Alan orders an HP netbook for trade shows and meetings

I’ve ordered a new HP netbook. Why? Because my Apple MacBook Pro is too big and heavy for working a trade show, and a MacBook Air is far too pricey.

When I’m at a conference, meeting or trade show, I need a notebook with a good keyboard that I can use to take notes, make blog posts, check Twitter, surf the Web, check email, stuff like that. I don’t need the full functionality of my two-year-old, 5.4-pound 15″ MacBook Pro, named Tachyon, which generally lives on my desk (connected to a 30″ Dell monitor).

Here in Los Angeles at Microsoft TechEd this week, I’ve been carrying around a briefcase with Tachyon. My back’s killing me — and when I load up the bag with all the other stuff needed for the show, it gets even worse.

My requirements fit the qualifications for a netbook: Usable keyboard, reasonable screen, WiFi, strong Web browser, plus the ability to work offline (such as taking notes in a class, keynote or meeting).

While I’m not ashamed to admit lusting after a super-cool 3.0-pound MacBook Air, it’s hard to justify the high cost. While a refurbished model can be had for only $999, the base price for a new model is a lot higher. Besides, I don’t need another full-fledged Mac notebook — I already have the MacBook Pro. When I go on a long trips, like to my New York office, I’ll take the big guy. What I need is something for day trips or going to meetings.

I’ve tried using other machines for this purpose, such as my “ancient” 1.5GHz PowerBook G4 (named JimmyMac), with a 12-inch screen. But while my old PowerBook has a smaller footprint than Tachyon, it’s nearly as heavy at 4.6 pounds.

So, yesterday I ordered an HP Mini 1120NR, a slimmed-down netbook. It has an single-core Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, reasonable keyboard (they claim 92% of full size), 10-inch display, and 16GB of flash storage. It runs Linux, which is fine for my purposes. The price: $329. If I don’t like it, I can send it back within 30 days (subject to a 15% restocking charge). The machine’s name will be Higgs.

The only worrying spec is the HP netbook’s short three hours of battery life – we’ll have to see how that goes. (I can coax more than five hours out of Tachyon if I dim backlighting and turn off WiFi.)

At $329, if the HP netbook can get the job done for a year or two, it’s a better value than buying a MacBook Air for 4x-6x the price.

Here’s a spec comparison:

HP Mini 1120NR

10.3 x 6.5 (66.95 sq in footprint) x 1.0 x 2.45 pounds

12″ PowerBook G4

10.9 x 8.6 (93.74 sq in footprint) x 1.2 x 4.6 pounds

MacBook Air

12.8 x 8.9 (113.92 sq in footprint) x 0.7 x 3.0 pounds

15″ MacBook Pro

14.1 x 9.6 (135.36 sq in footprint) x 1.0 x 5.4 pounds

Any experience with netbooks? Tell me what you think…

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick
2 replies
  1. lily
    lily says:

    Way to go…I love the netbooks adn looking at an Asus Eee PC 1000HA — 7 hours battery life, Intel® Atom N270,DDR2 SO-DIMM, 1GB HDD,160GB,10″,LED Backlight,
    1024×600 (WSVGA),802.11b/g,3.20lbs. I think I’m getting this, but looking into it more. –Rosalyn

  2. John Romkey
    John Romkey says:

    I bought a Dell Mini 9 a few months back, similar specs although it had an SSD instead of the 160GB drive.

    Unfortunately, try as I might, I just couldn’t type on it. Part of the problem was that I was trying to write Perl code and many of the keystrokes for punctuation were just too far off from where my fingers expected them.

    I broke even selling it on ebay.

    One cool thing about it, though – I was able to turn it into an illegal Hackentosh pretty easily (most of the difficulty was because of the small SSD in it). MacOS X didn’t run perfectly on it but it did work!

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