Why a netbook doesn’t work for me

A few months ago, before joining CMI, I wrote a post soliciting advice on purchasing a new laptop for my graduate school.

Having considered many options, I decided to purchase an Acer Aspire One netbook. The reason behind this purchase was that I won’t be needing a powerful machine as I won’t be compiling kernels. At most I will be running some haskell programs. And I would be checking my e-mail.

So, after four months of using netbook here’s what I feel:

The good:

  • It’s lightweight and hence extremely portable. This is if immense use if you, like me have classes which are 18 km apart.
  • It’s got a brilliant battery life. I can charge it the previous night. Use it for the whole of next day, close to 6-7 hours of intense work. And it’ll still have some juice left in it.

The bad:

  • If you like to read the pdf’s on a computer without having to take a print out, netbook is a bad option. Because the screen size is so small, you’ll end up spending most of the time going back and forth if you quickly want to see what was mentioned in the start of the page.
  • I submitted almost all of my assignments in TeX+Pdf format, and I live Tex the notes in the class, which means that I do a lot of typing. The netbook is really inadequate if you have to do so much typing. The “page up” , “page down” keys are coupled with the “home” and “end” keys, which implies that you have to use the “Fn” key every now and then and it’s really irritating. The spacebar key is too small. You feel that you have very little space on the laptop to rest the base of your palm while typing. I use an external keyboard while I am in my room, but I cannot carry it along everywhere.
  • They should really really think of including a trackpoint (which all IBM thinkpads have) on netbooks. Because the touchpad almost always interferes when you are typing that too in ways you cannot even imagine. I get around this problem by switching off the touchpad, and switching it on when I need it. Nevertheless, this is not good.

But I guess, the product that is the netbook is aiming to serve a different set of people who are mostly into content consumption rather than content generation.

But this is not what I see happening in my case. Hence, I don’t see how netbook would serve my purpose in the future.

So, all you folks who would like to say “I told you so”, now is pretty much a good time.


About gautshen

A jack of many trades of which , Linux Kernel Programming puts food on the table. Also pursuing his PhD in the area Theoretical Computer Science at the Chennai Mathematical Institute. Is an avid reader interested in the Hindu traditions and philosophy. Loves Bicycling and Good Music. Name is Ranjal Gautham Shenoy.
This entry was posted in academia, experiences, reviews, tech and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Why a netbook doesn’t work for me

  1. Naren says:

    Resolution’s always going to be a problem with netbooks because of the cost factor. There *are* ultra-portables with great resolution, LED screens and 10 hour battery life, but they cost an arm and a leg.
    Keyboards are a different matter though. Sure, there are limitations because of the size of the netbook but some keyboards are designed to be much, much better that most of the riffraff. IBM and Apple keyboards are markedly more comfortable than the others. Not sure how IBM net books are, but the Thinkpads I’ve usd over the years have had one great feature – a good ergonomic keyboard!

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