Netbook nirvana

27Mar09

In my recent technology timeline post I bemoaned the fact that there seems to have been an innovation drought for the last few years (at least where it comes to life changing gadgets) and wondered whether the netbook I had ordered (but not received) might change that? Well… I’ve had the netbook for a few weeks now, and I think it’s a deserving addition to the timeline list. Here’s why:

  • It’s small and light enough that I am willing to take it with me all the time. I’ve had supposedly class leading light laptops for years, and this simply hasn’t been the case.
  • The battery is enough to get through a typical day on the road without having to plug in. That’s not a day of always on use, but for regular email and blog checks, summary notes etc. it’s fine.
  • The screen might be small, but it’s sufficient, and certainly beats smaller devices for watching videos on the way home. Roll on the day when these things come with 1280×720 as standard (yes I know the laws of physics stop my eyes from seeing every pixel at the right relief distance, but I’ve had a high def screen before and liked it).
  • The keyboard is big enough to type normally, and adjusting to missing and displaced ancillary keys didn’t take long. I’m still not a huge fan of trackpads, but a nice little Bluetooth mouse saves me from worrying too much about that.

All this leaves me wondering why anybody would pay >£1k for an executive laptop, when you get pretty much the same thing for <£300?

The one thing that I don’t understand is why integral 3G modems aren’t a standard thing? I’m running with an expresscard thingy, which pokes out a little less than a USB fob, and offers more control and status indicators, but this really should be built in. The cards to do this seem pretty cheap in bulk, so why isn’t it at least an option?



One Response to “Netbook nirvana”

  1. I completely agree.

    Like you I had dabbled with various so called “ultra portable” devices and the latest “ultra thin” laptops. And they all left a naggy feeling that I had been sold short. MacBook Air – too marketing led, Dell Adamo – you what? Voodoo – you have to be kidding!!! all of these seemed to be asthetically driven, form over function – still too big for a ‘take everywhere’ attitude. On the other end of the scale, devices like the OQO and Samsung Q1 were very portable but too compromised to be of real, every day use (apart from watching videos in which case they are better than Archos or iPhones).

    I plumbed for a Samsung NC110 in the end because I could wait for the delivery times of the Lenovo and I have to say it rocks. OK, you have to give cut it some slack in the multi-tasking front – like it doesn’t and big files / applications tend to slow life down as well (the Atom is no powerhouse CPU) but then who doesn’t need to slow down a bit in today’s hectic world. The graphics are fine too for most tasks and as you say the battery life is the big selling point! (why can’t normal laptops achieve anywhere near this kind of battery life?). Luckily I can do a whole working day with mine – on all the time only topping up if I want to do something on the train home.

    All in all I would recommend people try a Netbook – most normal users should be able to use one without much trouble or conversion. With Intel bring out new low power CPUs I expect this sector of the laptop market to grow big time.


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