Consider the Eee PC 1000.
The good news is that the hardware is excellent. The aesthetic design is a little disjointed and clunky, but the new metal cased 1002s are very sexy. The keyboard is much better than any mini notebook deserves, the computational parts themselves might be fast (more on that in a minute) and power efficient, and the battery does seem to last a good 6 hours with careful power management. The wifi hardware is great and fast. I was spotting available networks along I-95 at 80mph! The size and weight is perfect, it’s exactly as big as it needs to be and no bigger.
The only thing I don’t like about the hardware is the touchpad. I normally hate touchpads, and this one is no exception. It’s alternately too sensitive or too insensitive, and the buttons require a lot of force to click, making mousing around slow and clunky instead of transparent.
Then we have the software. This is where the bad news starts.
The best part about the Xandros Linux distribution it ships with is that it boots up in 20 seconds flat. And it comes with Skype installed, that worked with the webcam right out of the box.
Umm, that’s about it.
The wifi stops working if you suspend the Eee and bring it back up. Also, if you use a hotkey to disable the wifi, and then try to reenable it later, it doesn’t work.
The copy/paste keys are the obscure ctrl-ins and shift-ins, instead of the standard CUA keys. It’s not 1979 anymore!
The Eee came with an updater service that didn’t work until I had rebooted the machine 3 times.
Firefox works really damn slow if you have more than 4 or 5 tabs open. It also stops responding for about 5 seconds after you load a page.
The default media player took me a good hour to figure out how to play mp3s. I created a playlist, and then it didn’t show up!
Despite having stuff in the setup claiming to do so, the Eee couldn’t connect to my XP desktop to copy files over. Which is a snap with my XP laptop.
So on advice from Alan, I installed Eeebuntu Standard. The install went ok, despite me using a USB drive to boot and install from. Then it took an hour of help from TD to get linux to see the entire 40GB SSHD, not just the 8GB system portion.
And the interface does look very nice. It has some very pretty window animations if you like that kind of thing.
Now the Eee boots up in about a minute and a half.
If you want the Eee to connect to your home wireless on boot, you’ll need to set it with the network preferences app, which is in a different thing than what is launched via the toolbar. A minor detail, but clunky and unpolished. Why do I need to go to 2 different places?
Firefox still does that freeze for 5 seconds after loading a page thing.
If you disable too many of the window animations, the screen flickers madly when you do an alt-tab. This is fixed if you add some back, but I don’t know which ones fixed it.
The networking still doesn’t work. The Eee can’t see my XP desktop, despite following the instructions.
I spent a total of almost 4 hours trying to get the amusingly named ‘clit’ .lit converter to work. Apparently, following the instructions on the website is the wrong thing to do. You need to apt-get it! So obvious, I know. But now that it’s working, I can’t figure out how to tell it to convert to html or an open format, since it doesn’t install a man page.
I suppose it would be unfair to point out that you can get a .lit converter for Windows that installs in 3 clicks, works, has a graphical interface, and converts .lits to whatever you want?
I guess for some people, tinkering with their computer and spending hours trying to get trivial stuff working is part of the experience. Personally, I own computers to get things done, and having to fight the system to read a goddamned ebook (that loads in 1 click on XP) is unacceptable.
Kind of like 1911s and Glocks, really.
In short, I love the Eee and you should have one too. But order it with Windows if you want to actually use it.
At least one satisfied customer in the household!