Wednesday, January 13, 2010


By Writer X

Before Christmas, I wrote a post about Nooks, Kindles, Sonys, and Vooks. And, no, it wasn’t a clever post about celebrity baby names. It was a post about new technological gizmos for people dipping their toes into the brave new world of paperless, downloadable books. As of that post, I said the Nook tempted me. Bad. But Santa left me something else entirely underneath the Christmas tree. And it wasn’t a lump of coal.

I got a Netbook for Christmas.

For those of you unfamiliar with Netbooks, it’s like a laptop only smaller. Mine also has this really cool psychedelic-like cover, but that is not the reason why I can say unequivocally that it has absolutely changed my life in ways I never thought possible. All of them good. Better than good. In fact, I’ll put the Netbook up there with miracle inventions like indoor plumbing, microwaves, and the dishwasher.

For starters, my Netbook weighs two pounds. Two pounds! It fits inside my purse! I have a wallet stuffed with credit card receipts and loose change that weights more than two pounds. Now, wherever I go, my Netbook comes along too. It’s a million times more convenient than a bulky laptop. And yet it’s bigger and more practical, at least for me, than those teeny tiny Blackberry or iPhone screens and their annoying keypads.

My Netbook has a 10-inch screen, 135 gigs of space, Windows 7, and the keyboard is 90% the size of a full-size keyboard. In other words, it took me all of about 5 seconds to get used to the smaller keyboard. If you’re a writer, student, world traveler, or business owner who takes his work wherever you go, consider a Netbook. If I were a college student again, a Netbook is definitely the way to go.

And it’s cheaper than a laptop (although less powerful) and even more convenient. But if you’re an avid gamer, photographer, or graphic artist, a Netbook probably won’t have the power you need.

For me, it’s been a match made in technological heaven. Now when I’m out and about and I have a story idea or simply feel the need to jot down some super clever dialogue that pops into my head for a book I’m trying to finish, I pull out my Netbook instead of a piece of scrap paper (that I often lose) or a pencil/pen (that I can never find inside the bowels of my purse). It’s also great for traveling. And although I don’t usually use the free wifi at coffee shops, hotels, libraries, or restaurants, the Netbook has that connectivity, too. If you have a wireless system in your house, carting around your Netbook and connecting to the Net is as easy as carrying around a book.

But, back to Nooks, Kindles, and Sony e-Readers…

Barnes & Noble sold a ton of Nooks over the holidays and Amazon did brisk business with their Kindles. However, they—the Nooks, especially—were not without the usual start-up glitches. For starters, Barnes & Noble could not meet the demand and ran out of the Nooks. Then there were linkage issues to the e-book stores. Not a great way to start.

A writer friend of mine who bought a Nook (and actually received hers) said that the Nook has an annoying lag time between pages. So, imagine if you were reading a really great book and were into the story but you had to wait 5-10 seconds before you could begin reading the next page. That would be a total bummer. I will wait to see how the glitches flesh out before I reconsider the Nook. And, there are all sorts of stories out now about copycat e-reader devices (e.g. Samsung, enTourage, Copia, RCS) which will, hopefully, drive down the prices and improve the technology. The e-readers are still a little pricey, in my opinion. And it’s not like you’re saving a bundle either on the downloadable books. It’s not like the music industry where you can buy a song on iTunes for a dollar. You’re paying for convenience with the e-readers. And to save the polar bears.

Interestingly, on Christmas Day, more people purchased downloadable Kindle books through Amazon than physical books. A sign of things to come? We’ll see if the trend continues. I have a feeling that it will.

And that will change the whole landscape for writers in terms of advances, royalties, and distribution channels, but I’ll save that for another post. I’m still basking in the glow of my Netbook.


Nook Problems

Kindle Scores At Amazon


StanH said...

My wife loves her Netbook as well. We didn’t get our daughter a new Kindle, (she has a Sony e-Book) she still prefers the real thing, so the bookstore is still a frequent haunt. Thanks for the update.

USArtguy said...

Congratulations on your new gizmo. I hear there are a couple netbook models that can be reconfigured to run the Mac OS. Since my home is a PC-Free zone I've been tempted to get one and experiment.

Writer X said...

Stan, you're welcome.

I'm glad you held off on another e-Reader (e.g. the Nook). It is not without its startup problems and for that kind of money, I'd expect better. And I expect that we'll see more knockoff versions in the next year or so.

Netbooks definitely rock in my opinion.

Writer X said...

USArtguy, thanks!

I'm not savvy enough to know how to reconfigure but I'm sure it can be done. If you've got a Best Buy near you, take a look at their models. They had about 12 of them at mine. I ended up with a Dell.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, Thanks! I love the title to the article!

It can't be good for their product that they had connectivity problems right out of the gate. That sounds like the kind of thing that can stick with you as a reputation for unreliability? Are any of the readers cross-compatible, i.e. can you buy a book on one and read it on another or are you trapped once you buy a device?

I hear good things about Netbook. I switched to laptops years ago instead of desktops and have no intention of ever switching back. I suspect the Netbook is underpowered for what I need, but it sounds like a good machine.

Writer X said...

Andrew, you're welcome and glad you like the title.

I don't believe the readers are cross-compatible. You have to buy your e-books from the e-stores that link to the e-Readers. It's not as easy to share books either, not like the real thing, obviously, and that is one drawback. I remember the salesguy for the Nook telling me you could lend books for up to two weeks, which didn't exactly score bonus points with me.

So far, I have no complaints at all with my Netbook. As I said, it's like it was made for the kinds of things I need it to do. A couple of things I should also mention:

It has a built in camera and I can go 7 hours without a charge.

patti said...

my dil got a netbook for christmas and brought it to our house so i could root around on it. loved it. i am looking for a messenger bag, but don't want the ones big enough to tote around a laptop, and now i suspect the size i am looking for will be perfect for a netbook. seems perfect and your assessment helps.

Writer X said...

patti, glad to help.

You won't need anything huge for a Netbook,unless you want/need it.

AndrewPrice said...

Writer X, I understand the problem with people copying digital files, but this is an issue that really bothers me as a buyer. If I can't transfer the product when my device dies or when I buy a new device, then I'm not interested. And the idea of "being allowed to share it" for two weeks does not give me a warm fuzzy!

I've heard good things about the Netbook and I'm thrilled that laptops are getting lighter -- seven hours would be great on a battery.

herocious said...

A netbook changed my life, too. The MSi Wind, more specifically. Like USArtguy was saying, there are some netbooks that can run Mac OS X, and the Wind - with it's atom processor - is one of them. It's definitely a luxury to run a stable OS on a super light and super compact netbook. I've been spoiled. Glad to hear you have a netbook, Writer X! I'm sure it'll benefit your writerly life.

Game Master Rob Adams said...

I have been considering an electronic reader type. If the netbook allows other types of software as well (which is sounds like it is basically a toned down laptop) then I might go with it instead. Some of the qualities I wanted in a reader were one, I did not want to have to worry about proprietary downloads and two I wanted something that was going to be comfortable to write on. This sounds like an excellent product. Great topic!

Writer X said...

Thanks,herocious! And thanks for the added wisdom on the Macs. It really is the perfect writer gizmo.

Writer X said...


If you've got a Best Buy near you, try out the different Netbooks. Then, if you're near a Barnes & Noble, go try out a Nook. You can jot down stuff on a Nook with that electric pencil thingy, but I wouldn't want to do it for too long. Like I said earlier, I may buy a Nook/e-reader too at some point but the price will need to come down drastically and some of the glitches will need to be worked out before I do.

Unknown said...

WriterX: Unlike Andrew (and apparently everyone else with any savvy), I have two desktops and no laptop. If I'm out, and need the internet, I use my smart phone, but my writing has to wait 'til I get home or to my son's house (where there's a computer in every room, except the bathrooms). Still, I've wanted to have something portable as a basic backup and take-along. Sounds like the Netbook might just fill the bill.

As for books, the dinosaur in me will never, never surrender. The look, texture, feel and smell of a book is just too satisfying for me to switch to something electronic. Of course, I said the same thing about PCs and cell phones, and if I find myself without them, I cease to exist. LOL

Writer X said...

LawHawk, I know what you mean about dinosaurs. I remember saying that I'd never warm up to email. HAH!

Seriously, check out the Netbook. For as much writing as you do, it could make your life easier. And their cheaper than laptops--at least the ones I was looking at. With tax, I paid about $400 for my Netbook.

StanH said...

Lawhawk, my wife is with WriterX, get a Netbook with an internal air-card you’ll love it. You can post from anywhere. Message from my boss! Ha!

MegaTroll said...

Writer X, Another cool article. I want a Netbook byt haven't bought one yet.

Writer X said...

Mega, thanks!

Considering all the positives, Netbooks are suprisingly affordable, especially when you compare them to laptops. It just depends on what you need it to do.

BevfromNYC said...

I love my netbook. I've had mine for a few months and it came in really handy when my regulation laptop died a terrible viral death recently. I take it everywhere around the city and it fits in my backpack. I have no trouble connecting to area WIFI (except at home where my DSL is still not working...) I wouldn't say that it is great for doing substantive work, but you can't beat the mobility.

Lawhawk, I'm a dinosaur too. I love real books for exactly the same reasons you do. By the way, if you got a netbook, you would actually be able to write while in the bathroom!

Writer X said...

Bev, my Netbook has become almost an extension of my hands. Where I go, it goes. It's like a pet.

Tennessee Jed said...

Thanks for the info Writer X. I have been a Mac guy for the past couple of years. Thus far, I have not found the need to have mobile internet, but who knows. I could see value in being able to wirelessly surf on one's big screen. I do need a lot of hard drive space for music and photographs, but a macbook with a remote hard drive seems like an idea whose time has come.

First generation of most things usually do have glitches. For years, I was what was known as an early adaopter of new technology. It usually meant for although I was one of the first to try a new technology, I usually overpaid and got a device which rapidly got better and less expensive.

Writer X said...

TennJed, you're welcome!

A Netbook-like device might not be for you, especially if you do a lot with photos and music. However, they're still pretty affordable compared to laptops.

E-readers, on the other hand, are still too pricey, in my opinion. I'm waiting before buying one. In another year, they'll probably be half the price and twice as powerful. Hopefully.

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