Netbooks vs. iPod touch

iPod touch vs. NetbooksI've spent a lot of time on this blog sharing information about using iPod touch in teaching and learning. As you can tell, I believe it's a fantastic tool for educators and students.

But, is there a better tool for the classroom?

I've also written about netbooks--those low-cost notebook computers with screens between 7 and 10 inches in size. Netbooks are becoming cheaper everyday and are in high demand. I've been using an ASUS 1000HA Eee PC that runs Windows XP, has a 120GB hard drive, a 10.2 inch screen, a keyboard that is 92% the size of a standard keyboard, and a 1.6 Mhz processor. I love using my Eee PC and it really could replace my trusty MacBook.

Let's compare netbooks like the Eee PC 1000HA to iPod touch.

Both iPod touch and netbooks:

  • seem to hold up to being dropped
  • have Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet
  • are small enough to fit on a desk along with a book or paper
  • can play podcasts and media from iTunes U
  • support voice recording
  • hold a charge longer than a laptop computer
  • excite student to use them

iPod touch:

  • requires very little technical support
  • gets no viruses
  • is used in conjunction with a desktop computer
  • is backed up each time synced
  • has slightly longer battery life
  • easily fits in a pocket or backpack
  • has a very fast reboot time
  • is priced at $230


  • have a real life keyboard
  • play Flash videos and interactive Flash content
  • often have a built-in webcam and microphone
  • support the use of USB devices, including flash drives
  • play a variety of video formats (not just mpeg-4)
  • can print to USB and networked printers
  • make it easier to work with full sized websites because of the larger screen
  • can use the full desktop iTunes version (if it's a netbook with Windows)
  • connect to file servers
  • do not require a credit card on file to download software
  • appear more serious and less gimmicky
  • are manufactured by a variety of companies in a variety of configurations
  • are price at $300+

If I were given the choice in what kind of devices to get for my classroom, it would be an easy one. Since I'd want my students to blog, contribute to a wiki, create podcasts, and edit video, my choice would have to be netbooks. But, I'd want netbooks with plenty of memory and a larger screen. The current netbooks that are priced similarly to the iPod touch are underpowered and their 7 inch screen makes them annoying to use.

If it wasn't important to have my students type with a real keyboard and I wasn't planning on sending them to interactive sites with Flash content, then iPod touch deserves a second look. iPod touch would be perfect for specific center or station activities and I know that the library of educational apps is only going to expand. All in all, I'd like to choose both. I'd love to have students use the netbooks to make content for iPod touch. As a teacher, I'd certainly be thrilled to have either netbooks or iPod touch in the hands of my students.

We had a similar discussion to this one two years on this blog before the term netbook was coined and before the iPod touch was released. Like two years ago, feel free to share your thoughts in a comment.

12 Days of iPod touch concludes tomorrow with my best tips for Safari, text entry, and the Home screen.