One thing which always bothered me when operating “portable” is the logging process - logging the contacts on paper and then entering them in the computer! Using laptop solves this issue but laptop computers are still relatively big and heavy to carry around and the battery life is limited….until now… Enter the NetBook – new generation of portable computers – UMPC or Ultra Mobile PC.
The Net Book is excellent candidate for logging machine. NetBooks are a relatively new market but with many entries by some “ big boys” – Dell, Asus, Acer, HP etc. I decided on Acer Aspire One!
The version I got is with 160 GB HDD, 1 GB RAM (which I later upgraded to 1.5 GB) and 6 cell Li-ion battery powering the machine for up to 6 hours! The Aspire One is very small and light machine – 2.2 lbs. It is using the new 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU. The only thing missing to a full-blown laptop is the CD-ROM/DVD drive – an external USB CD-ROM can be connected if needed. Aspire One is well equipped for connectivity – LAN, WiFi, 3 USB ports, built-in camera and audio card /w microphone (for digital modes).
I got an external “Prolific chipset” based USB-to-RS232 converter for connecting it to the radio via CAT interface. Ham Radio Deluxe runs just fine on this machine. The built-in wi-fi card does a great job connecting the PC to Internet hot-spots (eQSL, propagation, even DX cluster to mention just a few ham applications) . The screen is extremely bright and sharp! One very useful feature of this machine is also the ability to run from solid-state memory module instead of a hard-drive – they sell a different version equipped with solid state memory for those who like better shock-resistance. I decided to go with the hard drive as I needed the storage space – it is nice to have space for pdf manuals, books, music and even a few movies.
The Li-Ion battery is 11.1V /5200 mAh (operating) and DC charging/operating voltage is 19V / 1.58 A. I’ll look into a modification to power it from external battery or solar charger. Another thing I would like to see is a built-in Bluetooth interface which will complete the “interface arsenal”.