June 17, 2008

First days with the Eee PC

I got one two weeks ago, after being thinking about it for a few weeks (my first bump with an Eee PC was in XKCD).

The little machine is a wonder. Right now I moved my email, browsing, reading and note taking tasks to it, and probably a few others will end up in it as well.

For a long time I was using PortableApps to keep my email and browser on the move, and even than they are very good the lack of a processor makes the operation too slow in many situations. The limit case is when we are traveling, specially in Argentina. The last time there I didn’t carry a laptop but a USB stick, and external USB disk and my PDA (an Axim x51v, which is very good as well), and they run short of features all the time. Now I have the same portable setup as before, but running in the Eee, and I am addicted.

I have a model 700 4G, with Thunderbird as my email client, Firefox 3 for browser, KeePass to manage my passwords, Acrobat Reader (for PDFs) and FBReader (for CHMs) for my reading activities, VLC and SMPlayer for videos and Amarok to collect podcasts (I use Google Reader for the blogs).

The screen is a bit tight, but can be used perfectly to read books and play videos. I was thinking of getting an Amazon Kindle, but now that option looks very remote (I like the idea of a longer life battery, but is not reason enough to get a specialized computer).

Browsing is OK, in particular since I installed Firefox 3. Going full screen and using the new zoom functionality allows me to manage most of my browsing tasks in the Eee.

Thunderbird is more complicated, because with the menus and lists there is no room for the actual messages. In my laptop I have a three panels setup, which is fast and easy to use (I have many email addresses, and moving between them is messy without the address panel), and receive many emails on each, then the preview is very handy to deal with emails promptly. In the Eee I have two panels only, without preview, and that is the thing that I like less in this machine. I didn’t try to work with an external monitor, may be that could be an option.

In my case, the killer activity for the Eee PC is reading. Since we moved to Ireland I am trying to keep a limited number of books on paper (my whole library is still waiting in Argentina until I can have a bigger house), and I tried a number of different devices to read my electronic books (the more successful were the Palm Vx, Palm 515 and the Axim for literature, and an HP Jornada 700 for books with graphics) and none of them covered all the requisites. I will probably keep using the Axim and Palm 515 a lot, but they are not the main readers anymore.

The keyboard is OK. Note taking is another thing which made me try a lot of devices as well (including some old machines which worked surprisingly well, appart from the problem of moving the notes to the PC), and now I am doing most of the writing in the Eee. I was thinking about pluging a keyboard, but didn’t try yet.

I am so happy with this machine, that past night bought a 900 model for Flor :)