One of the things I dislike about tech conferences is the amount of stuff I lug around them. At ISTE for the past several years I have had my laptop and power brick with me at almost all times from dawn until way past dusk. I feel like I need physical therapy for my back when I get home! Last year I saw many more people carrying around a Netbook, and although I am a Mac girl at heart, I didn't let that get in the way of purchasing an Asus EeePC netbook.
My criteria for getting a netbook were/are the following:
1) Light weight machine for travel
2) Easy access to calendar and e-mail
3) Word processor of some type for note taking
4) Twitter platform
Basically, I wanted a machine that I could use at meetings and conferences to do the basics. I don't need to do video editing or complex web design. I just didn't want to lug around my main machine all over the building and across campus. I also wanted to see what the limitations/advantages of a netbook would be be for our students. I've been really happy with my netbook. I had worries about keyboard size and screen size, which have not been an issue for me. The weight and size are perfect (although finding the perfect bag has been hard), and it has been great to bring to meetings. The downsize has been I haven't found the perfect twitter app (I'm on Ubuntu - any recommendations?) and getting to my e-mail and calendar (I use Groupwise for work, Gmail & iCal for personal) has been sub-optimal.
Then the iPad came out, and I had just enough money in my budget to go for it, so I did. Of course as a Mac fangirl I was pre-disposed to like it. But as a supplemental device to my main machine, it has worked great. Easy access to e-mail that syncs seamlessly with my e-mail on my Macbook. Great Twitter Apps and access to iCal calendar (still going to web client for Groupwise calendar). But multi-tasking is sub-optimal, and would I really enjoy taking notes on it? So I set-up the perfect test - a conference. For the first day of Futureweb I used my iPad, for the second I used my netbook, and Day 3 would be the winner.
Day 1 - iPad
Evernote has been the perfect app for notetaking on the iPad for me. I can make my quick notes on the sessions and then use those to write blog posts later. I think I blogged more about this conference more than any other because of how easy it was for me to take notes. I was also not originally a fan of the Apple iPad cover, but am loving the wedge shape it creates to make it easier to type. Another bonus - no computer bag, the iPad fits in one of my larger purses. The battery was at 54% when I left for the day. I think I'm in love. However, it has been hard to multi-task between my Twitter client and note-taking. I'm used to a smoother transition and miss the ability to view tweets while I'm taking notes. This maybe a deal breaker.
Day 2 - Netbook
Evernote doesn't exist as an application for Ubuntu, so I'm using the web browser. Currently I'm using Firefox, but I need to start using Chrome to save on screen realestate. I'm using one of the default Ubuntu Twitter clients and it is just not up to par - I miss my Tweetdeck columns. Maybe my issues are Ubuntu related and I should try Windows 7 (I just shuttered a little). The netbook is definitely heavier than the iPad, but it still fits in my big purse. The battery lasted all day.
Both the Netbook and the iPad met my criteria for what I wanted out of a portable device, but the integration with my work machine makes the iPad a winner. There are still a few disadvantages of relying on only an iPad, and when I travel to ISTE I will have my laptop and my iPad, but the Netbook will stay in the office. I'll keep working on perfecting the netbook, and the tools I use with it, but Round 1 goes to the iPad.