A FEW weeks ago, I had said that a well-designed netbook (Internet-oriented laptop) might make more sense as value-for-money compared to a tablet. Last week, ahead of the new iPad launch from Apple, I had said that smart TVs (Internet-enabled TVs) with LTE (Long-term Evolution- high-speed broadband) connections might be more worth watching out for than the new iPad.
As it turns out, apart from its high-quality retina screen, the new iPad also promises an LTE facility. However, last week, I encountered a critic who said the iPad had loads of applications (apps) and my contention that it was basically about video-viewing and e-reading was questionable.
He may be right, but I think it is always important to define the context in which such discussions are held. For the Indian middle class, and many of them families with four or more members, any consumer durable purchase is a major decision. Very often, there is the question of which is a better buy. Apps are only now taking off in India. LTE is yet to arrive. But on both counts, we are getting there and I expect the next two years to see major developments.
However, companies such as LG and Samsung have already launched smart TVs, and guess what? They have apps designed for Indian consumers. Therefore whether you go for a netbook or tablet or smart TV - or all the three, if you are rich and tech-happy enough - depends on your needs, your situation and your budget.
LTE connections fall in the 4G category while even 3G is only just taking off in India. By the time 4G arrives, tablets might become even cheaper. As I have always argued, in the Net economy, purchases are best made keeping in mind the apps, the data services and the machine -all in mind. Because you pay for one but your experience is a function of all three.
The moral of this story is that a lot depends on your budget on the one hand and the timing of your purchase. Just be sure that your purchases are based on the total experience you desire and the services that are feasible in India in the time horizon you have in mind. Remember, be it a smart TV, netbook or tablet, better and cheaper versions keep arriving.