Friday, October 29, 2010

Netbook Or Smartphone?

The question of netbook or smartphone is on many people's minds at the moment, and it is interesting, if not amusing, to watch as smartphones get bigger and netbooks get smaller. Soon they will be one and the same, and then what name shall be given to them? Smartbook or Netphone? What's your money on?

If truth be told, it could be neither of them, because a hybrid looks likely given the rate at which technology advances these days, and it is not only you and I that are considering this dilemma but the developers themselves. Neither meets all of the needs of the other device.

In making your mind up between them, the smartphone has a normal cell battery that can keep it on standby for a number of days. The netbook is more like a computer, with battery life of under 4 hours, so it would have to be kept switched off. Trying booting up your computer just to answer a phone call and you have a major important difference between the two.

A netbook on the other hand has a full keyboard, and you write text a lot quicker than using a smartphone. There's no contest if you write letters a lot during the day and perhaps access spreadsheets. The netbook also wins hands down on net browsing. While the smartphone is fine for occasional internet access, the small screen can be a pain if you use it regularly.

To be honest, your decision as to whether to use a smartphone or netbook will be dictated by whether or not you use your phone predominantly as a cell phone and occasionally use some of the apps it offers. In such a case then the smartphone is the smart choice. However, if your internet browsing is more than just casual, and if you use office applications such as a word processor and spreadsheet frequently, then get yourself the netbook. You can use it for calls when it is switched on and get a cheap pay-as-you-go for incidental calls.

If you don't go that way, then you will not get the best use out of either. It is far better to have two devices that meet your needs exactly than one that is a compromise and offers you only partial functionality for your total needs. If you already have a smartphone, then get a netbook as well, and you can always sell or change your smartphone for a less expensive alternate cell phone. If you have a notebook, then forget the smartphone - all you need is the same inexpensive PAYG that you can top up when needed.

No doubt the time will come when the two become the same: a bulky phone/netbook with long battery life and a good-sized screen and keyboard. In fact, as inferred earlier, the technology is already there with some of the newer advances in e-readers, and it won't be long before compact becomes laptop simply by rolling out the various extensions.

The technology is currently available to combine the two - e-reader technology has come up with the roll-out screen that can be applied to keypads - but it has not yet been decided to combine them into a comprehensive all-encompassing netbook/smartphone. Until that day comes you have the choice to make: netbook or smartphone - which is for you?

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