Questions about ultralight laptops/notebooks

I’m looking for a tiny laptop, notebook, or similar device that is very easy to travel with and which will do these things:

[li]Run a PowerPoint presentation and connect to a projector (this is the most important task)[/li][li]Let me type documents (bonus if it’s XP compatible but any basic application that my XP home machine can read is fine; I can format later)[/li][li]Have good USB ports so I can transfer documents, upload photos, or run applications from a flash drive[/li][li]Access my e-mail[/li][li]Be reasonably easy for a basic user to figure out and operate[/li][/ul]

I don’t need a lot of built-in memory (assuming that the USB capacity is sufficient). I don’t need a really long battery life. I’d like it to be very lightweight and sturdy enough (i.e., not delicate, not prone to overheating, etc.). I want a QWERTY keyboard but it does not need to be full-sized because I have small hands. I’d rather not pay an exorbitant amount, but I’m willing to save up if the item is a good fit for my needs. I don’t care about built-in cameras, music software, moview software, etc. Would rather not run Vista if I can help it.

Suggestions? What do you think of the ASUS Eee PC 4G Notebook PC, for example? Thanks.

Pros: Cheap, ultra portable, fast boot up time, east to navigate, flash based hard drive

Cons: Small keyboard, hard to type, small screen, no gains in battery life

I thought about getting it, since the other Solid State hard drive laptop is close to 5 times more expensive. Seems like a good trade off if you are willing to take the cons with the pros.

*as for battery life, I would expect without a hard-drive and a small monitor the battery would last more like 5-6 hours, but nope, 2-3 hours.

How about a Windows Mobile Pocket PC? It will do everything you mention in the OP and have a longer battery life than the Asus. You could get an external wireless keyboard for typing. And the PPC and the keyboard together will literally fit in your pocket. The only downside compared to the laptop is the small screen, but if you’re doing PowerPoint on a projector, that shouldn’t be an issue.

One potential problem: ISTR that you may only be able to play PowerPoint from a PocketPC, not create or edit presentations. But I don’t do PowerPoint, so I’m not sure about that.

This runs Linux, though you may be able to install XP on it. I doubt it’s a good idea to do so though. I’d recommend against Linux if you need to be able to reliably run PowerPoint files you get from to other people, or send your presentations to them. Open Office is getting better, but it’s not quite to the point of total interoperability.

If you can cope with the enormity of an 11" screen, I’ve got one of these. It weighs less than 2lbs and the keyboard isn’t to small. It certainly wasn’t cheap and does come with a bunch of crapware from Sony, but once you get rid of it it’s a decent small machine.

The OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) is a possibility. More info about the hardware on Wikipedia.

If you want an actual Windows-XP (or Vista) system, the Fujitsu U810 is an ultra-compact Windows PC with a QWERTY keyboard. Costs $1000, which isn’t bad for this type of product. But I think the keyboard is designed for thumb typing, not touch typing.

The Kohjinsha SH series is somewhat larger but I hear the keyboard is pretty decent.

I would of bought an Eee yesterday, if DSE hadn’t sold out, and I wasn’t keen on taking the floor unit. All I need is the spreadsheet part so I can give on-the-site quotes. I’ve tried with a PDA, but for me it’s too slow, as I’ve got a lot of data to enter, so much scrolling and tapping. I had a good fiddle with an Eee, once the whiney teenage boy got dragged away by his Dad. As I type like a chook, the keyboard was ok, but I only need numbers and the enter/arrow keys; and there were enough spreadsheet cells visable to make data entry ok. Bonus was the cute assistent with the sexy North Americian accent came over for a chat about it. She’s going to get one to take to class for notes; I guess the display one at a discount.

I’ve read the Eee manual online. It gives instructions on how to install XP, but talks about needing an external USB CD/DVD drive. If I end up getting one, I’m going to try copying my XP disc to an USB flash drive and see if that will work. It’d be interesting to see how XP runs and just what I can do. Main reason for me to do this is I would like to run TurboCAD as well as Excel. My current laptop is a PII 233 with 288Mb of RAM with XP; it pauses between drawing tool changes, plus has a dead battery.

However, around here there are basic laptops about, a bit bigger than the Eee, and for not much more money. They have Vista on them, and seem underspec’d. I’m considering that route and putting XP on. But they are still not as light, easy to carry, and “instant on” as the Eee.

Perhaps you could download Open Office and see if your Powerpoint works with it? Then look at the Eee? The Eee sounds like it’d fit well with you (if Powerpoint works!), with WiFi, 3 USB ports, VGA out to 1280/1080? (but I think this is limited to 800x480 in dual monitor mode), and a memory card slot for SD/MMC.

Rumor is that 2Q 08 Asus will be installing a new processor with about 20% less power consumption, that doesn’t need a fan. So battery life should be longer, if they don’t downsize the battery too :smack:

For me, if doesn’t work out, the store has a full refund, 14 day return policy.


XP will probably be fine on the eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee assuming that there are drivers. 4 GBs is going to be a little tight on the space, but it should be doable for just basic office stuff. I don’t have an eeeeee, but the biggest problem I see in the design is that the screen isn’t as big as it could be. It looks like they could have squeezed a 1024x768 if they got rid of the speakers.

Thanks, everyone. Sounds like if I’m interested in the eee, I should download Open Office to my home computer and attempt to convert a few documents from PowerPoint and Word to see if there are big conversion glitches. Am I getting that right?

That would be a good starting point. Perhaps if that works, see if you can find a place with one on display, take some converted and unconverted files on an USB thumb drive and try them?


Further thoughts now that people are perusing the Black Friday/Saturday/Sunday sales?