I’m Doing My Part to Stimulate the Economy

Meet the new toy:

It’s an Acer Aspire One netbook computer, which as you can see by the Coke Zero can set there for scale, is actually quite the tiny tiny little thing. I’ve decided that my other laptop is simply too gargantuan to hoist around whilst I travel, and I needed something cute and small. And then while I was out getting a new cell phone (more on that in a minute) I happened to come across this, and I thought, hey, that’ll do.

Fact is, as most of you know, I’ve been lusting after a netbook for a while now, but I thought it would be silly to get one when in fact my laptop is perfectly cromulent. But then I found some extra money I had forgotten about in my PayPal account. Which made it free money. Which meant I could spend it on a frivolity. And here we are. I’m writing this on it, and I have to say the tiny keyboard is actually not a problem — I’m a glorified two-finger typer anyway, which is a style that suits the keyboard just fine. Go me. The keypad buttons on the side are going to take a little getting used to. But otherwise, it’s very nice, and will be perfect for my upcoming travel.

The new cell phone: I went ahead and got a Blackberry Storm, on account that the e-mail/data plan was not hugely expensive, and it’s pretty and shiny and I found free money. Sadly, the store had already run out of them by 10am, so I have to wait for mine to be delivered to me tomorrow. Fortunately I have my netbook to keep me amused until then. Also, I’ve spent all I’m going to spend on technology for the rest of the year. The economy is going to have to go on without me.

89 Comments on “I’m Doing My Part to Stimulate the Economy”

  1. That’s the exact netbook I mentioned before when you posted about wanting one. I love it. It’s great for my writing, and it’s light and small enough to carry most anywhere. Glad to hear you’re happy with the new netbook!

  2. You mean your family has no embargo on self-indulgent purchases pre-Christmas? Granted, the “found money” argument might be persuasive even here, but still.

  3. I’ve been itching for one of these or an eeePC for awhile now, too – I’m trying desperately to get away from anything with Windows on it – but I’d be lucky to find my PayPal account would cover the purchase of a Coke Zero. (I still have my retrogeek fallback, though: I do a fair amount of writing on a – brace yourself – Tandy WP2. 4AA batteries, instant-on/off and no Intarweb distractions or failed saves.)

  4. I ended up getting an EeePC after you last “I want” entry (so it’s all your fault!)

    Looked at the Aspire, but the Eee has a solid state drive which means the battery lasts 8 hours on a charge (as opposed to 3) and there’s a greater chance of survival when I fumble it!

    Oh – and it’s Linux – worth getting since the XP machines have a much smaller drive to pay the M$ tax (mine has a 20GB SSD, as opposed to a 12 GB SSD on the windows version).

  5. I got the Dell mini for many of the same reasons, and while I know it doesn’t quite have the power of the Acer or the Eee, it DOES have the biggest keys and weighs the least.

    A computer that fits all but my most evening-y of purses. Love it.

  6. Can only afford either the M or N key not both for a thightop of that size.

    On and no Q due to the Dilbert “Q”uality initiative.

    Hell w/ my Pearl not sure if I could get another one. Damn love that phone. And I have no email/data plan. Phone was free w/ my plan so had to get it.

    Although I think my next “fancy” phone might have to be G1. Just because I like open source.

  7. I should clarify that the Aspire One is the “one” I got, not a Blackberry Storm.

    I don’t find the keyboard too bad, but I also got a roll-up keyboard for heavy typing situations.


  8. Linkmeister:

    I have a standing order for my family NOT to buy me Christmas/birthday gifts, actually, since I do tend to run out and buy everything I know I want, because I’m no good at waiting.

    And everyone else, the sad part is that I would make the same “tiny/timy”” error on a full-size keyboard. Because I’m not the world’s most exact typer. I’ll go fix it anyway.

  9. I looked hard (and played with) that one before buying the eee. The blue color, very nice, and the keyboard feel is better. But the longer battery life on the eee and the linux option were the deciding factors. But boy it was close.

    I hope you enjoy your tiny cute laptop as much as I do. An unexpected benefit: watching video in bed when I go to bed earlier than my partner. It’s so convenient with a teensy computer. I particularly recommend Neil Gaiman’s Graveyard Book video tour as bedtime stories. Assuming you aren’t either going to dream of bad men with knives, or be sucked into watching the whole thing rather than sleeping.

    Why yes, I am a internet-addicted geek, why do you ask?

  10. Great choice! :)

    My teenager has one of those, has had since the summer; it was a graduation gift when she got out of Grade Eight. She’s toted it all over the place, and she takes it to bed with her at night (literally, I’ve found it under her). So far, so, good! It’s in perfect condition. It’s an excellent little piece of equipment. She took to Linux like a fish to water, and she has had great luck with the word processor from Open Office.

    The folks at the shop said it would be a better deal than the Asus (which came in pink, a real draw), and on investigation, she went with the white Acer. It’s been great. I hope you have fun with yours. It’s amazing to have a computer you can pretty much keep in your pocket (or at least the pocket of your backpack).

    We’re thinking of getting another one for the ‘car computer’, the one we keep under the seat in case someone gets bored, or we need to stop at a hot spot for direction.

  11. Gee, that’s thing so big. I just got a Fujitsu U810 UMPC and it’s probably half that size. Windows XP Tablet — yes, it’s a tablet — with 60GB HDD and 1GB memory, about the same specs as my home and work laptops. And yes, I’ve found it very usable so far.

    Go toys! Er, I need it for work! And travel! See, I have no lap, and my last HP PDA stopped responding to its touchscreen, which is hard for a PDA which only uses its touchscreen. (grin)

    Dr. Phil

  12. Does it come with Microsoft Word, or Word 2007, or Office 2007? I cannot live without that program for my writing…I have a copy of Office 2007 on CD, but since the Acer One has no CD drive…

  13. I’ve graduated up and down, and back up the laptop/net-top scale.

    One thing I didn’t like about little notebooks was the lack of DVD/CD R/W drive. I still have a frequent need for that feature, and when I had an nc4000 back in 2005, I found I missed not being able to pop a disc into the thing; for playing, or burning.

    Of course, the question is: once a laptop passes a certain unedfined limit (new term: the Scalzi Radius?) does it stop being a laptop, or even a notebook, and become a texting device with ambition?

  14. That’s the same model and color I have! I love the Tiny Blue Computer. Very useful for typing in transit.

    So, is it going to get a name?

  15. Josh:

    Well, my Desktops have always been “Mencken” (I’m up to “Mencken 6”) and my Laptops are “Dorothy Parker” (I’m at Parker 4). But this is my first netbook, and so it’s “Heinlein”.

  16. The tablet PC I bought in 2004 (Toshiba M200) didn’t come with an optical drive. Since it has USB ports, and I have an external DVD-RW drive, this works out for me. I plug it in on those rare occasions when I need to install something via optical disc (as opposed to download), then I put it away to gather dust. I have literally never ever taken the laptop out of the house then found that I needed the optical drive. For my purposes, I simply never use optical discs of any sort on the road.

    This isn’t to say that laptops shouldn’t bother with optical drives. Anyone can contrive a situation where an optical drive in a laptop is crucial, I tell you, absolutely crucial. And for some people, those situations aren’t contrived. It’s just that in 4 years, I haven’t run into any of them yet. So, for me, anyway, a laptop which doesn’t come with an optical drive is not a concern.

    I should also point out that I have a 160GB iPod. If I want to listen to music, I use the iPod. If I want to watch a movie, it’s either already on my iPod, or it’s no big deal to copy it onto the laptop. Also, the laptop is not my only computer.

    I’d like it to do Chinese handwriting recognition and web surfing. Other than that though, a texting device with ambition would probably serve me fine. (Ok, my fiction is under version control, so it should also run the version control software I use.)

    #15: I saw an Asus Eee 702 at a BJ’s Wholesale Club. They really are too adorable for words. Sadly, I think the keyboard would inevitably frustrate me to ruin.

  17. I’m laptop shopping these days (my trusty old HP is slowly falling apart), but haven’t really been keen on the netbooks. My laptop is pretty much also my desktop, so I’ll go for big, bulky and fully packed; that said, however, my wife has an older JVC teensy (about 6″ x 8″ or so) notebook that was replaced with a spiffy Macbook.

    I’m tempted to wipe the JVC’s OS with a tiny Linux or maybe the Google OS and play with it …

    Oh, phonewise, I got a LG Something or other that does calls and text. I’m already saddled with a Crackberry for work, and don’t really need/want a superpphone, but am holding out for an iTouch for Xmas.

  18. I wish I had an excuse to get one of these bad boys. I have such gadget envy right now, I can’t stand it.

  19. It might be small… but it’s not cute. Now, if it was pink and covered in Hello Kitty decals, THEN it would be cute.

  20. Hey if you want to make this a “pimp” thread – I sell both the Acer and the Asus Eee (I am a sales person for the nation’s largest brand-name computer reseller) – special discounts for Whatever readers (I need to pay my mortgage)

  21. Did you go with the 3-cell of 6-cell battery? I have the same computer except we get stuck with a bilingual keyboard in Canada. The bigger battery sticks out a bit, but it really helps the amount of time it keeps working.

  22. LOLAM

    Should be

    BE comforted; it miGht be a lIttle hard to eNgiNeEr at fiRst.

    Pride goeth, etc.

  23. One of the U810’s features I really like is that if you cradle the unit in your hands, your right thumb falls on the little strain gauge mouse substitute by the hinge and the left thumb rests on the L-R mousing buttons, and you can surf around quite easily.

    For two-fingered + semi-touchtyping, the sort of thing I’ve done on PDAs for years, the keyboard is really quite nice. And the screen, though small, is quite sharp. It does come with a docking station, and I’ve already got it hooked up to the flat panel at work and the Black Box Personal ServSwitch. I’ll do the same at home when I have the time. Think of the U810 as a large PDA with a real OS, or a portable hard drive which happens to have a keyboard and screen. (grin)

    But I’ll cheerfully acknowledge that such things are not for everyone. Nice leather case though.

    Dr. Phil

  24. I learned a mantra working at one of London’s larger design consultancies. It’s become my own.

    Repeat after me:

    “It is OK for me to have everything I want”.

    It is, you know. As long as you’re willing to trade the work-hours of your life for the currency required to acquire the desires…. it is OK for you to have everything you want.

    (Modulo what you want not pissing in anyone else’s cornflakes).

    Nice kit. I’d have no use for it, but frak me did I get a sweeeeeet mobile animation station in New Hampshire a couple months back. And at zero percent sales tax, too. Mmmm! It is OK for me to have everything I want.


  25. I’m glad there’s other pro-writer/crappy typers in the world,Scalzi. I’m a newspaper reporter and secretly a hunt and pecker, and it seems like I’m the only person in my newsroom who has to look at the keys when they type. Thanks for making me feel better about my secret shame.

  26. There’s a lot of pro-writer/crap typers about.

    I’m one, too …

    (AND I’m left handed and slightly dyslexic …)

  27. You know you really don’t have to be female (or even feminine) to think of things as being cute. And that is seriously cute, no question.

  28. Of all the Netbooks I’ve tried, the Acer had the best keyboard, and the most attractive exterior. If I recall correctly, the trackpad is tappable, which should make the funky location of the physical buttons a little less relevant.

    And call me unmanly, but I kind of like the pink color scheme. It’s more a 1950s pink than a My Little Pony pink, and I do like the fact that the pink version comes with a white keyboard.

    Hmmm…(checks PayPal balance)

    This may require a saving roll vs. Shiny.

  29. *Bursts out of the shadows of the Router and wrestles Marko to the ground*

    Dammit man, it doesn’t run Scrivener! Think about what you’re saying! Your Mac’s bare larger than a Netbook anyway!

    If I resisted the Wacom-enabled tablet – as a frakkin’ animator – then you can be happy with your frakkin’ MacBook!

    *takes your D20 and places it on a Natural 1*

    You lose. You fail. You go home now!


  30. John,

    I’m glad you used thed word “cromulent” in your brief narrative about your new laptop.

    Additionally, I’m glad that you have a small computer now, maybe that will encourage you to extend the Perry series a few more novels. You could write a techno-thriller about how John and crew bust an intergallactic ring of uber hackers with nothing but their tiny PDAs or something.

  31. *looks up from the Kloos pawing at the netbook despite the gaffer-tape*

    You’re not helping, Wonko.

  32. We bought one of the first eeePCs that came out, the tiniest version, back when it was 2 or 4 GB of solid state storage, and we found it to be a perfect platform for what we intended it for – we, in this case, being the school district I work for. It’s an ideal tool for kids. It’s cheap, extremely durable, runs a nice suite of apps under Linux, and has a keyboard so small that it requires that you be nine years old to appreciate it.

    That said, the newer netbooks have caught my attention, but I just couldn’t quite make the switch. My Macbook was probably three times what you paid for that little guy, John, but I’d not want to trade even if I did get the extra money back. 13.3″ of wide screen is just right, and it’s thin and light enough that I really don’t mind packing it anywhere. And the battery life, well, let’s just say I’ve never owned a PC laptop that runs as long as this thing does…

    By contrast, my work laptop has become a defacto desktop. it’s been in it’s docking station so long, the keyboard has a thin layer of dust overtop.

    I’ve got a Blackberry Curve for work, and I must say, were I to be promoted to administration tomorrow, I’m not entirely sure I’d need a real computer anymore. That thing can do it all!

  33. Nice toy, your earlier post convinced me to get the ASUS eee 1000HA, and some books while I was at it.

    I needed a small second workstation at home and a travel notebook, I cringe to think what it would be like to have this as my only PC.

  34. I do envy you writer types. I’m feeling thrilled to have only spend $1450 on a new laptop that *ONLY* weighs ten pounds. Not counting PSU brick. Which is stupid because it only runs for two hours without the brick.

    You jammy, jammy bastards.

  35. I just bought a laptop a week ago. I was looking at the Acer Aspire. It was only $379 Canadian at future shop.

    But I was buying a new computer for everything not just travel so I got a Toshiba laptop with 4gb ram and intel dual core and a 15.4″ screen for $649. Though I was seriously considering the little Acer Aspire at the cheap price.

    If you don’t mind me asking what did that little Aspire cost?

    I was under the impression Acer was a Canadian Brand but I guess that is not the case.

    Does anyone use the finger pad for a mouse on their laptops or do they connect a mouse?

    I can’t use a computer without a real mouse.

  36. It is crazy you can buy a laptop for $350.

    I remember my dad buying an Apple 2 clone in pieces and building it himself with a saudering iron for like 2 grand or more and it was a almost half the price of a real Apple 2 at the time. in 1982 or 1983 dollars it would be like 4 or 5 grand or more for a 64K computer.

    Crazy how cheap computers are now. I had not bought one for a few years and I was surprised how comparable laptops are to desktops and how cheap they are. There is almost no price difference for laptops now compared to desktops.

  37. I love my new Toshiba laptop.

    It is great and it makes like no noise and does not even get hot like my GF’s laptop from 3 years ago which could almost scald you if you exposed it to your skin at times.

  38. Rob @68:

    Not sure how it works in the US now – but in the UK it’s scary how much PC you can build for yourself like your dad did in the old days. The prebuilt stuff is cheap, but building your own still scales to about half the cost. (Exception: This is for the base unit only – the most expensive component is now the monitor…….)

    This got me pricing things up and it looks like I could (just) build a home enterainment system to replace our aging Tivo (and the decoder, and the DVD player) for under £200 (about $300 as the pound slams through the floor). The great thing about this is that my wife actually WANTS me to play with this tech, since it’s her Tivo – and it’s getting old, and she’s addicted to CSI, CSI:NY, CSI Miami, CSI Newport Pagnell, etc, etc

    (OK, I lied about Newport Pagnell).

  39. Computer prices are getting right down there. I remember my last job in England was with a company that made Intel 486 computers when the first chips came out. We sold them then for the equivalent of $20,000 each and couldn’t make them fast enough. (For the detail orientated: 486SX-25MHz, 2Mb RAM, 40Mb [Mb not Gb] HD and CD-ROMs weren’t around back then). How times have changed…

  40. Christian –
    If it is like my little eee, the only option on this screen is midget based adult entertainment.

  41. Where could one play with the ASUS or ACER ? I currently own a viao SZ thats less than a year old, and $350 sounds good. But, I’d like to be able to play around with the wee gadget before purchasing one. Best Buy/Circuit city ?

  42. weird, I was just on the phone with my mom talking about buying one of these. I’ve been kind of on the fence about it but you’ve encouraged me somewhat.

  43. Last year I bought the 2g Asus Eee Surf which came with a battery that lasts for only 2, maybe three hours. That’s even when I don’t turn on the internet.

    I bought it for writing in coffee shops, but darn it! It’s too good at connecting to the internet and causing a distraction! For writing I’ll have to go back to my iPAQ 2200 PDA and folding PalmOne keyboard. At least *that* doesn’t connect with the internet!

  44. I saw that same Aspire at Costco a few weeks ago, thought “Oooooh, shiny!”, played briefly with their display model, then succumbed to impulse and bought one.

    I got it mostly because I wanted something comfortable with which to read all the digital stories you, Tor, and others have posted links to that I’ve been collecting for a while. (In fact, I christened it by rereading Old Man’s War — thanks, John!) The Aspire is awesome for reading, especially of pdf files: Adobe Reader, I discovered to my joy, can rotate its display, thus allowing me to hold the Aspire sideways like a book. I still prefer reading from paper, but this is a darn close second.

    It also makes a nifty digital photo frame, although that can prove to be a serious distraction.

    @ Marko #51: Yes, the trackpad is tappable. It also has scroll capabilities along the right and bottom sides.

  45. I’m having “don’t need it like oxygen but need it like chocolate” lust for a netbook at the moment – glad to hear it’s all that but you’re not helping the lust much ;-)

  46. One of us! One of us! I love my Asus Eee and netbooks are spreading like a virus among my writing friends. Though if the Aspire One had been available when I bought the 701, I might have opted for that model.

  47. A considerate young woman named Grace attending our Extremophile Biology panel at Philcon this weekend walked up carrying one so she could provide an online source for Deinoccus radioduransan organism I cited.

    By the way, Mary Robinette Kowal said, “Scalzi’s cool.”


  48. Crap. I didn’t even know these things *existed* a week ago (I guess I’ve become tech-toy sheltered) and now I’m dithering between the Dell mini 9, the HP mini 1000 and the Acer.

    Curse you, Scalzi! Curse you to–

    Oh… wait. Thanks!

  49. Heh, a PC? I always figured you for one of those Mac pantywaists. I embrace the blue screen of death. Being able to diagnose and fix it makes me feel special, kind of superior to all those techtards who run to the Geek Squad when their comp hiccups.

  50. Late to the show, but I am squeaking in delight that you also have an AAO. I got the 512/8MBSSD/Linux model in blue a few weeks ago, and am in so. much. love. I’m not ditching my 15.4″ Compaq laptop or my desktop, but it’s great having something I can literally carry in my purse, with a decent keyboard. It lets me make much better use of my time on the train or bus.

    (And now my dad just got the same config in white, after a squee-filled e-mail from me about mine.)

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