Thursday, May 28, 2009

Size, Versatility, Low Cost — Contributing Factors to Netbooks’ Popularity

Recently, some of the University Libraries’ personnel spoke about how they use their netbooks, citing convenience and cost as top attributes. The name, netbook, is apt for this small-size laptop computer because of its reliance on an Internet connection.

James Bradley, Head of Metadata & Digital Initiatives, spent about $375 on his black ASUS Eee PC 1000HE Netbook. It features a 10-inch screen and wireless N connection with Bluetooth connectability. It has a battery life of over seven hours on a charge. He spent another $25 to upgrade the memory to 2 GB RAM.

“I love it,” he said. “During work hours, I use it for e-mail, Web, and word processing. It is portable and easy to take to meetings, thus my notes on a meeting can be saved to my main workstation when I return and then form an electronic and searchable archive of meeting notes and agendas.”

Jim said that, when away from work, he also uses his netbook to watch videos, such as YouTube or Hulu, and he uses Adobe PhotoShop and publishes family photos on his Web site.

When John Straw, Assistant Dean for Digital Initiatives and Special Collections, recently attended the 2009 annual meeting of the Academic Libraries of Indiana, he saw several people using netbooks to take notes, view Web sites that the speakers mentioned, and to keep up with their e-mail.

“I have one now, too,” he said. “I just used it at a meeting. It is very compact and useful to take to meetings and to work on-the-go.”

Denise Kinney, Secretary to Library Assistant Deans, really likes her ASUS Eee 1000HA. It features a 160 GB hard drive, sports 1 GB RAM, and offers wireless G capability.

“Big things come in small packages,” she said. “It weighs only three pounds and can operate for five or six hours on the fully charged six-cell battery.”

Denise used her netbook recently while on a trip to access "Microsoft Street Tips and Maps" to locate a library in Michigan and other locations. She has used the wireless connectivity to locate genealogy information and to download knitting and crochet patterns, which she reads as she knits. Like Jim, she enjoys staying in touch with her family and friends, watching movies through Hulu and YouTube, and viewing digital photographs.

“Truly, there is no limit as to what may be accessed or stored on this netbook,” she said. “I have the world at my fingertips through my netbook.”

Robert Seaton, University Libraries’ Web Development Specialist, said he likes the portability of his Acer Aspire One with its 10.1-inch screen and 1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 processor. He paid about $350 for the sapphire blue unit.

“I can take it with me everywhere,” he said. “The size is small so it’s like carrying a paper notebook, and it is a fast machine. It’s small enough that I can take it to a meeting and it won’t be distracting.”

Robert said that his netbook even plays some of today’s more popular 3D games. The units do not come standard with a CD-ROM drive, although it makes up for that by having several USB ports and an SD card reader as well as a multi-card reader. It has built-in wireless so any software that he wants can usually be downloaded and installed.

Because the price of the netbook is so reasonable and its performance is so high, the unit seems to be perfectly suited for almost everyone. For less than $400, the user can have a powerful, portable computer that offers word processing, video playback, e-mail, and other functionality. From any WiFi hotspot or ubiquitous 3G network, the netbook is perfect for providing convenient access to the Internet from home, work, or school.

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