Sunday, May 11, 2008
I decided to photograph my new mini-laptop alongside the normal-sized one . It looks more like a wannabe laptop. With the weight less than a kilo it means no more lugging the bigger one round to libraries. Developed in response to a 'computer for every school-child ' programme, it's called an Asus Eee PC.
As I'm a bit of a gadget freak, I keep out of IT shops as a rule. I was there for something fairly harmless like printer cartridge when I first first spotted the Eee on a shelf in a local branch of Curry's.
The salesman, a gangly youth in a smart royal blue shirt, wasn't interested. He was talking to a colleague about how he'd spend the evening, at some night-club called Zero.
Normally, I'd just study the batteries or something, and listen in, but I was quite keen to get the information. The Eee looked like the best writing aid I'd seen since I'd bought my first computer in Singapore, a desk-top Apple Mac with a 7 inch screen. I'm not counting the prototype monster requiring five and a half inch floppies my husband brought home when he worked for BT. It had no mouse, but a long list of key combinations to do things like starting a new paragraph.
The Curry's assistant decided the sooner he got rid of me the sooner he'd be downing Red Bull and Vodka at Zero's.
'I wish they'd never brought these out! There's no CD-Rom drawer, for a start!'
'Well, I didn't want one of those. I just wondered if it could be used as a word-processor...'
'You need one of these bigger ones. It doesn't have Word.'
'It says it's compatible, though, on that card. Could you turn it on so I can see the size of the print?'
He complied, his body half turned away so he could work with one hand and talk to the girl at the check-out desk at the same time.
I'd come back at 5.15pm as the shop was busy earlier. Waiting in the post-office queue had whiled away half an hour, but it was obviously too near closing time at Curry's to get this guy's full attention.
'Would it be possible to load Word onto it?'
'What? The programme would take up more than the memory. It's only 2GB, or 4 GB if you pay the extra £30.'
At £249.99 it still looked good to me. I could put my Bingo win towards it and call it an early birthday present. I'd raid the Edinburgh Festival fund.
I went home and did some research on the Internet, then when I was satisfied the Eee would suit my purpose, I took a bus to PC World.
There the first salesman I asked made sounds which I took to mean he'd go off to see if they had them in stock. I never saw him again.
The second was much more helpful, cheerful even, and looked on his computer catalogue to see which colours they had in stock: pink, blue, green, white and grey. He didn't even try to talk me into a pink one, although they had six of those.
It seems to fit my purpose. I plug my data stick into one of the USB ports and open up a file to work on, then save it to continue on the normal-sized laptop when I get home. So far I've only used it on the park. The keyboard's a bit small and takes some getting used to. It's got Wifi so I should be able to check emails once I get it configured. (If you click twice on the picture and then slide it round you can get a close-up)
This afternoon I'll take it down to my local library. I have an idea they don't make a charge for using their Broadband Internet connection.
At least they are fairly helpful there. They even have card on the counter that you can fill in if they don't come up to standard as regards being polite and helpful. Seems to me they could introduce that scheme in computer shops.
No probs surfing the Web at my local library where the Wifi connection is free. The IT-savvy librarian was very excited about the Eee. 'You're very trendy, Madam. Did you know Stephen Fry has one of those?'