What is a Netbook?
Netbooks are the term applied to ultra portable laptop computers which in turn come with a low price tag; typically, under $400. The low price means that these devices are comparably underpowered for the operations a more expensive “laptop” or desktop computer could typically handle. The ultra portable part means that these devices are very small, usually a 10″ screen or even smaller. Powered by an Intel Atom processor, these low power chips are great for battery life – as some netbook specifications boast 10+ hours of life on a single charge. These devices are great for Internet, photo and video viewing, social networking, and basic applications. Just don’t expect to do anything heavy like Photoshop or video editing.
I am aware of at least a few of these devices in the building – and anticipate more. In fact, I just recently picked up an Asus 1005HA model (shown above). This $300 machine is replacing an aging Apple Powerbook G4 12″. A netbook was attractive to me because of its ultra-portability, long battery life, and low purchase price. For my purposes I will be running Windows 7 32bit RC and Ubuntu Linux Netbook Remix.
It took me only a couple of hours to follow these dual booting directions (http://www.bauer-power.net/2009/06/how-to-dual-boot-windows-7-and-ubuntu.html). I use the Windows 7 side for the majority of my work on this device – Word, Excel, and web browsing. The Ubuntu side is available so that I can program of course.
The important thing to remember about these little devices is that they are UNDERPOWERED. Just like any low cost traditional laptop or cheap desktop setup – they are noticably slower when doing anything other than browsing the web and using services or resources that exist on the web. However, I would say that close to 90% of what I do on computers happens within a web browser. E-mail, Social Networking, Netflix – these services all exist in the “Cloud” (See the post for ‘What is Cloud Computing‘) – and with more and more services popping up online, netbooks seem like a good and affordable way to access these resources from wherever you are.