FutureShop and its parent BestBuy had a couple of new netbooks on their shelves, and so I dropped by to check them out.
The new HP Mini 1000 is clearly the best looking of the bunch, and improved over HP's first attempt, the Mini 1300. They packed a bigger screen into a smaller body and a lower price.
But then the drawback:
- Very few connectors (no VGA out, just 2 USBs, etc)
- Just a 60GB hard drive (most netbooks now have 160GB drives)
- Highest price (for fewer features).
- Bad keyboard design (more on this later).
Clearly, HP designed it to not compete with its bigger (and more profitable) lines of notebook computers.
The ugliest of the lot. Some of the design features made me think it was a rebadged Asus. Embarrassing to be seen with in airport waiting areas. Designed not to compete with Toshiba's other... etc.
Placed well away from the other netbooks is the one from Acer. Older than the other models, it seemed to combine the best of looks, features, and price. It would be the one to choose from those offered by BestBuy/FutureShop.
One significant flaw in the original EEE netbook from ASUS is the cramped keyboard. My fingers are smaller than most, and so I am able to use it. But barely. The Toshiba suffers from the same design flaw.
HP make much of their keyboard and it being 92% the size of a regular keyboard. True enough. But it is also flawed: the keys are flat, and lack the concave shape that helps fingers center themselves onto keys. This means that your fingers slide around the HP keyboard, making plenty of typing mistakes.
(I presume HP eliminated the concavity to make the netbook thinner. But what's the point if it's difficult to type with?)
Here is where the Acer is the winner over HP and Toshiba: the keyboard is larger AND the keys are concave.