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r.e.
3-Feb-2010, 15:14
On a recent trip to Europe and Morocco, I decided to leave my laptop behind and use internet cafés for the internet and e-mail. This was a mistake.

Between the increasing ubiquitousness of free Wi-Fi and current cell/smart phone capabilities, in Western Europe (at least in the UK and France) internet cafés are rapidly approaching extinction. While they remain common in Morocco, using them is a nuisance, both because of the time it takes and because the keyboard layout, which of course includes Arabic, takes some getting used to; and meanwhile, Morocco seems to be pretty good at getting on the Wi-Fi bandwagon.

I'm going back in the spring. I'm looking for an alternative to lugging my laptop around, and this time it would also be useful to have something that I can write on because I'll be spending part of my time in research libraries. I'm considering a small screen, lightweight netbook, and I'm looking for suggestions about which one to get. I don't care whether the operating system is Windows 7, Windows XP or Linux, and while dual voltage capability is a must, battery life is not a major concern - I don't foresee a shortage of outlets when I need them. If there are other options, I'm interested in those too. I'd rather not spend more than $500 on this.

Thanks.

Richard Raymond
3-Feb-2010, 18:17
r.e.
A good netbook will probably cost around $300 to $350 USD bought in the US. Not sure how the prices are running in Canada. For this price you should get an Intel Atom processor, 10 inch screen, 1GB of memory, 160GB to 250GB hard drive. Power should be flexible and you will probably just need to change the plug. Jumping to a 12 inch screen will probably cost an extra $100.
There won't be a significant price difference among brands as the cost structure at the low end is about the same for everyone. I would probably look to see if I could find an HP.
This netbook will not play your favorite computer games but it will do word processing and stuff. I would use OpenOffice for the work that you are interested in doing.
Given the current marketing push I expect that some form of stripped down MS OS version 7 will be on the machine.
Ric

r.e.
3-Feb-2010, 18:29
Thanks, I've read this piece on AnandTech, which is a decent overview of where things stood with netbooks/small laptops as of around about last November: http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=3685

Richard Raymond
3-Feb-2010, 18:53
r.e.,
Nice review. Not too far out of date. The 2GB of memory is a useful upgrade of memory if you want it.
From what I understand you need to do some word processing, send email and connect to the internet. I wouldn't spend too much to do that. If you are going to use this machine to view digital photos from a camera you are taking then look for higher resolution on the screen. Again, this should pop the price to around $425 or $450USD. This is a keep it small and simple item. I have a 5 year old laptop that does all of these things except the "keeping it light" part.
HP recommendation is because it is easy to find in a lot of stores and therefore is convenient shopping. Remember, this is basically a throw away item. It will be cheaper to buy a new one that repair a broken one. And next year there will be something that is better, faster, better screen for less money.
Ric

r.e.
4-Feb-2010, 13:25
Co-incidentally, today AnandTech published a review of netbooks and small notebooks based on Consumer Ultra Low Voltage (CULV), as distinct from Atom, processors: http://anandtech.com/mobile/showdoc.aspx?i=3735&p=1

Frank Petronio
4-Feb-2010, 13:35
iPad!

gari beet
4-Feb-2010, 13:46
Hi R.E, I have a couple of notebooks I use when travelling. I have an Acer Aspireon 8.5in, with 1.5g ram and a 16gb solid state drive. I now use this for when I am cycle touring, it has about 1.5hr battery life and a travel mains cable is very small. plenty fast enough for email,wp and browsing. I even have an external HD with movies on and have no problem running them through VLC. It weighs about 1.1kg and is very small, the keyboard is surprisingly comfortable to type with, though I have fairly small hands, good feel etc.
I also have an Archos10, as its name suggests it has a 10in disply, though it doesn't sound much the extra real estate makes a huge difference. It has 2gb ram and a 160gb hard drive, with a 6 cell battery I get about 5-6 hrs between charges. It came with XP and ran that no problem inc office and even CS2!! not that I suggest it as a long term plan, that screen!! but it gives you an indication of what it can do processing wise.

I run Linux on both now, MInt on the Acer and Ubuntu on the Archos, much faster on these types of machine I think. OpenOffice is great and is compatible with word if you need to move the document to a windows machine later.
Both have good wifi coverage right out of the box. My Archos goes everywhere with me as it fits in a bag so easily.

As has been said $500 is plenty. My Archos was £275 here in the UK, which is notoriously more expensive for electronic goods than the US.

hope that helps

Gari

r.e.
4-Feb-2010, 14:29
Thanks all,

If I go the netbook route, it's becoming clear that I should load Linux and either OpenOffice or a basic text editor.

I appreciate the specific suggestions.

Frank,

I'm thinking about iPad. It has its attractions, but I suspect that the true cost will be quite a bit higher than people think, and there are tradeoffs. The base cost is $500 - $700, the latter giving maximum storage of 64GB. G3, if one wants it, is another $130, but won't be available as an option when the iPad hits the market.

The Apple site puts a lot of emphasis on neat things that one can do with one of these things, most of it having nothing to do with getting actual work done. For me, the optional external keyboard would be essential. Apple has yet to say when the keyboard will be available and what it will cost, and the keyboard's ergonomics appear to be an unknown at this stage. The iPad will apparently work with Apple's standard wireless keyboard, but carrying around a full size keyboard is kind of counterproductive. If I want to load photographs from a digital camera, I would also have to purchase a special adaptor, price and availablity also not yet known. Then one needs a dock, either the one that comes with the optional keyboard or the stand alone one, plus a power adaptor, and a case, all of which are also extra. Plus I have to factor in the cost of various applications to make it useful as a device.

It's an interesting product, but the true price, the extremely limited storage and the uncertainty over whether one can really do productive work with it concern me.

r.e.
4-Feb-2010, 20:07
Just spent a couple of hours trying to get a better handle on the iPad. It looks like this device, with 64GB of storage and accessories, but without G3, will cost about $900.

Internet reports seem fairly uniform in saying that the external keyboard will be a must for extended writing. Jobs effectively says the same in his launch video. The keyboard is apparently full size and similar to the one that Apple supplies with the iMac. The dock and the external keyboard would seem to make the device less portable than it appears, and raises a question, when traveling, of bulk and protection of the various bits and pieces. There is no USB port. Files are apparently transferred to and from the device and another computer via the dock and the camera adaptor, which is necessary if one wants to import files from a digital camera or an SD card. If one is traveling and/or in the habit of backing up data, the absence of a USB port is fairly troublesome.

Frank Petronio
4-Feb-2010, 20:12
Oh I reluctantly have to agree, while the v.2 iPad will probably be worth getting, it has to be about a year off wheras you can get a basic Netbook for $300.

eddie
6-Feb-2010, 06:39
i have a small netbook from Dell. i use it for wifi stuff. i do not have a service i have to pay for. i paid about $300 for it. 10 inch screen and a couple of pounds. has USB etc. i like it. i took it to europe a few times. a lot better and smaller than my full size laptop.

it worked great.

edit: the battery lasts for about 4-5 hours.....way better than my other lt.

eddie

Ed Kelsey
28-Mar-2010, 15:39
Toktumi has an app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad that will make your device into a VoIP phone (or add a second line in the case of the iPhone). Its called Line2.

I am using it on my iPod Touch and now it's a WIFI phone. Best thing I have found in a while and has cut my cell phone bill to 40% of what it was with Sprint.

http://tinyurl.com/ykmlnt7

z_photo
28-Mar-2010, 15:41
or use blackberry as a modem

Donald Miller
28-Mar-2010, 16:51
Vonage also has an app for mobile devices. I have used Vonage for three years with no problems. The Vonage advantage, if there is one, is that I can phone 60 different countries (including a lot of Europe) free of per minute charges.

HMG
30-Mar-2010, 19:16
While security is an issue using public wifi from your laptop, it's a greater concern using "public" computers. So another reason to bring your own. A few netbooks are still sold with a Celeron processor. Not as efficient as the Atom. Also, if you can, try the keyboard. Some may work better for you than others.

If you're going to be typing a lot, another option worth considering is an "intermediate" sized laptop, such as the Thinkpad X series. Not as small and light, but larger screen and keyboard. Like the netbooks, you lose the integrated DVD drive. Still another option is an older P3 laptop with a 12" screen. There were a few that were light and compact (without an integrated DVD or CD drive). I use a Compaq M300 when traveling light. Ubuntu Linux runs well on these machines.

OpenOffice is fine, though it seems to take forever to load (maybe I need to review my settings). You can set parameters to automatically save in MS Office formats. I always get a warning saying some formatting may not be saved properly, but I've never had a problem.

Randy Moe
28-Jul-2013, 22:22
I prefer Macbook Air 11" for travel. It is a real computer and weighs nothing in a very sturdy cast aluminum body.

It does everything. Remans are $600 and a nice one is $1K. Mine is nearly 3 years old.

JWebb
29-Jul-2013, 05:32
I've been using a keyboard by ZAGG with my ipad. Its incorporated in a case, ipad slips in the top while the keyboard slips in the bottom of the case, so that when in use the Ipad scren is upright it's at approx 45 Deg. Keyboard is approx the same size as the ipad just a tad thicker where the rechargeable battery is contained. When closed it becomes a hard shell case protecting the ipad. In use just lay it in my lap or place on the table. Only negative is that it work in horizontal layout rather than vertical.

May not be your solution but for those with ipads it has made it more comfortable to use.



Thanks all,

If I go the netbook route, it's becoming clear that I should load Linux and either OpenOffice or a basic text editor.

I appreciate the specific suggestions.

Frank,

I'm thinking about iPad. It has its attractions, but I suspect that the true cost will be quite a bit higher than people think, and there are tradeoffs. The base cost is $500 - $700, the latter giving maximum storage of 64GB. G3, if one wants it, is another $130, but won't be available as an option when the iPad hits the market.

The Apple site puts a lot of emphasis on neat things that one can do with one of these things, most of it having nothing to do with getting actual work done. For me, the optional external keyboard would be essential. Apple has yet to say when the keyboard will be available and what it will cost, and the keyboard's ergonomics appear to be an unknown at this stage. The iPad will apparently work with Apple's standard wireless keyboard, but carrying around a full size keyboard is kind of counterproductive. If I want to load photographs from a digital camera, I would also have to purchase a special adaptor, price and availablity also not yet known. Then one needs a dock, either the one that comes with the optional keyboard or the stand alone one, plus a power adaptor, and a case, all of which are also extra. Plus I have to factor in the cost of various applications to make it useful as a device.

It's an interesting product, but the true price, the extremely limited storage and the uncertainty over whether one can really do productive work with it concern me.