The Subnotebook Saga
1. The Acer Aspire One is still, so far as I can tell, the best option, with the size of the eee 901 and the keyboard quality of the eee1000 and the MSI Wind. I don't have much use for a subnotebook until my next trip, which is about a month and a half off, so will try to resist the temptation to get one now, on the theory that there might be an improvement in price or features over the next month.
2. Assuming that nothing changes, I will get the version with XP, 120GB hard drive, and a three cell battery. The much longer running time of the six cell battery which will be available "real soon now" (and is apparently already available on at least one Canadian model) doesn't make up for the increased weight and size. Eventually I'll probably get a spare 3 cell battery; so far they do not seem to be available.
3. Having gotten it, I will set it up to dual boot with some version of Linux. Ubuntu has software called wubi that is supposed to let you install Ubuntu on the same partition as Windows, set to dual boot, which sounds like the simplest solution. It's claimed that the latest version of Ubuntu works almost perfectly with the Aspire One.
4. On the other hand ... . As best I can tell, a full install of Ubuntu won't boot much faster than XP does. I'm playing with the idea of downloading a disk image of the install disk for the Linux version of the Aspire and installing it on a flash card, to go into the computer. It seems to me that it ought to then be possible to have a triple booting machine--Linpus for fast boot, Ubuntu for a full Linux OS, XP for anything that requires XP to run. Anyone who knows more about this than I do is welcome to correct any errors I'm making.
5. The current availability situation is interesting. The Linux/flash disk version of the machine is available at its list price of about $330 from a variety of sellers. The XP/hd version lists for about $350. Microcenter and Best Buy sell it for that price--or would if they were not perpetually out of stock. Sellers who actually have them to sell set the price anywhere from about $380 to $500 or so. Given that I'm in no hurry, I expect I will wait and see if I can get it at list sometime in the next month or so.
6. Today Dell released its subnotebook. Amazingly enough, they managed to copy the single worst feature of the Asus eee subnotes--a keyboard with a small right shift key next to the up arrow key. Try to use the right shift and you are two lines above where you thought you were. They also provide fewer features at a higher price than the Acer. Presumably they are counting on the advantage of a very familiar brand name--although I gather Acer is pretty well known as well.
The one advantage of the Dell Inspiron 9 over the Acer Aspire One is that the bits one wants to get at for upgrades--memory slots, hd, and the like--are all readily getatable. With the Aspire, you have to practically disassemble the whole computer to simply expand the memory.
Web shopping as a recreational activity. And I haven't even mentioned the Google Android Dream.