I’ve been watching the rise of the netbook with interest. In the past I’ve played with PDAs and smartphones, but in my opinion they just don’t cut it for browsing the web. A netbook is about as small as you can make it without compromising usablity. Plus, they have been doing a sterling job of bringing Linux into the mainstream. It’s just a pity the manufacturers insist on “dumbing down” the interface.

I managed to keep my trigger finger off my mouse button and didn’t jump onto the bandwagon too early. I knew that anything less than a 1024 pixel wide screen would be compromised. I told myself that once they reached about £200 I’d take the plunge…

So, last week I decided to go for an Acer Aspire One. I soon came to realise that they are like gold dust at the moment. You just can’t buy them. Unless you want a pink one, but I didn’t fancy a “gaybook”. A mate of mine bought one for his wife for Valentine’s Day. We joked that she’d be getting a pink, 10 inch, battery powered gadget… hope she wasn’t disappointed.

Eventually I found a blue Aspire One with a 120GB hard drive and Linpus Linux for £230 at Scan. I ordered it Q-collect to save the £10 delivery; I drive past the junction on the motorway on my way home anyway. Unfortunately, Scan’s idea of “in-stock” actually turned out to be more like “in stock in a few days’ time”. Unfortunately for them, Dabs had emailed a flyer that morning advertising a Lenovo S10e for £250. For £20 more than the Acer you got a 160GB hard drive, a 10″ screen and bluetooth. It was a no-brainer, so I cancelled my order at Scan and went for the Lenovo.

The S10e comes with XP installed. It’s weird that as a Linux fan I’ve bought an XP netbook, but I was gonna stick Ubuntu on it anyway, so what’s the difference? I’ll keep XP on a little partition because it could come in handy. There’s always the odd proprietary application or website.