Goodbye netbook, hello iPad?
November 7, 2012 11:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to have to work some stupid overtime in the next few weeks, and I'm thinking of treating myself to a replacement for my well-loved but on-it's-last-legs EEE Asus netbook, used mostly for sitting on the couch and surfing while watching TV at home. Things I'm pondering:

1. The number one thing holding me back is a lack of keyboard...I have an iPhone and I'm ok with using a touchscreen for texts and short messages, but anything longer than that and I really prefer a keyboard.

2. I'm grandfathered in to a Verizon unlimited data plan, and I understand that if I ever change it (like add a tablet) I'll have to do the shared minutes I'm thinking I'd use it on WiFi only.

3. I'm not into ebooks at all yet, but after carrying around the "Song of Ice and Fire" books for several months, I can kind of see the appeal.

4. Because of work compatibility issues, my main computer at home is a PC.

5. I'm open to other tablets, but I do really like my iPhone.

What say you, hivemind?
posted by JoanArkham to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wireless keyboards that work with the iPad are $20 on Amazon.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:22 AM on November 7, 2012

I am really, genuinely surprised by how easy it is to type on an iPad compared to an iPhone. I mean, I wouldn't type an essay on it, but for chat and forums online and just basic internet stuff, it is, again, surprisingly accurate (as opposed to the iPhone which I still can't get through five words without a typo.) And like Slap*Happy says, keyboards aren't terribly expensive.
posted by griphus at 11:25 AM on November 7, 2012

Response by poster: I've been looking at wireless keyboards (and keyboard cases) but haven't found any with really good reviews. They all seem to be some flavor of "eh, just ok." Any personal recommendations?
posted by JoanArkham at 11:27 AM on November 7, 2012

Also, I have an EEE 900 and typing on the iPad is easier than that, as well.
posted by griphus at 11:28 AM on November 7, 2012

One of my grad student buddies just got the new Windows Surface tablet with the attached keyboard. She specifically wanted something where she could use regular Word, Powerpoint, etc, without having to mess around with anything Apple. She is really happy with it, and since Windows is really promoting it, you might want to see if you could look at a demo at Best Buy or somewhere that sells it. It has a USB port (iPad doesn't have this), which is extremely handy to her because she can do things like attach her external hard drive.
posted by permiechickie at 11:29 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

For Stupid Time typing, I'm OK with the iPad. For Stupid Time typing, the wireless keyboard is just a bit too inconvenient for me to bust it out - it's not part of the device, I have to turn Bluetooth on, and so it just doesn't happen in those Netflix 'n Metafilter moments.
posted by zippy at 11:33 AM on November 7, 2012

I carry an ipad for data entry at work every day. When I travel I usually bring a kb, in this case a nice cover with a Bluetooth kb. I don't use it all the time, the software kb is more then good enough most of the time. Some sort of cover/stand (like the apple Smart Cover) makes it even easier to use.

Most of the time the autocorrect is good enough that typing accuracy need not get in the way of speed. In practice an application specific, err, app, can improve kb usage yet. The built in is more than good enough for email, numbers (and liberal use of cell formatting) makes spreadsheet data entry nearly pleasant, textastic is a pretty good code editor with Dropbox support. Plaintext is a nice text editor which is free and also supports Dropbox. Working on documents that start on one device, end up on another and might finish somewhere else makes something like Dropbox a necessity. Certainly makes doing the heavy lifting on a pc smooth.

I could carry the kb all the time and have a device about the same size and weight as an 11" MacBook Air but I don't have to use it all that much and the resulting smaller size, weight and improved battery life give it a permanent home in my everyday carry bag.

If I were buying something new I would seriously consider buying the new, cheaper smaller, mini. Took a peek at one on the weekend. The display is still large enough for a kb that is orders of magnitude easier to use than that of the iPod or iPhone.
posted by mce at 11:41 AM on November 7, 2012

For light typing, the onscreen keyboard on the iPad isn't bad. For typing more than a couple of paragraphs at a time, I use Apple's own bluetooth keyboard. Paired with an Incase "origami" case, it kinda makes the iPad act like a notebook computer (although you cannot perch it in your lap, or do some other laptoppy things with it).
posted by adamrice at 11:43 AM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for something cool and don't want to pay for an iPad, there's always the new Kindle Fire HD (I believe it's $299) which I'm absolutely in love with and you can do all of those things you're most likely doing with your netbook. Plus, added bonus, you can always sell your old netbook on CraigsList or Amazon or give it away to a younger cousin or something as a hand-me-down. That way it's a win-win situation!

I'm also one of those people who loves physical books, but after lugging around my physical library for so long, I think it's worth the switch. Just sayin'!
posted by camylanded at 2:08 PM on November 7, 2012

personal review: I have the Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, same as mce, and love it. the iPad slots into it and holds it up like a regular laptop screen. (and quite well, in fact.) plus, reattaching it is very easy. it uses the Smart Cover magnets to attach and also to hold up the iPad a bit. the keyboard has good action; about on par with your average chicklet-style keyboard (so most newer PCs, Macs). the keys are smaller than the ones on my 13" MacBook but larger than the ones I've had on netbooks in the past (though that goes back to the first-gen EeePC netbooks, and they had pretty horrible keyboards) so you'd probably be fine with it.

additionally: the standard Apple Bluetooth keyboard works fine with an iPad, as will pretty much any Bluetooth keyboard. you'll have to figure something out for a stand, though. (I also have a Griffin A-frame that works well, but there's not really much to a stand as long as it.. stands.)

more data: The Verge did a roundup of iPad keyboards. their review is mostly why I got the one I did, but there are several other decent options out there. you may also want to check out the keyboard reviews on iLounge.

furthermore: the one thing I wish I had was a stylus. would make interacting with the screen more efficient. (I'm using the iPad largely as a text editor and light image editor for Web stuff though, so your needs may be different.) it's also worth noting that Microsoft is coming out with Office for iPad/iPhone (as well as Android) soon-ish, and that the free tier of OnLive Desktop does include full Word 2010 or whatever the latest is. if you go with a cellular iPad, keep in mind that the plan is totally separate from what you already have, and typically month-to-month (though you can add them to your plans if you want too, I think).
posted by mrg at 2:21 PM on November 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

You might want to look at the Asus Pad Transformer. The tablet part clicks into a keyboard to become almost-a-laptop.

I've used a family member's one, and if you like Android and want to do a fair bit of typing, it seems like a good choice for about iPad prices.
posted by philipy at 3:24 PM on November 7, 2012

I've got both an Asus eee netbook and a 1st Gen iPad. Both seem to have their niches. I'm typing this on the netbook. Even though the keypad on the iPad isn't too bad, I definitely prefer the netbook keyboard. Getting a keyboard for the iPad would change the way I physically handle it to the point where it would be more inconvenient. I also find that when I surf the internet, I prefer using the netbook. The links on webpages under the iPad's Safari browser tend to be too small for my liking and I find that I fat finger them too often. The sizing on webpages also seems to be a little off on the iPad. I don't think I've ever gone to Metafilter using the iPad.

That said, the iPad beats out the netbook in a bunch of other areas. If there is an app available, it's almost always superior to the related website. Some of the aggregation/ magazine apps, like Flipbook, are excellent. The iPad tends to be more powerful than the netbook as well. If I'm watch media, I'll do it on the iPad.

Since I have a 1st gen, I don't have a separate data plan and run off of my wifi. This hasn't been a problem for me. I've taken the iPad on several trips and can usually find a wifi access point at either my end destination or at a way point (like an airport, coffee joint, or rest stop). Then again, I don't really using any mapping or gps type apps while on the move.

I was surprised at how much I liked using the iPad for ebooks, as well. I was skeptical at the beginning, but I find that I read more when reading an ebook than a hard copy book. I blew through 5-6 ebooks over the course of 2 months over the summer, but have been stuck on the same physical book for the last 3 months. I find it's easier to start reading when the book is on the same device that I was just using to play a game or check the news, than to put down the device and go find the hard copy book.

Compatibility hasn't been too much of an issue, but I don't really do any work at home. I do find that my iPad is more compatible with the non-computer devices around my house than my netbook by a long stretch. I can control my cable box/dvr, xbox, netflix, and net enabled TV from the iPad.
posted by chrisulonic at 4:28 PM on November 7, 2012

It's something where it might be very YMMV, but my Nexus 7 + Swype is, typing-wise, pretty much nirvana. I use it at home all the time, now, in places where I formerly used to use my full laptop. But the screen's a little small for some stuff if you're used to a 10" netbook.
posted by gracedissolved at 4:31 PM on November 7, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! Lots of good info here. I guess the next step is to actually go out and play with some different tablets and keyboards.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:21 AM on November 8, 2012

There is also the new Lenovo Yoga. It's a convertible tablet thing. I can't personally recommend it but it seemed solid when I tried it at Best Buy.
posted by Talia Devane at 6:36 AM on November 8, 2012

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