Kitka 3I’ve been mulling for some time an upgrade to my little Asus Eee PC 4G Surf that I bought back in March. That Eee is a wonderful little ‘netbook’, as they are now called, which is a super-small, low-powered, inexpensive laptop mainly designed for portability at the expense of power. The main problem was the screen. It had a tiny 7″ display with a piddly resolution of 800×480. This required a number of minor sacrifices—shrunken font sizes, compressed interfaces, and lots of scrolling around on web sites.

Well, a lot more netbooks are available now than back in March and most have higher screen resolutions (though the computers overall are roughly the same size). I’ve had my eye out for an upgrade, especially since the old Eee still sells on eBay for just under $200. Well, Best Buy is selling the Asus Eee PC 900A for $279, so that seemed like a great deal and I braved the crowds to pick one up yesterday. I figure, after selling my old Eee in the next couple of weeks, my total cost for the upgrade will only be about $100. (And yes, in light of my post about buying American, I did look at the Dell Inpiron Mini 9. It’s a good machine and was in the running, until I found out they moved the apostrophe key [!?!?]. Way to ruin a great machine with one dumb, little move Dell. I don’t care about the missing function keys, but the main letters and punctuation keys must be in their standard locations for me to seriously consider any machine.)

The 900A has a 9″ display with 1024×600 resolution (much better for web surfing), an Intel Atom processor at 1.6ghz, 1gb of RAM (twice as much as the old Eee), and a 4GB on-board solid-state hard drive. It’s physically only very, very slightly larger than my old Eee and the keyboard is, as far as I can tell, identical. It ships with a mediocre Asus-customized version of Xandros Linux, but with some due diligence it can be upgraded to a standard Ubuntu Linux install or (if you really want) Windows XP. There are tons of guides on how to do these things over at EeeUser.com. It took me a chunk of yesterday afternoon to get Ubuntu installed and get everything configured the way I want, but now I’m good-to-go (and writing this entry on it).

I don’t know what people are going on about with the economy; if you’re in the market to buy things (like gas, Eee PCs, or houses) the economy is going great. Prices are low, and businesses are generally very happy to sell things to you ;-).