One of the less expected consequences of visiting FOSDEM 2010 was that I now want a netbook. I’ve never really understood those things — too small to do anything useful with, but too large to fit in your pocket.

But now I understand their use, somewhat. They’re great for lugging around all day, and offer just enough features that you might use during the course of a day at a conference.

Of course, if that sort of thing is my use-case, then a netbook must meet fairly specific criteria, which it seems no current offering does. I’ve summarized them after the jump.

  1. Screen size matters. Larger than 10″ and the portability point is defeated. Smaller than that, and I might as well use my phone. 10″ seems like a good size.
  2. AMOLED screen, please. After seeing the screen in my Nexus One, I don’t really want anything else. On the plus side, they don’t consume much power, which is a killer argument in an ultra-portable device.
  3. Screen resolution, at 10″, would be fine at 1024×576 (16:9), but a little more would be appreciated. If you can do 720p, then I’m in heaven.
  4. I want a full-featured operating system, preferrably Ubuntu Linux. Please don’t give me Android — as much as I like it on my phone, it’s not the same as a real PC OS1.
  5. As a corollary to the previous statement, make sure the hardware is supported in Linux. There is no point to a laptop or netbook if you can’t put it to sleep by closing the lid, and wake it up by opening it again. Just to pick a pet peeve.
  6. While a full-featured OS requires a lot of space, your average netbook offers a ton more space than I care for. I’ll need something along the lines of 40 GiB, no more.
  7. The above implies that it’s perfectly affordable to use flash-based storage. Your average 64GiB SD card would be just fine for my use. And that would again improve the battery life of the device.
  8. Now that we’ve saved weight going for an AMOLED screen and flash-based storage, put in some larger batteries.
  9. Touchpad, please. No fiddly Thinkpad-style nipples.
  10. WiFi is a must. 3G network support great, but not completely required. I’d rather have an ethernet port, if I had to choose, but if you can do both, that’d be great. An SD card reader for various card sizes (physical) would be handy. USB ports I hardly care about, on the other hand — one would suffice. HDMI output would be great. It might go without saying, but I don’t want a CD/DVD/Blu-Ray drive.

And now my dear manufacturers, go forth and build me this.

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  1. It goes without saying that I don’t want Windows on that hardware. And yet I’m saying it… that’s because I’ve just been made aware that this post is sadly lacking in footnotes, so I had to add this one. []

  • eremit

    Thumbs Up for the footnote :D

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