All my computer time is spent on an IBM (now Lenovo) T60 laptop. I’ve had it for nearly three years and it is a workhorse of a computer with plenty of memory, speed and ease of use (if you don’t count my perpetual problems with email - an issue I would rather not discuss).
I’ve schlepped this laptop all over the country - on and off airplanes and trains, in hotel rooms with dubious internet connections and it always delivers. It’s been banged around a lot with nary a complaint (except for those email screw ups and one major crash a year ago).
But the operative word in that paragraph is “schlepped.” It weighs a ton and it has too many cables plugged into it so I am tethered to the desk in the library when I would rather be in the kitchen or bedroom or outdoors on the deck with it sometimes.
Not long ago, Frank Paynter of Listics posted a story about a tiny laptop Dave Winer had bought. Apparently, they are called “netbooks” by the initiated and as small as they are, they have about a zillion times more of everything than the first computer you ever owned and, aside from a smaller hard drive, maybe even any average computer today of the non-gamer variety.
I was ecstatic to read about it and I zoomed around the web checking every story, critique and review I could find.
What I would gain with it, I found, is a much more powerful network capability (even when I occasionally dragged my laptop to the back deck on a fine summer day, I could barely get a signal), along with Windows XP, a 160 gig hard drive, 1 gig of RAM, three USB ports, an SD memory card slot (for my camera), built-in webcam (I'll finally try Skype video calls now) PLUS five or six hours of battery life. AND it weighs only four pounds.
I mean, I could toss that little baby in my handbag and not notice it’s there.
Now, as the delighted owner of an Asus 900HA Eee PC, I can. It arrived on Monday, I spent most of Tuesday (between snow shoveling sessions) setting it up, downloading the programs I use and generally behaving like a kid with her first bicycle.
It is 8.9 inches wide, 6.7 inches deep and less than an inch thick. What about the size of the keyboard, you may ask. It’s almost three inches shorter in width than a standard keyboard, but I’m accustomed to it already and seem to have no trouble switching between sizes on the two machines. The screen is much smaller too, but it is also brighter than the T60 and I have no difficulty reading on it.
Normally, it is considered gauche to discuss price, but I gave this to myself as a holiday gift - justified by how frugal I have been in 2008 - and you will be amazed: $325 - about one-seventh of what I paid for the Lenovo.
Frank Paynter posted a photo of Dave Winer’s little netbook sitting next to his honking big Macbook Pro. And here’s a shot of my mine next to my normal-sized laptop
Or better, perhaps, here is a closeup with a coffee cup, pen and mouse for size comparison.
Now, if I can survive winter (see Wednesday’s story), you’ll be getting a lot more blog posts from outside on the deck next summer.
What’s your favorite electronic toy?
ADDENDUM in the "mysteries of computer life" category: My laptop email program, Mozilla Thunderbird, has refused to retrieve email for two weeks and I haven't found time to fiddle with it, so I've been stuck using the clunky web email program at my domain registrar's site.
After I downloaded and set up Thunderbird on my new toy, copied over my settings, address book and calendar, suddenly my laptop copy of Thunderbird fetches mail again. I'm not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I'm curious about why. If there are any geeks out there who can explain this miracle to me, I would most appreciate it.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, continuing our week of Christmas stories, Dani Ferguson recalls A Christmas Memory.]