Hope me get a computer
June 1, 2011 11:51 AM   Subscribe

iPad/small portable computer-filter: I need a device that is very lightweight, will let me use a USB key and associated software to access the internet, and use a VPN.

Help me, Mefites!

I'm looking for a device that will let me:

- Access email/web surf/etc. No heavy document editing necessary, although I wouldn't turn it down! The ability to use Flash websites would be nice, but not mandatory.
- Small, portable, light-weight -- iPad/eee PC
- MUST let me access the internet through a USB key and associated software
- MUST let me use a VPN
- Price is not an object (within reason)
posted by 3491again to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The VPN experience with an onscreen keyboard is not great. For what you describe, I would get an 11" Macbook Air.
posted by mhoye at 11:53 AM on June 1, 2011

MUST let me access the internet through a USB key and associated software

Do you mean through a 3G modem? Because most pads/tablets and lots of smaller notebooks come with the necessary hardware inside. The iPad, for example, comes with either Verizon or AT&T hardware inside, and the Motorola Xoom has Verizon hardware.
posted by Oktober at 11:54 AM on June 1, 2011

Something like this? I use a Fujitsu U810 for the same purpose, and I wouldn't give it up for anything. Alas, Fujitsu has discontinued the U series here in the States, but the viliv machines are similar.
posted by 1adam12 at 11:55 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

I used an eee901 with a 3G modem for about two years, running (eventually) plain vanilla KDE. Didn't VPN with it, but presumably there's VPN clients for Kubuntu.

Th eee901's keyboard sucks, but otherwise it's a nice little machine. The only thing that ran particularly slowly was Firefox at times, but I only really noticed it when editing long posts in a text box.
posted by orthogonality at 12:01 PM on June 1, 2011

In terms of small portable computers that will let you do what you want, the 11' Inch Macbook Air is pretty much the best thing out there.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 12:02 PM on June 1, 2011

I have an Open Pandora. The thing is amazing! I know that it works with some USB 3g modems and VPN is in the OS. If you are interested in it, post your questions on the forum and check out the wiki.
posted by toddst at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2011

The HP Slate 500 is a data slab, a bit like the iPad. The display is 1024*600.

It runs Windows 7 Professional. It is pretty much a PC without a keyboard. It's got a USB port which would take your USB key.

It has Wifi but doesn't have an ethernet interface. Many modern cell phones have the ability to become wifi nodes to let devices like the Slate acess the internet without being connected by a wire.

Since it's running Win7Pro, it'll do all the kinds of VPN that Windows knows how to do. It's got IE on it, and you can install Firefox. Flash works fine.

It comes with a 64G SSD (about a quarter full) and it has an SDXC slot where you could add extra storage. (64G chips can be purchased now, and bigger ones will come.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:24 PM on June 1, 2011

(By the way, if you get a Slate, borrow a USB Keyboard for the initial Windows setup. The onscreen keyboard initially defaults to auto-repeat, and it is painful to set up the passwords and stuff like that using the stylus. Once you're into windows, you can deactivate autorepeat and then the onscreen keyboard works fine.)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:28 PM on June 1, 2011

I connect to my work network through VPN on my iPad all the time and it has built-in Internet access, if that's what you need.
posted by tamitang at 4:57 PM on June 1, 2011

1) Does your VPN need Windows? Check with your IT department.

2) Does your mobile broadband service really need that USB key, or is it GSM (will work with 3G modems built into many devices)? Check with your mobile broadband provider.

The Acer W500 is a cheap slate PC similar to the HP above. It runs a full copy of Windows, so it should deal with any VPN. It only has 32 GB storage, which is awfully tight if you want to store music/movies, but it is available with a 3G modem which might obviate the need for a USB key.

My daily computer is an Acer 1410t netbook, which is well under 3 lbs so I just take it everywhere I go. Also, it was under $300 when I bought it a year ago. I know it can do 3G too.
posted by miyabo at 10:23 PM on June 1, 2011

I would wholeheartedly recommend the latest Toshiba Portege 13" model. I have the previous model to the one linked here and it is priceless. 3lbs weight, neat design, Intel Core i5 processor, and a beautiful high-res display -- all add up to a very powerful machine that I actually don't mind carrying around. Mine can run anything I throw at it, including a VPN and working wirelessly over 3G (via a USB adapter). Just make sure you update the driver software from Toshiba's website, as they fixed the power management drivers to cure an overheating problem.
posted by Susurration at 6:34 PM on June 2, 2011

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