Everyone has been Netbook mental this year – including me. As soon as I saw the first Eee PC advertised, I wanted one. A PC you can chuck in your bag! Ace! I even blogged about my desire for one…
That was before I actually saw an Eee PC. Admittedly, the range has diversified widely since the first models came out – but they’re actually pretty nasty looking. Flimsy, with tiny keyboards that my sausage fingers found unable to cope with, I couldn’t help feeling that I was using Barbie’s playhouse computer. My netbook fever cooled quickly.
Recently though, I was sent a Medion Akoya Mini E1210 to play around with for PC Plus magazine. Based on the MSI Wind, this little notebook is a more robust and chunky machine than the Asus minis. It has proper, clicky keys that feel like a laptop keyboard – only a bit smaller. The 10″ screen’s absolutely fine for browsing and word processing – and it’s crystal clear. I’m not keen on the trackpad – but I don’t like trackpads anyway. That’s the old graphic designer in me – it’s pixel perfect cursor control for me or death. Well, maybe not death. Perhaps a little random and meaningless violence. To be honest though, you’d be as daft as Daft McGee from Daft Town if you wanted to run Photoshop or Illustrator on one of these babies.
Not that it isn’t capable of doing that. In fact, one of the first things I did with this machine was flip it over and take it apart. Nine screws, a bit of manic tugging careful jiggling, and the E1210’s visceral insides were mine for the meddling. It was that easy. Adding a 2GB SODIMM gave the machine enough horsepower to juggle multiple apps – which I do. I habitually have several browser windows, Open Office, messenger and a media player running at once, because I’m THAT hard. Didn’t need to upgrade the hard drive – which is perfectly adequate at 160 GB in the model I was sent. The wireless card’s in a PCIe slot – so eminently and easily upgradable to hybrid 3G/WiFi when stuff like that becomes more available.
In fact, the only disappointment I had was on the software side. Aimed at Joe Consumer, and shipping for £279 through supermarkets (with an 80GB HD), the E1210 comes with Windows XP preinstalled.
There’s nothing wrong with that, actually, but I really wanted a Linux based netbook to play with… Of course, I could have just stuck Ubuntu on there and stopped whining like an ickle baby.
Instead I settled for the lazy route; changing XP’s chunky blue interface back to Windows Classic (that’s the plain grey theme, sports fans), removing all traces of the intrusive and nagging Bulldog Security Suite that ships with the E1210 (AVG and ZoneAlarm do it for me) and replacing Corel Office (huh?) with OpenOffice.org 3.
So – now I’ve got it set-up like a real computer, will it do the job of one? Currently, I’m spending a lot of time on the road, commuting between Leeds and Manchester. If they let me keep it – I’ll update you on how me and the Medion get on. So far, it’s love.