Thank you to Craig who posted this on his blog. Made me laugh!
Having been on my netbook all weekend I decided it was time for a more detailed review. Also took a few more photos and can talk about the accessories I bought for it. This is not a technical review with lots of benchmarking and that kind of thing. It’s just one user’s opinion.
A great, value for money little netbook which is fun to use. Sharp bright screen, decent keyboard, surprisingly good battery life, stylish looks, ‘OK’ sound and decent specs in all other respects. Highly recommended.
Coke can included for scale
The 10″ screen is sharp and colourful and I’m perfectly pleased with it. Is very bright. I turned ClearType on pretty much straight away as that improves ALL screen text regardless of what machine you’re using. Am surprised Microsoft don’t enable that as standard. No dead pixels either. The resolution is 1024×600 and the graphics card (built in) supports multiple monitors, rotation of the screen, etc. For someone used to a 21″ Dell wide-screen with 1600x pixels wide, I thought this notebook would prove hard work but it hasn’t at all. The small screen is fine. I’ve also streamed media (BBC iPlayer) and picture clarity is sharp and decent.
Very good. Much better than I thought it would be. I believe it’s full size, too. The only key that takes getting used to is the right hand shift button. I touch-type (and thus don’t need to look at the keyboard as I type) and have had no problems. I also like how the keys feel when you type.
This is on the small side. I’ve never been a fan of trackpads, probably because I’ve never generally speaking been a fan of laptops. I found it fine to use. It’s not the fastest to get around but the same can be said for most trackpads. I’ve upgraded to a Microsoft Wireless Notebook USB 6000 cordless mouse anyway which negates any concerns I may have about ease of use of the trackpad.
It’s too new for me to have fully put this through its paces. I’ve read it can go 7 hours without recharging (including using the wireless). Of course the screen will be dimmer to conserve power but that’s fine. The default setting is almost too bright for me anyway.
I’ve not had a laptop before so I can’t compare it with anything. I stream media all day long and have had no breaks in service. My wifi is next door but the walls are very thick (1930s apartment building). So that’s good. I’ve read in reviews I’d also looked at that the wifi was strong and good at not dropping which appears to be true.
I think it’s sturdily built. I don’t have much to compare it with. Feels solid. USB slots on both sides. Power input on left side (I could have done with it on the back as my new netbook case has rear vent) but that’s just a minor point. Hinges and whatnot feel fine. I have the black model and love it. That said, I’m sure I’d have been happy with the white version too.
The onboard speakers are somewhat tinny, there’s no getting away from that. Perfectly fine for playing digital radio through and also MP3s, but if you’re an audiophile you may be more demanding. That said, the headphone socket delivers good quality audio through headphones and I imagine would do through external speakers too.
Seems decent to me. Office 2003 runs no probs at all. I have masses of pages in Firefox all running fine. I have Avira antivirus running in the background and Comodo firewall too (both are free). It does not appear ‘sluggish’ at all.
I’m using Picasa 3 (which is free) to edit photos including RAW files from my Nikon D50 and they open and edit no problem at all. No noticeable performance slowdowns. Copying large files between folders and from my external hard drive is also very fast.
There is an SD slot for camera memory cards. This is ideal as both my Nikon D50 SLR uses SD as does my Casio point & shoot.
I’ve bought a Microsoft Wireless Netbook 6000 USB mouse which is £20 down from £30 at PC World and Currys at the moment. Works fine and very accurate.
I’ve also bought a Swordfish netbook carry case (a little steep at £22) from PC World but fits the netbook perfect (it’s the 10″ model of the case).
Some photos on the slideshow below. Higher res images on my flickr page.
Yesterday I wiped the hard drive and reinstalled the operating system. This is because my PC had slowed down sooo much it was becoming painful. It had been 2.5 years since the last reinstall and I’d installed so many games and other applications over that time, the hard drive was littered with crap.
The reinstall went OK. I managed to find my recovery disk which has Windows XP on it. I also managed to find my product number. After the reinstall I couldn’t get broadband to work, no matter what I tried. The network card would not recognise the incoming broadband connection. I was going to Sheridan’s in the evening anyway, so took a USB stick and went to the website of the motherboard (ASUS A32-SLI deluxe something) and got the drivers there. After dinner when I returned home, I installed the drivers and the broadband now works fine.
My broadband supplier is Be Unlimited and there are no settings to faff with – they pre-program the router for you, so you literally just plug it into the network port on the PC and then you’re good to go. I have the fast 32 MB speed connection which you get if you’re in London. It also has built-in wireless (which I’m not using, yet, but sure will do when I get a netbook!)
It was now time to put back all the software that inevitably got wiped when I did the clean install.
I remembered that the freeware antivirus program AVG (version 8.) had seriously slowed down my PC when I’d upgraded to it a few months ago. So I decided this time not to use that. I’ve become a fan of this Gizmo’s Tech Alert website which recommends freeware (free software, i.e. open source. Not to be confused with ‘pirate’ software. This is genuinely free software).
So for antivirus I’m now using Avira Antvir Personal Free edition. It’s a European anti-virus product from Germany. I’m a little bad in that I’ve disabled the nag screen (the one that encourages you to buy the retail product) by following these instructions. It’s not really that bad, you’re just disabling an occasional nag screen.
For my firewall I’m now using Comodo (freeware) which seems to be doing a decent job. In the past I used ZoneAlarm free version but that seems to have fallen out of favour a bit.
To keeps other bugs and malicious software at bay I’m using SuperAntiSpyware (freeware).
My PC was also in dire need of defragmenting to speed it up. I’m using Defraggler (freeware) which appears to have done a good job.
For disk burning I’ve downloaded CDBurnerXP (freeware) though haven’t had call to use it yet.
For music playing I’m making do with Windows Media Player 11. I started using this a few months ago and now quite like it. I guess others use iTunes.
For my internet browser I’m making do with Firefox which I’ve always quite liked. Re: plug-ins I’m using the British dictionary and also Twitterfox. In time I may put in others. I also get all new blog posts to automatically send a message to twitter by using Twitterfeed.
I’m not using a screensaver, nor a desktop image. I have a grey background and icons set to large. My monitor is quite big – it’s a Dell widescreen and the resolution is 1680×1050 (I’ll get a shock when I move down to a netbook, no doubt!)
I do have an old version of Microsoft Office 2003 somewhere so I will probably re-install that, rather than opting for open source freeware. It goes without saying that I won’t be paying £££££££ for Photoshop or Lightroom but I’m sure they’ll find their way back on to my PC eventually. That said, I like the super slimmed down speedy PC I now have and don’t want to install much (don’t worry, I definitely am still getting a netbook!!).
Any software I’ve missed or to be recommended? Freeware? This post may only appeal to the nerdier blog readers out there. Do check out that Gizmo’s best ever freeware page though, as it’s good.