Netbooks seems to be one of the biggest “old” technologies for 2009. I say old technology because it doesn’t seem to really offer anything that hasn’t been offered before, except in a smaller size. Under-powered machines have been around since PCs came on the scene back in 1981 (and before).
With that said, I been using one for a couple weeks and find I really enjoy it. So what’s changed? I think it comes down to having the right product at the right time. The right time being the ability to take advantage of the Internet with built-in wi-fi and internet browser.
I think another reason for the popularity of netbooks is that they are not trying to position themselves as your main machine. They are really intended as a secondary machine that you would use around the house or office or to take when you travel.
I’ve been using the HP Mini 110 netbook with Windows 7 Starter edition. I’ve been using Windows 7 on my other machines and decided if I was to get a netbook, it should have Windows 7 and not XP that is offered on some machines. (The HP Mini 110 does come with XP and you can add Windows 7 for about $30 extra).
Here are the main features of my Mini 110:
- 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor
- 1 GB DRAM
- 10.1″ WVGA display
- 160 GB Hard Drive
- Wi-Fi and RJ-45 Ethernet
- Webcam with built-in mic
- 5-in-1 Digital Media Reader
- 3 USB Ports
- External VGA Port
I have both Mac and Windows machines (desktops and notebooks) that I use on a daily basis so why do I need “another” computer? There is something wonderful when you get a new computer. It’s so fresh and new and fast. (Fast is not something I would associate with my netbook, but its not that slow). The key is managing its use and the programs I don’t put on it. From my experience machines slow down from “program bloat” — installing too many programs on a machine. These programs take up disk space, desktop space (icon shortcuts), and each one wants to hack away at your registry. All the things that cause the machine to slow down over time. I know there are things you can do to clean up your system, but it’s never the same as a new machine (or reformatted hard drive).
I plan to take a “less is better” attitude to what goes on my netbook. I use it for Internet browsing, Skype and general note taking. I have installed a few utility programs that I can use to remotely manage my client’s websites but I don’t plan to burden it with Photoshop (Elements), Word, or anything else that will bring it to its knees.
So far I’ve enjoyed the experience. From time to time I check in on a number of live video sites, TWIT and Geek News Central, and find the netbook is perfect for that. I can open a session and take the netbook with me as I go to different parts of the house and not miss a beat. If I keep it in the kitchen, it’s there if I need to do a quick Google search and doesn’t take up much counter space. (I don’t need a memory, I have Google )
After a few weeks, here are my pros and cons of the netbook:
- Lots of built-in features: 3 USB ports, VGA port, SD card reader, RJ-45 jack, wi-fi, web cam.
- Long battery life: about 6 hours
- Nice keyboard
- Small size
- Speaker sounds tinny. (I use a small portable speaker system when I need better sound.)
- Display is only 1024 x 576 pixels. The 1024 width is fine but the 576 height is a little short for some programs that assume a taller display. I have some programs that don’t resize and I can’t access buttons at the bottom of the screen.
I don’t think the netbook is for everyone and I wouldn’t recommend it as your only computer, but I think it does have it place. So far this netbook will stay a part of my toolkit and I’ll keep you informed as I use it more.
Happy New Years to all!