Thursday, July 30, 2009

Buying my Chrome OS (XP) Netbook

Apple saved me some money the other day.

Apple persuaded me that I should forego a MacBook Air or new MacBook in favor of a netbook running Google Chrome atop creaky old Windows XP.

Thanks Apple.

I thought of waiting for Windows 7, but then reality spoke up. Regardless of what anyone might say, I know that Windows 7 won’t really work on a paltry Netbook. In any case Microsoft will pull XP from the market, jack up the price of the OS, and try to push everyone to high end machines (Ballmer has said as much publicly).

Makes more sense for me to buy an XP Netbook before Win 7 comes out, and just run Chrome and Windows Live Writer. It will be my preview version of Chromestellation.

I’m going to need a companion data service, but I’ll add that as a dongle or use the Verizon MiFi (No love for AT&T here) …

… the Novatel MiFi 2200, available from Verizon starting in mid-May ($100 with two-year contract, after rebate). It’s a little wisp of a thing, like a triple-thick credit card. It has one power button, one status light and a swappable battery that looks like the one in a cellphone. When you turn on your MiFi and wait 30 seconds, it provides a personal, portable, powerful, password-protected wireless hot spot…

…The MiFi gets its Internet signal the same way those cellular modems do — in this case, from Verizon’s excellent 3G (high-speed) cellular data network. If you just want to do e-mail and the Web, you pay $40 a month for the service (250 megabytes of data transfer, 10 cents a megabyte above that). If you watch videos and shuttle a lot of big files, opt for the $60 plan (5 gigabytes)…

…If you type into your Web browser’s address bar … the MiFi’s settings pages magically appear. Now you can do geeky, tweaky tasks like changing the password or the wireless network name, limiting access to specific computers, turning on port forwarding …

…The MiFi recharges from a wall outlet; it still works as a hot spot while it’s plugged in…

With the MiFi you can get your App Store-plagued iPhone off AT&T’s dying data network.

So, which Netbook to buy? Here Amazon, as usual, is my friend. The #1 seller in Amazon’s netbook category is the $380 ASUS Eee PC 1005HA-PU1X-BK 10.1-Inch Black Netbook (with $20 for an upgrade to 2GB)

  • Display: 10.1-inch 1024x600 LED-Backlit Widescreen LCD (Color-Shine/Glossy Screen Technology)
  • Intel CPU: Intel Atom N280
  • Wireless Data Network: WLAN: 802.11b/g/n (draft 2.4GHz n) & Bluetooth V2.1 + EDR
  • Camera: 1.3M Pixels
  • Audio: Stereo Speakers, High-Definition Audio CODEC, Digital Array Microphones
  • Storage Cards: 2-in-1 MMC, SD(SDHC) flash card slot
  • Input/Output: 1 x VGA connector, 3 x USB 2.0 ports, 1 x LAN RJ-45, 2 x audio jacks: Headphone & Mic-in
  • Dimensions: 10.31 (W) x 7.01 (D) x 1.02~1.44 (H) inches
  • Weight: 2.81 lbs (with battery)
  • Or what about the Acer Aspire One for $300? That one also comes with an evil AT&T service plan option (integrated 3G dongle) …

    To be updated with my purchase decision …

    Update 7/31/2009: In response to a provocative comment, I clarify my perspective on the logic of AT&T/Apple's actions.


    Anonymous said...

    >> "Thanks Apple."

    I'm always amused by blog temper tantrums.

    Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity- or in this case, add in ossified corporate bureaucracy and partner pressure.

    I agree that the refund thing was dumb and unnecessary. But now you're on Google's side, apparently. Do you really suppose that Google is any better a large corporate entity than Apple? If so, I'd suggest expanding your tech reading.

    Shifting affinities is fine, but turn down the angst & righteous indignation a bit if you want to be taken seriously.

    JGF said...

    I'm fairly sure I never ascribed AT&T or Apple's actions to malice nor did I say they weren't in the commercial interest of the two companies.

    Most customers, like you, will consider this not to be a big deal, so Apple and AT&T are unlikely to be significantly injured. On the other hand Google is a possible existential threat to AT&T and to some of the revenue Apple earns from AT&T. (Not to mention that $150 google chromebooks will hurt Apple's revenue.)

    So Apple and ATT's actions are not irrational, not matter how much they displease me. I am definitely not a typical customer, losing me will cost them very little.

    The refund blunder is a marker of stupidity, not design. I would not be surprised if, given enough "blog temper tantrums" Apple compromises. On the other hand, your amusement would be unlikely to move them.

    My disappointment is great because I'm seeing a great enabling technology become second rate.

    As for Google, I look at what they do for me (by and large, very good work), their mission to provide knowledge access (they appear to be very serious about it), their data freedom initiatives, and myriad of other actions.

    Lastly, I'm not shifting affinities that much. I'm shifting from a balanced Google/Apple mix a bit more towards Google. The fact that XP is the OS on which Chrome runs is kind of incidental.

    Wait, that wasn't the last bit.

    The real last bit is that my blogs don't aspire to be taken all that seriously.