January 15th, 2010
I am a big fan of thin and light notebooks. I’ve been using the 9″ EeePC 901 for awhile now, almost since it first came out. I initially loved it. The keyboard, while an obstacle, wasn’t as much as I feared. The thing got insanely long battery life (5-6 hours or more typical), and was so small that my laptop bag is a “DVD player bag”.
Now for the downsides. I am getting into a time where I’m spending more time on the laptop, and I’m starting to be far more acutely aware of them. #1 is performance. Let’s face it: the 901 is just a slow machine all-around. The video performance isn’t great, and I can watch the Thunderbird interface being drawn as it loads. But the real killer is the SSD storage. It is exceptionally slow, and gets in the way of multitasking in a serious way. (Syncing mail? Kiss performance in Firefox goodbye.)
Problem #2 is the 1024×600 screen. This is becoming a serious inconvenience, as when you combine the need to do a lot of scrolling with slow scrolling performance, the result is unpleasant. Coding is pretty difficult at that size.
#3 is the keyboard size. It is OK for light-duty work, but it is getting in the way for more serious work.
So I’m looking for a replacement. I’m thinking something in the 10″ to 12″ range, thin and light, would be ideal. My main criteria are size, weight, performance, and compatibility with Debian. Durability is an added plus as it will be riding in my bicycle bag on a regular basis.
This puts me in something of a grey area: there are netbooks in that range, and then there are machines like the Macbook Air (which may actually be a bit bigger than I’d like).
I have recently been hearing good things about the EeePC 1005PE (Atom N450) and the 1201N (N270 with Nvidia Ion). The 1201N seems to beat the 1005PE in terms of performance (especially video-related), but with far less battery life. I think I could live with the slower CPU, but the 1005PE still has only 1024×600 resolution, which would be a big problem for me.
Lenovo has an IdeaPad U150 with an 11.6″ 1366×768 screen, and in the 12″ size, they’ve got various options, both Atom and Core 2 Duo. The X200 and X200s look interesting, but lack a touchpad. (The X200s appears to be their long-lasting-battery version.) The HP EliteBook 2530p also looks interesting; it has a touchpad, but is heavier and appears to have inferior battery life to the X200s.
What ideas do people have?