A Tale of Three Notebooks

I mentioned in my earlier post A Quick Chat About Netbooks that I had had problems with both my Eee PC and a new MacBook ; so here, as promised, are the details of my circular journey from netbook to netbook.

When Jas interviewed me at FOWA I as using an Eee PC 901 and it was a nice little device. I loved how capable yet compact it was, but ultimately its size was its downfall. There were two areas, with regard to the Eee PC, in which I realised that size does indeed matter.

The first was the keyboard; I thought that I could and would adjust to its diminutive size but my hands are just too big and consequently my typo rate too high. When you find yourself thinking you’ll wait to type something on a “real keyboard” you know there’s a problem.

The next issue was storage. I didn’t expect this to be an issue as I had planned to store most of my data in “the cloud”, but one of the applications I use is the very excellent Dropbox which holds files locally as well as online. The problem is that the way Dropbox is configured to work on XP did not play well with the Eee PC’s limited storage.

The Eee PC 901 has 8GB of storage split across two 4Gb SSDs: the main faster drive for the OS and a slower one for storage. The 901 Windows XP installation is just over 3Gb which left just 1Gb spare of the main drive. Not a problem I thought with only 500Mb of documents especially as Dropbox allowed me to store this on the secondary storage drive.

However, one of Dropbox’s many great features is excellent versioning capability allowing you to un-delete documents and retrieve older versions. A brilliant facility but sadly the Dropbox client stores the version data on the main Windows drive with no way to change the location; very quickly the 1Gb disappeared.

I decided that it was time to change to a bigger netbook; bigger both in physical form factor and storage capacity. The new Samsung NC10 seemed to fit the bill nicely so it was time to wipe the Eee PC 901 and pop it onto eBay. Sounds easy right?

The 901 as with all netbooks has no CD drive so I had to buy an external USB drive. Once that had arrived I tried to use the Eee PC restore disc but could not make the 901 boot from the CD; so I decided to try an old fashioned install of XP. This process, which took an entire morning, left me with an Eee PC 901 that had two and a half copies of XP on it; none of which worked particularly well.

A wasted and stressful morning that reminded me why I moved to Macs.

The 901 went back to the store and I threw a, sadly characteristic, tech strop™ in which I vowed never to use Windows again and ended with me buying one of the new aluminium MacBooks.
So all was now well or so I thought.

The new MacBook is a lovely piece of design and engineering: solid as a rock and with one of the best keyboards I have ever used. However the honeymoon was short-lived as I became aware of the first issue with the new MacBook: the screen.

The screen problem is not, as you may be expecting, that it is glossy, and believe me it is GLOSSY but that it is simply not a god screen. Unless you have the screen at exactly the correct angle the colours wash out and text quality is degraded; sadly this correct angle often coincides with shocking reflections on the screen making the problem doubly bad.

I thought I might try and live with it, but combined with the second problem it became a deal breaker.

The second issue is the battery and power management. Many new MacBooks and MacBook Pros are experiencing the battery draining when the Mac is in sleep mode. Usually a Mac in sleep uses next to no power and can happily sleep for days. Mine would lose twenty percent overnight often meaning it was flat the next day.

At this point I decided that technology was revolting, at least against me, and returned my second notebook computer in as many weeks for another refund.

So what to do? Give up on a mobile computer? Stick with the iMac and iPhone?

I pondered this for a while and decided to return to my original plan of buying the Samsung NC10 which arrived at Hughes Towers this Saturday and I’m happily typing this article upon it now.

I’ll review the NC10 properly, but the highlights are: great keyboard, great screen and plenty of storage.

The perfect netbook? Well so far…