My Latest Purchase


A few weeks back I imagined myself in some dodgy internet cafe in Stockholm. I imagined myself walking around the backstreets of Gamla Stan, trying to find somewhere to check email, write blog posts, and very importantly, back up my photographs. And then I thought about the prospect of having to type the hand-written notes I’d scribbled on a piece of paper the night before, and generally wasting a lot of time when I could be out in the Swedish summertime enjoying myself.

The solution to the dilemma of wanting to document this trip, making sure it was backed up, and being able accees email and voicemail, without spending too much money on a laptop (which I might actually lose somewhere) came in a blogpost at Lifehacker about the EEE PC.

What a bargain, I thought to myself, when I read that it was on sale for $327 plus postage and handling. I still had nagging doubts about the size of the keyboard and I don’t like touchpads, preferring to use a mouse. So I wrote to Angus Kidman who made the blog post and he replied with some reassuring comments. What finally put me over the edge was when I read some reviews about how easily it connects to wireless networks. And guess what? Europe is full of free wireless connections.

I then imagined myself late at night in my room with my little computer in front of me. I’d just had an exciting full day and, with loads of inspiration, could write an amazingly thorough and vivid blog post, back up my photographs, and check email. A no-brainer at that price I thought.

Anyway, it arrived today…

I spent a couple of hours this evening playing around making sure I could do all that I wanted to do while away.

So what do I think?

The first thing you notice is just how small and lightweight it is. It looks smart and will easily fit in my daypack. A very witty person at work walked past my office, looked in, and quipped, “Honey, I shrunk the PC”.

The keyboard is small, really small, but not so small that I couldn’t still touch-type at a fairly speedy pace.

The screen is also small, but very clear, and just about perfect for what I want to do.

I still don’t like the touch-pad. They’re just not my thing. So I easily attached a separate mouse by USB – no problem.

The interface, using Linux, is pretty straight-forward and logical. Everything I thought I could want to do while away was easily found.

Acessing the net was also easy. It’s also easily set up for Gmail, and I even listened to some online radio.

Four gigabytes of space is limited, but it’s my intention to back everything up online. As well as the SD card slot, there’s also three USB ports for external storage anyway.

I got at least two hours of use before the battery started to die, so I was pleased with that.

It’s also got a reasonable webcam and speakers.

I’ve yet to find a nearby free wireless network to test it out on, but it identified a number of neighbouring encrypted connections without any problem at all. It also instantly connected to my home ADSL connection.

I’m gonna go looking for some free wifi tomorrow to test it out “in the field”.

So my early verdict is that I like it very much. I will need to take that separate mouse with me, but otherwise I’m very happy indeed.


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