My netbook experience
Before I moved to Berlin last year, I wanted to have a netbook which would allow me to do a few basic things:
- Take notes during class on Google Docs
- Capable of 3D graphics for basic game programming and gaming
- Long battery life
So I got myself an ASUS Eee PC 1215n about 5 months ago. This is a kind of a personal review on the netbook and how it was useful (or not) to me.
Positive things to note
The main purpose I bought the netbook was to write down stuff during classes. That just works perfect. Except math classes. To me, it's easier to write down formulas on paper rather than using the word formula editor. Pen and pencil is just way more efficient when it comes to formulas.
It's a real lightweight and it's small enough to fit in my backpack. That's a huge benefit for me. Previously I would use an extra laptop bag for my father's laptop. Now I have all the stuff in my backpack which makes things a lot more comfortable.
Another important thing to me is the battery power. My current university schedule includes days where I'm at university all the day. While there is always access to some power supply, I wanted to be sure my netbook could run all day, taking only notes on Google Docs. That's totally possible. I just have to make sure unnecessary program aren't running in the background and the screen brightness is turned to its lowest setting. Disabling wireless LAN and Bluetooth also saves a lot of battery power.
What's not as good
Programming at small resolutions requires some getting used to. On Windows, if you use an IDE like Code::Blocks you just don't see a lot of code at all. It can be difficult to understand how a function works just because you have to scroll to see the rest of the function. I am used to at least one big widescreen display to program stuff (Having two at home). So I actually didn't get around to program stuff on my laptop AT ALL. The screen is just too small for some serious programming.
Another thing is the CPU. When I was running XNA stuff, which requires Visual Studio, the CPU is running at 100%. Not to mention the memory consumption, which is always at maximum with Visual Studio and Firefox running.
What I didn't know at the time I bought the netbook was that we would program using Ubuntu Linux. We simply use gedit and compile the files via the terminal right now. Not using an IDE. So I removed Windows 7 and installed Ubuntu on my netbook. Sadly, at the time I tried that, ION graphics support wasn't complete and all the benefits in terms of power saving were gone on Linux. So back to Windows again. I'm not sure what has changed by now but I'm happy with Windows 7 right now. I probably should dedicate a few blog posts to running Linux on a 1215n at some point..
Overall I'm happy that I have a device where I can save notes on Google Docs during class. Except for math stuff I can easily search for things I wrote down and categorize stuff in a nice way.