Technology Updates

I’m still getting questions about how I’m doing with the netbook and with the Blackberry Storm, so for those of you who are interested, a quick update on my thoughts on both:

The netbook, which in my case is an Acer Apire One: I’m still continuing to use it and still like it very much, although time does reveal its limitations, most as a matter of form factor. At home, I use it primarily for browsing and e-mail and instant messaging; if I need to write anything of substance, however, I go either to my desktop or the Toshiba laptop (which has a fullsize keyboard and a 15″ screen). I do also continue to be aware that the size of the netbook makes it uncomfortable to do some things with; for example, while browsing with it while I’m lying down is easy, typing from a lying position is difficult because the keyboard naturally sits too low on my lap. This is probably not a horrible thing overall — the netbook if nothing else makes me very aware of my personal ergonomics while using the computer — but it’s still something to be aware of. It’s still aces for travel because it’s so damn light and I very rarely do heavy-duty writing when I travel anyway.

The only real complaint I have about it is that its wifi performance is substantially better when it’s plugged in than when it’s not; I suspect the power cord acts as an antenna. But this is a relative small complaint in the larger context of things. Overall it does well for the things I want it for, i.e., a light and small computer for travel and net access. I don’t think a netbook is a replacement for a more capable computer, unless you have tiny hands and only browse the Internet and answer e-mail. But for something to use in a hotel room or an airport, it’s gold.

The Blackberry Storm: I’m also still liking this fine, although I do have specific complaints. First, as I think I’ve noted before, I paradoxically find the “SureType” keyboard on the Storm (which puts two letters on each key and has the Storm figure out what you’re typing) much easier to use than the QWERTY layout keyboard: The qwerty board’s buttons are just too damn small and you can’t see the button when your finger’s on it, which means that you (or I, anyway) end up making far more errors and have to type more slowly. I think there’s something generally weird when the less precise keyboard ends up being the most useful. Second, the while the Storm takes reasonably good pictures (see above, of the front room Christmas tree), the camera software well and truly sucks, starting with the fact that it takes about five seconds from when you press a button to snap a picture, to when the Storm actually decides to get around to taking the picture. Really, that’s just ridiculous.

Aside from these, it’s a good phone/internet appliance, and it does what I want it to do, and I think at least some of the backlash against the Storm is probably unwarranted, and since the latest software upgrade, fixed in any event. I’ve found it particularly useful for keeping track of e-mail, which I suppose makes sense coming from Blackberry. I know some people are annoyed with it for not being an iPhone, but you know, I’m not one of them, and in any event since Apple decided that only AT&T gets to have the iPhone and I’m on Verizon (along with everyone else in my family calling plan), even if I were lusting for an iPhone, this is what I would have ended up getting anyway. I want them to fix the qwerty keyboard and the camera software; aside from that, I’m happy.

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