gOS/Ubuntu laptops heat up considerably?

One major observation that I can share about gOS/Ubuntu over MSI VR320 K2 is that the laptop generates more heat as compared over the same machine running Windows XP. Sure, under WinXP, it heats up, too, but for laidback use like Web browsing and music, the heat is minimal. It only heats up that much when playing WarCraft III.

However, whenever I use gOS/Ubuntu for Web browsing and music, the heat is more considerable. I am using gOS’ Enlightenment desktop as a matter of preference, so it should not be using the advanced graphics effects of Ubuntu (though I am not sure).

Has anyone experienced the same on Ubuntu-powered portables?


RIP, HD-DVD (2006-2008)

What was rumours a week ago is now official: HD-DVD is dead.

Toshiba announces that it is ending production of HD-DVD players and recorders. Blu-ray wins the format war, and at what cost? This is the Betamax vs. VHS of this decade. Gizmodo liked the HD DVD format more than Blu-ray.

It is rather ironic that the pull out of Warner Brothers – one of the proponents of the HD-DVD – from HD-DVD triggered HD-DVD’s death. Yeah, Toshiba could almost have said “You traitor.”

(Note: While HD-DVD was first conceptualized in 2003, the very first player was released 2006, hence the year in the title of this post.)


Shopping for a laptop, 3 (or how getting one can screw you up)

There are several cheap Celeron-powered laptops in the market today. Most of them arrived at the Php 29,999 price point (back in 2007), but now that is about to drop due to the following reasons:

1. Some manufacturers are releasing cheap Pentium Dual Core laptops, like MSI’s VR320 P2, with SRP of Php 29,999 (lower at several shops). It has the following specs:

* Intel® Pentium® Duo Mobile Technology
* Intel Pentium® Dual Core T2130 1.86GHz 533MHz 1MB L2 Cache Processor
* ATI RC410ME Chipset
* ATI Mobility Radeon X200 Graphics 256MB Shared
* MSI Wireless 802.11G
* 1GB DDR2 Memory (Max: 2GB)
* 60GB Hard Disk Drive
* Super-Multi DVD+/-RW/Ram Dual Layer Drive
* Superb Glare 13.3″ Widescreen Display (1280×768)
* Card Reader 4-in-1 MMC/SD/MS/MSPro
* Firewire Port /10/100Lan / 56K Modem
* 3 x USB2.0, Express Card Slot
* Weight : 2.1kg; Battery life: 3Hours (6-Cell)

With cheap Pentium Dual Core laptops in the market, Celeron laptops appear to be on the way out.

2. Intel is releasing dual-core Celerons soon. While the early Celeron Dual Cores will be desktop-based, it is only a matter of time before Celeron Dual Core powered laptops appear in the market.

Stores will now be hardpressed to dispose their Celeron laptop inventories. Expect these to breach the Php 25,000 barrier (unless distributors pull them out).

I suggest you skip Celeron laptops, notwithstanding the cheap price right now. At the same price, get that MSI VR320 P2.

Or maybe not. I got an MSI VR320 K2 laptop last month for Php 39,999 at 12 months, 0% interest installment term. Net Essentials, MSI’s distributor in the Philippines, in its Web site (linked above) listed an MSI VR320 K2 Plus. It shares the same specs as that of K2, but with an upgraded memory (2GB) and a LOWER price, Php 34,999 (though I think the 0% installment is on a 6 months term only). And yes, I AM NOT RECOMMENDING THAT YOU GET AN MSI LAPTOP, not now that they release new models with better specs and lower prices at such (very) short gaps.

That’s the problem with technology. Get one now, and tomorrow it is already obsolete.


CES 08 Notables, 2

CES LogoListed below are the notables in this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, and why:

* Skype on PSP – A gaming phone is near. Just you wait.

* Cloudbook/Nanobook v. eee and Cloudbook’s coming – Should Asus be threatened? At the same price, Cloudbook/Nanobook appears to be better than eee, spec-wise (except for the weight). We’ll see. Everex better put gOS Rocket on Cloudbook.

* Curved displays – What’s next? a 306-degree-view display? Half Life addicts must be salivating at the potential.

* MSI venturing into mobile phones – First, they have to be aggressive first (they have nice notebooks spec-wise per price point). Second, have a better logo; why can’t MSI use its star logo instead of the logotype MSI?

* eee on Splashtop – It seems that Asus’ miniwonder knows no bounds. What’s next? eee pc server edition?

* USB 3.0 – At least we have an idea on how the connector would look like. Hopefully it is not vaporware.

* Point-here-and-there – Military generals would want this. Congress better look out.


CES 08 Notables, 1

CES LogoListed below are the notables in this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, and why:

* Panasonic’s humongous TV screen – If that ain’t big, you must be Goliath. 150-inch plasma? You must have a net worth like Bill Gates’ to get one – if it becomes available. And soon. (Via Engadget)

* Pioneer’s extreme contrast concept plasma – Good thing I was not there, or I might have sensory overload.

* Bill Gates’ final CES keynote – Aside from the fact that it was the last time for Bill (ha ha ha, yeah right, first name basis) to keynote CES, the intro video was LOL.

* Asus’ eee pc with WiMax – It seems that Asus can’t go wrong with its eee line. I wonder how much it will cost. And with GSMA going for LTE, do not expect this unit to ship here (unless one telco offers WiMax here, ehem Bayantel). And those early adopters in the US must be puking now.

* Driver-less cars by 2018 – Finally, an incentive for me to get a car – if I have the funds by that time. But, nah. Unless GM ditches manual override, Filipino drivers will override the auto when they find the car slow. Filipinos are after all, more daring versions of Michael Schumacher. Either that, or these automated cars get attitudes due to horrendous traffic and undisciplined Filipinos.


Shopping for a laptop, 2

In the previous post, I talked about my plans on getting a laptop, and the horrendous headache that shopping can give. Well, let’s add more to the confusion, shall we?

Last night, I went to SM Megamall Cyberzone, and I took a look around some shops (some of them were closed for their Christmas parties). So I looked at Octagon, and saw this MSI Megabook VR320 K2, a Core2 Duo laptop with the following specs:

Processor: Intel Core2 Duo T5200 1.6 GHz
Memory: 1 GB DDR2
Video: ATI Radeon 256 MB Shared
Hard disk drive: 80 GB SATA
Optical drive: Super Multi DVD
Screen size: 13.3″
WLAN: 802.11 b/g
Weight: 2.1 kgs
Price: Php 39999/Php 3329.16 for 12 months

I think this is a steal. There are cheaper models from Blue and Neo but I haven’t considered them.

Remember that confusing Compaq Presario V3617TU? The one with confusing specs? To add more to the confusion, Silicon Valley Computer has that model, and they list the processor speed as 2.0 GHz.

Whether I will get a laptop or not remains to be seen.


Shopping for a laptop

Who says shopping is a nice experience?

I am currently entertaining the idea of getting a laptop, and as an academic exercise, I began looking for the right laptop at the right price.

The exercise had progressed to the point that I have several candidate-laptops in mind. The major consideration was the processor. My list is divided according to the processor – single core and dual core (the first and second generation). Basically, Celeron-powered laptops fall on the single core category (I could have bundled the Intel Core Solo laptops on the single core group, but I haven’t considered them). Then, I considered laptops powered by Intel Core Duo processors and Core2 Duo processors.

I also considered the reputation of the laptop’s brand and manufacturer. If I can’t find the manufacturer’s Web site, they are automatically not considered. Also, I checked if enough support exists for the laptop (for example, driver downloads). Finally, comments by laptop users are also considered.

Lastly, the list is trimmed down according to price. I listed down those laptops whose price I am comfortable with – if I can comfortably pay for the monthly installment without seeing myself going bankrupt in case Gloria Arroyo finally managed not to mask the true state of the economy. So those products not offered under 12 months, 0% installment are discarded from consideration.

I will not list down the specs. Instead, I linked to either the official product page or to a distributor’s product page.

Manufacturer Brand Model Price Notes
Packard Bell Easy Note FO336-V-089 Php27995/Php2332.92 for 12 months Here’s a more expensive model: F0335-207
Compaq Presario C702TU Php26950 I think this is offered at 6 months installment at Accent Micro
Acer Aspire 4310-400508Mi Php29988/Php2499 for twelve months A friend told me that Acer laptops break down easily (her husband works for a certain IT distributor). Another friend told me Acer is OK.
Acer Aspire 4315-050508 Php29988/Php2499 for twelve months With Windows Vista Starter Edition.
Intel Dual Core/Core Duo
Manufacturer Brand Model Price Notes
Packard Bell Easy Note FO445-U-078 Php39900/Php3325 for 12 months Best buy due to the hard disk. Price as quoted in the downloadable price list.
Compaq Presario V3617TU See caveat below. See caveat below.
Acer Aspire 4710Z-3A1G08Mi Php39900/Php3325 for twelve months Pentium core duo.
Intel Core2 Duo
Manufacturer Brand Model Price Notes
Packard Bell Easy Note GN45-017 Php50995/Php4249.58 for 12 months Not cheap.
Compaq Presario V3525 Php49950/Php4162.50 for 12 months Discontinued.
Acer Aspire 4710-101G12 Php52980/Php4415 for twelve months (None)
Acer Aspire 4520-401G12 Php39900/Php3325 for twelve months AMD Turion 64 X2

NOTE: Prices are current as of this posting, subject to change without prior notice. Contact your friendly distributor for details.

CAVEAT: There’s one discrepancy that I want to point out. Two distributors offer Compaq Presario V3617TU at different prices. One distributor offers it at Php39,950, while another prices it at Php34995. A steal? Read carefully. The processors are different. For the record, here is the official specs from HP Compaq.

What have I learned from the experience? The Americans are luckier: they can get Core 2 Duo laptops at around US$450, which is Php19530 when converted at the rate of Php43-US$1. That amount will get you the Asus eee PC, but not a Core2 Duo laptop.

Also, I learned that shopping can give you a tremendous headache. I am having one right now.

There are loads of things to consider when getting a laptop. Unlike a desktop computer, upgrading a laptop is not an easy task, and not everything inside a laptop can be upgraded. So, before you buy a laptop, assess first your needs. For what purpose will you use the laptop? How mobile would you like to be? What are your Internet connectivity options? Yes, answering a lot of questions is hard enough, and when you have answered all of them, looking for the specific laptop that fits your needs is harder. And if you live in the Philippines, you are immediately at a disadvantage – laptops here are relatively expensive as compared to the prices in the United States.

You might want to read this excellent article by PC Magazine on what to consider when getting a laptop. You may also want to visit MyProductAdvisor.com. And of course, don’t forget to ask friends for advise, specially if they are laptop owners.

(Will update this post if I manage to find better deals.)


Rethinking the Asus eee PC

An Asus eee PC is a tempting gadget. Its appeal is on its size and price. When it was announced, I was one of those who rejoiced, but the later price announcements were disappointing.

For example, an Asus 4G would cost around Php 16,999 at PC Corner, and the high-end Asus 8G is already pegged at Php 25,000. Here are the specs of an 8G (taken from Asus eee PC Web site):

Display: 7 in.
Processor: Intel 900 MHz
Disk capacity: 8 Gb
Memory: 1 Gb DDR2
Wi-Fi: Yes

And the Asus eee PC 16G, pegged at Php 29,999 has the following specs (speculation on the part of the retailer, as Asus has not made an official announcement):

Display: 10 in.
Processor: Intel 1.2 GHz
Disk capacity: 16 Gb
Memory: 1 Gb DDR2
Wi-Fi: Yes

I think it is ridiculously priced. Compare 16G with a cheap Acer Aspire 4310, priced at Php 29,700:

Display: 14.1 in.
Processor: Intel Celeron M 1.73 GHz
Disk capacity: 80 Gb
Memory: 512 MB DDR2
Wi-Fi: Yes

Asus eee PC wins in weight and size.

What stops me from getting an Asus eee PC? It’s a question of whether it will serve its purpose on my part.

* I am using Smart 3G for Internet connection at home, using Sony Ericsson P1i as modem. Now, SE’s PC Suite is Windows-only; the eee PC comes with Xandros Linux. While Windows XP can be installed, I will have to get an external DVD drive. Yes, DVD, because the Asus Rescue Disk is in DVD format. So, an external optical drive is additional expense, so add Php 4,000 to the total price. The price of the OS is not factored in yet.
* I can still use the phone as modem without the PC Suite, if I follow the steps here. I am not sure if the workaround will work, since Ubuntu and Debian-based Linux is needed.
* Storage is measly. That means I can install only a few applications. I intend to use it as home work computer, and let my brothers use the desktop PC at home.

So, as of now, I will not be getting an Asus eee PC. I have to think of my options first. Now, if only we have Black Fridays here…


Random links of interest, 3

Ok, links that might interest you:

* Pioneer is testing a new television service, wherein a user can download from any channel for a fee. The service will also be made available to yet-to-be-announced portable devices. Yeah, Pioneer is targeting cable providers and Apple.
* Well, what do you know? Asus eee PC is turning out to be a diamond in the rough (well, maybe not). If you have an Asus eee PC, you might want to install Mac OSX Leopard, for the sheer, geeky fun out of it. Now if only the price in the Philippines is not as ridiculous as it is now.
* Want free MP3s? Want to listen to relatively-unknown artists? Head over to RCRD LBL!