Part One .. Netbooks
Over the years I have found only one truth that is infallable in regards to computer rekated technology. What is new and good today will be out-of-date in a year or so and most likely obsolete in four or five. In the last two decades I have not purchased any computer, peripheral, or software package with the expectation of still using it after 36 months. Most items have not made it that long.
The latest technology craze is netbooks. First intoduced about a year ago by a company called Asus, there are now a number of competitors including some models from well known manufacturers such as Acer, HP and Dell. The concept behind the netbook is simple. Take an inexpensive low powered processor (specifically the Intel Atom processor), cut out peripherals like optical drives and numeric keypads, and fit the result into a chassis about the size of a small textbook. Finally, use flash memory instead of a disk drive thereby eliminating moving parts and making the gadget more rugged. As memory is limited, office type applications would be performed on remote desktops via the internet as well as the multitude of other activities now being delivered by the world wide web.
Clearly these devices fill a niche. I can envision these gadgets being of incredible utility to students, for example. But are they worth the cost? My local BestBuy has a nice selection of Asus models. The small, entry level model with a 7 inch screen and running a Linux based operating system, is priced at $279. If ultra portability is really important to you that might be just the machine for you. For myself, a home user, it’s just not enough “bang for the buck.” A far better investment would be a budget laptop/desktop with more power, more memory, larger screen and etc. Like most new technology I think we can expect to see price drops within six months. That’s simply the result of good retail strategy.
Also, in six months I predict that Microsoft will have released Windows 7. The Atom processor does not handle Vista very well. XP is okay and Microsoft has extened it’s extended it’s life mostly to accommodate the new netbooks. On the other hand netbooks are truly great evironments for Linux based operating systems availble now and exceeding the capabilities of XP. Fearing this competition is another reason for my prediction.
If you are considering a netbook here is something to think about. Unlike Linux, Microsoft operating systems are subject viruses and must be protected against them. The protection doesn’t always work. Now imagine that a virus infects your netbook (without an optical drive) and trashes your system. How do you restore your netbook??