Peter G (sinetimore) wrote,
Peter G

Size Matters. Amirite, Ladies?

Okay, remember my post about the Sylvania netbook available at CVS for $100?  One of my coworkers showed up today with a similar model, an EZBook, and not the one made by Compaq in the late 90's.  "I can't make it connect to the Internet.  Can you help?"

Where did you get this?

"A guy sold it to me, $100."


So, I took it home and have put it through it's paces.  My conclusion?

Looking at the box, it proudly declares the machine is a "$500 value!"

So, small form factor, running WinCE 6.0 (the more stable of the choices).  300Mhz ARM CPU, 256Mb of memory.  Starts up almost instantly.  Seems to actually shut down instead of hibernate, battery still had some charge.  Not much.  When I switched it on, it had a full battery.  After about fifteen minutes, it said the battery was low.  Sheesh.

Here's some pics for size comparison.  Here on the left is a picture of the little thing next to a DVD case and a comic book.  Tiny, right.  Now, on the right, is the same machine next to two other machines.  On the left is Kylie, my IBM S10 running Ubuntu.  Behind them is Genny, my HP that I do my software dev work on.  Some of you may be thinking, "Hey, that doesn't look so bad!  Small enough to fit in a purse or messenger bag, great stuff, right?

I ran into the first problem when I tried to connect to the Internet.  There's an icon for net connection on the desktop.  You have to click it just to turn the thing on, it's off by default.  If you don't think to look for it, you'll spend all day clicking on the connect icon and wondering what you are doing wrong.

Plug in a thumb drive to test multimedia (it's not like you're going to be playing Quake on this thing).  Video playback was tested with a Nu Pogodi cartoon, 7 minutes, VCD quality (read that:  30 fps, CD audio, small memory footprint).  It played, I would estimate, 10 frames a second and looked horrible (I had a 233 that would simply play every other frame, 15 fps, and it was smooth).  MP3 playback was fine.  Tried to open a .pdf file.  It opened with a special viewer called Foxview or something.  Tried to zoom in so I could actually read, and it refused to unless I registered my personal information first.  Survey says, "What the fuck?!?"

The trackpad is horrible.  Trying to adjust the mouse pointer became hit and miss due to the small icons,fine responses were terrible.  Drives automount, but there is no eject, so you have to make sure the drives aren't in use before you yank them.  I can see a LOT of data getting lost with this.

I pulled out the adapter so I could plug it in.  The cord is just a smidge over three feet long.  I have a cell phone charger with a longer cord!  No way to check power level while plugged in.  Also, the adapter sparked every time I plugged it into an outlet.

The YouTube app is made of fail.  In the search bar, only the backspace key works, the arrows and delete do not.  You can't use the Internet Exploder browser, it isn't supported.  YouTube runs through the media player.  Playback is better than VCD's, which is sad.

Clicking on anything outside of a running program, even to adjust the volume, suspends EVERYTHING ELSE RUNNING!

Speaking of Internet Exploder, it asks you about all kinds of websites "that you are not currently viewing" trying to load cookies onto the machine.  At least it gives you the option to reject them.

The keyboard, when you get around the edges of the QWERTY layout, sucks.  There's a backslash between the left shift and the z.  Lots of keys with no rhyme or reason to their placement (quotation mark key at bottom next to left arrow).  Extra keys, to shoehorn them in, are even smaller, making them tough to intentionally hit and easy to accidentally hit.  I kept hitting the quotes instead of the left arrow.

Folks, this thing barely qualfies as a toy.  The woman wants it for her daughter for YouTube and Facebook.  As long as she's not picky, it should work fine.  But the rest of you?  Get an Android tablet or a real netbook, not this smartbook bullshit.
Tags: computers, haven't we suffered enough, infernal gall, technology is a beautiful thing

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