Monday, 13 April 2009

Apricot Picobook Pro netbook

A few weeks ago I took delivery of an Apricot Picobook Pro netbook. I bought this computer as a device for occasional use away from the home, i.e. quick e-mail check when camping etc. At home I have several desktops, which are mainly salvaged machines, but they serve me adequately. Hence, I opted for this portable  8.9" machine, with reasonable specs.

Installing Opera.

The first thing I do with any computer, whose operating system does not already include it, is to install Opera (my favourite web browser). Flash (9 r124) and Java work straight from the box. I loaded up Firefox, and downloaded Opera 9.64. I tried to install Opera but the program manager would not work. I then had to register SUSE Linux Enterprise with Novel, before I could get on with adapting the machine to my liking. I have installed Open Suse on a machine for a friend, and found Novels almost proprietary software registration annoying. The range of software included is good, and it did not need a lot of supplementation. 

Day To Day Usage.

At first I found the mouse pad and keys difficult to use because I am not used to laptop use, but they became practical. The keyboard is small but works, and I do not find it to hard to use even with my large hands. Using a USB mouse alleviates any problems. The wifi search seems to find wireless networks without any problem. Everything works well, with the exception of the webcam which does not seem to have any software – I'll sort that out someday. Boots up, closes down without any crashes in-between. I did have one question, which I guessed the answer too, but e-mailed Apricot support rather than work it out – they replied within the day. Although there is not a CD drive my USB CD drive allows me to play cds and boot up with other live distros (runs great with Puppy Pups). Battery life about three hours constant surfing.

Never having had a netbook before it has found new uses I had not expected. The other day it was a photo album which was passed around relatives, just as you would with a hard copy album. Although I have not used it yet, the SD card reader is a nice addition to the Pico.

All in all the Suse based Apricot Picobook Pro netbook/sub laptop is a practical portable machine which is well built and well worth its purchase price.

PS I have been using it with a USB keyboard and VGA connector / standard CRT monitor, and the Via chip works plenty fast enough for day to day desktop computing.