I have been thinking about it some time now, Â what to take as computing device on the road.
When I am traveling my faithful Ipaq (4350) serves me well, since 2006. Playing mp3, watching video, it all went well. Accessing internet via wireless if available. And will do so in the future, good in the airplane or train or bus for music and movies. With three batteries I can fill several hours,
It is old by currentÂ standards,Â and replacement by a modern pda will be Â expensive, since they became smart phones like Windows Mobile or Android based.
ButÂ a pda/smartphoneÂ could not offer me the support I need for my kind of usage and as complement toÂ the electronic devicesÂ Â I take along on my travels. A simple digital photo camera hasÂ changed into a CanonÂ 710IS and now a Canon 1000D dslr. Video has changed from a mini-dv type to a flash based Canon FS100. And all these equipment, from Ipaq to photoo and video have something in common:Â SD flash cards. The amount and size grows each year, for music, and photo and video files. Nice to save a copy on a hard disk and do some editing early. And store fresh music and movies on the Ipaq.
Another missing feature was true internet access. Wireless, and better fixed ethernet. And a modern browser is better, many sites fail at the limited browser of the Ipaq.
One cant program on the Ipaq. My work on Pascal in Delphi for example,Â often the opportunity is there, the tool is not.
The alternative is taking a fullsize notebook. I did so in 2007 to Venezuela, and again in april 2009 to Berlin.Â A bit heavy and bulky to be honest, but what a luxury.
The solutionÂ is available, and has now become affordable:Â a netbook. I choose the Acer Aspire One D250. The lower price model, itÂ willÂ not be Â the day to day working horse.Â Â Small, 10 inch display, 1024×600 resolution. Capable cpu, Â likeÂ most netbooks it has an Intel Atom N270, 160 GB hard disk, wirelles, ethernet, vga connector and ofcourse a SD slot (SDHC accepted). Audio out,Â microphone in, webcam. 3x USB.Â Windows XP home.Â Small! 3 cell battery, so I wont expect it to last over 2 or 3 hours.
What I found installing all my favorites:
– XP is XP. Quite boring actually, just supports every aspect of this PC. Wireless works without a glitch, second monitor (1280×1024) functions fine, sound from internal speakers is ok, and via headphones it is good. Reading and writing SD cards is fast and painless.
XP home, all my other installations are Professional. So simpler file sharing,w which is mfine, Â and no remote desktop!Â VNC comes to the rescue, butÂ I do miss RDP.Â
The keyboard is small but easy to type on. The touchpad and mouse keys are small also, but work fine. It is the display where the netbook really shows its limitations. It is bright, easy to read, though small in size. The resolution is a problem for some applications, they just expect 1024×768 as a minimum and cant be resized smaller. That is against the Windows UI rules, but Adobe seems not to care 😉
Everything I have thrown on it works:
– Adobe photoshop 7. Does expect a height of 768 and refuses to resize to 600. The work area is visible and editing is fine.
– Adobe Premiere Elements 7. No problem here, video plays smoothly.
– GOM Player, VLC player, Winamp. The divxÂ movies show fine. The screen really works well for video. Big improvement on the Ipaq.
– Â It is just boring old XP, everything works fine. I have seen Adobe products being confused by resolutions on other machines too, so thats nothing new.
– The CPU and 2 GB memory make it a workable machine.Â OfcourseÂ in classic mode and optimal display settings for performance!
– Acer did try to polluteÂ the machine with unnnecessary gimmicks, Â , so uninstalling garbage took some time.
I am sure that the full functionality, the Â low weight and small size and acceptable perfomance will make it a pleasureÂ to take this machine along on the road!