Since the tablet broke into the consumer mindset, we have multiple choices for mobile computing on the move. Popular choices for this demand are netbooks and tablets - with laptops more expensive than both, generally in high quality and much bulkier than both.
The tablet is sometimes described as a large smartphone but in reality the smartphone is also a mobile computer - just with restrictions placed and a size too small for any comfortable use.
Whether a tablet is a modified smartphone with a large screen real-estate or a laptop-like experience, depends on the tablet you are purchasing and the operating system it contains. There are many tablets out there and many tablet brands alongside them.
The main category that separates tablets today, however, isn't the manufacturing brand but the OS. The three main tablet operating systems so far are Windows 7, Android, and Apple's iOS. Android can be further broken down since most modern tablets are running Android 4.0.
Since you are visiting us at Tablets.com, you obviously take an interest in the tablet experience and most likely either own a tablet or plan on purchasing one. However, for those still on the fence, and want to know what the tablet can offer you, the type of tablet right for you depends on your needs. Do you plan on replacing your laptop, netbook, or even desktop computer with a tablet? Or do you want a supplemental device that is much more comfortable to use and designed for specific tasks along with media and entertainment consumption?
If the answer is the latter, the Apple iPad or the iPad 2 should fit your bill. You will need to connect the iPad to iTunes, and it won't be your main work computer, but for media consumption, entertainment; including games movies, browsing, reading on the go, there is no better offer at the moment. And with the hundreds of apps made for the iPad and others upscaled nicely with Retina iPhone 4 compatibility, the iPad should provide a rich entertainment experience. The apps themselves will also most likely fulfill your needs as a student or supplemental mobile productivity user, with everything from GoodReader to PDF Expert - allowing PDF file storage and manipulation. There is also Art Studio, the WordPress app, and Flipboard helping you create content on the fly.
However, is that enough to replace the laptop or even the netbook? Do you still need a file system and Microsoft Office? Do you suffer from compatibility issues when converting documents from the iPadPages app or fear you will? Again, this depends on how many other computers you own and what your needs are out of a tablet. The iPad makes a perfect replacement device if your one of those tech geeks who has a laptop, desktop, and a smartphone already but needs something lighter, slicker, and more comfortable.
But for those who want a true netbook experience and use the tablet as the only mobile-computing device, I suggest to wait for an alternative... or purchase a wireless keyboard with your iPad or tablet.
Then, there's the issue of viruses and malware as recently reported to have already affected Android users. Heavy duty malware and even certain flash-based content could potentially damage the netbook quite badly - due to its sluggish performance under duress and open platform they run on.
So the question comes down to tablets vs. netbooks and the strengths and advantages of each. Netbooks are mostly underpowered Windows-based laptops in smaller form factors that are still prone to viruses, hardware malfunctions, and compatibility issue with apps that are designed for more powerful hardware. But they also offer the standard Windows experience you may be familiar with along with all the software that comes with that. You won't be searching or researching "which app does this or that?" on a netbook. But you may be purchasing a new one if you are a heavy-duty user that frequents a lot of flash-based sites and sites with malware on them.
Many netbooks have much larger memory space as a result of movable-part-made hard drives, but these hard drives often malfunction or wear out. Some tablets you see with hundreds of GB memory also use these but many tablets like the iPad use solid-state drivers that are faster and less prone to error. However, some netbooks or laptops, like the Macbook Air, also use SSDs.
Comfort may play a big factor in your decision as well. Do you want a lighter device that doesn't need a foldable screen or USB peripherals like a mouse and battery pack to be attached to the device constantly? Do you want to travel light? The tablet would be more suitable to you in this regard. But on the other hand, you may need some professional programs like Adobe Creative Suite apps that aren't available on most (except Windows 7 based for example) tablets out there. However, many netbooks are not powerful enough for some of these apps anyway.
There is also the issue of price difference and how much you are willing to spend. Many netbooks are in the $299-$499 price range and many modern tablets like the first generation iPad and Galaxy Tablets can be bought for under $300. The iPad models also have varied prices with the newer models starting around $500. Tablets are still a newer technology for most companies and really became popularized among consumers only since the original iPad came out. It really may just come down to apps, the OS, and software compatibility; also whether you want an entertainment device or one with a traditional setup. However, I would personally recommend tablets for anything other than real heavy-duty work that desktops are built for anyway.