“A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy”

Wednesday, December 16

17. Picking the Right One: Computer Genres

Netbooks: The latest craze of the computing world is the mini-laptop, otherwise known as the netbook. Asus came out with the first successful model with their eee PC model, but several companies have joined the fray since.

These units are generally capable, but run minimal processor power, similar to tablets. Battery life on these units is exceptional. They are available in a variety of configurations and price points, most starting about $300 or less.
These are terrific for students or people on the go for there extremely small size. Most run about 8” to 10” (screen size) and are three pounds or less. They are not considered gaming machines because they, like the tablets, have minimal graphics cards to conserve battery life. I have seen someone install and run World of Warcraft on one, but it was so choppy it was basically un-playable, even with all the graphics turned to the lowest setting.

These would be a great choice for a small e-mail/blogging computer. It might not be so good for desktop-publishing because of the small screen acreage, but an external screen would fix that.

Minis/All-in-Ones: I'm going to cover both of these in one go because of their similarities. I consider these another niche-market device. Basically, these are extrememly small size format systems that often incorporate a screen, but not always. The Apple Mini is about the size of a paper-back novel and does not have its own built-in-screen, for instance.

Most of the time, these devices are based off of existing laptop technology, enabling them to have small desktop footprints. The main disadvantage of this is that most of the components can't be upgraded or replaced. Similar to laptops, about the only thing you can replace or upgrade with these will be the RAM or hard drive.

These are terrific for when you don't have a lot of desk or counter space. Some of these systems even have built-in touch screens and act a lot like tablets with a much better processor.

In the history of desktop computing, these have never really gone over well. If the monitor or another component goes out, the entire system is useless or hobbled until fixed. To get them fixed, they must be sent to a repair depot, so the wait is usually measured in days. They suffer from many of the same limitations as laptops as well as the obvious advantages of small sizes, but aren't really built for portability. If they suit your purpose, go for it, but they are not on my recommended list.