What’s the Allure of these Netbooks?

I think I get it: these things are pretty darn tiny!

Understand, I’m completely happy with my Macbook 17″ notebook computer; even though it’s a bit heavy to lug around, it certainly gets the job done (with plenty of screen real estate to boot).

I still have my Asus Eee PC sitting here in my home office, although it’s currently not doing much more than displaying photos through Google’s photo screen saver. The system is generally underpowered for any given task beyond Web browsing or email, its keyboard is too small (even for MY fingers), and I was running out drive space after just a handful of Windows system updates. Nice, but not necessarily awesome for me. Too small.

After reading a few reviews of the MSI Wind U100, I decided to get one for myself. Apparently, they top the list of “hackintosh” netbooks, in terms of both driver AND community support. Of course, they’re still running Windows XP – an operating system that debuted almost a decade ago. A full review (video) is forthcoming, as I recorded it the other night. Verdict? Worth thinking about if you’re in the market for a netbook:

I also recommend reading the Mac OS X Netbook Compatibility Chart, and watching Running OS X on a Netbook – both of which are MSI Wind-friendly. msiwind.net appears to be the premiere community for conversations (legal or otherwise) regarding the hardware.

21 thoughts on “What’s the Allure of these Netbooks?”

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  3. Im thinking of gettting the MSI wind, its at a great price but the only think i dont like about it is that it does not have a DVD drive, you need to get an external one, but it looks great. I want one 😀

  4. Sorry, but I think that this is a Mac fanboy hatin’ on the netbooks PC market. You know Apple can never sell a netbook at a price like the PC market, and it would be sad if they tried. Netbooks are great devices for (wait for it)….the NET. It’s designed to take with you to a meeting, on the road, and get on the net, take some notes, do light tasks, etc. The only thing they’re missing is built in EVDO and they would be perfect.

    I’ve been considering getting one vs. lugging my laptop to meetings all the time. Of course, I could use my G1, but a netbook would make typing and word processing in general a lot easier. Thoughts anyone?

  5. Hi Chris,

    Kelly bought me an Eee PC for Chanuka. It only has 512 MB of RAM and runs plenty fast even with multiple applications open.

    I think the difference is that she ignored me and bought the Xandros distro instead of the XP version. (Smart girl, she’s also a geek… and a Mac girl.)

    I have a 2 GB stick but I haven’t had the motivation to install it yet. To increase your memory, try an SDHC card. I have a 4 GB card and it’s plenty fast. I’ll probably upgrade to a larger SDHC.

    I should also note that I have an Eee PC with a Celeron running at full clock speed rather than one of the earlier Celerons running at a slower speed or one of the newer ones with an Atom processor; so mine may be a bit faster.

    I am very happy with the performance of the Eee PC. It’s a rockin’ little machine that should only get better once I install the larger stick of memory.

  6. I am always interested to hear the “other side” of the argument. Personally, I “get-it” when it comes to netbooks. I am sporting a Dell Mini9 running Ubuntu (Linux).

    I just had a discussion with a buddy who is a bit of an Apple nut and he dismissed the netbooks altogether and I agree with Lamar, I think he was looking at it from a fanatical Apple user perspective.

    I think you have to look a the netbook for what it is suppose to do, not what it doesn’t do. It is a lightweight means of computing that is primarily for web browsing, email, movie watching (on a plane etc), Office type applications.

    If you are photo editing 99% of your day- a netbook isn’t for you.

  7. I have a 3EEEPC – the Asus One and I LOVE IT!!! Fortunately for me, I have small hands. I take it with me anywhere cuz I never know when I’ll need to look up some information or have spare time to do homework.

    Chris, I’m wondering what you are running on yours that takes up so much hdd. Mine has barely touched 1/4 of the hard drive. And Lamarr, I don’t need the DVD or CD-ROM. If I want to install software, I can either: download from the internet, connect it to my home computer, or use an external CD-ROM.

    So, for me – it’s great! It’s small, portable, and convenient.

  8. hi chriss, i want buy an iphone 3g but i like tnis netbook and now don’t know what’s better, what do yoy recomend? it’s just for search the web view pages like yours, read and write e-mails on the way, chating on the go, and listen music. thanks

  9. You don’t want built-in 3g on a netbook, because the netbook will be obsolete before your 3g contract is up. Better to get a 3g USB card that you can use on any computer you own.

    — harry

  10. I personally find my iPod touch the best NetBook. It can surf the web, send email and with all the apps on the app store pretty much any think. Although the screen is small and the drive is not that large, it works best for me on trips that I don’t want to carry my 13″ MacBook along on.

    In my opinion the iPhone/iPod touch is Apples NetBook, and why would I purchase a smaller laptop, NetBook, when my current one is all I need, and for Net tasks I can just use my iPod.

  11. Consider as well the Lenovo IdeaPad S10. I was tossing around between the S10 and the MSI Wind, but I ultimately went for the S10 because of its ExpressCard slot — I wanted EVDO capability and don’t have a phone to tether it to. Hackintosh support wasn’t as robust as the Wind, but definitely worthwhile.

  12. Well, I definitely love the Acer Aspire One. Great design, small, 3 usb ports, 2 card slots, built in camera, built in microphone, battery really lasts 2 hours (My previous laptops were Toshiba, their battery life is so spurious). I really wanted an ASUS, I liked the UMPC with tablet functionality. They no longer make it. So I looked at the Eee PC, but the screen from the Acer is so much better, the hard disk is 120 GB, so I went for Acer. I am happy. The keyboard is small, may be it´s a woman thing. I like it small. When I take it to work,( which is a lot easier with the Acer than with a 14¨ laptop), I connect it to a monitor, so I get two screens. I love the netbook, specially for internet & skype. I am not travelling so much with my netbook anymore, since I can bring everything I need in a flash drive, but still it is a great PC.
    I have an external CD, DVD drive (I have used it once) and I am waiting for a 9 hour battery to get rid of the adapter most of the time… And I travel with a mouse, the touchpad is too sensitive.

  13. Got myself a Toshiba Satellite. It does the job. Runs Vista on it. Not the best thing in the world though. The display is bland and dark. However, I am writing on it, not editing video or game hashing. So it works as long as Im in a dark room.

  14. I love my Acer Aspire One… it’s amazingly small and light, but the keyboard is an ample size for quick touch typing and the screen is amazing for something so small.

    I went for the 1GB RAM, 120GB HDD Linux option and so far it flies along… makes switching back to the Vista laptop for heavyweight work a chore!

    You can see my review here… a seriously impressive little machine.

  15. These netbooks remind me of an experience I had years ago with an outdated computer.

    I could barely load some web pages because the computer was so wimpy.

    Now why would I want to pay $300+ for the privilege of having another outdated computer?

  16. I own an EeePC 901 running XP and the ONLY, I repeat, ONLY flaw I can find is that the 4Gb partition (C:) that is reserved for the XP installation can fill up in a few months with regular usage.

    My tips? Uninstall any unnecessary aplications from said “C:” drive. For the ones you want to keep, reinstall them to the D: drive (the rest of the 8Gb SSD disk). This is what I did for Skype, Firefox, and the included SunOffice apps.

    Then, if you need even more space on your C: partition, just right-click on the C: drive icon, go to Properties, and click the “Compress data to save space” box near the bottom. After about half an hour your C: will gain about 1,5Gb of space, and continue working great.

    Does anybody know of another laptop with an 8-hour battery? Sorry folks, only the EeePC with its “small” SSD disk. And that is why it is perfect as a Netbook. I consider all other laptops to be Ginormous, heavy, battery-guzzling and huge-keyed compared to the EeePC, which is the size of a Mouse Pad.

  17. I’m a 10+ year Mac user and have a 701 eeepc and love it. It’s a second, cheap net appliance basically. Leave it on the kitchen table for quick googling goodness, take it to work.
    Plus I’m kind of a geek too. Just got an XO laptop and they are kind if neat but not as fast or good as an eeepc of coarse…..

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