I’m wondering if anyone has taken a subnotebook to the field, and if so, how it went. The earlier ones didn’t look appropriate (hard drive too small, for example) but not there are machines with 1.6GHz processors, 80Gb hard drives, and with Ubuntu as the operating system that’s a pretty good setup.
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I took an EeePC to PNG this year. Can’t say it was all that great. I wanted to put Ubuntu on it, but it was a loan computer so I wasn’t allowed too.
Hardware-wise I think it was fine for my purposes, but sadly it was the software that let me down. The pre-installed mplayer would glitch on playback every ten seconds, the pre-installed sox didn’t have the proper libraries installed to run the noise removal filter. ELAN did not run properly (again because of non-current libraries) and I didn’t realise this until I was in the field. So it was mostly a heavy text entry machine, which turned into an audio recorder when my recorder broke. I guess solitaire passed the time a little too, but a pack of cards would have weighed less.
Power-wise, I ran the thing on a 50w solar panel with a car battery as buffer. I used an inverter, but a DC-DC converter would have been much more efficient (especially because the EeePC runs on 12v power). That said, I always had enough power.
It was the intermediary EeePC too, the one released between the originals and the more powerful Atom based EeePC (and other netbooks) currently on the market.
I reckon overall though, despite so many things going wrong, it was a decent solution for a computer in the field. Many of the problems would have been fixed if I’d found an internet connection in Moresby, and many more problems wouldn’t have occurred if I’d been allowed to hold the computer for more than a couple of days before I left. I’ll definitely take one on my next field trip.
The contexts I was using my machine in probably don’t count as “in the field” by your standards, but I’m impressed with mine, a Samsung NC10. I was using it for both displaying stimuli and recording. It has remarkable battery life, fair speed, and plenty of space.
I just returned from the field (very rural Andean villages in central Peru) last week, and took with me the Medion Akoya, a compact laptop with plenty of memory – used it in conjunction with a solar panel and dry-cell battery (input only 19V). It was excellent.