Join Date: May 2002
Thanked 56 Times in 54 Posts
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I used a Toshiba Satellite laptop last year, and it worked fine, but, when you're cruising, you carry your laptop with you frequently, to find an internet cafe, or a hot spot where you can connect to the internet. Therefore, small size, light weight and easy portability is a really big deal. Carrying a 7 lb. full size laptop while you sightsee can be a real nuisance, and you can't always go back and forth between the shore and the boat, to get rid of gear. Likewise, because you often don't have an opportunity to connect it to a 110 electric outlet, long battery life is a really big deal.
I just bought an Acer Aspire One AOA150-1126 8.9-Inch Netbook (1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Drive, XP Home, 6 Cell Battery) for $369. It has an 8.9" screen and only weighs about 2.2 lbs. The operating system is Windows XP, instead of Vista, so it doesn't need so much memory to run fast. In fact, it's at least as fast as, or faster than, my Toshiba full-size laptop with Vista and 2 GB of memory. The part you're not going to believe is that a full charge of the 6 cell battery lasts well over four hours! This mini notebook is usually sold with only a 3 cell battery, which I am told is not very long lasting, but I found the one with the 6 cell battery on Amazon. Also, many of these minis are sold with a very small flash drive memory, and I have a feeling that they would fill up very quickly, but they are available with bigger, conventional hard drives. I got the 160 GB hard drive.
The main difference between the mini and a full sized laptop is that the mini doesn't have a CD/DVD drive (probably because it's just too small to fit a CD drive into the case), but I have an external CD/DVD drive that I can use if I want to load software from a disk. If you don't have one, you can buy the software and download it online. The mini's keyboard is slightly smaller than a conventional keyboard, but not so much that it will be difficult for us fat-fingered folks to operate.
I can't speak to the mini's ability to survive in the salt air environment, but I'll find out next summer. I've been using it for about 3 weeks in my home, and it appears to be extremely well suited to the needs of a cruiser or live-aboard.