Mobile Computing, Chuck Horowitz

On the road, again
Have you seen any of the new small, portable computers that they call “Netbooks?” These machines are generally 10 inches or less and do not have a DVD or CD drive.

Acer has a model that comes with an 8 Gigabyte Solid-State Drive and 8 Gigabyte SD Card. Another model has 2 Gigabytes of RAM and a 160 Gigabyte hard drive. Prices for these Netbooks range from $299 to $1,000.
I just bought the Acer Aspire One model ZG5. This Netbook has Windows XP Home Edition as the operating system, an Intel Atom N270 processor, a Gigabyte of memory, an 8 Gigabyte solid-state drive and an SD slot that will take up to 16 Gigabytes. There is no hard drive, no DVD/CD drive, and no floppy drive. With 3 USB ports though, you can plug in a multi-port hub and plug-in all of the devices that you need, which I already have from other notebook computers. I have an inexpensive USB floppy drive, an also relatively inexpensive USB DVD+-RW/CD+-RW. The Netbook has an 8.9 inch LCD screen (1024x 600), a wireless-G connection, built-in stereo speakers, a 6-in1 memory card reader, a webcam, and an Ethernet port. All this comes in less than 2.5 pounds and costs $329.00.
The disadvantages of this Netbook are that it doesn’t come with an Office Suite. There is a 90-day trial version of Microsoft Office 2007 which I lump with Vista. I don’t like either one. I can see the screen much better than I can see the 12.1 inch screen on the Toshiba notebook that I have (I hate it because it has Vista on it. It’s easy to carry and takes up very little desk space. Because I don’t favor a touch pad, I have a USB mouse (some day I’ll get one of the cordless mice that I have to work). I also have a roll-up USB keyboard (without a numeric keypad). So far, I like the machine and I will like it a lot more when I find a copy of Microsoft Office 2003 to load on it.
Check out the Power V2 from Ecosol ( About the size of a stick of gum, it charges from your USB port and can power portable devices for up to 90 minutes (depending on the device).
The January 2009 issue of Computer Shopper has a review of 10 USB Flash Drives by Matt Safford. The review covers: the Corsair Flash Survivor; the Corsair Flash Voyager; Imation Atom; Kingston Data Traveler 100; Kingston Traveler Hyper X; PNY Attaché; SanDisk Extreme Cruser Contour; SanDisk Ultra Cruser Titanium Plus; and the Super Talent Pico-C. Prices range from $29.00 to $139.99. Computer Shopper’s Editors’ Choice is the Imation Atom at $49.99.
The January 2009 issue of Computer Shopper also has a review of 5 Netbooks. The Asus Eee PC 1000H at $449; MSI Wind U100 at $479.99; HP Mini 1000 at $549; Lenovo IdeaPad 510 at $399; and Acer Aspire One at $329. They favor the Asus Eee, which is the most expensive of the group and has the normalDDR2 memory and a hard drive. It’s also the heaviest weighing in at 3.2 pounds.
Do you remember that a while ago I reviewed a computer in a keyboard? Maybe not, it was a long while ago. Well, here’s an update on the Cybernet ( computer in a keyboard. It has an Intel Core2 Quad Processor (with up to 2.83 Gigahertz), up to 4 Gigabyte of DDR 2 800MHz memory, up to 300 Gigabyte SATA hard drive, a 19 inch CD monitor, a DVD+- RW drive, Microsoft Windows XP Professional, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 3100, a 1 Gigabyte Realtek 8168B Lan connection, 3D Sound w/Internal Speakers, one Mini-PCI and one MiniPCIe, 1066MHz Front Side Bus, and all the standard ports.
For about $100.00 you can get a USB Tuner that delivers HDTV to your computer. It comes with a portable antenna that you connect to the tuner (which you plug into a USB 2.0 port). It picks up both Analog and Digital channels, as well as Clear QAM channels (for this you need to connect a cable line-in). Pretty soon you’ll only need your computer and there won’t be any reason to go home.
What do you think about a hand-held projector for presentations? I could easily find a use for it. Well, 3M has the 5.4 ounce MProllo that has inputs for laptops, digital cameras, and cell phones to display video at standard-definition TV quality (640 x 480 pixels). The projector’s lamp is a one-watt LED with a special lens to concentrate the light beam. In effect, you get a giant-screen TV for all of $360.
The December 2008 issue of Popular Science has an item on a 48-hour battery that could be out by September 2009. Hewlett-Packard has released a laptop that can run for 24 hours on a single charge when you pair it with a supplemental lithium-ion battery.
Livescribe ( makes the Pulse Smartpen. This pen has an image scanner and a voice recorder built-in. You can take notes on proprietary paper and the pen stores the images of all your notes. While you jot down notes, you can use the pen to record audio during a conference call, a lecture, or an interview. The Pulse Smartpen sells for $149.
Duracell ( has the Power Source Mini Charger. Used for any USB based device, this dual USB port device lets you charge two devices at once. The price is $34.99.
Chuck Horowitz, a HAL-PC member, can be reached at for questions or comments.