Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Have Your Virtual PC Right Here.

So all of this confusion over XP mode in Windows 7 has really made my head spin. Do I purchase a business class notebook for thousands of dollars or do I purchase a less than personal use laptop that will run Windows 7 but not in XP mode for hundreds of dollars and possible still breaking a grand on the setup if I go for my dream machine????

I have my big desktop PCs that can run Windows 7 w/XP Mode and they work just fine. I also want a very small PC to be my laptop and break away from my need to keep a desktop replacement notebook of choice and leverage it for blogging, uploading photos on the run and surfing the web while I am not at home. So how do I accomplish that without breaking my back and the bank at the same time? Well that would be a netbook.

The quest actually began with the desire to get a 13" MacBook or a Lenovo Thinkpad X200, but those two PCs are quite expensive and the Lenovo does not even include a DVD/CD drive. So the home market PC became the avenue of choice, but HP and Dell just did not have the combination of size and power that I wanted. The HP DV2 was as close as they came, but I was very uncertain of the AMD Neo Duo chip that does support virtualized PCs, but does not have the power to run multiple applications at once. Dell had a couple of options, but they had Intel processors that were unknown to me and for the money, I wanted a piece of hardware that had a bit of a track record.

Now, truth to be told, I really thought that the 12" screen was a bit big for what I wanted in my new mobile workstation. For that matter, I thought that the 11" netbooks that are all the rage would also be a bit big for what I wanted. So I started looking at the different stores and was trying to see what was available for the money that would fit the bill and suit my needs. The Intel Atom processor at 1.6 GHz was going to be enough to do what I needed considering its power level to PCs that I have owned in the past. The Intel 945 chipset for graphics was also going to be more than adequate because this computer is going to be frozen at the XP level for backward compatibility down the road. And the 10" screens was more than large enough to handle the work that I want to do on this PC. If I need a big screen for a big spreadsheet, I have a pair of 24" monitors that can handle that work on my desktop. For my portable work, I need as small as I can get. And battery life is not a "must", but it would be nice to get more than two hours out of the life of the battery.

The answer came when I found the Acer Aspire One netbook with an 8.9" screen. I was lucky enough to get hold of a model that had a 160GB hard drive, a Gig of ram that is upgradeable, and a few other features (like multi touch track pad) that were rather desirable for a PC that was under $250.00. In fact, even with the carrying case, it was still under that price. Not too shabby considering that this is enough power to run Office 2003, MapPoint with a GPS dongle, and connect to any Bluetooth device that I have with my USB dongle. To say the least, I am quite pleased.

Now, I don't have to worry about having virtualization as a process that is activated on my CPU because I have a tiny little virtual PC in my hands. I have to admit that the tiny keys are a bit tough to hit. Also, I had to remove a bunch of shovel ware include MS Office 2007 to get the little booger to not be too sluggish. I don't mind the extra weight of the 6 cell battery, but it added nearly a half inch to the thickness of the PC. And speaking of batteries, this netbook easily runs for 3.5 hours with most of the power saving features (like dim backlight and low power WiFi) disabled. Not a bad little computer. Most of all, coupling it with my 3G internet service makes it one of the best, most portable computing solutions that I have used.

Kudos to Acer for making the Aspire One a brilliant little computer. The screen is bright and crisp and the PC is rather fast for a micro machine. I am going to enjoy using this netbook for many years to come.

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