As much as I love my EEE Pad Transformer, it just doesn't cut it for a college student, so I decided to buy a netbook.
At first I just wanted the cheapest netbook I could grab, which was -incidentally- another ASUS product -the X101. However, I soon learned that it had atrocious battery life, and I probably was not going to like MeeGo. Plus, I hated the idea of not having a tablet at all.
I then decided to maybe take a nice step up, and I wanted probably the most amazing display of technological ingenuity I have yet to have seen: the AlwaysInnovating Smartbook. However, it is definitely pricey for a netbook/tablet, and I wasn't sure if they were actually still shipping. (I tweeted at them, and they never replied.)
Finally, I said screw it, and went with the Lenovo S10-3t, which is a netbook/tablet convertible (or tabletbook, as I call them) which was praised like the dickins by Bryan Lunduke. It is a decent size, fair price ($350 new), and has basically all I could ask for in either a tablet or netbook: decent sized HDD (i.e., not a cramped SSD), SD slot, a webcam, and a decent battery life. Not much to it.
I'm going to be honest, I did not look into this tabletbook very much. There are so many effing netbooks out there and I really did not want "just another netbook", and after looking at all the possibilities beforehand (the Dell Duo being the only rival, and it got poor reviews), the S10-3t seemed like a decent choice; maybe not the best, but adequate.
Right off the bat, I love the form. holding it in my hand as a tablet, or the feel of it as a netbook. The keyboard is lovely spaced, the power button is accessible from both netbook and tablet mode (plus it has a lock on it!), and the whole half-black, half-white with orange highlights looks spectacular. Physically, I loved this device before ever turning it on.
Then came time to turn it on. It's still really early and I've only had it for a day, but I have to say that it was...less than snappy. It definitely needs some hardcore optimization, but I'm just not sure if Win7 is the right OS when I had to super-optimize WinXP to run on my old netbook with similar specs.
The main thing that made me scared is the touchpad. (1) It's bumpy, which is weird...it might take some getting used to but right now it just doesn't feel right. (2) The buttons are in the touchpad. I don't know why people like this. I kept finding my mouse jumping around whenever I try to click.
I've been giving some thought to what OS to put on this bad boy. For school I will definitely need both Windows and Linux, but that in and of itself has plenty of different choices. Essentially, I've broken it down into 3 different sections, and the choices I would make in each:
1. Full Desktop: Ubuntu, Windows 7
(I actually already have both of these installed and running.) These tend to be a bit heftier. They're mostly to be used in Netbook mode because they require greater precision like physical mouse and keyboard.
- Ubuntu: Looks fantastic, but I'm not sure if it's lagging. It seems like it takes a bit too long to launch apps, not to mention the fact that I'm not sure if I'm fond of Unity yet (even if it is much improved). I don't think any netbook can handle KDE, but other possibilities would be Mint GNOME or Ubuntu GNOME.
- Windows 7: Again, kind of slow, so far. It's got a bunch of crappy Lenovo software that's designed to make the tablet experience better. I'm still unconvinced Windows 7 can function well as a tablet OS, so I need to uninstall like a mofo.
A bit like the Full Desktop, but a lot lighter. Tend to be a bit more stripped down, or at least designed to be lighter on resources.
- ElementaryOS: I have not installed this on a machine yet, but my god it is gorgeous. Everything meshes so well. The only downsides are (1) it runs on GNOME, which means it's probably heavier than LXDE, and (2) it uses Midori, which I love, but I really need Firefox Sync. Otherwise, I am so tempted just to pick this, install Wuala and gcc, and leave it at that.
- Peppermint/Mint LXDE: Peppermint was my Linux choice on my last netbook and I still love it. I don't even love it for the Mozilla Prism apps, I just love it because it is shipped with barely anything and is very very lightweight.
I might give Mint LXDE a go, since I think it is actually maintained by the same guy who started Peppermint. My guess is both are wonderful.
- SliTaz: I've never used SliTaz as a primary OS, but I love it so much. Best minimal mobile OS out there, as far as I'm concerned. It is on par with Peppermint.
- Windows XP/ReactOS: I'm not going to say much about Windows XP other than I've used it for years, still like it, and it makes a great netbook OS.
But ReactOS! Man, that would be sweet! I just need to make sure it runs VisualStudio, since that is all I really need from my Windows Install. Other than that, I would totally choose that over XP.
These tend to be more limited, mostly by the simplistic design of the interface. Ideally, though, they should be much more fast and lightweight. I have not found this to be the case.
- Joli OS: Last time I used Joli OS, it was still Jolicloud and it needed some work. From the little I've seen and heard, it's improved, so I'm willing to give it another shot.
- xPUD: I love xPUD, but I'm not quite sure it is enough for me.
These are few and far between, really, at least ones that are designed to be installed on devices instead of merely being shipped on them. The small number of x86 tablets out there makes it even worse.
- Android x86: I've used this before on my EEE 901 and it was pretty cool. That was before Honeycomb though, so I'll have to see how well that works. If it works well, then this is definitely a go, since (I think) Android gives the best tablet experience I've seen
- Plasma Active: I heard the guys at the Linux Action Show talked about this a while back and then I somehow stumbled onto it: Plasma Active is a very slick KDE interfaced designed specifically for touch screen interfaces. I've used it live and while it was a bit pokey (running off a microSD), it looked great. If it runs well, I'll probably do this just for shits and grins.
It actually isn't an OS in and of itself, it's just a set of packages. However, I can't imagine installing a different Linux distro and then installing this, but it is a possibility. Maybe Mint LXDE+Plasma Active.
- (WebOS/Maemo?): I really hadn't given these two any thought, but I guess I should include them. Bryan Lunduke has said many great things about Maemo, but it's really end-of-lifed so I don't want to get too attached. I've heard amazing things about WebOS as well, so I might give that one a shot, but I'm doubtful it will beat out Android (if Android x86 is on par with my TF's Honeycomb).
Because why the hell not? In all seriousness though, the only one for real that I would do is OS X, depending on if the S10-3t makes a good Hackintosh. This is definitely an afterthought.
To some this might be either daunting or annoying, but I love trying out OSes, especially ones that are very different, and no two of the ones listed are the same. I'll probably just try to spend a day or so in each one, keeping Windows 7 and cycling through the rest.
Hopefully this tabletbook will be good to me. I'm pretty excited about it.