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Will the iPad kill Kindle and nuke netbooks?

You need to be a serious bibliophile to choose a Kindle over an iPad

We didn't quite get a brain-controlled tablet that destroys all our enemies, but that doesn't mean the iPad isn't going to ruin somebody's day. If we ran or made netbooks, we'd be pretty fed up this morning.

Netbooks first. Last summer, Apple COO Tim Cook said "at this point, we don't see a way to build a great product for this $399, $499, this kind of price point unit." That's clearly changed, because of course the iPad starts at $499.

That's bad news for netbook manufacturers, because netbooks are primarily purchased as extra PCs: you've already got a proper computer, but you want something for bashing out the odd email, browsing the web or using on the train.

The problem is that netbooks are essentially cheap laptops, which is both their strength and their weakness: the price is right but they're slow, they've got small screens and they're still PCs - with all the complexity, malware and hassle that entails.

The iPad, on the other hand, has a much bigger screen, is much simpler, is a proper media device, gets 10 hours out of a battery and doubles as an ebook. We wouldn't want to type on it all day, but then we wouldn't want to type on the average netbook all day, either. We've got proper computers for that.

Killing the Kindle

Then there's Amazon. The Kindle is a great product, its books are cheaper, it's lighter, it has better battery life and its e-ink display offers a reading experience that the iPad simply can't match.

But can the Kindle run iPlayer, show Disney movies, high-resolution photos or hardcore pornography (we're not joking about that last one: before Steve Jobs had even finished talking we were getting press releases from adult firms boasting iPad-friendly sex films)?

Could you publish a magazine such as Total Film in Kindle format with embedded video? Can you play first-person shooters or even Peggle on it? The answers are no, no, no, no and no.

As an ebook reader the Kindle has no real rival - but if you want an ebook reader and you can only afford one device, then you need to be a serious bibliophile to choose a Kindle over something that is a pretty good ebook reader, a superb multimedia player, a digital map, a games console and a Web-friendly computer.

Book lovers will stick with the Kindle, but the rest of us will be awfully tempted by the iPad.

Carrie Marshall


Former lion tamer, Girls Aloud backing dancer and habitual liar Carrie Marshall (Twitter, Google+) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to .net, MacFormat, Tap! and Official Windows Magazine as well as co-writing stacks of how-to tech books. "My job is to cut through the crap," she says. "And there's a lot of crap."