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The quest for a new netbook

Topics: 
Computers

Netbooks are laptops done right. I had no idea how true this was before I actually bought a netbook myself. While only being slightly larger than a DVD-cover, my eeePC-900 was so portable, I've taken it with me around the world, both for work and holiday trips. My eeePC has been indeed so successful, it has completely wiped out my need for my laptop, which has been mostly gathering dust since the netbook purchase.

However, a (first generation) netbook still has some serious disadvantages :

  • disk is mostly a combination of SSD and SD, and very limited in space.
  • the keyboard is way too small to type comfortably
  • the battery is very limited in life expectancy.

My new netbook had to overcome those three limitations. Not a big deal, since most current netbooks deal with this already. In addition, I wanted a minimum of 2GB RAM and a CPU with virtualization possibilities. As I was very happy with the eeePC line, I almost opted for a eeePC-1201HA, which sports the Z520 CPU, which had Intel-V support. Unfortunately, the netbook got slaughtered in every review because of its slow performance.

My final choice was the Samsung N220 Premium Plus, a N450 based laptop with 2GB RAM and a 350GB hard disk. As the laptop is red, I feared a bit for too much of hardware bling, but the color is nicely darkish red, so it doesn't scream out in a meeting room. So far, I've been really happy with the netbook itself. The following are only (very) minor annoyances, but indeed are things that could have been better :

  • If some netbook manufacturer brands a netbook with a Premium label, I expect the least they can do, is to include a pouch with it. As a netbook gets carried along everywhere, you want a cover for it to avoid excessive scratching, unless it is not made in plastic. No pouch with my edition, though I've heard that latest Samsung netbooks come again with this addition.
  • The Power button comes in some sort of a slide button, which is on the front of the netbook. A true button would have been better, and would have been better if been protected by the lid.
  • If the lid is closed, it is very hard to see if the netbook has been suspended, as the LEDs are hidden by the lid itself.

What is exellent is that netbook is completely silent : the hard disk is perfectly mute, and the fan makes only a slight noise under high stress. The netbook comes with Windows 7 Home Premium Edition, which starts its installation when you power on for the first time. The good thing is that it lets you choose the partitioning, so the hard disk is split by default into 3 partitions :

  • first partition carries the Windows7 OS
  • the second partition is a 14GB restore partition
  • the third is an empty D-drive, which can be used for data & installed programs.

In a next post, I'll describe what tweaks were necessary to install & use a 64bits Ubuntu on the 3rd partition.