It’s not everyday I get to eat my own words. But here I am admitting maybe I was wrong about Netbooks. See here for my rather condemning rant on the subject from last year. Before I go into my new found love for the tiny laptops let me tell you what all I’ve tried BEFORE this change of mind. First of all let me describe my specific mobile “need”. I collect comicbooks and I use Comicbase software to keep track of what I have and don’t have. I like to have this list with me when I go to shops hunting back issues. Although the program purports to have “Advanced handheld support on platforms including the Apple iPhone, iPad, Android, Palm OS, Kindle, and even your PSP” it doesn’t actually do any special formatting for devices with itty-bitty screens. It simply exports to an HTML file (it also offers to host the file for free for online access which IS nice for those that don’t already run their own site). To give you an idea what this looks like see here:
Now keep in mind the above version is one I did some slight editing to in order to fit more in smaller spaces. I changed the font size and cleaned up a few extraneous formatting bits and that helped a lot. But the resulting file is still a real bitch to navigate on an iPod sized screen.
I’ve tried with various phones and iPods and they all SUCKED. I had the best luck with an Amazon Kindle (and that after running it through a Mobi Pocket creator converter app). But while the Kindle displayed it nicely the eReader’s d-pad control is pretty slow and “clunky”. Next I bought the new Nook Color 7 inch eReader/Android Tablet. This has a gorgeous IPS LCD screen running 1024×600:
I had really high hopes for this but even at 1024×600 the letter navigation bar at the top of my report was pretty unusable (couldn’t accurately click letters). And I made a somewhat disgusting discovery – Touchscreens are NASTY! I will NEVER get used to touchscreens! It’s so gross. My OCD kicks into overdrive with these! I spent more time trying to wipe skin oil and particles of dirt off the screen then I did reading it! I can’t stand someone touching my monitors and I enjoy smearing oils from my own skin on one of these just about as much! It’s just gross. Touchscreens are NOT for me.
So I took back the Nook Color and for the SAME $250.00 I got a 10 inch Acer Aspire Netbook running the same 1024×600 resolution:
Even with the abbreviated screen size this tiny laptop has no problems displaying/navigating my list. I imagine that’s because unlike iPods, phones and tiny tablets it’s running a REAL Operating System (Windows) and therefore can use the proper programs to get the job done. Of course I wouldn’t wanna use something like this for “serious” work or even to replace my 15 inch laptop but for my specific purpose (and I suspect many many other things) it works great. I have Windows 7 Home Premium running on mine (it came with Win7 Starter but I formatted the thing as soon as I got it out of the box and did my own setup) & it even runs Windows Aero desktop beautifully with it’s rather modest specs:
1024×600 on a 10 inch screen
Intel Atom N450 1.66ghz
1 gig of DDR2 RAM
Intel 3150 graphics
160 gig hard drive
And best of all – no wiping grease all over the screen just to use it!