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The new toys are getting pretty decent
Last week, I finally broke down and indulged myself in an "impulse buy" that I'd been thinking about for six months: a new netbook. It wasn't a trivial decision, since I've sort of got two laptops already. But one is an XO, which I refer to as my "Fisher-Price laptop" -- it's cute, but it's slow, strange, and the keyboard really is too small for adult hands. And there's my work laptop, but that's big, heavy and kind of a pain to bring home often. (Plus there's my old ThinkPad from Convoq, which is nice but currently somewhat dead.) So having heard strong reviews of the new Eee 1005PE, and finding it on the shelves for just a hair over $300, I figured it was worth a gamble.

It's surprisingly good. Windows 7 Starter is a slightly lobotomized version of the OS, but in practice I'm finding that my laptop runs everything just fine, and boots *much* faster than my work laptop. The screen height is a real constraint, but as Ars Technica pointed out, you can improve that by hiding the Windows taskbar and using Chrome as your browser. The smallish keyboard probably restricts me to typing at 2/3 normal speed -- but 2/3 my normal speed is still pretty damned fast. True to netbook form, it weighs pretty much nothing. The Wifi-N works great: it's the fastest net connection of any of my machines. The battery life is just plain insane: something like 6-11 hours, depending on usage. And it comes in the same shade of burgundy as my car!

So that's my new little red toy, which I'll probably be bringing to meetings instead of the bulky old ThinkPad. So far, so good: if it continues without major snafus, I can recommend it quite strongly...

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Chris loves hers.

Same complaint about the squished screen.

However, she has found that she only gets 2-3 hours of battery life, rather then the 6 hours Asus claims.

She's gotten more, but has to shut off wifi and minimizes the hard drive activity. Ie: No email or web surfing, which sort of limits what a netbook is primary for.

Edited at 2010-03-02 07:34 am (UTC)

With the EEE, model numbers are important. The initial bit tells you the screen size -- 7, 9 or 10 inches -- and the rest signifies the model, without actually being informative other than as a cookie. The 1005PE is pretty new -- I suspect Chris may have an older model.

Also, batteries come in at least 4 different 4-cell models, 2 6-cells, and a 2-cell version.

Huh; that's quite odd. I haven't tried going all the way through mine (I've probably done ~3 hours on battery at a shot so far), and it certainly wavers up and down, but so far the battery meter is supporting the claims -- going as low as 6 hours when I'm really hammering it, and as high as 11 when I'm doing lightweight surfing with lots of reading time. (I haven't shut off the Wifi yet.) And I saw a number of reviews that got ~9 hours in normal use. So it's possible that she got a dud battery.

She's got the new PE, right? I gather the older 1005HA is nearly identical, but has nowhere near the battery life. If she *does* have a PE, then it sounds like she's got a dud battery...

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Interesting -- y'know, while I had heard about the F11 function, I'd never tried it before. I have FF installed, of course -- there are times when it's simply the tool I want -- but I've generally been using Chrome so far, due to the Ars recommendation.

That's a good idea, though; I'll experiment with it. (Playing with it here at work, I see why you suggest it. My main concern is how it interacts with the Windows Taskbar, which I'll have to experiment with, but it does fill the screen nicely.) Thanks!

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Oh, and sure -- happy to demo it when we get a chance...

Please post another update when you've had a chance to get to know it better. I am in the market for...something... Maybe this...

Having used it non-trivially for the past week, I'm still liking it quite a lot. It continues to boot surprisingly fast, and runs all of my "ordinary" software just fine. I wouldn't try running serious games on it, or doing software development, or for that matter try to use it for eight hours a day regularly. But for casual personal stuff, it's proving an excellent fit. (And that long battery life is *really* nice: it's the first laptop I've ever really trusted to run without a power cord for a non-trivial amount of time.)

The crucial bit is to make sure you get the right model. As alluded to upthread, Asus has a bunch of fairly similar models, and only the PE (and variations thereof) have the infinite battery life...

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