Although my notebook of choice (and primary computer) is my MacBook Air, I sometimes prefer something smaller and cheaper to hit the road with… Enter the netbook!
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But I’m planning to bring you a lot more goodness – in fact, Matthew Bennett and I are starting a weekly podcast. So come back soon and come back often :)
I’ve been eying the Acer Aspire One for a while now, because it’s one of the few netbooks equipped with both a 9″ 1024×600 pixel screen and a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU that’s true to the original spirit of netbooks, i.e. affordable, small, light, SSD, Linux, and mod-friendly.
I learned from my experience with the Asus 701 (Eee) that the 7″ 800×480 pixel screen was too small and that the underclocked 900 MHz Celeron CPU was too lethargic. But I liked the sub-$400 price, sub-3 lbs weight and hack-appeal of the original Eee :)
I was disappointed with the HP 2133 (Mini-Note), because of the price, weight and the limited mod-appeal. Built-in Bluetooth was nice and the keyboard was fantastic, but the 9″ 1280×768 pixel screen was too good for my eyes (resolution-wise), the Via C7-M CPU was too inconsistent (performance-wise), and the 120 GB HD was overkill…
I’m really enjoying the Asus 901 (Eee), with its 9″ 1024×600 pixel screen, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, 12 GB SSD, built-in Bluetooth, multitouch trackpad, and hack-friendly design – but the price is too high!
I’m very impressed so far. The SSD uses a 40-pin ZIF connector compatible with most 1.8″ PATA hard drives, and there’s a missing mini PCIe connector and SIM holder on the motherboard for 3G. But first, I’ll be upgrading the RAM and adding internal Bluetooth.
It’s just so, so, so hack-elicious :)
Update: I’ve cracked it open, upgraded the RAM to 1.5 GB, and located an additional USB port and power on the motherboard for Bluetooth.
I’m sitting on the patio at Cafe Flore in the Castro on this balmy spring evening (70 degrees at 11 PM) in San Francisco, blogging on my HP 2133 (Mini-Note) instead of my MacBook Air – oh the things I do for my dear readers :)
Now that I’ve played with my Mini-Note for a couple weeks, I’m really not quite as excited about it as I’d like to be. Here’s a summary of my experience so far…
– Über sexy anodized aluminum
– Nice build quality
– Great keyboard
– Good screen resolution (almost too good?)
– Integrated Bluetooth
– Lots of memory and storage
– Too heavy for its size (> 3 lbs)
– Bulky 6-cell battery and AC adapter
– Screen too dim at times (and no LED backlight?)
– Small trackpad (and horrible buttons)
– Fan is almost always running
– Overly sensitive accelerometer
– Poor video performance
I’m still running Windows XP Pro, now with the official drivers – I’ve also upgraded to XP SP3.
The screen resolution is good but possibly too good for my eyes. As a result, I’ve set the screen to 144 dpi (150% original size), which is a definite improvement.
I’ve downloaded the official SuSE Linux disk image, and I may be taking it for a spin very soon.
Overall, the Mini-Note is a nice machine with good features for the money, but I’m not sure it’s the right machine for me.
I think the upcoming Asus 901 (Eee), with its Intel Atom CPU, integrated Bluetooth, multitouch trackpad, and more manageable 1024×600 pixel screen resolution, may be a better choice for me.
Besides, I already know from my Asus 701 (Eee) that I’m comfortable with the smaller keyboard.
I’ll keep you posted!