05 June 2011

Netbooks, Windows 7 and Genealogy

I am thinking about buying a Netbook computer before I go overseas. At just over 1kg, it would be a much better proposition than my current (heavy) laptop. With my trip just three weeks away (and very little free time to set up and become familiar with a new computer), my dilemma is - should I buy a new netbook with Windows 7 Starter or buy or borrow a pre-loved one with Windows XP (the operating system I know and like)?

Will my genealogy software work with Windows 7 Starter? I use The Master Genealogist v.7, SecondSite v.2.1.10, TMG Utility v.7 and Treepad. I have not had time to research this question, so I am hoping that you will help me to make a quick decision! I would love to hear (via a comment below) what you think of Netbooks (any recommendations for or against particular brands or models?), Windows 7 Starter, and any 'tech tips'. Thanks!


  1. I have a 2 Toshiba NB200 Netbook. Very light and compact. It is 2 years old so there'd be new netbooks out now, but I can recommend the Toshiba ones. It's been a great little co puter. T
    It takes Windows XP, so I cant comment on Windows 7.
    Best of luck with whatever you decide.

  2. Judy

    Thomas MacEntee here - my ASUS Eee Netbook is 2 years old, with Windows XP and I still run all my presentations on it as well as use it as a teleprompter during webinars. It is my only non desktop, having given up the heavy laptop. The nice thing about my ASUS is it has a 9 hour battery! And it is priced at about $325 US if I purchase it on Amazon.com.

    I also run all my software - RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, Family Tree Maker, even Skype with a headset!

  3. Judy,

    I don't know abt Win7 but my ASUS with XP has an amazing battery life and runs TMG v 7 without a whimper. I have had three ASUS netbooks - got one the first week they came out and have only upgraded to get more gigs.

    My last one was bought at a runout sale and cost a little over $200 once I deducted the 10% tax refund I got at the airport.

    Sometimes pictures on Skype may be jumpy if using a free wifi connection but otherwise no probs connecting to free wifi in airports, hotels, cafes, friends homes etc. Did have an issue in Italy because I couldn't uderstand the Italian login instructions for McDonalds free wifi!

    I also back my photos up to the netbook each day so I have them on camera card plus in one other place.

    Although I love my tablet I think I'll still travel with the netbook when I want to do genie research.

    I would consider travelling with a portable external HDD so that precious data can be backed up on the go.

    Cheers, Jill

  4. Judy

    My Toshiba NB200 is about 18 months old and runs presentations and all the software I need. It has XP. I've just come back from the Coffs Harbour Expo, where all the presentations in one of the roooms were run off a netbook without any problems. Just make sure it has a connection for a projector (can't think what the name of the connection is). I assumed my netbook didn't have one and it was months before I actually looked and found it there. The only drawback with it was when I connected it to a large monitor for demonstrations, and the screen resolution is so small that it looked bad on the lovely big monitor. So I use the laptop for that.

    My new fullsize laptop is now about a month old and has Windows 7 64 bit. It runs everything I need as well, including TMG. Reports to Word do not work but this will be fixed in TMGv8. It does NOT have the connection for a projector, only a HDMI output, so I needed to buy a new cable. I think most new projectors and monitors have an HDMI input but older ones probably won't.

    I don't know how old your laptop is but when you replace it you will not be able to get XP on it, so if you are willing to bite the bullet now you may as well start getting used to Windows 7. My previous laptop that died was Vista, which has similarities with Win7 and so it wasn't a great leap, and there ARE many improvements that I miss when I go back to my XP netbook.


  5. I own a Toshiba netbook, about 4 months old now, with WIN7 Starter. I love it! Great battery life - 8-9 hours because I have it set to go to sleep when I'm not actually using it, so a full charge can last me 3-4 days of off and on useage. When being used heavily, like at an all day conference or for doing research, it will work 6 or 7 hours before needing to be charged. I run the latest version of Family Tree maker with no probs whatsoever. The only thing I've not been able to run is something in Windows Media Player - seems there are some parts missing that allows it to handle a variety of formats. I bought a portable DVD player that plugs into the USB/power slot to expand its abilities. Good sound too! Much better than my friend's Dell laptop!

  6. Yes Judy! My new Acer Aspire One Happy netbook with Windows 7 starter works brilliantly with TMG.
    I also use the Utility but not the other 2 applications (but have other things on as well). Love the battery life, weight, and the price! When I bought mine I got it for less that $400. This is the one I got (hopefully the link works), and I love it! http://www.oo.com.au/Acer_Aspire_One_Happy_N551_Net_P53283C1397.cfm
    It only has 1GB of RAM, but can be upgraded to 2 - which I intend to do.

  7. Thank you all for those extremely helpful comments. Officeworks have an Acer Happy-N55DQ for $359 & a Toshiba NB500 for $297. I will give them a close inspection when I am over that way later this week. I don't think they stock Eee to I'll have to look elsewhere for those.

    For my purposes, weight is the major issue. When I am in the UK I won't want to leave the computer in B and B's or my room at York Uni. I'll want to put it in a small protective case and carry it around with me, slung over my shoulder or in my day-backpack. Unless someone can convince me that there is a vital difference in other specifications, I will choose a 1.2kg Netbook over a 2kg model. A largish keyboard is also desirable. I would rarely run it on battery for more than 3hrs, so that is not a major consideration in my case. Thanks again for all your comments.

  8. Anonymous08 June, 2011

    I have a netbook with XP and run my Genealogy programs just fine, no issues.

  9. I ended up buying the Acer Aspire One 'Happy' netbook. I love it. It's only 1.2kg and fits in my handbag, so it's perfect when I am travelling. Its keyboard and battery life are great too.


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