Comments on Netbooks

Chris Pirillo has an item on CNN talking about Netbooks.  I left the following comment:

My wife gave me an Acer Aspire One for Christmas that ran Linux.  The Linpus Linux they used on it was rather sad, so the first step was to replace it with Ubuntu (8.10 had some issues, but 9.04 runs very nicely on it)  I later upgraded the RAM to 1 GB (Acer apparently designed that to be a VERY difficult task).  I recently tried Ubuntu Netbook Remix and found that I like the look even better on its small screen.  It still has a few rough edges, but in six months (when Ubuntu 9.10 is released) I imagine it will be heavily polished.  It has earned its keep on several occasions, for example when my 4-year-old daughter was occupied using Tux Paint on it for over an hour when I needed to keep her busy ;)  She also really liked the World of Goo demo I downloaded (being able to play simple games offline is a nice feature that should not be ignored).

In my mind, the defining features of netbooks are:

– their small size and light weight resulting in high portability (not to be too much of geek, but does anyone else remember Penny’s computer book from Inspector Gadget in the ’80s?  That’s what I thought of when I started taking mine outside ;)

– their tendency to lack moving internal parts (rotating disk based hard drives and removable optical media drives giving way to solid state drives and USB thumb drives)

– their low cost (I would not pay more than ~$300 for one currently; in a year you can replace it with something nicer and you’re only looking at about a dollar a day in usage costs; I expect the average price to drop down closer to the $200 range for low-end machines by year’s end; preloaded Linux will almost certainly play a part in that)

These early netbooks remind me of the RIO MP3 player that heralded the beginning of solid state music players, of which iPods currently dominate.

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