Friday, October 24, 2008

Netbook, anyone?

I want to get some sort of notebook / netbook computer. Something that's easy to move around with, will fit in my "manbag", and will actually do some processing. I haven't had the chance to play with any of these new systems based on the Intel Atom chip. I've read lots of reviews, and most of them are positive. So, what am I looking for? Well, something with enough memory to multi task, enough disk space to work in, a keyboard big enough for my hands, and multiple choices for connection to a network. I know, that's nebulous, but the "hard" numbers will vary based on the OS and the processor chip. One thing I don't need is the ability to play 3D graphic games (although it would be nice J).


I'll be honest, I looked at the Eee PC 1000; that's the one with the 40GB SSD drive (well, a 32GB SSD and a built in 8GB high speed SD really). Just the thought of the only moving part being the hinge on the netbook is cool. But will it be useful? One of the usefulness issues I run into is the government Common Access Card or CAC for remote access. Since I'm supporting a US Federal Government contract, if I'm going to work remotely, I need to be able to use my CAC to get access. I've tried to get the CAC reader to work on my Fedora 8 box to no avail. So, a Linux based system has limited utility for me, even though it would carry serious cool points. I could get this netbook and put XP on it. I've heard that works OK, but just the thought of putting XP onto a wonderful little Linux box seems sacrilegious. (I always knew that OS choice was a religious matter).


OK, so the Eee PC 1000 may not work off the shelf. What else is out there? Well, I think the MSI Wind in one of its various forms may work. It would need the 6-cell battery for longer life. It would also need a decent sized drive. The newer version has a 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, and 802.11b,g, and n, and Bluetooth. Lots of great ways to get connected. They also come with 120GB or 160GB hard drives (but they have the real spinning platters, not just electrons jumping around). Even though the MSI Wind is more expensive than the Eee PC, I'm leaning that way because of the features.


What about other venders? To be honest, there are more netbook venders out there, but these two seem to be the ones "leading the charge" for netbooks.


Enough about hardware, what about the software on a netbook? Well, you have a few choices. Some of the netbooks with more horsepower actually have the Microsoft Office Suite installed on them. To be honest, I think MS office needs too much RAM and CPU to be running on something that's supposed to be light and agile. It's more likely I would use OpenOffice, even if the netbook is running on XP. OpenOffice is a fully featured office suite that will ingest MS Office products and also save in that format.


Other software on a Windows XP netbook would be some kind of mapping software and a GPS (I HATE getting lost), some kind of communication tool (or web-based email), and something to keep me busy when I'm not doing anything important (read "game").


If anyone out there in the great Internets has any comments or suggestions, let me know!


Matt Tapie said...

There is only one way: macbook