Compaq Mini Travel Computer
SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico- After two years of traveling and running this website with Asus Eee PCs (three of them), it has become high time to shift alliances. I went with an HP Compaq Mini laptop.
For no other reason than it was the cheapest computer that I could find in the south of Mexico — $264 — and it had Windows XP preloaded onto it. What I do with my computers is amazingly simple, the programs I need are few: I use wordpad for word processing, DCE auto enhance to resize photos in bulk, Rename Star to rename multiple files at once, Frontpage for HTML editing, and Roxio media manager for transferring files between the computer and Blackberry. All of these programs work sufficiently, and they all work with XP. I have no idea of the popular sentiment towards Windows 7, I have no idea if the programs that I use to run this website would work on it, so I wanted to play it safe: I wanted a machine running XP.
Good thing laptops meeting this standard proved to be vastly cheaper than the Windows 7 ones in Mexico.
$264 is a good price to pay for a netbook.
The Compaq mini specs
160 gig hard drive
1 gig RAM
10 inch screen
1 inch thick
It is a pretty standard netbook, I hardly feel as if I am working on a different machine than the Asus Eee PCs. I loaded my stock data into the hard drive a couple of days ago, I have been putting on the old programs ever since, going to strip the data from the hard drive from the old Asus, and in a week we should be again running at full speed.
The main problem with this Compaq Mini computer is that, as I purchased it in Mexico, Windows is in Spanish. There is no way to change this save for removing it and uploading an English version (believe me, I’ve check other options). When I installed windows I selected English to be the language, it installed in Spanish, I tried to change the language through the control panel, it stayed in Spanish. I investigated the cause of the problem to find out that the base language of Windows cannot be changed — which is alright, I can speak Spanish.
I am unsure of the true international capability of HP Compaq computers — it is always better to carry electronics that are sold and can me easily repaired in as many places as possible — but at $264 these netbooks are more or less disposable. If I ever have a real problem with it I highly doubt that I would have it fixed: I would just buy another netbook and suck up the loss.
These are the rounds of a traveling webmaster: electronic gear will always break, it is all ephemeral, it is a folly to ever get too attached to any computer when traveling, as it always holds the possibility of breaking down. I choose to use the cheapest computers that I can find, as I know that one errant move can lead to it being broken or stolen. In point, I would need to go through six netbooks to equal the cost of one good, standard laptop.
I like my odds.
If my computer kicks the bucket I am out $250 rather than $2000. All computers can kick the bucket at any time — especially when traveling. I got eight months out of my last Asus Eee PC, eight months of computing for $250: truly not a bad price to pay. I hope to get a full year out of this Compaq before spinning it through the cycle of ever shifting laptops.
As I have written before:
“Travel Gear is ephemeral, there is little use attaching yourself to any of it: you will loose it, replace it, throw it out, leave it behind.”
As my friend Andy Hobotraveler.com wrote to me in a email easing my computer woes:
“It is best to view computers as disposable cost of doing business, or never fall in love with a computer. Use it.”
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