Monthly Archives: July 2009

More 12 inch laptops

For those that are considering the 12 inch netbooks, also think about what kind of laptop you can get for the same price.  A lot of times, people think that a very low priced laptop means that they are giving up functionality.  This is not true.  Here’s my pick for the $500 range, the price of the Samsung NC20.

Lenovo G530-444638U

lenovo-g530

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T6500 2.1 GHz
  • 3GB DDR2
  • 250GB Hard Drive
  • Intel GMA 4500MHD
  • 15.4 WXGA 1280 x 800
  • DVD Burner
  • 4 USB Ports
  • SD Card Reader
  • Webcam
  • 6 cell battery, 4.6 hours
  • Windows Vista Business downgraded to XP Pro preloaded

You’re getting a much faster processor, up to 4GB of memory, bigger screen, better onboard graphics, and an optical drive.

This laptop is $499 with Free Shipping at newegg.com.

Update:  A reader pointed out that I failed mention that if you you are sacrificing weight and portability with the Lenovo.  Yes, people buy netbooks to be very mobile.  However, consumers see the small laptop and small price will think that it’s a cheap laptop.  They need to know what they are buying.

Now, for those looking for a value laptop, the Lenovo is for you.  It’s priced the same as a netbook and can do more in terms of functionality.  The downside is that it’s heavier and less mobile.

A netbook will have some lag when you’re running more than 3 programs.  The small  size limits the hardware you can use inside a netbook.  Currently, most netbooks can only support a maximum of 2GB of memory.  The Intel Atom CPU is very efficient in terms of power use, but is only recommended for light duty tasks.  The upside of a netbook is that it’s extremely portable and light.

12 Inch Netbooks – Samsung NC20 vs. Acer Aspire One 751H

There’s so many netbooks out there that I can’t keep up with it anymore.  It seems like with every passing day, somebody has a new netbook out.  I’m focusing on 12 inch netbooks today.  Yes, you can get a 12 inch notebook, but depending on your needs, you might not need a full notebook.

I’ll cover the Samsung NC20 and the Acer Aspire One 751h series.  The Acer isn’t exactly a 12 inch model, but 11.6″ is  close enough.

Samsung NC20

Samsung NC20

  • VIA Nano U2250 (1.3+ GHz)
  • On board graphic processor with shared memory
  • 12.1″ WXGA Screen 1280 x 800
  • 1GB Memory
  • 160 GB Hard drive
  • Built-in 1.3 Megapixel Web cam
  • 802.11b/g wireless
  • Bluetooth
  • 3 USB ports
  • SD Card Slot
  • 6 Cell Battery
  • 3.3 lbs.
  • Windows XP Home

Amazon.com Price $499

Acer Aspire One 751h

Acer Aspire One 751H

  • Intel Atom Z520 (1.33 GHz)
  • 11.6″ WXGA Screen 1366 x 768
  • Intel GMA 500 Graphic processor with shared memory
  • 1 or 2 GB memory
  • 160 or 250 GB Hard drive
  • Built-in web cam
  • 802.11b/g wireless
  • Bluetooth
  • 3 USB ports
  • SD Card Slot
  • 6 Cell Battery
  • 2.97 lbs.
  • Windows XP or Vista

Amazon.com $399 with the lower options with XP.

Update:  Looks like Amazon just removed the XP model from their site.  However, newegg.com has it in stock.

Newegg.com $350 with the lower options with XP.

Amazon.com $380 + Free Shipping with the higher options with Vista.

With the Acer, I highly suggest you get the XP model because netbooks are just not strong enough to run Vista.  On that note, some full size notebooks are not strong enough to run Vista.  My desktop with an Intel Q9650 Quad core didn’t like Vista.  Bottom line, don’t get Vista.  I’m not sure what manufacturers are thinking when they put Vista on a netbook.  Sure, it’ll run, but you don’t power for anything else.

Of these two netbooks, the Acer is the slower model.  The Atom Z520 is newer than the standard Atom N270/N280, but the N-series CPU has more power.  Between the Samsung NC20 and the Acer Aspire One, the Samsung NC20 with the VIA Nano CPU is faster.  However, both models still struggle to play HD video.  Don’t even think about playing high quality Youtube videos.

The Samsung is more expensive than the Acer.  But for the extra $100, the NC20 offer a better a build quality.  My major complaints with most netbooks is that it feels like a toy.  These two netbooks are not full desktop or notebook replacements.  Instead, they are good for light duty office tasks and light internet use while mobile.  If you rely heavily on your computer for work or play, it’s best to get something with more power and a dedicated graphic option.

Asus Eee PC 1000H – Battery Saving Tip While Mobile

Asus Eee PC 1000H – Battery Saving Tip

When you’re on the move, there’s nothing more important to a netbook user than battery life.  Since owning my Eee PC, I have focus on optimizing it to squeeze every last second of battery life out of the 6 Cell battery.  Sure, the new Eee PC 1000HE is claiming 9.5 hours, but I’m already up to 8 hours.

In my haphazard trial and error method of finding more battery life, I’ve discovered a few things if you’re willing.  In the end, it’s up to you to decide how badly you want to keep on computing.  No, it’s not a major hardware hack.  If you have to call it something, call it a minor inconvenience.

Say you’re on a plane, writing a blog post such as this one.  A sudden case of writer’s block hit you like a ton of bricks.  Unfortunately, the battery powering your netbook doesn’t wait for anyone, including writer’s block.  Here’s something you can do to increase the battery life.

  1. Shutdown your netbook and start it again.
  2. Hit F2 at the start to access the BIOS     asus-eee-pc-1000h-bios-main-screen
  3. Hit the right  arrow key to get to the Advanced Tab
    Asus Eee PC 1000H BIOS
  4. Hit the down arrow key to select Onboard Devices Configuration asus-eee-pc-1000h-bios-advnaced-onboard-device-config
  5. Disabled the devices that you won’t use.  I turned off the USB, LAN, CardReader, and Camera.  If you have an MP3 player with you, go ahead and turn off the audio too.
  6. Save and Exit by hitting the F10 Key.

On a flight, I won’t use the LAN and the camera.  I choose not to use the card reader and USB devices because I don’t want to lose or forget them on a plane.  For me, turning off the above gave me an additional 90-120 minutes of computing time.  Now don’t forget to turn everything back on once you’re off the plane.

Where’s the improved netbook?

Since the introduction of the 10 inch netbooks, specs have pretty much stayed the same.  The Intel Atom CPU barely changed from the N270 to the N280.  2GB of memory is still the maximum.  The 10 inch screen resolution is still 1024×600.  The Intel 945 chipset is still used to power the graphics.

Intel has is the one that requires netbooks running the Atom CPU to limit the screen resolution to only 600 pixels in length.  Come on, it’s about time we get something more usable.

Since I’m on Intel’s case, what happened to all the dual core Atom CPUs?  I mean, the Atom N270/N280 is great, but more power in a netbook is always appreciated.

Actually, I think the addition of a stand alone GPU, like the Nvidia ION, will solve some of the computing power need.  Since the single core Atom has to do some work in the graphics department, you’re left with enough CPU cycles to perform your basic tasks.

And finally, why are we still stuck with 2GB max. memory?

I guess a plausible answer could be that if a netbook actually gets some or all of the above requests, we might all buy a $400 netbook instead of a $1,000 laptop.  A netbook with a little more oomph would certainly be welcomed.  Instead, netbook manufacturers like Asus, went and created the Seashell.  Focus on better specs, instead of the form factor.  A netbook is small enough already.

The Canon SD880IS – Long Shutter

The long shutter is used for long exposure shots.  This is mostly used for dimly lit environments, such as night photography, or shoot pics that depict motion.  For example, you can capture light trails from a car driving my the camera the shutter is open.  My recommendation is to use a tripod or set the camera on something stationary.  With every jitter or shake of your hands, the picture will be blurry.

So here’s how you get to the long shutter setting.

1.  Start getting to the Program Mode.  If you’re in Auto(A), use the scroll wheel to get to Program(P) mode.

Canon SD880IS

2.  Press the Func/Set button.

canon-sd880is-funcset-button

3.  Press the DISP button.

canon-sd880is-disp-button

You should now have the option to set the exposure duration.  It ranges from 1 – 15 seconds.

Here’s a sample of capturing light trails.

canon-sd880is-light-trails

Sony VAIO W Series Netbook

Sony finally enters the netbook market.  Surprised?  According to Sony, the VAIO P-series is not a netbook.  It’s a very portable mini computer that is powered by an Intel Atom CPU meant to surf the web.  It’s not a netbook.

Sony VAIO W Series

Anyways, the Sony VAIO W series is a netbook.  It’s has an Intel Atom N280 CPU, 10.1 inch screen, 1GB memory, 160GB Hard drive, Bluetooth, wireless N, and runs XP Home.

Sony VAIO W Series Keyboard

I’ll start with the cons.  It has the older, less capable Intel GMA 950 chipset and a battery that’s rated for 2 hours of use.  It’ll cost about $500.  I mean, for $500, I expect this netbook to last more than 2 hours.

Sony VAIO W Series

Now for the only good thing about this netbook that differientiate it from the rest.  The screen.  It’s a 10.1″ LED backlit LCD with a native resolution of 1366×768.  Most 10.1″ netbooks have a native resolution of only 1024×600.