Papa's Got a Brand New Brag
I bought a new toy the other day, a netbook. It's an "ASUS Eee PC Seashell 1005HA-PU17-BU Royal Blue". Although I recently confessed to being a late adopter of flat-screen TVs (actually, I still don't have one), I think I can claim to be a bit of an early adopter of netbooks since I don't know anybody who has one. Here are my initial impressions.
Overall, it seems to be a very good thing. Since you can buy a passable laptop for maybe $100 more than I paid for my netbook, I considered just replacing my aging Vista (ick) laptop. This time, however, it's not about money. I decided that a netbook was what I really wanted. The two basic selling points are: 1) small size - literally the same size as a medium-sized hardback book - if a little heaver, and 2) long battery life. I like to think of it as an iTouch on steroids. (Heck, maybe it'll even become governator of California one day.) I've already used it once to save myself from having to read magazines in a doctor's office.
There seems to be a very standard feature set among most netbooks: Atom processor, 1 GB RAM, 10.1" screen, etc. Beyond that, you get your choice of XP or Windows 7 Starter. Mine follows the pack except that I paid $70 more for a 250 GB disk rather than the standard 160 GB. (I told you it wasn't about money.) You can never be too rich, too thin, or have too big of a hard disk. Yes, size matters.
And I ended up chosing Win 7 since this thing is supposed to be a shiny new toy. I had some doubts if Win 7 Starter would run well in 1 GB, but it seems to be fine so far. As best I can tell, Win 7 Starter is pretty-much the same as XP except for UAC and various cosmetics. If so, it should do fine in 1 GB: I made the right choice.
I'm favorably impressed so far. The 10.1" screen is surprisingly usable, as is its chiclet keyboard, which I'm typing on at this very minute. The battery life seems to be (almost) as good as advertised. The function keys seem very useful and well-thought out. The multi-touch mouse pad works well...except...
I just flushed a page of text I wrote by accidentally hitting something on the touch pad. Luckily, there's a function key to turn the touch pad off; I'll be making liberal use of that in the future. Also, save early and save often.
So far, I only have two disappointments. First, the "royal blue" color really is more like "royal black-blue". In fact, when I pull up the web page of the site I bought it on, it looks distinctly bluer than the real thing. (Thanks, Newegg.) I know, it's silly to fuss about this but remember, it's supposed to be a shiny new toy. And I wanted blue. Wah! It kindda reminds me of the old Henry Ford line about the Model T: "You can have it in any color you want as long as it's black."
My second disappointment is with the sound. Even at full volume, it isn't very loud. More importantly, it has a distinctly muddy sound. However, its sound system has a lot of adjustments, so maybe I can fiddle with those and make it better. Let's hope that the muddiness isn't due to tradeoffs made to save component cost and/or size. That would make it a "puny gurly" iTouch.