Sunday, August 03, 2008

I bet microsoft hates mini-notebooks (aka "netbooks")


They must. It must drive them crazy that there are laptops out there that are encouraging companies to create linux drivers and offer linux pre-configured as a reasonable option instead of XP or VISTA.

I will eventually buy one. I've played around with the Acer, HP, and Asus netbooks that have so far been released. Each of them fall short of what I expect from a mini notebook.

The Asus, the original one just does not offer a sufficient screen size or keyboard that is compatible with me not being frustrated. I'd like a small laptop with a decent screen and keyboard I can lug around with good battery life to write my novel about space dinosaurs. Bluetooth built in is a nice bonus but I do have a Bluetooth USB stick so that's not a deal killer. But basically I need a good keyboard and decent screen. The Asus had neither, therefore I didn't get one. I'd have bought one for $150-$200, but their price points are $100-$200 too high to consider.

The HP mini-notebook has a nice screen and an EXCELLENT keyboard. The trackpad is okay but nothing special and I hate the mouse buttons on the side. BUT it comes with Windows Vista with a free "downgrade" to XP. I just can't justify purchasing something with Vista if theres Linux options out there, sorry HP. I just don't want Microsoft to count any netbook purchase I make towards their "we shipped this many instances of Vista this quarter" lies. We all know everyone with a brain hates Vista. Plus my sister has an HP laptop and a month out of warranty its got issues of some sort. Yes, the piece of crap came with Vista. I'm not a big fan of Microsoft to begin with (I respect some decisions they make from a certain perspective, there was a reason they won the DOS wars and the OS/2/Windows war) and I prefer not to support software with annoying registration keys and DRM. That's just me.

Finally, the Acer Aspire One. It LOOKED nice, the screen was good and the Linux UI was well thought out and simple and it came with a good selection of games. Their version of Tetris (LTris) I thought odd that it was included, and they could have thrown in Solitaire and Minesweeper and Pinball games to be completists (and a kjewel type game) But I digress it wasn't about games. I liked the Acer Aspire One until I used the keyboard, which was insanely convoluted to use. If you're looking to use this for writing out blogs and such, don't. It's not worth it. The Mouse was even worse, it has the same side buttons on the trackpad as the HP mini-notebook, but they're impossible to depress (though they do depress me) . Other than that, I could have been persuaded to buy one if the keyboard was good.

So that leaves me waiting for Dell's entry into the netbook market. The MSI Wind is out of the question, again for the Windows stupidity and also because I only want something with a solid state drive. I'm pretty much sold on the atom processor as well, which is another thing the HP netbook missed. However, there are rumours that Dell's netbook will be missing the F1-F12 keys, which is a bit silly. Surely they could have thrown in some tiny little push buttons to replace the keys (like those keyboard buttons for sleep and music on certain full sized keyboards) to save keyboard space.

Someone should hire me to design the perfect nettbook, cause I would totally. It would have a similar keyboard to the HP though with little cell phone style buttons for certain keys like the function keys, with a decent screen 1200x600 or whatever, bluetooth built in, wifi of course, Atom processor, and 1GB ram. and come with Linux, preferrably ubuntu. and have the most popular mini-diversion games on it like solitaire and tetris and the like. Also it would use a standard sized battery. or Maybe two nokia style batteries. Cheap replaceable batteries anyways, and have an easy charge plug that is retractable to save space. touch screen flip screen wouldn't be bad either. But to save money I'd leave that off cause its not really that useful.

The most interesting thing about netbooks is it shows how much certain retailers are in Microsofts pocket. Futureshop, Best Buy, I'm looking at you. Won't even sell a netbook, what's wrong with you. Think it'l cut into your laptop business? Unlikely. I own a laptop and just bought a new lenovo laptop, and I still want a netbook for putzing around with. And one day I'd like an ebook reader with e-ink technology. I just have to wait for designers to catch up with my expectations. Hopefully my wait isn't forever.

* update - apparently lenovo is coming out with a netbook too, and it looks nice, especially keyboard-wise. If it comes with Linux and a SSD they might have me on board.

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