More Than a Smartphone, Less Than a Computer

A month or so ago I was looking for a solution to a problem.  It was a minor problem, but a problem none the less.  I was considering a mobile computing solution that would allow me to do some very basic things.  I wanted more than a smartphone, but less than a large, bulky, and expensive laptop.  I already have the laptop for when I need to be a power user.  The purpose of this device was to stay connected in my downtimes and a little entertainment.

Essentially I wanted an iPad, however part of my reason for not bringing my laptop into these situations, especially on a vacation, was that I didn’t want an expensive piece of equipment that I was putting at risk of being stolen while away.  Especially considering my laptop is not only a wonderful tool, but contributes to my livelihood.  Losing my laptop would have a major impact on me and I don’t want to risk it.

I considered an Android tablet.  There are two problems with Android tablets right now.  The expensive ones are closer to the price of an iPad.  Honestly if I’m going to drop $500 on an Android tablet, I may as well purchase an iPad. Again that defeats the purpose of this machine.  If someone steals this mobile solution, I want to say “Oh well, at least it only cost me $_____.”  On the other hand, the inexpensive Android tablets are pretty awful.  They either use inferior hardware, or an old install of Android that doesn’t offer the latest refinements.  Even those in the $300 - $400 price point make me cringe at their price. Once you are at the $400 price point, again you may as well get an iPad for a $100 more.

I ended up landing on an Acer Aspire One Netbook.  Now I know what you are thinking.  These things are cheap, low powered, slow, and can’t run power user applications.  That’s fine with me.  This thing comes with Windows 7 Starter Edition, and runs it surprisingly well.  I have installed a couple of basic applications on it including the suite of Windows Live software.  I’ve selected Google Chrome as my browser of choice, and again there are no problems with this.  The screen and keyboard are a little small, however considering how little space there is on airplanes for full size laptops, this should be fine.  I’m not going to write my great novel on this thing.  I am going to have no problem watching movies on the plane and in the hotel room at night, logging into hotel Wi-Fi hot spots, checking my email and Facebook, and all the while knowing that my primary workforce computer is safely at home.

Oh the best part of this purchase is this - $179 at my local big box electronics retailer.  I’m not so well off that I would shrug my shoulders if I lost this netbook, but it would be far less painful than my $1000 plus  laptop.