back to article Netbooks and Mini-Laptops

Since Asus launched the Eee PC 701 in October 2007, many notebook makers have hopped on the Small, Cheap Computer bandwagon, a fair few of them pushing the limits of the format's size and price in the process. The arrival of Intel's Atom N270 processor in June this year kickstarted this profusion of SCCs, and it remains the …

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  1. Simon Brown

    you kept us waiting til the end there

    but it was worth it :)

  2. Sam

    Careful now

    More of this sort of thing!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So near, yet so far

    If only you'd included the battery life figures into your table, it would have been a great article...

  4. Matthew Burling
    Thumb Up

    Great article

    I have the Eee PC 701 and 901 and they're both good.

    The 901 overcomes all the short-comings of the 701 - good screen, RAM, 'disk' space and battery life - plus it has bluetooth. It's as useful as an expensive laptop but smaller and cheaper.

    Thanks for the great round-up.

  5. b166er

    Thanks Tony

    Great round-up and really appreciate the comparison matrix.

    Any chance of adding battery specifications to that?

  6. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    Re. Battery Life

    I did consider including a battery life column. However, we haven't tested all the configurations listed, so there would be gaps. And while we could have listed manufacturers' claims, we all know how accurately they reflect real-world usage.

    I did start compiling battery capacity ratings, but then found that not all vendors quote these, preferring the decidedly more vague battery cell count, which doesn't tell you anything beyond vendor A's six-cell battery has twice the capacity of its three-cell battery.

    How does that compare to vendor B's four-cell battery? No one can say.

    The web has plenty of reviews - some of them Reg Hardware's - of the many configurations listed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    How much are Dell paying you?

    You haven't even reviewed it yet, but the Dell gets 1st place? WTF!

  8. LPF

    Hmmmm

    May I'm missing something, but how can the acer with bigger hardrive and screen, and costing a lot less, yet you recommend an Asus over it???

    I mean, serously, on a train your not going to be far from a power point, unless your travel standard class, and unless you spend most of your time surfing in starbucks, 2 hours is more than enought ime I've found! and thats with 10 years of doinf the traveling with laptop rubbish!

  9. soaklord

    I was all ready to jump...

    I am having a hard time resisting the AA1... It calls to me from the Best Buy near my house, where, surprisingly for BB it really is a good deal. 120gb hd XP 1gb RAM version for $349. The only thing anchoring my wallet is the desire for an Atom Dual core SCC and gigabit. But then, I doubt I'd get it for $349.

  10. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    @AC

    The Dell didn't come first, the Eee did. It's not a 1-2-3 positioning. If it were, the Dell would be in third place.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Spec sheet

    Is there an error on the spec sheet?

    The Advent 4211 is just a rebadged MSI wind, but according to the spec sheet has a 0.3meg webcam, compared to the Wind's 1.3meg camera. Did they really change the camera, but keep all the other hardware the same?

  12. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    @LPF

    The Acer doesn't have a bigger screen, and I don't think a big hard drive is a key feature in a netbook. But I do think battery life is for a lot of people.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @LPF

    "I mean, serously, on a train your not going to be far from a power point, unless your travel standard class,"

    Think about what you're saying will you? If you are buying a small CHEAP computer, it is unlikely you are flying business or first class.

    Most places I want to use my eee PC 701 don't have accessible power, so yes battery life is one of the most important factors. Trust me, if I could afford to upgrade to the eee PC 901, I would. Had I known that was around the corner when I bought the 701, I'd have held off and saved up a bit more.

    Sadly I have to think about whether or not I can eak the battery life out before finding the next recharge as I fly/train cattle class like most people.

  14. David Hicks

    What's MIPS compatible?

    MIPS is a farely widespread chipset - my wireless router runs linux on MIPS and the Sony PSP is also MIPS based.

    Linux has MIPS compatibility, so you shouldn't have much problem with a distro like debian, which has full MIPS support.

  15. Flocke Kroes Silver badge
    Linux

    Which LCD's readable in sunlight?

    If I go out on a moonless night, I can normally read the LCD when on battery power - if I stay away from street lamps. Manufacturers seem to think their is some value in dimming the backlight to increase the battery life. In the real world, there is no point having a long battery life if you cannot see what you are doing.

    Next time, get vulture central to spring for a <strike>holiday in the sun</strike> business trip to properly test the SCC's.

    BTW - PVR cards often contain an MIPS core for mpeg encoding. If you have a background in embedded systems, (or LOTS of determination), you can set up a cross compiler and build even the most obscure open source software for your MIPS CPU. Most of it ports easily between CPU's.

  16. John Johnson

    Maplin Miniboot == Elonex OneT == Alpha 400

    They're all the same (as are others available around the world) so you can fill in the blanks in the Maplin spec. Not that it matters because you wouldn't want to buy one. I got a OneT+ for my seven year old and she likes the drawing software and the fact that it's pink and the keyboard suits her fingers but the implementation of Flash won't run Cbeebies games so it doesn't score highly in her view. The wordprocessor and spreadsheet aren't too bad but the rest of the Linos UI is dreadful, the advertised games aren't there and you have to go hacking around in the console to allow it to install a printer. If I hadn't got a free upgrade from an early Elonex One order I'd have sent it back and bought an Eee 701 instead. In fact I still might.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AA1

    One of the problems with the AA1 is that I am hearing the restore disc is faulty. I own one and I certainly have a faulty disc.

    Unfortunately for me my AA1 has also just died for no reason whatsoever. I needed to reboot due to a kernel upgrade (running Fedora 9 on it) and nothing. On/off light working, fans going, nothing on the screen. I have also read a few reports of these dying as well so I hope we are not seeing X-Box 360 Mk II.

    Apart from that, it is an excellent little machine.

  18. chris
    Thumb Down

    where did you get your info?

    As far as i can tell the elonex onet and the maplin offering are identical, also the same offering is available from scan.

  19. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    No fan in the Dell???

    I have an Eee 901, which I'm happy with; in particular it has a significantly larger battery (46 Wh) than most. The other day I tried out an Acer Aspire One, and it really does have a much better keyboard - but the battery is only 26 Wh. Then there's the HP with its better screen; I saw one of those going cheap: but it doesn't have an SSD option.

    But now you tell me that the Dell doesn't have a fan! Now that is really interesting news. I run my Eee 901 at 800 MHz and the fan runs continuously but very slowly; it's the only moving part in anything on my desk (except the keyboard). I'm quite tempted to disconnect it and see what happens!

    Thanks for the excellent table.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    Snap

    El Editor came to the same conclusion as me. I have my pretty little 901 sitting here. Luvs it!

  21. David Simpson
    Happy

    harddrive or not

    Having both the eee 701 and the advent I have to say that solid state disks are absolutely rubbish - too small and too slow.

    The advent is essentially what a laptop should be and I can't really see the point of lugging a desktop replacement round when one of these can do just about everything (and if it can't I can remote desktop to the quad-core with 4gb at the office via my mobile thanks to the bluetooth)

    As to the EEE it's little more than a childs toy and utterly useless for anything (the remote desktop software for linux won't for example connect to anything other than the standard 3389 port, well it might but I can't be arsed working out how when it's not as simple as putting :port after the computer name.

    As to battery life a cheap external battery from Maplin (£39.99) gives a total of about 6 hours run time on the advent.

  22. Sam Green
    Thumb Up

    Utterly splendid

    I don't know if you were the fire to compile such a matrix, but it's certainly the first I've seen.

    Hats off to you, very useful. It's otherwise very difficult to digest the range of laptots in the market.

    Keep this up to date and republish it often wouldja? I'd be forever endebted

  23. David Simpson

    re trains

    Virgin has plugs even in cattle class - which is fortunate because their prices are so extortionate and the difference in accommodation so insignificant I refuse to pay the premium for first.

    Some former GNER trains have plugs in second too - the updated 225s I think, the eurostars don't.

  24. Lisa Singh

    SCC Table - No weights?

    To me the most important thing about a portable is the weight and was surprised not to see the weights included in the table.

    I also think the Nokia N810 deserves a mention - with a bluetooth keyboard it makes a surprising useful "mini laptop" and runs a flavour of Debian out of the box:

    http://stuff.fotopic.net/p50604179.html

  25. James Dore

    Wot no M912?

    I've got one of these on order, it would have been nice to have an opinion! I quite like the idea of a small tablet, especially as the hdd is coming out to have a Samsung SSD put in instead. Now where's that hacked OS X install and a green-screen skin....?

  26. Peter Fenelon

    then and now...

    Great to see the S7/Netbook in there. I got a lot of mileage out of a secondhand S7 many years ago. Superb hardware and great software, but the lack of Ethernet support back then was eventually enough to relegate it to the back of a cupboard.

    It's great that the SCCs have finally caught up with the promise of the S7 though; my Eee 1000 is exactly the portable computer I wanted all those years ago - something light and small enough to take almost anywhere, powerful enough for everyday work and with a decent enough screen and keyboard to lift it out of the 'PDA' category. It goes a lot of places where my work behemoth Dell is just too much of a faff to take.

    I'll curse the location of the right Shift key forever, but otherwise the Eee is hard to fault.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Heart

    banging the table...

    In the manner of footballer fans everywhere,

    Bam,Bam,Bam-Bam-Bam,Bam-Bam,Bam-Bam, PSION!

    Is it too much to hope for a nice souped up version? ARM11, Li-Ion battery, 16Mega-Colour screen... of course it is.

    Still, it's a nice dream.

    Heart, because I can dream of more than that...

  28. sconzey
    Paris Hilton

    great minds...

    Fantastic article. Moar of this comparisons ^_^

    For me the battery life of the AA1 doesn't cut it, even with the reduced price, so it's between the 901 and the Dell at the moment. I'll wait for El Reg's review of the Linux version. :P

    Paris, because she's nearly as aesthetically pleasing as the Dell. ;)

  29. Trygve Henriksen

    Elonex/Maplin/Bestlink Alpha-400/NXP-something/whateer...

    There's no problems installing third-party SW on it.

    Start by going to http://www.littlelinuxlaptop.com/ and you'll not only find a list of all known names for this little beastie, but also loads of links to sites for it, and even one or two with downloadable SW for it.

    And if you search for it on alibaba.com, you should be able to get ahold of it for about $110/each in lots of 100 or more.

  30. Viet
    Heart

    eee 701 ?

    As far as I know, the 701 is still on sale, new for ~ 100 € less than the 901. While I reckon sometimes I'd like a bigger screen, everything considered, I'm quite fond of it as it is. The balance of the specs vs price is ideal (I won't go as far as calling it "disposable", but by a thin margin), and the form factor allows me lug it around alongside my office-owned, strictly-for-professional-use laptop.

    This said, I'll certainly buy another eee (901 or 701, don't know yet) this year for my wife who wants to get rid of her desktop computer. She no longer uses it for work since she graduated and found a job, she only needs email and IM, and the tiny eee fits the bill in our wifi-enabled appartement. This I know from the countless times I found my batteries flat this year, and some subtle clues casually dropped in our talks (never underestimate the power of a glossy pearly white case as a factor of choice in your SO owning impulse) !

  31. dek

    MSI/ Advent/ Akoya

    I was planning on getting the Acer and was waiting in hope for the Dell. After the disappointing Dell I jumped the gun this weekend and got the Akoya from Aldi... and I am *so* glad I did! I really did not want the glossy screen of the Acer but I did want more storage than the Dell offered. Another crucial element, for me at least (and I suspect others after the novelty wears off), was support for a second screen. Going on the scant info I could find, none of the SCC's seem to support extended desktops, only mirroring of the primary display. What I really hoped for is much higher rez for the external monitor. The Akoya delivers and in addition I have it dual booting XP with Ubuntu (including compwiz-fusion, I'm not usually one for eye candy but it's too gorgeous too be ignored). Since it is a (cheaper) Wind clone I know it will triple boot (OSX), can *easily* be upgraded with the removal of just 7 screws (without voiding the warranty despite claims otherwise) and can be overclocked if extra performance needed. So IMHO the MSI/ Advent/ Akoya deserve a much closer look than just the published spec's.

  32. Adam Williamson
    Thumb Up

    Psion not the original

    I already sent this by email to the author, but the Psion Series 7 is not the original mini notebook. Sony's first VAIO Picturebook, the C1X, launched a year earlier, in 1999. It's also far more of a predecessor to these machines. The Series 7, however you slice it, was an overgrown PDA. It ran a PDA OS. The Picturebooks, exactly like modern netbooks, were just shrunken laptops. They ran x86 CPUs and Windows.

    I bought a C1XD (P2/400 CPU) off eBay in 2001 or 2002 (I forget) and used it up till 2006. Amazing little machine. My partner just got an Aspire One and it reminds me entirely of my old Picturebook, they feel just the same to use.

    One thing Sony got right and modern netbooks get wrong is the pointing device. Sony realized it was better to ship a good keyboard with a trackpoint than squish up the keyboard so you can include a tiny trackpad. But aside from that, they're extremely similar, right down to the webcam on the top of the bezel.

    The real big difference? Price. As they came out, the successive Picturebooks all listed around $2000 - $2500. I paid UK£700 for mine, second hand off eBay.

    I'm amazed it's taken Sony so long to get in on the netbook game, to be honest. They must have the case designs and everything for the final gen Picturebook model lying around. All they need to do is take that, stick a Core in it, drop the price, and release it.

    The Picturebook series died out around 2004-2005 IIRC. It split into the slightly larger (10.6", IIRC) TR series and the ultra-tiny U series of UMPCs, including the hilarious 6" screen U101 and U3 (Google them, they're insane) and the keyboardless U line that's still going today. The TR series has since turned into the T series and gotten, I think, even bigger.

    Some other manufacturers made similar machines around the same time, I can't remember which exactly (I think Fujitsu did a series under the name Lifebook). I'm fairly sure the Sony was the original, though.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Wait for dual core Atoms...

    then performance should be spot on.

  34. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    WHAT, NO 3G ?!

    And how exactly am I supposed to check my mail with this, on the train? Oh man, I guess I must to wait until they learn customer needs.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Escaped to the EEE

    I was in line for a Elonex One T, but as the delays and increasingly scary info on the kit used (that CPU) I made the jump from £120 to £165 for an EEE 701. Pitching the One T (and it's other brand versions) at £170 seems quiet mad given the price of much more capable rivals.

  36. Flavio

    @AC AA! Dead

    Your AA1, in all probability, is not dead; the firmware has gone bad and needs reflashing. This happened to me yesterday and I had an interesting time trying to figure out what was going on and thinking of what story I could tell the shop I got it from when I brought it back dead as a doornail, but furtling a little more revealed that it is in fact quite a common problem and can be sorted out.

    There is a procedure to recover the BIOS in this link:

    <http://macles.blogspot.com/2008/08/acer-aspire-one-bios-recovery.html>

  37. Jay

    Excessive much?

    I appreciate the ad driven model, but seriously guys; nine pages for an article? Web pages have a scroll bar; don't be afraid of it...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The original is still the best

    but Linux runs on MIPs, as long as the GCC can compile the source for the main you are off.

    Come on you are not telling me people download binaries, in the Linux world, it is all just plucked from the ether.

    But, seriously what I have found is you need a machine supporting your little army of mini laptops, acting as a build server. So, if others would catch onto this, we could see more hardware sales for beefy machines. The more memory and the faster the drives the better on a build beast.

  39. hammarbtyp Silver badge
    Happy

    Here's my two pennys worth

    As a happy owner of a Advent(well now the WiFi is fixed) can I make a couple of points

    1. Battery Lift. While I agree battery life is a weakness on the original advent 3 cell version, do remember that battery's can be replaced and upgraded if needed unlike keyboards/screens etc

    2. Upgradability. The Advent/MSI is very easy to upgrade with more memory, larger disk, better WiFi if needed which is an important point if you plan to grow with your system

    Finally SSD vs Disk. I am sure SSD will have there day, but disks have been around for a long time and are very mature technology. Unless you intend to use yours while extreme skiing(and risk many of the other components of the system) I think the advantages are marginal and some day you may well wish you had that other 64GBytes

  40. John White
    IT Angle

    @Adam Wiiliamson & Psion

    The Psion S7/netBook IS the predecessor to these.

    Don't knock a 'PDA OS'. After all it had a useable WP, spreadsheet, database (OK flat file but with OLE), internet connectivity, email, diary....you get the picture. They worked and rarely crashed (mine still works fine). They used CF (legacy SSD?) cards for backup and extra storage AND as a place to install to and run programs from. Batery life - 6hrs+. The Sony VAIO Picturebook C1X could not match the sum total of all these and the UMPC's here are the update to the Psion legacy. Like the Psion, these UMPCs are high portability, robust machines with long (comparatively) battery life for prolonged use away from the availablility of a desktop PC, providing the most useful subset of capabilities of a desktop. Most laptops today are too big, heavy and fragile for those purposes.

    I would have a Eee 701/901 like a shot, however the basic Psion apps and a few chosen other specialist apps on a netBook fulfil all my needs - to buy a UMPC would be sheer acquisitiveness. BTW - buy a netBook Pro battery on eBay and you have a 12 - 16 hr capable netBook.

    I'll still sit and wait a while

  41. Ed Sempio
    Linux

    @David Simpson - Maplin external battery question

    Can you tell us about the £39.99 Maplin external battery? The only one I can find is £79.99 (L83BL) -- looks good apart from the price. Thanks.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Anonymous Coward

    A company called Clove supplies an extended battery for the EEE now. More info at eeeuser.com.

    @David Simpson

    It hasn't been GNER since last year. The 70s relics (which used to be called High Speed Trains) now run by National Express East Coast do have power sockets in pleb class. I was able to surf and IM on my EEE 701 all the way from Peterborough to Edinburgh a few months ago. In fact I chose National Express rather than one of the other operators that uses the route entirely because of the free wifi. The guard on the train was annoyed with me because he'd been trying to buy an EEE for months.

    If I were buying now I'd probably wait for more reviews of the Dell. The customised Ubuntu looks nice.

  43. Jerome
    Unhappy

    Gigabyte M912

    Still no sign of the Gigabyte M912 then? Damn thing was supposed to be out months ago now. I know I'm a sucker holding out for it, but I love the idea of the touch screen.

  44. Christian Berger Silver badge

    ZipIt?

    What about the Zipit? It's a little monochrome device with WLAN and Linux. Probably would be a great netbook, too if it had more flash.

  45. Paul Smith
    Linux

    3G

    There must be somebody here using 3's Huawei with Linux on these. I use XP on my Thinkpad and find the 'My Three' log-in page doesnt work with Firefox, only IE. So how are you keeping track of data usage in Linux?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    HP2133

    I bought an HP2133 about 3 months ago. Nice little machine. Perfectly okay for shooting off the odd email and occasional browsing of the Internet. But, it isn't a machine that you would want to spend hours working with - because the screen real estate is so demanding. I believe this comment would apply equally to any other mini PC of similar stature.

    However I feel the HP2133 is well built. Brick defacation building comes to mind. And it will fit reasonably well into a large pocket. As it has WiFi built in (plus bluetooth) and a modem plus standard network port it has a lot going for it.

    I upgraded my 1Gb machine which came with Vista to 2Gb and XP. Result: Big performance improvement. This isn't a machine which Vista runs happily on IMHO. XP, just fine.

    Paris because....well I need something to do when I'm not tinkering with my mini laptop.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Psion/Sony NOT the original...

    I too sent an e-mail to the author. While neither the Psion/Sony would qualify as a SCC it it important to get the lineage right. The origin of these devices which today are all the rage can actually be traced back to Japan. Toshiba released the Libretto in 1996 beginning with a 486 processor. I actually owned one of the first models of these and ran Slackware Linux on it even though it came loaded with Windows 95.

    The networking was added via PCMCIA cards. Running Linux/Windows it worked great. I have even heard of people upgrading these with different hardware and run wireless cards as well...

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I Ihave the HP 2133 with XP pro 2gb mem

    160 gb drive and I think it is great . fantastic screen ,express card and sd mmc card capable , bluetooth , a b g wifi , vga onnection , camera with stereo microphones and did i mention the GREAT screen . The keyboard is outstanding as well .

    plus it came with xp pro disk and vista business disk, if vista ever becomes desirable .

    a bit pricey , but worth it in my books . I bought 2 !

  49. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    @AC Clove battery

    This is very interesting. Battery life is really the numer 1 criteria for me, so I'm now teetering on the brink. I almost feel a Christmas present coming on :)

  50. uhuznaa

    Overview table

    There's a much more complete overview table of netbooks (yes, including battery life) on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_netbooks

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    M912?

    I've reviewed the M912 for Matt & Tracy's blog, and I prefer the Wind. It's a better package. The M912 is badly let down by the poor screen and the fact that it runs Vista which, is a bit slow on it.

  52. Nexox Enigma

    Screen Resolution

    It seems from your chart of specs that the HP 2133 is the only mini notebook that has something other than a toy display. The only thing I want to see in this market is more screens with enough pixels to be useful. I have pocket-sized devices that'll do 800x480 - an actual computer needs to be able to display 1280x768 or it's completely useless. I suspect that my 2133 will last me long enough that other video chipsets and displays catch up.

    The way I see it, the 2133 is a small and light laptop, whereas the rest of these devices are large PDAs. That's why I am perfectly happy paying $550 or so for the HP. It isn't fast, and I still have some interesting issues with the Linux display drivers, but I can do everything but play games on it. And that means having 6 terminals displayed and not overlapping. Plus the hardware crypto acceleration is just so neat.

    I suppose it's a good thing that I've got decent close up vision.

  53. Mr Floppy
    Paris Hilton

    Is that a charger in your pocket or ..

    One of the things I love about the eeepc 701 is the size of the charger. It fits in jeans pocket quite well albeit its a bit of a bulge. The coat pocket is a better place for it but there are times when one doesnt carry a coat.

    I suppose if the battery life was good, the charger isnt an issue but it is something that is desirable with these laptots I feel. Any chance of amending the list with AC adaptor type? That is, if its that compact mobile phone style or that brick style?

  54. Bob Dunlop

    Size is important

    A important aspect of a UMPC has to be it's size, how else does it qualify as UM? Since the EEE 701 was launched just about every announcement (with one poor exception) has been for a larger box, where are the smaller ones?

    It would be so useful if that table had a column with X*Y*Z in it.

    Still looking to shave about 15mm off the width :(

  55. Neil Hoskins
    Thumb Up

    Psion 7 and Netbook

    Well done for giving these an honourable mention in dispatches. They were certainly not 'overgrown PDAs', and I agree completely with John White's appraisal. Laptops aren't really 'mobile' devices; they're 'portable' devices. The 7 and Netbook gave you a fully-mobile device in the sense that it was robust, light, and had enough battery life for a lengthy train or plane journey, with apps that were sufficient for the vast majority of tasks.

  56. David Shepherd
    Stop

    Psion/Sony/Toshiba NOT the original...

    ... how abut the Olivetti Quaderno ... remember reading a PCW review of it when it came out and wanting one - it was a notebook PC designed down to the size of an A5 notebook (think name "quaderno" was Itallian for standard school notepad or something like that). Just done some googling and found that it came out in 1992 and was about the size of the original EEEs.

  57. A. Lewis

    What happened to...

    The word 'laptot'. I thought this was going to be the El Reg standard term for a small cheap (notebook) computer?

    I am most disappointed!

  58. Jim Deakin

    Elonex WebBooks are Linux

    The one I have has Ubuntu on it, together with a program called 'Wader' for the 3G access. It has a modified xorg.conf for the display, but is otherwise standard. According to the developers' blog at http://webbookblog.com the Linux OS is supposed to be the production version.

    The display drivers are a bit sub-standard atm, but updates expected soon, so Compiz will be usable.

    My EeePC is also good, except a standard issue 701 runs out of space just installing the Asus patches and updates. I'm going to have to sort out a recovery USB-stick and get rid of the shadow partition, to see if that does the job.

  59. Steven Gray
    Thumb Up

    @David Shepherd

    I actually bought a Quaderno when it came out - back then the price differential between the Olivetti and 'real' laptops was substantial.

    It was great and rubbish in equal measure. Great because it was a real XT-compatible PC in a tiny A5 form factor and as such could run most DOS apps of the day (Wordperfect and DataEase in my case). It had a voice memo recorder which could be operated from the lid-mounted controls. Also, it had a reasonable 20Mb HD AND could run off 8 AA batteries from a filling station if you were stuck.

    It was rubbish for many reasons, but primarily because there wasn't an easy way to get data on and off it other than the proprietary serial cable and Laplink (although I think there was some sort of Intel or Microsoft app which allowed a serially linked PC to appear as a 115kbps drive. What fun.) The screen was a CGA-compatible device. That meant 640x480 text-only, or 320x200 graphics (shudder).

    The screen hinge eventually broke and I think the screen got cracked so it got thrown out.

    Anyway, I do still have an Atari Portfolio, which surely must be the granddaddy of the SCC?

  60. Alice
    Linux

    Didn't include OLTP?

    They are not always commercially available, but once or twice a year they have a buy-one-give-one for $400. My niece in college loves hers.

    What category do the Nokia N8xx's come under?

  61. Alice

    for mod... I think I typed OLTP vs OLPC

    Monday morning fingers.

  62. David Simpson
    Coat

    external battery

    it was the n80fx ....

    they may have sold them all now!

    Mines the one with a n80fx in each pocket.

  63. Jamie Kitson

    Waiting For?

    You don't really explain why the Dell is the one we've all been waiting for, in fact it sounds like it hardly even stands out.

  64. Steve Farr
    Pirate

    Tester for education.

    I got a couple of Elonex ONE t+ delivered today.

    Would have been good except WiFi doesn't work on either unit, even after doing a standard software update from Elonex. The problem is all software though, and i managed to find a fix on Maplin's web site intended for their own branded version. WiFi is working now but DHCP does not retrieve IPs, so for now i'm using fixed IPs. WiFi performance is very poor causing web browsing to be slow, whereas if you connect over ethernet it is very quick.

    So sticking with the ethernet connection, i quickly loaded up the video download helper add-on in the Firefox browser and was able to retrieve a video from Youtube and play it in the media player. A bit shaky but ok, actually not bad considering the machine spec.

    The machine has full email and IM capability and it is likely you could hold a lot of personal information. Which could be a problem because...

    ...the system has no password. Ouch!

    So i'll be sticking with web-mail etc., and discouraging personal use - a real shame that.

    The system is aimed at children and even comes with an optional "fluffy bunny" display theme (i kid you not, all the icons feature bunnies). There is a Flash player so could run much existing (mainly primary school level) educational software. I'll be trying out a few in the next few days. I'll also be loading up some existing school work in the re-branded Abiword and Gnumeric reckoned to be Word and Excel compatible.

    There are rumours about a new OS release. Still, Elonex better sort out the lack of security, otherwise they can forget about their whole education pitch. I'll be on the phone to them tomorrow to see if the problems deserve getting my money back, or whether they intend to fix the software any time soon.

    That said, this machine has real potential. I had no problems with memory sticks, although there is no hot-swap it doesn't take long to reboot, so ok. The connectivity software is saying i can connect to GPRS, so tomorrow i'll have a go with a Nokia N95 and a Blackberry. If that works (and Elonex fix security, nag, nag, nag) then i can see phone shops giving these away with phone upgrades in the very near future.

    Finally lets not forget its Linux and very hackable - so yes the "community" could well end fixing the software 'cos lets face it, brand new at £130, its a bargain. I love the way everything is solid-state just like a pocket calculator (and actually not much bigger).

    9/10 but needs 10/10 to make it happen.

  65. Morten Bjoernsvik
    Thumb Up

    Toshiba Libretto

    This is the original notebook:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libretto_(notebook)

  66. Bruce Middleton

    Psion/Sony/Toshiba/Olivetti NOT first

    The Tandy 100: 1983; 4 pounds, 24 hours on 4 AA batteries.

    The Poqet PC: 1989; 1 pound, 7.3" display, 100 hours on AA batteries.

    My only computer since 2001 has been a two-pound Picturebook (8.9" 1024x480 display, hooked up to a 17" when at home); I'll be moving on to a Wind or eee, and sad to lose the Trackpoint and third mouse button.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is not all the players in the UMPC

    Did you all forget about the Sylvania G-netbook and Mesa?

  68. fred bloggs

    no 3g modem

    If any of these had a 3G modem, I'd buy one today.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    nice matrix but...

    IMHO if you cant put in a battery column it doesn't mean anything... what good is a drained scc... paperweight mode in Minutes, 158T(Tested) vs. 180C(Claimed) this should be with the standard powerpack not extras addons. (in the same way the price is for the standard not all the extras)

    It would also be nice to see an HDMI column, I know in this case they would all be no, but it might get a manufacture to realise we want to plug it into a telly to use iPlayer..

    actually I want a scc not a sclaptop, I just want a SCBox which will drive an HDMI TV for media streaming from a NAS and iPlayer and maybe Bluray? any suggestions?

  70. Mark

    Wishlist

    A 6x4 inch screen with landscape/portrait. Maybe a little bigger to hold an "action bar" for fat fingers. OLPC screen (black and white readable daylight screen). 10 hours standard battery life. one or two USB slots (with caps). Wireless and bluetooth. The battery life can go down with wireless/bt on, but it must be possible to turn them off completely and get 10+ hours.

    Virtual keyboard like the n800/770. Especially like the "fat fingers" version.

    Lastly (and to a large extend, most importantly), it should be rugged enough to take the knocks a book can manage and it should be weatherproof.

    Ruggedness. If your hands are wet or dirty, you're not killing it when using it. You can leave it on the grass even if it is wet grass. If you accidentally kick it while there, it won't crack. If you hoof it deliberate, well, it's not a football.

    Screen. Enough to be a real book and be used as a book reader. A paperback sized one may be a little unwieldy to have in a pocket, but 6x4 is a pamphlet and still acceptable. And being visible in daylight means you can USE IT as a book.

    Wireless/BT because I don't think anything would manage today without them.

    USB. If anything is missing, USB can supply it.

    Virtual keyboard. A hinge is a weakness. It makes it thicker to little real need. If you need a full size one, USB or BT will cover it.

    Probably want a proper clamshell to store it in when not in use so that you can stuff it in a backpack and not care about your keys/penknife/running shoes breaking anything. Make it strong enough to handle going through luggage checks or having other bags laden on top of it in the clamshell and you've got an investment that won't disappear because you were careless.

    With that, there's not a lot of need for more than 10GB spare storage. Memory dependent on OS, but a Gig would be enough.

    The ruggedness is most useful for me. These devices are for wherever they need to get used and getting them there is not going to be sinecure. So the EEE PC being built pretty much like a laptop (with the concomitant holes in it to let flavour flood in...) doesn't rate high enough to BUY it. Screen is bigger than it needs to be, so this is more an A4 book-a-like and you now KNOW you're carrying it. Battery life is close and could come closer without the size of screen they have.

    Pick and mix gets you close except they ALL seem to lack the ruggedness. If you had any of them, you'd be worried they were going to get damaged if you put them in your bag. And who needs another worry?

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Re: Psion

    Don't knock a 'PDA OS'. After all it had a useable WP, spreadsheet, database (OK flat file but with OLE), internet connectivity, email, diary....you get the picture. They worked and rarely crashed (mine still works fine). They used CF (legacy SSD?) cards for backup and extra storage AND as a place to install to and run programs from. Batery life - 6hrs+.' ......etc...:-)

    .

    You have forgotten the *biggest* plus for me...When finished shut the lid....two minutes later....forgotten that telephone number from your contact book ? lift the lid and read, it was just like opening your diary/filofax etc.. Instant accessibility...It made the battery life even more ridiculously long as there was no hesitation in switching it off to as you *knew* it would burst into life instantly with no annoying re-start.

    Would definatley buy an upgraded one now if available.....

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    When's someone going to come clean...

    And call them 'tummy-tops' - the bedroom PC for the porn-pipe generation.

    Paris - you can catch her bedroom antics there too.

  73. Martin
    Linux

    Mobile internet on Linux netbooks

    I have a Linux Asus Eee 701 that I am happy with although the screen is too small. I do check my email on the train via Vodafone's mobile broadband. The only problem is the network coverage that still isn't great. Hopefully the trend with netbooks will put some pressure on the network operators to improve. To get mobile broadband working on Linux is easy, I wrote down a few note on how I got it to work here:

    http://www.devcase.com/blog/how-to-use-vodafones-mobile-broadband-on-asus-eee-linux

    I hope that can be of help. My guess is that it's not much more difficult with other distros or ISPs.

  74. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Huawei E220

    I use my T-Mobile E220 with my Eee, no problem. I believe it's supported out of the box in Xandros, but I'm using eeeXubuntu so I installed the "Vodafone Mobile Connect Card Driver for Linux" (giyf) which works very well, and does all the data logging one could wish. It has repositories for the default Xandros too.

  75. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Alpha 400 vs Maplin Minibook vs Elonex Onet+

    Though clearly all based on the same design, there are some differences. The Alpha 400, for example, does its wifi through a USB dongle (supplied) and I think the same may be true of the Minibook. On the Onet+ it's built in (as an internal USB dongle, I suspect).

    The Minibook has the webcam beside the screen - on the Onet+ it's (a) above it and (b) irrelevant, snce there doesn't seem to be any software that uses it.

    I got my Onet+ last week - as with many others it was a what-the-hell free upgrade from a what-the-hell One+. So far I have been quite impressed. No problems at all with WiFi, pretty good build quality and a surprisingly nice keyboard. I don't know if it's bigger, or brighter, or whether just not having a black border helps, but the screen is much nicer than the Eee 701 on which I write this.

    I need to do some experiments with the Huawei - the Onet+ does come with mobile broadband connection software - and then I'll start using it to test it in practice.

    And to education customers it's £130. What the hell?

  76. Glen Turner

    Original laptot

    Well before Psion and the other pretenders was the Tandy Model 100 from 1983. Battery capacity was 20 hours on four alkaline AA cells. The real keyboard and inbuilt modem made it popular with journalists.

  77. Simon Langley
    Happy

    Pleased with my Acer

    I made the plunge after pondering for quite some time and opted for the Acer Aspire One. I love it but the article correctly identified the main problems with it which are battery life (not much more than two hours) and the somewhat quirky Linux installation.

    I decided against the Dell mainly due to the stupid keyboard layout. The fact that it runs Ubuntu though is very appealing.

    The 901 is just too expensive. I know £280 is not a lot of money, but my One cost £199. When I show it off and can say "it was less than 200 quid" I always get the same positive reaction. Saying "less than 280 quid" just doesn't sound as impressive.

    Despite what the AC said above, while I do always travel first and business class, my employer pays those fares, I paid for my One so I still care about its price.

    What is interesting about this whole sector is how usable a machine can be while remaining truly portable.

    My shiny MacBook Pro is on my desk 1 metre away from me but I can't be bothered to go all that way and open the lid; my One just happens to be right here. That's the beauty of laptots (what mine always gets called in our house BTW) they are so small and light that you can have them there with you almost all the time.

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