Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Netbook Distraction

I'm a bit perplexed by the whole 'netbook' thing (sorry Psion). A nine to 12 inch screen, compact keyboard -or worse, rearranged keyboard, and if it comes with Windows XP you get limited functionality. At the very least, the Dell Mini 9 below comes with Ubuntu 
This eeePC below is running Ubuntu. You can get a good idea of how small it is

I just don't get the whole netbook thing. Ever since the first Windows CE Handheld computers came out (mine first was the Casio Cassiopia), I had one. I got pretty good at three finger typing, and wrote an entire operations manual on one. 

When the HP version came out, I was in HPC heaven. The keyboard was a great improvement:

But those handhelds were compact, easy to carry around. I could keep mine in my pocket, or a little belt pouch. My Toy, as it came to be known, was always with me. These netbook things are almost big enough to be a regular laptop. Big enough to be just slighly too big to be portable.

I think people see the price tags on these things (usually under $400, and some close to $200), and think they can get by just fine with it. Some people like them, some return them -Linux or not.

Besides price, I think the other thing people like about these netbooks is battery life. I have a P3 Acer Travelmate with Ubuntu 8.04 LTS on it. I consider that my 'netbook' because it has a 4 hour battery life. My 2.8 Ghz HP is more powerful, but with the battery hold a 40 minute charge at best, it's more a desktop replacement. The travelmate is pretty light and thin enough, and the HP is heavy and bulky. Guess which one I use more?

As laptops come down in price, increase in battery life, and cellphones like the G1 and the iPhone increase functionality, these netbooks are not going to last.