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Old Aug 31, 2008, 10:39 PM   #1
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Hi All,

I just found the best portable memory storage and digital pic viewer (for me at least). It's much more than that -- it's actually a real full-powered Win XP computer -- the Acer Aspire One "netbook".

It's designed mostly as an Internet device, but with an 8.9" diagonal wide screen LCD, 1.6 GHz (I think)Intel Atom processing chip, 1GB memory, and a 120 GB mechanical hard drive. With Win XP Home SP3, it does everything that my desktop will do, in a bit over 2 lb package with an MSRP of $350 USD. Of course, the day after I bought this from Microcenter, I received a $50 coupon for this model in an email from Tiger Direct, but they don't have any stock yet as far as I can tell.

They also make a Linux version with a Solid State hard drive, but it's only 9GB, so wouldn't work for my purposes. It is about $20 cheaper tho. . .

The keyboard keys are about 95% full sized and have a nice feel, and even I can actually touch type on it with my thick little fingers after just a little bit of practice. I find the touchpad a bit useless, but I find all touchpads useless, so I use the same wireless Logitech VX Revolution mouse that I use with my desktop. The screen is not anti glare, and is a fingerprint magnet, but it's also a lot easier to clean than most anti glare screens I've seen.

So far (I've only had it a couple of days), I've loaded older versions of MS Office, an older version of ACDSee, and PSP X into it and all works as expected. The hard drive has partitioned off @ 20GB for the recovery software, and only 100 GB is available for use, but that's more than plenty for me. It's a bit slower than my desktop, but I can actually do some extensive PP, even with the small screen.

It's got 2 SD card readers -- one that can add resources to the computer's memory, and one standard 5-in-one card reader (SD, Mem Stick, Mem Stick Pro, xd, and MMC) that is compatible with both SD and SDHC cards. It has 3 USB 2.0 and 1 Firewire port, an external VGA monitor port, and an RJ-45 (10/100) Lan port plus mic and speaker and AC adapter jacks. All the ports and jacks are located on the sides of the unit (I really dislike the usual placement on the back of the unit) It also has built in wireless capabilities, but since I don't use this, it really doesn't matter to me, but could be useful to upload pics to an online storage site.

The screen resolution is 1024x600, so there's plenty for my needs, and I can view pics at close to the 5x7 that I usually print my proofs to. I've loaded all my PP'd shots from all my cameras into it, and am now sorting things out for easier viewing of my "portfolio". This sure beats carrying around a whole pile of binders with prints, and is appropriately (for digital photography) "hi tech" to boot.

I've also loaded in my Stokes Field Guide to bird songs and scans that I've made from other birding field guides to help me ID the birds I don't know. This, and the ability to really closely review pics for IQ without having to go home should help me quite a bit (or at least that's what I'm telling myself to rationalize this purchase :-)) I figure that with ACDSee, I can index the pics from the field guide to make them easier to look through, and attach the bird song sound files to the the pics -- should be pretty efficient once I've got everything set up, but that will take some time.

The standard 3-cell battery lasts about 3 hrs, but a 6-cell 6hr battery is supposed to be available, and from what I've seen, doesn't add much dimension or weight to the unit. If needed, I can also use the AC adapter and an AC converter in the car if I need more juice.

It runs pretty cool, just getting warm to the touch. I've used some notebooks that will iron your pants and cook the skin off your lap while using them.

The Aspire One is about 9.75"x6.5" and about 1.25" thick closed, which happens to be about the same size as some of the medium sized day planners. I bought a nice padded leather one that zips closed, with a relatively big external pocket, drilled the rivets that held the binder rings, removed them, and now have a very cool looking case that will carry the computer, charger and cords, a small self powered external speaker (if I need more volume than the tiny enclosed speaker can manage), earbuds, and my mouse. Conceivably, an imaginative thief might figure it out, but who would want to steal a day planner -- even if it's a nice one. I'd also be able to fit a 2.5" external HD in the pocket if I wanted or needed to.

I'm still getting more ideas for using this for my photogarphy, but I'm very satisfied with the build quality and functionality of this little guy so far.

I take and post some pics if anyone's interested. . .

Scott
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Old Aug 31, 2008, 11:17 PM   #2
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Sounds very interesting! My hard drive on my laptop got pretty full this trip (I have too much software on this computer for it). I was looking at portable hard drives and my hubby offered to buy me one, but I opted for a 8 GB SD card instead (came in very useful this past week). I'm going to have to buy either a portable hard drive or something like this before our next trip. If I went this way, would I be able to install PS 6 on it?
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Old Aug 31, 2008, 11:39 PM   #3
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Well I use the Hyperdrive HD80 storage device that fits on my belt, has 120GB of storage and automatically copies my card as soon as I put it in. It is small and fast and has been very reliable for over three years now.

I take my full card out of my camera put it in the HD80, put a new card in the camera and while I am shooting the SD card is being recorded to the HD.

http://www.adorama.com/ICDHD8080.html

Tom
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 12:45 AM   #4
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Hi Harriet and Tom,

Harriet -- it'll do anything an ordinary Windoz XP computer will do as it has the full OS, not some truncated version, so any software that works with XP or earlier versions should work fine.

Tom -- I've seen these, and though they are significantly more compact and a lot faster, I like a multi-function device better, and for $100 more, I have a whole other computer.

I've had times when I've been visiting friends or relatives, and they've wanted pics of the occasion. I've always begged off, saying that I'd want to work on the pics before giving them out, but their computers haven't had the software that I can use easily to crop and do minor PP on so they could just take the files to a Wallgreens and print.

With this, I carry the necessary software with me, and I can plug their monitor into it if I want to save my eyes a bit, then give them one of the multitudes of small capacity SD cards that I've collected which were included with various devices, but are too small for anything useful. The only thing it doesn't have is an optical reader/writer, but with flash memory so cheap, that's easily worked around.

I used to carry a growing number of binders filled with 5x7 prints to show (off :-)) what I like to do, and now I can just start up a slide show to accomplish the same thing.

That, and the information that I can pack into it will be very useful -- and it's so much cooler than a full sized laptop. . .:-)

It's a much better solution for me.

Scott
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 7:41 AM   #5
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Looks cool, Scott. If I'm going "light" I'll just bring my Palm LifeDrive PDA. Not large, but at least has a larger screen to view my photos than the LCD on the K100. I did just buy a new laptop with 15.4" monitor that I was planning on bringing on my "senior photo" shoot in the next few weeks. I hated to bring it, but I don't want to be telling these kids or parents we have to redo it. This would have been a good alternative to bringing the whole laptop.

You'll have to let us know how it does with your processing and stuff as you use it.

Patty
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 8:44 AM   #6
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Thanks for sharing that info Scott.
Sounds like something I'll be looking into in the near future. I can see all kinds of possibilities with this set up.
GW
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 1:37 PM   #7
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I have been waiting for quite a while for this. There are a number of these "nettops" coming out now. My oldest son picked up an EEE PC about 6 months ago and likes it a lot. The keyboard is a bit too small, and the 7 inch screen to scrunched up for me though.

HP among others have come out with offerings and Dell is suppose to come out with one just about any day now.

On the flip side, I was finally able to turn in my brick of a laptop for a new one (every 3 years as they are leased) at work. From Dell, I was able to select the Latitude D430 which is 3.5 pounds in weight with a 12 inch screen. Its is just the right size and weight for work related traveling. For my own use, I have been waiting to see what Dell's offering it's nettop line, due out any day now.

I took the D430 out to sea with my trip to Hawaii via the banana boat. It worked out very well, and was able to process and store my images that I took. I am torn between using something like the D430 at home (I would like to have a bit more power when processing RAW images), and having something the size of the Acer Aspire or Dell's rumored offering. I like the dual SD card slots (the Dell 430 only has one). I do think that a 10 inch screen would be a bit nicer and would help with the space available for a keyboard . But the $350 price is hard to beat.

You can use an external USB storage drives that are available for $80 for a 160GB and $100 for 320GB on sale. They are very easy to carry, requiring only a single USB cable (powered from the laptop).
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 6:31 PM   #8
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Perhaps Tom's solution is more to the point for me - I mainly just need a storage device (I ran low on hard drive space this trip - the K20's files are quite large. I usually shoot raw+ but switched to raw only after the first day). I'll have lots of time to think about it since we don't have any more trips planned.
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Old Sep 1, 2008, 6:37 PM   #9
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I have a small iBook that I take with me on trips but I don't want it with me in the field and the HD80 just sits on my belt waiting for me to drop in a card and copy the info to it. I want to minimize the amount of equipment I have with me while taking photos which is why I would leave even a tiny laptop at home or at least in the car.

Tom
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