Well, after sitting here for several minutes, not writing anything, I’ve finally decided how to start this one off: with an apology. You see, last time around I might just have said that the iPod touch was a bit silly and not a very good music player. Well, one birthday later, I now own one. And I like it. A lot. You see, my only previous experience – which was tremendously limited – was based entirely on short times I test-drove my brothers. The sound quality out of the thing, especially using my HESH DJ-style headphones, is phenomenally good compared to the compact players I’ve previously had. The games are also wonderful – especially Rolando – and Apple don’t lie when they say there is an App for almost anything. Handheld PC? I’d take this handheld Mac over it any day.
While I love the iPod, it naturally suffers from the same problem all of these handheld computers suffer from: It has no keyboard. Well, it does actually have an onscreen keyboard, with which Apple have tried to relieve the common problems which onscreen keyboards face. However, no matter how good an onscreen keyboard is – and the iPod’s is the best I’ve seen – I always prefer a physical keyboard with space for both hands and feedback from the keys. Hence we segue nicely into another birthday-related item: My shiny new Disgo 3000 series netbook, on which I’m typing this now. With a 266 MHz ARM processor and 64 MB of RAM, it’s not exactly a computing powerhouse, but it does provide a copy of Wordpad and a keyboard in a bundle about the size of an A5 sheet of paper. The aforementioned keyboard is a little cramped, but seeing as that’s a problem with all netbooks the Disgo can hardly be singled out to be shot at dawn. It’s main selling point – indeed, its box labels it as the “Disgo web browser” – is that, you guessed it, it surfs the internet. It can do this pretty well, but again succumbs to netbook syndrome and some pages – but only exceptionally large ones – may appear a little cramped on the screen. However, the small screen size is a reasonable forfeit for the excellent portability. It’ll fit in pretty much any bag and still leave room for the compact power adaptor, which is built into its plug in a compact unit that you’d probabbly expect for charging a mobile phone.
Again, because we love a good segue here on TMSD, we come on to the battery life. The computer will last for four hours on a single charge, which is much longer than it sounds. Put this thing on at lunch and it’ll still be ready to go at dinner time. Charging the device is also incredibly fast, even while it’s in use. If you do run out of battery, plug it in and it’ll be fully charged in less than 30 minutes. I’ve had it on today for transferring files, writing this over my lunch hour and taking notes in a biology class and even now the unit is showing over 40% charge: Well over an hour. It is also handy should your iPod run low on power, especially if you haven’t got around to buying a mains adapter which, as far as I know, Apple have yet to release a model for British plug sockets. While the device won’t run iTunes, the iPod will charge anyway.
However, this is a netbook, and it’ll have all gone to waste if it can’t do the internet. As said before, small screen size rears it’s head occasionally and in addition pages can take a little while to load. Neither of these are show-stopping problems, but it should be expected that it will not provide the same experience as a full desktop.
A minor irritation is that some websites will recognise that the device runs Windows CE and switch to their mobile version. Both Google and Facebook do this, but it’s easy enough to switch to the full site for most. Unfortunately, while full Facebook will load, it slowed the device down very noticably, as will large pages or pages with lots of images. Because of this, you’re better off using the mobile version of the likes of Facebook, which are far more managable. You may be able to use the iPhone version, but I haven’t tried it.
Something that might pose a problem to some is that there is no in-browser flash support. I haven’t found this as a problem so far, but to those who might a flash player for downloaded files is included. Youtube support is also available through a third-party player application. However, quality is slightly reduced even from the Youtube norm and it is questionable whether this falls within Youtube’s terms of service.
Included with addition to the web browsing facilites are Wordpad, which I’m using right now, and a spreadsheet application which is fully compatible with older versions of Excel. It also comes with Windows CE Messenger for your IM needs, a Powerpoint viewer, a PDF viewer and three (!) media players, one of which seems to be an older version of one of the others. This does bring me to a point which initially presented a problem to me: It cannot install additional applications, even those for Windows CE. As a result of this you can only use the ones packaged but these will do pretty much anything you will ever want to do with it that the hardware can physically support.
As a web browser, the Disgo 3000 is a worthy companion to a more powerful and less portable computer. With portability far in excess of even a small laptop, it’s well worth picking one up if you want to browse the internet in public or need to take notes in a lesson. And while I recieved mine as a gift, at a price of £95 I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to buy one.
Read Part 2 – A retrospect after six months of living with the Disgo – Here!
Read Part 3
All Trademarks are the properties of their respective owners.