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.

Conclusion 

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.


About the Author

Joel McLaughlin
Joel is a consultant in the IT field and is located in Columbus, OH. While he loves Linux and tends to use it more than anything else, he will stoop to running closed source if it is the best tool for the job. His techno passions are Linux, Android, netbooks, GPS, podcasting and Amateur Radio.