is actually open to a netbook: not even the Apple App Store has that much choice of software. However, most programs are not adapted for the limited computing power of netbooks: What runs without problems on a notebook or PC can be inoperable on the mini. Apps for tablets like the iPad, on the other hand, are ideally adapted to the hardware: They start quickly and run smoothly.

If you want to (or have to) work on a mobile computer, there is no getting around the netbook. Texts, tables and presentations can be created and edited more easily with a keyboard. The tablet's on-screen keyboard is not suitable for longer texts: it is smaller, more difficult to use and typing on the glass surface can tire your fingers more quickly. Most tablets can be connected to a Bluetooth keyboard, but then they are as big and unwieldy as a notebook.

Netbooks are significantly cheaper than tablets: You have a large selection of current netbooks for less than 400 euros. Tablets, on the other hand, usually cost 500 euros or more, luxury models such as the iPad Wifi + 3G with 64 GB of storage or the Samsung Galaxy Tab even almost 800 euros.

On the next few pages we will introduce you to the best netbooks and tablets.