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    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    The Netbook Bandwagon

    Netbooks; Where did they start?, Why do they exist?, Why have I jumped on the bandwagon? All questions I intend to answer within this post...

    So i finally decided to make the purchase. Mostly for practical purposes, and maybe slightly out of pure curiosity! I want to know just how much of my every day computing can be carried out on these little devices, and possibly how far they can be used in portable recording situations.

    The first netbook is a debate which has been going on for a while within the tech community. Many think the netbook revolution really started with the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) Project, which aimed to bring computing to developing countries in an attempt to bridge the digital divide. The aim with this project was to create a fully functional computer for $100. The end result was a 366Mhz AMD Geode GX2-500 CPU, 128Mb of RAM, and 802.11g Wi-Fi. The significant detail here really has to be the Wi-Fi, it surely has defined how these small computers are intended to be used, and indeed the name itself! Netbook, implies the device should be used for browsing the net!

    The OLPC Project is a debate within itself, whether it was a success or not, well, it's not for me to say! But it is safe to say that this very small, light weight, budget laptop was what inspired Asus to believe that there was a market for this sort of laptop within developed countries. Their first attempt at a netbook was esentially a clone of the OLPC Project, with slightly higher grade components, and a less rugged case. And guess what!? It worked!

    The Eee PC series was born, with the 700 series being announced in September of 2007. The Price was set at $245 and that got you a 900Mhz CPU, 2GB SSD, and 256MB of Ram. It was released with a linux operating system, but Asus soon performed a swift U-turn and sold subsequent releases of Eee PC's with the option of Windows XP as an operating system.

    A trend which has unfortunatly continued. Windows XP remains the default operating system for netbooks, purely because of the speed with which it runs on limited hardware. Windows Vista (XP's big brother) is widely known and criticised for it's lack of speed and compatibility with old hardware. As a side note, I believe this has provoked manufactures to sell higher specification machines at a lower price, so may not be entirely a bad thing. Anyway, i digress... Windows XP remains to this day the default OS of many netbooks, but due to liscencing issues Microsoft is limiting its usage to machines with less than 1GB of RAM. A decision which, in my opinion, is holding back netbooks from reaching their full potential. Some manufacturers have countered this by providing easy access to the RAM within the netbook to allow the users themselves to increase the amount (Something I intend to take advantage of as soon as my netbook arrives).

    Windows 7 is the new XP, when it is released on the 22nd October 2009, is set to rock the netbook world. It will be provided to netbook manufactures in a starter package, bascially a 'dummed-down' version of the operating system designed to run on less powerful hardware, Microsoft has made an interesting decision with this OS release, to limit the number of programs that can run [on the starter edition] at any time to 3! (NB: This is rumoured to have been dropped from the final release) Something I feel would again, limit the potential of these netbooks!

    When my netbook arrives this week, i intend to fully test the machine with XP. I will then install Windows 7 RC (Which will eventually be Windows 7 Ultimate Edition) and test the machine again. This post will be continued towards the end of next week, where I will reveal exactly which netbook I purchased (Clue: It's only been out about a month in the UK) and there will be plenty of photos to look at!