Sony has a new netbook, the VAIO W Series, and I had a chance to try it out during my pre-BlogHer '09 Road Trip. (They were even kind enough to ship it directly to me at my hotel in Dearborn, MI.) Overall I thought it was pretty good. I was able to check email and blog, without the hassle and weight of dragging my laptop halfway across the country. It was an adjustment to switch back to a PC after a couple of years of Mac only-use, but I definitely appreciated the convenience and portability of the little machine.
What I liked: They sent me the white one, and it's very cute and techno-chic. I received several envious looks and compliments on it! The keyboard is small, but bigger and less cramped than other netbooks I've tried. Pluses for that.
The size was nearly perfect. It's tiny and light, and so easy to carry around in my bag that I didn't dislocate my shoulder even though I had it with me pretty much 24/7. And because it was so light, going through security seemed much easier.
It was really nice to not stress out about what would happen if I dropped or lost it (besides having to pay Sony for it) because, unlike my laptop, it didn't have my entire life on it. You don't need to worry about losing all 4,500 of your photos that you loaded onto it or every CD you've ever ripped, it's mainly for working on the go. Even if I was going to keep it, the lack of space on the drive would make me be disciplined about what I loaded up on it.
What I didn't: It took a while to get used to having the little shift key on the right, in fact I really never did completely. Probably if I used it for a few more weeks it would become a non-issue. Also, the touch pad is insanely sensitive, making the cursor jump all over the place. I made a couple of "Doh, I wasn't actually ready to hit "enter" just yet" mistakes before I got the hang of it.
Seriously, there isn't any memory on this thing. At one point I had two programs and six windows open, which triggered the red X of death. It froze everything, and I couldn't get rid of it. Eventually I had to reboot, and I lost some stuff I was working on.
Also, the battery runs out fast -- you're supposed to get three hours out of it, but I felt the juice drained out even more quickly. So plan accordingly, and have the power cord handy.
Another note on the Mac to PC thing: wow, I forgot about all of those security warnings and updates! And also how much I hate Internet Explorer. If I was keeping the machine I would have spent more time adjusting my pop up preferences and bothering to download Firefox.
Cost to you: $499 (You can pre-order it on the Best Buy website:)
Cost to me: Free loaner that I returned after using it for a few weeks.