In an attempt to attract more customers, PC treasures is trying a whole new gimmick by releasing their netbook software suite on a USB drive and SD card. This bundled package comes with everything from McAfee VirusScan with 1 year subscription and ACDsee Photo Manager to Corel WordPerfect Office X3 and Stuffit Deluxe 2009 (for a full software list click the link below). This package is being released for $35 and in my opinion, $25 too much.
For those of us who were kids during the late 90’s, the computer was a pretty fascinating device, but it didn’t really play too much of a role in our lives. It was there when the first videos were around and when most of us had to wait roughly ten minutes for our dreaded dial-up internet to finish loading something. However, computer usage is playing an ever growing role in young people’s lives, both at home and at school. Hell, there are plenty of eight year olds out there who are more computer savvy than some adults. However, some kid-friendly computer programs are still a good tool for helping to get children acclimated to computer usage while maintaining some parental control.
Fortunately for parents, PeeWee PC is there to help them. PeeWee PC makes notebooks and desktops geared towards children. They now offer the PeeWee kit, which is children’s software on a 4GB USB stick. The USB stick essentially helps bring kid friendly programming to netbooks.
The PeeWee kit includes games and software for education. There is also a tool that allows parents to monitor how long their kids are on the computer and what they’re doing on it. The Kit is available on the flash drive $30 and on CD for $20.
Just recently, a laptop in a hospital located in Gainesville, Florida, with personal information of over 12,500 patients was stolen. Names, addresses, medical records, and even social security numbers are all lost to an unidentified criminal.
Portability is what makes laptops and netbooks so efficient and attractive for consumers; however, this convenience factor can also create a pronounced disadvantage: lack of security. Although it is currently impossible to protect against the physical threat of laptop/netbook theft, we can protect the device’s data.
Check Point Software Technologies has just launched a software called ZoneAlarm DataLock to protect against netbook thieves. The newly released software is designed to encrypt data and requires a username and password to access any files. As a result, when one’s device is stolen, the thief will not be able to access any data.
Zone Alarm is usually sold for $29.95, but can be bought from the ZoneAlarm Website for an introductory cost of $19.95. And with over 60 million computers already utilizing its security benefits, Zone Alarm rivals other major security software manufacturers such as McAfee or Symantec.
While they are at their core small computers, netbooks were made to have a slightly different function than their laptop predecessors. Laptops are frequently being built as substitutes for desktops for many common functions, and some are even advertised as such – remember that category called “desktop replacements”? Netbooks, however, seem to have taken up the niche that laptops used to fill – portable computing.
Like the laptops of old, netbooks tend to be underclocked, and their size generally allow for very limited storage and expansion space. There are programs available, however, that allow you to get just a little bit more utility out of your tiny netbook.
While I will always have fond memories of the Windows OS, I must admit that the Apple side is seductive, and their Dock does a great job of keeping programs I use all the time in such easy reach while keeping my desktop uncluttered. Rocketdock is a free program that adds a dock to any side of a netbook’s screen and adds utility to everyday use.
When I go online, I find that Google’s Chrome browser is a great performer on netbooks. It doesn’t use as much of the netbook’s limited resources, is quite fast, and is constantly being updated. If you have a touchscreen, you might want to look into getting ChromeTouch as well, which is an extension of the Chrome browse and adds touch control to the Chrome browser.
While you’re online, if you find an interesting site and bookmark it, Xmarks will keep your browser bookmark and site passwords in synch among multiple PCs. While there already exist other programs that do this, Xmarks stands out among the rest in that it works across browsers, keeping Safari, Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer all synced among a network. And while many people are firm believers in AVG Free for protection, Microsoft Security Essentials takes away less from your netbook performance while still doing a good job of protecting your computer.
Depending on what you do with your netbook, some of these programs might not be right for you. There are a bunch of other programs out there of course, so with a little effort, I’m sure you can find a solution to whatever problem you have.
Rachel Rehm, VP of PerfectNotes Corp., says that PerfectNotes will fill a void for netbook users:
“Netbook computers are popular because of their low price and small size, but they are short on software that can run on them. As they come, netbooks are really only practical for surfing the Web. When I got my netbook, I was delighted at the size, but there wasn’t much I could do with it. After installing PerfectNotes® note taking software, it became much more useful. Now I take it with me wherever I need to take notes.”
PerfectNotes has a sound recording mechanism that uses “a unique way of cross linking a real-time sound recording with a visual timeline of the class,” showing when in a recording you took your notes. Students can bookmark moments in a recording for instant review later, allowing for a more engaged review when students need it most.
You can download a free demo of PerfectNotes at www.perfectnotes.com and convert to the full version for only $30.
Sometimes keeping up with routine data backups is just one more thing you don’t want to worry about. The fact that people use netbooks on the go means there’s a higher risk of hardware damage or data loss, so it can be truly useful to have backup and recovery software for your netbook.
Acronis is now selling the Acronis True Image Home 2010 Netbook Edition of its backup software for a price lower than the one it charges for the desktop edition: £23.95 ($38.20). The new recovery software is optimized for netbook screens and hardware.
With the Acronis 2010 Netbook Edition, users can back up their data to an external device or even Acronis’ online service. It supports all major Windows OSes as major processors used for netbooks – the Intel Atom 230, 330, N270, N280, Z500, Z510, Z520, Z530, and Z540 as well as the VIA C7-M CPU.
Mainstream office software isn’t always best on a netbook, where screen size is a major detriment to long hours spent typing. On the other hand, not everybody likes free apps like OpenOffice. Corel hopes to dive into the netbook market with its new Corel Home Office, and see if consumers will take to its new three-app suite.
The software can tackle word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations – all optimized for netbooks. You can even throw the suite on a USB key if you’d like.
Cordel’s director of product management, Jay Larock, discussed why he thinks the suite will appeal to the market:
“In talking with consumers and home based business owners, it became clear to us that they were seeking greater simplicity in their software… At the same time, the growing popularity of netbooks and other mini notebook computers means that more users are focusing on a smaller set of core tasks. Corel Home Office addresses this segment’s specific needs by striking the right balance between features, price, and productivity—all in a unique package that is ideally suited to today’s portable computers.”
The programs are supported in 13 languages and can be exported as PDFs for easy file sharing.
Pricing is hefty but understandable at $69.99, and you can get it by download or through a CD. The suite requires at least Windows XP, 256 MB of RAM, and at least 1024 x 768 resolution in order to optimize the program.
Corel Home Office consists of Corel Wire, Corel Calculate, and Corel Show, handling word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, respectively. The apps feature wide file format support (including Microsoft Office) and can export PDFs for easy sharing. The programs also support 13 languages, and offer a wide range of customization options so users can manage and maximize their use of screen real-estate.
Interested, but not ready to throw down the cash? Corel has a free trial download available if you want to try it out.