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mattgarvin mattgarvin is offline
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Default The Ultimate Netbook is...? - 02-24-2009, 03:04 PM

When I saw a Mini 9 on sale I jumped on the chance to get one. I had a feeling these little gems "slipped under the radar" and may not be around soon. I want the smallest fully functional computer I can get that is durable, upgradeable, and runs XP. In these respects, the Mini 9 is as good as it gets right now, IMO.

For my purposes, here is what the "ultimate Netbook" would be. Ideally, "Netbooks" would be getting smaller and more powerful. In my mind, they could get down to the size to half of what they are now, where you flip them open and have to type with your thumbs, but still have a screen with 1024xwhatever. (Horizontal resolution is what matters IMO). The VGA out would be 1280x1024 (standard 17" LCD), there would still be the three USBs, they would be upgradeable to 4Gb RAM, they would have a 128Gb SSD that is fast. They would have "real" video cards or at least dedicated video hardware.

In a nutshell, the Dream Machine WOULD be a supersmall desktop replacement. You could just plug into a Monitor and a USB hub with all your peripherals hooked up, and it would do the job of your current fullsize PC. But in a pinch it would work as a Netbook that you wirelessly connect to the internet with and type with your thumbs.

Sadly, I see things going the opposite way. Netbooks getting bigger instead of smaller. And the Mini 10 with its crippled RAM upgradeability says to me that Microsoft doesn't want these things to compete with desktops they can force their latest OSs on. They want them as extras, not replacements.

- Matt


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psyopper psyopper is offline
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Default Re: The Ultimate Netbook is...? - 02-24-2009, 03:07 PM

What you have so eloquently described already exists as a platform referred to as a Mobile Internet Device - MID. Go on over to www.engadget.com and do a search for MID and see what turns up.


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jjkrueger jjkrueger is offline
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Default Re: The Ultimate Netbook is...? - 02-24-2009, 03:42 PM

For much of my business computing, I used to half-jokingly say that all I needed was a docking station for my Blackberry so that it could drive a monitor and use a standard keyboard and mouse.

That largely holds true today - my general work is done in documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. For that, the netbook is great. I can plug in an external display (and drive 1680x1050 on my 20" LCD all day) and a full-size keyboard and mouse, and blammo! - I can work. For all the technical heavy lifting I have to do, I have my lab setup, or a client data center with incredibly more computing horsepower to do the job.

My Mini9 has the same basic specs today as the Inspiron 8600 I bought 5 (maybe 4) years ago. 1.6GHz CPU, 2GB RAM, 30GB storage, wired and wireless networking, USB2. The difference is that the Mini weighs a little more than 1/3 what the 8600 weighed, runs 200% longer unplugged, and costs 1/6th what I paid for the 8600. Sure, the screen's smaller, but that's ok.

What you described is coming, at least at the pricepoint of current netbooks. Most of what you're looking for can be had today, were money no object and the right host platform choice. You can get a 128G SSD in many systems today, it's just in the form factor of a standard hard disk, rather than the mini-PCIe form factor we're seeing on many netbooks. The exception is RAM upgradeability. Today, upgrades come at a cost. Dedicated video has a cost. Larger RAM scalability has a cost. Larger non-volatile storage has a cost. But sometimes that cost is not money. More powerful graphics processing draws more power. More RAM support requires a different chipset - again, more power. Larger SSDs - more power. All of this power draw generates heat, which require a cooling system - which draws more power. Part of the appeal of the netbook is how long it can be used off the grid. The batteries in these things are exceptionally limited by size. Sure, I could add all the stuff to make this a "super-netbook", but at what cost? I would be able to run unplugged for 45 minutes? No thanks. I've got a desktop-replacement class laptop to cover me there.

More powerful, but smaller portables are always on the horizon. But as with anything related to miniaturization, patience is necessary. The smallest stuff today is more powerful than the biggest stuff from yesterday, but larger and less feature complete than tomorrow's.

Mobile Internet Devices are getting there, but are still relatively far off from your "Dream Machine" spec. As it stands, the MID and netbook form factors _are_ extras, and never intended for the replacement of a primary computing device. Netbooks are getting bigger to support things that the manufacturers think people want - 720P video, for example - you can't get that with most (not all) 8.9" screens that we're seeing. Some of that is due to technical limitation, some is due to platform requirements placed by someone in the process.

Of course Microsoft doesn't want netbooks to run their latest and greatest - the OS is a revenue stream for them, no matter how big (perceived) or how small (more realistic). The hardware vendors don't want the netbooks to run the latest and greatest - they don't want to cannibalize their own market share. That's just business.

Just my 2 cents,
-jk
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Heraclitus Heraclitus is offline
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Default Re: The Ultimate Netbook is...? - 02-24-2009, 08:21 PM

You can write here, guys: http://www.wepc.com/
Either your next little thing or your ultimate desire.
I named mine HOL9000. Do you guess why?
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