Why I still use a netbook

I’m typing this on a netbook. Yes, really.

The real question would some people would be, “Why?”

Well, to put it bluntly, because I shudder at the alternatives.

I know people who claim they’ve replaced their computers with phones. Good for them! I can’t understand how a person could do it. I have a Droid. Right now, the netbook is tethered to the thing. I’ve got Dolphin installed on the thing, it’s a decent browser, gestures on a touchscreen is awesome. I’ve also got Touchqode and QuickOffice on the thing, and I cannot imagine using either one for much of anything. Ever tried to edit a Word doc or an Excel spreadsheet on a phone? It’s not something I’d choose to do. I guess if your laptop is a $2000 Facebook machine, you can do that. I know people who have replaced their portable computer with an iPad. Really? A $500 computer with a 10” screen and no built-in keyboard? And it runs iOS? Hold me back!

When I originally decided to get one of these, I wanted a small computer that I could use to surf the Web and write on if I wanted, but also ssh into a server. I could use a remote desktop on a tablet, I guess, but why?

Why not just carry a full-sized laptop, then? I snagged a computer for $200 that I would have spent $3000 on in college, had I been able to afford it; back then, this size was available, but was built exclusively for the Japanese market. What did I get for my $200? I got a computer that I can tuck under my arm. It’s not much bigger than the average hardback. I’m running Ubuntu Oneiric on it; there’s no dumbed-down interface here. I spent another hundred or so putting a 500GB harddrive in it, and maxed out the RAM on the thing. It’s fast enough for my needs, and I have enough storage to have several hours of music stored on the thing–no need to play the music over the Internet–and I can show off family photos without having to connect to Flickr or Picasa.

Did I mention that it has a keyboard? A real, physical keyboard? Well, it does. There’s a real, physical keyboard on the thing!

About the only thing it’s missing is a touchscreen. It’s not a big deal to me, but my kids are already used to the things. I caught my three-year-old trying to tap and drag on my camera’s screen. Oh, the things kids do.

When this one dies, I’m hoping that convertible Windows 8 ultrabooks will be ubiquitous. It’s pretty clear that GNOME Shell and Unity are both being geared toward the age of touchscreens, so I’m put in the uncomfortable position of being a hardcore Linux user, rooting for Microsoft. I’m often put in that position, but I digress. Perhaps at a later date.