Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Moving on from the Eee

Our Eee PC701 SD travel computer has been truly useful.

I've taken it overseas to conferences, used it for travel in Europe and Asia and it has always been utterly reliable.

Latterly it's being showing its age, or more accurately its badge engineered Xandros linux version has, due to a lack of software updates. A lot of these don't matter for what is fundamentally a stateless machine. Stateless because we use it for web applications when we are away, gmail, google docs and accessing things like banks to move money around and check bills are paid, not to mention airline check ins. The only stand alone application used is skype.

And there's the rub - no more updates means that the version of Firefox it came with is way out of date. Gmail pushes us into HTML mode, Google Docs suggests we run away and hide, and our bank sternly warns us we're unsupported and some features of its website may not work.

Rather like when I powered up an old iMac - useful, but not that useful - the killer being that if you use cloud based services you do kind of need to keep up with their requirements as regards browser capability.

So what made the Eee useful?
  • light and compact
  • stateless - used cloud services so no data loss if its stolen
  • rj 45 for the surprising number of Asian hotels that have wired ports in the rooms and wireless only in the lobby
  • skype for calling home
  • keyboard for writing/notetaking via google docs or a local editor
So what to replace it with?
  • light, good battery life
  • keyboard
  • skype
  • android browser
  • native gmail client
  • supports bank's web app
  • pretty near stateless
  • no rj45 port
  • not stateless
  • bulkier than the Eee
  • up to date browsers
  • keyboard
  • skype
  • rj45 port
  • can support standard 3g dongles
On balance, for a trip to the back blocks of south east Asia the windows netbook wins, but for a weekend away or a short business trip the tablet would probably work just as well providing I knew there was decent wifi at the other end.

There are of course a couple of alternative solutions:
  • upgrade the Eee 
  • I really don't have time to do this and debug things before I go but installing Lubuntu or Puppy might well give the machine a second lease of life. This is something to be investigated at a later date.
  • spend $300 on a chromebook. After all it is
  • stateless
  • relatively lightweight
  • up to date browsers
  • has some offline capability
  • the acer model has an rj45
  • no skype
The other solution would go buy an ipad and a keyboard. Probably a great solution for travel if I already had one, but subject to the same problem as the seven-incher - dependent on a decent wi-fi connection. If I didn't have an alternative already I'd probably go for the chromebook ...

No comments: