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Travels With Teo: Linux Netbook Hits the Road - page 2

Road Trip! Recording the Sand Creek Fiddler's Jam

  • July 8, 2010
  • By Carla Schroder

Webcam

I played around with the Webcam a lot. Ubuntu had no trouble recognizing it, and you can turn it on and off with a keyboard shortcut. The Webcam worked fine with Ekiga and Cheese. I tried taking a few scenic photos with it, but that doesn't work very well. It is hard to aim and the image quality isn't good. It's not designed to take scenic photos, but it was fun trying.

ZaReason designs their computers to be Linux-compatible. None of the components require special drivers, so any ZaReason machine will work with any Linux. Many of the other so-called Linux netbooks rely on proprietary drivers and applications, and even in the Windows-world it is common to load up an OEM box with all kinds of custom crud. Why? One reason is to mitigate deficiencies in Windows. Another reason is lock-in, and yet another reason is "because."

Dumping Photos Into Digikam

Every night I dumped all the photos I had taken during the day into the Teo, and did a bit of organizing and editing in Digikam. Just like with Audacity, performance was fine, though noticeably slower than on my home PC with the three-core processor. I especially appreciated the bright sharp screen for photo editing.

Finding Wi-Fi

I don't have a cell phone so I couldn't test tethering, though I sure would like to. Network Manager actually performed quite capably, finding and connecting to various wireless networks without a hitch. Which rather surprised me because usually Network Manager and me don't get along. One thing that drove me nuts was it remembered every network it found, so it collected a long list. But it allowed deleting them only one at a time. (Hint to devs: Batch jobs. Thx.)

Downsides

These so-called wide screens are a scam. They are cheaper to manufacture because they can cut more screens out of a single sheet of material, and they're cutting several inches off the bottom. Of course they're not going to be marketed as "Less for your money!", and so we see all the spin hyping them as wide screens. This so-called wide screen format presents some special problems on a netbook screen, because even after years of "wide screens" most applications and Web pages are still top-heavy, with loads of junk at the top that you have to scroll past to get to the content. The ever-busy Ubuntu folks are designing a special netbook edition that places page elements to the side, to give content more vertical room.

There is not a middle-click. I use middle-click a lot, so I missed this. Though the touchpad surprised me with its smoothness and nice feel; usually I don't care for touchpads.

Final Thoughts

For me, any disadvantages of the small screen are outweighed by its brightness and sharpness, and the portability of the Teo. It's easy to read and easy to tote. When I had it at home it traveled all over the house with me, and on nice days I took it outside to work. You can't read on it in bright sunlight, but on a shaded patio it's perfect. A big thumbs up for the little Teo, a small but comfortable fully-capable little notebook.

Carla Schroder is the author of the Linux Cookbook and the Linux Networking Cookbook (O'Reilly Media), the upcoming "Book of Audacity" (NoStarch Press), a lifelong book lover, and the managing editor of LinuxPlanet and Linux Today.

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