I haz Netbook: First Impressions
As my old and battered laptop is now officially a dead old and battered laptop, we picked up a replacement yesterday. It’s a Packard Bell dot s netbook. Yeah. I know. Silly name. That’s why I called mine Oscar instead. Good name for a netbook, Oscar.
I’ll be writing a full hands on review of this teeny tiny ‘puter, but in the meantime here’s 10 things to know about Oscar (in no particular order).
- He’s red. C’mon – given the choice between a red or a black, who wouldn’t pick red?
- 250Gb hard drive. That’s a quarter terrabyte of storage in something which fits under my arm. My first computer had two 720k 3.5″ floppy drives and no hard disk so numbers like that still boggle my mind. That’s two hundred and fifty thousand megabytes, people! And yes, I will fill it.
- Intel Atom N280 processor and 1Gb memory. That’s 1.66Ghz in speed so only marginally faster than the icky Celeron 1.5Gz on the old laptop, but it feels much faster thanks to Hyperthreading. It might also be due to the fact that…….
- It’s running Windows 7. On a teeny-tiny netbook? Oh yes. And it’s great – quick, efficient, reasonably unobstrusive (for Microsoft) and streets ahead of Vista in terms of…. well, everything really. This is the Starter Edition which means I can’t change the desktop background (thankfully, it’s quite nice), no DVD playback (there’s no DVD drive anyhow) and no multi-monitor support. None of those are deal-breakers for me, and can most likely be fixed with other apps.
- The screen is bloody gorgeous. No, really. I was going to go for the Samsung N110 but in the netbook line-up this screen shone. It’s bright, sharp, clean and just plain superb. It’s streets ahead of any of the other netbook screens out there. With a resolution of 1024×600 I highly recommend using winsupermaximize to reclaim some screen estate. This is a tiny free app which removes the titlebar from any window when you press WIN-F11. Set the taskbar to auto-hide and that resolution is more than enough, even for…………
- DAZ Studio. Oh yes. It works. I can render on a netbook. I am happy. Both DAZ Studio 2.3 and 3 work thanks to the (better than I expected) Intel 945 chip. That supports OpenGL 1.4 – not exactly cutting edge but more than up to the task for my needs. Just remember: Hardware Optimization needs to be turned off in the options or that baby will crash. When it comes to rendering, it’s twice as fast as my old lappy. Which is nice.
- There’s a scroll wheel in my touchpad. Slide my finger up and down the right edge of the touchpad and the window scrolls. I like that.
- Less pre-installed crud than you’re expect, but still more than you’d want. The netbook comes with Microsoft Works and Photoshop Elements all set up and ready to use, which is great – this is a netbook you really can pick up and be working with right from the start. It took an age to successfully remove the useless piece of in-your-face malware crap that is jokingly called Norton Internet Security though. The netbook also comes “complete” with a horde of poor quality game demos (just install Torchlight instead, ok?) and trial versions of Microsoft Office. Into the bit-bucket they go!
- Battery life. They claim 6 hours, I believe ’em, and more. I used it for 4 hours last night sans power-lead and it still reported 43% charge remaining. That’s while I was throwing together a couple of test renders, installing and de-installing and generally hammering the poor baby into submission. I’ve read reviews of this netbook which say it’s good for 6 hours solid use or up to 9 hours general light service and I see nothing to say they’re lying. That’s basically a full day between charges, folks. Techhead nirvana.
- The keyboard. Yes, it’s smaller than I’m used to and some of the keys (the TAB key most of all) are too darned small, but after a day of getting used to it I’m touch-typing like a pro again without making too many mistaeks. The keys have decent travel and bounce nicely as you press ’em. Just like me.
Overall, I think me and Oscar are going to get along just fine.