RV Experience Sharing our experience about RVing

December 7, 2007

A Good RVer’s Laptop

Filed under: Uncategorized — donwood49 @ 9:28 am

The eeePC
In November of 2007, I bought a new laptop, the Asus eeePC. It is a small, very small, cheap laptop with all the features an RVer needs. As delivered, it uses Linux rather than Windows but you can load windows if you like. There’s really no need to do that and it will work better and faster if you don’t. The computer boots up and shuts down much faster than a windows PC. It doesn’t have a hard drive rather it uses 4GB of flash memory which is plenty. It doesn’t have an optical drive either. It does have three USB ports, an SD slot, an XGA video connector, Mic in and earphone out jacks, and a LAN port. There is a camera above the screen facing the user and speakers on either side of the screen. It has built-in wireless b and g. The screen is only 7 inches diagonally but plenty big enough for most use. It has a small touch pad as well. The keyboard is reduced in size so it takes a little getting used to but is infinitely easier than a PDA. It has a lithium Ion battery that lasts more than three hours, more if you dim the screen and turn off the wireless.

It comes with all the necessary software Firefox browser, Open Office word processor and spreadsheet, acrobat reader, media player, photo management, and more. These applications are not overly full of features but provide everything that is needed. If you’re near a hotspot you can use Google’s online word processor and always be able to continue your project whether you are on the eeePC or another computer without having to keep all the files in sync. This wont work in the boondocks but WiFi is becoming more and more available. You could easily add USB wireless modem and connect via the cell phone high speed networks.
It is a Linux computer so it does take a little getting used to and may require a little more user technical abilities. But I think it’s worth the effort.

Of course there’s the fact that Bill Gates doesn’t get richer unless you load Windows on the thing and then buy all the related software. But there are more reasons it’s ideal for RVer’s. It’s size and weight are two benefits. It weighs less than two pounds and can be carried like a book with no strain. It will fit in a fanny pack if you like. You can easily take it on a hike.

It is easily carted down to your local WiFi hotspot when not available at your campsite. It’s more durable than most laptops since it has no mechanical drives. It only costs $400 so it’s loss would not cause bankruptcy. Similar sized laptops easily cost 4-6 times as much.

Using the USB ports, you can add an optical or hard drive or just plug in a jump drive.

Pop the SD memory card out of you camera and into the eeePC’s builtin SD slot and upload your pictures for printing at Walmart’s, ShutterFy, or wherever.

It comes with Skype software installed so you can make VOIP calls. With the addition of some upgrded Skype software you could make video phone calls using the included built-in camera.

An additional feature of the eeePC is that it uses very little power. There’s no brick power supply. It has a tiny wall wart with a long cord and folding prongs which is much easier to use. The power supply is small enough to fit in your pants pocket with room to spare.

I did add Picasa photo software, free from Google, to the computer for full featured photo editing and easy upload for prints. It is a beta version for Linux but seems to work well. It took a little research to learn how to install it but all went well and it works great. Software installation isn’t as simple as for Windows but there is actually less potential of one software installation affecting another than with Windows since it has better dependency management. To install a new application you search the web and find a detailed list of the steps needed for installation and it works.

I really like my eeePC. I haven’t used it yet on the road but I am really looking forward to it. It wont be replacing my big older laptop for all uses. The big screen and big keyboard still have their use.

This computer hs only been available for a couple of weeks but there is aready an excellent users group. Of ourse, Asus is one of the largest PC board manufactures around so they have a lot of experience.

More information to follow.

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