I’ve gone Netbook

So I finally went netbook and got the Samsung NC10 which I am seriously loving after just a few days.  The amount of power that’s packed into such a small package is really quite amazing.  While the netbook category tends to be viewed as a cheap alternative, it’s really quite a bit more than that. The reduction in size affords an enhanced degree of mobility and I don’t feel I’m making much a sacrifice in order to get there … in fact I feel like it’s actually rather something of the opposite.

Over the past year I scaled my work laptop from a 15″ to a 13″ Lenovo X61 and the weight was a huge break on my shoulder and back.  The smaller machine runs about 3.5 pounds with the larger battery which also offered a longer range (~4hours) than what I found in the previous (T61) machine.   This small system has been serving me well.  The X61 does offer a weaker video card and which can’t play some of the videos we tend to embed in powerpoint for presentations.  Until the NC10, the X61 offered the longest unplugged time of any laptop I’ve used.  I know there are newer Lenovo systems that offer better specs but I don’t have any current ability to request an upgrade.

The NC10 on the other hand is my personal system.  I chose it compared to other netbooks based on the build quality, larger keyboard (93%) and 6-cell battery which allegedy can deliver close to 8 hours of battery life.  I gave the system it’s first real unplugged test this week and am very happy to report that the battery easily went through a day of meetings which started before 9:30 and lasted until 4pm.  There was roughly 30% left on the battery at that point which could have lasted about another hour according to the meter.  I was connected to wifi the whole day except during lunch when I left it on standby in our conference room.  That’s 6 and a half hours!!  With another hour to go it looks like 8 hours is actually a doable number.  I was running XP and the Samsung has a an custom power management application which is part of their standard install.  My screen was between 2 and 3 degress of 8 on the brightness scale.  The screen actually gets quite bright but is definitely not required for a day of work.

One thing I’ve immediately noticed about the NC10 is that the smaller size does not in any way feel cramped.  Swapping the Samsung NC10 into my bag for the first time I was very pleased to note the weight (~ half a pound) reduction on my shoulder.  While the 10″ screen is the current upper end of the netbook size range, it’s hardly massive and I felt worthwhile for the close to full-size keyboard as well as the potential for eye strain on the smaller system.

I’m going to upgrade the RAM to 2GB from the 1 that comes standard and may eventually consider an SSD hard drive over the 160GB one that comes standard as I think I could make do with less storage once I sort what OS I plan to run.  I’m currently triple booting the system between Windows 7, XP and OSX.  I’ll have some more to discuss on that shortly as well.  The trackpad does take a bit to get used to though I think that may actually be more of a personal thing as I’ve been trackpoint only on the X61.  The trackpad is shorter but wide so a bit of finesse and you can easily handle it.  Typing this on an airplane tray table is quite comfortable and fortunately the guy in front of me has not reclinced (coach on Finair).  Overall this machine is really quite remarkable.  I’m loving the
access, responsiveness and really can’t think of anything negative
about it.  I know it’s a bit more than quite a few netbooks out there, but even after paging through the CES announcements I’m not feeling like anything really beats the range I’ve got.

I’ll have to see how far I can push my use into regular business life.  I’ve yet to install any office suite so some attachments — powerpoint in particular are impossible to review or edit.  At least google docs can easily handle word files.  I suppose I can always install office or open office if I feel compelled.

14 comments for “I’ve gone Netbook

  1. 1/10/2009 at 12:04 am

    Very interested in your thoughts on the netbook experience as opposed to a pocketable Internet Tablet. Pros and cons to each of course… Welcome to the “Netbook Club”! πŸ™‚

  2. ntf
    1/10/2009 at 1:07 am

    Great minds…

    By the way, basic business use should be fine. I'm running Office (including Project), Wordperfect, Groupwise, Acrobat, etc. No sweat.

  3. Hugh
    1/10/2009 at 6:05 am

    Aye, they're a great format. So much more convenient when travelling.

    However the OS choice is a challenge. XP is a bit old and clunky. Linux still lacking ease of use in some areas and application compatibility. OS X which would be my choice, is a bit of a non starter as it's not officially supported and some things on hacked netbooks still appear not to work. Be interested to see how you get on if you go down this route. At the moment I am sticking with XP.

    You're also right on the storage media too. SSD (due to the fact they are quieter, generate less heat and consume less power) is the way to go. It's amazing when you finally conclude that your iPod / media player / ext hard drive is the best thing to carry audio and video around on, that your demand for not a huge amount of hard disk space becomes apparent.

    Key question though Jonathan is whether having a new Netbook gadget is going to enable you to reduce the total number you appear to cart around with you on a regular basis?!?

  4. 1/11/2009 at 5:45 am

    Indeed – thanks for opening my eyes and mind to this system which had completely slipped by my research. I’m very glad I ended up with the Samsung over the Wind. I’ll probably install office at some point though we’ll have to see about which OS gets it … might go on the Mac side when I get the networking configured properly.

  5. 1/11/2009 at 12:46 am

    Great to be in the club finally! Loving it actually …

    I am still very interested in the pocketable experience though frankly have yet to see anything with the balance of power and features that the N810 offers for it's size. I would love to have a cellular data connection internally and hope we'll see that when the Maemo 5 release happens later in the year. The smaller size of the netbook is killer for more productive use, but I don't really want to make much of a sacrifice when I'm out with an even lighter option.

  6. 1/11/2009 at 12:53 am

    XP is clunky but the battery optimizations seem primed there for the moment. I'm giving Windows 7 a good run this weekend and will have to compare there too. Once I add the 2GB RAM module I'm hoping for a nice boost as well across the board. I could definitely see upgrading to an SSD though I want to narrow down the OS options before going that way. Prices are coming down nicely as capacities are increasing.

    I am most definitely NOT carrying less gear. As the netbook is my personal machine, I was also toting my work lappy on my recent trip and based on the relative ease in slipping it into my roller bag, I will probably do that again. The work machine has VPN access and all the little things I need for my job. I can't put that at risk to tinker around on my personal machine though I think I can probably get pretty close. I'm still carrying at least half a dozen phones at any time as well along with cables and a travel router. πŸ˜‰

  7. brklynsurfer
    1/11/2009 at 1:57 am

    a review of Powerpoint performance and its ability to export video to a projector would make this device killer.

  8. 1/11/2009 at 1:59 am

    I”m not sure what the video out capabilities are just yet, but it definitely has a VGA port for external displays. I'll see what I can do for you

  9. 1/13/2009 at 11:20 am

    Multiple devices for personal and work use?

  10. 1/13/2009 at 11:30 am

    Paul – First of all – thanks for the video comment – my first!

    I carry multiple devices because … πŸ˜‰ Actually though I would love to get my personal machine on the work VPN but I can't get a certificate from IT so it's webmail only which has limits. There are things on our intranet which I can access via the browser, but for browsing to shared drives it can be painful. That said my trip with the NC10 recently certainly proved that it's an awesome meeting machine. I was online and taking notes all day (over 7 hours on site) and had plenty of battery left to spare!

    The practical part depends on how you travel. I've decided this week, my second with the NC10, that I'll leave my work laptop at the office and carry the NC10 back and forth. When I was going through the airports I put the work laptop in my suitcase rather than my briefcase to lighten the shoulder load …

    I'm planning on doing a video for sure. Will have the wireless card swapped out and looking to show off my functional triple boot! Earliest by the end of the week though more than likely over the weekend when I'll have time to deal with the video editing.

    NC10 is a very solid machine …

  11. 1/13/2009 at 4:20 pm

    Multiple devices for personal and work use?

  12. 1/13/2009 at 4:30 pm

    Paul – First of all – thanks for the video comment – my first!

    I carry multiple devices because … πŸ˜‰ Actually though I would love to get my personal machine on the work VPN but I can't get a certificate from IT so it's webmail only which has limits. There are things on our intranet which I can access via the browser, but for browsing to shared drives it can be painful. That said my trip with the NC10 recently certainly proved that it's an awesome meeting machine. I was online and taking notes all day (over 7 hours on site) and had plenty of battery left to spare!

    The practical part depends on how you travel. I've decided this week, my second with the NC10, that I'll leave my work laptop at the office and carry the NC10 back and forth. When I was going through the airports I put the work laptop in my suitcase rather than my briefcase to lighten the shoulder load …

    I'm planning on doing a video for sure. Will have the wireless card swapped out and looking to show off my functional triple boot! Earliest by the end of the week though more than likely over the weekend when I'll have time to deal with the video editing.

    NC10 is a very solid machine …

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