Mobile gadget enthusiasts can’t visit their favorite gadget news sites without being bombarded with news about the latest netbooks. Whether you want to refer to this category of extremely portable and affordable laptops as subnotebooks, ultraportables, UMPCs, MIDs or netbooks, is entirely up to you. What I call them is a whole lot of fun and convenience in a small package. The first netbook to capture our interest was the ASUS Eee PC, then it was the HP Mini-Note. Now it’s the MSI Wind. Let’s see if it’s worthy enough for a spot in your gear bag…

Last year, Asus rocked the UMPC world with their announcement of a small, ultra-portable laptop – for only $200. Several revisions, image leaks, speculative reports, and price increases later, the eeePC line was officially released – with $200 added to price tag and 512MB RAM pulled from the default specs. I’ve had the flagship 701 model with 4GB of solid-state disk space and a 0.3MP (300,000 pixel) webcam. Other model options include the 2G ($300) and 4G ($350) Surfs with 2GB and 4GB SSD and no webcam, as well as the 8GB SSD/1GB RAM 8G at $500.

In October of 1993, I bought what was then my ideal computer. It fit in my pocket, had a full QWERTY keyboard with dedicated numeric keypad, had lots of built-in apps, ran all my DOS programs with ease, had a gorgeous monochrome LCD screen and ran for 20 hours on two AA batteries. It was the HP 200LX. For years I used this machine for PIM storage, keeping grades for my students, writing a diary and keeping my important text documents on hand for easy reference. I moved to a new Windows-based grading program a year and a half ago, but I had used my 200LX for all that time. It still sits in my gadget cabinet, one gadget that will never see the light of Ebay.

Ultra portable PCs (uPC) seem to be really hot right now. With Microsoft’s Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) / Origami devices being announced here there and everywhere, it looks like this product category has the potential to become as popular as PDAs were a few years ago.

Maybe… Exactly one year ago I reviewed the Sony Vaio VGN-U71P ultra portable Windows XP PC. Despite a few minor complaints, that little guy made a very good travel companion. To this day I kick myself for deciding to get rid of it… Especially now that I don’t have even one Windows PC in the house any longer. Yes, Mac person here.

Last summer I had the opportunity to review a very small Windows XP computer from Sony. The Vaio VGN-U71P made a good travel companion, but wasn’t perfect due to the fact that you had to also pack a folding keyboard, AC adapter brick and docking station with you if you wanted access to all its… Read More

I’ve always been a huge fan of very small computers and have had several such devices throughout the years. A few notable ones come to mind… Remember the REX PC Companion? It was a PDA in a PCMCIA card form factor. What about the hard to find IBM PC110 palmtop computer? Then there was the  Toshiba Libretto… Read More