Posts Tagged ‘netbook’

Sony and Billabong Pair Up

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

In an unusual pairing, Sony teamed up with Billabong to welcome the Summer with the new “Boardshort” Vaio.

Officially, it is a Vaio W Series Imperial Lime Edition, with colors and graphics from Billabong’s 2010 collection. Here are the specs:

  • 10.1 HD LED backlit display
  • 250GB hard drive
  • Built-in Motion Eye camera and microphone with face-tracking technology
  • Large Capacity Lithium-ion Battery offers up to 7 hours use on a single charge
  • Multimedia Card Reader: Memory Stick Duo and SD memory card slots
  • Intel Atom N470 Processor
  • Windows 7 Starter Edition
  • LAN/802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi/Bluetooth A2DP
  • 1GB onboard RAM
  • 2USB ports

For a starting price of $500 this is a pretty decent little netbook, or as they call it a mini-pc. I personally prefer the $300 variety, but this is a Sony, and my full-sized Vaio is pretty solid. It’s currently available for pre-order at Sony Style.

Acer Aspire One AOD250

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

I picked up a new Acer Aspire One AOD250-1613 netbook from Amazon.com at the end of January. I have been putting it through its paces since then, so I decided to share my experiences with it here. I’ll start with the specs.

  • Intel Atom Processor N280 (1.66GHz)
  • 1GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • 160GB Hard Drive
  • 6-cell Lithium Ion Battery
  • Windows XP/Android dual boot OS
  • 10.1″ WSVGA Acer CrystalBrite LED Display
  • Integrated Webcam and Microphone
  • 89% Standard Size Keyboard
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 54G wireless LAN (802.11b/g)
  • VGA output
  • Stereo Speakers
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • 3 USB ports
  • Multi-in-1 memory card reader compatible with MultiMediaCard, Reduced-Size MultiMediaCard, Secure Digital, Memory Stick, Memory Stick PRO or xD-Picture Card
  • Microphone jack
  • Headphone jack
  • 1″ thick when closed

For a netbook, it is loaded with features. The built-in webcam and microphone are particularly convenient on this netbook, though it is getting harder to find a portable computer without this feature lately.

My experience with this netbook have been mostly positive. I bought it specifically for the Android OS since I was getting impatient waiting for AT&T to release an Android phone. It was only after I played with it a bit that I found the mostly negative reviews scattered over the web. I want to address the main criticism first, then follow up with my own experiences.

The first thing other reviews have done is praise the fact that it has Android. The first thing the reviewers (often the ones who had just praised it) bash is the Android experience. When booting into Android mode, one learns fairly quickly that the Android Market is off-limits. What good is an Android phone without the Market? This is where most of the negative reviews stopped.

After a substantial amount of searching Google for answers, I finally found my solution. Fortunately there are some alternatives to the Android Market. One of these alternatives is offered by a Insyde, the brand that runs the bios on the system. The Insyde Market has a number of apps that you can download to your Android. The website is a bit weak, but at least there are some usable apps there. One thing I had to learn was which browser to use to install the apps.

Installed on the Android partition are two browser options. One says Firefox but is really Minefield, and the other is a more cell-phone-esque version. It is simply labeled Browser. This is the one to use. If you use Firefox you can’t install the apps. The trick to using it efficiently is to enter the URL in the Google Search bar on the desktop. Otherwise the navigation takes some getting used to.

The main thing I was disappointed in is the inability to install Google Chrome on Android. I tried both versions of Linux offered by Google, but neither one was recognized by the installer. Though this was disappointing, the bottom line is that Android was not intended to run on a netbook, being a mobile phone OS. It is a fun feature, but unless I am just checking e-mail or playing with apps, I have to use the Windows partition.

Whether using Android or Windows XP, I have used my netbook quite a bit. I have taken it to two conferences, attended my online class, and written several blog posts. The 89% keyboard has been pretty useful, especially when compared against the Dell mini that I tested. While I occasionally miss a key, I have been able to type with a fairly high accuracy rate. Ideally I type on a table, as it lowers the miss rate.

One of the best features is the 6-cell Lithium Ion battery. Having taken it to two conferences, I was very happy with the battery life. I made it through most of the day without needing to plug it in. This was especially useful in the Las Vegas convention center, where conference attendees have to search for outlets. Being able to type all day, put the computer in and out of sleep mode, and still have battery left is pretty cool. I have been really satisfied with the battery.

Another cool feature is the touchpad. There are three ways to use the touchpad: circular motion, pinch, and flick. The circular motion allows for a smooth scrolling experience. Pinch, as we’ve come to expect from touch screens, is a zooming feature. Flick is a Mac-like way to navigate through images. For a notebook these features would be impressive. In a netbook they were surprising and have proven pretty useful so far. See the diagram below to get a better idea how it works.

Overall, I would say that the Acer Aspire One is worth having. I have had a mostly positive experience, and the negatives were easily worked through. This netbook is loaded with features. The 10.1 inch screen and the nearly full size keyboard make this netbook very easy to use. I recommend the Acer Aspire One AOD250.

Reviewing the Dell Inspiron 910

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I have been playing with the idea of getting a netbook for the last year or so, and finally got my hands on one. I didn’t get to pick this one out, so this review is based entirely on my experiences over the last week. I am testing out the Dell Inspiron 910, also known as the Mini 9. This is one small computer.

Here are some of the basics:

  • Intel Atom N270 1.60GHz Processor
  • 2GB RAM
  • Windows XP Home
  • 16GB Solid State Hard Drive
  • 3 USB ports
  • Bluetooth
  • Wi-Fi
  • LAN
  • 1.3 Megapixel integrated camera/webcam

The first thing I noticed was the ridiculously tiny keyboard. Typing is a nightmare. It took me more than 10 minutes just to type the above specs list (with markup code). The keyboard is by far the weakest link.

The Bluetooth software is particularly nice, however. Of all the times I have connected my cell phone to a computer, this one has been the easiest and the fastest. It also has the most features. I can do a number of different things from file-sharing to streaming music to the netbook.

I haven’t had a chance to test the LAN, but nowadays they are pretty standard. Same with the Wi-Fi. I was able to connect to a couple different networks with no hassle. That is more of a Windows thing than the card, but it was worth noting.

One thing that bothers me a bit is how hot it runs. With a solid state drive one can expect a hot machine. It doesn’t seem like there is any compensation for this heat though. I avoid using it in my lap whenever possible.

With the tiny hard drive and pretty much tiny everything else, I focused on Google for my apps. I had expected to do this with whatever netbook I ended up with, so this was nothing special. Google really is the easy choice when dealing with limited specs. Everything else is too heavy to be worthwhile.

All in all, this is a reasonably good computer. The keyboard is too big a liability for my purposes however, so I intend to move on in short order. As it is, the Dell Mini 10 is already out, but I think this Dell was all the experience I need with the brand.

If you are looking for a netbook, or even just a small toy for your down time away from home this is a decent option. I would be more inclined to use it as a first computer for my sons. They have small enough fingers to make it work. This post was done from the Mini 9, and it was quite the task. Like I said before, the keyboard is a bit of a pain. I am in the market for a better netbook, and already have one in mind. I will be posting about it soon