I have been tracking the MID (mobile internet device) space for some time now, and have tested several devices just to get some real world experience using them. These devices supercede the UMPC devices that were all the talk of the town a couple of years ago such as the Samsung Q1 device. I had one of those for awhile, and although it is brilliant, it just doesn’t work for me without a keyboard. What I want is something that is light, has a keyboard and a decent screen but that will also very nearly fit in my pocket – and when I say ‘very nearly’ what I am looking for is something that you can use in the economy section of an airplane and actually be able to do some work. I’m OK if it is about the size of a small hard cover book
A host of small form factor ultra small laptops have appeared in the past year – anything from the OLPC device through to the over priced OQO – the one that really caught my eye though was the eee PC by ASUS. This originally appeared with a 7 inch screen which was OK, but just in the last short while they released one with a 9 inch screen, and it is gorgeous. So I bought one. It is a LINUX based device, weighs next to nothing, has 4 GB of ram, a 16 GB SSD, wifi built in, Open Office preloaded (so I can open and edit all my Microsoft documents), FireFox for internet access and very good support for Google Apps which is nice as I had been testing them for another project I was working on and starting to use it more and more for general document creation.
All in all, I was very pleased with myself in a Dilbert sort of way, and had an opportunity to show it off to a few friends the other night, Everyone said that they wanted one, but I was slightly disappointed that the must common comment was not that it was a technically amazing device (which it is) at a very affordable price (which it also is) , but that it was ‘cute’ . It sort of took the wind out of my sails and initially left me vaguely dissatisfied. But I got over it – after all, I can live with ‘cute’ if it can do useful work – and this can. I’m using now to generate this blog entry – I’m in a hotel room with wifi, and the Linux OS configuration has no trouble connecting me to it, the keyboard is small, but adequate with good key travel, the performance is more than good enough and the screen is easy to read even using my graduated bi-focals !
The only niggles so far are the fan noise and the battery life – but they are minor. It is a form factor we could have used at work and which folks would have lined up to get – back when I was working that is. This is my third day retired, and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it !
eee PC – recomended.