Linux Netbook Review: ZaReason Teo Pro Netbook

It has been a while since I looked at ZaReason’s Terra HD Netbook.  I liked that one, but the integrated Intel graphics still held it back from those netbooks that are now shipping Nvidia Ion or Ion 2 cards for graphics.  Today I am checking out one of ZaReason’s smaller netbooks, the Teo Pro.

The Teo Pro is yet another netbook running Ubuntu Linux and equipped with the venerable Atom N450.  In fact, spec wise the Teo Pro is almost identical to the Terra HD except that the Teo Pro has a 10.1 inch 1024×600 LCD and one less USB port.  Everything else in the loaner they sent me is equivalent to the Terra HD.  As shipped, my loaner had a Atom N450, Intel NM10 Chipset, Intel GMA 3150 graphics, Intel HD Audio, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 1.3 Megapixel Webcam, 10/100 Ethernet, 2 GB of ram and a 40 GB SSD.  The default configuration opts for a 320 GB 5400 RPM hard disk and 1 GB Ram.  The SSD makes this netbook a little faster than my normal netbook since it has a set of spinning platters.

The Teo Pro came with Ubuntu 11.04 out of the box and worked just fine.  The only thing that is a bit odd with Ubuntu is that some sound producing applications will not properly mute the on board speakers when you plug in a set of headphones.  Most of these are Flash based web applications and it can be easily corrected with the sound applet that comes with Ubuntu 11.04.  Everything else including the integrated web cam worked well.  I even had several Google+ hangouts using the Teo Pro.  Even suspend worked fine on this little netbook.

If it’s the same internals as the Terra HD, what makes it different?  Well the screen is smaller and it also happens to be one of the thinnest netbooks I’ve ever seen.  When I first got the package holding the Teo Pro, I almost questioned whether there was anything in the box!  It feel so light and is less noticeable when I throw it in my bag to take to work than any netbook I’ve ever had.  It’s that light!

The majority of the Teo Pro is plastic while the lid is covered with silver colored brushed aluminum.  While it still has a very plastic feel, it doesn’t feel like a toy at all.  At least to me.  The only thing that feels better to me in this class of machine is any of the HP Netbooks.


The Teo Pro is kind of boring.  Ubuntu runs just great on this little machine, but it doesn’t really feel any better than what I already have.  I think companies including ZaReason need to really look at the category and try something different from just churning out more N450 based netbooks.  For example, what about the dual core Atoms?  As much as I love ZaReason and what they stand for, I was expecting to see a newer processor in this.  The N450 is a fine processor for a netbook, but System76’s Starling is shipping with a Intel Atom N570 dual core processor and I think ZaReason should also ship a N570 based system.  The only bright spot about still using the N450 is that it gives this machine good battery life.  I was getting around 6 hours of use.  The N570 would probably not last as long thanks to the dual cores so I guess the N450 is good for something!

It’s so nice to see companies like ZaReason offer up a choice that isn’t Windows.  I applaud Cathy and Earl at ZaReason for their commitment to the Linux community.  What is cool is I will get to meet co-founder Cathy Malmrose this year at the Ohio Linuxfest and I’ve met her husband Earl many times over the last few years.  You can’t often say that about Dell or Apple.

From now until September 30th, use the coupon code geardiary on the ZaReason site and receive $40 dollars off your order of a Teo Pro.

MSRP: $399 base, $517 as reviewed

What I liked: Smaller than the Terra HD and very thin.

What needs improvement: I would like to see the dual core chips make a showing in ZaReason’s netbooks.

Categories: Reviews

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4 replies

  1. Linux has always scared me since I don’t know much about computers or how to do much (I am like the monkey that keeps hitting the keys until eventually something happens.) Still, it would seem that they are making Linux now so that even people like me can use it and don’t have to be afraid of it. For the past few years I have been thinking more and more that my next laptop or netbook (when I get one) will run on Linux. I appreciate the reviews of Linux based products. As a non-tech person, they are helpful when deciding on a future purchase.

    • I use Linux (RHEL specifically) at work, and my two subordinates are NOT techies but navigate the system just fine. They can even use the command line for the few things they need it for. Of course, I’ve got a boatload of custom shell scripts and Python programs that I use, but that’s by choice not because it’s the only way to do things.

      Way back in 1998, I completely nuked an MBR by attempting to install Debian, and the various distros from that time period were very user-hostile. It’s gotten so much better since then, though – the live distros are the greatest way to play and install I’ve ever seen.

      My wife uses our Linux-based DVR and Linux-based Cr-48 Chromebook without any problems, and she’s so far from being a geek she barely knows how to spell it. Buying something with Linux pre-installed (as we usually buy things with Windows pre-installed) makes it so much easier and less threatening. Now, if they could just get some decent Netflix support across distros…

  2. Glade I can help swisspotluck! All I can say is give it a try. You might surprise yourself! It’s never been easier to get this going. You can always download a cd image from Ubuntu or you can even go to their store where they have thumb drives preloaded with Ubuntu for sale. Really there is no reason you can’t try it on your existing machine.

    One other option is that the next time you upgrade, go with Windows on it and don’t throw out the old. Install Ubuntu on it and mess with it that way just to see if you might like it.

    In any case, this is the best way to buy a Linux laptop as you are almost assured that everything will work straight out of the box.

    Keep reading my reviews and you will see ANY review I do that uses something that hooks into a computer will be tried with Linux as well. I’ll try it even if it doesn’t say it supports it out of the box.


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