How does the iPad stack up against a netbook using the Acer Aspire One AOD255-N551G25n as the comparison? The iPad looks great for those who want to brag
Mine cost more than yours. Where else does it win?
Apple has already announced the iPad is obsolete and is replaced by the iPad2. The reasons for the replacement appear to be all around the iPad being too slow. Apple refuse to supply specifications about their hardware, making comparisons difficult, and they are bragging about only three new features, speed, a second camera, and a plastic cover. There are already better covers out there. The competition have two cameras. Their new processor chip was obsolete back when they announced it. The iPad2 looks a bit like other Apple devices where they initially release something missing important features, flood the market, then make everyone buy an upgrade.
Both devices have a one year guarantee. Some Acer and Toshiba professional notebooks have three year warranties including pick up. Both Toshiba and Acer have notebooks similar in size to netbooks. If you want a great guarantee you have to look at another brand or, for Acer, a different model.
If you do a lot of travelling and depend on your computer, look at the light weight Toshiba Portégé R700 notebook with the strong magnesium frame. The alternative is to buy a well padded strong case for the iPad or Acer Aspire One.
When you want speed, look at anything with SSD. Try the light weight Toshiba Portégé R700 notebook with an SSD and the equivalent in the Lenovo Thinkpad range. You could also upgrade the Acer Aspire One with the OCZ Vertex 2 recommended in Best SSD for your notebook computer. There is nothing you can do for the iPad except wait for the iPad2.
The Acer has a screen size of 10.5 inches (26.7 cm) against the iPad 9.7 inches (24.6 cm). The Acer is just big enough for basic text work, big enough to display images full screen, but really useless for editing images. If you travel and want to edit images for the Web while on the road, I suggest jumping up to a 13 inch screen size. Toshiba and the Lenovo Thinkpad range have some nice 13 inch models. Years ago, before Toshiba released the R700, Toshiba had the R600 and Apple produced a cheap clone named the Macbook Air.
The iPad is missing a keyboard. Tablet computers were around for many years before Apple finally brought out their version. The biggest selling accessory is always a keyboard. People hate touch screens within an hour of trying to do anything serious. Apple sell an iPad keyboard/dock combination for your desk but not for use on the road. Apple sell a case to protect the iPad screen but do not include a keyboard in the case. You will end up paying $89 for the keyboard and $48 for the case then you will see all the alternative cases with keyboard included and buy one of them for $100.
The Acer includes the keyboard free. The Acer keyboard leaves the whole of the screen free for your use. Acer screen is effectively twice as big because none of it is wasted on a keyboard. Your typing is many times faster on the Acer because you can use two hands.
The touchpad on the Acer is a touch small and too sensitive. My fingers are larger than average and just fit the touchpad for normal use. Many notebooks have far more space for touchpads but still insist on using equally small touchpads, making the Acer One an average choice in this area. The touchpad is far more sensitive than the Toshiba I often use. I prefer the less sensitive Toshiba because, on the Acer One, I continually jump the cursor to the wrong location by having other fingers too close to the touchpad.
The Acer has screen protection built in and includes a carry case at not extra cost. The iPad requires another $48 for an equivalent.
The iPad has the capacity limited to either 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB.
16 GB is barely enough for one holiday. Start with all the storage lost to software and applications. Take a lot of pictures, a few videos, load up some books and movies. 16 Gb will last about a week. You need 32 GB for longer holidays.
I have used 32 GB on portable devices. 32 GB lasts about six months for either home use or work use. To combine both, you need more storage.
64 GB is enough storage in a portable device for family pictures and one decent work project. You can put the rest on SD cards. Oh, the iPad does not have an SD slot. You have to also carry a Macbook Air for real work and, not the 11 inch Macbook air, it has to be the 13 inch Macbook Air.
The Acer has 250 Gb of storage and an SD slot and plenty of USB connections for other forms of storage. I can carry all my family and holiday photos plus videos plus everything for all my current projects. Small old projects can be on SD cards. Large old projects can be on USB devices.
Your usage may be different. Based on observing a lot of Apple customers over the years, most buy a device limited to their current need then find they need something at least twice as big within a few months. Before you buy an iPad, use one that is loaded with applications similar to what you want then look at the available space remaining. The available space will be significantly less in the 16 GB model. The overhead will be less noticeable in the 32 and 64 GB models.
I will use the 64 GB iPad in the cost comparison because, based on everyone I know who uses portable devices, the 32 GB model would last less than a year.
Both have Wifi. Both have Wifi at 802.11n. Anything less is obsolete.
A 3G connection helps you when away from your wireless networks and Wifi cafes. Both the iPad and the Acer Aspire One can run off the Telstra NextG network, for access in rural areas, using the $129 Telstra Wifi box or the $129 Telstra USB adaptor. The USB adaptor can connect to an external antenna for extra remote access. The iPad is also available with 3G built in for $200 extra. The 3G version is thicker than the normal iPad. To use the 3G iPad, you still have to buy a SIM card and access, just like everyone else. The iPad works with HSDPA at 850MHz (Telstra) and 2100 MHz (Optus and everyone else) but not the faster modern HSDPA protocol used on the NextG network.
The iPad includes a Web site to let you delete data on a lost iPad assuming the person who stole the iPad is silly enough to connect in a way that lets you delete the data. The Acer wins here with the option to use any type of protection you like. I use the Linux option to encrypt directories.
The Acer lets you dual boot between Windows 7 and Android (a version of Linux). The Acer lets you blow both away and upgrade to Linux. The iPad a free open version of Unix sold by Apple with modifications to restrict your options for running applications and viewing the Internet.
No doubt Android or Linux users will bring out a version for the iPad, giving you the option to step up to Android when the number of Android applications exceeds the number of Apple applications. Installing Linux should be possible because almost everything in the iPad is standard old technology available in other brands, brands that already run Linux. The iPad2 will have a modified processor which will slow down the use of Android and Linux on the iPad2.
The unusual things in iPad are rare and are only minor modifications of technology purchased from other suppliers. If you want modern, you would switch to the Samsung Galaxy S which has the same touch screen as the iPad but behind the touch screen, the Galaxy S has a brilliant AMOLED display.
Audio and video playback
The iPad limits you to whatever Apple wants you to use. The Acer lets you use anything available through your operating system and you can use any operating system. I am using Linux and Linux plays back everything.
The iPad technical specifications exclude half or more of my media files, making the iPad useless without a massive conversion effort and I would have to keep the originals on another computer to retain the quality. If the iPad was flexible I could use it to carry media files to a customer, present the files, then copy the files to the customer's computer. The restrictions in the iPad mean I would have to maintain and carry duplicate files, one to present on the iPad, and a separate file to download for the customer.
Oh, according to iPad users, you cannot download using the SD card adapter in the camera kit, you have to carry a duplicate adapter or carry another computer, say an Acer. No wonder people in the trade complain about all the problems with Apple products.
Where do you plug in your mouse when using the iPad on a desk? Apple appear to have completely forgotten the mouse when designing their desk set. To make the desk dock work you have to plug in a lot of accessories and there is no mouse anywhere where in the accessory list. There is no USB socket available for the mouse. You probably have to buy a powered USB hub to share one USB socket across the multiple things you normally connect when at a desktop.
The Acer wins here with several USB connections included free. I would still use a hub for some desk connections because a desk can have graphics tablets, printers, and many other USB things that are easier to connect through one hub. The point is the Acer can connect several things without needing a hub, covering all your needs when away from your work desk. The iPad needs a hub just to get basic functionality and you will have to carry the hub with you to work at remote locations.
The Acer has three full power USB 2.0 sockets. The closest equivalent for an iPad would be a powered 4 port external hub. I included the cheapest one in the cost for desktop use. The reality is you would end up paying almost twice as much to get the smallest lightest flexible powered hub for travel.
I have not tried support for the Windows 7 or Android supplied with the Acer. Ubuntu support through forums is excellent and free. The iPad support is limited to 90 days, just long enough to learn about connecting Wifi if you travel to a lot of places during the first 90 days. For everyone else with an iPad, I suggest the $129 support plan.
I did not include the support plan in the cost of the iPad because you could survive with one support plan for a whole business. You buy one support plan for one iPad and make sure that iPad is the first iPad into any Wifi area, cafes, conference centres, restaurants, accommodation, and training rooms. The person with the supported iPad finds out how to connect then tells everyone else.
Based on experience at conferences, one of you should also carry an Apple Airport for those occasions you want to use the free broadband Internet access at the conference instead of your expensive external service. The connection often fails and Apple blames the faulty connection on the network wireless transmitter then says the only solution is to use an Apple wireless transmitter.
The weight of the base iPad is less than the weight of the Acer netbook but the weight of the iPad with all the accessories need to be equivalent is greater than the weight of the Acer.
Based on the experience of comparing other Apple portable computing devices, the iPad will be lighter when you carry it by itself to show off to friends, will be the same weight or slightly heavier when you carry it and some accessories into cafes for a serious work session, and will be heavier when you load everything into your suitcase to fly to a conference or interstate office. I am basing the cafe comparison on including the additional weight of a larger case to carry all the accessories.
You buy an iPad, plus the iPad camera kit, or an Acer netbook for reviewing images on all those SD card pouring out of your camera. Neither the iPad nor the comparison Acer handle the current SDHC or the next generation, the SDXC. You can choose a slightly bigger Acer notebook to handle SDHX or a super light Toshiba to handle SDXC.
All the Acers, Toshibas, and alternatives let you edit while you review. The iPad artificially restricts you from writing changes to the SD cards, making it useless for the common action of trimming out unwanted shots. With the iPad you have to keep all the junk on the memory cards until you return to your base and a real computer. If you have an iPad and a camera, forget the iPad and use the camera cable to connect to the television set in your motel room for reviewing images.
iPad has an advantage in the tough travel area because it uses flash memory for storage instead of a magnetic disk. If you are travelling tough with the Acer then upgrade to an SSD. A waterproof keyboard is useful and neither device has that. A full waterproof computer is useful and Panasonic specialises in rugged computers but nothing from Acer or Apple is rugged.
A couple of transparent sealed plastic bags are always useful when using a computer outdoors. The iPad can be used while sealed in the bags. The Acer cannot because it needs air flow for cooling. but hey, how many times do you sit in the rain while uploading images to your Web site and typing the related articles?
We are talking Australian dollars including tax. The cost difference in other countries may be greater because Apple can restrict supply to Australia to boost prices.
The Acer is readily available across Australia for $378. The following table adds up the iPod and some of the Apple accessories you will need to put together an equivalent.
|Camera connection kit||$39.00|
|Powered USB hub||$22.00|
What could you buy with SSD? The iPad uses flash memory, there are no published specifications for the memory speed, and there is no way to free up the iPad to use regular applications. So lets start with the ideal machine for work on the road, the Toshiba R700 with SSD. You get everything you need in one light weight notebook. No lugging around a big box of accessories.
How does a Macbook Air compare? It is practically the same price but does not have the fast processor of the R700 or the safe solid frame of the R700 plus you have to lug around a box full of accessories, making the Macbook Air larger and heavier.
|Fast processor||Not available|
|HDMI||Not available. Substitute Dual DVI|
How would a modified Acer Aspire One compare? This price comparison uses the OCZ Vertex 2 SSD which is faster than the SSD in either the Apple Macbook Air or the Toshiba R700. You would, of course, lose your guarantee when you replace the supplied disk with the SSD but the total price is so low, you could throw it away and replace it without spending as much money as you would for the alternatives.
|Acer Aspire One||$378.00|
|Fast processor||Not available|
|4GB Memory||Not available|
|OCZ Vertex 2 120 GB SSD||$239.00|
The iPad, by itself, is light and easy to use for reading things. Typing is a pain and almost every alternative is a better choice. Image editing is better on a larger screen, at least 13 inch. Text typing and editing is better with a real keyboard. Safe travel requires a Toshiba R700 style magnesium case. The Acer Aspire One is better for everything involving typing except tough travel, where neither the Acer nor the iPad is suitable.