View Full Version : Netbooks

January 5th, 2010, 08:04 PM
Let me start with a rant.

What happened to the humble netbook? They were meant to be small laptops, ultra portable, no optical drives, no moving parts and cheap cheap cheap.

To this end I used to have an Asus eeepc701SD. It was great, rubbish little celeron chip that ran at about 0.8MHz or something equally banal, 2GB RAM, 8GB SSD topped up with an 8GB SD card in the card reader. Battery life wasn't great great, but it would still last for a 4 hour lecture while I made notes on it, or in one of my modules lectures played games and probably learnt more relevant stuff from solitaire than the lecturer.

Over the holidays, the screen cracked. I don't know how, but it did, I used it to get online to find out why my laptop was dieing, put it back in its case, put it on the side, then when I got it out 2 days later, the screen was cracked. It also seems ASUS don't cover accidental damage in their warranty... Ho hum, we called the insurance people and found out it was covered by the house insurance, they put us onto the people they outside gadgetry to and we got a claim in.
Easy street.

So now, for my 170 netbook when new, they're sending me a 300 voucher for Comet.

Herein lies the reason for my rant. The netbooks at Comet are terrible, (in fact most modern netbooks are), overpriced, oversized and overmobile parts. They all come with HDD's, the smallest are around 10" and they're all over 200 (not that this matters too much with the voucher but still, it's the principle of the thing).

Anyway, I'm currently considering http://www.comet.co.uk/shopcomet/pro.../specification it has a decent battery life (with wifi off and brightness dimmed no doubt, but ideal for uni) and seems fairly solid in other respects and importantly has VGA out.

So, to the point of the thread, opinions please, or other recommendations on netbooks (from comet ofc). Does anyone have experience with the Samsung netbooks? Do they play nicely with Ubuntu, a problem that forever plagued me was Fn+F2 on my 701SD, it would start Wifi up happily, but freeze the eee when I tried to use it to stop wifi under Ubuntu.
I'm willing to go slightly above the 300, but not by much, >8 hours battery life is preferred, 10.1" is the largest I want to go screen wise, it also needs VGA output and I guess I'm stuck with a HDD as the only SSD netbook I can see they stock is 500, which is frankly disappointing.

Thank you for taking your time to read this far, and thank you in advance for any help that might be given.

January 5th, 2010, 09:00 PM
The link doesn't work for me, perhaps for everyone. If you had said the brand and model I could have found it. [smile]

The tiny screen, and especially the tiny keyboard pretty much killed the 7-inch netbook. Early solid-state disks often failed, hard drives are more reliable.

Have a look at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupport/Machines/Netbooks

January 5th, 2010, 09:06 PM
idk, i love my acer aspire 7" with hdd, $180 when i got it, no problems yet (expect for windows one day saying there was a new hardware called "net", though its not an issue)

though i still love my 350mhz 7gb hdd dell from 1998, going slow, but going strong

January 5th, 2010, 09:10 PM
I run 9.10 on a 701. I've just replaced metacity with openbox and it runs even better. My gf has an acer aspire one (one of the originals) and it has a much nicer keyboard than the 701 (my fingers are too stubby for the 701 apparently).

Anyway, my advice is don't buy your electronics from Comet (try amazon, ebuyer or bigpockets etc) and an acer aspire one will set you back about 200 and be alot better than the 701.

Or get a cheap laptop and get better hardware (dual core).

And ubuntu will run great on any of the machines you get. Even the 701. :)

January 5th, 2010, 09:20 PM
It's the SAMSUNG NP-N140-JA02UK for those that the link doesn't work for.

@ sisyphus1978, I had 9.10 on my eee and it ran great, I'll miss that machine, it worked far better than it had any right to.

I'm also stuck with Comet as that is the only place the voucher will work for as far as I know. Normally I'd go for one of the 200 netbooks, but as the voucher will be worth 300 I may as well use the full value of it.

The samsung looks attractive mainly due to it's battery life and the fact it does come with a VGA port.

January 5th, 2010, 09:27 PM
My dad upgraded from a 7014G to a Samsung NC10 or NC110, and it's a great machine. The Samsung netbooks tend to be top of class, or right next to the Dell Mini, a lot of the time.

January 5th, 2010, 09:32 PM
You dont need extremme hardware to run Ubuntu,
only if Virtualization, Rendering and such...

January 5th, 2010, 09:34 PM
Over the holidays, the screen cracked.

A netbook, with a screen cracked?

The perfect bedroom video player. I have mine connected to an old monitor for iPlayer viewing/video library viewing ....... amongst other things.

January 5th, 2010, 09:38 PM
Netbooks prices have been hiked up because their specs have been hiked up by a certain proprietary operating system provider that wanted to change the definition of a netbook. More specifically, this company wanted to ensure that ARM processors and various other things wouldn't become too popular because their operating system doesn't support such things.

They also wanted to make sure that the specs were beefed up in order to run their bloated software.

The fantastic idea of the netbook was killed by this company.

Thank you once again for your "innovation" Microsoft.

I'll always keep my EEE 701 to remind me of the good ol' days of Netbooks, before they became laptops for all intents and purposes.

January 5th, 2010, 10:23 PM
I'm running Ubuntu 9.10 on my Samsung NC-10 netbook, and it all works great. To install Ubuntu, I just let it boot from a Ubuntu live USB stick, and ... just installed it.

FWIW I bought the netbook a few months ago at J&R in NY for 320 USD ex VAT, which is 240 Euro incl VAT.

The Samsung NC-10 exactly fits in your 300 pound Comet voucher: http://www.comet.co.uk/shopcomet/product/522848/SAMSUNG-NP-NC10-KA02UK


EDIT: reason for the Samsung NC-10 was that it's GPU (GMA 950 / 945) is supported by Ubuntu/Linux. There are a lot of new netbooks with a certain Intel GPU (GMA 500) which is not supported by Linux. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_GMA#GMA_500_on_Linux , so you should avoid those netbooks.
So: GMA 950 / 945 is good, GMA 500 is bad.

January 6th, 2010, 11:58 AM
Cheers for that sanderj, and thanks to everyone else.

Looks like I may go for one of the Samsungs then, once I do a check on the GPU.

SAMSUNG N140 NP-N140-KA04UK seems to have everything I want, is the model down from the last one I posted but fits nicely in the 300 mark, still has 160GB of storage, more than I have in my laptop I think, now I know I'm resigned to a HDD. It also has GMA 950 GPU, so safe there.

January 6th, 2010, 12:37 PM
Trust me, you don't want a netbook with an SSD. The SSDs they put in these things are the slowest of the slow, with a read/write latency of up to 10 seconds. Yes, you heard correctly - it can take up to 10 seconds for the SSD to read any piece of data. It doesn't always take that long, but if you're doing a lot of reading or writing you'll hit a massive speed barrier.

And cheap SSDs actually get slower over time; well, all SSDs do, but the cheap ones don't have the TRIM functionality that works around the problem.

I'm looking at replacing my netbook's SSD with a hard disk.

What really annoys me about netbooks is that Microsoft's XP licensing terms basically killed netbook innovation. In order for an OEM to get licenses for Windows XP on netbooks, said netbooks had to have 1 GiB of RAM or less, an 11 inch screen or less, a single-core processor and 160 GiB of storage or less. All OEMs needed their netbooks to conform to these very low-end specs in order to ship Windows XP-based products. Sure, Linux netbooks weren't restricted to this, but why design two computers when you can just design one?

January 6th, 2010, 12:39 PM
I never had any issues with speed on my eee 701SD, and I used that daily for college stuff.

January 6th, 2010, 12:58 PM
Comet's product range isn't the sum total of all netbooks, nor are their prices the best.

You can easily get a decent netbook for 200 (http://www.ebuyer.com/product/179804) elsewhere.

The cheap and nasty 7" netbook (http://www.ebuyer.com/product/176955) concept is also still alive and well.

January 6th, 2010, 01:07 PM
I know, but thanks to the way the insurance company works, I'm stuck with Comet. :(

January 6th, 2010, 01:15 PM
Is it possible to get one of the 229 or this 250 (http://www.comet.co.uk/shopcomet/product/607614/ACER-AOD-250) option and use the balance to buy something else?

That one I've linked to is the one I would have if I could spend the change on something else. (high capacity battery) ;)

Anyway, a 300 voucher to compensate for a broken Eee7 series is definitely a good result!

January 6th, 2010, 01:34 PM
That isn't a bad idea, I'll do a search and see if they stock the batteries, or what else I might be able to grab for the remainder of the money. According to the people that sort this side of the insurance out I can spend the voucher on whatever I like in Comet, I'm going for the netbook as since I bought mine last year it really has made a difference to my note taking and college work.
But yes, 300 for my 701 is far more than I was ever expecting, I was expecting about 200 then having to make up any more myself.

January 6th, 2010, 01:56 PM
sorry to hear about the cracked screen,

but it annoys me also that netbooks seem to be getting bigger and bigger to the point where the're really just laptops.

January 6th, 2010, 02:00 PM
Cheers for that sanderj, and thanks to everyone else.

Looks like I may go for one of the Samsungs then, once I do a check on the GPU.

SAMSUNG N140 NP-N140-KA04UK seems to have everything I want, is the model down from the last one I posted but fits nicely in the 300 mark, still has 160GB of storage, more than I have in my laptop I think, now I know I'm resigned to a HDD. It also has GMA 950 GPU, so safe there.

I forgot to mention one more reason for the Samsung NC-10: good battery life; up to 6 hours.

January 6th, 2010, 02:01 PM
Aye, that's been my main bugbear for a while too. After I bought my eee a couple of the girls on my course bought netbooks of their own after seeing that yeah, they're quite useful.
They are both 10" with hard drives, which frankly, is too big for my liking, but I'm stuck, as that seems to be the current standard.

January 6th, 2010, 02:11 PM
I've got an EeePC 701 and I think it's grrreat. The Celeron M processor is a 900MHz chip - by default Asus had it underclocked to 640MHz or something similar, but I have it running at the full 900MHz. It's got a 4GB SSD (which I use in conjunction with a 4GB SD card) and it's so robust - I've dropped the thing dozens of times, yet it soldiers on. It's small enough to take anywhere, and it makes a briliant ebook reader. The keyboard is a bit cramped for extended use, but I don't generally type very long documents when I'm out and about; it's fine for email and posting in forums or blogs. It came with 512MB RAM, but I upgraded that to 2GB and it's pretty nippy. I've currently running Eebuntu Jaunty on it, and I'm not in any hurry to change that. It works great. It also makes for a good second computer at home: I attach an external monitor, full size keyboard and mouse and I'm away. Or I can lie in bed or on the sofa and read an ebook or newspaper website on the 7 inch LCD. Lovely.

I agree, it's a real shame that Asus discontinued the 701. If they sold 701s with Eeebuntu or similar installed and an 8 or 16GB SSD fitted, I reckon they'd fly off the shelves. I also think it's unfortunate that so many netbooks now come with conventional HDDs rather than SSDs. Solid state disks are the way of the future - it's ridiculous that so many machines still use the hard disk drive with all those moving and spinning parts. Drop an HDD and there's a good chance you've killed it. Drop a SSD, catch it as it bounces back and it'll still work fine. OP: find yourself a new 701. It'll probably take a while, but it'll be worth it.

January 6th, 2010, 02:21 PM
Some of those questions on Comets site are ROFL stuff.

I just posted an answer to one who wanted to know if 1gb is BIG memory and how many songs & pix can he fit on it ?

my answer (which I suspect will puggle his brain)

Actually RAM has very little to do with speed. (unless you run low on it) Think of RAM as your virtual work desk. Run out of room on your desk and you slow down because your Os (Operating System) has to start shuffling stuff around (paging to disk)

You could probably store around 300 songs ripped at a lowly 128kbps Mp3 format into RAM but the big question is ... WHY ? Your RAM is NOT your hard drive. Think of your hard drive as a cupboard or drawer, where you keep your stuff. When you want to play/use your stuff the Os (windows, Linux etc) then fetches your stuff and puts it on your virtual desk (RAM)

I believe you meant "Hard drive" and not RAM. So... If have a 160Gb HD and you rip your songs at 128kpbs then (off the top of my head) you could probably fit about 10,000 songs on it. I personally use flac but my Mp3's are ripped at 320.

Hope that's cleared that up !!

January 6th, 2010, 02:37 PM
Some of those questions on Comets site are ROFL stuff.

I just posted an answer to one who wanted to know if 1gb is BIG memory and how many songs & pix can he fit on it ?

my answer (which I suspect will puggle his brain)

Yeah, I think you just blew his mind.

January 10th, 2010, 05:40 PM
Well, I ended up getting the ASUS 1005HA-BLK030S (http://www.comet.co.uk/shopcomet/product/592978/ASUS-1005HA-BLK030S) as they didn't have the Samsung I'd been looking at, plus I'd read a throwaway comment that the wifi on the Samsung's can sometimes be tricky to get set up, a little search seemed to corroborate this.
So I got the Asus after my previous experience with their brand. So far, it's running like a dream.
I played around with the default install of Windows 7 Starter for a bit when I first booted her up, and found it wasn't that bad, but I'm an Ubuntu man at heart these days so set up a dual boot between Windows 7 and 9.10.

With 9.10, pretty much everything works, I've not found anything that doesn't yet, though I've heard that the microphone jack may not, but that isn't something I use anyway.
Battery life is a huge improvement on my old 701. So far I've had over 5 hours with the wifi on, full brightness and playing BBC iplayer constantly. If my experiences with my old eee hold true this should happily match the 8.5 hours promised with wifi off and brightness down etc.

The default Win7 install comes with eee gadgetry to change the clock speed to eke more battery life out of it. Can anyone point me in the direction of stuff to do that under Ubuntu? I remember that for the eeebuntu projects there was an eee software suite that did all that, wifi disabling, cpu speed changes etc, is there anything similar still around?

January 11th, 2010, 02:24 AM
If I were you, I'd try to replace the screen on your 701. Head over to eeeuser forum and get some advice on where to find a screen and how to install it.

January 11th, 2010, 02:31 AM
Currently, my 10-inch Acer Aspire One AOA110-1545 is really nice, boots in seconds with Google Chrome OS (build instructions here ('http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os')), and has an Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor, plus an 8GB SSD and 1GB RAM. Overall, it works perfect for me.

January 11th, 2010, 08:20 AM
Hey, Look- S'nother berk!


January 11th, 2010, 04:03 PM
Hi Berk, good to meet you.

January 11th, 2010, 05:38 PM

I have a mini 9 w/16gb hd, 2gb ram and 9.10.

Runs perfectly.


January 19th, 2010, 10:35 PM
OP is crazy IMO. You want an 8gb ssd instead of a real hard drive, or a 7" screen over a 10" screen??

My Asus 1000HE has a 10" screen, gets 6-9 hours of battery life, and has a 160gb hard drive. Any smaller of a screen and it would be useless for all but typing notes perhaps. 10" is enough to actually be used as a real laptop, while remaining ultra portable and having a battery life far beyond anything regular notebook users can dream about.

I watch movies on mine all day when its not being used for work, play music, browse the web, and play with operating systems (though my current Ubuntu desktop 9.10 install has been here a bit and I doubt ill re changing it as my main os, I absolutely love it).

January 19th, 2010, 11:37 PM
I'm glad someone's asking about this because I have been wanting to say good things about mine.

I didn't want a netbook like the EE because of the lack of a big enough hard drive, so I was excited when I saw the Acer (?) netbooks with a 160g standard HDD for ~$300 at Walmart.

Later on, when I had some cash I COULD burn they came out with another deal from Emachines (Yeah, I know most people's take on them, but I've had great experiences with them) with basically the same specs for $228.

1.6 gHz Intel Atom
1g RAM
10.1 inch screen (reasonable keyboard and mouse for its size)
250 GB HDD (Better deal)

It comes with Windows 7 starter standard, BUT, even being a Linux nut I'm pleasantly surprised by it and you have plenty of space to make a dual boot if wanted.

I don't know if this option of computer is available from that supplier, but, you can search for Emachines 250-1162 for an idea.

EDIT: BTW, the battery life is reasonable at about 4+/- hours.

January 20th, 2010, 12:25 PM
Well I was hoping to be able to buy an ARM Netbook by now. CES has been and gone and still no-one is stocking/selling ARM Netbooks.

This 300 in my wallet is starting to burn a hole !!

January 20th, 2010, 12:32 PM
swagman, i have a fireproof wallet, you could always send that 300 this way.