Having left the comforting bosom of ZDNet.co.uk to strike out on my own as a freelance journalist recently, I found myself contemplating a shocking truth – I was going to have to shell out for some technology.
Luckily the thought of having to actually spend some money on kit for once, rather than just take what ZDNet provided or what I could scrounge from tech companies, was softened a bit by the fact that I would actually at least get to choose exactly what I wanted.
First off – the phone. Having suffered through a year of HTC and Windows Mobile ownership I had no intention of spending my hard-owned on either platform. Luckily, this was never going to be my fate given that I am a bit of a Mac fan-boy and Apple has just launched the iPhone 3G. After a bit of fretting about the battery-life and having to do business with 02, I found myself a fully paid-up member of the iPhone-erati.
Despite a complete nightmare two hour sign-up process in the Apple store – mostly down to O2's systems – I am feeling distinctly pink and tickled with my iPhone. Yes, you do have to charge it almost once a day, but as I need to sync my Gmail and iCal calendars about as regularly, so it's not too much bother. As long as you accept that the iPhone is more like a very small and perfectly formed MacBook (is there any other kind?) and not really a phone at all, then the battery life becomes acceptable.
Leaving just enough time for the post-iPhone blush to leave my cheeks, (it genuinely still makes me smile when I use it), I turned my attention to finding a laptop. The last five years have been spent with a series of Toshibas which have varied in weight and quality – but have never felt really portable enough. The new wave of netbooks doing the rounds looked a lot more like my idea of what a notebook should be. However while Asus led the way and seemed to have got it mostly right with the Eee PC, the first models looked a bit insubstantial, and the keyboard was just too small.
However with the Eee PC 1000, ASUS seemed to have solved most of the problems – even if that does mean a heavier and more expensive device. A trip to London's Tottenham Court Road yesterday revealed that despite the Eee being launched a week ago – most of the so-called tech specialist shops hadn't even heard of the machine – and some hadn't even heard of ASUS. But in true Hollywood-cliche style, just when I was about to give-up, head home and order it online, I finally found a stockist. (Yes my iPhone should have helped with this process but the dodgy 3G connection and a sluggish Wheretobuy page on ASUS's website meant that I was back to old school foot-work).
After a day with the Eee 1000, I have to say I am pretty happy with it (I am writing this from a riverside pub on a lovely sunny Friday afternoon in Kingston – thanks to the Eee). The battery life doesn't appear to be the 6 to 7 hours I was promised, but that always sounded a bit unrealistic. I think the reality is more like 4.5 which is a hell of a lot better than any of the Toshibas I have had. The keys are also satisfyingly firm, unlike the HP 2133 Mini-Note, and three USB ports are enough. Also, I don't know if it is the smaller size of the screen or better resolution, but I had no probs typing this post outside, although I was in the shade – and wearing shades.
The only real down-side is that the Linux model hasn't been introduced yet, and I couldn't be bothered to wait, not when there is free-Wifi, and riverside pubs to be exploited. I was toying with the idea of swapping out XP for Ubuntu, but realised that this was going to be a pain without a CD Drive. Besides there is a nice symmetry in having one mobile device running OSX and the other on XP, which will have to do until I can get my act to go to go Windows-free completely.