Acer Aspire One
The AA1, as it's fondly called, remains one of the best SCCs, for a number of reasons: it's cheap, it looks great, it's easy to carry and it has a fine keyboard. The 8.9in screen is bright and glossy.
Acer has the all the OS and storage choices covered. As you'd expect, the SSD versions - the A110s - have a lower capacity than the HDD models - the A150s. The Linux models are cheaper than those with XP. Indeed, PCWorld, Dixons Online and Currys have the most basic, 8GB SSD model at a mere £199.
The AA1's implementation of Linux handles all the basics, but installing alternative apps can be tricky - see Ten Tweaks for a new Aspire One - which is an issue because Skype isn't pre-loaded. Nor is 3G modem support, though Acer promises this is coming. In the meantime, certain modems can be made to work with some extra software and some tinkering. There is an interior slot for a 3G card, but Acer has yet to say whether it will make this a user-installable part - or when it might be made available.
There's no Bluetooth, and the AA1's battery life isn't the best of the bunch, but it's only just below par. The laptop's performance is good, though.
Reg Pick of the Range Aspire One A110AB 8GB Linux Edition
More Info Acer's Aspire One site
A left-field entry, the Elonex machine is way cheaper than most - the One is £99, the One+ £119 - but it has a lower spec and, crucially, is based on an obscure Chinese processor that's not compatible with most PCs. That's no problem if you stick to the basics - email, web browsing, document viewing - but if you want to install extra apps and like the idea of the broader software support Windows and Linux offer, this won't be a machine for you.
The One comes with just 1GB of storage and 128MB of memory. The One+ ups the Ram to 256MB, the storage to 2GB and adds Bluetooth. Both have a removable keyboard - the processor and other internals are behind the screen, giving the laptop a slightly top-heavy look. The screen is 7in in size, 800 x 480 in resolution.
The One-T and One-T+ have the same specs as the One and One+ - the difference is a big, more traditional laptop-like look, and costs £129.
Reg Pick of the Range One-T+
More Info Elonex's One site
Next page: Elonex Webbook
Pleased with my Acer
I made the plunge after pondering for quite some time and opted for the Acer Aspire One. I love it but the article correctly identified the main problems with it which are battery life (not much more than two hours) and the somewhat quirky Linux installation.
I decided against the Dell mainly due to the stupid keyboard layout. The fact that it runs Ubuntu though is very appealing.
The 901 is just too expensive. I know £280 is not a lot of money, but my One cost £199. When I show it off and can say "it was less than 200 quid" I always get the same positive reaction. Saying "less than 280 quid" just doesn't sound as impressive.
Despite what the AC said above, while I do always travel first and business class, my employer pays those fares, I paid for my One so I still care about its price.
What is interesting about this whole sector is how usable a machine can be while remaining truly portable.
My shiny MacBook Pro is on my desk 1 metre away from me but I can't be bothered to go all that way and open the lid; my One just happens to be right here. That's the beauty of laptots (what mine always gets called in our house BTW) they are so small and light that you can have them there with you almost all the time.
Well before Psion and the other pretenders was the Tandy Model 100 from 1983. Battery capacity was 20 hours on four alkaline AA cells. The real keyboard and inbuilt modem made it popular with journalists.
I use my T-Mobile E220 with my Eee, no problem. I believe it's supported out of the box in Xandros, but I'm using eeeXubuntu so I installed the "Vodafone Mobile Connect Card Driver for Linux" (giyf) which works very well, and does all the data logging one could wish. It has repositories for the default Xandros too.
Alpha 400 vs Maplin Minibook vs Elonex Onet+
Though clearly all based on the same design, there are some differences. The Alpha 400, for example, does its wifi through a USB dongle (supplied) and I think the same may be true of the Minibook. On the Onet+ it's built in (as an internal USB dongle, I suspect).
The Minibook has the webcam beside the screen - on the Onet+ it's (a) above it and (b) irrelevant, snce there doesn't seem to be any software that uses it.
I got my Onet+ last week - as with many others it was a what-the-hell free upgrade from a what-the-hell One+. So far I have been quite impressed. No problems at all with WiFi, pretty good build quality and a surprisingly nice keyboard. I don't know if it's bigger, or brighter, or whether just not having a black border helps, but the screen is much nicer than the Eee 701 on which I write this.
I need to do some experiments with the Huawei - the Onet+ does come with mobile broadband connection software - and then I'll start using it to test it in practice.
And to education customers it's £130. What the hell?
Mobile internet on Linux netbooks
I have a Linux Asus Eee 701 that I am happy with although the screen is too small. I do check my email on the train via Vodafone's mobile broadband. The only problem is the network coverage that still isn't great. Hopefully the trend with netbooks will put some pressure on the network operators to improve. To get mobile broadband working on Linux is easy, I wrote down a few note on how I got it to work here:
I hope that can be of help. My guess is that it's not much more difficult with other distros or ISPs.