Asus, FTW

I love, and I mean love, my Mac.  It’s a shiny 24″ iMac with a snappy processor, 2GB of RAM and 750GB of hard drive space and a “sidecar” Western Digital My Book Studio Edition 1TB external Firewire 800 hard drive for Time Machine backups and extra storage space.

The iMac is also, unfortunately, bolted to the desk in my home office which means the rest of my home is computerless.

One solution is my iPhone.  The iPhone is good for simple surfing to check a stat on IMDB or look at e-mail, but it only gets me so far in my living room.  One of its greatest limitations is viewing Flash-based websites (grrrrrrr).  Adobe?  Apple?  Hello?

Anyhow.  Off topic.  So, while the iPhone is great for when I’m out and about, at home I started thinking that I might want something a bit more substantial for the rest of the house.  Nothing fancy.

My Laptop Requirements

Operating System: I’m trying to maintain a Windows-free environment, which has less to do with what a clusterF*** Vista is, and more to do with wanting to support “alternative” computing platforms like Mac and Linux.  So I did not look at any Windows-based computers.

Usage: could best be described as “super-low-end.”  I need a large monitor for web browsing, e-mail, blog writing (of course), offline text editing, listening to podcasts, watching video and light image editing/management.  Honestly, my ideal machine would be a TRS-80 Model 100 if I could get the Internet on it…

Optical Drive: no requirement.

File Storage: the smaller the better, since most files will be stored online or immediately moved to my iMac for archiving.

Software: Firefox, Adobe Flash, Open Office, VideoLAN, Gimp, Picasa, Adobe Acrobat, etc.  Any additional software will be Open Source since another goal is to keep this machine’s software licensing costs at zero.

Price: $400 or less.

Mac = No Op

The first thing I did was price a MacBook Air, and quickly determined that at $1,800 it was well out of my price range.  Ditto the MacBook.  Even a refurbished or used MacBook would come in $200+ above my price requirement.  MacBooks, in their current configuration, are sadly either “too much” machine or just too expensive.

Netbooks

The “need” for a laptop in the living room was actually prompted by Molly and Natali on Buzz Out Loud raving about how nice it was to have a lightweight laptop at trade shows and whatnot.

This led me to look at the Netbook-class of laptops.

The Dell Mini didn’t do it for me.  I read on Engaget that Dell announced the Adamo at CES , but without a delivery date or a price, I’m not going to wait around for it.

The HP Mini and Lenovo S10 are both nice systems, but I played around with their configurators and could not get a final configuration that didn’t exceed my price requirement.  That said, I would have stretched my pricing requirement to meet one of these models had I not looked at the Asus Eee PC and found exactly what I was looking for.  (I think)

Asus, FTW

Goung outside the “top 3” PC manufacterers (and Apple), I decided to look at Asus, the company that started the Netbook product category, and was very impressed with the Asus Eee PC 1000.

Operating System: Xandros-based Linux (“netbook-friendly” interface).  There’s also an eeeUbuntu distro at GetEasyPeasy.Com should I get frustrated with the factory install.  I also found a great community website at http://www.eeeuser.com/

Core Specs: 10″ display, Intel Atom processor and 1GB of RAM.  I’ve seen a few posts that suggest for $35 you can replace it with 2GB ($35) with “parts on the floor” if needed.

Additional Specs: Webcam, mic, speakers, Ethernet, Bluetooth, WiFi, 3 USB ports and media card reader.

Hard Drive: most of the Netbooks I saw featured 5400 RPM drives, but the Asus (and HP actually) are using very small Solid State Drive (SSD) technology.  The model 1000 has a 40GB SSD.  8GB for the OS and another 32GB for files.  I like this because I don’t like the idea of a physical hard drive on this type of device since the spin diminishes performance and requires additional battery power.

Battery: 6 cell battery with a 6 hour lifespan.

Price: $400.

With any luck, I’ll be setting this up and doing some configuration while I watch Lost on Wednesday night. More to come.

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