Like the Elonex One and One-T, the Maplin is dirt cheap - £170 - and has the advantage of being available on the High Street. But it too isn't x86 compatible, so you'll be limited to software developed for its MIPS-compatble Chinese processor. What's 'MIPS compatible'? Exactly.
The screen's a seven-incher, and there's 128MB of memory on board - enough for its version of Linux. There's only 2GB of storage, however, but as per usual there's an SD card slot for more.
Given the price, the spec, the lack of extra software to download, why buy this and not the Eee PC 701?
More Info Maplin's Minibook page
Asus Eee PC
The original Small, Cheap Computer, Asus' Eee PC 701 is still available and remarkably cheap - it's down to £179. Its 7in, 800 x 480 screen is arguably too small for most adults, but it still makes a fine machine for kids. For bigger screens, seek out the 9xx series, which have 8.9in displays, and the 1xxx range, which have 10in displays. The latter are larger, but they have the same resolution as the 8.9in displays, so there's little benefit.
The 701 and 900s have Celeron processors - the remaining Eees have Atoms. Atoms are certainly better, and the Atom-based Eees also have bigger batteries than most SCCs, which makes them the natural choice for folk likely to be away from the mains. Asus also lets you choose from a set of CPU speeds - 800MHz, 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz - so you can better balance battery life with the performance you need. The Atom-based Eees also come with 802.11n Wi-Fi.
Again, Asus offers a choice of Linux and XP. And the Eees remain among the most accessible SCCs from a hardware perspective, with memory upgrades a doddle thanks to a hatch on the base.
Downsides? The design's not sexy. The keyboards on all but the 10in models are small, cramped and among the poorest you can get on an SCC.
But with their superior battery life, relatively unrestricted implementation of Linux, the Eees remain at the top of of the SCC tree. After a hard drive? Look for the 1000H or 904HD.
Reg Pick of the Range Eee PC 901 20GB Linux Edition
More Info Asus' Eee PC site
Next page: Interlude: Psion Netbook/Series 7
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.