One of the advantages of using video and collaboration tools is the ability to work from anywhere in the world. VSee is so easy to set up and run that some people I know just carry a webcam with them and plug it in at a nearby Internet cafe, but there are going to be times when you need to bring your own computer with you. Anyone who does this a lot will tell you that size and weight become major issues, with battery life and cost becoming important as well.
Fortunately, a new generation of “netbooks” – small internet-ready notebook computers – have sprung up. Most of them are based on the Intel Atom processor, a 45 nm part that packs at 1.8 GHZ processor into a 26 mm chip drawing less than 1 watt.
Just about every manufacturer offers on of these – Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo - and most have similar features: 1024×600 on a 10 inch screen, under 4 lbs and under $400, but the performance varies. Of the machines we have tested, the ASUS Eee PC 1000HE and the Lenovo S10 include a built-in camera and have enough horsepower to do video. However, the Lenovo camera puts out a lot of noise, which requires a lot of CPU to filter, so my choice is the ASUS.
For under $400, the ASUS offers an impressive list of features:
- Intel Atom N2801.66 GHZ processor
- L2 cache
- 1 GB RAM (DDR2)
- 10 inch LED backight 1024×600 display
- 160 GB hard drive
- Windows XP Home (ugh!)
- 802.11 b/g/n
- 1.3 megapixel camera
- SD card slot
- 3 USB ports
- VGA port
- Ethernet (10/100)
- Microphone & mic jack
- Stero speakers & headphone jack
- HD audio & Dolby
It a little bit heavier than it looks, but with the tiny little power supply can easily slip into a briefcase or backpack. If you are just going out for the day you can leave the power supply at home – the battery seems to last forever.