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Good evening all,

As I mentioned on my first question to this great community, due to World Economic problems I was fired from a great job at Sony Design. I am currently working as a SysAdmin for a small company that does VoIP.

Most of the things I have to do I am doing them from my home office (I only need to take care of 1 server), where I use a 24" iMac running Windows 7. I use this machine for C# development and for RDPing into the server for monitoring and VoIP configurations.

Due to the nature of the job, I have to be on hand 24/7, but I don't want to be stuck at my home office all the time, so I have presented my boss the idea of getting a Note/Netbook to do some remote monitoring when I'm away from the office (visiting family, weekends, etc..) and they have agreed.

My question to you is, what should I get? Should I go with portability and get a Netbook and sacrifice processing power? Here are the activities I will be doing:

  • RDP to monitor the server and do some configuration
  • Email
  • IM
  • Microsoft Office related stuff (Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Maybe Visual Studio 2008

Is anyone else working like this? Do you have any trouble working with the 10" screen?

PS. I would appreciate if you can recommend me a nice machine for the work, be it a netbook or a notebook.

Update

My main concern us buying something that I would have to replace too quickly because of "usability". Based on the plans the company has, I might be able to climb the "position ladder" and do something else with them. If they hire a new person to do what I do now, and I provide him with a NetBook, it might not be the right tool for him. That is why I'm debating between a small portable netbook, or a full blown 15.4" notebook.

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I empathise with you loosing your job, by the way. As far as I can tell, so many companies are taking a short-sighed view to surfing it out, and its this short-sightedness that put them in this problem in the first place! –  Mark Henderson Jun 18 '09 at 4:27
    
Thanks for the kind words. Losing this job has been very difficult for me, for several reasons: it was a great job, I was designing LCD TVs, you can see them in the market now they are the "S5100" and the "V5100" series, I was doing "System Design". And second, it is very difficult to find a good job at the moment. –  GusCrown Jun 18 '09 at 4:37

6 Answers 6

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've been looking at getting a netbook recently for coding when I'm away from home. There are two common resolutions for 10" screens, 1024x564 and 1024x600. I would expect that less than 600 vertical pixels would become quite annoying for setup windows. I RDP into servers at work at 800x600 and although it could be a little bigger, I've had no major problems with it.

If battery time is important the MSI Wind U100, and the Samsung n110 both have very decent life. Probably better than most if not all notebooks.

If your going to be typing a lot, you'll probably want a decent keyboard too. The Dell Mini 10, MSI Wind and Samsung n110 all have close to full size keyboards. If you hate the size of it though, you can get 12" netbooks which have full size keyboards. I havn't done much looking at Notebooks just because I don't need the power, or the price tag.

So there you go for a start. Take a look at the MSI Wind U100, Dell Mini 10, and the Samsung n110.

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Thanks, I will look into them. The MSI looks nice. –  GusCrown Jun 18 '09 at 4:40
    
Have an MSI, it's for RDP and SF viewing. I get the feeling it wouldn't stand up to much of a beating... I expect it to die within a couple years. But for the price, that's about right. I would definitely not try Visual Studio on a netbook, tho. –  Kara Marfia Jun 18 '09 at 13:31

My wife has a netbook - and that's OK because she does similar tasks to what you mention, but she's lanky and has very skinny fingers.

Me however, if I try to type anything on it, I mash all the keys together because my fingers are a lot fatter than hers. As will happen when you have an 80-90% sized keyboard. And I'm far from obese.

So if you do go for a netbook (and it'll be fine for everything except VS I'd say) make sure you can type comfortably, or else you'll be throwing it out the window.

(and as far as my wife is concerned this is a good thing, because it means I almost physically cannot actually use her laptop)

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I bought a netbook for just the exact reasons that you described. It is very convenient for everything on your list EXCEPT anything that involves lengthy typing. The keyboard is so small that I find myself making mistakes in almost every word that I type.

I still use it though. I am on call 24/7 and I always throw it in the car or in a small pack. It goes everywhere I go and has never been a burden.

BTW it is an Acer Aspire One with 2 gigs of ram and a 120 gig drive. I am running a tweaked install of Windows XP Pro with a boot time of under a minute. I routinely use RDC, Putty, Pidgin IM, Thunderbird, Firefox, and I attempt to use Office 2003 (Excel, Word, and Access).

The battery life isnt the best, but I usually get a good 2hrs out of it.

I would also like to mention that the small screen isnt an inconvenience at all and is super bright (almost too bright), the built-in webcam is pretty decent, the dual card readers have come in handy a couple of times, and the thing just seems durable. It has had a pretty rough life, but I have never had a problem with it.

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Thanks, that is one of the options I have been looking into, I also saw a very neat "Lenovo" netbook. As far as typing, I saw an HP Mini with a very nice keyboard, the biggest I've seen on a netbook. I was expecting more battery life from a netbook. –  GusCrown Jun 18 '09 at 4:39

I've got a first generation HP 2133 Mini-Note, and even with its problems* relative to newer and competing models, I still like it and would^H^H^H^Hill buy a new one.

The best thing about the 2133 vs. any other netbook is the keyboard - it's almost full-size and very easy to type on. I find the touchpad a bit small, but I adjust to it quickly after switching to/from a full-size laptop.

*Mainly that the screen is small, with speakers on either side of it. The next generation had bigger screens.

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I do all of that, except for the Visual Studio, with an old "first gen" Eee 701 4G netbook. (7" screen, 4 GB SSD, upgraded to 1GB ram). I have it running XP Pro and primarily use it for RDP and SSH on remote servers -- Neither of those demand much for horsepower. My mail is web based (google apps) as is most of my office stuff.

Insanely portable and light and works great with my Sprint 3G USB stick.

Cost? Got it free with a printer from newegg...

IMHO: If you really gotta have Visual Studio, you'll definitely want a more modern processor, more memory and at least a 10" panel if you stick with the netbooks.

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Thanks for your help. The Visual Studio is more like a plus. If I can run it, than great, if not than no big problem. –  GusCrown Jun 18 '09 at 4:41

My personal approach would be to buy a $400-500 notebook, and throw 3 or 4 gb or ram in it. In my view, you can get a lot of machine for that money.

But I personally just bought an ASUS 8.9" netbook because I'm REALLY cheep.

The tiny keyboard takes a little getting used to, but for sub $200, I'm very pleased.

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