Saturday, January 31, 2009

Netbook or notebook?

jkOnTheRun poses a poll question: netbook or notebook?:
"I grab a notebook and head out the door to work quite a bit and it seems that each time I do so I have to give pause and decide what gear to take with me. On the one hand I usually have a netbook to take, small and light and powerful enough to handle most of what I need to do. On the other hand I can grab a full notebook like the MacBook and take it instead."
As I commented there: I go with a netbook if I’m going to be moving around pretty much constantly, AND only need to do writing/note-taking/email/web.

But if I’m doing “heads-down” technical work - getting in the zone and grinding for a few hours straight - I really want a bigger window into my work. I need a powerful system that can run a bunch of specialized tools, maybe a VM or two in addition to the host OS, and let me view a bunch of information all together.

That spells bigger screen, higher resolution (at least 1440×900-ish), plenty of RAM (I prefer 4gb) and disk space to handle those VMs, and a relatively powerful multi-core CPU (Intel Core 2 Duo at least).

So - my perfect scenarios for netbook use are:

1. At a conference. You’re walking all day, moving from room to room, and taking notes, IM’ing or emailing the whole time. A super-light machine that fits in a small bag, has long battery life, super fast sleep/wake, and great mobile connectivity is perfect here. That's a netbook to a T.

2. A short business trip that is mostly f2f meetings and staying on top of email/IM/web communications.

3. Just running out to the coffeeshop, library or whatever for a change of scene.

4. A machine to take home to check email in the morning if I’m not rushing into the office. (This last scenario is pretty much competely unneeded now that I’ve got decent webmail from work.)

I’ve been using proto-netbook-like PC’s back since the PowerBook 100 got closed out at Costco for $900. I’m super excited that this looks like the year they breaks through into the mainstream.

Imagine, the Newton finally made it (iPhone), eBook readers (Kindle, Sony) and now netbooks too. What’s next?

I hope the answer will be Sandbenders.

I do expect we'll start seeing some super-cool tablets in a few years when OLED displays make the display part super-sleek. An HP 2730p tablet form factor but with a display only 3mm thick sure would rock....

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