06 March 2010

I have taken the plunge to Netbook

I have to admit when I first saw the concept of netbooks, I just couldn’t figure why anyone would want one.  Of course, at the time, SSD wasn’t really around yet and most importantly, I wasn’t traveling as frequently as I do now.  With the coming of SharePoint 2010, I’ve had to consider my options on my old laptop.  I had an IBM Thinkpad T-60 which had served me very well.  The only problem is that it’s 32 bit CPU won’t run SharePoint 2010 which is coming in all 64 bit format next year.  (Yes, yes, I know VMWare can fake it…) So in order to be able to deal with my VMs, I decided to upgrade.
I looked at all my options and wanted to get a new laptop that had enough iron to run all my VMs and more.  Since the latest Paradox Interactive release, Hearts of Iron III, was coming (I love that game!) and it had a hefty hardware, especially graphics, requirement, I decided to get a total monster laptop that would could handle everything I threw at it.  A desktop replacement or luggable to be sure.  I didn’t care.  I wanted the power.
I investigated all the options and even considered buying an Apple Macbook Pro for the job.  In the end there were three options I had to decide between.  A Dell XPS, an Apple Macbook Pro and an Alienware machine.  OK, I admit, the Alienware laptop wasn’t really realistic, but while you’re looking, you may as well dream, right?
Of course price always plays into the equation so the Alienware laptop was eliminated right off the bat.  I wasn’t really ready to make a switch to Apple hardware because of the premium they put on their name.  The same hardware as the Dell, would end up being almost $1,000.00 more expensive!    I never quite understood that.  Still don’t.  Nevertheless, as I was getting ready to order the Dell, it occurred to me to check one more thing.  Back in 2002, I ordered a powerful off brand laptop (Sager) from a little company called Powernotebooks.com.  Even today it was a decent machine and back then it was top of the line.  It had a 2.4 GHz CPU with 1 GB of RAM and 128 MB of dedicated video.  It served me very well, only recently dying on me in the form of the power supply finally giving out.  I wasn’t sure if Donald Stratton (CEO) and his crew was still in business, but I decided to give it a try.  Imagine my delight when I found they were still booming along.  I customized a Sager with Intel i7 quad core processor and 6 GB of RAM (capable of holding 12, but again, cost of the top memory was just not justifiable) as well as 1 GB of dedicated video.  This monster would do it all!  The cost came in almost $1,000.00 cheaper than the XPS from Dell so I took the plunge and bought the monster Sager laptop.
Alas, on my travels where I was flying American Airlines (with who I have Platinum status) and was able to get the First Class upgrade, there was plenty of space for my new laptop.  Any other time though, the thing was almost bigger than my seat!    Of course, if you’ve had the “pleasure” of being seated in any of today’s airline economy seats, then you’d know that really doesn’t take much, but my laptop truly is huge and I’m not able to work on it comfortably in flight.  In addition, the monster power comes at a price and that price is battery life.  Total battery life is usually around 1.5 hours or so if I’m lucky which makes it even less useful in flight.
Right around then was when I decided to look at netbooks.  I started at Best Buy and wanted a model with SSD, but the 3 cell battery only offered 3 hours of life which really didn’t seem too good to me either.  I wanted a 6 cell battery and eventually ended up ordering a Dell.  What a catastrophe that was!
After four weeks of delayed shipping notices, I finally gave up waiting on Dell.  I checked back with Best Buy who was running a special on the Asus Eee 1005HAB netbook PC.  The wine red one was going for $299 right BEFORE Black Friday. (You won’t ever catch me dead at Black Friday ever again!)  Of course it came in other colors too, but they were $330.  So for the $30 difference, I didn’t care about color and I scooped one up.
Right from the get go I was super impressed with the thing.  I’ve installed Office 2007 Professional as well as even Visual Studio 2010 Beta 2 and now RC on it and it runs just fine.  The only place where it slows down a little bit is if you have multiple browser tabs open and you’re trying to scroll a browser window with lots of rich content on it.  Other than that though, I’ve had absolutely no complaints and am ever so happy with it!  Of course the battery life is simply awesome!  As I’m typing this, we’re headed into Boston after a 1.5 hour flight and my battery is only at 83%!
Of course it doesn’t run my Hearts of Iron III game, but it does in fact run my Hearts of Iron II Doomsday – Armageddon expansion game just fine!  So needless to say, I’ve taken the plunge and have not been sorry… except maybe that I didn’t take the plunge earlier!


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