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Readers ask: Which netbook?

By   |  December 16, 2008

Ultra portable netbooks have proved to be the surprise hit of 2008. But with just about every major manufacturer launching a netbook into the market over the past year choosing the right one can be a challenge. Tectonic reader Jaco asks which Linux netbook would be the best buy for his mother. “I don’t want her to have too many cables and to have to muck about with modems and drivers and such. Simplicity’s the key here, as I don’t want her to dump it in favour of a better-supported Windows machine.” Because Jaco is working outside of South Africa (where his parents live) he also needs to find a company which will support the Linux-based netbook for his parents when he’s not around. What do you suggest? Leave your suggestions in the comments below and help a fellow reader out.



13 Responses to “Readers ask: Which netbook?”

  1. Michael
    December 16th, 2008 @ 9:02 am

    As far as I’m concerned the Acer Aspire One is the best looking and easiest of the netbooks to use. I also used the Asus EEE 701 and the keyboard is too small. The Acer Aspire One 3g (built-in 3G) is also nice but much too expensive. For the same price you could buy a basic laptop that probably has just s many features or even more.

    I’d also like to know where to get Linux support for regular users who need someone who can just help out when there is a problem. All the Linux support companies only seem interested in large companies, not home users. Something like Dial-a-Nerd for Linux users?

  2. Steve
    December 16th, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

    Asus EEE 900. The 700 is just too small. The 900 is cool and still a lot more affordable than the Acer Aspire One 3G. Stick Ubuntu EEE on it?

  3. Vadim P.
    December 16th, 2008 @ 4:34 pm

    Dell Mini if you’re looking for Ubuntu – that way you get your support and Ubuntu, not some third-party group of people infringing on copyrights with a website that poses as an official Ubuntu one providing you vital software.

  4. Alastair
    December 17th, 2008 @ 6:38 am

    As far as I know the Dell Mini is not available in South Africa. Also Dell SA doesn’t do Linux, despite what the company is saying around the world.

  5. Toby
    December 16th, 2008 @ 7:56 pm

    At R2100 from, you really can’t do better value for money than the EEE PC 700. Buy 3 for the price of an Acer Aspire One! Yes, a slightly bigger keyboard and screen would be nice, but at what price? 700 FTW!

  6. Christopher Brunsdon
    December 16th, 2008 @ 9:58 pm

    I’m typing this on my Acer Aspire One and loving it. Easy to use and the Linux works out of the box. The 3G version is a rip-off – I have a E272 Modem instead. Between this and the Asus EeePc you cannot go wrong but I will admit that the netbook market is not for everybody.

    PS: My wife loves mine so much she also wants one.

  7. Jaco
    December 17th, 2008 @ 12:50 am

    The form-factor counts for a lot, as it makes it very easy for people to simply slip the netbook into a bag; I usually have mine with me.
    The solid-state HDD is an absolute must on these units: in terms of power consumption & shock tolerance
    The eee 900 is a very nice model, I have to admit. Keyboard is a bit tight, but people typing with 2 fingers don’t mind all that much 😉

    The Aspire One is the ideal spec; just a pity about the price. Surprised the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 isn’t more universally available.
    Both these units would do well as a bundled deal from a mobile provider. I know that Vodafone has the Inspiron available as a contact bundle in the UK; cost works out a bit on the crazy side, but does become affordable in those instalments

    I think this’ll be a market to keep an eye on; especially the lower-spec, cheaper units (where the 701 absolutely proved it’s worth)

  8. Mac
    December 17th, 2008 @ 8:59 am


    check out tectonic’s directory for support. There are definitely peeps that will help home users.
    However from their perspective the pay is usually not worth the pain. Home users usually want free support, and aren’t interested in R500 /hour support (I can understand why $$).

    Remote support would be a worthwhile feature. … unless the support call is about connection problems.

    support@abc-it dotco dotza

  9. Mac
    December 17th, 2008 @ 9:03 am

    The Aspire One is the only netbook I’ve used so far
    but it was really great. Lovely screen, great keyboard and fantastic wifi reception. Booted in 15 seconds with the default Linpus OS, took a bit longer when I installed Ubuntu Hardy on it. :-)

    it is a pity about the price though, since Acer itself sells e-machine laptops for less than the Aspire One.

  10. Sirshen
    December 20th, 2008 @ 9:17 pm

    Hey guys we offer incredibly affordable support for home users. Check out the pricing guide on our website. Its prepaid and we do virtual support as well. We actually opt not to service large companies at all! But rather focus on the smaller guys and home users. We are listed in the Tectonic directory as Sigma Solutions.

  11. Christopher Brunsdon
    December 30th, 2008 @ 10:06 am

    @mac I do not understand why everybody is saying the Acer Aspire One is so expensive. I’ve seen them priced @ R4200 for the LINUX version with SSD (the model I have) – that is the same price as the Asus 900. Just remember that the AAO has various upgrades on the more expensive models (ie R9K for the 3G).

    But I’ve decided to take mine on the Vodacom 250MB bundle contract as without 3G the concept of the netbook is not truly experienced.

    BTW: I’m sitting outside in the shade typing this on my AAO while my works Juggernaut of a desktop replacement notebook is packed away.

  12. David Herman
    January 10th, 2009 @ 3:16 am

    I searched long and hard. As a matter of fact I’ve been waiting for the perfect netbook since the 700 came out.

    In december I tried the eeepc 900 but the keyboard was just a bit to re-arranged for my taste. Working w/ a 9 inch screen also showed me that for aging eyes there is a great benefit in moving to the 10 inch screen. Same number of pixels but everything gets to spread out just a bit more.

    If you don’t want a shiny screen (me) then it really comes down to the msi wind or the eeepc 1000. If you don’t want to buy windows, want a multi-touch trackpad and a ssd hard drive then that leaves the eeepc 1000. If you want to put macosX on it, don’t care about paying for windows, and want a mechanical hard disk then the wind is be a better choice. (particularly if you want to put osx on it)

    If the wind suits you better but you like the glossy screens and don’t care about macosX then by all means you should look long and hard at the hp1000. Great price, great keyboard (no multi-touch touchpad though) great webcam.

    Hope this info is useful to someone.

    BTW I am really happy with everything about the eeepc1000 except for its speakers. It runs linux mint and eeebuntu well, suse 11.1 not so well (only tried for an hour). Nice keyboard and multitouch is great.

  13. shaaira
    June 25th, 2009 @ 8:29 am

    hi, i need help. ive got an hp mini, and just cant figure out how to install my usb modem to the suse linux os on hp.bear in mind i know nothing about will be appreciated

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