While I’ve seen a few people use a Netbook as their only computer, for the most part people are buying Netbooks as a second more portable companion to their primary PC. For me the HP Mini I own has become the computer that goes everywhere, while my full sized notebook is the one doing all the heavy lifting for video editing and entertainment.
When you use two computers regularly, you suddenly realize how vital it is to make sure all your files are properly synchronized. In the early stages of using multiple computers I was constantly using convoluted solutions to retrieve files I’d left behind.A bunch of different software companies are creating tools to address this very problem, but most of the Netbook makers haven’t jumped on board to include this necessary file sync component. HP is bundling Syncables with their new Mini 110 line of Netbooks, which you can see demoed in this video.
Syncables makes the sync process easier than just about anything else I’ve tried using. I only wish it had shipped with the HP Mini 1000 I purchased back in November 2008. I typically use some combination of Box.net and Amazon S3 for making files available no matter where I am, but those are geeky solutions requiring manual intervention. I do also use Second Copy for some file synchronization tasks, but Syncables is easier, because I simply need to install it in both places, choose which files to sync and generally never think about it again. The only requirement for keeping everything in sync is to make sure the computer that traveled connects back to my home network when I get back.
Keeping bookmarks in sync between Firefox installs on multiple computers is awesome. I have specific browser linkbar icons I rely on for quick access to information and it’s a hassle to configure them every time I set up a new computer. Being able to sync some (but not all) of my photos is nice. And while I don’t really like having duplicates of music and videos, there are some things it’s nice to bring along. I’ve moved most of my email out to Gmail at this point, so syncing my email isn’t necessary, but I can see where it would come in handy if you don’t use a cloud solution.
Syncables isn’t perfect. I don’t like that the software relies on the Documents / Pictures / Videos / Music hierarchy of folders in Windows for allowing me to choose what to sync. That certainly keeps things simple, but I routinely stash stuff outside those folders. There are also a few minor configuration quirks in setting up two-way sync of Pictures and Videos folders, but once you get past them, Syncables works great.
While the video talks about using Syncables with the HP Mini 110 and another HP computer (because the video was created for HP), the Syncables software bundled with the Mini 110 will work with any other Windows computer. And if you don’t have an HP Mini, you can download Syncables for use with any computer, although you’ll have to pay to use it.