Pretty picture - but you can't see it

The computer: A Samsung NC10 Plus (running on Linux)

When I planned this trip I already had in mind to blog and of course take lots of pictures. That meant – if I didn’t want to stress out every time I might get near a computer as to whether to upload pictures or write a new blog post first – to take a computer along. At that point I had already replaced my desktop PC with a laptop. However, it’s a 17” Dell Inspiron – not really the kind of thing you want to lug around Africa.

So when I went looking for an alternative my shopping list was

  • light-weight – no explanation necessary, I guess
  • extra-long battery life – most African countries aren’t known for their energy infrastructure
  • no glossy display – out of hope for being able to work outside
  • not too expensive – a computer is a working tool, not something to brag with or that should break your bank; and if it is lost for whatever reason I hope to be able to replace it rather swiftly

That list brings you quite quickly to Asus’ Eee Family, Acer’s One devices and the Samsung netbooks. Out of these three I simply found the Samsung NC10 Plus to offer the best combined answer in reply to my requirements.

Of course, battery life isn’t really 11h as advertised; more like 8h. First thing I did (to not add to the 259 Euro I paid for the device) was to remove the OS (as well as all software the netbook came with) and replace it with Linux Ubuntu. That means I don’t have any clutter (or ‘service programs’ as Samsung might call them) running in the background to drain my battery. Cost of that is that I have to find Linux alternatives for some of the programs I like to use (iTunes being the most obvious). However, the software center makes that incredibly easy. To manage pictures I use Shotwell. Shotwell doesn’t only allow for easy tagging and some basic editing but also lets you quite conveniently upload to not only Flickr and Picasa but also Facebook and other less well know services.

Also, as for ‘working outside’: the matte display doesn’t really help with that either. The other day when we finally had some sun in Berlin I tried to work at the beach. After 10 minutes of not being able to see anything on my screen I gave up. It’s OK in the shadow / with clouds, though.

After having used (‘test-driven’) the machine for 3 months I can say it was definitively the right decision, and I hope the netbook and I will remain just as good friends during the trip.

Do you have anything to add? Any thoughts on what you just read? Let me know!