Ok so I finally broke down and bought a netbook. After carefully looking over the options, the HP Mini (11.2″ netbook, Atom 270 processor, intel GMA 945 graphics chip) seemed like the best bang for the buck. Decent 1024×592 screen, built in wifi, and most importantly, a 92% sized keyboard. The larger keyboard is head and shoulders above the other netbooks on the market. I can actually touch type (as I am touch-typing this post in the predawn hours from my netbook) using it. I’m still having some minor troubles with the symbols (number keys) and backspace key, but I’m sure that’ll fade with use. I have perhaps 1500 words worth of typing on the new keyboard at this point. The wacky widescreen trackpad with “buttons as ears” has taken some getting used to. If you’re right handed, you mouse with your right hand, and work the left click button with your left thumb. So that takes some getting used to.
Couple of things to mention: Ubuntu Netbook Remix, Moblin 2.1 do NOT have broadcom drivers (seriously guys wtf this is 2009) you have to apt-get them. The string to use is “sudo apt-get install bcmwl-kernel-source”. The result is you have to be physically connected to a wired router with an ethernet cable.
TF2 (Team Fortress 2) does not run on these things. Does. Not. Run. Sure, it will boot, and you can connect to a server, but once it loads in server, you can get about 10 feet before TF2 hard-crashes (yes, we’re talking BSOD here) XP SP3. Impressive. Apparently there is little to no GMA 945 support at valve. I’ve heard better reports about CS:S so I may give that a shot. I was able to get plants vs. zombies running, which ran at its native resolution and at full speed, so now I might have to check out some more pop cap games before I leave on my trip.
Also: Apparently OSX will run no problem on these netbooks. Which sort of shocked me, but whatever. When I get back I may give that a whirl. Apparently the wired ethernet connection doesn’t work, but wifi does, and thats really all that matters on a netbook.