Netbooks. What I Like About These And What I Don't Enjoy About These

Computers & Technology

  • Author Stephen Drummonsy
  • Published January 26, 2011
  • Word count 1,108

The spouse has recently left her employment. I am now lucky enough to be supporting her full time - which is nice. Naturally, when she left her employment, she left behind all of her technical equipment as well. Obviously, her mobile phone needs replacing - I am still negotiating this buy with her. I am trying to get her to just accept a 2nd hand iphone 3GS. (I would like the iphone 4), but it really isn't going well at this point in time. I will keep you posted.

Now, naturally there's her laptop. Amongst her complaints about her work laptop was its heaviness and size. Having to drag it around the city from meeting to meeting resulted in a miserable evening for me, listening to her moaning regarding the ache in her back and shoulders. On the worst days, it would mean a washed out half hour for me massaging the affected regions. So, when she asked for a replacement, and knowing that she still travels a lot, I suggested a Netbook. An Acer Aspire One. An incredibly attractive piece of kit in white. Let us go through the specifications:

Acer Aspire One 531 Perfect for mobile computing

10.1" Widescreen (1024x600)

Intel® Atom™ N270 1.6GHz CPU

160GB Hard Drive

Microsoft Windows 7 Starter

1GB DDR2 Memory

Built in Wi-Fi

Integrated Acer Crystal Eye VGA Webcam

3 x USB 2.0, RJ45 10/100, Mic Input, Headphone Output

Built in Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g

Built in SD Card Reader

VGA Output

power source gives 7 hours mains free operation

12 Month Warranty

So, what's good about it?

The battery lasts for quite a long time:

That is exceptional. The battery life lasts for days, which makes this a very mobile device. So, on a practical note, you are able to place it within your handbag (or the wife can) and never worry about taking the power adaptor with you. A huge plus point.

The physical size:

It is small, portable and you can actually bring it everywhere. The wife puts it in her handbag and takes it out with her daily. And she says she is very pleased with its weight being so light. So I do not have any more moaning.


When I purchased it around 5 months ago, it was somewhere around £300. Which I thought was pretty realistic. I think you can now get the same spec. machine for around £250.

What's bad about it?

It is underpowered:

Being quite honest, it is quite a struggle running Windows 7 on the netbook. It is not only that it isn't fast. It feels underpowered. You can not use a netbook in the same way as you use a laptop or PC. The main thing you will notice is you will probably have to become much more disciplined. You are not going to get away with opening multiple applications and several different browser tabs. It has much more linear. You are going to have to carry out tasks one at a time.

Now, while my wife does not really find this much of a problem, there is one point that really annoys her. It just doesn't appear to have enough resources for running Skype effectively. The camera within the netbook is fairly average anyway, but even when you have closed all the other applications, it sometimes won't have enough resources to run Skype. And then you find yourself tinkering with the task manager to shut down system processes to allow it to operate. This is very irritating, because, invariably I can't be bothered. I may be watching Coach Trip or something equally riveting. I have stop watching my program to boot up my laptop and play with it to allow her onto Skype so she is able to chat with her parents and her sister, who live in Australia. A proper annoyance.

The screen:

For me, it is just a little too small. On facebook for instance, you need to scroll up and down to find the following and previous image tabs. Just a little irritating. It's the vertical size of the screen that's most annoying. Titles and headings appear to be just below the visible screen so you're constantly using the trackpad or keypad to read them. This actually makes surfing the internet harder than on the smart phone. The iphone for instance has more vertical space which means you scroll up and down less frequently.

The keyboard

As a final point, the keyboard. For me, it is just a bit too small. The wife has smaller fingers than I do. And she also said that it took a couple of weeks to get used to it, but now she has no problem. Perhaps, I could get familiar with it after a couple of weeks too. But my fingers are like paddles and I kept finding that I hit 2 keys instead of one.

The lack of the DVD drive:

'Obviously, it has not got a DVD drive - it is a netbook!' I explained to my missus. But the other half says that she misses it because she likes to watch a DVD when she is on the train, or at least possess the option to watch a DVD. For me this isn't a serious drawback. You can get the film in a compressed format and put it onto a flash disk. But, she is not as excited about technology as I am. You simply can't please some people.

And so the conclusion:

Well, for what it is, you cannot really have many complaints. It's small and lightweight, and also the power source lasts a long time. My wife seems pleased with it overall and that's who I bought it for after all. And if it had been perfect, she wouldn't have anything to complain about, so we probably wouldn't talk at all.... For my part, I would not purchase a netbook again. I would probably buy a medium sized laptop. Something that has a minimum of a 12" screen and suitable CPU. It is my opinion the netbook is simply too slow and does not multi task very nicely. The screen and keyboard are just a bit too small. For surfing the net on the go, It is my opinion the iphone is perfectly adequate. Although I wouldn't do serious surfing using the iphone, maybe just to look up things on IMDB for instance, I almost certainly wouldn't want to do any real surfing using the netbook either.

So what's the answer:

Employ a huge man to carry around a full size laptop for you or, failing that, surely, it's got to be a significant sized laptop which has a minimum 12 inch screen along with a smartphone. Covers all bases.

This doesn't cover all which is involved, but hopefully I have given you an insight into what is involved. You can find an abundance of ebooks and such stuff that you can find on the internet. I always go to a company called computer repair london. They do not just repair pcs, they also provide IT support as well and they really are always helpful if you get mystified on anything technical.

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