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What to Seek in an Older Subnotebook?

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the when-good-enough-is-what-you-want dept.

Portables 250

cyclomedia writes "I'm looking to buy a subnotebook. For those who think that this form factor was created by the Asus EEE (as, seemingly, does Wikipedia) it might interest you that the current forerunner in my search is a 190MHz,64MB,640x480 256 colour beastie known as the Psion Netbook, circa 2001-ish. Basically, I have a desktop, a server and an Xbox and so truly only want it for surfing, email and the odd bit of SSHing home on weekends away. The aforementioned Psion is, however, of the StrongArm processor variety, which nudges it down on the desireability meter, but the fact that there exist Wi-Fi cards for its 16-bit PCMCIA slot does score it extra points. So, anyone here got any suggestions of what to look out for on ebay? So long as I can play Doom II on it too, that is." Any other suggestions for wireless capable subnotebooks with better battery life than things like the EEE or HP's 2133 Mininote?

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Seriously? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456324)

Are you seriously stating that you're considering a 190mhz machine, with 64MB of RAM, with a 640x480 8-bit display, as a web browser? Do you use the same web I do? Even applying CSS rules would crush that machine.

Re:Seriously? (4, Interesting)

racermd (314140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456500)


If you can find one, an old Sony 505-series is an excellent option. You've got options for a fast P1/MMX or a first-gen P2 (depending on specific model), 128-256MB of RAM and a 8-10GB hard disk is common. It's roughly a 10" screen and about 3 lbs.

What you DON'T get is an optical drive or built-in wifi. You'd need to source those separately, though booting from a USB disk and using a PC-Card or Cardbus wifi card isn't terribly difficult.

Because they're late-90s vintage, they're getting harder to find. However, because of their age, they're also much cheaper than current sub-compact models.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456738)

If you're willing to wait for it, the Pandora gaming laptop is an excellent choice: []

Re:Seriously? (4, Informative)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456756)

C'mon, don't reward those websites with ad-hits, link to the homepage for it instead [] .

Huh? (1, Funny)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456618)

When did lynx acquire support for CSS?

Re:Seriously? (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456666)

Who says you have to apply CSS rules? Well coded sites should degrade gracefully in the absence of CSS. A browser like w3m or dillo would be fine for many purposes.

Re:Seriously? (2, Interesting)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456964)

It would work rather well actually.

Its a ARM so it has more oomph than a Pentium running at 190mhz.
Using a browser like Konqueror would work fine.

I've run Seamonkey and KDE 3.5 on a Pentium 1 laptop before.
Perfectly acceptable for surfing the net and using SSH.
KDE 4 would be even better.

Re:Seriously? (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457284)

A completed KDE 4 would be better. The current "release" (calling it a beta would be generous) would have severe problems at that resolution.

Re:Seriously? (4, Interesting)

Crayon Kid (700279) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457058)

Are you seriously stating that you're considering a 190mhz machine, with 64MB of RAM, with a 640x480 8-bit display, as a web browser? Do you use the same web I do? Even applying CSS rules would crush that machine.
And yet, strangely, I've been surfing the Web all the time I'm away on a trip on my NEC MobilePro 900C [] using Opera. People should bloody stop assuming that it's impossible to have a working desktop computer unless you use 1 GHz and a shitload of RAM.

How about you stop and think what specs PC's had at the beginning of the 90's, and still people somehow managed to get their stuff done. Apps haven't changed that much in between, we basically do most of the same stuff now that we did back then.

The MobilePro is a great example. It has a WiFi connection and a wired one (thanks to PC cards), solid state storage (CF card), I get to surf the Web, it doubles as a book reader and manga reader, I can listen to streaming online radio or MP3's (got speakers and headphone jack), I play games, edit and view office docs, see PDF's, I have SSH, Total Commander, email, Skype, YM, IRC, remote desktop and VNC, runs Python, got all kinds of file tools (search and so on) etc.

Basically, with the exception of playing movies (although it can do that too with some limitations) or big-ass games or P2P, it's everything a regular desktop is. All that in under 10x5 inches, a regular keyboard, touchscreen, 400 MHz CPU and 64 MB of RAM. Did I mention it has a 16bit screen (65535 colors)? Or that it's a USB host and can use USB printers and mice?

Re:Seriously? (1)

genka (148122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457146)

Fujitsu P1000 series machines with 9" screen has been available for a long time. I bought my first in 2002. It had Transmeta CPU, 256MB of RAM, and came with XP- a little slow, but perfectly practical. It had a touchscreen, which was very convenient. The P series is still manufactured []

Re:Seriously? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457322)

Are you seriously stating that you're considering a 190mhz machine, with 64MB of RAM, with a 640x480 8-bit display, as a web browser?
It wasn't so many years ago that I used just such a machine to browse the web. Alright, it had 128 megs of RAM, and it was 200 mhz, but then, ARM at 190 mhz is probably faster.

Do you use the same web I do?
I tend to disable Flash and turn on ad blocking, so probably not. And I'm not sure you could run Flash on ARM Linux.

Even applying CSS rules would crush that machine.
Pure hyperbole. All I can really say about that is: Try it.

In fact, to be fair, try it with a 1.0-ish version of Firefox, or earlier -- or something like Konqueror. Modern browsers have indeed bloated.

Or maybe the toshiba libereto ..? (1)

tvjames (698871) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456330)

Or maybe the toshiba libereto ..?

why? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456336)

what do you have against the eee or 2133 mininote? you sound like you're purposely making this hard for yourself. are these old junk laptops stupidly cheap? is the eee really unaffordable for you?

Re:why? (2, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456514)

Personally, I'm looking at stupid cheap computers for some cluster computing research. For that purpose, yes the newer ones are too expensive. If I could get four @100 instead of one @ 400, that would obviously be better.

Re:why? (3, Insightful)

jay-be-em (664602) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456818)

Why wouldn't you just get a semi-decent machine and run a bunch of virtual machines on it? Seems a hell of a lot more practical and easy to administrate, not to mention economical in terms of power usage.

Re:why? (0, Troll)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456974)

Contrary to popular belief, Virtual machines arent the solution to everything.

Re:why? (1)

jay-be-em (664602) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457092)

Thanks for the non-answer. I seriously was wondering why, in this person's case, a set of vms wouldn't work. I can imagine if you need to stress test things with real connections with limited bandwidth, but even that could be emulated.

Re:why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23457166)

excuse me if I'm slow, but why exactly would you be buying ancient sub-notebooks for clustering? couldnt you just pickup dumped desktops from company loading docks and get more power for less money?

furthermore, if you're not personally buying sub notebooks (which I assume is true) and the asker of the question does sound like they're interested in clustering (they make absolutely no mention of it), I'm just not seeing how your comment fits into the discussion in any way shape or form. are you one of those people who just likes the sight of their own text or something?

insightful my ass. more like offtopic

Re:why? (5, Interesting)

nauseum_dot (1291664) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456632)

sub-notebook- $75
specific ram upgrade to 512 MB- $75
battery replacement- $50
PCMCIA 54g card- $30

Total= $230 + 4 hours time to reformat upgrade, etc.

I would think the EE @ $299 looks like a better buy because you also get a warranty. Let's face it notebooks are commodity goods now.

Re:why? (2, Interesting)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456740)

battery replacement- $50
Tack on another hundred bucks for the battery, the day I can find a replacement battery for my Gateway VTX400 for fifty bucks is the day /. stops getting trolled with goatse.

Re:why? (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457086)

In a feverish but vain bout of hopefulness, I just scoured eBay and Craigslist looking for a battery for you for under $50. I didn't find one :(

Re:why? (2, Funny)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457162)

So where's his goatse then?

You owe him a goatse.

Re:why? (1)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457184)

In a feverish but vain bout of hopefulness, I just scoured eBay and Craigslist looking for a battery for you for under $50. I didn't find one :(
It is still appreciated, your actions are not in vain!

Keep on fighting the good fight, my Slashbrotter.

Re:why? (2, Insightful)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457174)

I'd add the Nokia N800 to that list. I picked one up for AU$330 brand new, so second hand versions would likely be cheaper.

MSI Wind (1)

TheAbjurer (240252) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456342)

Buy one of these in a month:

Budget... (3, Informative)

IYagami (136831) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456344)

How much do you want to spend on it? In my opinion, I think that the new MSI Wind is a very good alternative.. if you want to spend 399$ in the Linux version and upgrade the battery to get 5.5h.

More info at: []

Re:Budget... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456460)

only want it for surfing, email and the odd bit of SSHing home on weekends away

iPod Touch

Re:Budget... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456690)

There, fixed that for you.

What I look for in an older subnotebook... (5, Funny)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456576)

  • Likes to talk, humorous, friendly.
  • Likes movies, walks along the beach at sunset, and recharging by an open fireplace.
  • Likes cooking.
  • Has own job.
  • Light enough to carry with one hand.
  • Happy with all positions, including upside-down and backwards.
  • Color is not important to me, but dress sense is.
  • Looking for casual to long term commitment. Emphasis on fun.

Re:What I look for in an older subnotebook... (1)

antek9 (305362) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456642)

May I introduce you to my friend, Nico Bellic? Except, of course, if cooking is really _that_ important.

Re:What I look for in an older subnotebook... (1)

hugorxufl (1071598) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457196)

Exactly what I am looking for in my first pet dog!

Re:What I look for in an older subnotebook... (1)

rubah (1197475) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457244)

sounds like my MBP -.- minus the 'older subnotebook' part :D

Re:What I look for in an older subnotebook... (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457320)

You forgot pina coladas and walks in the rain!

12" PowerBook? (5, Informative)

russlar (1122455) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456350)

I had a 12" PowerBook G4 for a number of years, and would recommend it if all you need is web and SSH.

Re:12" PowerBook? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456366)

G4 macs are shite. Certainly pathetic at 10 year old games too.

Re:12" PowerBook? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456840)

Not sure this fits into the "affordable" range. While I was more than happy to pay almost $950 a year ago for a 12" g4 PB 1.33ghz, people continue to think that Apple products don't depreciate.

Re:12" PowerBook? (3, Informative)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457020)

Powerbook G4s [] go for about $600 on Ebay [] and that sounds like a fair price and it is indeed better than you will get for all but the very best Intel based laptops from the same time period. Battery life is excellent, the screen is good and they are not too heavy. The author seems to be looking for something smaller and would probably not like the optical drive.

Re:12" PowerBook? (1)

Mooga (789849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457066)

I also use an old laptop. I've got an old Dell Latitude c510/610 which I use. It's got a 1.2ghz P3m with 512 ram. The front bays let you pick and choose what you want in it so I found an extra battery and run it with 2 batteries and no optical or disk drive. I get about 8 hours of web browsing and word processing. It obviously doesn't have built in wireless so a card is needed.

Why not just get an EEE? (4, Insightful)

Squarewav (241189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456358)

You'll be hard pressed to find another subnotebook that has better specs that is cheaper, new or used. They can even run some games that are a few years old (with the windows verity)

in terms of "classic" subnotebooks that are x86 that you still might be able to find is the toshiba libretto line. I think they ranged from 90Mhz to 133 and ran win95. But you'll be hard pressed to find one that the battery still works. Thats really the problem with old laptops is they tend to be broken in someway normally the batteries

Mod parent up (2, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456650)

The EEE has it all...and it's not too expensive. Getting something "a few years old" will only disappoint in the long term.

Re:Mod parent up (3, Informative)

kernowyon (1257174) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456780)

The EeePC will happily run Doom2, especially if you are keen enough to either set up the Advanced interface or install a different version of Linux (e.g one of the *buntu or whatever you prefer). Easy to do - just follow the EeeUser Wiki - []
Use something like prboom to run your Doom2 - it works well on the EeePC.
Or even install Windows if you really must (or buy the Windows installed version)
Whist an older laptop may seem a good idea, I would be worried about the battery. Most of these old machines have batteries which have reached the end of their life and will soon crap out. Even if the machine comes with a replacement, it will most likely be a cheap copy with a poor lifespan. Not that the battery life on the EeePC is fantastic I must admit! But you can maximise it if you need to by turning down the brightness on the screen and disabling stuff like the wireless.
The EeeUser website is very useful for info regarding these machines - including modifications such as bluetooth etc for the really keen!

Re:Why not just get an EEE? (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457192)

I see the battery going as the day your laptop becomes a mini-desktop. No longer portable, but still usable. Maybe best placed on the writing table next to the window in the living room perhaps. A place where a normal tower desktop won't fit. Or maybe in the magazine rack, next to the lazy boy.

Toshiba Libretto 100CT! (3, Informative)

ejecta (1167015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456362)

I was quite a fan of my Toshiba Libretto 100CT when I had it, it's quite small (210 x 132 x 35 mm) and runs a 166mhz x86 intel pentium 1 mmx. In terms of networking/usb you can use PC Card expansion slots, or get the "Mini Card" (read docking station) which gives you a usb port and more PC Card expansion slots.

Quite a nifty machine for circa 1996, problem is now they fall into the "collector" catagory so some people are paying a fortune for them on ePay.

See also: []

Toshiba Libretto 110CT! (2, Informative)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456670)

<div style="mr mom">100, 110, whatever works.</div>

The 110CT was pretty good to me for the years I had it. I think the only difference between the 100CT and 110CT was the processor speed.

Re:Toshiba Libretto 110CT! (1)

ejecta (1167015) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456764)

I think from my vague cloudy memory the 100 came with 16mb standard whereas the 110ct had 32mb, both were extendable to 64mb however (which the submitter should do if he ends up getting one, along with swapping out the 4.3GB hard disk for a larger capacity or SSD for even quicker boots).

Re:Toshiba Libretto 110CT! (1)

MyForest (597329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456790)

Yes, mine was great too, so good in fact that I got one for my gf. They were a bargain at 500GBP back then. I recently got an Eee for 200GBP and the happy memories came flooding back, but with much less of the pain. Having a decent PC I can pop into the pocket of my cargo pants is wonderful. Hurrah!

Re:Toshiba Libretto 110CT! (1)

MobileC (83699) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456812)

Got a 100 and a 110.
The 100 runs Win98 and the 110 has Slackware on it.

libretto damn it! spell it right! (4, Informative)

nawcom (941663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456408)

Get a toshiba libretto. The last model was the U105 I believe, but there are definitely models that match your requests. I always loved those fuckers.

Here's a 110ct, something along what youre asking for: []

Heres a u105, something more up-to-date: []

I dunno, they were always perfectfor me. I especially loved them when I interfaced it with an ol' oki900. ahhh.. the AMPS days...

as, seemingly, does Wikipedia? (5, Informative)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456418)

From Wikipedia: "Subnotebooks have been something of a niche computing product and have rarely sold in large numbers until the 2007 introduction of the Asus Eee PC and the OLPC XO-1[1], which are inexpensive in comparison to both existing machines in that form factor, and computers in general."

That sounds spot on to me. How does that sound anything like it's saying that the form factor was created by Asus? They have been around for ages, it's just in the past they either needed a special striped down OS, were incredibly expensive, had bizarre tiny screen resolutions, or they left out things like keyboards to strip them down in size. Sure NOW you can find some great second hand deals, but they couldn't have possibly been compared as anywhere on the same level in price when they were new.

In fact, the wikipeida article looks like a great list of used models to look for.

PSP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456432)

The PSP can websurf and login to web email. So can a Treo cellphone, or blackberry, for that matter. They would be better suited to emailing since they have the small keyboard.

PSP can also use Skype, a new feature added with the latest firmware update. You can also watch MP4 movies on the PSP by converting a DVD right from the drive tray to PSP format in a couple clicks with DVDFab. PSP plays mp3s, too. And Wipeout, Tekken, FF, and a lot of other games.

For web surfing? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456434)

190MHz,64MB,640x480 256 colour?

Minimum Firefox 2 requirements:

* 233 Mhz processor
* 64 MB of RAM
* 50 MB of free disk space

And is there a website left that you wouldn't have to horizontally scroll with a 640 pixel wide screen?

This site is unusable at that resolution for example.

Netbook is still pretty cool, but think again! (5, Informative)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456438)

The Netbook totally rocks. IIRC it has 40 hrs of uptime on a single battery load, which blows every protable PC (even the Transmeta Lifebooks pimped with Powerbattery and OD Battery) out of the water. But get your head straight about pocessing power and running some Linux derviate or something on it. That won't fly.

Because, allthough it is a fully fletched out business system with a neat Java 1.1 enviroment on top of some custom Epoc OS (way ahead of it's time), you can absolutely forget any more that rudymentary surfing on that thing. I strongly suggest you get the brand new and super cheap One A110 [] and hack youself some external power option if you want to reach the Netbooks uptime.

And, yes, uptime is what I'd be looking for in any subnote who's prime purpose is to be used for generic tasks while on the road. In that respect a Netbook really is the bar. But the One A110 and the Asus EEE are the new generation (nearly 10 years newer!) and they are actually those up to the Netbook. I'd say they've re-introduced the Handheld era. Might aswell pay that respect and get one.

Re:Netbook is still pretty cool, but think again! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456532)

who gives a fuck about linux? who wants that linux dick up their ass? faggots. faggots love the linux dick. fucking faggots. dick smoking faggots. aids having faggots. fucking aids bitch faggots. sucking faggot aids dicks.

keep using linux but when you get fucked once too often do go crying to anyone but yourself you stupid faggot.

HP Jornada 720 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456446)

or the 728, as they are great with NetBSD on them. Also may want to consider a Zauras if the price is right.

There are other options. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456456)

I really shouldn't be suggesting this.(the price will now go up on ebay.) you could go for a Toshiba Libretto or a sony picture book. if you are just needed to browse the web, you could also try a nokia internet tablet.( not sure about flash stuff though) the HTC universal is great for browsing with opera, minimo, and IE. also there is a program made so you can view youtube on it. there are many other pda's that are great for webbrowsing (just no flash support)

consider... (3, Interesting)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456458)

I really dont want to sound like an apple fanboy, but have you considered an iPod touch . I'm on mine now and if you hack it its fine for email, web and ssh. Although getting it to sync over ssh can be a challenge (an one I've not got round actually on 1.1.4), so its probably a deal breaker if you dont have windows or a mac kicking around (fortunately my girlfriend still has a windows laptop kicking around).
its got a fairly good battery life; hours on the web (I think I get over 5 doing normal stuff and a little less watching stuff on the BBC. It can do emails in a similar way to thunderbird and you can stick ssh on it fairly easily from a hack from 1.1.4 using ziphone

Re:consider... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456940)

Does a keyboard dock exist for the touch? No keyboard is a deal-breaker.

No surfing without a real machine (3, Interesting)

Britz (170620) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456466)

For Websurfing you need a real machine. A subnotebook like the Thinkpad X40 or X41 would be sufficiant (I just got a cheap x41 and I am a very happy customer).

For Email, SSH, and Websurfing using a text browser you could consider something like the Psion Netbook.

The thing that bugs me is that noone seems to have come out with a "new" Psion Netbook. Same configuration, but up to date. With Windows CE (aka Windows Mobile) or Linux, or some other proprietary os. A notebook with very low power and a bad screen that lasts more than 10 hours, but has a full keyboard. But you couldn't play Doom II on that one anyways. Though I wouldn't want to. SSH, email, word processing and organizer with a large screen and a full keyboard would be plenty for me.

Re:No surfing without a real machine (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456680)

I have a X41 Tablet and it's great for taking notes, general web surfing and SSH.

It can also run Quake3 :).

The answer may be Nokia N800 or N810 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456476)

Nokia N800 may do exactly what you want, or N810 if you want a keyboard (thumbboard).

16 bit PC cards (2, Informative)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456502)

...but the fact that there exist Wi-Fi cards for its 16-bit PCMCIA slot does score it extra points
You know, this is true. There are non cardbus PC cards. They are a real pain to find. If they know what they are the price goes up, but you might get lucky and find a shop with the them next to the other regular WIFI cards. You might also get lucky and find someone on craigslist who is selling one.

Why a pain? Acronym hell! PCMCIA/PCCard/CardBus. To be honest I don't know the difference between PCMCIA and PCCard (is there one?), but I sure know the difference between PCCard and Cardbus. But the problem is everything is advertised as PCCard, whether it's PCCard or Cardbus.

Re:16 bit PC cards (4, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456754)

There's no difference between PCMCIA and PC Card; the standard was officially renamed to the latter because (it was thought) it was an easier & more approachable name.

Re:16 bit PC cards (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23457334)

So true, but there's a handy mnemonic for PCMCIA: People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms.

I still have... (3, Informative)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456516)

... my Fujitsu Lifebook P1120. Only two pounds, running W2K Pro and still works like a champ with its blazing 633MHz Transmeta Crusoe processor and 512M of RAM. Also dual boots with Ubuntu. Great little machine.

Fujitsu Lifebook P-Series FTW! (2, Informative)

likerice (1046554) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456704)

I'm running Ubuntu 8.04 on my wife's old Fujitsu Lifebook P-Series with 1Ghz Pentium M & 512M. The battery has crapped-out after ~4yrs but it still gets ~1hr with wifi et al on full. The form-factor and build quality can't be beat.

Re:I still have... (2, Informative)

drspliff (652992) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456822)

I recently bought a Toshiba Portege R100, it weighs under a kilo and is thinner than any laptop in the office.

It'd been in storage for a while before being auctioned on e-bay for how much? a little over $200 for a nearly new notebook that's better better specced than the new Eee 900, lighter & as thin as the MacBook Air while being fully supported by Ubuntu.

At 1ghz with a gig of ram... it sure doesn't feel like it... Can't imagine the OP's suggestion of a ~200mhz ARM laptop being very useful, considering I bought a 400mhz iMac last year as a web-browsing & e-mail machine, which while usable is very noticeably slow and verging on unusable at times.

Don't understand the web surfing negativity... (1)

DanWS6 (1248650) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456554)

I mean, real men use lynx anyway right? =D

batteries (3, Insightful)

pbjones (315127) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456564)

if you are buying an old machine and you want to travel, look carefully at battery life and replacements.

HTC Universal - a winmobile PPC which "runs Linux" (2, Informative)

Roman Mamedov (793802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456574)

Might be not quite suitable for Doom II, but HTC Universal [] runs the "armel" port of Debian recently, although getting it installed still requires some familiarity with Debian and GNU/Linux in general. "Titchy Mobile will be a complete, fully-native Debian GNU/Linux distribution for the HTC Universal mobile phone, including support for GPRS/UMTS internet access, SMS, and voice calls. [] "

Sony PictureBook (2, Informative)

nojayuk (567177) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456586)

They're available in various x86 processor and RAM capacities, including Transmeta CPUs; the older models (Celeron 266, PII 300) are quite cheap today. Fat battery packs are available (Sony branded ones cost serious bucks but 3rd party units are a lot cheaper) that will run to 12 hours or more uptime. Replacing the HDD with a SSD will save you more battery power. Linux is readily ported onto most of the C1 variants and they all have PCMCIA or CardBus slots to support WiFi.

The accessory I regret not getting for my old PB was a ballistic-nylon shoulder holster for carrying it around.

choices (1)

nguy (1207026) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456600)

I think the new, cheap subnotebooks are great. If you want better battery life, get a bigger internal or an additional external battery. The HP2133 keyboard is unbeatable, and it has a nice screen, too.

If you want something smaller and lighter still, get a smart phone and an external bluetooth keyboard.

Sony VAIO PCG-C1XS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456604)

I'd recommend this but not if the battery life is your *main* criteria. They've made other C1s later but this is the last model to have a real processor ( PII 400MHz.) Newer models were crappy Transmeta (VIA.)

macbook air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456620)

macbook air is a subnotebook its great

Check out the Nokia N810 (4, Interesting)

5pp000 (873881) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456694)

I recently got a Nokia N810 "Internet Tablet", as they call it. It's pocket-sized, much smaller than an Eee for instance, and a little bigger than a Palm TX, but it has a 400 MHz TI OMAP CPU (an ARM with a DSP core glued on), an 800x480 screen, a very usable slide-out mini keyboard, and built-in Wi-Fi, all for $400 (street price). Oh, and it runs Linux. (It's not a cell phone, though it will do VOIP over the Wi-Fi.)

Battery life is excellent: several hours of active use, and several days at idle (you don't really turn it off, you just lock the touch screen and it goes into low-power mode). I recently used it to take notes at a seminar -- in 3 or 4 hours I don't think I used more than 1/3 of a charge.

The Web browser it comes with works very well. Some of the other software is a little rough (the email client doesn't work well in IMAP mode, for instance). It runs SSH and a VNC viewer. I don't know about Doom II, but it plays video pretty well (doesn't always keep up with the frame rate, but it's adequate for pr0n).

These things are all tradeoffs, of course, but I'm happy to take the mini keyboard and the small but hi-res display in exchange for a device that's just barely small enough to carry everywhere, clipped to my belt.

Re:Check out the Nokia N810 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23457254)

If you're going to spend that kind of money wouldn't an iPhone/iPod Touch be better (and smaller)?

Wikipedia's not wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456712)

In fact, it explicitly lists several models from the early 90s which are clearly not EEE PCs.

Nokia N770 / N800 / N810 (3, Informative)

Gyver_lb (455546) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456748)

I have the 810 and it seems to fit the requirements (including Doom II). Depending on the time you need to spend typing at a keyboard, it may or may not be right for you (or you can choose to get a bluetooth keyboard). If you can withstand typing on a virtual keyboard or get a bluetooth keyboard, the 770 and 800 are dirt cheap on Ebay and quite capable machines (the 800 is basically a fatter 810 without keyboard and GPS and is upgradeable to the same OS version than the 810).

As a Debian-based OS runs the little buggers you probably get the largest functionnality/size ratio out there.

Re:Nokia N770 / N800 / N810 (2, Informative)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457142)

Completely seconded. I've got an N800 myself, and you should definitely consider it. It features not one but TWO SDHC card slots, and you can actually clone the OS onto a card and boot from it to give yourself a 16 GB root disk if you like - more than enough space for loads of apps and media. Folding bluetooth keyboards can be found pretty cheaply, and fill the niche when you have to do more extended typing.

My gripes are the lack of a decent office suite (though work is being done on gnumeric and Abiword at least), and the media player software that's currently available available ranges from horrible to clumsy.

The battery life is phenomenal, the built in stereo speakers are actually quite decent, and the screen is probably the highest resolution I've seen in something this size.

rdesktop compatibility (1)

inepom01 (525367) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456768)

When I was in college I had an old ultra-thin that did two things well - wireless networking and running rdesktop (and obviously X). Very nice and easy solution if you need to connect to a windows Box. I was able to use a 233 Mghz laptop to connect to my home PC and run things like MSDE, Matlab, etc. If I'm not mistaken I had a Toshiba Portege. nice little machine - and super duper light.

Re:rdesktop compatibility (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456990)

Sounds like the 3200CT. Nice machine, I have one of them. Before that I owned the 300CT which was basically the same thing. I even ran NeXTSTEP on it, albeit with the bottom fifth of the desktop not displaying on the LCD because of its format. Couldn't get NeXTSTEP to work on the 320CT though, but it ran Linux like a champ. It is a picture frame now displaying photos, weather, and other info.

Concerto is even older (1)

Soloact (805735) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456784)

Don't forget about the Compaq Concerto, introduced in 1992, noted here in Rune's PC-Museum (scroll down to it) []
and an old 1994 review of the same []
That is, if you're looking for one of the oldest subs.

Gateway Handbook (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23456796)
Runs on AA, accepts wireless cards, boots Linux, and I bet it will play Zork and Wizardry just fine.

Frankly, I wouldn't bother (1)

sk999 (846068) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456800)

My 1996 notebook bit the dust recently - both hard disks threw errors left and right, and the thing would no longer boot.

My 2001 notebook is still running but the display is flaky, the keyboard is flaky, the lid hinges are loose, you'd be wasting your time dealing with old hardware.

Sharp mm20 (2, Informative)

mahonri5 (708013) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456810)

I used a Sharp mm20 sub-notebook for a few years in college, and it worked really well. 1 GHz transmeta, 512 MB RAM, 20 GB HD, built-in wireless and ethernet, two usb ports, 10" screen. The extended life battery gave about 7 hours of life when I stopped using it. Ran Linux great.

Great laptop till the hard drive died, after a solid 3 years of use. Then I never got around to putting in a new 1.5" HD since I really didn't need it after I graduated.

Re:Sharp mm20 (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457338)

Seconded. I used an mm10, actually. Hard drive was pathetic, and it did eventually disintegrate, but I wasn't exactly gentle with it.

And I could squeeze 8-12 hours of battery out of it. Quiet, too. Put it in laptop mode and let the hard drive spin down, and you've got zero moving parts.

In fact, I'm betting the hard drive is the weak link on that thing -- partly because they break so easily (twice under warranty, I think), and mostly because they're so impossible to find.

Several options (1)

backpackcomputing (1249130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456838)

I wouldn't recommend buying something that old even if the only thing you're going to use it for is surfing. If you're willing to go for something new and you want alternatives to the HP 2133 and Eee PC, then you might consider the Dell Vostro 1310. It's a 13.3" notebook starting at $749 SRP, but you might be able to get it cheaper using the coupons that appear from time to time on dealnews or techbargains. Alternatively, there is a new subnotebook about to come to the market that is competitive with the Eee PC on price, but has better specs: it's the MSI Wind. For more details and the latest news and deals on the subnotebook market check out []

Advantage of the Eee PC (3, Insightful)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456920)

The Eee PC has an advantage over the competition: Asus sold the shit out of them. And because they ran Linux first (and WinXP later), there's a ton of various Linux-for-Eee projects going on. And considering all the software that runs on Linux, I'd say the Eee PC is better equipped both in terms of software available for it, as well as replacement hardware (because there are so many of them by now in the world).

Toshiba Portege 2000 (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456928)

Running 2000. Only windows machine I can stand to use after years of iBooks.

The greatest subnotebook ever made (1)

awitod (453754) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456944)

The greatest subnotebook ever made was the IBM Thinkpad 701c Butterfly. []

I still have one I bought in 1995 and if anyone would release that form factor with modern innards I'd buy it!

The higher-end Zaurii work well for me (1)

judecn (1179197) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456986)

I use a Zaurus C-1000 for this sort of thing. It is about the size of a large wallet, it has both an SD card slot and a CF card slot (which is part of an internal PCMCIA port), host USB port, IR communication port, 640x480 16-bit color screen, and oversized QWERTY thumboard which is surprisingly easy to type on. The device itself functions like a miniature tablet PC--you can twist the screen around and lay it over the keyboard if you want. I run Debian with XFCE on it from a 4 GB SDHC card and use a Marvell 8385 CF card for wifi. It gets between 3 and 5 hours of continuous web-surfing, about 12 hours of continuous usage without any peripherals, and about a week in hibernation. It has no proprietary drivers, so you can run the latest and greatest Linux kernel on it. The only bottleneck on the device is the peripheral flash controller (if you run from SD); other than that, it's pretty snappy as long as you use light-weight software (only 64 MB RAM).

I got mine off eBay for $300, and it came with a wifi card, a bluetooth card, a CF storage card, the AC adapter, a car power adapter, and a back-up power source. For a small Xscale device that lives in your pocket, it's pretty useful.

Northtec Gecko (1)

clintcan (854313) | more than 6 years ago | (#23456992)

Why not try out the Northtec Gecko UMPC? [] I have bought a rebranded one here in the Philippines named the Deep Blue H1 UMPC It suits my needs very nicely (with my job, I need to bring practically my laptop almost anywhere to access linux servers on call). With 1Gb RAM and a 40Gb harddisk - it is basically priced the same as a eeePC 4G here. And I love the 4.5 hours battery life - works as advertised.

A very light notebook - ASUS S5NE (1)

mepperpint (790350) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457068)

Depending on your particular reasons for wanting a sub-notebook, the Asus S5NE [] might appeal. I have had one for 4 or 5 years and have been quite happy with it. It has a 12.1" screen, so it's not actually a sub-notebook, but it only weighs 2.8 pounds which makes it unnoticeable in a backpack. It came with a 1Ghz Pentium M processor and 256MB of RAM (upgradeable to 768MB for those who feel the need for more), so it's adequately capable for all of the things you've listed and also plays older games without difficulty. With the extended life battery, Asus claims it will run for 8.5 hours, but I cannot confirm that as I've always stuck with the regular battery. The main reason I like this laptop is that it is very light while still maintaining a normal size screen and keyboard so that I can actually use it.

Zaurus? (1)

pruss (246395) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457164)

How about a Sharp Zaurus handheld? Roughly the same specs as the Netbook, though perhaps physically smaller, but it's Linux based.

I've been using old IBM Thinkpads , model 380z (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23457188)

I've been buying a bunch of old IBM Thinkpad's, model 380z that I friend of mine bought at a school auction for $35 each. I then put in 64MB meg ram for $19. (brings them up to 96MB ram) I fix em up. Load Win XP on em, put in a PCMCIA wireless card and boom, your on the internet. The secret is turning off lots of Windows services that arent needed. I've done 4 so far and the nieces and kids I give em to love em!!

Sharp Actius PC-MM10 (1)

airuck (300354) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457194)

I've got a Sharp Actius PC-MM10 with a 1GHz transmeta chip, 256MB ram, and a 15GB hard drive. It is certainly under powered by today's standard, but it is smaller and lighter than an Apple Air. No optical drive meant I had to do a network install to upgrade the OS to the current Ubuntu release. To keep things light, I only did the base install and then added fluxbox as a lighter windows manager.

IBM ThinkPad 240 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23457240)

The first real subnotebook, the IBM ThinkPad 240, would be right up your alley. Cheap, plentiful, reliable, xl batteries on ebay. Pair it up with FreeBSD/xfce and a 3g card from Verizon and you're done.

ipod touch (1)

maitas (98290) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457242)

everything you ask for is covered by the ipod touch, and you can wait till june 9 to see if there's any update for it. at 299 it is the best choice, along with the EEE

X series Thinkpad (1)

hlt32 (1177391) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457248)

Thinkpad x31/x32/x40/41

I can get ~9 hours battery life with my 4 year old x31 with the extended battery (dual 6 cells in total).

Maybe a PDA? (1)

nova.alpha (1287112) | more than 6 years ago | (#23457272)

HTC Tytn or HTC Tytn II - this one is perfect for what you've described.
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