I gave the new Samsung Go netbook the Thanksgiving road trip test.
We ran the machine all through New Jersey, over the river and into the woods of rural Connecticut, the home of grandmother No. 1. The machine worked fine, even though cell phones often didn't work in the area.
It kept humming en route to grandmother No. 2 in another rural locale about 30 miles north of Albany, N.Y.
A netbook looks like a junior laptop and works like a cell phone, allowing access to the Internet wherever the phone signals permit. The Samsung Go is available with an AT&T contract and runs on the company's 3G network.
The only time the connection coughed and failed was when we entered New York City's suburbia, an area you would think would be thick with digital connections.
Not used to a netbook, there was some initial frustration at the slow pace of connections and changing pages, but the longer the machine was used the quicker it seemed to get. And the more bored my children became at grandma's, the more willing they were to put up with it.
My son played games and watched YouTube videos on the Go. My daughter checked in with Facebook. And on the long ride back home, my wife searched news sites and did work-related research.
What everyone liked was the very clear, crisp view on the 10-inch screen. The Go's rubberized midnight-blue clamshell case (it also comes in sunset orange, mint blue and jet black) has a very nice feel. The keys also have a comfortable touch, and you don't feel like the typing space is cramped. It's powered by Windows XP, includes 1 GB of RAM and is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled. It also weighs a mere 3 pounds, making it easy to carry around. Or pass around.
It has a battery that is advertised to last nine hours. Although I never took it down to the limit, six or seven hours looked more likely.
Everyone was satisfied when the Go was the only machine around. As soon as we got home, however, it was quickly dumped for the speedier, bigger laptops.
Keeps You Connected but You Might Have to Wait
If you are considering buying a netbook because it is less expensive than a laptop or PC, Samsung's netbook model may be fine for you. It is priced at $479, and I found it on sale for as little as $329. That's not counting, of course, the monthly AT&T phone bill.
If the netbook is meant to give you access to the Web when you're not in a hot spot, it will work fine, although not necessarily that quickly. I tried reading The New York Times on my 40-minute train commute. Some days I got through much of the paper. Other days I managed to read only one or two stories.
As an inexpensive computer, you will get your money's worth. It's cool to be able to stay connected on long car rides or in out-of-the-way places. If you are the impatient type, however, there will be times when you are drumming your fingers. In today's hyper high-speed times, that is often a major consideration.