Thursday, 29 January 2009

My Advent 4211C - a brief review

I bought this netbook in November 2008 and I must say that I am very impressed with it! In fact, I am writing this little text on it right now.

The specifications are as follows:
- Intel Atom processor N270 (energy efficient)
(1.6GHz, 533MHz FSB, 512MB cache)
- 1024MB DDR2 RAM
- 120GB Hard drive
- 10" Widescreen Display
- Wireless enabled
- Bluetooth
- Built-in Webcam, microphone and speakers

With a weight of only 1.12KG the computer is very light and handy. But instead of being flimsy, it has a good feel to it - just like a small laptop. My back was aching quite a bit from carrying around my Dell Inspiron 1300. The Advent 4211c fits into its little padded pouch, which takes up the space and weight of a medium-size book in my rucksack.

The screen is large enough and comfortable to work with. Admittedly it is smaller than most laptops', but not as tiny as those found on common netbooks and does not make my eyes hurt at all. I prefer larger screens and often work on my old laptop at home, but that is often a simple case of convenience, as the Dell is usually plugged in and ready to go.

The keyboard is just slightly smaller than full-size and takes a bit of getting used to. I have small hands, so I can almost say I prefer this size to the usual. There is a Windows-key though...Who still needs a Windows-key these days??? The annoying thing is that this pointless key is sitting right next to the Ctrl key and thus gets in the way all the time...

The operating system it comes with is Windows XP Home, but I installed Ubuntu 8.10 on my Netbook a week after purchase. Due to the fact that it lacks a DVD drive I had to create a bootable usb-stick first. I created a dual-boot due to the fact that I was not sure at first about how well Ubuntu would run on the computer, as it might require a special version. In addition I sometimes use a couple of open source GIS applications only available for Windows. Therefore I keep all my files on the Windows partition and access them from Ubuntu (Windows cannot read the Linux file structure whilst it works the other way round).
Fazit: Ubuntu 8.10, the full version, not the mobile one, works perfectly fine on this computer. The only flaws I have come across so far are
a) the lack of a driver for the microphone - I cannot use the softphone on Ubuntu and have to switch to Windows to use it. If anyone has managed to get the microphone working, please let me know.
b) the low screen resolution does not allow Google Earth to display properly. I use other GIS applications, such as gvSIG and QGIS all the time and do not encounter any difficulties.
c) I have not worked out how to use the webcam, but this might not be a problem - merely the fact that I have not tried...

I have furthermore installed PostgreSQL on my Netbook for learning, and PhD purposes and have not encountered any issues.

Apart from the missing DVD drive, this little Netbook has entirely replaced my old laptop. I will take this netbook to Egypt in March and my back will be most grateful :-)