Here at Zath we’ve been covering the development of netbooks pretty much since they sprung onto the market in the surprisingly small shape of Asus’ Eee PC, and we’ve kept you up to date with the new releases, done a few reviews and even seen how people have confusing netbooks with notebooks. But what we haven’t done yet is given a good account of what it’s actually like to live with one – until now.
So I thought what better way to give the whole netbook lifestyle of living off “the cloud” a good workout than take it on holiday to France for 2 ½ weeks and see how it pans out. This is the first of a few articles documenting the advantages and disadvantages of having a netbook (including a more detailed insight into the one I’m actually using), how practical it is to use in France and of course a diary on the technology related thoughts I have on my travels.
There are two main things you will need to know – where I’m going and what I’m using. My fairly unoriginal route takes me down to London, across on the ferry to Calais and then past Paris all the way to south west France near Bordeaux and then back up again (paying a visit to Futuroscope!) and home again.
The netbook that I will be using will be the Acer Aspire One AOA-150 Ab (which is blue, with 1GB RAM, a 120GB HDD and Linux Lite Plus) which was purchased for a very reasonable £158 used from Dabs.com. But of course I couldn’t leave it like that, so I mounted XP to a memory stick and subsequently installed that, and downloaded as many drivers as physically possible.
My first impressions were good – it definitely looks as nice in real life as it does in the pictures, and although the screen size can be awkward with certain websites (namely Facebook) you learn not to notice it and after a while and soon you’re ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the size of a 19” screen!
The keyboard is also very impressive, although I originally had my reservations that the smaller size would result in my typing speed plummeting it in fact is very easy to get used to (especially if you have small fingers like me), although the larger-fingered members of our race may get very annoyed very quickly.
In fact the more I used it the more I came to realise that the statistics suggesting that people use them more inside then when traveling make perfect sense – if you have WiFi in the house it’s brilliant for walking around with, talking to people on MSN Messenger, listening to music, checking on emails while watching TV or even watching TV shows on BBC iPlayer (which works very well). I think this may even be it’s forté as it definitely beats the house laptop in convenience, portability and weight!
However being good within the house is one thing, but how will it cope on the road with its measly 3 cell battery, small keys and small screen? Well I will find out soon enough – and just for an added bonus I have just broken my leg so will be relying on my netbook, three books and my very poor French to entertain me for 2 ½ weeks!