Last night, I decided it was time that I get myself a netbook. These tiny form-factor laptops have been around for a while now, however, I initially brushed them off as an underpowered machine that casual computer users would buy to avoid breaking the bank while still having basic Internet and emailing abilities.
I’ve changed my mind about who needs a netbook after lugging my 17″ hoss of a laptop for the past 13 months. Don’t get me wrong: I love the power of my full-sized portable. I have been using it as my primary machine to teach online courses, create websites, and wrangle technology since I got it. It’s fast, full-featured, and gets the job done. Its weight, though, leaves something to be desired when I just need to check email or or look up some basic information while I’m not at home. A lighter weight, lighter duty machine would fill the bill. This type of machine is a netbook.
After weighing the build quality and price of several netbooks that Best Buy had to offer, I decided to go with the Asus Eee PC 1015PE. So far, I have been very happy with my choice. The little netbook boots fast, is snappy, and gets about 8 hours of battery life while surfing and checking email. Typing on the 85% chicklet-style keyboard takes a little getting used to, but after about 12 hours of exposure, my fingers are having little trouble touch typing. The trackpad is spacious and responsive, and the click button that sits below it works well enough for right and left clicking.
On the comical side, the text in most of the Asus-created apps features poorly-translated English. For example, after finishing with the registration app, the congratulatory text said, “Now your new machine can get your downloads from us.” I’ve been using products from Taiwanese companies for years and this is expected. I don’t think this diminished the overall experience and I’m not judging at all: I cannot imagine becoming even semi-fluent in any Asian language, as the speech patterns and tones are beyond me. Nonetheless, it is pleasantly comical to read when feeling out a new gadget.
The 1015PE comes with Windows 7 Starter, which I’ve heard many people complain about. My take on it is that Starter is perfect for a netbook. Many of the customization options are disabled and it doesn’t have Media Center enabled, but given the limited power of a netbook, this is a virtue. You don’t need all the bells and whistles of the more fully-featured versions on a netbook. If you think you do, you probably don’t need a netbook in the first place. I have no intentions on upgrading from Starter: Its light-and-lean feature set is exactly what this lilliputian machine needs.
To sum up, I’m happy with the 1015PE and would recommend it to anybody who needs a small machine with good battery life that is capable of consuming basic information.