Jason Sares is a Giant Dork

Cheap Computers

The largest democratizing force in technology is the falling costs.  Moore’s law (and others) established that we can count on increases in performance at the same cost over time. And since the performance needed to run current applications has leveled off the entry costs of technology have finally started to decrease.  Innovators like Nicholas Negroponte saw this and introduced the concept to the masses and spawned a whole new segment of Laptops called Netbooks.  In turn this has put price pressure on the main stream Laptop and Desktop Markets.

The upshot is you can now buy decent Laptops and Desktops for $300 (or less), Netbooks for $250 (or less) and Nettops for $200. I’m going to start tracking the lowest prices on new and refurbished Laptops, Desktops, Netbooks, and Nettops. The Laptops and Desktops should come with Windows 7 or qualify for a free upgrade. The Netbooks and Nettops should come with XP since Windows 7 Starter is a joke.

Cheapest Laptop (15 inch screen):
New eMachines eME627-5583
$299 at MicroCenter
15.6″ Screen
AMD Athlon™ 64 TF-20 (1.6 GHz)
2GB RAM
ATI Radeon HD 3200
Windows 7 Home Premium
DVD Burner
160GB HD

Cheapest Desktop
Refurb Dell Inspiron 546 MiniTower
$269 at Dell Outlet
AMD Athlon X2 7550 (2.5GHz Dual Core)
4GB RAM
Windows Vista Home Premium (Free Upgrade to Windows 7)
DVD Burner
250GB HD

Cheapest Netbook
Refurb Dell Mini 10v
$239 at Dell Outlet
Intel Atom N280 (1.6 GHz)
1GB RAM
160GB HD
Windows XP

or

Asus 1005HAB-BLU001X
$229 at Overstock.com
Intel Atom N280 (1.6 GHz)
1GB RAM
160GB HD
Windows XP

Cheapest Nettop
Acer Aspire Revo AR1600-U910H
$199 at Newegg
Intel Atom 230 (1.6 GHz)
1GB RAM
160GB HD
Windows XP

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 comments

ULV Laptops

I’m really excited by all the new Ultra Low Voltage laptops.  They use either Intel’s Core based chips designated by the SU prefix (such as the Core 2 SU7300 or the Celeron SU2300) or AMD’s Neo line.  The ULV chips hit the sweet spot of performance, heat and cost.  Which means OEM can produce thin attractive laptops at a good price (under $600).

Since they are in slightly higher price point they come with Windows 7 Premium not that bastard step child Windows 7 Starter.

I’ve never been completely happy with the performance of the Atom chips, especially since Microsoft has mandated they only come with 1GB of RAM and Windows 7 Starter.  Even with the new dual core ones or tied with the Nvidia Ion the performance is just below the level I’d like.  The ULV processors are at a minimum 50% faster and cross the threshold for more demanding tasks like playing back Hulu fullscreen :P

I’m looking for something –

  • Around 1 inch thick and under 5lbs
  • HDMI Port
  • Don’t really care about Hard Disk size or Optical Drives
  • 4GB of RAM nice but not required
  • Dual Core nice but not required
  • AMD or Nvidia Graphics nice but not required
  • $600 or less
  • Sexy

Dell Inspiron 11z $475 from Amazon
11.6 inch Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Pentium SU4100
Intel GMA 4500
4GB RAM
Thickness 0.92-1.02
Weight 3.05lbs (3 cell battery)

Dell Vostro v13 $600 from Dell
13.3 inch Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500
Intel GMA 4500
2GB RAM
Thickness 0.65-0.78
Weight 3.5lbs (6-cell battery)

BIG UPDATE

HP Pavilion dm3
$450 from Microsoft Store with Coupon MSStore-PC-40%

13.3 inch Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Pentium SU4100
Intel GMA 4500
4GB RAM
Thickness 0.96-1.23
Weight 4.17 lbs (6-cell battery)

Toshiba Satellite T135-S1300
$520 from Microsoft Store

13.3″ Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Pentium SU4100
Intel GMA 4500
4GB RAM
Thickness 0.87-1.35
Weight 3.88 lbs (6-cell battery)

HP Pavilion dm3z $575 from HP
13.3 inch Screen 1366 x 768
AMD Turion Neo X2 Dual-Core L625
ATI Radeon HD 3200
2GB RAM
Thickness 0.96-1.23

HP Pavilion dm3t $600 from HP
13.3 inch Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Celeron SU2300
Intel GMA 4500
3GB RAM
Thickness 0.96-1.23
Weight 4.17 lbs (6-cell battery)

Lenovo Ideapad U350p $550 from Newegg
13.3″ Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Pentium SU4100
Intel GMA 4500
3GB RAM
Thickness 0.7-1.0
Weight 3.52 lbs (4-cell battery)

Lenovo Ideapad U450p $550 $600 from Newegg
14″ Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Pentium SU4100
Intel GMA 4500
3GB RAM
Thickness 0.9-1.1
Weight 4.6 lbs (6-cell battery)

Acer Timeline AS4810T-8480 $600 from Newegg
14″ Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Core 2 Solo SU3500
Intel GMA 4500
4GB RAM
Thickness 0.9-1.1
Weight 4.2lbs (6-cell battery)

Acer Timeline AS1810TZ-4174 $600 from Newegg
11.6″ Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Pentium SU4100
Intel GMA 4500
3GB RAM
Thickness 0.87-1.18
Weight 3.08lbs (6-cell battery)

Toshiba Satellite T135-S1300 $600 from Newegg
13.3″ Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Pentium SU2700
Intel GMA 4500
3GB RAM
Thickness 0.87-1.35
Weight 3.88 lbs (6-cell battery)

Toshiba Satellite T135D-S1325 $600 from Newegg
13.3″ Screen 1366 x 768
AMD Turion Neo X2 L625
ATI Radeon HD 3200
4GB RAM
Thickness 0.87-1.35
Weight 3.88 lbs (6-cell battery)

Asus UL20 Series UL20A-A1 $550 from Newegg
12.1″ Screen 1280 x 800
Intel Core 2 Duo SU7300
Intel GMA 4500
2GB RAM
Thickness 0.9-1.2
Weight 4.18 lbs

UPDATE

Gateway EC1435u $400 from Gateway
11.6 inch Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Celeron Processor SU2300
Intel GMA 4500
2GB RAM
Thickness 0.87-1.18
Weight 3.08 lbs (6 cell battery)

Gateway EC1435u $550 from Gateway
11.6 inch Screen 1366 x 768
Intel Pentium Processor SU4100
Intel GMA 4500
3GB RAM
Thickness 0.87-1.18
Weight 3.08 lbs (6 cell battery)

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 comments

Bash One Liner – Human Readable Sorted du

du -s * 2>/dev/null | sort -n | cut -f2 | xargs du -sh 2>/dev/null

Posted in Linux Quick Tip | 6 comments

Linux Quick Tip – Linux RAID Driver

If you buy a RAID Adapter often you’ll have to create a driver disk for your OS. Most of these are 1.44MB floppy images and since modern systems often lack a floppy drive I needed some way of creating the disk.

I used a USB stick and dd for Windows (I’m sure dd for Linux would work just as well)

From the Windows Comand Prompt:

C:\>dd if=mini.img od=x: (Where X is the drive letter of the USB stick)

Then just insert the USB stick before loading your Linux Installation Media.

Posted in Linux Hardware,Linux Quick Tip | Comments are off for this post

Linux Quick Tip – Benchmark Disk Performance

A very quick way to benchmark your disk performance is hdparm -t /dev/Xda (hda or sda):

you should get results like this:

[root@esx-mars root]# hdparm -t /dev/sda

/dev/sda:
Timing buffered disk reads:  358 MB in  3.00 seconds = 119.33 MB/sec

This is from a Dell PowerEdge 2900 with the PERC 5i SATA RAID Controller.

Roughly you want to see 50 MB+ per disk, if you have a RAID 0 of two disks you should get 100 MB+.

What numbers are your getting?

Posted in Linux Hardware,Linux Quick Tip | 5 comments

Little Quick Tip – Rename Multiple Files

I used to use mv in a for loop or with exec, or xargs until I found a very useful command that’s included in almost every distro

rename

Usage

$ rename oldfilename newfilename *filepattern

Example

To rename all the files in the current directory ending with .htm to .html

$ rename .htm .html *.htm

You can use RegEx and for more sophisticated selections and use -n to test your changes before you commit them.

Posted in Linux Quick Tip | Comments are off for this post

OLPC XO and Guinness

Two great parts of my Festivus Travels!

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Posted in Linux Hardware | 2 comments

OLPC XO First Thoughts

I got home and found my OLPC XO Laptop had arrived in time for Christmas!

Some quick thoughts

  • The packaging is awesome
  • The hardware design is top notch
  • The software looks great
  • Has the best font rendering I’ve ever seen
  • Adobe Flash isn’t working
  • The processor is too slow

I’ll take some pictures tomorrow!

Posted in Linux Hardware | Comments are off for this post

No One Listens

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Posted in Uncategorized | Comments are off for this post

Sansa View 16GB Flash MP3 Player Linux Support

I’ve stopped using Apple products since they decided to screw all their customers over that unlocked iPhones.  Luckily (at least that’s the way I’m looking at it) my 5G iPod died a month ago and I started looking around for another MP3 player.

I wanted a flash based player with at least 8GB on-board and a MicroSD (SDHC) slot that was as attractive as the 5G iPod.  I found a great looking player in the Sansa View and the 16GB model was a great price at $200.  It was a little hard to find but after a week of looking I got one straight from SanDisk.

It had some problems reading my ID3 tags from some of my music but they released firmware 1.06 which corrected the problem.

The other problem was mounting it in Linux.  Normally when you connect it to USB it’s using the MTP Media Transfer Protocol (should be called Microsoft Transfer Protocol) which of course doesn’t work under Linux.

But by holding down the left arrow when you connect it will use the standard USB Mass Storage Protocol MSC Mass Storage Class (sometimes referred to as UMS) and mount as a normal drive.  Then you can just drag and drop your music folders and all is good in the world.

Bottom line, it’s a nice player that should work with any OS and let’s you easily backup your music.   The forums over at Any Thing But iPod where very helpful.

Posted in Linux Hardware | 2 comments

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