Monday, October 19, 2009

Spare computer: Asus Eee 1005HA

In my book I talked a bit about spares. Mostly spare machines, tools or appliances that are necessary such as car fridge, washing machine,etc.
Since a computer is an important tool I use all day, I felt a little bit vulnerable not having a backup.
Lets face it, we use computers all day. I wouldn’t be able to write this if it weren’t for my PC, and that’s just a drop in the bucket: Work, send emails, administer bank accounts, keep track of my blog, get plane tickets, buy stuff. Its shorter if you list what you can’t do with a computer instead.
And yet I currently didn’t have it covered. I needed a backup, a plan B.
Not unlike the main gun/backup philosophy, I ended up buying something small.
I ended up buying a Netbook: Small, inexpensive, and capable of doing pretty much everything I needed.
After looking around Cnet, and a dozen other websites for reviews, I went for the one that most often than not ranked #1, the number one Amazon seller, the Asus Eee 1005HA.

These are the specs:
Up to 10.5 Hours of Battery Life (not true, runs for 9 hours or so)
Intel Atom N280 Processor 1.66GHz
1GB DDR2 RAM, 1 x SODIMM Slot, 2GB Max; Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
160GB SATA Hard Drive (5400 RPM) and 10GB Free Eee Storage
Windows XP Home Operating System, 10.1-inch WSVGA 1024x600 LCD Display
3xUSB 2.0 , Videocamera 1.3 Mega pixles.
The keyboard is 92% and much improved from previous versions I’ve seen. I even run AutoCad 2004 on this thing, no problem.
It’s nice to know that I have a spare, and that I can drop the little book sized computer in a bag and be out the door in a second, and still be able to work the following day even if I have to leave in a hurry.
I’m sure there are fanciers ones, but the Asus Eee I bought is priced right($350 or so), works well, it’s the most popular model (easy to repair) and does everything I need it to do.



Dan Tanner said...

I bought my wife a Dell Mini-9. She loves the portability of it and loves even more that she has something of her own instead of a hand-me-down pc from me. She can use it wherever she wants, even in bed during nap times. Best $350 I spent on her so far. =-D

Bones said...

Netbooks are great; I carry one everywhere because access to information is an extremely important tool. You may want to consider a cell phone with data access that can be "tethered" and used as a wireless modem. This allows internet access when no wifi signal is available so long as you have a cellular signal. Since the netbook has more processing horsepower than your phone, web surfing will be a lot smoother than if you surfed on the phone

Jack said...

The great things about netbooks are their small packages, cheap prices, long battery lives, and low power usage.

On the survivalist side:

1) Since netbooks are so small, they are easier to store in EMP proof containers than desktops or traditional laptops.
2) Since netbooks can have very low power usage they are easier to run off of solar or alternative power sources.
3) Netbooks don't have DVD/CD drives, so if all your survival manuals and data backups are on DVDs or CDs, you'll need an external DVD/CD drive.
4) Hard drive choices. The netbook FERFAL purchased has a HHD (traditional) vs. a SSD (Solid State Drive) hard drive.
- HHD Hard Drives: About 90% of netbooks have HHD hard drives, and they are bigger (standard 160GB) and cheaper than SSD hard drives. However, they use more energy, and are about the only thing in a computer that has moving parts (spinning disk), which makes them prone to breakage. If your hard drive breaks, you've lost everything that you don't have backed up elsewhere. (as an IT Tech, I found that HHD hard drives break more than any other computer part)
- SSD Hard Drives: Only about 10% of netbooks come with SSD hard drives, and they are smaller (8GB), and more expensive than HHD hard drives. However, they use less energy, and don't have any moving parts to wear out (they use the same type of technology as a thumb drive). Still, Murphy is always there, so if your computer breaks, you've lost everything that you don't have backed up elsewhere.

Recommendation: If you are buying a netbook to have the smallest package with the most productivity, and you need Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and all the bells and whistles on a daily basis, go with a netbook with a HHD hard drive. However, if you want a small package so you can store it in an EMP proof container, and you are just going to use the netbook for surfing the net, writing letters, viewing/printing your survival docs, etc. and want a low power, reliable hard drive with no moving parts, consider a SSD hard drive.

* and don't forget to back up everything... always!

FerFAL said...

Thanks guys, great comments.

Jack is right, the SSD is a much better option, much more durable, but they didn't have it for the Eee.
I'm still hoping that due to the eee's popularity and ease of customization, original or after market SSD may be availalbe later to add.


Anonymous said...

For a grab-and-go backup, you might also want to look at services to synchronize data between machines. I use the cloud as an intermediary for synchronizing files and notes between multiple machines (using things like Dropbox, Sugarsync, and Evernote), but there are peer-based solutions for those concerned about cloud storage security. I keep multiple machines synchronized, including an old laptop plugged in about 30 miles away (at the office) in case I need to evac and can't grab my main laptop. (house fire or such)

Anonymous said...

You will also need an external USB hard drive to keep all your data on, in case both your computers get stolen or something. They have external hard drives up to 1.5 terabyte capacity now. I have a Seagate FreeAgent. I mainly use it for business, but if I had more data I'd definitely get one for home-right now I mainly store data on CDs. You should keep this external HDD in your "secret" safe, along with your precious metals. And remember to put all your new data on it!

Anonymous said...

Burn a Puppy Linux CD, and you can get your backup PC out of a dumpster. Or out of the closet, where it's been sitting for years. I've been running Puppy for years and am I ever glad I got off the (expensive) Windows bandwagon.

Unknown said...

Neat idea. I bet the Eee PC would work for most people but for some reason, only the toughest survive my use. That's why I bought a used Toughbook for the same money. A lot of EMT and police use them so there is a surplus market here.

The average notebook has a 25% failure rate within 3 years. I imagine that number goes up with entry models. A top of the line laptop, the Toughbook is built under excellent quality control. They have a much lower 2.5% fail rate.

Not only that, they're monsters. It will survive being run over, falls from desks, and is resistant to dust, water, and extreme temperatures. They have destruction test videos like Glocks that show how much they can survive.

The specs are lower compared to other similarity priced laptops but is still plenty for regular tasks. The only con is that it's a 9 pound brick and is twice as thick as normal, but it can be used as a club or a hammer and still work.

The rugged models have soldered CPUs and less space for upgrades, but offer other customization opportunities. An extra hundred dollars will get you internal GPS or a touchscreen.

In summary, the weight and size may be a downside but the toughness can't be beat. The other thing I noticed is that it doesn't need a carrying case. It has loops where straps can be attached directly. The Toughbook is begging to bump into walls and tables, just so it can turn on and laugh!