The HP 95LX helped me through my economy exams and the 41CX through statistics :)
Come 2015, we’re told, the netbook will be dead and gone, out-evolved by the more fleet of foot, more desirable media tablet. We shouldn’t mourn the netbook’s passing, though. It has had, in one form or another, a good innings. While some folk may look back to the category’s debut in 2007 with the launch of Asus’ Eee PC 701 - …
Monday 29th April 2013 12:57 GMT BillG
I grabbed a 200LX the first year it came out. It was an invaluable contact manager. I used it to keep track of customers, clients, employees. somebody called, with a few keystrokes I know who they were and what business I was doing with them.
Kept my frequent flyer numbers handy with specific hints for each airline for getting a valuable upgrade. Kept product pricing charts, and even had a margin calculator. In a non-computer age it gave me a tremendous advantage over my competition.
Today my trusty 200LX sits, retired, at the corner of my desk, forever charging, forever charging...
Monday 29th April 2013 08:48 GMT Anonymous Coward
Monday 29th April 2013 11:14 GMT Flocke Kroes
She is on page 6
Microsoft may have bloated the netbook to its death throws, but the small cheap computer is back:
Intel have worked out that they need to compete with ARM, and they have to drop their prices to do it.
Monday 29th April 2013 14:18 GMT xperroni
Re: Photoshop'ing like a bat out of Hell (was: Standards Dropping)
I don't know if I ever noticed it before, but that pic seems so Photoshop'ed it's a bit disturbing. It looks as if the beach, the girl, and even the computer and the camera were all taken from different pictures, and then reassembled as one (quite unbelievable, even discounting the stitch-together feeling) scene.
Monday 29th April 2013 17:25 GMT Anonymous Coward
Re: Photoshop'ing like a bat out of Hell (was: Standards Dropping)
"that pic seems so Photoshop'ed it's a bit disturbing. It looks as if the beach, the girl, and even the computer and the camera were all taken from different pictures, and then reassembled as one"
I'm not seeing that. To me (with thousands of photos under my belt since getting into digital photography once it because economical enough around 2004)... it looks natural enough as a back-lit photo with "fill-in flash" lighting up what would otherwise be in shadow.
Monday 29th April 2013 08:51 GMT Anonymous Coward
Monday 29th April 2013 09:19 GMT deshepherd
Re: Zenith Minisport
Remember those ... seem to recall they were in the category of things that I saw in the Morgan Computers adverts at a price that seemed a bargain for what they were at the time (probably £199) but sadly at that time a bit above my "frivolous spending" level so never got one!
Monday 29th April 2013 11:01 GMT Elmer Phud
Monday 29th April 2013 13:35 GMT Pirate Dave
Re: Zenith Minisport
I still have and use an old Zenith Z-Noteflex. I've had the thing for around 15 years, and it was used when I got it.
The battery is toast, but the hard drive and screen are still working. I installed Linux on it in 2000, don't even remember which distro. I keep it around because it has a serial port so it's useful when I need to go into wiring closets to connect directly to switches. Hard to find affordable, modern laptops with a serial port, and I'm forever losing USB-Serial adapters. So the Zenith stays in my office.
Monday 29th April 2013 16:23 GMT J. Cook
Monday 29th April 2013 08:56 GMT Anonymous Coward
I don't think the lack of a Windows option put people off the original Eee as much as the appalling choice of Linux distribution did. Xandros was awful, and Asus would have been better off partnering with someone like Canonical or RedHat in order to include a decent Linux install. As for hardware support, I never had a problem with Linux on a variety of netbooks (Asus, Dell and Samsung). The wireless chipset on the original Eee wasn't supported on other Unix-like operating systems at first though.
Monday 29th April 2013 13:06 GMT Tim Walker
As I wrote later in this thread, I ditched the Eee's Xandros within weeks of acquiring my 701, for one simple reason: it wasn't updated. The software versions in the repositories were ancient even by 2009, and were clearly going to remain so, so I decided to jump to another Linux as soon as I picked up a USB CD drive.
Suffice it to say: Eeebuntu until mid-2011 (when it became obvious that distro had been abandoned too), and after that, Arch Linux (to date). The Arch wiki even has a big page on installing on a 701:
If you still own an Eee 701 and fancy giving it a new lease of life: roll up your sleeves and give Arch a spin (if that's not a crazy mix of metaphors)...
Monday 29th April 2013 15:34 GMT mickey mouse the fith
"I don't think the lack of a Windows option put people off the original Eee as much as the appalling choice of Linux distribution did"
I bet it wasnt as bad as the appalling distro (Linpus) the Acer aspire one ssd version came with.
I recall hitting the `update` button in options and the thing rebooting first to a command prompt, then just hanging on boot, never to work again.
The ssd had such awful write performance that most os`s i tried were a juddery, unreliable, pretty unusable experiences.
If it had a decent ssd, it could run windows 7 quite happily, but it didnt, and it couldnt. Why on earth they hobbled a very capable little machine with such a performance sapping drive il never know.
I put meego on it in the end, which ran like a dream, in fact it still does, pity they discontinued it really.
Monday 6th May 2013 23:12 GMT David Hicks
"I bet it wasnt as bad as the appalling distro (Linpus) the Acer aspire one ssd version came with.
I recall hitting the `update` button in options and the thing rebooting first to a command prompt, then just hanging on boot, never to work again."
Wowsers. OK maybe not *that* bad but -
Xandros on my eee 901 refused to update itself after the first time due to there being no space, which was because the debs from previous updates were still there and it didn't know how to clear them (epic facepalm). Also there was no easy way to alter the desktop/menu content and by the time the 901 came out they had removed the 'advanced' (kde) desktop mode. It also killed ipods. A friend attached his to charge it, and some or other media player started up, maybe amarok, scanned the device and then overwrote all the indexes in an incompatible format, resulting in an ipod that claimed at the same time that it was full and had nothing on it!
I ditched Xandros ASAP. It was a pretty good hackintosh for a while, then became a really good little debian machine, and it still is vaguely useful though I have now replaced nearly all the parts.
Monday 29th April 2013 08:57 GMT Bob H
Monday 29th April 2013 08:58 GMT Snow Hill Island
Too long lived... for the manufacturers
Bought an eee 4G at Christmas after it's first release. Had Xandros on it, Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Puppy, then Gentoo. I'd still be using it now if I hadn't got someone else's eee 900 when they bought a newer Samsung netbook, but that eee 900 is my main computer for home use. At work I've got access to machines with 16 cores, zippy SSDs and 128GB memory, but I don't need that at home.
Saying that, I would have bought an OLPC XO instead of the eee, if you didn't have to have a US mailing address to use "buy one give one" at the time. I'd still buy one or maybe two now, if they were generally available to the public. C'mon OLPC, how about it?
Monday 29th April 2013 09:03 GMT James 51
Monday 29th April 2013 12:01 GMT Passing Through
Re: Too long lived... for the manufacturers
Using my Aspire1 right now. ubuntu 13.04, although the battery is getting poor.
my daughters asus 900 took a real hammering being dropped several times while running and was only killed by I think being stood on, which cracked the screen, may yet live again though.
we have an ipad in the house, several desktops and a windows7 laptop, the ipad is never used for homework as it won't drive a printer, usually its an aspire that's used, sometimes the fullsize laptop.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:00 GMT jake
Monday 29th April 2013 18:21 GMT Anonymous Coward
Re: I'm pretty certain I fiddled about with all of them ...
My high school jumped on the eMate bandwagon, and bought a couple "carts" of them. Literally a wheeled cart cum charging station for some thirty or so eMates. I remember using one once or twice, but only as a novelty. (Probably the school trying to justify the cost.) We already had proper computers in the classrooms, and they wouldn't let us take the eMates home.
Monday 29th April 2013 18:43 GMT Stoneshop
Tuesday 30th April 2013 07:01 GMT jake
@Stoneshop (was: Re: Craptastic?)
In 1985 (nearly a decade and a half before your 5MX), I used ComDesign statmuxes and pre-strung serial cables, sometimes/often with Anderson-Jacobson dial-back modem-pairs, to reconfigure sodding bits of misbehaving hardware both on-campus and all over the world. From the Sun Workstation on my desk in my clean, cool office. I still do, as a matter of fact, on my personal distributed network. The Sun is now an aging HP laptop running Slackware, but little else has changed.
Tuesday 30th April 2013 14:07 GMT Dave 15
There were other things about the series 5 (and its variant the 5mx)...
It worked for more than a couple of hours on a couple of AA batteries you could pick up almost anywhere
It didn't require you to lug a power supply the size of a car around and find the right sort of mains outlet after a couple of hours (unlike the current fondle slabs)
It had keyboard AND touch screen so you could point, select and type - better than the current fondle slabs.
It folded so the keyboard and screen were protected so while in your pocket it didn't end up a scratched up piece of shit (like the current fondle slabs).
In fact, all told, it was a damned site better device than anything you can buy today. What a pity it wasn't updated to a series 5 colourMX and perhaps it could have acquired wireless modem ... oh it sort of did as a nokia communicator - not quite as good a piece of design but better than the junk available today.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:01 GMT James 51
I remember when the psion netbook came out. I really wanted one but my student loan wouldn't cover it. Did borrow my dad's 5mx though. Typed up a large amount of coursework on that.
"Only its keyboard gave the netbook an edge." But what an edge that is. Most people might be happy with a tablet but they aren't a proper replacement for a netbook. Even pairing with a bluetooth keyboard, the software a tablets are running at the moment isn't nearly ready to compete with them.
Monday 29th April 2013 10:29 GMT AndraÅ¾ 'ruskie' Levstik
Well I can actually do
proper work on a tablet even without a physical keyboard. But then all I really need is vim, ssh and remote desktop and I have all of that and more.
I have plain vim and ssh via kbox terminal but one could use zshaolin(no connectbot is awful). I have touchvim if I really want to and there's a very very very very excelent remote desktop app accesstogo. Yes I can even edit documents, spreadsheets and view pdfs using the preinstalled polaris office. But frankly I rarely need them.
Yes still on the lookout for a keyboard for it. Can't really decide on one.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:14 GMT Slik Fandango
Monday 29th April 2013 09:18 GMT aahjnnot
Less is more
The thing that killed the netbook was creeping bloat. The original EeePCs weren't intended as a substitute for a computer: they were a cheap, light, small, instantly-available alternative when you didn't want the bulk and expense of your full laptop.
But slowly bloat set in as cheapskates saw netbooks as a cheap-and-nasty alternative to a proper laptop. The 9" panel grew to bulky, heavy 11" even though the screen resolution didn't improve. Lightweight Linux gave way to Windows, which was a bad joke when the necessary antivirus and heavyweight desktop software was added. The tiny, light, latency-free solid state storage gave way to sloooow hard drives that removed the Eee's instant-on pleasure. All these things pumped up the price to £50 or so less than a proper laptop.
The success of the original Eee and of tablets shows that users will accept compromises for a device that's genuinely cheap and portable. The demise of the netbook shows that the cumulative effect of ill-considered incremental improvements can destroy the soul of a device to the point where it becomes worthless.
Sometimes less is more.
Monday 29th April 2013 10:25 GMT xslogic
Re: Less is more
Yeah - a lot of people seemed to want a small device that would fit in their pocket with a large screen, a full sized keyboard and the processing power to fully simulate a universe while costing less than a loaf of bread.
Just replacing my Eee 901's keyboard for the second time.
Monday 29th April 2013 10:28 GMT serendipity
Re: Less is more
Err Not necessarily.
I had the misfortune to be given one of the early Acer tiny screen netbooks recently. What a laughable piece of junk compared to my 11" Samsung NC10. My NC10 might be running XP and have a 'slow' (but capacious) disk drive but its such a capable machine even to this day. On a trip, I once loaded Visual Studio and it handled that pretty well. And build quality is great, and after 3 years I still get 4hrs + battery life.
I think that the problem with Netbooks is that the vociferous naysayers were exposed to the early tiny screen Linux models and found them wanting and have slagged off Netbooks ever since. If they'd tried the much better later models they'd have a different opinion. But then again, the anti-MS brigade never got over the fact that most people wanted to ditch Linux and have something that could run Windows. (And I'm not anti Linux, I use it every day, I'm just OS agnostic - I use whatever is best for the job in hand.)
Given the choice between one of the later Win 7 based Samsung, Acer, Dell etc dual core netbooks and one of the earlier 7" or 9" early Linux models, I'd have the dual core machine every time.
Sometimes more is more
Monday 29th April 2013 10:46 GMT Anonymous Coward
Monday 29th April 2013 12:29 GMT Peter Gathercole
Re: Less is more @AC
At the time, if you wanted a serious calculator that would work for years, HP was your best bet. Their calculators were the Rolls-Royce of calculators.
Also at the time, HP were a major computer manufacturer as well as a medical and test equipment manufacturer (which is where they started). Printers were a bit of a late addition to their product set.
I agree about the EeePC 701, and mine is still working and in use running Ubuntu.
Saturday 11th May 2013 02:43 GMT Hideki
Re: Less is more @AC
HP weren't the only company to make good calculators...
My Casio FX730P pocket computer has been running for 25-30 years and will probably continue to do so for years to come. Simple design with a built in basic so what it doesn't do now it can be programmed to do, no idea why Casio stopped making those with the Z-1 GR...
Tuesday 30th April 2013 16:11 GMT Kevin 6
Re: Less is more
Well as for the windows I will agree if you bought a netbook with windows on it yes it ran like crap due to all the crappy trial ware the companies put on them. That and that absolutely terrible bloated program that can make quad core pc's behave like 486's named iTunes killed windows performance. Everyone I ever knew that claimed their windows netbook was too slow I would disable symantec (we fuck up the pc more then a virus) anti-virus, and iTunes, and they would be like WHOA YOU MUST HAVE UPGRADED MY NETBOOK ITS SO MUCH FASTER...
But then again disabling those 2 infernal pieces of software services on any windows PC will free up like 40-60% of its resources though.
Now I have one of the 1st netbooks dell made laying around here with windows XP installed, and honestly I've never noticed any issues with it running or the speed of it. Only issue the dell has (and it seemed chronic) was the damn hard drive's wire comes loose requiring 20 something screws to get to so the cable can be pushed back in. Actually the cable issue is how I got it for nothing as its original owner was so fed up with having to push the cable in 2 times a week they were going to just throw it out.
They ended up buying a normal laptop as by this point the netbook prices were almost the same as the low end laptop prices that eclipsed them greatly.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:21 GMT MattLoren
Had the Atari, the Psion 3, the Libretto and the first EEE PC 701.
This category is completely misunderstood by manufacturers.
I want an ultraportable machine that I can use anywhere, is relatively solidly built (no stupid Ultrabook breakability) and I'll pay a premium to get a proper usable machine. I don't care about resolution (up to a point) and I don't care about the thing looking poncey. Bigger screens? I've got a 40" monitor that I'll plug in to the thing if I want a big screen, this is for working, not watching rubbish or playing games on.
God knows why the PC companies haven't made netbooks with decent specs. Why can't I have 8gb of Ram and a decent chip? I'll pay for it.
The closest I've seen is the HP DM1, which when you put an SSD and 8Gb of Ram in it, is a great little machine.
Monday 29th April 2013 18:56 GMT Stoneshop
Tuesday 30th April 2013 11:24 GMT Wize
I like my Libretto. Its not had many air miles of late, but always handy when you want something with full USB or you want VGA out. Its keyboard isn't the best one in the world but a whole lot better than typing on a touchscreen. And it boots fast as a DVD player, bypassing Windows.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:27 GMT Simon 4
GCSE Courseworks on Psion Series 3
I used my Psion Series 3 to take notes in class and write my GCSE coursework on the move.
No-one in my English class resented me being the tosser with the pocket computer because I flogged all of them copies of my notes on Great Expectations, Shakespeare etc.
I was able to work more efficiently on my Series 3 than I can on my iPad.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:29 GMT SonofRojBlake
Monday 29th April 2013 09:31 GMT WiganGeek
Monday 29th April 2013 14:11 GMT AceRimmer1980
I had a Sharp PC3100, very similar to the Poqet, and it was brilliant. You could underclock the CPU down to 1mhz, to use it as an ebook reader, and the batteries would last for ages. The particular LCD technology used didn't need a backlight. People even managed to shoehorn Windows 3.0 onto it!
<misty eyed>Turbo C 2.0, LIST.COM, Borland Sidekick..
I guess the spiritual successor would be something like the Vaio P-Series, and as the trend for content consumers is PC->touch device, we may never see their like again, as the market for content producers is just too small.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:32 GMT Anonymous Coward
Missed the Vaio C1 series
The Sony Vaio C1 series preceded the EEE. I had a C1VN first of all, screen on the small side, bit slow but something I could take anywhere. After that I had (if I remember the model correctly) a C1MVP. A bit faster, higher res screen, but still running the Crusoe chip. Installing Linux was interesting.
I still have an HP 200LX on the desk in front of me, which sadly now spends most of its life as a graphing calculator. But it's a proper MS-DOS computer that runs off two AA batteries, so how could I possibly get rid of it?
Monday 29th April 2013 09:32 GMT phy445
Monday 29th April 2013 09:33 GMT Stacy
I saw the Libretto in a few shops and loved it instantly. Compact, but also a real machine. It's just a shame I was a lowly student at the time and so I never had the money to get one!
I wonder if it's rose coloured glasses looking back and I would have been disappointed had I managed to get hold of one?
Monday 29th April 2013 10:40 GMT nichomach
Re: Libretto :)
You wouldn't have been; I worked at a place where we had a pool one that we used for network diags and taking off to remote sites. IIRC, ours was something a P233MMX, and we had to install a 3Com CardBus ethernet card to hook it up to the network. It was a little gem to use, very capable, easy to hook up to monitors, mice, keyboards and so forth, so we could bob over to a site with something less bulky than a paperback, and have a decently powerful fully-featured PC when we got there. I still kind of miss it *sniff*.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:42 GMT a_mu
Netbooks are just right for me.
most of what I need is text based, so by the time yo put a keyboard on a screen of a 'pad' then you are down to a very small screen.
yes, I have a laptop, but its too big and power hungry to do a full flight across the pond,
yes I have a pad, used for games and tv / internet film watching,
yes I have smart phone, lots of apps,
but typing / general most things,
, give us the key board of the netbook,
it does everything in a small package that just works
Monday 29th April 2013 22:16 GMT Chloe Cresswell
Re: oh yes
I've had an eeepc 701, then an aspire one 110, which I still use. I also have a 721, which also, I still use. It's the last of my netbooks though.
Why? Because it's replacement, the aspire one 722, dispite being only slightly larger, isn't offically a netbook.
They put a 1366x768 screen in it. The 721 runs windows 7 starter or linux, the 722 came with 7 home premium, as the screen is too high res!.
It still fits into my handbag with it's PSU with out noticing though.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:44 GMT blcollier
Dell Mini 9
Not specifically the focus of this article, but I owned one of these machines and utterly loved it. The only flaw with it really was the SSD writes were quite laggy now and then, and replacements were quite expensive... Brilliant little machine.
Ended up getting rid of it because I wanted a bigger screen and a less cramped keyboard.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:45 GMT ByeLaw101
Psion Series 5
I know you mention the Psion Series 5 in the Series 3 paragraph, but the Series 5 was the one with the ground breaking foldout keyboard and great display, you could almost touch type on that thing! The Series 3 was a toy version of the 5!
Also, were is the Z88?
Great article though :)
Monday 29th April 2013 11:55 GMT G R Goslin
Re: Psion Series 5
I introduced the Psion 3 into the company I worked for, and for my pains got to look after the customer base. My impression of the Psion 5 was that it was a step back from the 3c. it had a number of serious weaknesses. The hinge mechanism was weak and broke easily. It was physically bulkier. But the main drawback was the battery life. The Psion three went on and on, but the quiescent current drawn by the 5 meant that two weeks of non use, say your annual holiday, and you'd come back to a dead machine and all your files gone. Many a moaning customer came asking, "How do I get my files back?". I never bought the 5, but skipped straight onto the netBook, which still sees almost daily use.
Monday 29th April 2013 09:53 GMT T.Omoto
I booted my Jornada 820 a few months back.
Booted perfectly, holds a 6-8 hour battery life, and connects to my wireless with a PCMIA wifi card, once I restored the backup from a recent 2Gb(!) CF card - well, almost, the concept of WPA is a mystery to the drivers. The only thing I really missed back then was a headphone jack, as it was one of the very first portable devices with enough grunt and storage to churn MP3 audio. Well, and that Microsoft could have provided a complete office solution, instead of strategically limited versions of Word/Excel/Powerpoint.
Monday 29th April 2013 10:13 GMT Mint Sauce
My JVC MiniNote is still going reasonably well. The internal WIFI seems to have stopped working but I still use it with a dongle. Very handy for traveling.
It is more of a 'tiny laptop' than a netbook though, with an eyewatering RRP to match. I got mine in a sale and the VAT man kindly knocked 17.5% off too :)
I tried various linux distros on it a few years ago without much success, might be time to have another go...
Monday 29th April 2013 10:47 GMT tapanit
Monday 29th April 2013 11:06 GMT toughluck
I can see nobody mentioned Bicom yet
It launched in 1993. I remember reading the review, but frankly, there's scant info on the Internet and it's hard to find the information.
Nevertheless, I did find information on it. There were two models: 240i and 260i, differing in HDD capacity (40 and 60 MB, which was a lot for a notebook back then). Specifications:
- Am286LX at 16 MHz (1.5 µm node)
- 2 MB RAM
- Dimensions: 223×161×31 mm (smaller than original EeePC!)
- Weight: 1 kg (which is less than some EeePC models, at almost 1.5 kg)
- 7.5" monochrome displays (640×400 resolution, line-doubled CGA)
- Battery life: 3-4 hours on 5 AA batteries (!), you could use rechargeables (Ni-Cd at the time).
- Price: I can't remember now, but for what it did, it was cheaper than cheapest regular notebooks, at some $300-400.
It's hard not to draw parallels between then and now. The subnotebook was based on technology that was two generations behind the mainstream (486, color displays), which is about where netbooks are in relation to notebooks.
Obviously, technology has progressed since then, but in 15 years between this and the original EeePC, what did we get in return? Frankly, not much! Larger hard drives, color displays (sometimes they are even larger), more memory. But feature bloat caused the netbooks to not perform better than their old rivals. If you used 700 mAh Ni-Cd rechargeables with the Bicom, you got 3 hours battery life. With 2700 mAh NiMH rechargeables, you would get 12 hours -- compare that to 3 hours on an EeePC with batteries rated at 5600 mAh with higher voltage. Displays obviously draw the most energy, but 15 years of progress should have brought them at least to parity. If anything, turning off backlight (or the display altogether, and running on an external monitor), should allow the netbook to work considerably longer, but it doesn't.
Is it unreasonable to expect that you should be able to get a 9-inch notebook running a shrunk CPU two generations old (hey, it would be the original Nehalem now) -- not downclocked, mind you, with an SSD, weighing in at less than 0.5 kg, with dimensions of an A5 sheet of paper and at most 5 mm thick?
Monday 29th April 2013 11:45 GMT 1Rafayal
Tuesday 30th April 2013 14:43 GMT Dave 15
Re: Psion Series 5
Quite literally in some ways... all of the Symbian devices - so right up to the Nokia 808 pureview, but including phones from SonyEricsson (UIQ UI rather than S60 UI) and many other devices in Japan and elsewhere ran Symbian, which was Epoc32, the OS in the 5MX (and the 5). Indeed look under the covers and you'll still find 'EPOC' libraries and files in the smartphones.
And contrary to the BBC's view that the iPhone was the first smartphone, the Symbian ones had been selling in millions and had about a 10 year headstart. When Nokias idiot CEO classed them as a burning platform they had a higher market share than the current Apple one :)
Monday 29th April 2013 12:07 GMT krakead
I wrote my dissertation on a Portfolio - the fun part was trying to get it printed!
I'm obsessed with miniaturised/portable computing and had many of these over the years. I've even started buying them again on ebay and am proud/sad* to admit that I have a display case full of pocket computers going back the old Sharp PC-1211. My Psion 5mx still goes everywhere with me.
* - delete as applicable
Monday 29th April 2013 12:57 GMT Tim Walker
Eee 701SD and what came before
I suppose owning two Psions (3c and 5mx) in the late-90s, prepared me for the refurbished Eee 701SD I picked up in 2009 for barely more than £100.
It's still going strong (beside me as I write) - I long since ditched the Eee version of Xandros it came with, having run Eeebuntu (2009-2011) and since then, Arch Linux. Arch in particular was a good move - it runs surprisingly fast on the 701, as I installed a deliberately- stripped-down and lean set of software on it (Fluxbox instead of GNOME or KDE, etc.). Mind you, maxing out the RAM to 2GB didn't hurt either.
About the only thing I'd replace if I could, is the 8GB SSD, which is constantly groaning at the seams with only a few hundred megs' "headroom". It's a very particular kind of SSD, with a 32GB unit at about £40 (if the moon is in the right quarter), and a bit of a faff to install, so one for the "copious free time and moolah" file.
I think I'll run this little fella until it joins the Psions in Silicon Heaven...
Monday 29th April 2013 13:21 GMT Andus McCoatover
You might want to tell it mine! Used it to setup my Raspberry Pi - which it did, in spite of only 800 meg. flash left.
Had to hang 3x USB flash drives around it, plus the SD card, thing looked like a bloody hedgehog!
Girl-on-the-beach? Finland's Sonera are running an advert. at the moment for wireless BB. at the end is a similarly dressed young maiden - on a beach - using what looks like an EEEPC.
Still use it a couple of times a week (easypeasy linux, not xandros), even tho' my Samsung Fondleslab' is with me always. EEEPC? Still bloody useful!
Long, long time before it's landfill (unless by accident I type "dd.........of=/dev/sda1"...)
Monday 29th April 2013 13:24 GMT loopyloo
When did Laptops get renamed as Notebooks, can anyone find the first usage? I'm pretty sure this was a marketing ploy to sow confusion between Netbooks and Notebooks, just like those cunning little meerkats.
Confusion Marketing seems to have been a deliberate stratgey:
Monday 29th April 2013 13:29 GMT DaddyHoggy
I wrote my Masters Thesis on a HP 800CT which I acquired c. 1996 - 133MHz Pentium, 16MB RAM (upgraded to 48MB), 1.4GB HD - choice of Windows 3.11 on 95 on first boot (I chose Windows 95...), 800x600 256 colour display, I still have it - it still works although battery life is now terrible and I even bought a box of ten off eBay - but they're all as bad as my own - sub-1hr performance.
It had the most gorgeous little pop-out mouse - which I much prefer to a modern day touchpad.
It's almost exactly the same length and width (although considerably thicker) than my Asus EeePC 1015PX which I'm actually writing this comment on - which I love very much (I wrote my novel on it, so we've been through a lot!) and I spent a long time picking out to get an acceptable feel and size of keyboard.
For anybody who writes a lot - like me - I need a "proper" keyboard. I worry about the end of the netbook - and wonder what I will do after this netbook if this niche of computing gets killed off...
(Tablets with tactile feedback screens? I've seen some research papers on them but I don't think there are any actual products out there yet)
Monday 29th April 2013 15:32 GMT Volker Hett
Tuesday 30th April 2013 17:33 GMT Anonymous Coward
Re: HP 800CT?
Loved the Omnibook 300. I had a high school job at HP in 1996 and they let me borrow an Omnibook 300 that was just collecting dust. It was my first portable computer. Unfortunately I didn't really have a use for it (although I tried hard to invent one) and probably ultimately only used it for a few hours total.
Monday 29th April 2013 13:54 GMT Dapprman
I still occasionally miss my old Psion 3 MX
It was my first PDA, and my jump across from a filofax. i used it for many years, not just as an organiser, but also, through the serial cable, as a terminal. Was perfect for when I needed to go in to a machine room where there was a dodgy terminal or workstation monitor.
Monday 29th April 2013 14:25 GMT Philip Lewis
I have one gathering dust on the shelf.
I used it regularly for quite a long time though and was genuinely sad when the limited screen resolution became a web browsing issue.
When Opera dropped development of the browser it pretty much killed the device's future.
It even did WiFi with a buffalo PCMCIA card which was a big plus for me.
I never replaced it, since I never found anything that met the battery life/weight capability criteria.
I did however buy a Medion Akoya (Aka MSI Wind) Netbook which was used massively. It is still my coffee table/guest machine in Hackintosh form. It is to this day the computing device which I genuinely rate as the best value for money I ever spent.
Perhaps I should put the Psion Netbook on eBay?
Monday 29th April 2013 14:27 GMT Anonymous Coward
Monday 29th April 2013 15:53 GMT Dale Vile, Freeform Dynamics
I had an Olivetti Quaderna - travelled all over the Middle East with it on business on many occasions. In the year or so I was using it, I never saw another one out there in the wild. I did post a problem about it on a bulletin board once, though, and who should respond but (now Sir) Terry Pratchett. He wrote at least part of one of the Discworld novels on a Quaderna, I seem to remember while he was travelling in Australia (well I have a vague recollection of Oz being mentioned).
By today's standards, these machines were really crap, but back then they were truly liberating if you spent a lot of time working while travelling. I even remember that dialling up from hotel rooms over 9600 modems was genuinely useful in a way that today seems unimaginable.
Monday 29th April 2013 16:02 GMT mickey mouse the fith
Any HP 320LX love?
I had an HP 320LX running Wince 2.0 back in the day. I used to use it for browsing offline webpages previously downloaded on my desktop machine (I was way to broke to fork out on a modem card) as well as taking notes in the cut down ms word program. I recall it had pretty good c64 and speccy emulators and a wicked infrared interface that you could program to act as a telly remote control. The batterys seemed to last forever compared to modern handhelds. It also had a really nice blue backlight and a nifty docking cradle.
I really regret selling it in the early 2000`s now, it was a great little device for the time.
Monday 29th April 2013 19:53 GMT krakead
Re: Any HP 320LX love?
Get yourself another one - they pop up on ebay fairly often.
I too sold mine, to fund the purchase of a Psion 5, which was superior in every way, especially once you'd got over the novelty of a having a baby version of Windows. At least mine went to a good home - I advertised it in Micromart and it was bought by Professor Heinz Wolff, who undoubtedly went on to do some serious boffinry with it!
Thursday 2nd May 2013 01:41 GMT mickey mouse the fith
Re: Any HP 320LX love?
"Get yourself another one - they pop up on ebay fairly often."
I probably will at some point.
One thing puzzles me though, all the pictures i can find online of the HP 320LX show it having a green tinted lcd screen, im pretty sure mine had a paperwhite screen and indiglo blue backlight. I think it even boasted about the new, updated white screen on the box. I know it was the one that could be upgraded to the next version of wince via the included cd (the slightly cheaper version Dixons sold couldnt). Did I have a rarer updated unit, or is my memory just crap?
Monday 29th April 2013 16:12 GMT PdV
keyboard for me...
slabs are Perfect for reading + viewing.
For other WORK, I need a keyboard, and all sorts of connectivity (ssh!).
Netbooks were just the ticket, and some form of "laptop" will have to remain around for those of us who try to do real stuff beyond the read/view/twat/fazebook/managermail.
Maybe the popularity of slabs shows that most of those slab-touting trendfollowers only do "passive" tasks, if tasks they do at all...
Monday 29th April 2013 16:44 GMT Herby
Yes, the Tandy (Radio Shack) M100
When it was introduced back in the day (1983 the Wikipedia article says) it was pretty advanced for its day. They were gobbled up by many a journalist simply because they had built in word processing software that allowed field journalists to write stories and (with the built in 300 baud modem) send them back to the home office.
In those days you didn't need much more than that to be a field journalist, so that is what you used. Sure you could write small basic programs, but it was the connectivity, built-ins, and portability that made it work.
Trivia: This was the last project that Bill Gates himself actually worked on.
Personal trivia: I still have one of these controlling my pool motors at my house. Amazing what you can do with a little bit of software.
Monday 29th April 2013 17:18 GMT Adam Hammerton
Quote - "EPOC, of course, would go on to become the foundation for Symbian OS, now owned by Nokia and relegated to its feature phones."
Due to the very best efforts of Nokia (read Elop), Symbian is very nearly, although thankfully not quite, dead. When the time for the final obituary does actually come can El Reg please make sure that someone who actually knows what Symbian is/was (hell, maybe even someone who actually uses it) is involved.
For hopefully the last time :- SYMBIAN IS A SMARTPHONE OS! and is NOT used in Nokia feature phones. S60/Anna/Belle (Symbian) ARE NOT S40 (featurephone OS)!!!
Tuesday 30th April 2013 15:07 GMT Dave 15
Sent that info as a correction, a polite note back apparently the cock up is fixed
The BBC are not immune either their stupid cretinous reporters also had the latest nokia s40 as a symbian device and needed correcting.
Would love to know the not quite dead bit... no development at nokia due to stupid elop but is there something going on outside? I had a request for some info on symbian - the sort of technical stuff that implied someone was going to use it again... I'd be happy, very happy to see that. Compared to these hellish variants on the desk top windows and desk top unix os's symbian was really epoc32 which was properly designed ground up for smallish embedded devices (not so small as nucleus etc but at least not desk top sizes and powers).
Monday 29th April 2013 17:35 GMT Anonymous Coward
I'll be so sad when my netbook dies
Samsung N140 here, nice matte screen, keyboard perfectly type-able, reasonable battery life, got it running Linux Mint for carefree web use without concern about catching anything, my perfect companion for evening use in the armchair or a little reading at night in bed to tire myself out before dozing off. Yeah, and that :)
I'm not a passive web user. I type a lot. A tablet just wouldn't cut it for me. A laptop would be annoyingly large compared to this.
When this darling Samsung dies I'll be really annoyed if I can't find something similar to replace it. I can't believe there isn't enough demand for at last a couple of manufacturers to still compete in some residual market.
Monday 29th April 2013 19:58 GMT Dazed and Bemused
Having owned various flavours of Jornada (820, 680, 720, 728) and an EEE 701 all of which I liked, I still think my favourite mini-notebook type device was the NEC Mobilepro 900C - it managed the to marry the "quite small" and "usable keyboard" aspects with more success than anything else I've used.
Monday 29th April 2013 20:21 GMT Jim Wilkinson
Maybe not netbooks but...
Just dug under the office desk and found - Psion 5, Psion Revo, Sony Clie NX70 & Clie TH55. All used as 'netbooks' to keep information and make notes at meetings, diaries etc.
Best of these IMO was the Psion Revo (Plus) with a usable keyboard, clear screen a menu bar for the apps and a neat clamshell design. Pity it didn't catch on. But it was a good tool at the time and way better than lugging round a large and ugly laptop running MS-DOS.
Tuesday 30th April 2013 02:15 GMT Bruce Woolman
My EEEPC 900 lives in the kitchen
There, hooked to a pair of ten-dollar speakers, it serves as a wi fi appliance to stream radio. It is also the only computer I take on holiday these days. This because it has solid state storage. I can, and do, sometimes bung it into the checked baggage to simplify security checks. I upgraded the ssd, which was dead slow, and it dual boots XP and Linux mint. Both run with enough speed for a normal experience. Not true with the original ssd hardware, which was almost unusable. I tried traveling a few times with the old Samsung Slab, but found it to be inadequate. So the cheap little Asus joined me again. It fits into an important niche a tablet or a smartphone just does not fill comfortably. IMHO there will always be a market for a relatively small, inexpensive sturdy notebook. The history outlined in this well-researched article demonstrated that fairly clearly.
Tuesday 30th April 2013 06:54 GMT Trygve Henriksen
Got 9(8) out of 10...
Don't have the second on the list, and my Psion MC is the 400, not the 200.
My Toshiba has a dud screen or driver(stripy display), but otherwise they all work.
My Eee701 runs eCs, barely.
The MC400 is a good all-day word processor.
(Nothing comes close to the battery life of a MC400 loaded with 8 x AA alkalines)
Great keyboard, too.
What about the Olivetti Quaderno PT-XT-20 ?
Tuesday 30th April 2013 07:28 GMT solaries
Tuesday 30th April 2013 08:19 GMT Christian Berger
Why doesn't that work any more?
I mean seriously, back then they could knock together devices which ran PC "operating systems" which weren't even designed to save power, but still ran for weeks on 2 AA batteries. And all of that was done with, by today's standards, trivial technology, which is far less energy efficient than anything we have today.
Tuesday 30th April 2013 09:39 GMT Anonymous Coward
TEN ANCESTORS OF THE NETBOOK - Apple eMate
regarding the Apple eMate, I seem to remember reading somewhere that Apple was working closely with or funded UK inventor of the windup powered radio, Trevor Baylis, with a view to using this technology in low powered devices. Not fruitful I guess as we are yet to see such a device. Perhaps the iWatch.
Tuesday 30th April 2013 10:18 GMT Anonymous Coward
Wot? No PC110?
Nice to see the Libretto mentioned, but no IBM PC110?
Similarly, this was a Japanese only item. With the footprint of a floppy disk it was a handheld but ran DOS and Windows as it was a proper x86 PC.
They go for crazy money on eBay these days.
My old Toshiba T2130CT sits between netbook and notebook size.
Tuesday 30th April 2013 11:27 GMT Dr_N
I've said it before:
With all the technologically advancements since the Psion 5 & 7/netBook came out it's amazing that no one produces a product that even comes near them. Where's my keyboarded 3G enabled touch device with fully integrated apps that doesn't need to be booted or charged up every 2-3 days?
PS You've missed the Epson PX-8 from the list. A cracking 1st gen "netbook" .
Tuesday 30th April 2013 13:25 GMT BigTim
Missed out the LG phenom and the cadre of Windows CE machines!
I had a phenom in 1998/99 and amazed colleagues that I could connect to the net over IrDA to my nokia 6510 and download content at a blistering 14,400 baud (I think data was a flat £5/month unlimited at the time).
The touchscreen and built in word, excel etc were actaully pretty useful for working on short docs on the train and the outlook client was.. OK. IE was fine for basic sites.
It now lives in my son's toy box and though it doesn't switch on anymore the casing has survided many a fall down the stairs.
Tuesday 30th April 2013 16:14 GMT Hardwareguy
Tuesday 30th April 2013 17:19 GMT David Gillett
A couple of years ago, at a conference, I was sitting next to a friend -- she was using her iPad2 and I my netbook. Someone walked up and asked us how the two devices compared. "There's no comparison." said my friend. I added "You're right -- I've got a real keyboard abd an SD slot." She showed me the third-party Bluetooth keyboard tucked under her tablet. I only learned later that her device cost twice as much as mine; I later spent a pittance to upgrade its hard drive to 750GB, on which I dual-boot between Win7 and Ubuntu Linux.
In 2010, I flew to San Diego for a three-week session at UCSD. I wanted to take at least two full-size laptops, but by taking only my netbook, I was able to fly comfortably with limited luggage. I was not at all certain that it would be adequate, but in fact that netbook met all of my computing needs for those three weeks, except that I had to ask a friend to copy a driver CD-ROM to a USB flash drive for me. I was surprised and impressed....
Wednesday 1st May 2013 08:59 GMT Dick Kennedy
Quaderno - good for two weeks
I was at the Quaderno launch in Italy and got given one of the machines. Loved it and used it extensively until, inevitably (given that it was Italian), it broke. That was a fun two weeks. I didn't know a single journo from that launch whose Quaderno didn't break. In some cases, they found the machines broken by the time they got back from Italy. The screen had a very thin glass covering that would crack if there was a light breeze, or an 'R' in the month. Otherwise a fine attempt.
Wednesday 1st May 2013 21:22 GMT Henry Wertz 1
Microsoft destroyed the netbook
"I think that the problem with Netbooks is that the vociferous naysayers were exposed to the early tiny screen Linux models and found them wanting and have slagged off Netbooks ever since. If they'd tried the much better later models they'd have a different opinion. But then again, the anti-MS brigade never got over the fact that most people wanted to ditch Linux and have something that could run Windows."
What *I* didn't get over was that Microsoft destroyed the netbook. A netbook that has a faster CPU, more RAM, more hard disk sapce, and a large screen, plus cash sent straight to Microsoft, so it's like double the cost? That is not a netbook any longer, that is a low end notebook computer, which had already been on the market for years and were uninteresting despite them referring to these still as netbooks. Then, these still proved barely adequate to run WIndows 7 due to it's bloat (while they ran Linux fine.) So they put even MORE CPU power, more RAM, more hard disk space, and yet more cost. Yeah.
I'm waiting to see the actual specs on these supposed $200 Android thingies -- if I can get Android the hell off and normal Linux the hell on, these should work a treat (although I'd prefer an ARM model to an Atom one I think.)
Saturday 11th May 2013 15:08 GMT Anonymous Coward
Re: Microsoft destroyed the netbook
>>I'm waiting to see the actual specs on these supposed $200 Android thingies -- if I can get Android the hell off and normal Linux the hell on, these should work a treat (although I'd prefer an ARM model to an Atom one I think.)
And the technology hipster post of the year goes to....