iPad and tablets outsell netbooks by two to one

The iPad has crushed the netbook. For the first time tablets -- basically, iPads -- have outsold mini-laptops.

The iPad has crushed the netbook. For the first time tablets -- basically, iPads -- have outsold mini-laptops, and by nearly two to one.

The number-crunchers at ABI Research calculate that 13.6 million tablets were sold this summer, as opposed to 7.3 million netbooks. Netbooks are still popular, but sales figures are in decline. Meanwhile tablet sales doubled from the start of the year, no doubt driven by the arrival of the iPad 2 in March.

The figures also reveal that 68 per cent of tablets sold are iPads (Gartner put the figure at 73 per cent for the year). The rest of the tablet pack, such as Android tablets or the BlackBerry PlayBook, haven't shifted anywhere near the success of Apple's slate. ABI reckons 60 million tablets will fly off the shelves in 2012.

Netbooks, eh, remember them? Not so long ago, netbooks -- small laptops -- were ten a penny. We slept on a pile of netbooks. We handed netbooks over to barmen instead of small change. We put a netbook on a stand made out of netbooks, on a desk made out of netbooks. But then the iPad came along and suddenly netbooks were yesterday's news.

They're still popular in developing countries, but the early-adopting tech-savvy consumers of Western Europe, the US, Japan and South Korea have moved on to tablets.

Both netbooks and tablets are designed to be portable and uncomplicated, so they can be whipped out at any time and in even the most cramped space. Do a bit of work on the train, check your email in the coffee shop, browse the Web while dropping the kids off at the pool -- that sort of thing. Tablets are lighter and have bigger screens, and they're always on.

Meanwhile the main argument for netbooks over tablets is that they have physical keyboards, which makes them more suited to lengthy typing, like working or emailing. Sadly, the size of a netbook means the keyboard's cramped, so it's a question of personal taste: rubbish physical keyboard or rubbish touchscreen keyboard?

Are you a tablet toaster or a netbook nut? Have you been won over by a slate, or would you rather die than give up your keyboard? Type out your thoughts in the comments section below or on our Facebook page. And check out the five most popular netbooks and five best tablets you're craving here on CNET UK, as voted by you. Yes, you!

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