A decade ago I had one of the first Sony Vaio executive notebooks. It was a gloriously light, metallic purple titanium-clad affair which turned heads everywhere I went. At just 12 or 13 in size, it was the perfect travelling companion, and with my Microsoft budget, affordable for an aspiring young mid-manager. I used it everywhere — meetings, planes, coffee shops — you name it, it was always with me.
In recent years, however, notebooks have ballooned in size. My Toshiba Tecra A-1 had a 15″ screen. My more recent HP DV6000 was even larger. Weight has increased to the point where I walk with a permanent lean, and the possibility of working on a plane has all but disappeared as airlines have crammed seats together.
For the last couple of days I’ve been travelling with the HP Mini 1000 — Mini-Me. This diminutive “netbook” weighs just over 2 pounds, has a 10.1″ screen, and runs Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2007 just fine. I’ve used it in airports, on airplanes, in board rooms and hotel rooms. Size-wise, it’s perfect for travelling. The battery lasts long enough at 2.5 hours, although I will probably upgrade to the 6 cell battery coming in the new year which claims to extend usage to over 4 hours.
Caveats? Sure, there are a few. If you buy a Mini, consider the following:
- To be really productive in a hotel, you’re going to want to get a travel mouse as well. My choice was a slim little number I picked up at Fry’s, but any mouse will do. Skip the wireless mouse — the dongle is just one more part to carry and lose.
- The Mini has no VGA out. That’s right… none. It does, however, have a proprietary peripheral port, and HP has promised to ship a VGA adapter cable for that port in the new year. In the meantime, if you need to do presentations from the mini, you’re going to need an USB VGA adapter. I’m using one from GXT. It works fine.
- You’re going to need a bag. The appeal of this device is that it’s small, but that also means that the external peripherals — including the small brick-like power charger — are going to be extras you carry everywhere with you.
- You’ll need to get used to scrolling your screen. Most web sites now assume 1024×768 as a standard screen dimension. The Mini’s screen, while very readable, is a non-standard 1024×600.
Despite the small drawbacks, I’m very happy. For the first time in a long time, I’ve not felt the stress of the massive pile of work accumulating “at home” while I’m on the road.