Well, I did it. I bought a little netbook. I know...it's probably right before the next big thing, and I probably should have waited, but this is my usual MO. And honestly, there's nothing on the horizon that really makes a difference to me. I don't need the ability to watch heavy-duty video on a netbook, I'm OK with not getting Windows 7 the instant it hits the shelves, and the price on this model just dropped (at least in some places on-line) because there's a new replacement model out.
It's a Samsung NC10, and it's pink and white. Yes, pink. A nice pink--dark and sparkly, not pastel or bubblegum. I admit I mostly bought pink because it was the cheapest, but I like it. It's gloss, so it does pick up fingerprints like nobody's business, but it's pretty.
And the keyboard is pretty darned comfortable. I'm impressed thus far. Small, but very solid. Some of the buttons are in slightly odd places or are smaller than normal size (most noteably the arrow/end/page up and down keys), but not nearly as much so as most of the other netbooks I examined at Best Buy before mail ordering. I could touch type straight off, at least on the letter keys. Given a little bit more time, I don't believe it will be any more of an adjustment than going from a computer to a typewriter or a desktop to a laptop or any of the above to the Alphasmart. Speaking of which, somehow my brain has it identified as an Alphasmart, so I keep trying Alphasmart key combination and navigating with arrow keys instead of just using the l'il touchpad. Note to self: CTRL-W is *not* a good key combo to keep hitting in regular Windows applications! This is punishment for being a compulsive word count checker, it would seem.
I have it loaded up with Open Office, yWriter5, FreeMind, and very little else, and plan to keep it that way. It came surprisingly free of bloatware. Which, incidentally, is a word accepted by Firefox's spellchecker, unlike touchpad. Strange, that.
I believe I shall call it Mary Sue, after a laptop in one of my own unfinished novels. How narcissistic is that? Don't answer that.
Over the years I've come to be more and more reluctant to review a product until I've spent a good deal of time with it, so this isn't a review. But I will say, if this lives up to my initial impressions, this may well be the laptop I've been looking for since I first became enamored of them ten or twelve years ago when they were still thick heavy bricks with dim, fuzzy screens, clunky pointing devices and miserable battery life. It's lightweight and very portable, it looks like I'll get at least six or seven hours of battery life, the screen is clearer than my other computer, the keyboard feels good, it'll go in my book bag or purse, and it's cute and pretty and pink. There are some other cool little features, too: the mouse gestures it allows are pretty handy--instant zoom-in or out, for one. It of course doesn't have a very big screen, which is mostly an issue when web surfing (something I hope to keep to a minimum on this machine anyhow). It tends to help me focus, since I can really only view one task at a time. Kind of the Alphasmart outlook on life. It does get a little warm, unlike an Alphasmart, and seven hours of battery life pales in comparison with 700. But I can't imagine doing any editing work on an Alphasmart. I avoid even scrolling back to change a word here and there. This should be just fine for that. It isn't a gaming machine and there are far better computers for watching videos and such, but it may be close to the best portable writing machine available at this time.
Added about eight hundred words to another short story in half an hour at the coffee house this morning, which is good considering I was so self-conscious when I first took it out that I wasn't sure I'd be able to write. I wasn't worried about the relative oddity of the thing, but I live in terror lest someone actually read a sentence or two of what I'm writing--something that isn't as much of an issue with handwritten notes. I am a bundle of neuroses.