Netbooks Evaluated, Deployment Impending – At Last!

by Rusty Meyners.  

Long overdue is not only an update but moreover a final and conclusive chapter to Eustace ISD’s long-running netbook evaluation and this blogging thereof. The last update saw us almost certainly planning to purchase Acer Aspire One netbooks for all of our high school students as well as several classroom sets of 25 for rolling labs at the other campuses; but since then, our focus has seen an quick shift to the Dell Mini 10 and mere weeks later an even more abrupt switch to the Asus eeePC 1005HA.

Dell got our attention with a new low base price that had to be directly aimed at Acer, who of course had to promptly lower their prices as well but too late to prevent a seemingly permanent change in our direction. A firm commitment to Dell eventually got them to get serious about our negotiations but a late unsolicited presentation from Asus that included an eval unit and competitive bid could not conscientiously be ignored. Attempts to have Dell make adjustments to remain competitive with Asus specs went from bad to contemptible, with our sentimentally favored home-state computer giant not just dropping the ball but actually seeming to "intentionally ground" it in "poor sport" pique over the challenge.

When time came for our school board to approve a purchase of 600 units for deployment, the eeePC 1005HA was the clear choice not only from almost every technical measurement but by user acclaim as well. Most netbooks are created equal on the inside with the main differences being in outward design and included or available options and to my thinking it frequently came down to who had the better keyboard, a measurement by which Asus usually lost even when they might win on every other consideration; however, the eeePC now has decisively closed that issue with a keyboard as good or better than any other, regardless of the optically-delusional preference many would initially express for the Dell or HP. Once they fixed the keyboard, the fundamental performance and feature advantages that Asus has consistently maintained in the eeePC line begin to make the choice easier; and when comparing reliability factors indicated by repair trends where both Dell and Asus products are used, such as Irving ISD (an exemplary peer among school netbook deployments), it becomes a no-brainer.

The fast approaching and practically "day-one" deployment to every student at Eustace High School on a "full-time" (including take-home) basis precludes more time here describing the benefits of the 1005HA over the many other netbooks evaluated for our program; but those who have followed this Blog or otherwise kept up with our project will know that every effort has been made to fully consider every relevant factor before coming to this critical decision on a resource and tool propitious to excellence in education at Eustace ISD.

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