rise of the netbook

So I’ve been thinking about getting a new computer sometime soon (meaning within the next year). Not one to replace my desktop, but a portable computer. My natural first thought was to get a laptop, but then something caught my eye: the “Netbooks” category at Newegg.com. I’d heard of these little computers before, but I pretty much ignored their existence because I thought they were just another short-lived fad. But apparently I was wrong: netbooks have become quite popular in the last year or two. And now they even have their own category on the level of desktops and laptops/notebooks! Needless to say, I got curious and scoured the web for netbook-related info.

Asus Eee PC 1000h{ the Asus Eee PC 1000H from 2008. source: laptopnext.com }

Now that I’m educated in the science of netbooks, I’m pretty impressed by them. Not by their power, of course, which is laughable compared to a decent laptop. Most mid-range netbooks now have 1.6 ghz Intel Atom single-core CPU, compared to the typical laptop’s 2 ghz or more dual-core CPU. And if you’re thinking about playing modern 3d games on a netbook, forget about it (although there are some that will work — barely). Usually, the best you can do on a netbook as far as graphics is watch videos on Youtube.

edit: Apparently there are some netbooks with good graphics performance, such as the Asus N10. It has a GeForce 9300M GS as well as integrated graphics, with the ability to switch between the two (but this requires a reboot). With this particular netbook you can play older games smoothly and even some newer games, and of course hi-def movies. The battery lasts around 5 hours even when running Nvidia graphics. Very nice. The downside is the price: $680.

What’s attractive about netbooks is their mobility and the fact that they’re very cheap. If you just need to check your email and write a few documents on the go, and maybe surf the web while you’re bored, a netbook seems ideal. The average netbook is around $400, and many are a lot cheaper. More money in your pocket = more happy. (Assuming you’re happy with a netbook…)

Most netbooks nowadays have screens somewhere around 10″. While on the one hand that means great mobility, on the other hand it means a small screen and a rather cramped keyboard. I’ve heard that prolonged use of such a small keyboard can be uncomfortable. I don’t have firsthand experience though.¬†Another drawback of this small size is that netbooks don’t have CD/DVD drives built in. For what netbooks are designed for (doing stuff on the web), it doesn’t matter all that much, but still, it’s an inconvenience to use an external optical drive if you ever want use CDs or DVDs.

Battery life is another strong point. Most netbooks go upwards of 5 hours on a 6-cell battery, some even 8 hours.

I’ll probably end up getting a laptop as planned, because I really want that extra power, but netbooks look interesting anyways. The future of netbooks looks promising, especially now that Google is making an OS for netbooks (!!). And soon the NVIDIA Ion chipset will be out, which will make graphics better on netbooks. A few Ion netbooks are already on the way.

July 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm 1 comment

HOW TO DISABLE OR REMAP CAPS LOCK (or any other key)

I got to thinking about the caps lock key because of ALL CAPS DAY, and it took me a while to remember the last time I used it. It was last month… oh wait, that was when I pressed it by accident. The month before that I used a few times… no, those were accidental too. 90% of the times my caps lock key is pressed, it’s either unintentional or it’s my cat.
If caps lock were somewhere else on the keyboard it would be alright. But as it is, it’s more useful if it’s turned off. So here’s how to silence the beast that is caps lock. This article is just for Windows, but I’ll write something like this for Linux sometime.

Continue Reading June 30, 2009 at 12:55 am 1 comment

Rock your box with Rockbox

Seeing as how I haven’t switched OSes or gone on a customization frenzy this week, I’ll talk about a little something I found a few months ago. Rockbox is its name. MP3 players are its business. Awesomeness is its nature.

Continue Reading June 25, 2009 at 4:28 pm 3 comments

Windows XP revamp, part 2: convenience (a.k.a. UI improvements)

Now you have a nice, easy-on-the-eyes Windows XP desktop. If you don’t, then you either missed the first part of the guide or I just suck at writing guides. So anyways you have a pretty XP setup, but it’s still rather annoying and inconvenient sometimes. Here are some cool programs I found that give Windows XP a little usability boost.

Continue Reading June 18, 2009 at 4:51 pm 2 comments

Windows XP revamp, part 1: visuals

Truth be told, I’d love to have Windows 7 once it’s released. It has the nice looks of Vista plus some slick interface improvements. But alas, I’ll only get a new computer next year, so that’ll have to wait. In the meantime I’m making my XP desktop nicer. There are a lot of things in XP that are less than satisfactory, both in looks and in usability. So I’ve improved on some of these, and I now I’ll tell you what I learned.

Continue Reading June 11, 2009 at 8:50 pm 2 comments

5 addicting open source games

There are lots of games in the world of open source, which means lots of cheap fun. Well, sort of. Many of these games aren’t complete enough to be playable, others have been abandoned, and some just aren’t very fun. But there are many good open source games, and out of these a few are just amazing. So amazing, in fact, that you just might get addicted.
I’m pretty new to open source games, but here are 5 of those rare, addiction-inducing open source games that I’ve found, in no particular order. All of these games are available for Windows, Linux, and MacOSX. Fun for everyone!

Continue Reading June 3, 2009 at 11:18 pm 11 comments

Gnome desktop overhaul guide

The Gnome desktop environment is pretty cool. It’s simple and solid. Unfortunately a default Gnome desktop is not very appealing to the eyes. We all come to the point where we wonder, “Can I make my Gnome desktop look super l33t?” And then when we see screenshots of awesome Gnome desktops, a burning desire flames up in our hearts. That’s how it was for me, anyways. So I set out to transform my desktop into something that looks cooler.

Continue Reading May 25, 2009 at 10:55 pm 3 comments

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