Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 20th Aug 2009 12:25 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems The big thing in notebooks right now are netbooks. They're cheap, more than powerful enough for day-to-day tasks, and small enough to actually carry around without anyone even noticing you're carrying one (not a bad thing in some parts of the world). However, they also receive a lot of criticism, such as cramped keyboards and displays that are too small. So, at Kaiwai's suggestion, here's a question for you all: how do you use your netbook?
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EeePC 901
by BrianH on Thu 20th Aug 2009 15:43 UTC
BrianH
Member since:
2005-07-06

I have an EeePC 901 running WinXP, and I can do almost everything that I was able to do before with a full laptop. My old laptop's battery died, so it is now hooked up to my television full time.

Applications:
- Browser: Chromium, occasionally Chrome and IE8
- Development tools: Notepad++, Paint.NET, TortoiseHg, misc compilers & interpreters
- Multimedia: K-Lite Mega, QT-Lite
- Networking: Hamachi, OpenVPN, Google Talk, TightVNC
- Security: AVG, Spybot S&D
- Virtualization: Nothing local, only remote-operated stuff
- Everything else: PortableApps.com running on an 8GB SD card.

I moved some of the standard OS and applications to the 8GB D: drive from the C: drive, replacing their old directories with junction points to the new (awxLink) - this gives me enough room to install both the current Java and .NET runtimes with no problems.

There's only 1GB of RAM, and the drives are SSD, so you don't get a swap file, though virtual memory is turned on. This means that you become acutely aware of how much memory your programs use. This means no Firefox, and I avoid Java apps, though .NET apps can be OK on occasion.

I do most stuff on the SD card so I can transfer my whole environment to another computer if this one dies. A lot of the time I also remote-operate my computers at home, or computers I support or develop for. Digital nomad mode - it doesn't matter where I go.

I never turn the computer off. Never (well, twice for plane trips). I have it set to suspend when I shut the lid. When I want to go somewhere, I shut the lid and start packing up - the SSD means that I don't even have to wait for it to suspend before moving it. I can pack things up in 5 minutes and be out the door. It can stay on suspend for 2 days without recharging.

Multimedia is weak. I suspect that software optimized for the CPU would solve the problem, since the CPU has enough horsepower for the work. I desperately want an Atom-optimized build of ffdshow. Audio decoding has latency issues, more than video. Forget about more than SD resolution video. I can scale SD video up to 1080p HD output on an external monitor, though.

Flash is horrible, the absolutely worst thing on the netbook, worse than Silverlight (which works well). I want to write a proper Flash-blocking Chrome extension. You have to wait for videos to buffer fully before watching them, because there isn't enough horsepower to watch and buffer at the same time, or for that matter do Flash and anything other than a text editor. Flash makes me hate the internet.

If I were to replace this netbook today, I would go with something like an EeePC 1000HE running Windows 7 32bit. I suppose I'd be willing to wait for the computer to suspend (because of the HD instead of the SSD), since Win7 would be too big to fit in 4-16GB - at least I'd get a swap file. I'm keeping an eye on the Ion and the next-gen Atom platforms, to see which does better multimedia for the least cash. ARM is not an option for me, nor is Linux or OS X (I run a couple of Windows-specific apps).

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