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(OT) Experiences with Netbooks

by bms (Monk)
on Mar 28, 2012 at 00:51 UTC ( #962042=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

***DISCLAIMER** I am very biased as I use my netbook for practically everything.

Good day everyone.

Netbooks have certainly come a very long way in a short period of time. Ranging from Alienwares gaming netbook to general purpose Asus, HP, Acer, etc... So, here's my question to everyone else: What do you think of netbooks?

Personally, I have a HP Mini 110 loaded with PeppermintOS and 2 gigs of ram. I couldn't be happier with it. I do the majority of my programming with it and I also use it for all my computing needs such as text processing, watching videos, and playing SNES games.

I really love it. I picked it up for under 200 bucks and it was a great choice, though I never thought I'd use it as much as I do now. It has a long battery life and though people say the screen is too small, I have no complaints; my terminal and gvim windows fit very nicely and required very simple modifications to suppress my initial complainsts.

It works great for me as I don't use IDEs, I keep my windows maximized anyways and just tab through them, and I use mostly Perl and Python so compilation time isn't really an issue, until it comes time to build/test Android apps in Java. Even then, it's not a big deal to me.

So, my experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. I really love it for its portability, battery life, and the way it just works so well for me.

So, I'm just curious if anyone else feels like I do about this niche.

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: (OT) Experiences with Netbooks
by DrHyde (Prior) on Mar 28, 2012 at 10:33 UTC

    I tried a netbook a coupla years ago. It was a nice toy, but I found it to be unusable for anything beyond the trivial. The keyboard was just a little bit too cramped for me to comfortably use it, and the screen way too small. The screen was so small that I couldn't really have more than two files open at once in my editor, whereas my typical working environment, even for working on my own personal projects, will have at least four or five files open at once, all visible at the same time, plus a terminal running tests, plus a terminal showing a log file. One 28" and one 17" screen is barely enough!

    After not using the machine much for a few months, I gave it to a friend who uses it as a web and email terminal and loves it. Maybe I'll try a netbook again some time, but I don't think it's very likely. I just don't see any benefits over a full size laptop, other than the price, and for me price is far less important than functionality.

Re: (OT) Experiences with Netbooks
by Anonymous Monk on Mar 28, 2012 at 08:50 UTC

    How do you define "long battery life": 4 hours, 5, 8, more? Does the evaluation of the battery life include 802.11 g/n radio being on constantly & fan running as needed?

    I myself would have picked Asus Transformer or some other Asus or Acer netbook if it was not for reported bad customer service experience whenever one was in need of service. That leaves nothing but heavier Lenovo Thinkpad 11 in screen 'puters for me. (But then I already have T61. **ARGH**hell with buying another more portable but still not light enough laptop**)

      I get about 6 hours of good usage with one charge.

Re: (OT) Experiences with Netbooks
by choroba (Bishop) on Mar 28, 2012 at 11:37 UTC
    I happen to have HP Mini 5102. I replaced its OS (some strange kind of a Linux) with openSUSE and I use it a lot (prototyping, presentations, browsing the web). I have not tried installing Postgres to it, yet, because I fear its performance would be horrible. Starting LibreOffice is usually a good opportunity to make a coffee before the window appears and becomes responsible. But for simpler tasks, it works great.
Re: (OT) Experiences with Netbooks
by dHarry (Abbot) on Mar 28, 2012 at 14:07 UTC

    What do you think of netbooks?

    I used to be a netbook addict, I'm biased as well;) Took it with me everywhere. Under 1 kg, 1GB RAM and 160GB HD. Extremely useful, perfect for traveling. Compared to the big fat DELL I was dragging around on airports a real blessing. I could even work on it:) Though netbooks are no match for a "real" laptop IMHO. Lets say they serve their purpose and have a right to exist. They are powerful enough to run any operating system (OS-X, Ubuntu and Windows XP)

    After a disk crash, kicking myself for not buying one with a solid state disk, I had to choose between fixing it (new HD + new adapter) vs buy a new toy. In the end I bought an Asus transformer, connected to the keyboard it's almost a real netbeook, I say almost because a dedicated netbook is better, without the keyboard it's a decent tablet. Now I use it so much that I still haven't repaired my old netbook. Both the tablet and keyboard have batteries which add up to days of usage without charging.

    Bottom line you need all, a laptop, netbook and tablet. And don't forget the smartphone:)

Re: (OT) Experiences with Netbooks
by zwon (Abbot) on Mar 28, 2012 at 15:38 UTC
    I have Lenovo S9, use it as a backup and for short trips. Its keyboard is too small for my fingers, monitor isn't big enough either, but it was cheap and it is good to have something in case my laptop broke.
Re: (OT) Experiences with Netbooks
by bms (Monk) on Mar 28, 2012 at 16:43 UTC

    Well, the keyboard on my HP Mini 110 has the same size keys as my wireless keyboard(solar powered). Sure, it's compact and you'd think with big ol' club hands like mine it'd be an issue. But it really isn't; at all. Sure it took an hour or so to get back typing accuracy, but after that it's been great.

    As for the screen size, I apparently don't need much. I'm very happy with the size and quality. Although, if my SGSII had a touch-typable keyboard, I'd probably do my prototypes directly on the phone... But, if you don't need to tile more than a couple of simple windows like Vim and the terminal, I don't think it's a big deal. Try an IDE though, and it'll go screwy. I opened Eclipse and it was unusable. Everything was cut off with no room to actually insert code.

    As for the performance of netbooks, if you can play top-tier games on it(Alienwares), it's okay. Even on the run of the mill right now, like the HP Mini 110, I spent the extra couple of bucks to grab 2gb of RAM. I have no performance complaints on PeppermintOS. LibreOffice jumps to life within a few seconds.

    Also, I've run quite a few things on it, often at the same time. Such as:

    • Node.JS
    • Apache2
    • MySQL
    • PostgreSQL
    • MongoDB
    • Lighttpd
    • nginx
    • ZSNES
    • LibreOffice
    • Glade

    No complaints from this shortlist at all. Works pretty much identical to my laptop.

Re: (OT) Experiences with Netbooks
by aaron_baugher (Curate) on Mar 28, 2012 at 20:45 UTC

    I've only used one, and it belongs to a friend, so I haven't tried to change anything to improve it, but it's a piece of junk as-is. To call it a toy would be an insult to toys; this thing isn't even worth playing with.

    It has 1GB RAM, and it's running Windows 7, some sort of crippled version that does stupid things, like it can mount a network drive, but the backup software can't see it. Heavier apps like Word or IE tend to lock up as "not responding" for a minute or more every now and then, even if they're the only thing running. Windows updates take an incredibly long time, as do file transfers across the network, so I'm starting to wonder if the networking is built on a 1200-baud modem base or something.

    Basically, it seems to have the capability of a laptop from 10-12 years ago, at best, but it's running a pig of a modern OS. I've thought about offering to put a lightweight version of Linux on it, but I'm not sure it's worth the trouble. For the $200+ she spent on it, she would have been way ahead to pick up a used laptop, since she's not using the thing on the road all the time where weight and battery life may be the primary concern. Maybe there are some good netbooks out there; I don't know. But this one has sure soured me on the concept.

    Aaron B.
    My Woefully Neglected Blog, where I occasionally mention Perl.

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