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Micro PC Netbooks, along with Apple iPads, are hot topics right now. These small, relatively cheap tiny pc laptops are very handy for many including the busy Sandwich Generation juggling the issues of caring for elderly parents, helping with grandkids, and trying to work in the midst of all that.
Of course, most of us have a full size computer or laptop, but having a mini pc laptop that can actually fit inside your purse or a small briefcase, making it extremely portable, can be a big help. As a busy blogging/writing granny nanny on the run, I've grown to love my little 10 inch Toshiba Netbook and find it quite useful at so many places including:
- Babysitting – inside OR out
- Flying on a plane – even in the cramped middle seat, a netbook is small enough to easily use
- Sam's Club, Walmart, car service centers and other places I have to spend a lot of time waiting at
I've had my Toshiba mini pc netbook for a few months now and, overall, I've found it quite useful. I tuck it inside my purse when I leave on errands. Then, if unexpected babysitting duties come up, I'm ready to write away during nap or play time (when I'm not busy playing tag, of course).
I've used it to help me keep up with writing during two loved ones' surgeries. And right now, I'm sitting at Sam's Club, writing this and other articles, while waiting for my tires to get their free rotation and balancing, along with new windshield wipers for the changing weather we're enjoying. No wi-fi at this Sam's Club but all my car dealerships have had it. It's a lot easier, lighter and safer to pack my micro mini pc than bring my primary laptop computer if I have a lot of errands.
Whether Toshiba or another brand, netbooks aren't perfect. Some of the primary downsides I've noticed include:
- SLOOOOOWWWW – Sometimes I feel like I've taken a big step backward to the days of modems. If all you're doing is using the word processor or other software and not going online, it's actually quite fine. But using the internet, even with a fast broadband or DSL connection, can be pretty slow!
- SMALL SCREEN – Not all programs are made to work perfectly with the micro size of a Netbook, so it can sometimes be hard to manuver around because of the small size of the screen. In fact, one of my favorite programs requires a bigger screen so I can't use it at all. Most do work with it, though, but it does take some getting used to and a bit of skill to work around it. There are some plugins that can help but when I've used them, sometimes they've made things harder instead of easier.
- NO CD/DVD – All software has to be downloaded or installed via a USB thumb drive. A bit more work to do it, but it is do-able. If you use something common like Microsoft Office, a trial version may already be installed on your Netbook and you just have to add the owner's code from your own software to activate it, which is a big help.
Recently, I was chatting with a woman about five years old than me who was looking for a computer. She had never used one before and was thinking of getting a laptop. She noticed my micro mini pc netbook and started asking questions. I told her, and I'll tell you, if you're not used to computers (or if you're shopping for a senior who's new to computers) and if there isn't an overwhelming need for a small size or portability, I would go with one of the normal sized notebooks or towers – Mac or PC (My personal favorite is the Mac as it's a bit easier for the end user).
BUT, if you are reasonably good with computers and are looking to supplement the one you have with one of the cheap mini laptops that are easily portable, buying a tiny pc like one of my toshiba tiny computers can be a great help for all of us busy with the Sandwich Generation issues.
You should have seen me the other day. I took it with me over to the grandkids' house. It was a lovely warm day and they wanted to work on a craft project outside, then play with their GI Joes. I took my computer outside and typed a paragraph while they worked intently. Then we had to go in to get something and I scooped it up and carried it with me. Back outside we went a bit later for GI Joes – again, another paragraph or two. Back inside and upstairs for nap, where I could work for an hour or so. Then mom came home and off I went to Panera's where I got some more typing done. Finally back to get the oldest from school and take her to church where I was able to do a bit more work. It's so light and easy I was just able to grab it and other stuff and move around with ease. With my primary laptop, it's heavier and more fragile and I rarely would take it outside!
Not only that, I did this ALL without needing to plug in, as my Toshiba Mini Netbook NB255-N250 has about 9 hours of battery life! Which leads me to an important recommendation. MAKE SURE you get a micro mini pc with a long battery life. There are some that only last 2-4 hours but many that last 9 hours, like mine. That does make up for a lot of the downsides!!!! (My netbook lasts longer than any of my bigger laptops ever have – very nice!)
Yikes, this is one long post. And it's time for me to head out for some fun educational activities for Sandwich Generation grandparents and their grandchildren, interspersed with writing, writing, and more writing on my cute little micro laptop/netbook. So check back next Monday for more reviews on this topic, including my (very limited) comparison of my Netbook to the iPad. 🙂