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The original netbook

Gets Fancy The New Asus Eee S101 is a good machine but it’s also expensive.

Kushan Mitra        Print Edition: February 22, 2009

The credit for first coming up with the idea for a low-priced ‘mini’ laptop has to go to MIT Media Lab’s Nicolas Negroponte. Sure, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) concept bombed, but for a clutch of Taiwanese firms it represented an opportunity, and the first to grab it with open arms was Asus. The Eee PC launched in 2007 created the ‘Netbook’ market—low-priced, smaller laptops running smaller, cheaper processors that did the simple things right.

This column has mentioned before that Netbooks might explode in India only when they become cheaper. The entry of the Intel developed ‘Midora’ or a cut-price Netbook version of Windows 7 coupled with second generation, low-power Intel Atom processors could see Netbooks priced at under Rs 15,000 by late 2009. At that price, along with cheap broadband, there is little argument for not buying one.

Why are we so enthusiastic about Netbooks? Because we think that after years of negligible growth, broadband numbers might finally move up from 5.5 million subscribers at the end of 2008. It isn’t just cheap broadband, but also hopefully the advent of next-generation mobile networks, once the government sorts that mess out.

Whether you should buy the new Asus Eee S101 or not is another issue altogether. It is a very good machine. It is just that paying Rs 27,990 for a Netbook borders on the insane. Sure, the lacquer-finished cover looks great as does the large amount of storage and the brilliant screen. Functionally, this is possibly the nicest Netbook we have ever used. But even if form and function merge very well, the price equation has to gel as well and in the case of this Asus, it does not.

Of course, if you live in a magical world where excess is still a good thing and electronics should look good above all else, all that the S101 lacks are a bunch of Swarovski crystals. But you can get that done we’re sure!

Your online life
We love using several online services, and Twitter most of all. But, and again we must harp back to the past here, we have warned of the perils of your online life before in this column. Chelsea Davy, the ex-girlfriend of Prince Harry, announced her new relationship status on Facebook. Cool, because she is young, good-looking and newly single. But just how much should you put online?

Drunken pictures of you from your college days might pass muster, but if you happen to be smoking something that is not a cigarette, don’t put it up or ‘untag’ yourself if someone else does. Watch out for the comments you make on other peoples’ pictures or posts. Keep in mind this is the Internet, and once something is up there it takes a lot of effort to take it down. Yes, even deleting stuff isn’t easy, there are multiple caches stored everywhere.

Your blog could be private and it could be anonymous, but if someone stumbles across it and figures out that you write it, just watch your back. The Internet is a democratic place, but the problem with democracy is democracy. Just apply some common sense online.

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