Netbook or Smartphone ? Your Choice of Technology.

Posted: August 23, 2009 in All Categories, hardware, Smartphones, Software, Tech Encore
Tags: , , , , , ,

How do you decide between two different technology choices ? It’s fascinating to watch laptops getting smaller and turning into “netbooks” while phones are getting bigger to accommodate full keyboards and better Web browsing and application support. So which should you buy when you upgrade your mobile equipment? Well I would say it all depends on whether you create or peruse.

Here is a great idea, and one you may have had: the shape-shifting computer. It’s a little box, the size of a pack of cigarettes, or maybe it looks just like an iPhone. Maybe it is an iPhone. Pop it into a big screen and keyboard, and pow, you have a netbook. Slide it out, and you’ve got a smartphone. Attach a slim, stylish handset with Bluetooth, and you have a fashion-oriented voice phone. hmm, isn’t that cool..

Netbooks have hit a sweet spot for both consumer and business users. Their low price, full QWERTY keyboards that approach (if not quite match) standard laptop arrangements, and built-in applications mean that many people can leave a heavier notebook behind. Netbooks are tempting devices, but if you already have a smartphone, do you really need one ?

Smartphones, on the other hand, have offered much of the same promise of netbooks for years now, including tasks such as mobile document editing, e-mail, and Web browsing. But in many ways, smartphones haven’t fully reached their potential either—and many users will never get past the tiny screens and keyboards.

Here’s what you should consider when deciding whether you should go for a netbook, or simply stick with your smartphone:

Boot-up time: The average smartphone boots up in about 15 seconds, whereas netbooks typically take significantly longer. But that’s not the whole story: at any given moment, your smartphone is already on and ready to roll, since it lasts for days at a time in standby mode. The average netbook battery, however, lasts just 3 hours, and not much longer even if you put the system to sleep. For being ready to go at all times, nothing beats a smartphone.

Keyboard/screen comfort: The winner is pretty clear here: netbooks are considerably more comfortable to use than smartphones. The biggest appeal for netbooks is their small size and weight—often a perfect compromise between a PDA and a standard-size laptop. Some are still too cramped for marathon typing sessions, however. No matter how powerful a netbook is, if it’s not comfortable to type on, or leaves you squinting, you’ll leave it home.

Document editing: Many of today’s smartphones can already view Microsoft Office documents. Some of models (Windows Mobile and Palm OS devices, as well as the latest BlackBerry OS 4.5 revision) can edit them right out of the box. Others require third-party software for this purpose. Either way, it’s only good in a pinch. If you’re doing any more than casual writing or limited spreadsheet work on the go, you’ll want a netbook or real notebook—period.

E-mail: A smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard is sufficient for sending and receiving e-mail, unless you plan on regularly typing out long missives on the road.

Instant messaging: A couple of quick chats are probably fine on a smartphone. Anything longer and you’ll wish you had a netbook or laptop keyboard.

All-day computing: Even a netbook isn’t enough here. I’d say skip both smartphones and netbooks and head straight for a laptop; at least a lightweight ultraportable model. Netbooks feel cramped when used for hours on end (with the possible exception of the latest 10-inch models like the HP Mini 1000 that sport bigger keyboards).

Web browsing: Let’s face it—even the iPhone’s luxurious 3.5-inch screen can feel tiny after 30 minutes of pinch zooming, flicking, and scrolling. Netbooks run full-blown desktop versions of Firefox (in both Linux and Windows XP varieties), so they’re perfect for this purpose.

Media playback: This is another area where netbooks excel. Even the smallest 7-inch Asus models match the widescreen of the largest Archos portable media player, and all of them well exceed the screens you’ll find on smartphones. However, netbooks are overkill as MP3 players—unless, of course, you have really big pockets.

“So it’s your choice of technology”. Hope you enjoyed this week blog, feel free if you have thought to share.. Happy Blogging..

  1. Nickel says:

    Best info I have read on Smartphones, Thanks for the excellent info…

  2. Prophet says:

    I was going to cover this topic (are Symbian phones really smartphones?), but it never made it into the blog post in the end. It’s a factor in my belief that Nokia is in trouble.Thank You..

  3. Christend says:

    As far as I can tell (as someone who isn’t a mobile developer), Nokia’s strategy for Symbian development rests, in part at least, on the Qt Framework. It’s a cross-platform framework for C++ development which is pretty awesome for developing apps that run on Windows, OSX and Linux. It’s currently being ported to Symbian S60 (the port is, afaik, mostly complete) which means that it should be possible to use the same codebase for Symbian apps, Linux apps (which might run on Linux-based netbooks), OSX apps (to run on Macs and maybe the rumoured Apple Tablet?) and Windows apps (after all, still the #1 desktop environment).

    Since Qt is LGPL and genuinely cross-platform, it has a strong chance of getting traction with developers, provided that Nokia don’t screw it up…

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