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'[TECH]:: Netbook choices'
2009\08\11@100339 by Russell McMahon

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1.  Question- detailed at end: Is there any inobvious reason why a netbook
seems a bad choice for this task. Is there a better newer brighter solution
that IO've missed?
2. People may not be aware of this nicely specd recent netbook offering.
___________

When travelling I usually lug a standard size laptop - in a daypack on
occasion. Doable but annoying.

We've decided to "invest" [tm] in a 'netbook' for our coming trip.
I've done all the standard reading and comparing.
Reduced size and weight and reasonably OK battery life seem to make this a
travellers dream, comparatively.
A light-weight portable solar panel of a few Watts capacity MAY be part of
trip complement depending on overall final packed weight and volume.

Prices here don't seem too much worse than Asia and buying here allows
pretrip setup and local extended warranty.

Choices seemed to be variants of HP/Acer/Asus in around the 10" screen size
in each case.

I've probably decided on the reasonably new and well specd HP 5101 with Atom
N280 1.66GHz, 1366 x 768 10.1" display, 2GB RAM, 320 GB HDD, WiFi,
Bluetooth and Win XP Pro with Vista Business downgrade optional. Including a
3 year pickup and return HP warranty the prices is about $US700, which seems
a bargain for such a well specifiEd machine, when compared with specs and
cost say a year ago. HP keyboard is generally felt to be as good as any in
this class, this model has a real DB15 VGA port (unlike some earlier HPs). 4
cell battery is a shame compared to 6 cell of some competitors. NO internal
DVD and external USB DVD probably won't be added as premium pricing of small
USB powered units seems unjustified. 1.3kg. 23.2 (at front) x 262 x 180 mm

Microsoft have poleaxed the display resolution on all netbooks with XP home
by requiring they be no more than 1024 x 600 to gain license rights to the
low cost XP home variant. XP Pro versions don't have this limitation and the
extra height makes a large difference on some pages.

The major tasks are 1. the assimilation, retention and possible display of
photos  along the way with external HDD as backup) plus 2. WiFi / LAN
internet access where appropriate. I haven't tested CF card download speeds
yet but expect they may be slow by laptop speeds but not absolutely
terrible. I may be wrong.

Post trip use liable to be more of the same.

QUESTIONs:  This SEEMS like an excellent version of this class of machine to
me. What have I missed? Am I going to regret this? Why should I not instead
buy eg an HP 12.1" 'proper' noteboook  with substantially more size, more
weight more processing speed, more cost and a DVD writer? Any fatal flaws
(apart from lack of internal DVD)..


Russell

2009\08\11@105907 by John Gardner

picon face
Rundown on Asus Eee 1101 HA claims 11 hour runtime...

http://jkontherun.com/page/4/

Other related, more recent stuff if you're not reading these guys.

Jack

2009\08\11@114059 by Harold Hallikainen

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Though I can't answer your specific questions, I too find my laptop
computer heavy to lug around. Especially if I carry the AC supply. It's an
HP with DVD drive, large screen, etc. So, this morning, I ordered a
refurbished Asus netbook for $110US. We'll see how that works out.

Harold


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2009\08\11@115203 by John Gardner

picon face
This thing is also interesting, notably for the display.

Ran across a fair number of posts which claim the TV
tuner option does'nt work...

www.laptopmag.com/review/laptop/dell-inspiron-mini-10-tv-tuner.aspx?page=2

2009\08\11@142530 by peter green

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face
Russell McMahon wrote:
> 1.  Question- detailed at end: Is there any inobvious reason why a netbook
> seems a bad choice for this task. Is there a better newer brighter solution
> that IO've missed?
> 2. People may not be aware of this nicely specd recent netbook offering.
> ___________
>
>
>
> Choices seemed to be variants of HP/Acer/Asus in around the 10" screen size
> in each case.
>  
Yeah 10 inch seems to be about the sweet spot, not too big to lug
arround, big enough that they can fit a decent screen resoloution while
not making the pixels ridiculously small (though unfortunately most
manufacturers still fit the same crappy resoloution as the 9 inch
machines) and the can fit a proper 2.5 inch drive.
> I've probably decided on the reasonably new and well specd HP 5101 with Atom
> N280 1.66GHz, 1366 x 768 10.1" display, 2GB RAM, 320 GB HDD, WiFi,
> Bluetooth and Win XP Pro with Vista Business downgrade optional. Including a
> 3 year pickup and return HP warranty the prices is about $US700, which seems
> a bargain for such a well specifiEd machine, when compared with specs and
> cost say a year ago. HP keyboard is generally felt to be as good as any in
> this class, this model has a real DB15 VGA port (unlike some earlier HPs). 4
> cell battery is a shame compared to 6 cell of some competitors.
Assuming you are in the US you might want to consider the older HP mini
2140 with HD screen option. It's no longer availible new but you can
often get it "refurb" from the "HP buisness outlet store". It has the
same 10 inch screen but it's smaller than it's replacement and has an
expresscard slot. On the downside it doesn't have the mobile data option
availible.
> NO internal
> DVD
As you would expect in a machine this size
> and external USB DVD probably won't be added as premium pricing of small
> USB powered units seems unjustified. 1.3kg. 23.2 (at front) x 262 x 180 mm
>  
Personally when buying one for my brother (haven't got a netbook for
myself yet) we compromised and bought one that was slimline but not USB
powered. It gets used at home for installing software and packed in the
suitcase when going on holiday but does not get taken on shorter trips.

Sony have a similar machine too though they only offer it with XP home.
> Microsoft have poleaxed the display resolution on all netbooks with XP home
> by requiring they be no more than 1024 x 600 to gain license rights to the
> low cost XP home variant.
Afaict this requirement is only for windows 7 starter not for XP home
ULCPC. Both HP and sony seem to be offering XP home in conjunction with
the "HD "displays.

They do ban manufacturers putting more than 1GB of ram in the XP home
machines (though there is nothing technical and afacit nothing legal to
stop you upgrading the ram yourself after purchase)
> XP Pro versions don't have this limitation and the
> extra height makes a large difference on some pages.
>
> The major tasks are 1. the assimilation, retention and possible display of
> photos  along the way with external HDD as backup) plus 2. WiFi / LAN
> internet access where appropriate. I haven't tested CF card download speeds
> yet but expect they may be slow by laptop speeds but not absolutely
> terrible. I may be wrong.
>  
I'd expect them to be much the same as any other laptop, USB and the
cards themselves are far more of a bottleneck than the CPU afaict.

> Post trip use liable to be more of the same.
>
> QUESTIONs:  This SEEMS like an excellent version of this class of machine to
> me. What have I missed? Am I going to regret this?
The only potential issue is being a new model it's build quality is
relatively unproven and HP doesn't exactly have the worlds best
reputation in that regard. Getting the 3 year warranty definately seems
like a smart move to me
>  Why should I not instead
> buy eg an HP 12.1" 'proper' noteboook  with substantially more size, more
> weight more processing speed, more cost and a DVD writer? Any fatal flaws
> (apart from lack of internal DVD)..
>  
Not really, the processor is a lot slower but thats not a big deal for
any of the applications you are proposing.

If at all possible I'd try to find somewhere you can see one in person
so that you can decide if the pixels are too small for you.

2009\08\11@143442 by William \Chops\ Westfield

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On Aug 11, 2009, at 7:03 AM, Russell McMahon wrote:

> Is there any inobvious reason why a netbook seems a bad choice

The system you mention sounds OK for your tasks to me, but also  
appears relatively atypical for the "netbook" class of machine.   Many  
of the netbooks have a very small "disk" drive (frequently solid state  
disk) barely capable of holding the OS and utilities, in an odd and  
perhaps not-upgradable form factor, making them unsuitable for the  
usual photo backup application...

BillW

2009\08\11@161003 by Herbert Graf

picon face
On Tue, 2009-08-11 at 11:34 -0700, William "Chops" Westfield wrote:
> On Aug 11, 2009, at 7:03 AM, Russell McMahon wrote:
>
> > Is there any inobvious reason why a netbook seems a bad choice
>
> The system you mention sounds OK for your tasks to me, but also  
> appears relatively atypical for the "netbook" class of machine.   Many  
> of the netbooks have a very small "disk" drive (frequently solid state  
> disk) barely capable of holding the OS and utilities, in an odd and  
> perhaps not-upgradable form factor, making them unsuitable for the  
> usual photo backup application...

I think your view of the "netbook" space is a little outdated.

Most machines now come with 80GB+ drives. SSDs are still options, but
most opt for regular hard drives.

Pretty much all machines now have "standard" hard drive connections
(since standard hard drives are options on most machines).

As for expansion, pretty much all netbooks have SD card slots (some have
two) machine expansion a breeze considering how cheap 16 and 32GB SD
cards have become.

TTYL

2009\08\11@161738 by M. Adam Davis

face picon face
Most people I've met who have purchased netbooks indicate that they
have buyers remorse.  Netbooks seem like a neat solution to the
size/weight problem, but even the high-end models are severely
underpowered compared to even a low end notebook.  The processor bus
is limited purposefully to increase battery time, which means your
transfers are going to be noticably slower than a regular machine,
among other significant tradeoffs.

As long as you are prepared for that, you should be fine.

If you are unsure, take a look at 13" or 12" notebooks - nearly double
in terms of processor capability, memory, HD, etc for similar or lower
cost.  The size difference isn't very large, but weight and battery
time are noticably worse.

-Adam

On Tue, Aug 11, 2009 at 10:03 AM, Russell McMahon<spam_OUTapptechnzTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>

2009\08\11@162410 by Dario Greggio

face picon face
Herbert Graf ha scritto:
> On Tue, 2009-08-11 at 11:34 -0700, William "Chops" Westfield wrote:
>> On Aug 11, 2009, at 7:03 AM, Russell McMahon wrote:
>>
>>> Is there any inobvious reason why a netbook seems a bad choice
>>>[...]
> Most machines now come with 80GB+ drives. SSDs are still options, but
> most opt for regular hard drives.


Yeah, I'd go "the cheaper the better" especially on netbooks.

Most of them (<200EUR) have 160GB HD, 1024x600 9" LCD, 1GB RAM, N270 or
N280 CPU, WiFi, 3 USB, 6hours battery , XP. Good enough for what you
want to do... and me too :)

2009\08\11@162529 by Russell McMahon

face picon face
> Pretty much all machines now have "standard" hard drive connections
(since standard hard drives are options on most machines).

As for expansion, pretty much all netbooks have SD card slots (some have
two) machine expansion a breeze considering how cheap 16 and 32GB SD
cards have become.
/>


FWIW - the Sony Vaio netbook, which does an excellen job i\of being small
and compact, has the ?1GB? of RAM soldered in :-(. Not expandable I think.
Their screen resolution is also AFAIK boom or bust - either massively wide
hd or ?640 x 480? with nothing in between.

160 GB is getting common.
250 GB on 1 or 2.
320 GB on the HP is the first I've seen that large.

What I want is a CF slot, but none seem to do that.


             Russell



2009/8/11 Herbert Graf <.....hkgrafKILLspamspam@spam@gmail.com>

{Quote hidden}

> -

2009\08\11@163308 by Herbert Graf

picon face
On Tue, 2009-08-11 at 13:24 -0700, Russell McMahon wrote:
> FWIW - the Sony Vaio netbook, which does an excellen job i\of being small
> and compact, has the ?1GB? of RAM soldered in :-(. Not expandable I think.

It's Sony, why am I not surprised...

> What I want is a CF slot, but none seem to do that.

That doesn't surprise me either. CF is huge compared to the other
options, and for most consumers is dead anyways. The only place it still
exists is DSLRs, and even most of those now have a secondary SD card
slot as an option. For more "prosumer" cameras CF is still the best
option due to speed (although the best SD cards come close).

All that said, a CF card reader can be made very compact, so if you're
lugging around a camera that needs CF (meaning it's big) adding a $5 CF
USB reader shouldn't be much of an issue.

IMHO.

TTYL

2009\08\11@165545 by speff

picon face
Quoting Russell McMahon <apptechnzspamKILLspamgmail.com>:

>> Pretty much all machines now have "standard" hard drive connections
> (since standard hard drives are options on most machines).
>
> As for expansion, pretty much all netbooks have SD card slots (some have
> two) machine expansion a breeze considering how cheap 16 and 32GB SD
> cards have become.
> />
>
>
> FWIW - the Sony Vaio netbook, which does an excellen job i\of being small
> and compact, has the ?1GB? of RAM soldered in :-(. Not expandable I think.
> Their screen resolution is also AFAIK boom or bust - either massively wide
> hd or ?640 x 480? with nothing in between.
>
> 160 GB is getting common.
> 250 GB on 1 or 2.
> 320 GB on the HP is the first I've seen that large.

Of course they are a standard 2.5" SATA drive in most cases,
so you ought to be able to drop a $75 500G drive into a 160G netbook
if you so desire. I understand the 160G is a limitation imposed for
XP home licensing.

> What I want is a CF slot, but none seem to do that.

I picked up a little white 4" x 1" x 0.6" external reader with
attached 6" USB cable in Kowloon. Does the trick.

My main lappy has an Express Card CF reader that generally
lives in the slot (it does not stick out at all when no card
is inserted). Only a few $$$ full-size notebooks have CF slots,
unfortunately. I think CF is gradually going the way of the dodo.



2009\08\11@171012 by Mark E. Skeels

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I bought an Asus Eee PC900 something like 6 months ago.

It has totally replaced my Toshiba laptop for 95% of the reason I use a
laptop in the first place.

It's major plus is it's small form factor; it fits on my desk and goes
wherever I go.

Battery life is not that great but I plug it in 90+ % of the time.

I have to handle emails and internet access (for website
editing/updates) pretty much 16 hrs/day.......this machine does that great.

It's worst negative is that some apps run slowly on it; I have the Flash
drive version with after market Eee Ubuntu Hardy Heron and Firefox is
achingly slow.

I switched over to Opera and pretty much solved that problem.

As long as I am careful about pictures and music there's plenty of room
on the flash drive for everything else, as Ubuntu/Linux apps seem to be
pretty small.

I have Lazarus installed for programming needs and I can create small
apps without too much pain, being a Delphi guy at heart.

The Open Office suite takes care of the usual doc needs.

Only real problem is that it doesn't play well with my Samsung Saga
phone through Bluetooth. I never have been able to connect the two.

But all in all it is a better solution for me than lugging that Toshiba
around, and it is far more reliable. Ubuntu makes me feel at home as a
long time Windows user w/o much pain at all.

If I had it to do again, I'd get one with a hard drive; maybe look for a
more powerful one, but it would not be necessary for what I use it for.

We also have an Acer here (ubiquitous at WalMart, I think) with WinXP
and it is used on the floor for testing some of our products, as well as
in a drag race car for collecting data.

It fulfills those needs very well.

Question: Anybody seen one with a firewire port?

Mark

2009\08\11@172802 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 10:03 AM 11/08/2009, you wrote:
>1.  Question- detailed at end: Is there any inobvious reason why a netbook
>seems a bad choice for this task. Is there a better newer brighter solution
>that IO've missed?

Personally, I would not go beyond USD 350-500 max for a netbook, as I
can get all
I want in something really portable for that price (1G easily
expandable to 2G for $15,
160G, Bluetooth, Wifi, Webcam, Ethernet, 3 USB ports, XP and an SD card slot.
(I use a very compact external USB CF reader for backing up DSLR photos).

Skype (or I could use VOIP if I was hanging around for a while and
wanted to bother setting up the server locations relative to where I was)
phone calls alone make it worth lugging along in most situations.
You're getting
a couple of really nice enhancements for the extra $200 or so, but
they also will make
it a bit heavier and larger, and at some point you're just buying another
(rather UNDERpowered) notebook.

Installing software in your office from a DVD isn't a problem IME,
just share the drive.
Not having a DVD reader on the road is a bit of a PITA, but if you
have a decent size
USB flash drive it's generally easy to go to a hotel business center
or internet
cafe and copy stuff over, say if you need to install software for a new camera
or other periperal (I always end up picking up something in Kowloon). I bring
a Bluetooth mouse because I don't like touchpads (why do so many hotels insist
on having glass-topped desks?) And vendors like to give out catalogs
etc. on DVD/CD.

For more intensive stuff, eg. on business trips, my main WUXGA (1920
x 1200) laptop is
much more of a machine (much faster video, for example) and has
almost all the programs
I need on it (including heavy duty mechanical CAD and EDA software
that would be
just silly on an Atom). BTW, my Wind netbook gets pretty pokey when
plugged into an external
1920 x 1200 display, but it will drive it (eg. for photo viewing).
The long battery life
Asus units are very nice too, almost the same feature set with
standard long-life battery.

Big batteries add to the weight and tend to stick out to the bottom
significantly
(or to the back), so you have to think carefully about the tradeoffs. Lighter
netbooks are also harder to damage when your pack gets dropped or
whatever. I've got
one of each (too big and too small) for one netbook.

>A light-weight portable solar panel of a few Watts capacity MAY be part of
>trip complement depending on overall final packed weight and volume.

Humm.. why? Plugs are everywhere, and you probably don't want to use it where
direct sunlight is available. I'd guess the panels could break easily too.
I do use the netbook to charge my cell phone, iPod and P&S camera,
saving bringing
those chargers-- just need the netbook and Nikon chargers.

>Microsoft have poleaxed the display resolution on all netbooks with XP home
>by requiring they be no more than 1024 x 600 to gain license rights to the
>low cost XP home variant. XP Pro versions don't have this limitation and the
>extra height makes a large difference on some pages.

Nice, but the price and size starts to look more like a notebook. A $289
15.6" notebook is 'disposable' cheap and not all that much heavier (2.7kg)
and the screen/keyboard are actually usable for serious work as is the
processor, and it can play/burn DVDs etc.

>The major tasks are 1. the assimilation, retention and possible display of
>photos  along the way with external HDD as backup) plus 2. WiFi / LAN
>internet access where appropriate. I haven't tested CF card download speeds
>yet but expect they may be slow by laptop speeds but not absolutely
>terrible. I may be wrong.

Backup etc. is a matter of choice, but I like SD cards, thumb drives and
even a HDD-based iPod as options. I don't feel any need to have a 320G
backup drive in my luggage, but they are certainly cheap enough (a little
over $100), and powered by the USB.

>Post trip use liable to be more of the same.

These things are still pretty immature. It should be interesting to see
where they are in another year or two-- partly they are being driven by the
$100 laptop thinking rather than the $5000 ultra-portable notebook thinking.

I'm thinking SHORT term on these things.. saving cell phone charges is
justification enough, plus you can safeguard your personal information by
not using a (possibly compromised) shared computer, and also able to
access the net for information, e-mail and to alter reservations etc. can
be very handy. Maybe buy another in a year or two-- they're sooo cheap.

Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
.....speffKILLspamspam.....interlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
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2009\08\11@172910 by peter green

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>
> Question: Anybody seen one with a firewire port?
>  
Not with a firewire port but the old mini 2140 (which is still availible
refurb from HP in the US and the SD version of it is availible new in
some other areas) has an expresscard port and you can get firewire
expresscards.

2009\08\11@174257 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 05:11 PM 11/08/2009, you wrote:


>Question: Anybody seen one with a firewire port?

No, but at least some of the ~$350 Lenovo S10 models have Express Card slots,
so you could easily add it (or a CF reader card, ) for something like $35.

That is a nice feature for a netbook- could add a serial port, mobile
broadband etc.

>Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
EraseMEspeffspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTinterlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com



2009\08\11@201958 by Don McKenzie

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I have lugged around many notebooks in my time, and as I am getting a bit
long in the tooth for anything heavy, I ended up getting a 7" Asus EEE-PC.
Was a bit of fun for a while. I actually purchased 4 of them in various
models.  Too small to be usable, so I went onto a EEE-PC 1000H 10".

Finally now I have an EEE-PC1000HE 10" netbook, which I am very happy with.
Claims 9 hours battery life, but I think 7 would be a more legitimate
figure. Can easily add a VGA screen if you wish, or even a USB keyboard and
mouse. Uses N270 or N280 CPU depending on supplier. Upgrades easily to 2Gb,
and with a SATA drive, this can be easily upgraded also.

I figure when this size platform gets enough grunt, it will replace a lot of
standard PC's. When you can easily add your own screen and keyboard, and USB
DVD r/w drive, then a lot of the reasons for people owning a PC in a box,
will vanish.

OK, it doesn't have a real serial port, but I also fear the day is drawing
closer when you will have real trouble finding any notebook with one, and
the world will have to learn how to cope with USB.

Of course, you are also stuck with the netbook graphics system.

Perhaps not perfect, but as things have changed so much in the last two
years, I'm sure we will see similar changes in the next two.

Cheers Don...

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2009\08\11@203355 by cdb

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I use an IBM x61 only weighs 1.7kg, 12" screen, WiFi. Four cell
battery only lasts 2.5 hours though, maybe swapping the drive for an
SSD might extend battery life - not at IBM prices though.

If you had Aldi in NZ, they have both an AsusEE clone or currently a
netbook for AU799 / AU$999 respectively - they don't think weight is
important in their specs.

http://www.medion.com/au/

Colin
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2009\08\11@220939 by Don McKenzie

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CDB-3 wrote:
>
> If you had Aldi in NZ, they have both an AsusEE clone or currently a
> netbook for AU799 / AU$999 respectively - they don't think weight is
> important in their specs.
>

ASUS Eee PC EPC1000HE-BLU002X Blue Intel Atom N280(1.66GHz) 10.0"
in the US at Newegg $385USD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834220505

I purchased mine in Australia for $619AUD inc shipping.
That is about $510USD

Don...

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2009\08\12@022032 by Vitaliy

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flavicon
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Harold Hallikainen wrote:
> Though I can't answer your specific questions, I too find my laptop
> computer heavy to lug around. Especially if I carry the AC supply. It's an
> HP with DVD drive, large screen, etc. So, this morning, I ordered a
> refurbished Asus netbook for $110US. We'll see how that works out.

$110 is very cheap. If you don't mind me asking, where did you buy it?

Vitaliy

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