Recycled Computing

Netbook or Tablet? It's All About the Keyboard

- 2010.01.06

There is growing trend in the marketplace toward smaller and moreportable computers. Apple's revolutionary iPhone triggered a boom inthe development of smartphones, Sony's new PSP To Go relies ondownloading games, and it seems every new portable device has WiFi,Bluetooth, and/or 3G built-in.

Where will all this lead, and what will be Apple's role in the bravenew world of pint-sized computers?

There has been endless discussion of what Apple is going to do withall those touch screens it ordered recently and what it's highlyrumored tablet is going to look like, but I will be completely honestand tell you that I know nothing.

It's All About the Keyboard

However, I do know about the logic of netbooks, and to me, it's allabout the keyboard. I use a computer to write, and there is nosubstitute for a physical keyboard.

Yes, many of us have used an iPod touch or iPhone to reply to emailsor enter passwords on websites and the like, but if you really need totype an article or compose an email that is more that a paragraph long,a real keyboard is critical. I know that there are many questions aboutthe usefulness of a netbook's tiny keyboard, but my hands are small,and I used to type on the attachable keyboard with my old NewtonMessagePad (talk about tiny!).

The second thing that I would like to use a netbook for is as acommunication device. I don't have a built-in video camera on mybeloved Pismo, and Ithink it would be great to have a video camera for a face-to-face chatwith my kids and their modern (to me, at least) MacBooks. Bluetoothwould be nice as well - all sorts of modern communications that I justdon't have with my Pismo.

And in a compact package that would weight about two-thirds as muchas the six pound Pismo.

That would be a relief on my arthritic neck and shoulders. Therewill never be a time when I don't take my iPod touch with me, but whenI want to work on my blogs or write an article for Low End Mac, anetbook would be an excellent portable workstation for me. There seemsto be a trend towards using online applications, so I'm not sure that Iwill be handicapped with less memory or the lack of a DVD drive.

Is a netbook for you? I don't know, but I do know that I amseriously considering one.


Update on the Ubuntuinstallation on my Dell desktop: I have been having all sorts ofissues trying to get a pair of old CanoScan LiDE scanners to work formy lab at the high school. That will be the subject of another article(planned for Friday),but these old timers worked without a hitch using XSane, the scanningsoftware that came with my Ubuntudistribution.

Also, I have been playing with Chrome, the Google browser, onUbuntu, and it appears to load pages faster than the Firefox browser that comes with Ubuntu.Cool. LEM

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