Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Notes on the netbook

I really like my new little toy. My husband finds it amusing, since I scoffed at the idea when I first saw them. In my defense, the first one I saw had a 7 or 8” screen and cost over $300. The screen was microscopic, as was the keyboard, and it had very limited storage and usability. The one I bought has a 10” screen, a keyboard that’s almost as wide as my regular laptop keyboard, and cost $250 on sale. The processor is almost the same speed as my laptop, and the hard drive is actually bigger. And it’s about the size of a trade-paperback novel. Price vs features, I was willing to drop $250 (and work an extra day or two to pay for it).

One of the complaints that I heard about this model was that the up arrow and the right shift-key were in awkward spots, so that when typing you frequently scroll up instead of capitalizing. Yep, it was an issue. And totally fixable. I tried finding the exact Windows Registry settings to just manually swap it, but after about twenty minutes of surfing gave up and downloaded a freeware program called SharpKeys. It took longer to download than to swap the two keys around. I haven’t swapped the plastic key tops, so others might get a little confused if they typed on my keyboard. Tough.

After briefly playing with a copy of OpenOffice that my husband had on his memory stick, I went ahead and downloaded it. The word processor reads and writes MS Word documents just fine. So I can transfer back and forth between my laptop and the netbook. And its free :) I like free.

I bought a small case for it at BestBuy. Target (where I bought the computer) had none in the correct size. Office Max (or Depot—I never remember which is which) had exactly one netbook-sized case. Not even one style, but one physical case. And it looked like a mini-briefcase with a strap and everything. I just wanted something that would protect the thing in my totebag. I bought a cute gray one with yellow flowers. The downside: its not big enough to hold a 10” netbook and the power cord. But, the power cord is small, and can tuck elsewhere into the purse.

My biggest gripe so far is with Yahoo mail. If I check it at work, the crazy security settings on our network force me to use the fancier “new” Yahoo Mail site. But when I login from the netbook, it tells me that my screen resolution is too small, and that I have to use “Yahoo Mail Classic”. Very annoying. And there’s no fix for it, unless I give up on checking Yahoo from one side or the other.

My second biggest gripe is that external DVD drives are kind of pricey—I keep finding them around $80 and up. I was hoping for a much less expensive one that I could pack to turn my netbook into a mini portable DVD player for travel. Something around $40-50 max. Not in time for Nationals, I guess. Who needs movies, anyway, when I’ll be around so many books :)

They make a longer-lasting battery for my netbook—like 9 or 10 hours per charge. Definitely something to think about for later. This one lasts 2.5 to 3.5 which is totally fine for now.

The other thing on my wishlist is a mobile broadband card, so I could surf from anywhere through a cell phone line. I actually looked into these, and they’re expensive. Not the cards—they’re frequently free after rebate. But the plans run $40-60 and up per month. My husband and I only pay $50 a month total for 2 cell phones right now. I don’t think that I’d use $60 a month in mobile broadband services when I’m more likely to be working at home (on our wireless), or at Starbucks or B&N (where I can use the AT&T Uverse account we already pay for). *sigh* If money were no object….

1 comment:

Caryn said...

That's really cool. My last Alphasmart got dunked in water and ended up dying, so I was thinking of replacing it with another. Maybe I'll look into one of these instead. They look about the same price.