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    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008
    Warren's new acquisition prompted me to throw this up here since maybe others are thinking of going the same route.

    My day job is working IT for a school district. Every kid in our district from grade 7 on up gets their own computer. I've been testing a variety of different small computers to give them. So, after a year of playing with a lot of machines here's my conclusion. Get an HP 2133 MIni-note. (Ok, I haven't touched an Eee PC 901, and it may be just as nice or nicer.)

    I have right now 200 Asus R2H's that the high school kids have been using. They aren't a bad machine, but they are a pain in the ass. This pretty much holds true for anything that doesn't have an integrated keyboard. It's a lot of pieces that need to be pulled out in order to get set up. Also the R2H has an 800x480 resolution (same as the Eee PC 700 series). Also the wireless card is weak.

    I've also played with a samsung Q1U. This has better resolution than the R2H and better wireless. Also there's a very tiny keyboard on the edges of the screen. It is a much better solution than the R2H if you really want something that isn't a traditional looking laptop. They keyboard sucks to try to do anything more than chat with. The screen is still only 7 inches on this, so with the higher resolution everything is tiny, but it's much more usable.

    We got an Eee 701 about a month before the 901 came out to see how well we liked it. (planning on going to the 901 if we went that route.) My biggest problem with the 701 is the screen size and low resolution. It's at the same place as the R2H as far as the screen goes. I also personally have a lot of trouble with the keyboard. I believe the 901 has a bigger keyboard and I know the 905 does.

    Then we also got an HP 2133 to try. It's really not much bigger than the 701 physically, but it does have the 9 inch screen with a 1280x768 resolution. The keyboard completely fills up the space it can have. It's quite nice for typing on. Without trying a 905 for myself, this is what I'd buy if I were going to get something today.

    As a side note, the administration decided to go for larger tablets for the students in the future, so I won't get to play with all these neat toys for free anymore. If the HP Mini-note or the Eee PC gets a touch screen, we may re-visit them.

    Hopefully someone gets some use out of all this blabber.
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008

    I'm a consultant/project manager/info architect for a web firm. I have a lot of meetings, writing a lot of correspondence, and I'm excited to get a laptop that fits what I do well.

    I've got a 901 on order from Amazon. The Linux model in black. It's the right model for me, based on what I'm looking for. Small keyboard is okay, cause I don't type orthodox. I'm not interested in touch screens in the slightest. I like portability and long battery life. I like to be able to research like crazy while in a meeting so I can talk about stochastic search methods and sound half-intelligent. Linux because I'm one of those gray hat/reformed script kids from the 90's. And black because I'm white. Can't wait to see how the video conferencing works out.

    Of course, I placed the order 10 days ago, and it still hasn't shipped. I'm blaming Intel.
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008
    Don't buy anything from ASUS, especially if you are in the UK. ASUS UK customer service is useless. They released the Eee 900 in the UK with a lower spec battery than they sent out to the reviewers. When customers complained they made up a story about the UK getting a better warranty. When the customers pointed out that other countries got the proper battery and the better warranty they relented and offered a deal where you could swap you battery, for a not insubstantial cost( and be without a battery for a while), or buy a new battery from one of their resellers in a "special summer promotion". Of course, none of their resellers know anything about this "special summer promotion" so they don't have the battery in stock.

    I was going to buy a 901, but I'm now going to buy an MSI Wind.
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008
    MSI Wind is very nice, too, but I don't want an HDD on my little portable 'puter. The price on the Winds is great!

    To be fair, there is a shortage on batteries all across the world, and the 3-call battery was specified at points of sale. It just wasn't the same as the demo/reviewers had. That really isn't all that uncommon, except it was exacerbated because battery life is such a major selling point on these guys. But ultimately, ASUS UK handled the fallout very poorly.
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008
    Remember when you had to buy your own school supplies, and they consisted of a ruler and coloured pencils? As a former teacher, I'm curious what district you work in and whether this is becoming really common.
      CommentAuthorFat Mike
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008
    @ steve:

    thanks a lot for the blabber.... I m very interested in hearing from people who have actually tried these mini laptop until I finally make up my mind about which one to go for
  1.  (2995.7)
    I'm the type of person that researches things a lot before buying them, especially more expensive stuff like computers and cars.

    I've been looking into the UMPC (Engadget refers to them as netbooks, a name that I happen to like) market for quite a while now, so I'll share some info with you since you're interested.

    I've heard bad things about ASUS. With their previous models their screen had a resolution that was way too low, and they've always had bad customer service from what I hear. Additionally, SSDs sound nice but they aren't quite a proven technology yet. There are a lot of studies done very recently that say that SSDs use about the same amount of power as a HDD and don't perform much better. Plus, think about cost and disk space: you pay a whole heck of a lot more for a 20GB SSD than you would an 80 or 120GB HDD. A LOT more. And I don't know about you, but 20GB isn't enough space for me.

    So, the Eee PC's are out of the question, at least until the price comes down and they put an HDD in them. So then I checked into the HP Mini-Note, another one that was mentioned. HP's a good company, but I think they failed to perform with this one. For starters, you can only choose either SUSE Linux or Vista; those aren't good options. Most people will want a Windows system, and I pity the fool that tries to run Vista on a netbook, a computer meant for speed and portability and not graphical power. I've heard bad things about the VIA processor inside the Mini-Note, but I'm not a techie so I don't know if these are just squabbling techies splitting hairs or if it's a serious problem. Also, for whatever reason the mouse buttons are placed on the left and right sides of the touchpad instead of at the bottom; this has caused usability problems. Another usability issue is the keyboard. I haven't used it, but multiple professional reviewers have complained that the keyboard is incredibly too small even if you aren't touch typing. Finally, a couple people on Amazon complained about how hot the bottom of the laptop gets after a few minutes, leaving one guy to remark "I could use this laptop as a panini press if I wanted to."

    So, the Mini-Note is out. I looked at some others after these 2, but it wasn't until the MSI Wind that I started getting really interested. It's got a keyboard that's 92% regular size, it has a 10 inch screen, I think it comes with 1GB of RAM by default and can be upgraded to 2 GB, AND you can choose from Linux or Windows XP. I think XP is the way to go with these netbooks. It also comes with an 80GB HDD. The price is right, too: $500. The downsides are that the mouse buttons are a little hard to push, and currently they only ship with the 3-cell battery, which lasts a little less than 2 hours. As someone mentioned, there's a shortage on these batteries worldwide, so it's not just MSI's problem. Supposedly they'll be shipping models with the 6-cell battery in September or October, so I'm holding out until then.

    Oh, and it's taking a long time for many of these companies to ship their netbooks...most of them take 3-5 weeks after you place the order. I think it's because of the battery shortage.

    So, I've pretty much decided on getting the Wind in another couple months. Also note, however, that Dell is supposed to be releasing a netbook of its own in August/September. Right now they're calling it the Mini-Inspiron. Not many details have been released about it, though, so I'm betting it comes with Vista and will cost $600-700.

    I apologize for the long post, but I'm hoping someone else finds my research helpful.
  2.  (2995.8)

    Right there with you with the MSI. I'd be happier with Wind if it has a solid-state drive, but I can upgrade to that later. The 2gb ram option is quite unusual for the size and considering XP it's almost a necessity, isn't it? I'm basically waiting for the availability to kick in here States-side.
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008
    @thom_wong I live in the middle of wyoming. Town of about 3000. There's a lot of grant money from the oil boom. (Yes, Wyoming right now is experiencing an oil boom.)

    I'll have to check out the MSI. I didn't know anything about that one. Course now I'm not at a point where I'll get to order machines to test with.
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008
    My preference for the EEE PC comes out of my own personal needs, but I'd like to refute some other statements made. Thank goodness this isn't gizmodo or engadget (or even slashdot), and we can have an intelligent conversation.

    @tcatsninfan: You said
    With their previous models their screen had a resolution that was way too low

    Yes, but the 701 was the first model of this genre and originally designed as a low end system for education primarily.
    and they've always had bad customer service from what I hear.

    I've heard this, too, and discuss it above.
    Additionally, SSDs sound nice but they aren't quite a proven technology yet. There are a lot of studies done very recently that say that SSDs use about the same amount of power as a HDD and don't perform much better.

    You're citing a Tom's Hardware study. Its methodology was suspect and it has been refuted and contradicted several times since. SSD has made the jump to manstream CE (consumer electronics), so I wouldn't say it's not ready for prime time. But you're right, they don't perform much better. In fact they perform worse in some actions. But they are better at fast access, and they do consume significantly less power, and they are much, much more sturdy.
    Plus, think about cost and disk space: you pay a whole heck of a lot more for a 20GB SSD than you would an 80 or 120GB HDD. A LOT more. And I don't know about you, but 20GB isn't enough space for me.

    You're right. I think the EEE PC doesn't make sense for a primary or media machine. For me, it's a portable system for writing and research and communication. I'll keep my xvid Hannah Montana videos on my main PC.

    My other reason for liking the Eee is that it's eminently hackable. Pop eee and hack or mod into a search and have a blast
  3.  (2995.11)

    Yeah, just read an article where someone hacked and installed a touchscreen onto an Eeepc. :) I like the Eeepc quite a lot. I've read some issues with the two SSD drives, but that's not a huge deal if one knows what they're doing.
  4.  (2995.12)
    fwiw I agree w/vrbtm about the Eeepc 701. It excels at being a limited-use, open source machine. If what a user needs is within those limits, for the money it's the best out there atm- but I don't expect that to stay that way. I'm looking forward to the small-form-factor SSD linux netbook that tops the Eeepc and stays under 400USD.
  5.  (2995.13)

    My research says the current problem with pricing is the cost of solid state drives. It's the one item everyone wants as part of the whole package the most, but combine it with the cost of current 8.9" displays and Windows it goes above $500 easy. I think the market in fall/winter for UMPCs is when they really hit. Christmas is good for a few things...
  6.  (2995.14)
    Well, Val, that gets into personal prefs. The larger screens = larger boxes = too big for my needs, and I'll take the better linux distros (even xandros- cough) over Windows- so those additions to the pricepoint aren't worth it to me.

    But I'm not an average user, I realize. So I'll enjoy having nabbed the 701 for now, and see what the future brings. But it won't ever bring me a 500+dollar portable, I'm afraid- that's not in my budget.
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008
    As maligned as windows is in tech circles, XP is a fairly mature and mostly fixed up operating system now, and the cycles of progress mean that modern netbooks, while anemic by current laptop standards, are more powerful than many desktops that first ran it. I've run the xandros custom that comes with my eee 701, kubuntu, xp, and suse, and all of them perform fairly well. The resolution and hdd size are problems if you try to use it as a primary or a media machine, but I've got desktops and a media-centric tablet for that.

    The key for me is portability, battery-life, and freedom from fear. I don't worry about taking my eeepc anywhere, and it's as small as many books I'm used to carrying with me. So it's always available. I have the lowest rated one, so the battery life is pretty good(although I'm looking at extended batteries even so). It's a fantastically sturdy little thing, and I've never worried about it, nor had any problems. About the only thing I try to keep it away from is water.
    • CommentTimeJul 16th 2008 edited

    I expect to swap Xandros out for Ubuntu Netbook Remix once they get it all captain hammered out. Seems just perfect.

    The one thing I want to do, or at least explore the feasibility of doing, is to use my Eee PC 901 as a recording device. I know it will work as a sequencer, but I wanna know if I can use it for some of the sound design projects I do. An SSD will get along with magnetic microphones better, and I know the system is very quiet. Here's hoping!
  7.  (2995.17)
    @ outlawpoet- I'm right there w/you on portability and sturdiness (and that the 701 isn't meant to be a primary machine, of course). And I totally agree w/you re:XP, I just got tired of fighting w/it, and decided to fight w/something else for a bit : )

    @vrbtm- hey, that ubuntu remix could be v shiny when they get it smoothed out, thanks for the link!
    • CommentTimeJul 17th 2008

    Last night I had a nightmare: my Eee PC came and it was the size of a checkerboard.
    • CommentAuthorKradlum
    • CommentTimeJul 18th 2008
    I have so many gigabytes of storage in tiny devices kicking around the storage size on the Eee was not an issue. It was bought as a portable device so the main issue was portability and battery time. Of course, since I bought it I have used it for about 5 minutes as my wife seems to have appropriated it. I'm She's not unhappy with the device at all, it meets and exceeds expectations. I just wish the same could be said for their customer service.

    I'm going to give Asus one last chance of checking out their suppliers to see if they have the replacement battery today. I work above PC World, and there are 3 Micro Anvikas on Totenham Court Road, so if none of them have the new battery I'm giving up on Asus.
    • CommentTimeJul 19th 2008