4 Reasons I’m Glad I Own A Netbook And Not A Tablet [Opinion]

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Lenovo recently stopped selling netbooks, prompting netbook haters around the web to loudly proclaim the “death of the netbook.”

This is, of course, absurd. The netbook was never a well-defined product: essentially, it was a word describing small laptops. I’m not sure what makes a MacBook Air different from a netbook: it’s a small computer too. So the “death of the netbook” is essentially the death of a word: netbook. Computer manufacturers will keep making small computers; they’ll just call them something else. This year they’ll call them Ultrabooks; next year they’ll call them Miniputers or some other made-for-marketing buzzword.

Of course, a key argument here is that tablets are killing the “netbook” market. I can see that: if you want a small device with great battery life for browsing the web it’s hard to beat a tablet.

I, however, am thrilled to own a netbook instead of a tablet. Am I crazy? Probably, but that’s unrelated. Here’s why I’ve no regrets with my netbook purchase.

1. Affordable and Useful Long-Term

Two and a half years ago I bought my EEE PC for $200. It’s still the computer I do most of my writing on.

It’s not a tablet, but because it comes with a keyboard I (a writer) can use it to get actual work done. Ever better: I can still put up-to-date software on it. Would I be better off having spent in excess of $600 on a keyboardless tablet two years ago, only to find out that upcoming versions of iOS or Android won’t work on it? To watch as the device becomes useless for lack of software updates?

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Here’s my point: people who bought an iPhone 3G when I bought my netbook today have a device they can’t install most new apps on. Is there any compelling reason to believe Apple won’t do the same thing to the first generation iPad?

My netbook is up to date and speedy, thanks to Ubuntu, and as of this month I can even install Android on it. All this for a fraction of the cost of a tablet.

So, no regrets.

2. Tablets Are For Consumption, Not Creativity

If you want to mindlessly scroll through your Twitter feed, watch the occasional movie or fling imaginary birds into towers of pigs, a tablet is what you’re looking for.

If you want to actually create something, you need a computer. In my case, that computer happens to be a netbook.

Tablets are, by design, a consumption device. They are great for playing around, but impractical for creating anything meaningful. Don’t get me wrong: tablets work for a few limited acts of creativity. For the most part, though, tablets are tailored towards mindless consumption; a quick look at the most popular apps in the Android or iOS market will show you that: the vast majority of popular apps are games or other things for consuming instead of creation.

A touchscreen keyboard is terrible if you’re a writer: touch-typing is impossible. And sure, you can purchase a keyboard for your tablet, but if that’s what you want why didn’t you just buy a netbook in the first place?

3. No Glass to Shatter

Enough said.

4. Glowing Screens Suck For Reading

The one reason I might want a tablet is for reading: books and news articles are among my favorite things.

The problem: I stare at a glowing screen most of my day, and don’t want to when my work day is over. So I prefer reading books on an e-ink screen or, even better, actual pieces of paper. It’s easier on my eyes, and it’s a lot easier to fall asleep if you’ve not staring at a screen right before bed.

Even better: books and tablets don’t constantly remind me about unread emails and Twitter messages. I can’t concentrate on a book if I’m constantly being reminded of other, less meaningful information streams. Maybe other people have more discipline than me, but I find it easier to focus without quick access to distractions.

Even better: because my netbook only cost me $200 I can easily afford an e-ink reader. Combined, the cost of my netbook and my e-reader don’t come close to the cost of a tablet.


I love my netbook, and refuse to apologize for that. It’s not expensive and disposable, it’s good for production instead of just consumption and it’s not another glowing screen for me to stare at.

Disagree? You’re entitled to. Leave your rants in the comments below, because I certainly left mine above.

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Comments (140)
  • Kurt Rainer

    Brilliant article :)
    I myself used both an Eee PC and a Samsung Galaxy tab back then, and sure enough, the tablet was useful only for consumption. (Though in fairness to it, there are some things that are funner on the tablet than on a netbook)

    By far, the netbook was far more useful in schoolwork, but that’s only to be expected.

    I do have a question, though, things are moving fast, and Asus introduced the Eee Pad Transformer some time ago, kind of a cross between a netbook and a tablet. I was so tempted to get it but I opted against it in favour of waiting a while, to see where this leads.

    Now there are more such ‘hybrids’, many of them running Windows, too. Do you think that’s where this whole netbook vs tablet debate should eventually go? Best of both worlds as it is… lol

    • Justin Pot

      I wrote this article a long time ago, and have had a tablet since then that I mostly don’t use now. I think as phones get bigger and tablets get smaller and bigger, all while laptops change shapes multiple times, the distinction between phone/tablet/laptop will blur together completely. They’ll just be devices.

  • Jack

    My hudl 2 saays hi!

  • Walter

    I’m sure it does awhile about this post, but, Alienware M11X R1 here says hi and outshining for gaming! I recently got myself this little (Heavy, not little XD) gadget after selling my Android tablet that was a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 on Craiglist. Gosh do I feel much more comfortable with an actual PC. Not only can I create stuff, but, you know, for people that don’t want to spend time on small applications and entertainement programs, this laptop that’s from 2011 does MORE than most tablets and phones does today. My father once told me that I should get a phone or get back a tablet, but I told him that I wasn’t the sort of person going to buy one of these things any time soon. This M11X R1 is to stay for a good moment, with a nice option to swith to battery saving mode or full gaming mode!

  • Jamie

    People should just keep to what netbooks are designed for and stop complaining that they can’t watch HD videos or play games !!! I much prefer an actual keyboard and also netbooks offer much more storage space than tablets. I’d like to think of Netbooks as a mobile device from your home computer if you are traveling and don’t want to bring a bulkier 15 or 17 inch laptop at home.

  • Milly

    Dear Justin,
    I completely agree with you (typing easily on my netbook).
    My sisters have tablets and I don’t find them user friendly at all. Like you said, they are very annoying to type on and they don’t even have flash.
    I just don’t see the point of them at all especially seeing as my netbook is happy to sleep for hours and I’m online as soon as I open the lid.

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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