Much as I love my dear Dell XPS 1200 - it’s a lovely laptop to do development on – it’s still a little too heavy to just slip into my rucksack and carry around on the commute, even at under 2 Kg. And, given that I’m trying to make a concerted effort to do a little more blogging to improve those English skills I thought I’d check out the current range of netbooks.
As someone who stands over 6 feet tall, with hands the size of spades, and fingers fatter than some peoples forearms,I’ve never felt totally comfortable on a laptop keyboard, so I never for a moment thought a netbook would be practical (I still use an IBM Model M keyboard c1985 at home - the best keyboard ever). However the other weekend, I managed to convince my niece to let me play with her netbook just to confirm my suspicions. It’s seems I was a little too hasty in my assumptions. Putting aside the somewhat sticky keys, which I wish to point out was the result of her typing with chocolate covered fingers and not a design feature, I found it far more comfortable than I’d ever imagined.
A week or so later and here I am typing this on my new Asus Eee PC 1500HA. Leaving the plug at home it weighs in just over the Kg mark, but given that I often carry weighty tomes like the C++ IO Streams book, or Enterprise Patterns with me into work it hardly registers. The keyboard feels slightly cramped, which is to be expected but I’ve quickly got used to it. The Home and End keys are at the top-right on my Dell and I often hit Insert by mistake, whereas they are bottom-right on the Eee PC and need the Fn key as well. I didn’t think I was going like that, but I’ve already forgotten about it, in fact mapping Home,End, Page Up and Page Down on the cursor cluster seems so damn logical.
Performance is also surprisingly good. My wife bought a Toshiba laptop some years ago which was very lightweight, but it only had a 1.1 GHz processor and felt very sluggish, at least when you’re used to multi-core beasts in both workstation and laptop form. I was expecting a similar experience here, but frankly I’m gobsmacked at not only how quickly it boots up from cold, but also how responsive it is when starting applications. I may have to revisit the notion that I’m only gong to be using it for writing on.
My biggest concern is my wife though. Her Dell XPS 1310 that is her bread-and-butter, has developed another fault after only a short life – no doubt something to do with the large drop it suffered a while back :-) If she gets her hands on this little beauty I fear for it’s safety. I’m hoping it’s going to be small enough to hide at the bottom of my bag under the packets of tissues and fluff and will escape her notice. So, if a strange women comes up to you and asks if you’ve seen this netbook of mine, deny everything…