Before going to the FastForward 2009 i bought a netbook, an Acer Aspire One, with 1Gb RAM and 160Gb harddisk, running XP. The idea was to use this for notetaking during the conference, since the machine is small and has good battery capability (I got the 6 cell version.)
A funny thing: When I went to buy it, the salespeople tried very hard to get me to buy a subnotebook instead – which would cost upwards of $1000 instead of $329. Margin call? Anyway, a true sign of a disruptive technology is when the salespeople sneer at it, so I predict a great future for these machines. (That being said, I would have liked to get the Sony Vaio P, but it was not yet available and the interesting version was more than $1100. In other words, I can get tree Acers for one Vaio..)
So far, this thing is working very well. Its wireless network access is not as good as my Lenovo X61 – the speed is lower and it seems to not be as good in keeping the connection. The processing power is lower, but as long as I don’t have more than 4 big applications open concurrently, and make sure I quit Firefox about once per 12 hours (it is something of a memory hog) it is just fine.
The keyboard is surprisingly good for such a small size, and I do pack a real keyboard and a mouse in my large travel bag. I do make a few mistypes occasionally, with somewhat unpredictable results, but mostly touch typing goes well, though I would not want to write a dissertation on it.
The touch pad is a tad bit sensitive, I will need to fiddle with some of the settings – it is quite easy to hit it and inadvertently increase the size of the font in Firefox or to accidentally delete large parts of text in Live Writer or Thunderbird. Ctrl-Z is very useful. I would prefer a navigation knob such as is available on the Vaio or the Lenovo computers – more control, fewer accidents.
The thing comes with a camera which I haven’t tried yet and a various other ports and functions which, presumably, work (and were one reason I got this one rather than the HP Mini, which lacked a few.)
So far, so good. Excellent note-taker and internet device, not strong enough to be your main machine unless you are either doing very simple stuff or mainly working online, in which case it is surprisingly good. And it does fit on the tray in economy class, which is a bonus.
Update Feb 10: I find that, with the small screen, I tend to use all applications in full screen mode and switch between them using alt-tab. This is a little bit of a throwback to the mid-90s, when I used DesqView on a text-based DOS machine in the same way. Works fine, though. And the battery worked the whole day yesterday, from 9 to 17 with a small 20 minute charge at the hotel room – which I must say is rather good for a machine at a third of the price of a regular notebook.