February 23, 2019

ZaReason's New Terra A20 Ubuntu Netbook: Everything Works - page 2

Real Computer or Toy?

  • October 2, 2009
  • By Paul Ferrill

Just for kicks we downloaded the final release of the Moblin OS to see if the ZaReason Terra A20 could handle it. Answer: with flying colors. Moblin boots extremely fast, even from a USB memory stick. Total time from choosing boot from USB on the Grub menu to a working desktop was right at 38 seconds. Moblin doesn't use a login screen so you boot right into the OS. Wifi worked without a hitch, and we were up and browsing the Web in just a few minutes time.

Moblin's approach to application launching is a disappearing tool bar at the top of the screen along with what they call application zones. The home screen, called myzone, shows your latest calendar and task list, a set of thumbnails showing your web history and a social services pane for twitter or last.fm updates. A people tab on the top toolbar lets you connect with people using a variety of IM sources including Google Talk, AIM, ICQ, IRC, MSN Yahoo and more.

figure 3
figure 3

The Moblin GARAGE is essentially an application catalog with the expressed goal of making it easy to install new apps on your Moblin-based netbook. You'll need to get the most recent Moblin image if you want to give it a try. It links to the Moblin GARAGE website and will install any of the available apps over the Internet without the need to run any other tool.

Bottom Line

The specs on battery life say up to 3.5 hours, but we saw more like 2 hours of typical usage. ZaReason offers a spare battery for $39 which is a real bargain. We found the keyboard layout difficult to get used to, but your mileage may vary. Another minor annoyance was the USB ports on both sides of the device. For some reason they seem to be upside down from most other laptops -- meaning you have to flip your USB key over from what you would normally use. On the bright side the unit is light (2.8 lbs) and really travels well. The 3G modem would really make this thing useful for when you're sitting at the doctor's office waiting your turn.

At a base price of $349 it's slightly higher than similarly equipped units from Acer, Asus or HP. Walmart sells the Acer 10.1" Aspire with similar specs (except for Windows XP Home) for $298. Costco online has the same unit for $299.99 with others to choose from as well. You could get one of these and just install Ubuntu Netbook Remix yourself or, you could support a fine company in ZaReason and expect to get real service and support. The choice is yours.

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