The Dell Inspiron iM1012-687OBK is an actually a very capable PC with a very nice size factor at 7.74 by 10.55 by 1.26 inches, weighing about three pounds. Featuring a 160 GB, 5,400-spin hard drive, it has more than enough space to hold not only the Windows 7 operating system with which it comes equipped, but also the suite of features that this version of the Microsoft product features.
A powerful, small machine, it is driven by Intel's low-powered Atom series of processors. The Dell uses the N450 which runs at 1.66 GHz which, when one examines it, makes this a very powerful machine for its size. It can be equipped with up to 1 GB of SDRAM. Interestingly, most tablets come with a minimum of 4 to 8 GB of RAM built in and you can expand that amount to as much as 64 GB with microSDHC or microSDXC memory cards. The key here is that this memory serves double-duty as it not only holds the operating system, any apps you choose and data, but it also holds anything you write to memory so that while it may appear that 64 GB of memory is more than enough for most average days - it usually is - if there is a day when you are spending a lot of time on the net reading mail, making notes and downloading and fixing presentations, then that 64 GB becomes crowded quite quickly.
The netbook, on the other hand, offers independent storage. The Dell, for example, has a 160 GB 5,400-spin hard drive that not only holds the operating system, but also any applications that come with Windows 7, and any other applications you download. It is true there is only 1 GB of SDRAM available for the Netbook's operation, however, when you set up "virtual memory" on the hard drive (page and swap files), you have extra space available so that if you run out of data space in the RAM, the data is then placed in the page and swap area as either the next instruction for a program or the next piece of data the Netbook is holding. Still, the 1 GB of RAM looks anemic as compared to the 2 or more that you find in other Netbooks on the market.
And, even though the Netbook does have onboard storage, a tablet such as the iPad or Samsung with their 64 GB of memory still sets up the rest of the memory as a virtual hard disk that is instantly available. Data is then offloaded into the "clouds" that are now being set up by the major computer firms so that even though there is no extra storage, the tablets still hold an advantage.
Where tablets fall down is in the availability of a QWERTY-style keyboard. One must use a special application to open the touchscreen-based keyboard that cuts your usable screen area about in half. The Netbook, on the other hand, maintains a full 10.1-inch WSVGA screen (1024 by 600) depth without using half the screen as a keyboard. The tablet's keyboard, by the way, is good for texting, but not for touch-typing.
Indeed, that is where the Netbook holds the edge because you have a full complement of computer features to draw upon, including USB ports, VGA outputs. Most Netbooks can go wired as part of your home network or have a small WiFi radio system installed so that they can also use your WiFi router, as well. That makes them versatile.
Let's be fair about this, also, the tablet will shine as an eReader because that is essentially its birthright, while the Netbook is really a lightweight laptop that's not quite tablet or even sub laptop. Indeed, the best way to describe one is a sublaptop light.