Dell Inspiron Mini 9
This is the SCC so many buyer have been waiting for - and they still are, in the case of the Linux version, which is expected to arrive in the coming weeks. You can have the XP version now.
The Dell proved not to be as cheap as the rumour-mill had suggested, there's no hard drive option and it has an idiosyncratic function-key free keyboard, but on the plus side the Mini 9 ticks all the right SCC specification boxes and is the easiest machine for hardware hackers to get into.
And there's no fan on board, so it'll always be quiet. Though since other Atom-based SCCs have fans, it'll likely get hot in extended use.
The Linux version will offer the customary simplified UI, but underneath sits Ubuntu, one of the most popular Linux distros, and so the 9's likely to be better served for software and add-on hardware than less well-known Linux variants like the Eee's Xandros and Aspire One's Linpus.
Reg Pick of the Range Mini 9 with Windows XP and 16GB SSD
More Info The Mini 9 on Dell's site
HP Compaq 2133 Mini-Note
HP's 2133 is a small computer but it's not so cheap, partly because HP put Windows Vista on it. That means it also has oodles of memory, but that's because Vista needs 2GB - Linux SCCs will happily run in 512MB generally as smoothly as XP in a gigabyte and Vista in 2GB, so don't assume more memory is necessarily more desirable - it all depends on the OS.
The good news is that SuSE Linux is now an option, offered on a machine with 1GB of memory and a 120GB hard drive. You can spec the 2133 up with a 160GB hard drive, and with Bluetooth 2.0.
Back to the hardware: the screen is the star here. It's 8.9in but has a 1280 x 768 resolution. That said, for some folk it's too high, forcing you to squint - fortunately HP appears to offer an optional 8.9in, 1024 x 600 display. The HP is also one of the few SCCs based on VIA's 1.2GHz C7-M processor. That's about equivalent to Intel's 900MHz Celeron M, in turn only a little less speedy than the 1.6GHz Atom. Like memory, not all CPU speeds are equal.
Nor is SCC pricing: HP's pitching the 2133 as a premium product, and wants £360 for the basic model, rising to £430 if you want Vista instead of Linux.
Reg Pick of the Range HP Compaq 2133 Mini-Note PC KX872AA Linux, 120GB HDD
More Info HP's 2133 Page
Next page: The Pick of the Crop
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.