Back when netbooks were introduced, I was very excited about these cheap little laptops. The first ones ran Linux, and they had amazing battery life. I ended up getting two Asus Eee-PC models, and I stil have them. But now, with tablets and ultrabook boasting far better specs, mine are used less and less. That’s why I decided to see what I could use them for if I replaced general-purpose desktop OS Ubuntu Linux with software geared towards a single purpose. Below are three things I tried, and I was suprised by how useful they made my Eee-PC 901. More Three cool things to try with your old netbook
I’ve pointed out this brilliant piece by Wired before. If you haven’t read it you should. It’s about how netbooks changed the computer industry, and ended, at least for some uses, the arms race towards ever greater performance. But there’s another thing that makes these tiny laptops very important, and that’s innovation. Hardware limitations and new use cases have forced software and hardware developers to come up with new solutions. Since the launch of the original Eee-PC nearly two years ago now I’ve spotted a number of really cool innovative projects that would probably not have existed without the netbook phenomenon. More Why netbooks are important: Innovation
TechCrunch just posted an update regarding their CrunchPad project. And there’s a ‘launch prototype’, which I assume is somewhat like a ‘release client’ in software development. Feature complete and ready for a last round of testing. The new renderings look even slicker than before, and there’s a nice video of the previous prototype in action that hints at what the software is going to be like. I just knew these prototypes were further along than they’d have us believe back then. More Crunchpad launch prototype looks like dreams come true
At Computex, nVidia is keen to show off it Ion and Tegra product lines. Ion is a new chipset that turns Intel’s Atom processor into a multimedia powerhouse by adding a proper GPU. The first products are available and have been met with critical acclaim. But I find Tegra a much more interesting product. Not in the sense that I’m going to run to stores when the first Tegra-packing devices hit retail, but in the sense that I’m curious to see where this is going. More Why am I still not excited about Tegra?
Moblin 1.0 made the headlines because it promised to boot really quickly. But startup times alone will probably not be enough to lure Windows users into trying Intel’s purpose-built netbook operating system. That’s may well be why the brand new Moblin 2.0 beta looks really slick. It’s definitely still a little rough around the edges, but the user interface is impressive.
I wrote about how Firefox can be really slow on the Eee-PC a few months ago, and offered a simple tweak that helped me back then. Since upgrading to Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) however, that configuration setting didn’t help nearly as well as it did before. Apparently, there were a few more things slowing the browser down. So here’s a couple more things to try. More More Eee-PC Firefox speed tweaks
Wired recently did a great story on how and why netbooks became last year’s big tech trend. “The Netbook Effect: How Cheap Little Laptops Hit the Big Time” starts with the OLPC and ends with cloud computing. It explains why these little laptops defy every rule in the business, and why many of the big brands were late to jump on the bandwagon.
…Netbooks violate all the laws of the computer hardware business. Traditionally, development trickles down from the high end to the mass market. PC makers target early adopters with new, ultrapowerful features. Years later, those innovations spread to lower-end models.
But Jepsen’s design trickled up. In the process of creating a laptop to satisfy the needs of poor people, she revealed something about traditional PC users. They didn’t want more out of a laptop—they wanted less.
While the are a few factual errors in the article (MSI did have a laptop business prior to its first netbook), this is the best article I’ve seen on the netbook phenomenon. Recommended.
I have to admit that I missed the original post about this device, but when I stumbled across the protoype announcement today I couldn’t help but get excited. If you’ve been following this blog you’ll remember my little quest for the perfect at-home-on-the-couch internet device. After considering, among others, the Nokia N800 I ended up getting an Eee-PC. But it looks like the Crunchpad is what I really wanted all along. And still do. More Crunchpad: An e-book reader for the web
I wrote a few days ago about how I’d bought my daughter a somewhat older model Eee-PC. In that post I mentioned that I didn’t like the AC adapter that came with this netbook. I’ve always thought very highly of the build quality of Asus products, but this thing is downright dangerous.
One of the more interesting products revealed at the CES was Sony’s Vaio P. It’s $900 pricetag puts it well into midrange laptop territory, but I guess there’s room for a ‘premium’ netbook. I’ve grown very fond of mine, and wouldn’t mind paying a bit more for my next one. Especially if that machine offers a high resolution screen, is extremely light and has what looks like a decent keyboard. More Vaio P, Sony’s take on the netbook