Category Archives: net book

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.

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.

Definition of a netbook

I’m reading a lot of about people buying a netbook because they think they are buying a cheap laptop.  I could see why people could get confused.  They see something that looks like a laptop next to a price tag that reads below $400.  The natural reaction is to wonder why anyone would spend upwards of $1,000 on a laptop when they can purchase one for less than half the price.

A netbook is not for everyone.  A netbook is meant to be a secondary system.  Something you take with on on trips.  It’s not meant to replace your work machine.  I use it to write, email, surf the web, and light duty task.  It has a low powered CPU, no optical drive, and weak graphics.  Look at it this way, you’re expecting a four door sedan, but what you’re really getting is a scooter.  Keep that in mind.

I have a quad core desktop to handle most of my work, a laptop to support my mobile needs, and my netbook to keep me occupied during long trips.  It is not possible for me to have the netbook meet all of my needs.  Now, for some people who do not rely on a computer as much, a netbook might be perfect as the only computer in the house.

More Netbook Madness – Asus Eee PC T91 and 1000HV

Well, at least this new netbook has something new and not just the typical Atom N270, 1GB memory, 160GB hard drive, and 10 inch screen.  I’m so tired of those specs already.  Every “new” netbook is the uses the same cookie cutter model…except Asus.

Asus just released the new Asus Eee PC T91.  It’s basically a 9 inch tablet netbook.  The screen swivels around and lays flat.

Asus Eee PC T91

Another recent Asus announchment is the Asus Eee PC 1000HV.  This was Asus response to the new Nvidia ION GPU.  The Eee PC 1000HV is basically an Eee 1000HE with an ATI Radeon HD3450.  The addition of the Radeon GPU helps the tiny netbook do Hi Def 1080P videos.  This is pointless since the native resolution of most netbook screens are not equip to even handle 720P.  Early reviewers are saying the video performance of the Eee PC 1000HV is nothing stellar.  My opinion about the 1000HV is to just get the 1000HE and wait for ION.

Asus Eee PC 1000HV

Netbook Bandwagon

The Netbook bandwagon has become the netbook big rig truck.  It seems everyone has a netbook these days.  They’re all about the same price and have almost the same specs.  For about $350, you get a 10 inch, 1.6 Ghz Intel Atom, 1GB, 160GB hard drive, running Windows XP Home.

Asus Eee PC 1000HE

Asus Eee PC 1000HE

The problem is that all the manufacturers are making the same thing with no product differientiation.  When it comes to netbooks, I think of 3 brands, Asus, MSI, and Acer.  Since everything else is the same, the keyboard and battery life is a huge factor when it comes to picking out the right one.  Unfortunately, there isn’t a place that lets you have any hands on time with the netbooks.

Acer Apsire One AOD 150

Acer Apsire One AOD 150

So my recommendations:

Asus:  Asus Eee PC 1000HE $385
Acer:  Acer Aspire One AOD150 10.1 Inch $330
MSI:  MSI Wind U120 $330

Coming Soon:

If you’re looking for something a little bigger, I would wait for the Lenovo S12.  It’s a 12 inch, Atom powered netbook with the Nvidia ION GPU.  ION brings 1080P capabilities to a netbook.  That also means it can handle games at a decent frame rate.  Read about it here.

Lenovo S12

Lenovo S12

A note about Notebook Drives

I’m looking into which notebook drive is the best bang for my buck.  Then I arrived at a thought.  Since notebook drives, non-SSDs, are about the price of a Western Digital Passport External Drive, I can load the new OS (probably an n-Lite version of XP) by USB, then crack it open and swap out the drive in my Asus Eee PC 1000H.  Yea…there’s just one problem.  To get a performance boost, I’m going with a WD 7200 RPM drive.  The Passport drives are 5400 RPM.  Just thought I would mention it before any of you starting thinking about it.

On a side note, I’m thinking about creating a dual-boot hard drive, XP and Ubuntu.  What is Ubuntu?  It’s a user friendly version of Linux with all the features.  http://www.ubuntu.com

Asus Eee PC 1000H – Increasing Speed

The goal for any computer geek to squeeze as much speed out of their machines as possible.  What I’m focusing on is the hard drive.  The hard drive is always the slowest part of a computer.

For the Eee PC 1000H, you have two options.  You can go all out and splurge on a Solid State Drive or save a few bucks and go with a 7200 RPM drive.

Benefits of an SSD:

SSDs have come down in price.  64GB for $140 is really compared to a year ago ($500).  SSDs are crazy fast and you’ll pick up an extra hour of battery life.  For the Eee PC 1000H, I suggest the G.Skill 64 GB SSD available at Newegg.com for $140.

The downside of this drive is that it’s expensive relative to traditional hard drives.  It’s also expensive.  And last but not least, it’s only 64GB.  You can definitely buy a bigger 128GB but you’re looking to spend upwards of $250.

G.Skill 64GB SSD

Click Here to go the Newegg product page.

As for the traditial notebook drives, I’m looking at the Western Digital Scorpio Black 320GB 7200RPM 2.5 inch SATA drive.  It’s only $90 and you’re getting 320GB.  You’re not going to improve the battery life much.  This drive is a low power comsumption drive, but it can’t compare to an SSD.

Western Digital Scorpio 320 GB

Western Digital Scorpio 320 GB

It’s only $90 with Free Shipping at Newegg.com.  CLick Here

I’ll let you know what I decide to do.

New Asus Eee PC 1000HE

It seems that every month, Asus releases a new netbook model.  Let’s just take a look at the all the Asus 10 inch netbooks.  There’s the Asus Eee PC 1000, 1000H, 1000HA, 1002HA, N10, S101, and 1000HE.

Asus Eee PC 1000HE

I own the 1000H.  So what is different in the 1000HE than my 1000H?

The 1000HE has a marginally faster Intel Atom N280 (1.66MHz) vs. the 1000H’s N270 (1.6 MHz).  The new N280 also has a faster front side bus 667 MHz vs. 533 MHz.  All this means it’s a teeny bit faster than my 1000H.

You also get the 160 GB hard drive and 10 GB of encrypted online storage provided by ASUS.

You get an LED backlit 10 inch LCD.  The new Asus Eee PC 1000HE also has a new keyboard.  It’s supposed to improve the comfort and the overall typing experience.  The new keyboard is similar to those found on the new Apple laptops.

So what’s so new about the new 1000HE.  The answer is the battery.  The battery on the 1000H is supposed to last 7 hours.  I only manage to get 6.5 hours.  The battery on the 1000HE is stated to last up to a whooping 9.5 hours.  This was achieved by increasing the battery amps from 2.6 to 2.9.

The price for the Asus Eee PC 1000HE starts at $399 and should be available soon.

Asus plans to release 2 more models in the future, the 1004DN and the 1000HAE.

Questions about netbooks and the answers

I’ve been writing about and using Asus Eee PC 1000H for a while now.  I think the netbook category can definitely serve the needs of many people looking to buy a regular laptop.  So here are a few common questions and answers about netbooks.

Q:  Can it replace my laptop or desktop?
A:  Well that depends on how you use your computer.  Basic functions will no sweat for netbooks.  Video editing is not.

Q:  How big is the keyboard?
A:  The keyboard size varies with different models.  The keyboard on the Asus 1000H is 95% of the size of a regular keyboard.  I have big hands and it’s easy for me to type.

Q:  How big is the screen?
A:  It depends on which model you get.  My Eee PC 1000H has a 10 inch screen (1024×600).

Q:  What’s the maximum amount of memory you can install in a netbook.
A:  Most models will only take 2 GB on a single SODIMM memory module.  4 GB is out of the question.

Q:  What kind of memory does a netbook use?
A:  Most models use a 200 pin SODIMM DDR2 533 MHZ memory module.  Check your manual to be sure.  My Asus Eee PC 1000H has a 2GB DDR2 667 MHz module.  Newegg has many to choose from, but I would purchase Kingston, COrsair, Crucial, or mushkin.  Click here to go to Newegg’s netbook memory page.

Q:  Can you play games on a netbook?
A:  I’m not sure about other models, but my Asus Eee PC 1000H has Diablo 2 and World of Warcraft installed.  Gaming experience is decent.

Q:  What’s the battery life on a netbook?
A:  Most netbook will come with a  3 cell battery, which lasts between 2 –  3 hours depending on use.  My Eee PC 1000H has a 6 cell battery, which will last 6 – 7 hours.

Q:  What operating system can you use on a netbook?
A:  Anything you want.  Most have Windows XP or Linux installed.  Leo Laporte installed Windows 7 on his MSI Wind.  I’ve even seen Mac OSX on a netbook, make sure you read the EULA before doing so.

If you have any more questions, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to answer them.

How would I change the Asus Eee PC 1000

I love my Asus Eee PC 1000H.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

But there some things I wish it can do better.  So here’s how I would change the Asus Eee PC 1000H

  1. 4GB maximum memory.  Currently only 2GB
  2. Higher resolution screen.  Currently only 1024×600
  3. LED Backlit screen.  Now standard
  4. More CPU power.  The new dual core Intel Atom CPU should be fine.
  5. Less weight.  It currently weighs 3.2 pounds.

Sure there are other netbooks out there that all of these, but I always have an issue with the keyboard.  On the 1000H, the keyboard is about 95% of a full size keyboard.  Any smaller and it will be uncomfortable typing for a long period of time.

Maybe someone will make an awesome netbook in the near future.  Until then, I’ll keep on loving my 1000H

Sony Vaio P Series – First Impressions

I love CES time.  New gadgets and computers are being announced.  It’s almost too much to gadget news for one week.  The hottest news is probably the launch of Sony’s new netbook, the VAIO P series.  I always knew Sony would have their very own netbook.  But the prices may make you think otherwise.  Let’s get with the pics and specs first.

Sony Vaio P Series

Sony Vaio P Series GPS
Sony Vaio P Series Keyboard
Sony Vaio P Series Dimensions

Now for the Specs.

Intel (1.33GHz) CPU
60GB HDD or up to 128GB SSD
2GB DDR2 SDRAM
Up to 4 hours of battery life
Atheros 802.11 b/g/n
Bluetooth
Memory Stick Pro Slot
SD memory card slot
Full GPS Capabilities
Integrated Mobile Broadband
8″ display with Xbrite-ECO LCD LED Back lit (1600×768)
Windows Vista

Starting at $899

For sure, the keyboard is going to be extemely cramped.  Don’t count on writing your novel on this sucker.  A long email might even be challenging.  Windows Vista on this unit will definitely slow it down.  At only 2GB of memory and a 1.33GHz CPU, that’s barely enough to run the OS smoothly.  It’s going to be slow and it’s going to run a little hot.   The display is pretty impressive.  At only 8 inches, Sony managed to cram an extremely high resolution into a tiny LCD.  That’s good and bad.  You’ll see everything on the screen, but you’ll be squinting also.

It’s definitely a high end netbook.  But it might be a little too high end.  It starts at $899 and goes all the way up to $1499.  That’s far too much to pay for a netbook.  At $899, $1499, or anything in between, I could buy a nice little laptop/netbook that has much more muscle and some style.

Netbook Wars

I don’t think Asus knew that they would pioneer a whole new class of computers.  After the super successful launch of the Eee PC line, so many competitors are moving into the netbook space.  I still like my Asus Eee PC 1000H because it does what I need it to do.  However, some new models might be better suited for you.

9 inch Model

Acer Aspire One

Acer Aspire One

8.9-Inch WSVGA TFT Screen (1024 x 600)
1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor
1 GB RAM
160 GB Hard Drive
XP Home
6 Cell Battery (5.5 Hours)
Price:  $380

More Information is available here.  Product Page

Other noteworthy 9 Inch Netbooks:  Asus Eee PC 904 for $350 & Dell Inspiron 9 for $400

10 Inch Model

Lenovo S10

Lenovo S10

10.2 inch LED Screen (1024 x 600)
1.6 GHz Intel Atom N270 Processor
1 GB RAM
160 GB Hard Drive
XP Home
3 Cell Battery (3 Hours)
Price:  $400

More Information is available here.  Product Page

Other noteworthy 10 Inch models:  Asus Eee PC 1000HA for $380 & MSI Wind U100 for $430

12 Inch Model

Dell Inspiron Mini 12

Dell Inspiron Mini 12

12.1″ widescreen TrueLife® Display (1280×800)
Intel®Atom®Processor Z530 (1.6GHz/533MHz FSB/512K Cache)
1GB DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz (onboard)
60GB PATA Hard Drive (4200 RPM)
XP Home
Wireless 802.11g Mini Card
3 Cell Battery (3 Hours)
Price:  $600

More Information is available here.  Product Page

Holiday Gift Idea – Cheap Netbook

I can’t believe netbook prices keep getting cheaper and cheaper.  Dell makes a pretty nice little netbook with the Inspiron Mini 9.  It features the most of the same parts as the other netbooks:  Intel Atom N270 Mobile Processor, 1 GB DDR2 Memory (upgradable to 2GB), Glossy 8.9 inch LED display (1024X600), Up to 16GB configured with a Solid State drive, and a 4-Cell Battery (Good for up to 3.5 hours).

Dell Inspiron Mini 9

Dell Inspiron Mini 9

More importantly, it’s only $231 with Free shipping for a limited time.  Use this coupon code:  SDN2Z85FXG5XD9 at checkout to get the discounted price.  Click here.

Are Netbooks Getting Too Overpriced?

I took a lot of time before jumping on my Asus Eee PC 1000H, and I paid the early adopter tax for it.  But are manufacturers getting ahead of themselves?  With the recent release of new netbook models, the price of the new units are competing with some Core 2 Duo laptops.

Let’s pick on the new Asus Eee PC S101.  These are 10 inch models with the Intel Atom CPU.

Asus Eee PC S101

This is the Asus Eee PC S101.  The price is $699.99 at newegg.com.

Specs:

  • Intel Atom CPU N270
  • 10.2 WSVGA (1024×600) LED Backlight
  • 1GB Memory
  • 16GB SSD
  • 4 Cell Battery

I mean for $700, you don’t even get 2GB of memory.  Yes, the unit is slightly slimmer than my 1000H, but it doesn’t justify the price.

For the same $699.99 at newegg.com, I can get this full size Toshiba Satellite L305-S5884 Laptop.

TOSHIBA Satellite L305-S5884

Here are the specs:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo T5750 2.0GHz
  • 15.4″ WXGA (1280 x 800)
  • 250GB Hard Drive
  • 3GB DDR2 667 Memory
  • 1 x ExpressCard slot (ExpressCard/34 and ExpressCard/54)
  • DVD Drive

I don’t know about you, but I would gladly sacrifice the mobility of the Eee for the power of the full size laptop.  You get more of everything, more storage, more CPU power, more memory, more screen real estate.  This is what I’ve been preaching all along about the price of netbooks approaching the price of full size laptops.

Top 5 Reasons to Get an Asus Eee PC 1000H

It’s been a couple of weeks of owning the Asus Eee PC 1000H and I have nothing but good things to say.

Here’s 5 reasons to own this little netbook.

1.  Bigger Keyboard and Screen is awesome and usable compared to the first Eee PC.

2.  6 hours of computing from the 6 cell battery.

3.  Intel Atom CPU runs quiet, cool, and zippy.  Diablo 2 is no problem.

4.  Easy upgrade.  Memory, hard drive, and wireless card is all located on the bottom panel.

5.  Multi-touch trackpad.  Use two fingers to scroll.

No cons yet.

Asus Eee PC 1000H – Memory Upgrade

The Asus Eee PC 1000H came with 1GB of memory pre-installed.  With today’s memory hungry applications, 2 GB is better for smooth computing.  SInce 2 GB is the maximum amount you can install in the Asus Eee PC 1000H.  I went with a Corsair 2GB module I bought at Fry’s for $25 after rebate.  The Asus Eee PC 1000H can use any memory module 200 Pin So-dimm DDR2 PC5300 667 MHz.  The system will adjust to the right speed if you install a faster module.

Here’s what you need to get this done.

  • Small Philips Screwdriver
  • The 2 GB Memory Module
  • Asus Eee PC 1000H
  • 10 Minutes
  • Difficulty – Easy

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Here’s what you do.

Step 1 – Remove Battery – Just a safety precaution

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 2 – Unscrew the two screws on the back cover nearest to the battery.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 3 – Remove Back Cover.  Carefully pry the cover off.  It’s held in place by plastic clips attaced to the edge of the back cover.  Your Eee PC 1000H should look like the picture below.  With the MSI Wind, you have to remove the whole plastic shell of the computer to access these parts.  Asus cleverly placed the two items, memory and hard drive, that most people will upgrade right under a very accessible cover.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 4 – Remove the memory module.  Like most laptops, the module is held in place by two metal clips (red arrows) on two sides of the module.  Carefully and slowly pull the metal clips away from the module.  You just have to pry it out a little bit, maybe 2 mm, and the module will pop up.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 5 – Remove the memory module.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Step 6 – Insert new memory module at a 45 degree angle and press down until the two metal clips snaps around the module.  Check to make sure the module is secure.  Replace cover and you’re done.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

Asus Eee PC 1000H Unboxing

I picked up my new Asus Eee PC 1000H today.  I’ll just show the unboxing pictures.  Full review to coming soon.

asus eee pc 1000h

Open box

asus eee pc 1000h

Asus Eee PC 1000H Unit out of box.

asus eee pc 1000h

Asus Eee PC 1000H Neoprene Cover

asus eee pc 1000h

Power brick and battery

asus eee pc 1000h

Battery and Screen Wipe

asus eee pc 1000h

The Asus Eee PC 1000H in the flesh.

asus eee pc 1000h

Finally

asus eee pc 1000h

End

Time to look for a new UMPC

After using my Asus Eee PC 701 4G, I’m in the market for a new bigger UMPC or netbook.  Netbook is the new term to describe these miniature portable laptops.

Since last writing about my quest for a new netbook, MSI has increased the price of the MSI WIND to $550, the same price as the Asus Eee PC 1000.  They are virtually the same little netbook. I decided on getting the Asus only because it was available and the battery lasted a little longer than the MSI Wind.  7.5 hours claimed, more like 6 hours in reality.  Review coming soon.

Asus Eee PC 1000H – $549.99 for the 6 cell battery.

Asus Eee PC 1000H

VS.

MSI Wind $499 at Newegg.com.

$549 for the Wind with the 6 cell battery.

MSI Wind

I just purchased the Asus Eee PC 1000H.  Review and pics coming soon.