It’s been about a week since I picked up a bargain ASUS Netbook for under $300. The rationale for the purchase was to give me an on-the-go option which was a little more robust than the iPad (I am taking an online course this summer and like to get out of the house and work in coffee shops) and also to off-load some tasks off of the more-expensive iPad, to preserve its lifespan.

The netbook is the E205SA Signature Edition and boasts  a 1.60 ghz Celeron processor, 2 gb RAM and a 32 GB SSD. The Beloved cautioned me that these are hardly robust specs and advised me to keep things light. I installed Dropbox, used their super-handy selective sync feature to add just one Projects folder, then installed Sigil for ePub editing, and Evernote for draft writing. That was it!

So, how is it working out so far?

Writing Tasks

No problems here. Evernote runs fine, Google Docs runs fine, and I can access my ePub files in Sigil without an issue. For these tasks, this is a fine purchase.

Reading Tasks

My Projects folder has a directory of PDF files in it that I’m sorting through. They were part of a bundle which included all the books in PDF and ePub format, so I am trying to sift through them and determine which ones will really look better in PDF, which will be fine in ePub, and which don’t interest me and can be tossed altogether. The built-in web-based PDF viewer is serviceable for this, but I did install Acrobat Reader on the home laptop for any PDFs I do actually care to read. It has somewhat more refined controls for navigating via keyboard and viewing one page per screen.

Special Device Quirks

There are a few quirks to this device, as there are with any gadget. Firstly, the power button is located on the left side area of the casing. It’s too easy to hit it accidentally if you actually plan to rest this ‘laptop’ on your lap. It’s fine when it’s on a table or desk, but they really should house buttons like this on the keyboard side.

Also, Windows is a bit of a controlly controller. I thought the Mac people were bad, with the iOS updates that had options for ‘install it now’ or ‘remind me later’ (and never fear, they will bot forget to remind you!) Windows is even worse. The first screen I saw when I turned it on was a list of permissions the system wanted me to give it to ‘improve’ my experience, and every single one of them had a small postscript in tiny writing: ‘this data will be reported to Microsoft.’

And then came the updates! At least the Mac people warn you first. I had my first non-optional systems update when I tried to turn this thing on in a coffee shop. I was on battery, which was problem A, and had no Wifi, which was problem B. Still, the computer gamely persevered, and then I had to sit and wait for it to finish. The whole time, I’m sitting there ready to work. I’m okay with the computer downloading updates when it’s sitting idle, but they really should give me the choice, as Apple does, to install it now or wait until a more convenient time. I did some quick googling, and this setting is harder to adjust than it should be.

So, am I happy with this purchase? Yes. It can’t handle the heavy lifting, but I never expected it to. It was cheaper than a new iPad would have been, so if we can use it to stretch out the iPad’s lifespan, that’s a fair trade. And it’s more portable than the clunker Toshiba we have at home. This is the new post-Cloud model, I guess. The clunker at home, with the hard drive and the iTunes library and all the big stuff. And then the little satellite devices—tablets, netbooks and so on—that the family actually carries out with them. I’ll get my money’s worth out of this little puppy, but it’s not going to set the world on fire.