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Netbooks, WiFi and Travel

Recently I’ve avoided bringing my laptop with me when I travel. This was originally started because of news about Customs inspections (regarding those only coming back into the United States) confiscating and not returning laptops. { Each of those words has a different link regarding this issue… it was big news last summer. } So I didn’t take my laptop with me on my trip to Japan because I was afraid of losing it on the way home.

I want to make a side note here that I’ve had problems with customs/immigration returning home before, despite holding a valid U.S. Passport and not being a particularly suspicious person. I was questioned extensively upon arriving back in the US after a rather long and exhausting flight (I cannot sleep on planes) and was detained just long enough to miss my connecting flight. This hasn’t kept me from flying overseas again, mind you, but I do know that customs experiences can vary greatly and I value this notebook like my own life. { It’s really quite distressing for me when it stops functioning properly. Despite being able to troubleshoot most problems with calm determination, I break down when it’s my own computer (u_u;) }

Instead of bringing my laptop, I brought just my phone, an AT&T Tilt (a.k.a. HTC TyTN II, HTC Kaiser) which has WiFi capabilities. I thought I would just pick up some WiFi signals somewhere, or use an Ad Hoc connection through a laptop. As of now, I have NEVER been able to get an Ad Hoc connection to communicate internet, anywhere. Not abroad, not at home, not ever. I don’t know why since I’ve looked at numerous solutions and explanations and nothing seems to click. Both laptop to laptop and laptop to phone do not work. I will say that I haven’t be able to fiddle with controls as much as I’d like since in both instances I was relying on someone else’s computer (which they stopped me from doing too much with each time). But I’ll talk more about the potential of Ad Hoc a little later.

To continue with this train of thought, I initially was planning to get a netbook of sorts to bring with me as a minimal tool for checking e-mail, etc, but at the time I’d just purchased my phone a month or two prior at about the same cost as a netbook, so it didn’t seem to make much sense. So I passed on the idea. I brought my laptop with me on the other inside-the-US trips I took, but I wasn’t completely happy with the idea, despite not having to go through customs. This last time I upgraded, I chose a larger laptop that I’d had previously. Sure, it’s only a couple pounds more, but those add up fast. I am not a light traveler, despite my efforts. I am a prepared traveler, which means that I bring everything I think I could possibly need, within a reasonable margin. Not quite a survivalist, but perhaps a tech-oriented survivalist XD So another 6 or 7 pounds is a lot to add on, not to mention the adapter (another pound or two), and maybe a mouse. In addition, I have to adjust how I pack my carry-ons and what I can bring with me. It just feels less and less worth it each time I try.

So this time, I didn’t bring it, and I’m glad I didn’t, for only four days it made absolutely no sense. But it was still frustrating to not have my unlimited data plan (since PR is US-but-not-US for data usage) or a flash-capable machine of my own (Poupée Girl uses flash). The hotel had wireless, but it was only really functional down by the pool. Each room had just one ethernet cable. A possible solution would be, of course, to bring some sort of wifi adapter to broadcast out into the room, but this only solves half of the problem. And so my mind returns to the idea of a netbook.

I’m not especially proficient in hardware tech specs, but I know what’s okay, what’s good, and what’s better. Obviously a netbook can’t compare in specs to my 15.4″ Sony Vaio, and it shouldn’t. There’s a good chance that it will surpass the specs of my old 14.1″ Sony Vaio, bought in 2004, which is just as it should be. That machine was good when I got it, but sustained a lot of abuse and now would require a new battery to function as a mobile computer, at the very least. There’s a trade-off of size for weight of course, and if I can live with the Tilt’s screen I can probably live with anything in the 1024x### range for a short duration of time. There’s no reason to have a high-powered processor if you run XP, and lower power consumption means longer battery life. RAM can also be skimped on a little, since my old Vaio only has 512MB and it runs pretty decently XD Appearance is probably more important to me than it might be to others, but since it’s a small, halfway-between-cellphone-and-laptop machine, why not make it cute?

And so, we come to my current conclusion of needing the Acer Aspire One, in Pink, of course. It’s cheap, cute, decent quality and will help me have internet access when I travel :D

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