Mr. Arrington, I challenge thee to a duel…

.. a typing duel. Michael Arrington is so set on linkbaiting in his rant against netbooks (I know, I'm a sucker) that he completely forgets to make a coherent argument. In fact he could hardly have picked more moot targets for the titular three reasons why 'netbooks aren't good enough'. Let's take them one at a time –


Arrington says, "Any normal adult can’t type fast on it without constantly hitting the wrong keys because there is no space between them."

I say, "Last time I checked I was a reasonably normal adult and I'm 95% as fast a touch typist on the Dell Mini 9 keyboard as I am on the full-sized external – I know because I've tested myself"

And for the doubting Thomases among you I'll be giving 'demonstrations' at OpenCoffee Limerick next Thursday. In fact I'll buy coffee for anyone who beats me in a speed test on their regular sized laptop. So there!

Too Little Horsepower

Arrington says, "If you have an email application open and a couple of tabs in a
browser, there’s a lot of slow down. One Vista machine I’ve been
testing tends to crash after a few minutes of use."

I say, "Vista!?! So he got his hands on the only netbook (the HP 2133 Mini-Not) that uses Vista and decided to base his impressions on that. Now that's just ridiculous"

"My Dell Mini 9 runs XP with greater speed than the Inspiron 510m (full sized) laptop it replaced. I rarely have fewer than a dozen Firefox tabs open on it and yet never notice any sluggishness. Besides, these are netbooks, not desktop replacements – the whole point is quick and convenient access to web apps, checking email, Twittering and so on. Not the mathematical modelling of the stock market!"

The Screen

Now this one's the real kicker. Arrington says, "These machines have screens ranging from 7 inches on up. The worst
thing about the screens is vertical resolution, which is generally 600
pixels…. the iPhone or iPod Touch, with a tiny 3.5 inch screen, has a vastly better browsing experience than any Netbook"

I say, "Huh? What planet is this guy living on? The resolution of the iPhone is 320 x 480. On the Mini 9 it's 1024 x 600. Michael's problem isn't with the hardware it's with software settings. Someone needs to show him how to change the font size on his browser and view full screen with F11. Hey, you can even rotate the display if you just must read in an iPhone-ish portrait mode."

Which is a long winded way of saying Arrington you're full of s**te. But Don Crowley says it more eloquently —

"Netbooks are for those with a small budget or those on the move (In
which case it is the second PC). You won't use photoshop on a netbook.
Its surfing, email and office docs – preferably stored in the cloud. I smell a PR conspiracy here."

5 Responses to “Mr. Arrington, I challenge thee to a duel…”

  1. DC Crowley Says:

    hehe! I saw Chris Pirillo wondering out loud if the iPod Touch was a net PC. In a way it is, I just wouldn’t like to challenge you to a typing duel on one of those 😀 If those dumb asses kill the netbooks Steve Jobs will see Apple Inc. turnover going up yet again… Why do they keep trying to shoot themselves in the foot?

  2. Tom Says:

    My £200 Acer AspireOne does almost everything I need – I’d say that between 75% and 95% of my daily keystrokes are straight into it. I bought it at just the right time: my MacBook Pro doesn’t last for more than an hour without overheating.
    I can watch video full-screen in Totem – it’s like one of those portable DVD players the yuppies were carrying around with them a few years ago, only it has a hard drive instead.
    I can code on it: it’s got a terminal, after all. Open up a GNU screen session, run it completely full screen and you have an absolutely unbeatably perfect coding or writing environment. I even wrote a little XML-RPC-based command-line blogging application to go with it. I use mutt and slrn, and they work pretty well on a small screen.
    There are a couple of markets that will love netbooks: old-school command line hounds – programmers, sysadmins and so on – children, people who live in the cloud, students, budget-conscious business people. The replacement cost for this machine is a tiny fraction of my MacBook Pro. Extra batteries are half the price of my MBP, and are available in capacities that give me almost a full working day of usage.
    As for the keyboard? Bullshit. GNU Typist tells me I get 80-90 WPM (on a few different tests) – although I very rarely ever do the sort of typing that one would for such a test (copying a business letter is not much like coding or command line use). If I use Vim, I can go even faster as I know the commands.
    When I was using my MacBook Pro, I carried around a large backpack. Every day, I’d get back home with back-ache. Now I carry a tiny little shoulder bag. I don’t need heavy iron with me on the train. I need a machine with a decent terminal, a decent browser and a decent text editor.
    Another huge benefit of this machine: if I drop it, the maximum it will cost me is £200. Repairs to my MacBook Pro – and before that, my iBook – have cost me enormous amounts.
    I think the ‘netbook’ thing is bullshit too. My Acer is a lot less ‘net’ than my desktop machine is. The latter is hooked up to the net 24×7, while my Acer swoops on and offline. Having such a small and not-always-connected machine has forced me to raise my game with syncing, delegating tasks to other boxes to run offline, SSHing in to control boxes remotely and so on.
    If Arrington wants a machine that has only a web browser (presumably Google “Windows Killer!” Chrome – scoff!), he’s welcome to it. Wasn’t that Sun’s plan a few years ago? We were all going to be using light-weight JavaOS machines. Look how well that turned out. Arrington may be happy to let the Cloud People run his life, but those of us who aren’t completely brain-dead seem not to have any irrational phobia about storing files on our own machines.
    And he seriously thinks the iPhone is a replacement for a netbook? Call me when I can run a compiler on it and maybe I’ll give a shit. Until then, I’ll keep on with my teeny £200 laptops – the competitive market in these things is really giving the consumer a lot of choice and value. I’d be surprised if the next BarCamp I go to hasn’t got a significant number of these machines perched on the knees of attendees.

  3. dc crowley Says:

    Tom, great run down on why they rock! really appreciated

  4. Ger Hartnett Says:

    Ah James, I wish I knew you were challenging people at OpenCoffee to a typing duel today. I’d have enjoyed a free coffee 😉

  5. James Corbett Says:

    Well that’s what you get for not reading my blog religously Ger. And to think I’m such a fan of your blog that I even had to read it DURING OpenCoffee *shakes head*
    Great comment Tom, one I’m going to bump up to a full post in a few days.

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