After my last post, I thought that I should maybe qualify the reasons why I think notebooks are good for nothing. This is, of course, just my personal opinion and your mileage may vary. Firstly, I’ll point out my reason for buying a netbook in the first place:

  • My Netbook Use Case (reason for buying): I purchased a PIXACE microcontroller which I wanted to build and program with my son as part of our exploration into the world of electronics. Not being very experienced in electronics, I didn’t like the idea of connecting my Mac Book Pro or iMac to a 30 euro device which could explode or short circuit something. Answer: a cheap netbook to program the device, view circuit diagrams and component layouts, occasionally edit documents, watch videos, look at pictures and maybe surf the web now again (which I shouldn’t be doing of course – see my Kindle DX post).

Based on my needs, here is what I found and I’ve added some additional general points:

  • Viewing technical document and circuit layouts. The screen is too small! As netbooks screens typically only have 600 vertical pixels (1024*600), there is not enough screen real-estate.
  • Editing documents. The keyboard is too small to do anything half way serious – maybe my hands are too large.
  • Surfing the internet. It’s too slow. It is painfully slow – flash is a painful experience.
  • Watching videos. It’s kind of ok, but 720p won’t work. The sound quality is, again, kind of ok.
  • iTunes. Too slow. The user experience is awful, don’t do it.
  • Viewing images. It’s too slow. This may be a little unfair as I use raw format exclusively on a 12.3 megapixel camera. I also loaded on some jpegs and that was just about bearable.
  • Using it as an electronics stunt partner (something that wouldn’t break my heart if it broke when everything goes terribly wrong). Would work really well but, because of the price and limited usefulness, one of the cheap laptops I mention in the previous posts is a much better option – please note that two of these options only cost 10 euros more than the netbook I tried.

I really have no idea why these things are so popular…