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What to Seek in an Older Subnotebook? 250

Posted by timothy
from the when-good-enough-is-what-you-want dept.
cyclomedia writes "I'm looking to buy a subnotebook. For those who think that this form factor was created by the Asus EEE (as, seemingly, does Wikipedia) it might interest you that the current forerunner in my search is a 190MHz,64MB,640x480 256 colour beastie known as the Psion Netbook, circa 2001-ish. Basically, I have a desktop, a server and an Xbox and so truly only want it for surfing, email and the odd bit of SSHing home on weekends away. The aforementioned Psion is, however, of the StrongArm processor variety, which nudges it down on the desireability meter, but the fact that there exist Wi-Fi cards for its 16-bit PCMCIA slot does score it extra points. So, anyone here got any suggestions of what to look out for on ebay? So long as I can play Doom II on it too, that is." Any other suggestions for wireless capable subnotebooks with better battery life than things like the EEE or HP's 2133 Mininote?
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What to Seek in an Older Subnotebook?

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  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:31PM (#23456324)
    Are you seriously stating that you're considering a 190mhz machine, with 64MB of RAM, with a 640x480 8-bit display, as a web browser? Do you use the same web I do? Even applying CSS rules would crush that machine.
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by racermd (314140) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:54PM (#23456500)
      Agreed.

      If you can find one, an old Sony 505-series is an excellent option. You've got options for a fast P1/MMX or a first-gen P2 (depending on specific model), 128-256MB of RAM and a 8-10GB hard disk is common. It's roughly a 10" screen and about 3 lbs.

      What you DON'T get is an optical drive or built-in wifi. You'd need to source those separately, though booting from a USB disk and using a PC-Card or Cardbus wifi card isn't terribly difficult.

      Because they're late-90s vintage, they're getting harder to find. However, because of their age, they're also much cheaper than current sub-compact models.
      • by Hojima (1228978)
        If you're willing to wait for it, the Pandora gaming laptop is an excellent choice: http://www.tfot.info/pod/1168/pandora-gaming-console.html [tfot.info]
        • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:33PM (#23456756)
          C'mon, don't reward those websites with ad-hits, link to the homepage for it instead [openpandora.org].
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by aliquis (678370)
            Intresting thing, never seen it before (seen gp32 and gp2x thought), I saw some photos of it with a laptop and what I think was the eeepc in the same image, sadly enough I can't find it again. I guess it may not be as useful for desktop stuff but it's waaaay smaller and probably more fun ;)

            Thought (I have a hard time admitting this) I would eventually go with PSP instead due to more new games (I have a DS..)
            Though this is open for real, got better resolution, is faster, got two SD-slots, ..
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Rinikusu (28164)
        Are you serious? I've never gotten a single one of my Sony branded laptops (Sony 505FX, Sony R505J series, and TR1A) to boot from any USB Optical drive other than the official Sony drives. The Sony PCMCIA CD-ROMs work, but AFAIK, nothing else is recognized at boot. I've heard rumors that a firewire optical will work just fine, but I'm reluctant to invest another $30-40 in something that may or may not work and will only be used to install an OS on an aging laptop. If you've got some info, spill it. The
    • Huh? (Score:2, Funny)

      by pjt33 (739471)
      When did lynx acquire support for CSS?
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:17PM (#23456666) Journal
      Who says you have to apply CSS rules? Well coded sites should degrade gracefully in the absence of CSS. A browser like w3m or dillo would be fine for many purposes.
      • by StarkRG (888216)

        Well coded sites should degrade gracefully in the absence of CSS.
        Yeah, exactly. How many major sites are well coded? Hell, when the vast majority of users are still using a browser with broken CSS most people are not coding well, they're coding with silly workarounds.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cheater512 (783349)
      It would work rather well actually.

      Its a ARM so it has more oomph than a Pentium running at 190mhz.
      Using a browser like Konqueror would work fine.

      I've run Seamonkey and KDE 3.5 on a Pentium 1 laptop before.
      Perfectly acceptable for surfing the net and using SSH.
      KDE 4 would be even better.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        A completed KDE 4 would be better. The current "release" (calling it a beta would be generous) would have severe problems at that resolution.
      • Sadly, the Netbook probably won't do. The entire line was discontinued. It was a gigantic PDA, so the OS it runs is an ancestor of the current Symbian, not Windows. I think Opera came out with a browser for it, but the point is, it doesn't run a current browser, or in fact any current software at all, so lots of things just won't work.

        It's an abandoned platform restricted to ancient software.

        OTOH it is neat. It's even leather-bound!
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Crayon Kid (700279) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @08:25PM (#23457058)

      Are you seriously stating that you're considering a 190mhz machine, with 64MB of RAM, with a 640x480 8-bit display, as a web browser? Do you use the same web I do? Even applying CSS rules would crush that machine.
      And yet, strangely, I've been surfing the Web all the time I'm away on a trip on my NEC MobilePro 900C [hpcfactor.com] using Opera. People should bloody stop assuming that it's impossible to have a working desktop computer unless you use 1 GHz and a shitload of RAM.

      How about you stop and think what specs PC's had at the beginning of the 90's, and still people somehow managed to get their stuff done. Apps haven't changed that much in between, we basically do most of the same stuff now that we did back then.

      The MobilePro is a great example. It has a WiFi connection and a wired one (thanks to PC cards), solid state storage (CF card), I get to surf the Web, it doubles as a book reader and manga reader, I can listen to streaming online radio or MP3's (got speakers and headphone jack), I play games, edit and view office docs, see PDF's, I have SSH, Total Commander, email, Skype, YM, IRC, remote desktop and VNC, runs Python, got all kinds of file tools (search and so on) etc.

      Basically, with the exception of playing movies (although it can do that too with some limitations) or big-ass games or P2P, it's everything a regular desktop is. All that in under 10x5 inches, a regular keyboard, touchscreen, 400 MHz CPU and 64 MB of RAM. Did I mention it has a 16bit screen (65535 colors)? Or that it's a USB host and can use USB printers and mice?
      • Re:Seriously? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SpooForBrains (771537) on Monday May 19, 2008 @07:24AM (#23460618)

        "How about you stop and think what specs PC's had at the beginning of the 90's, and still people somehow managed to get their stuff done. Apps haven't changed that much in between, we basically do most of the same stuff now that we did back then."


        No, apps haven't changed a lot in that time, but the internet certainly has - rather a large amount. Most sites now rely on DHTML/AJAX/CSS/whatever to render properly, and are significantly larger (in terms of amount of rendering code, number and size of images, etc.) than they were even in the late 90s. Add to that the fact that most web designers take a 1024x768 screen and a broadband connection as a benchmark to design for, and suddenly browsing the internet on a low-powered device becomes a lot more problematic.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Lumpy (12016)
          Most sites now rely on DHTML/AJAX/CSS/whatever to render properly,

          only the poorly designed sites do this. All the correctly designed sites still render on older or lass capable hardware.

          Just because the current crop of trendy webdesigners cant pull their heads out of their rear and make their sites work for low bandwidth or low power machines does not mean that the entire world does this.
    • by genka (148122)
      Fujitsu P1000 series machines with 9" screen has been available for a long time. I bought my first in 2002. It had Transmeta CPU, 256MB of RAM, and came with XP- a little slow, but perfectly practical. It had a touchscreen, which was very convenient. The P series is still manufactured http://store.shopfujitsu.com/fpc/Ecommerce/buildseriesbean.do?series=P1620 [shopfujitsu.com]
    • Are you seriously stating that you're considering a 190mhz machine, with 64MB of RAM, with a 640x480 8-bit display, as a web browser?

      It wasn't so many years ago that I used just such a machine to browse the web. Alright, it had 128 megs of RAM, and it was 200 mhz, but then, ARM at 190 mhz is probably faster.

      Do you use the same web I do?

      I tend to disable Flash and turn on ad blocking, so probably not. And I'm not sure you could run Flash on ARM Linux.

      Even applying CSS rules would crush that machine.

      Pure hyperbole. All I can really say about that is: Try it.

      In fact, to be fair, try it with a 1.0-ish version of Firefox, or earlier -- or something like Konqueror. Modern browsers have indeed bloated.

  • why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:33PM (#23456336)
    what do you have against the eee or 2133 mininote? you sound like you're purposely making this hard for yourself. are these old junk laptops stupidly cheap? is the eee really unaffordable for you?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Personally, I'm looking at stupid cheap computers for some cluster computing research. For that purpose, yes the newer ones are too expensive. If I could get four @100 instead of one @ 400, that would obviously be better.
      • Re:why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jay-be-em (664602) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:42PM (#23456818) Homepage
        Why wouldn't you just get a semi-decent machine and run a bunch of virtual machines on it? Seems a hell of a lot more practical and easy to administrate, not to mention economical in terms of power usage.
        • Its not that I hate virtual machines, I use them when ever possible, but I'm no expert -- please correct me if I'm wrong. Its just that I don't think I can accurately simulate what I want to do cheaply enough. I'm buying ~ $100 machines, right? each one has its own memory, cpu and disk. there's no contention for their resources. To do that 100% correctly, wouldn't I need a core for each, and a disk for each vm? I'm pretty sure that would be more than $1000, for a ten node system, nes pas?
    • Re:why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nauseum_dot (1291664) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:14PM (#23456632)

      sub-notebook- $75
      specific ram upgrade to 512 MB- $75
      battery replacement- $50
      PCMCIA 54g card- $30

      Total= $230 + 4 hours time to reformat upgrade, etc.

      I would think the EE @ $299 looks like a better buy because you also get a warranty. Let's face it notebooks are commodity goods now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        battery replacement- $50
        Tack on another hundred bucks for the battery, the day I can find a replacement battery for my Gateway VTX400 for fifty bucks is the day /. stops getting trolled with goatse.
        • by MrNaz (730548) *
          In a feverish but vain bout of hopefulness, I just scoured eBay and Craigslist looking for a battery for you for under $50. I didn't find one :(
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by ozmanjusri (601766)
            So where's his goatse then?

            You owe him a goatse.

          • In a feverish but vain bout of hopefulness, I just scoured eBay and Craigslist looking for a battery for you for under $50. I didn't find one :(
            It is still appreciated, your actions are not in vain!

            Keep on fighting the good fight, my Slashbrotter.
        • There are outfits which will rebuild your old battery for around $50. I had mine done about a year ago.
      • I've been reading this thread all afternoon/evening... without built in Wifi (a dongle? REALLY?) you are just settling for less than you really want.I've got to admit, I'm pretty impressed with the EeePC. Posting from it now, even...

        Much of the "work" I do with a laptop involves a web browser. With the built in WiFi and the ample (trust me) 640x400 screen, it makes browsing from the couch exactly what it should be. The battery life is a little less than it should be for a machine this size but otherwise
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ozmanjusri (601766)
      I'd add the Nokia N800 to that list. I picked one up for AU$330 brand new, so second hand versions would likely be cheaper.
  • Budget... (Score:4, Informative)

    by IYagami (136831) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:34PM (#23456344)
    How much do you want to spend on it? In my opinion, I think that the new MSI Wind is a very good alternative.. if you want to spend 399$ in the Linux version and upgrade the battery to get 5.5h.

    More info at:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSI_Wind_PC [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      only want it for surfing, email and the odd bit of SSHing home on weekends away

      iPod Touch
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        N800
        There, fixed that for you.
    • by mrbluze (1034940) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:04PM (#23456576) Journal
      • Likes to talk, humorous, friendly.
      • Likes movies, walks along the beach at sunset, and recharging by an open fireplace.
      • Likes cooking.
      • Has own job.
      • Light enough to carry with one hand.
      • Happy with all positions, including upside-down and backwards.
      • Color is not important to me, but dress sense is.
      • Looking for casual to long term commitment. Emphasis on fun.
      • by antek9 (305362)
        May I introduce you to my friend, Nico Bellic? Except, of course, if cooking is really _that_ important.
      • You forgot pina coladas and walks in the rain!
        • Likes to talk, humorous, friendly.
        BonziBUDDY pre-installed.

        • Likes movies, walks along the beach at sunset, and recharging by an open fireplace.
        No fans/vents for sand to get in.

        • Likes cooking.
        Poor thermal design, or maybe overclocked.

        • Has own job.
        Part of a botnet.

        • Light enough to carry with one hand.
        Not a "desktop replacement".

        • Happy with all positions, including upside-down and backwards.
        Solid-state disk, so there's nothing to break when you drop it.

        • Color is not important to me, but dress sense is.
        Thinks its a Mac.

        • Looking for casual to long term commitment. Emphasis on fun.
        Compatible with most off-the-shelf (and under-the-table) games.
  • 12" PowerBook? (Score:5, Informative)

    by russlar (1122455) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:34PM (#23456350)
    I had a 12" PowerBook G4 for a number of years, and would recommend it if all you need is web and SSH.
  • by Squarewav (241189) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:35PM (#23456358)
    You'll be hard pressed to find another subnotebook that has better specs that is cheaper, new or used. They can even run some games that are a few years old (with the windows verity)

    in terms of "classic" subnotebooks that are x86 that you still might be able to find is the toshiba libretto line. I think they ranged from 90Mhz to 133 and ran win95. But you'll be hard pressed to find one that the battery still works. Thats really the problem with old laptops is they tend to be broken in someway normally the batteries
    • Mod parent up (Score:3, Informative)

      by Joce640k (829181)
      The EEE has it all...and it's not too expensive. Getting something "a few years old" will only disappoint in the long term.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by kernowyon (1257174)
        The EeePC will happily run Doom2, especially if you are keen enough to either set up the Advanced interface or install a different version of Linux (e.g one of the *buntu or whatever you prefer). Easy to do - just follow the EeeUser Wiki - http://wiki.eeeuser.com/ [eeeuser.com]
        Use something like prboom to run your Doom2 - it works well on the EeePC.
        Or even install Windows if you really must (or buy the Windows installed version)
        Whist an older laptop may seem a good idea, I would be worried about the battery. Most of
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ross.w (87751)

          My phone [nokia.com.au] will run Doom 2 [gersbo.dk]

          In fact, what the OP needs is a Symbian capable phone and a cheap data plan.

          That will do everything a Psion will do and then some. The phone itself might even be free with the right plan.

          He'd probably want to add a bluetooth keyboard for the stated purposes though.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Colin Smith (2679)
            The Nokia phones *are* Psion. The hardware platform and OS both came directly from Psion. The big problem with the Nokia phones is that they tend to remove features which were standard on the Psion; wordprocessing, database apps etc.

             
    • I see the battery going as the day your laptop becomes a mini-desktop. No longer portable, but still usable. Maybe best placed on the writing table next to the window in the living room perhaps. A place where a normal tower desktop won't fit. Or maybe in the magazine rack, next to the lazy boy.
  • by ejecta (1167015) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:36PM (#23456362)
    I was quite a fan of my Toshiba Libretto 100CT when I had it, it's quite small (210 x 132 x 35 mm) and runs a 166mhz x86 intel pentium 1 mmx. In terms of networking/usb you can use PC Card expansion slots, or get the "Mini Card" (read docking station) which gives you a usb port and more PC Card expansion slots.

    Quite a nifty machine for circa 1996, problem is now they fall into the "collector" catagory so some people are paying a fortune for them on ePay.

    See also: http://www.toshiba-europe.com/bv/computers/products/notebooks/libretto100ct/index.shtm [toshiba-europe.com]
    • by argent (18001)
      <div style="mr mom">100, 110, whatever works.</div>

      The 110CT was pretty good to me for the years I had it. I think the only difference between the 100CT and 110CT was the processor speed.
    • by salesgeek (263995)
      Wow, I almost forgot about mine! That machine was amazing for it's time - small, useful and fairly fast. Unfortunately, mine died when it was fell off the balcony at Denver's airport.
  • by nawcom (941663) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:42PM (#23456408) Homepage
    Get a toshiba libretto. The last model was the U105 I believe, but there are definitely models that match your requests. I always loved those fuckers.

    Here's a 110ct, something along what youre asking for: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=150248931102 [ebay.com]

    Heres a u105, something more up-to-date: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=170217846018 [ebay.com]

    I dunno, they were always perfectfor me. I especially loved them when I interfaced it with an ol' oki900. ahhh.. the AMPS days...

  • by Bo'Bob'O (95398) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:43PM (#23456418)
    From Wikipedia: "Subnotebooks have been something of a niche computing product and have rarely sold in large numbers until the 2007 introduction of the Asus Eee PC and the OLPC XO-1[1], which are inexpensive in comparison to both existing machines in that form factor, and computers in general."

    That sounds spot on to me. How does that sound anything like it's saying that the form factor was created by Asus? They have been around for ages, it's just in the past they either needed a special striped down OS, were incredibly expensive, had bizarre tiny screen resolutions, or they left out things like keyboards to strip them down in size. Sure NOW you can find some great second hand deals, but they couldn't have possibly been compared as anywhere on the same level in price when they were new.

    In fact, the wikipeida article looks like a great list of used models to look for.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:46PM (#23456438)
    The Netbook totally rocks. IIRC it has 40 hrs of uptime on a single battery load, which blows every protable PC (even the Transmeta Lifebooks pimped with Powerbattery and OD Battery) out of the water. But get your head straight about pocessing power and running some Linux derviate or something on it. That won't fly.

    Because, allthough it is a fully fletched out business system with a neat Java 1.1 enviroment on top of some custom Epoc OS (way ahead of it's time), you can absolutely forget any more that rudymentary surfing on that thing. I strongly suggest you get the brand new and super cheap One A110 [www.one.de] and hack youself some external power option if you want to reach the Netbooks uptime.

    And, yes, uptime is what I'd be looking for in any subnote who's prime purpose is to be used for generic tasks while on the road. In that respect a Netbook really is the bar. But the One A110 and the Asus EEE are the new generation (nearly 10 years newer!) and they are actually those up to the Netbook. I'd say they've re-introduced the Handheld era. Might aswell pay that respect and get one.
  • consider... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by joe 155 (937621) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:49PM (#23456458) Journal
    I really dont want to sound like an apple fanboy, but have you considered an iPod touch . I'm on mine now and if you hack it its fine for email, web and ssh. Although getting it to sync over ssh can be a challenge (an one I've not got round actually on 1.1.4), so its probably a deal breaker if you dont have windows or a mac kicking around (fortunately my girlfriend still has a windows laptop kicking around).
    its got a fairly good battery life; hours on the web (I think I get over 5 doing normal stuff and a little less watching stuff on the BBC. It can do emails in a similar way to thunderbird and you can stick ssh on it fairly easily from a hack from 1.1.4 using ziphone
    • Re:consider... (Score:5, Informative)

      by The New Andy (873493) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @10:15PM (#23457834) Homepage Journal
      The nokia n810 would be a much better option than an iPod touch.

      1) You don't have to hack it to do what you want.

      2) It has a significantly better resolution (800x480)

      3) It has a hardware keyboard (which is fiddly, but at least you don't have to use up screen estate). If you want a better keyboard, you can get USB host mode drivers and plug a USB keyboard into it (or use a bluetooth keyboard).

      4) It has removable storage.

    • by ncryptd (1172815)
      I'd like to second the parent's recommendation. I've got an iPod touch, and I've actually taken to using it as my "always-ready" PC. Here's why:

      - apt-get (with Cydia, a rather nice GUI)
      - full BSD subsystem (available through Cydia) -- note: this is not the same as the stripped down one on the device, or the one available through Installer.app -- it's a full-fledged toolset, akin to that on desktop Mac OS X
      - full OpenSSH port (both client and server)
      - usable as a drive, with contents shared via both AppleS
      • by quenda (644621)
        but no bluetooth!
        The iTouch is a lovely device, until you get out of wifi range.
              Since it has no bluetooth, it cannot connect to your cellphone to get an internet connection, which means its nothing but a cute iPod. When the 3G iPhone comes out, that may be a real option.

  • by Britz (170620) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:50PM (#23456466) Homepage
    For Websurfing you need a real machine. A subnotebook like the Thinkpad X40 or X41 would be sufficiant (I just got a cheap x41 and I am a very happy customer).

    For Email, SSH, and Websurfing using a text browser you could consider something like the Psion Netbook.

    The thing that bugs me is that noone seems to have come out with a "new" Psion Netbook. Same configuration, but up to date. With Windows CE (aka Windows Mobile) or Linux, or some other proprietary os. A notebook with very low power and a bad screen that lasts more than 10 hours, but has a full keyboard. But you couldn't play Doom II on that one anyways. Though I wouldn't want to. SSH, email, word processing and organizer with a large screen and a full keyboard would be plenty for me.
    • by mobby_6kl (668092)
      Thankfully, this niche isn't completely dead. HTC has two gadgets which more or less fit: the Shift [htc.com] and Advantage [htc.com]. There are probably others, but I'm familiar with HTC's since I was researching my HTC smartphone (s730). Speaking of smartphones, one could of course use one of them for browsing, email, and ssh.

      Anyway, the Shift might be a little over(priced|powered), since it is actually a full x86 computer which can run Vista or whatever flavor of Linux while also running WM6 on a separate ARM processor. App
  • 16 bit PC cards (Score:3, Informative)

    by zakezuke (229119) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:54PM (#23456502)

    ...but the fact that there exist Wi-Fi cards for its 16-bit PCMCIA slot does score it extra points
    You know, this is true. There are non cardbus PC cards. They are a real pain to find. If they know what they are the price goes up, but you might get lucky and find a shop with the them next to the other regular WIFI cards. You might also get lucky and find someone on craigslist who is selling one.

    Why a pain? Acronym hell! PCMCIA/PCCard/CardBus. To be honest I don't know the difference between PCMCIA and PCCard (is there one?), but I sure know the difference between PCCard and Cardbus. But the problem is everything is advertised as PCCard, whether it's PCCard or Cardbus.

    • Re:16 bit PC cards (Score:5, Informative)

      by Nimey (114278) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:33PM (#23456754) Homepage Journal
      There's no difference between PCMCIA and PC Card; the standard was officially renamed to the latter because (it was thought) it was an easier & more approachable name.
      • by zakezuke (229119)

        There's no difference between PCMCIA and PC Card; the standard was officially renamed to the latter because (it was thought) it was an easier & more approachable name.

        Thanks, I sort of figured but didn't want to claim to know.

        It's still acronym hell

        PCMCIA - what you "would" look for in a 16 bit wifi card, if this acronym was in use when WiFi hit the market (It might not have). But I've seen this advertised.

        PC Card - What you need if you need a 16 bit card, if all that were labled as PC Card were 16 bit. Many are card bus.

        CardBus - What you know for a fact won't work. If the box says this, you know it won't work.

        Plus you have all these pesky people who don't know whic

  • I still have... (Score:4, Informative)

    by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @06:57PM (#23456516) Homepage
    ... my Fujitsu Lifebook P1120. Only two pounds, running W2K Pro and still works like a champ with its blazing 633MHz Transmeta Crusoe processor and 512M of RAM. Also dual boots with Ubuntu. Great little machine.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by drspliff (652992)
      I recently bought a Toshiba Portege R100, it weighs under a kilo and is thinner than any laptop in the office.

      It'd been in storage for a while before being auctioned on e-bay for how much? a little over $200 for a nearly new notebook that's better better specced than the new Eee 900, lighter & as thin as the MacBook Air while being fully supported by Ubuntu.

      At 1ghz with a gig of ram... it sure doesn't feel like it... Can't imagine the OP's suggestion of a ~200mhz ARM laptop being very useful, consideri
    • Actually, I'm looking to upgrade... but for the time being I'm still using my 933MHz Crusoe powered P2120 with 256M of RAM. I'm still trying to find a suitable successor [leog.net]...

      But yeah... aside from being a little underpowered these days, it's full of awesome.
  • batteries (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pbjones (315127) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:02PM (#23456564)
    if you are buying an old machine and you want to travel, look carefully at battery life and replacements.
  • Might be not quite suitable for Doom II, but HTC Universal [wikipedia.org] runs the "armel" port of Debian recently, although getting it installed still requires some familiarity with Debian and GNU/Linux in general. "Titchy Mobile will be a complete, fully-native Debian GNU/Linux distribution for the HTC Universal mobile phone, including support for GPRS/UMTS internet access, SMS, and voice calls. [neilandtheresa.co.uk]"
  • Sony PictureBook (Score:3, Informative)

    by nojayuk (567177) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:08PM (#23456586)

    They're available in various x86 processor and RAM capacities, including Transmeta CPUs; the older models (Celeron 266, PII 300) are quite cheap today. Fat battery packs are available (Sony branded ones cost serious bucks but 3rd party units are a lot cheaper) that will run to 12 hours or more uptime. Replacing the HDD with a SSD will save you more battery power. Linux is readily ported onto most of the C1 variants and they all have PCMCIA or CardBus slots to support WiFi.

    The accessory I regret not getting for my old PB was a ballistic-nylon shoulder holster for carrying it around.

  • by nguy (1207026)
    I think the new, cheap subnotebooks are great. If you want better battery life, get a bigger internal or an additional external battery. The HP2133 keyboard is unbeatable, and it has a nice screen, too.

    If you want something smaller and lighter still, get a smart phone and an external bluetooth keyboard.
  • by 5pp000 (873881) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:20PM (#23456694)

    I recently got a Nokia N810 "Internet Tablet", as they call it. It's pocket-sized, much smaller than an Eee for instance, and a little bigger than a Palm TX, but it has a 400 MHz TI OMAP CPU (an ARM with a DSP core glued on), an 800x480 screen, a very usable slide-out mini keyboard, and built-in Wi-Fi, all for $400 (street price). Oh, and it runs Linux. (It's not a cell phone, though it will do VOIP over the Wi-Fi.)

    Battery life is excellent: several hours of active use, and several days at idle (you don't really turn it off, you just lock the touch screen and it goes into low-power mode). I recently used it to take notes at a seminar -- in 3 or 4 hours I don't think I used more than 1/3 of a charge.

    The Web browser it comes with works very well. Some of the other software is a little rough (the email client doesn't work well in IMAP mode, for instance). It runs SSH and a VNC viewer. I don't know about Doom II, but it plays video pretty well (doesn't always keep up with the frame rate, but it's adequate for pr0n).

    These things are all tradeoffs, of course, but I'm happy to take the mini keyboard and the small but hi-res display in exchange for a device that's just barely small enough to carry everywhere, clipped to my belt.

    • See also the Nokia n800 -similiar, no built-in keyboard or GPS, but much cheaper and takes SDHC cards.
      The Nokias also runs Doom, (not doom2?).
      Can even run VoIP over your 3G cellphone.
      The webbrowser and screen is much better than any phone or PDA, but its not much bigger.
      If thats still not good enough, I'll second the IBM X40 (used).
    • by Eil (82413)
      Another option, the N800, is roughly equivalent to the N810 except that it's slightly larger and lacks GPS and a thumb keyboard. Lately, some places have been selling them for under $200. Add a bluetooth keyboard and you effectively have a very portable and very capable web, email, VoIP, and whatever-else-you-want device that can literally go days without a recharge. Although I still find the software selection to be a bit lacking, one of my favorite tasks for mine is using it to listen to podcasts and live
  • by Gyver_lb (455546) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @07:33PM (#23456748)
    I have the 810 and it seems to fit the requirements (including Doom II). Depending on the time you need to spend typing at a keyboard, it may or may not be right for you (or you can choose to get a bluetooth keyboard). If you can withstand typing on a virtual keyboard or get a bluetooth keyboard, the 770 and 800 are dirt cheap on Ebay and quite capable machines (the 800 is basically a fatter 810 without keyboard and GPS and is upgradeable to the same OS version than the 810).

    As a Debian-based OS runs the little buggers you probably get the largest functionnality/size ratio out there.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by davidbrit2 (775091)
      Completely seconded. I've got an N800 myself, and you should definitely consider it. It features not one but TWO SDHC card slots, and you can actually clone the OS onto a card and boot from it to give yourself a 16 GB root disk if you like - more than enough space for loads of apps and media. Folding bluetooth keyboards can be found pretty cheaply, and fill the niche when you have to do more extended typing.

      My gripes are the lack of a decent office suite (though work is being done on gnumeric and Abiword at
  • When I was in college I had an old ultra-thin that did two things well - wireless networking and running rdesktop (and obviously X). Very nice and easy solution if you need to connect to a windows Box. I was able to use a 233 Mghz laptop to connect to my home PC and run things like MSDE, Matlab, etc. If I'm not mistaken I had a Toshiba Portege. nice little machine - and super duper light.
  • Sharp mm20 (Score:2, Informative)

    by mahonri5 (708013)
    I used a Sharp mm20 sub-notebook for a few years in college, and it worked really well. 1 GHz transmeta, 512 MB RAM, 20 GB HD, built-in wireless and ethernet, two usb ports, 10" screen. The extended life battery gave about 7 hours of life when I stopped using it. Ran Linux great.

    Great laptop till the hard drive died, after a solid 3 years of use. Then I never got around to putting in a new 1.5" HD since I really didn't need it after I graduated.
    • Seconded. I used an mm10, actually. Hard drive was pathetic, and it did eventually disintegrate, but I wasn't exactly gentle with it.

      And I could squeeze 8-12 hours of battery out of it. Quiet, too. Put it in laptop mode and let the hard drive spin down, and you've got zero moving parts.

      In fact, I'm betting the hard drive is the weak link on that thing -- partly because they break so easily (twice under warranty, I think), and mostly because they're so impossible to find.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @08:02PM (#23456920) Journal
    The Eee PC has an advantage over the competition: Asus sold the shit out of them. And because they ran Linux first (and WinXP later), there's a ton of various Linux-for-Eee projects going on. And considering all the software that runs on Linux, I'd say the Eee PC is better equipped both in terms of software available for it, as well as replacement hardware (because there are so many of them by now in the world).
  • Running 2000. Only windows machine I can stand to use after years of iBooks.

  • by pruss (246395)
    How about a Sharp Zaurus handheld? Roughly the same specs as the Netbook, though perhaps physically smaller, but it's Linux based.
  • I've got a Sharp Actius PC-MM10 with a 1GHz transmeta chip, 256MB ram, and a 15GB hard drive. It is certainly under powered by today's standard, but it is smaller and lighter than an Apple Air. No optical drive meant I had to do a network install to upgrade the OS to the current Ubuntu release. To keep things light, I only did the base install and then added fluxbox as a lighter windows manager.
    • When I got mine, they gave away a USB optical drive. In fact, I've had good luck installing/repairing Ubuntu via even stranger beasts, like an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive.

      And yes, Fluxbox was awesome on that -- with the tiny screen, I even stripped things out of Fluxbox, to squeeze a few more pixels out.
  • everything you ask for is covered by the ipod touch, and you can wait till june 9 to see if there's any update for it. at 299 it is the best choice, along with the EEE
  • by keeboo (724305) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @09:04PM (#23457340)
    Parts.
  • If your looking for a great subnotebook at a good price but not looking for high specs, then go for a Thinkpad 240

    They usually go on ebay for around $100. Spec wise, They have anywhere from a celeron 300 to a pentium 500. and can officially support 192MB of RAM and unofficially 320MB of ram using speical low density 256MB sticks.

    Caveats are they are very hard to get OS'es on them due to the fact they don't support usb booting or have a CDROM. Supposedly they can boot from a PCMCIA CDROM but I never tried. I
  • mine has 1.4 P3m, 512 RAM, 60GB HD, external DVDRAM (shared with my PP01 Latitude* and Inspiron** models), built in wifi (standard mpci). Can be had for the same price as an EeePC and the screen is four times the size. 1024x768 in a 12.1" panel and 2.8lb weight (including battery), and shy of an inch thick. Batteries are still available, I have one spare and the two batteries last me the entire day. Had that puppy for six years now and it's never, ever given me any trouble (except when I shot the panel and
    • by cybrpnk2 (579066)
      Roger that. C400s totally rock.
    • by ActiveSX (301342)
      This is as old as you want to go if you want good value. I picked up a C400 for $10 that just needed a new stick of ram. I put in a 2200bg and 512mb of ram, and can just about get real work done with it. Fantastic machine.
  • I certainly won't buy one like that. Even for free it would likely end up in the dumpster before long. Thre are so many low cost, nice new ones out there that buying an old one doesn't make sense.
  • by PhotoGuy (189467) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @09:57PM (#23457700) Homepage
    I've always been a big fan of Toshiba Libretto's.

    The first one I had, circa 1999-2000, was the size of a VHS casette and fairly competent for its day

    A couple of years ago, I upgraded to the newer 100CT, with a couple of gig of ram and such. It's a nice machine. Definitely takes getting used to the keyboard, but for portability, it can't be beat. And just throw a bluetooth or USB keyboard and external display on it when you're tethered.

    But when you're on the road, tossing it in a small camera bag, having 5 hours of battery life for the long flights, having room for your laptop and a drink and not worrying about being crushed by the seat in front of you, is very liberating. Similarly, fitting into a small camera bag (honestly, it's not a purse), it goes with me everywhere; I pop it out at the pub or a restaurant or on the road.

    Despite the fact I happened to snag one at Future Shop (ugh), in general subnotebooks are something the public doesn't even seem to know exists. I get a lot of comments from people just fascinated by it, thinking it must just be a Windows CE machine at first, and being blown away when they realize how powerful it is.

    There is one downside: one time on a flight, the female flight attendant saw it, pointed down towards my lap, and said loudly, "wow, that's the smallest one of those I ever saw!" With the ensuing laughter, she turned many shades of red...

    I just tell people that with such a small laptop, I'm clearly not trying to compensate for anything :P
  • by Urza9814 (883915)
    So basically, you're looking for something worse than an iPod but a whole lot bigger?

    Seriously, get an iPod touch and jailbreak it. Sounds like that'll allow it to do everything you want, and at as low as $230 on Amazon, there's not much reason not too. Except, of course, the lack of any good interface and the screen size. But depending on what you need it for, it may work quite well. Battery life is phenomenal too - I don't know exactly how long mine lasts, but I know it's over 10 hours. And most of that i
  • I own several Dell Latitude C400s [wikipedia.org] and I think they are the greatest laptop ever. Lightweight, very sturdy, USB, PCCard, internal wifi card, no internal drive and best of all, a 6 hour add-on battery pack is out there if you can grab one when they show up. Plus lots of other pros, Get one [ebay.com].
  • I got a Thinkpad 570 a few years ago off eBay to serve as my laptop. It comes in 266 and 366 MHz flavors (PII), and supports up to 192 MB RAM. For mobility purposes, the battery life is around two hours (I had the battery refilled). The most important feature of this laptop is the USB port. I run Windows 2000.

    ~$100 Thinkpad 570, 266 MHz, 192 MB SDRAM
    ~$80 40 GB HD (this was years ago)
    ~$15 Floppy drive
    ~$80 Battery refill

    I'm thinking about getting an SSD too, to see what effect it'll have on battery life. W
  • FYI, I've been looking for a 16 bit PCMCIA WFI card for my aging laptop, and haven't found one. I now use an USB one... (Of course they used to be available "back then", but I couldn't find a reasonably priced one now....)

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