Thursday, March 27, 2008

The best offering in mini-laptops

I have just bought a new Acer Aspire 2920 laptop with the Core 2 Duo Intel processor. The unit cost me P57,000 in the Philippines, thats $US1200. After using it a week I'd have to say its a pretty good computer. I am particularly fond of the keyboard. The big problem with the Acer is the poor battery life. As long as I can get access to a power point in a coffee shop I guess its not a problem. But what I've noticed about coffee shops is that they only have so many power points. With the growing popularity of laptop computers we are seeing a declining opportunity to use the coffee shop as a workplace unless you have a long life battery. You really need 5-6 hours to get a decent amount of work done. The best battery life I've seen to date is on my GF's Sony Vaio TX850G. It is a mini-laptop, but I personally didnt like the keyboard style with the flat keys. I used to have a Sony and I used to like their keyboard.

I am really pleased to see computer manufacturers moving towards smaller, lighter computers. I had a Toshiba Libereto computer 8 years ago, and I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced cheese. It was a great unit for pulling out at airports, it was light, packed away neatly in a leather carry bag I bought in Vietnam. I still have that unit, but its too slow and there is no possibility of upgrading it.

Prior to using my GF's Sony I was playing around with a Dell. It has a short (1.7hr) battery life, better sound system, a well-designed keyboard, but it was a big laptop to lug around. Dell are always going to be comptetitive. They have a rival in Australia called Pioneer Computers, who offer a similar website interface which allows you to select the operating system, and other components. The best option to my surprise might be the Pioneer Computers Australia DreamBook Light CE26 mini-laptop. The specs on this unit are pretty good. See There are several positives for this unit:
1. You can elect to buy a higher capacity battery offering up to 6 hours battery life. I found this on a website review, though I dont see the option on their website so you will need to call. Every mobile warrior needs longer battery life.

I was able to build a DreamBook Light CE26 mini-laptop for $1039 with the following specs:
Processor VIA C7M Nano Processor 1.2Ghz Display 7” WXGA (800x480) TFT LCD Display Graphics Integrated VIA Graphics NB Memory 1GB (1 x 1GB) 667MHz DDR2 RAM 1.8" Hard Disk 60GB Ultra-ATA Hard Drive HD Partition Single Partition Integrated Options 802.11B/G Wireless Module USB Optical Drive None Operating System Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic Warranty Options Pioneer DreamCare 1 Year Return-to-Base Warranty Carry Bag No Carry Bag Production Lead Time Standard Order, Ready in 3-5 Working Days Freight Australian Air Express. This however excludes the longer life 9-cell battery.

Asus have a highly regarded mini-laptop out at just $US500, however it has some drawbacks for serious computer users. It can only use the Linux operating system since it only has 16Mb of HDD memory, so its not readily upgradable. The computer will quickly become dated. I am not a technician, but maybe the HDD memory can be upgraded later?? The other big problem was the poor battery life. I do like the fact that this computer has solid state memory. It makes the computer more tolerant of bumps and bruises since it has no moving parts.

Ideally I would love to see the Dream Light with a solid state computer memory option, so I can carry it around on my mountain bike and not have to worry about falling over and breaking my computer on some trail. you will need to inquire about the longer memory option and how this connects. Of course I'd prefer to have a built in battery pack, but maybe external is ok.

Andrew Sheldon

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