So I Bought A Netbook

April 17, 2009

HP Mini 1033cl

HP Mini 1033cl

…but it’s not for me.

My wife, Jennifer, is a high school (and part time college) English teacher in a school district that frankly could do a much better job prioritizing integration of technology into the learning process. She now, like the other high school teachers, has one desktop PC in her classroom with a projector, but that’s frankly not enough.

For teachers to really begin to morph their classrooms into 21st century learning environments, adopting relevant and engaging methodologies using the tools of digital natives, they need to have anytime, anywhere access to technology. For Jennifer, portability is important since she teaches and works on lesson planning several times a day, from several different locations.

I’ve closely watched the emergence of the netbook form factor for the past year or so, intrigued by the possibilities for affordable 1:1 computing in public schools. In my family Macintosh is the platform of choice, and we’re waiting as patiently as we can for Apple to hopefully introduce a netbook or tablet of their own. In the meantime, existing netbook prices continue to creep downward while performance and functionality inches forward. So with no announcement from Apple in sight, I decided to go ahead and bite when I received a Twitter message this week that Buy.com was offering factory reconditioned HP Mini 1033cl netbooks for $279.99 with free shipping.

While not the top of the line in this form factor, the Mini 1033 sports a 10″ screen, 1.6 Ghz Atom N270 processor, 60 GB hard drive, 1 GB RAM, and Windows XP (although I may try my hand at installing Mac OS X Leopard like this). With a keyboard regarded as one of the best among netbooks, this is quite the buy for less than $300.

Starting Monday evening, for less than the cost of a month’s groceries, my wife will have purse-sized computer capable of doing everything she needs, and maybe she can go from carrying several flash drives to one. I’m also netbook shopping for my middle school daughter so I’m most curious how our first foray into the ultra-portable market plays out, while holding my breath for an Apple solution sooner rather than later.