I’m a bit of a sucker for gadgets. I keep telling myself that I should hold out for the second generation of things, but I just get carried away again and again. That’s not to say that I don’t buy quality stuff; quite the opposite in fact. Yesterday I sold my Asus Eee 4G to @moodlehotpotato (Mary Cooch) after a brief Twitter chat, Skype chat and Paypal payment. It wasn’t because it didn’t serve a need – it was because there was so much potential there I wanted something that could fulfil that need to the max! 😀
There’s many sites and blogs that have waxed lyrical about the Asus Eee 4G. From a teacher’s point of view, this is what I liked about mine:
- The size and weight mean I can carry it one-handed from one classroom to another. As I teach History in my classroom and ICT in various other classrooms, this is great.
- Internet connectivity is great: wi-fi is painless to set up
- I could take it to meetings instead of a pen and paper.
- My use of it makes staff and students alike want one. It makes the school purchasing a set more likely.
- It runs a version of Linux customised for that particular device. Anyone who’s used OSX on an Apple computer knows the difference this makes… 🙂
So if it’s so great, why have I sold it? Well, three reasons:
- The screen, whilst useable, is a bit small. Newer models have 8.9″ screens instead of 7″ which enables them to utilise a 1024 pixel-width resolution. This makes all the difference when web browsing. Who designs sites for 800×600 in this day and age? (my web stats show that less than 2% of visitors to this site, for example)
- It hasn’t got Bluetooth built in – I purchased a micro-USB dongle, but it was a hassle to setup. I want things to be straightforward. Newer models have Bluetooth built-in.
- Battery life, whilst acceptable at a shade under 2 hours in normal use, could be better. Newer models, based on Intel’s Atom processor, promise to drastically improve on that.
So what am I going to buy? Well, a post about 4P Computing over at OLPC News (Price, Performance, Portability and Price) showed that only three met the criteria for a true Netbook:
Of those, the Elonex One only actually has a 300mhz (must have been a mistake), the OLPC XO-1 is garish and not easy to come by in the UK, and the Norhtec Gecko only has a 7″ screen. It was obvious that I was going to have to cast my net wider, which is where the Low-Cost Laptop Cheat Sheet over at Laptop Magazine proved helpful. I’ve taken off the column about US availability as well as removed any that aren’t available in the UK (at least not according to Google Product Search). Finally, I took off any that had 7″ screens, changed the price to GBP, added the Asus Eee 900 and HP Mini-Note, and reproduced what’s left of the table below:
|Asus EeePC 900
||900 MHz Intel Celeron-M ULV 353
||12GB SSD (WinXP) 20GB SSD (Linux)
|HP 2133 Mini-Note
||Via C7-M 1.2Ghz
|Asus EeePC 901
||£499.99 (pre-order price, likely to be c.£400)
||8GB SSD (WinXP) 12GB or 20GB SSD (Linux)
||Intel 945GMS Atom
I paid £219 for my Asus Eee 701, so as you can see my next purchase is going to cost me at least 50% more. But which one shall I choose? Here’s the main positive/negative points about each one as far as I can see:
Asus EeePC 900
Advantages: Available now, multi-touch trackpad, lightweight, same size as 701.
Disadvantages: No Bluetooth, 901 coming out shortly.
HP 2133 Mini-Note
Advantages: Sleek metal body, WXGA screen, huge hard disk, optional Bluetooth, available now.
Disadvantages: Some users complain of fan noise, processor quite slow.
Asus EeePC 901
Advantages: Bluetooth, Intel Atom processor (improved battery life).
Disadvantages: Potentially expensive, not available now (early June).
Pre-release specs: I4U (unconfirmed)
Advantages: Bluetooth, 4-in-1 card reader, 10″ screen, Intel Atom processor (improved battery life).
Disadvantages: Not available now (early June), likely to be significantly bigger than Asus Eee.
Pre-release specs: PC Advisor
It looks like if I’m going to buy now, it’s the HP 2133 Mini-Note or the Asus EeePC 900. If I can wait until mid-June, I’ve got the option of Netbooks with the new Intel Atom processors – namely the MSI Wind and Asus EeePC 901.
I’ll probably wait. But if I don’t, then here’s the HP and Eee 900 head-to-head:
||HP 2133 Mini-Note
||Asus EeePC 900
||25.5 x 16.5 x 3.3cm
||22.5 x 17 x 3.4cm
||Via C7-M 1.2Ghz
||Intel Celeron M ULV 900Mhz
||Linux or Windows Vista
||Linux or Windows XP
||12GB or 20GB
||No (scroll zone)
|SD card reader
I reserve the right to make a carefully-considered, well-researched impulse purchase… 😉