ASUS EEE PC Series Netbook (Linux Ubuntu) Aspire One

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And all for $324!

To say the ASUS netbook is smaller than a traditional laptop is an understatement. It weighs in at a mere 2 pounds and has a 8.9 inch screen. It’s about an inch thick and is smaller than many of the technical books I carry with me when I travel.

As a gadget, it’s out of this world; as a functional laptop, I’m not so sure. However, the netbook is not billed to replace a laptop, so that expectation isn’t really fair.

In fact, it’s more for useful as a tool for connecting to the Internet, getting e-mail, using Skype and Messenger, and having access to wireless networks and Internet radio. You can also edit the occasional document or presentation, connect to an Ethernet network, connect to a larger display, and even connect USB peripherals. If you think you can make this work when you travel, this product is for you.

I purchased the Netbook model featuring Linux. It runs Ubuntu, which is an easy-to-use interface that includes tabs for Internet, Work, Learn, Play, Settings, and Favorites.

The Internet tab offers icons for Web Mail, Web, iGoogle, Google Search, Messenger, Skype, Network, Google Docs, World Clock, Wikipedia, Internet Radio, and Wireless networks.

The Work tab offers Open Office 2.0 icons, including but not limited to Documents, Spreadsheets, Presentations, and PDF Reader. There’s a File Manager icon too, as well as a Dictionary and a place to write notes. T

he Learn tab offers icons for Science, Language, Math, and Paint, among others, and these are great tools if you have a child and want to keep them occupied while you travel.

As you’d guess, Play offers games and music, photo, and video management, as well as a built-in Web cam and program.

Settings and Favorites are just as you’d expect, a place to personalize your new netbook.

My only problem with purchasing this particular netbook is that the hard drive is only 16 GB. The exact same model running XP Home had a 160 GB hard drive. No, that’s not a typo. Why go for the 16 GB model then?

For starters, the 16 GB hard drive is solid state like a flash drive. It doesn’t spin, and that means it’s difficult to damage. It also uses very little battery power. If I wanted to, I could put it in my checked baggage, but who would need to? It’s tiny! But, the ASUS has all the USB ports I need.

But why Linux? Well, I really wanted to try something new. Linux is cool, and although it may take me some time to get completely comfortable with it, the interface is intuitive.

Just click the tab and click the icon for the utility in the resulting window. Settings, for instance, offers icons for Printers, Add/Remove Software, Disk Utility, and Diagnostic Tools. There’s even a voice command option.

This model also seems to run quickly for its size and price. I inserted an SD disk with 350 pictures and hit the slideshow button. To me it seemed just as good in quality and speed as any laptop I’d ever used.

My new ASUS Eee PC - Aspire One, is just about the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. For an early adopter like me, it’s a must-have.