Coffee break- I have the netbook fever

38 Comments

I am sick, I admit it.  It started a long time ago but I had suppressed it for a good while.  I started getting the fever again when I played with Kevin’s MSI Wind in San Francisco.  So small and light yet a real fighter.  Still I held on and fought the netbook fever.  Even yesterday seeing the little Asus EEE PC in Best Buy I fought the sickness although admittedly that was easier with the too tiny keyboard on the Asus.

Lenovo_case
Lenovo_u110

Then today I get ready to head out to the coffee shop where I know I’ll be safe.  No way I’ll see any fine netbooks there to get my motor running and bring the fever back to a high boil.  Then I made a big mistake.  I threw the Lenovo IdeaPad U110 into its little sleeve and headed to the coffee shop.  Sure the U110 is not a netbook, it’s way too expensive to meet that category requirement.  But it was too late, the small form factor with its 11.1-inch screen is just barely bigger than those 10-inch netbooks.  The nice keyboard is only slightly bigger than those on the bigger netbooks and the 3 pound weight is near netbook weight.

As I sit here typing this the fever is growing nearly out of control.  A full-featured netbook can do this so easily and carrying it around couldn’t be easier.  Darn you Lenovo and your U110.  I was so close and now..

Now to decide on the perfect netbook if one exists.  My needs are simple, it must have a 10-inch screen so the keyboard will support touch typing with my big hands.  It must run Windows XP so I can use all the utilities I already have honed to perfection to do this kind of work.  A 6-cell battery is a must and probably a second one to come along for extended trips.  That’s about all of my requirements for the moment.  Which one best fits the bill for me?  There’s just SO MUCH netbook information out there I can’t digest it all.

38 Comments

Mark

I just bought a Mini-Note (120GB) for $300 from walmart.com. The keyboard, screen and build quality/looks convinced me. The other nearest contender was the $350 AAO or whatever goes on sale next.

At the other end of the spectrum, I was considering a Raon Everun Note, but its not out there yet and it is kind of expensive, although I don’t have any problems spending the money if its worth it (and having a laptop that fits in a purse is definitely worth it in my book).

Jose R. Ortiz

James,

I thought the U110 was yours, not a loaner? I have the U110 and I LOVE IT! If the one you have is a loaner, then I think you should bypass the whole “netbook” fever thing and stick with the U110 because the power can’t compare. If the U110 isn’t a loaner, why are you looking for a netbook?

Brian E

James,

I know the only cure for your fever is a netbook now, but consider waiting for HP to release a 10″ Mini-note. It’s coming; I’m sure of it. The HP Mini is hands-down the best hardware design in the class.

James Kendrick

All good recommendations. For the record the HP Mini-Note wasn’t mine and had to go back to HP who loaned it to me. Via processor aside the Mini-note is a strong contender. That keyboard and high-resolution screen beats most of the others. If it didn’t have that Via…

Anon-e-mous

I have a MSI Wind.

Here is your solution:

1) Buy a 3 or 6 cell Wind. Your Choice.
2) Buy a slim external battery like the one made by Maplin. Relatively lightweight and 10-12 HOURS of battery life (or even more if you buy the 6 cell Wind) with your Wind.
3) Get a smart cellphone that supports “Bluetooth tethering” and a data plan with your cellphone provider. Internet access just about anywhere!

Luscious

I think you should have kept the HP mininote. VIA CPU aside, the build quality, screen, keyboard, card slot, XP installed, 2.5″ hard drive and 6 cell battery combine for an amazing package. And you can still pick up the top model that you had for $649.

You’ll be kicking yourself James if you get a $400 machine now and HP releases a CPU upgrade for the mini before the year is out.

Steve 'Chippy' Paine

Looks like the MSI Wind, 6-cell is the winner here.
I tend to agree.

I would be interested to see a new HP MiniNote with a Nano processor (rumored Jan). The keyboard and PCI-Express could be better for James.

The other one i’d keep an eye out for is the new Samsung NC10. I can’t tell how big the keyboard is on this one but you can almost guarantee best-in-class engineering. Should be as efficient as a 901 but with better keyboard.

ASus N10 is a nice one for storing valuable data due to fingerprint reader. Also has some superb graphics capability, styling, 802.11n, 2GB, up to 320GB drive, 6-cell, HDMI. ExpressCard/34 though. Its expensive and slightly bigger than the average netbook though.

Steve.

Scott

Enjoying the Dell. After a week of use I have some thoughts:

Touch typing is mostly fine depending on position of unit and person. Re-located quotes and apostrophe keys are maddening.

Function keys across the A-L row, accessed with Fn key are fine when you’re using two hands. If you’re eating dinner with one hand though they’re unusable.

Haven’t put ifolder on yet so keeping track of which data is on here vs the X61 is a pain. Carrying both to work “just in case” is silly but necessary. If you love the U110 think twice about whether, why and how you’ll use a second unit so close in size and weight.

Movies are great. Many web pages are too long vertically and the 1024 X 600 res means the “fold” is off screen.

The Dell runs pretty cool compared to an early MSI I tried and to any of my notebooks.

Kevin C. Tofel

seamonkey420 said: “the wind does have a powered USB port on the right side that would probably run a usb 3g card nicely. :)”

I’m using my 3G USB card for wireless connectivity on the Wind with OS X and it works perfectly. Can be used on either side of the device also; at least my USB 727 can. Not sure about other 3G USB add-ons.

tnkgrl

@Jeremy Bluetooth should be standard on all computers like it is on all phones these days. It probably costs less than $1 to add. Manufacturers should get the message that we want built-in Bluetooth.

Jeremy Charette

@tnkgrl: Or do what I do and use one of the many miniature USB Bluetooth dongles out there. The one I have sticks out just 5mm.

Though I DO want that 6-cell battery. Grrr.

Jeremy Charette

@Weylund: I am! Though I predominantly use the left shift key and not the right, so the placement of the right shift key on the S10 doesn’t bother me. To my hands, the S10 is the best netbook keyboard yet, excepting the HP keyboard. Though I do think the Lenovo keys have better tension and travel than the HP keyboard does. The Lenovo just “feels” better.

Scotty

So far the only “netbook” shipping is the Acer Aspire One with 160GB XP 1GB and 6 cell for $399 at Amazon. They got their first batch in: finally!

All the others are notebook priced. If you ask me, for the extra money there needs to be a compelling feature, and I haven’t seen one so far.

Robert Nelson

I am a netbook addict myself, I jumped from the Eee PC 701, to the Cloudbook, to the Mini-Note and now have an Inspiron Mini 9 on order.

I know the Mini-Note has not always had the best reviews, partly because of the higher price and Vista. However even though it has an 8.9-inch display and not a 10-inch I am loving this model mostly because of the keyboard. Its actually very nice to type on.

seamonkey420

i’d say go w/the MSI Wind also. i love my triple booting goodness.

like Simon Dale said, OSX does run pretty nicely on it; i’ve been using that as my default os now too. the only downfall of course is that the headphone and mic jacks do not work but almost everything else does!

also, do get a Dell 1490 wifi card; integrated wifi in osx is a sweet sweet thing. :)

i can drop my sprint 3g pci-e card in my wind but ideally i’d like another slot (which it doesn’t have), however the wind does have a powered USB port on the right side that would probably run a usb 3g card nicely. :)

Robert

I would suggest the MSI Wind i bought the version with a 6 cell battery last week from Newegg for $550 and there is a $50 dollar rebate from MSI so it only cost me $500. As for performance i love the thing! In alotta ways it out performs my (somewhat antiquated) full size laptop and the battery life has been phenominal.

Pam T.

I really like the Lenovo U110 too, James. But that’s on loan for evaluation, isn’t it? Sigh.

The keyboard seems to be quite the differentiator in the netbooks. There’s a great opportunity for someone who can dig up the info (or who has all 12 of the various ones around) to publish for the rest of us.

Bill

I have a 6-cell MSI Wind. Like Kevin, I have to have a right shift key. But there’s another key thing I look for in a laptop: one that runs cool. The Wind (no pun intended) runs cooler than any netbook I have tested, including the Acer, EEE and Mini Note. I haven’t seen the Dell or Lenovo.

James, the only possible issue that I could imagine you would have with the Wind is that while it is definitely upgradable, you’ll have to break the warranty sticker to add another GB of RAM or a bigger HDD. I got around this by purchasing my Wind from a guy who is authorized by MSI as a tech.

Bill

Weylund

Hey Jeremy C. — are you a touch-typist? Last I saw the Ideapad S10 had a shrunken right-shift. Is that true?

MSI Wind and Acer Aspire One seem to have the only touch-typeable keyboards out there. For me that’s an absolute deal-breaker.

Simon Dale

Hi James,

I can highly recommend the MSI Wind. I’ve put my Fuji-Siemens P1610 to one side and bought the UK equivalent to the MSI Wind (the Advent 4211).

Part of the attraction was that it will run Mac OSX which I have never used before. In the last four days I’ve upgraded the RAM to 2GB and swapped the WiFi card for a Dell 1490 which OSX detects as an Airport and then got OSX installed with XP available as dual boot.

I’m loving the little machine and my first experiences of the Apple OS.

The screen and keyboard are beautiful and when I go back to the P1610 I can’t believe I used it for so long. It seems so cramped and dim – although the higher resolution on the P1610 does allow you to see more where the Wind is a little cramped at times.

Long live the netbook! If only it had built in HSDPA like my P1610 does. Have you come across anyone who has hacked a 3G card into their Wind yet?

Simon

Xavier

I’ve been using the S10 a lot over the past week and while I really like it, the smallish keyboard is tough for me to use since I have big-hands.I really prefer the keyboard on the U110, but that alone is not worth the 4x price bump.
Also, no 6-cells are available yet.

Jeremy Charette

Buy the Lenovo S10. It’s shipping, and it’s the best one on the market. Mentioned this in another post, but I’ve owned the 7 inch and 9 inch EEE PCs, and had an Acer Aspire One on order with Amazon. This is the only one I’m keeping.

Best keyboard, best screen, best performance, thinnest profile, and most solid build quality. Absolutely fantastic. I played a few midsize DIVX files with no lost frames or skipping whatsoever.

It’s also one of the most easily upgradable. One panel on the bottom gives you access to the Hard Disk Drive and RAM slot. I popped a 2GB Kingston stick in it, and Windows shows 1.99GB RAM. I’ll have to take another look but the HDD looks to be a standard 2.5″ notebook drive, so it should be easy to swap it out for a bigger/faster drive.

My only complaint is battery life, which should be solved when the 6-cell hits the market (hopefully soon!).

PJE

Looks like a 6-cell MSI Wind is what you need.

I’m still holding out for a unit with a touch screen, and I’m not a writer so a 8.9″ in a smaller frame would be a better fit for me – such as the Gigabyte M912.

Check out: http://www.umpcportal.com/products/

For a quite exhaustive list. Hit screen size to bring the 10″ displays to the top.

Greg

I have the Eee 1000h and it has been spectacular so far — at least for my needs. Some people have gotten flexy keyboards, but mine is great. I can get 4 – 4.5 hours with wi-fi on and in a higher performance mode, 6 hours in energy saving mode and no wifi. Bright screen, XP runs great, 80g hard drive is plenty for me. No complaints.

Dave Zatz

The 10″ screen can be misleading. Turns out the 8.9″ Aspire One has a larger keyboard than the 10″ Lenovo S10. I’m leaning towards the MSI Wind. Honestly, though, the U110 is a much better computer. I would just stick with it. Or sell it to me cheap.

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