My new netbook

Guess I had promised a WordPress article. Actually the WordPress install was totally easy and trivial and worked almost instantly. My opinion now is that WordPress is the perfect website builder for a whole bunch of web applications. I’m in the process of converting my personal web pages to WordPress, and I will comment on that later.

But now I’d like to tell you about my new netbook. Just went on spring vacation, and decided to get a netbook at the very last minute – like on the way to the airport! I’d been reading all about them before, and decided I wanted a netbook with XP and a solid state hard drive. Hoped for a 6 cell battery.

If you search Amazon netbooks, you’ll find it isn’t that easy to get one to those specs. Mostly they seem to have fairly big hard drives and not SSDs. Turns out that Best Buy sells a special version of the HP Mini 1000 (1030NR) that meets my specs – except the battery, and for a pretty good price ($350).

The HP Mini comes in an 8 inch and a 10 inch version. I really think the 10 inch is worth the extra $50. And one thing I didn’t know before hand about the HP was that its keyboard really seems to the be the best available on any netbook out there – seems to be a universal comment in reviews.

So I got an HP Mini 1030NR. Has the standard Atom processor, 1 Gig RAM (easily upgradable to 2 Gig), a 16 Gig Solid State Drive, a 2 Gig USB drive in a custom HP format (really kind of neat because it does’t stick out of the side), a SD card reader, 2 free USB ports, a touchpad that works really well, and a very readable 10 in 1024×600 display. Battery life really seems to be 2 1/2 to 3 hours with the standard battery.

This netbook is pretty new, and HP has been a little slow getting accessories out. If you want an external VGA monitor, you’ll need an adapter cable which has been out of stock. There’s finally a 6 cell battery that should double battery time. HP doesn’t seem to have options for getting bigger capacity for the custom USB drive, but it really is just a Transcend JetFlash T3. There’s a nice inexpensive matching soft case, too.

Unlike every other HP computer I’ve encountered in the past 5 years or so (and I own 5 other HP computers), the HP Mini doesn’t come loaded with any crapware at all! Amazing! This computer is ready to go out of the box, and you don’t really need to fix anything.

It does come with Microsoft Works 9. I’m still investigating this software. (At home, I’ve given up on Microsoft Word almost completely – I hate all the new versions for Windows or Mac. I use Pages.) But given that Apple seems unlikely to release a netbook soon, I got the HP. But Works 9 seems like an interesting piece of software. Judging from the capabilities and copyrights, the word processor seems to really be Word 2003 or so. I’m going to experiment with it to see if you can get it to save to rtf or doc format by default rather than the “native” Works format. I’ll follow up on that later.

So I really like my netbook. It turned out it was really nice to have on vacation. The small form factor meant it fit nicely in my carry on backpack – not much bigger than a book, really. We had WiFi at our vacation condo. And while our T-Mobile coverage map said there would be service, turned out we had no cell reception at all. So Skype to the rescue. If we didn’t have the new HP Mini along, we would have been out of easy cheap contact with our family. And a couple of the family had recently become addicted to Facebook Farm Town, so they got to keep up with that. And we could look up restaurants, use Google Maps, and so on. In the end, I’d say having the netbook really enhanced our vacation. In the past, it has been nice to get away from the technology, but I think I’ve changed my mind.

While I could have taken my MacBook, the small form factor of the netbook was really much better. And while we could have used our iPod Touch WiFi to check e-mail, and so on, the netbook was really much better.

So if you travel at all, and mostly need basic web access, then I really believe that a netbook is something to consider. Very small. Not too expensive. Very functional. You can even run most Windows apps, although it is probably too slow for photo editing (but great to upload your camera SD card to see the photos you’ve taken!). If you need lots of space for files, then a thumb drive or SD card is the way to go. But I find the 16Gig SSD plenty big for the basics.

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About brucewampler

I've had a long and varied careen in the computer industry. I taught computer science at the University of New Mexico for nearly 15 years. I founded two successful computer software companies. I wrote the first spelling checker and first grammar checkers for personal computers. I've lived in Glenwood Springs for 10 years. My wife, Trina, grew up here, and I've been coming to Glenwood since 1977. My kids have attended the local public schools, and have had a great experience. My son, Van, will be attending the University of Colorado starting in the fall of 2007, and my daughter is a Sophomore at Glenwood Springs High School. I've been on the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education for almost 5 years. Working with our kids, teachers, schools, principals, administrators, and the Roaring Fork community has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.
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One Response to My new netbook

  1. Useful post, great read anyway very interesting.

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