ANyone who has used the cool, silent, Dell mini 9 is laughing right now.
Once its drive gets to > 60Gig, and it can run XP Pro, the spinning drive's dead.
Has the solid-state drive had its day - at least as a key component of Small, Cheap Computers? That's what one Asian market watcher reckons. This week, DRAMeXchange forecast that the percentage of notebooks shipping with SSDs has plunged through 2008 and will fall to new lows in 2009. According to the company's research, in …
The vast majority of people buying these cheap and cheerful notebooks are the families who just want a cheap laptop to get on the internet. They haven't a clue what an SSD is, or why it is/isn't better than an HDD.
All they see is the price on the shelf and if they see one with a bigger hard drive which would typically be cheaper, guess which one they're going to buy.
I work for DSGi at the moment in one of their Currys stores,
Customers that come into the store do not realise that these little machines are not as powerful as full size laptops. I've seen people buying these then the next day back in the store saying their model doesn't have a DVD drive. They do not realise until someone points it out to them that these computers are underpowered and less functional then full size desktops and even then sometimes they don't believe you, thinking that a netbook is going to run the latest championship manager game.
The thing you have to consider it that to the consumer more means better combined with them not understanding the uses of a netbook or what the hell a SSD is. To them the bigger numbers mean better, and bad sales people (unlike myself) would simply see the HDD's as more expensive and would talk the customer into getting one over a SSD unit..
Ultimately SSD's are Doomed! (In netbooks anyway)
Really more the case that the manufacturers are drifting away from SCCs, such that in 2009 under 10% of netbooks will really deserve two out of the three of those hallowed letters. No longer that small, and no longer that cheap. It becomes a vicious cycle, as they decide to go the misguided extra yard and offer (or even enforce) Windows, but then find they need a bit more storage than an SSD can economically offer, then - well, what the heck - let's make it 160GB, and - oh no - it's just an underpowered laptop, and people find it a bit poky for accessing all those squigglebytes of data so we'd better make it bigger. And pricier. Et cetera, et cetera.
Hopefully the Acers of this world will continue to keep in mind the original premises (even as they threaten Vista on their next generation), but I sadly suspect there's still too much commercial pressure all round to use Windows, which started this whole sorry ball rolling.
Am I the only one that likes to have my Netbook loaded up with films, TV shows, and also use it to look at my photos that I have taken when traveling? All these things take bucketloads of storage. I love to watch TV shows and Movies on long flights and the eeePC costs about the same as a good PMP but is infinity more flexible and means I can leave my 15" laptop at home.
I purchased a eeePC 901 for the battery life, but at the HDD equipped models didn't exist. Now I am seriously thinking about changing the 8GB SSD for a 64GB one.
I already put a 32GB SD card into it which made it useable, but with my new digital cameras churning out 720p HD video, 32GB doesn't go far....
Speaking of battery life, if you turn off WiFi, dim the screen a bit, slow the processor to 1/2 speed, you can watch close to 7 hours of films on a good battery, which blows the 3 hour battery live on my 15" brick out of the water. Even so I still had to purchase a second batter for long haul flights down under...
"the 10in, Windows XP, HDD design will emerge in 2009 as the standard netbook form-factor"
So just how long will Microsoft continue making XP available? Are they prepping a netbook version of Windows 7? Or will they skin a linux distro with a Windows look and feel, and a copy of mono ;-)
"The vast majority of people buying these cheap and cheerful notebooks are the families who just want a cheap laptop to get on the internet. They haven't a clue what an SSD is, or why it is/isn't better than an HDD."
And for the same reason Linux will also become a minority on all platforms capable of running Windows XP. People try to load Windows games and utilities and find they can't do that on a Linux based netbook. Linux will only get a decent market share on machines singularly incapable of running a Windows distro, and for those machines to succeed they must have an attractive and probably unique USP. Its not enough to just be £50 cheaper because there is no Windows Tax.
I agree with Mr Currys above. Consumers are mostly idiots, and don't get the difference between SSD and HDD.
I'm currently playing around with a couple of SCCs -- a Linux Acer Aspire One and an XP Eee PC 901, both with SSD. It's fair to say that the read and write speeds are nothing spectacular, though I'd wager they're better than the tiny 1.8" HDDs that I assume these things use. They key is that there are no moving parts, meaning the whole device is a lot more rugged.
The reason I have 2 SCCs is that my wife is the ICT coordinator at her primary school. The SCCs are ideal laptops to supplement their existing IT provision -- and small keyboards is a bonus for small children! All the data is stored on their file server (so no need for 160GB), and all CD-based software is stored as ISOs on a local NAS. So, none of the normal limitations of an SCC apply.
Sadly, most of the educational software is PC only -- hence the XP Eee PC. The Linux AAO is to investigate the possibility of moving to Linux (maybe using WINE, or sourcing equivalent OSS from elsewhere). With luck, it will be the thin end of the wedge for getting rid of MS from the School. Already the SCCs have OpenOffice on, and I'm hoping no-one will notice the difference (I've even changed the names of the shortcuts!). The school's MS license is up for renewal in a few months, and it would be great to bin it!
I must say, using both side by side, I much prefer the Linpus OS on the Acer. The Acer's bigger keyboard suits me better too. Windows is a bitch on a 8.9" screen, and scales badly. Maybe I'll try installing an ancient version of MacOS on there -- after all, the original Macs only had a 9" CRT!
Anyway, that was mostly off topic. I think my point was that people that know will generally still want an SSD, and an SSD is particularly useful in an environment where the netbook is likely to see some rough treatment (either in a class room, or the bottom of someone's bag).
Pairs, 'cos she likes some rough treatment too.
I am intrested in SSD technology but at current prices / storage capacities its a turn off. If i was buying a SCC i would rather go for the 120gb Acer Aspire 1 then a 4/8/12GB SSD EEPC. 12GB is just too impratical for todays software when i would want to store the odd DivX film, MP3's, DVD's on the hard disk. I realise they are designed for basic internet use but most people will attempt to use them for tasks beyond this. £175 for a laptop is cheap but not cheap enough that i can live with a 12GB hard disk
A friend of mine bought an Asus Eeeeeepc (whichever one is about £150), and then called me because they couldn't make head nor tail of it.
I have fairly limited experience of Linux, but even I could see it was a terrible machine.
Fast to boot, but sometimes a 2-3 minute wait before it connects to the wireless, the keyboard is just too small, the screen is too small and very poor quality.
I've got a lot of patience, but after a couple of hours trying to get java to work properly in Firefox, I was fed up of the thing, irritated by the keyboard and had started to get a headache from looking at the screen.
The OS is another problem. It ships with a rehashed version of Xandros. Eeepc refer you to Xandros for help with it, but Xandros say they don't support the version on the Eeepc. Superb support then?!
After I'd managed to get it to show me the full proper kde interface, the wireless no longer worked, and I'd had enough with it, and suggested she return it.
If I'd got it working, she'd only have called me when something else didn't work.
P.S. It was from Curry's, and was the second she'd had. The first had someone else's username and password on it, the second had a user already setup but no password. Still selling second hand products as new then?
That sounds about right, actually - I still find my first-gen 3EPC 701 to do everything I want it to, but that's because it's not replacing an existing piece of kit for me so much as providing an alternative. It's meant that I've had decent mobile web access available that I otherwise wouldn't have had and, on one memorable occasion, allowed an entertaining overnight videoconference between Dublin and Belfast that just wouldn't have happened if I'd needed to bring my full-size 15.4" Dell with me to do it.
That doesn't mean that the mass market is really ready for these things though, and with a recession looming people will try to use the smaller ones as a substitute for a full machine rather than as a complementary device. (I'm kind of surprised none of them have shipped with a "proper" Linux distro and a Citrix-client to allow workers to connect to company-managed production servers, since that would be the kind of cloud-concept thinking you could easily sell to corporations...)
If you have followed the digicam market and its megapixel-madness, you'll know how this works.
If the manufacturers were sane they would use a (fast) 16GB SSD for the system and for apps and then include four SD-card slots for data storage, so you could extend the memory cheaply and as you need it. As long as the OS and the apps are on a fast SSD slow storage for purely data doesn't hurt that much anymore.
But they aren't sane, so almost all new netbooks look like slightly smaller notebooks with whirring fans and spinning HDs and everything. What a waste.
There are two fundamental questions a customer should be asked when they enter a shop to buy a netbook.
1. Are you aware that a netbook is not as powerful as a laptop?
2. What do you want to do with it?
With no offence to Alex, anyone shopping in Currys or PC World deserves everything they get. But even the limited talents of the average DSGi salesperon (for whom stringing a sentence together is often too challenging) should be able to convey the first point. It's even in their interest as a customer may then look to buy something more expensive straight away.
It's a shame that PC World and the DSGi chains dominate the computer retail world as many non-technical people out there are in desperate need of good, sensible advice from a knowledgeable person.
Sounds like she got one of the ones with the tiny 7" screen. They're not much use for anything, IMHO.
I'm not sure why you'd want Java running in firefox anyway, but anything remotely heavyweight is not appropriate for a netbook.
The 9" versions, however, are perfect for browsing the web, checking emails and watching movies on the plane. Some of them run windows semi-adequately, mine came with Xandros but set up in such a way that the update service ALWAYS failed. Eventually it pissed me off enough that I installed debian, and now it's just another GNU/Linux/Debian/Gnome device. perfect for travel.
if consumers see these things as laptop replacements then they're stupid. Go buy a Vaio TZ (or whatever they're called now) for 2 grand if you want a tiny laptop replacement. And it still won't have an optical drive.
Right.... back on topic... SSDs are great. If they disappear from the netbook market right now, then it'll only be temporary. Mainstream SSDs for servers and laptops are just starting to become almost acceptably priced. In another year or so the volume effect will bring them tumbling.
I'm not typical. I know what I am doing, and I use my eeePC as an adjunct to my existing systems. I got tired of Xandros after the 2nd re-install (I'm sure there is something wrong with the UnionFS implementation on it), and put Ubuntu 8.04 on it. It works fine, and it is just sooo much easier to get out when I need to look something up on Wikipedia than my full sized laptop. I've also used it as a roving WiFi tool when sorting out problems with larger networks.
I even use it to vnc to my other systems, although the small screen size is a bit of a bind. I also had to install a flash-blocker in firefox, because multiple flash adverts can really sap the life out of the processor.
I generally carry around 8GB SD cards with ripped film and music on them. It's amazing how many will fit in your pocket. For this type of content, it is not really a problem swapping them around. I intend to keep using it as long as it works.
She uses a Java chatroom a lot, and wanted to do so while she was away on business trips (no laptop provided as not necessary for her job).
I've checked but there's no other way to access this chatroom except via the Java interface.
"mine came with Xandros but set up in such a way that the update service ALWAYS failed. Eventually it pissed me off enough that I installed debian"
That's what I mean about it being for advanced users. If the wifi doesn't work reliably (hers didn't) and there are other issues, and neither Asus nor Xandros will help, if you're not a geek you either have to put up, pay someone for support, or install another OS (a minefield to the average user).
The Dell mini comes with Ubuntu - I'd love to have a look at that and see if it's better.
The Vaio TZ comes with an optical drive:
As does its replacement, the Vaio TT. I guess that is one reason why the fully featured ultraportables are so darn expensive - putting in that optical drive uses up about half the available volume inside so everything else needs to be designed to use minute components which drives up the price, etc. Taking out that drive but keeping the rest of the features gives you the Toshiba Portege 500 which is only 755g so that is what a completely stripped down ultraportable can really get down to in size!
I bought the HDD eee-pc 1000H when it first landed. I wanted the SSD model, I assumed that the SSD would be faster than the HDD model.
Since then I have bought 16GB SDHC cards, then found out about different speed modes. I intend to buy 32GB or 64GB SDHC cards when they arrive. My hope is to try and bump drive activity to the SDHC card. so maybe I wont be buying genuine SSD, but I will be buying hispeed SDHC.
My Eee-pc is a great second computer, when my desktop is busy or when I need to compute elsewhere. Most of the time it acts a video player / mp3 player /electronic book. I have a collection of older games on it, with small footprints. I dont install any of them on the HDD. I also like the way I can catalog my collections with it beside me.
Like it was said above, an netbook/ssc without the SSD make no sense... the think is supposed to be your ultraportable platform not your main computer.
The disk just adds weight and heat!!
Fast SSD are the solution, like those that are starting to appear as after market replacements for the EEE. I can leave perfectly within 16GB, I have done it with an old celeron lappy which had a 15GB disk.
I am just waiting to see when an affordable 10", 16GB SDD, 1GB RAM netbook arrives... with >8h battery live!
PS: The EeePC 701 is a perfect machine, my wife has one and she loves it. I use it from time to time to check email from the couch and it's perfect for that purpose.
Yep, everyone loves it.
Including the bastard at the pub who nicked mine from my coat pocket - in FULL VIEW of everyone, his friend, my G/F, the bartender - everyone+dog except me, who was buying the twat a pint till he ran off real sharpish.
Thank fuc*k the pub has CCTV *everywhere* so he's effing nicked. Coppers 'know' him. His 'friend' gave the rozzers his addie, once they'd confirmed his (ID cards universal here, see?).
Cupid Stunt. Well, he _did_ show me how to get the pipe "|" keystroke working on the Finnish keyboard, so wasn't that stupid, I guess...
Mine's the one with USB mouse, USB modem and the "Wall Wart" in the pocket, and a gap where my eee used to beee. (Bugger all use without the charger - can't easily be bought separately in Finland - he'll get an hour out of it. Then I guess he'll toss it, so I'll claim it was an Acer AA1..Or a Sony Vaio..or a Mac Air. That'll make his dole cheque wince.)
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