HP’s eee competitor HP 2133 Mini-Note now out

HP has released today its competing product to Asus eee PC. Called the HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, it weighs 5.3 pounds, screen size of 8.9 inch, full QWERTY keyboard, touch pad with unusual mouse button layout (left and right of the touchpad), and in a casing and style that looks better than eee, I think. I just don’t like the price.

Amazon lists the following specs:

* Procesor: VIA C7-M, 1.2GHz
* Memory: 1024 MB (1GB) 667MHZ DDR2
* Video: VIA Chrome 9 UMA
* Hard disk: 1205 GB 5400 RPM
* WiFi: Broadcom 802.11 a/b/g
* Ethernet LAN
* SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop

A 4GB flash drive-version is also listed at Amazon.

HP Press release here.

(Image from PC Magazine.)


Shopping for a laptop, 4

If you are shopping for a cheap laptop but does not like the Asus eee PC’s form factor, now is about the right time.

Strolling around Cyberzone at SM Megamall, I noticed that prices of Celeron-powered laptops have dropped considerably. So I looked at the Web sites of PC Corner, PC Express, and Asianic, and saw the following:

* Neo Q-Note Endura 320SU, priced at Php 19999 (contrary to the image shown at the page)
* Neo Q-Note Endura 540SL2c, priced at Php 19999 (not yet shown on Web site, but can be found on the downloadable price list of PC Corner and PC Express)

Both machines are Celeron-powered. Note that both units are available while supply lasts. Most prices have dropped due to the coming of second quarter, and Intel will release dual-core Celerons soon.

You might also want to check out the following:

* Acer Aspire 4715Z-1A0508MI, a Pentium Dual Core at Php 28,999 (PC Corner)
* MSI MegaBook VR330, an AMD Athlon 64 X2 at Php 24999 (PC Corner)

And with the 2nd-generation Asus eee PC priced at estimated Php 30,+++ at PC Corner, I suggest you wait for the eee competiting products from Acer, ECS, and MSI.


Shopping for a laptop, 3 (or how getting one can screw you up)
Shopping for a laptop, 2
Shopping for a laptop


Acer unveils Gemstone Blue

Acer has just announced its Gemstone Blue, an upgrade to its Gemstone laptop series. It got the appelation blue due to the the distinctive shade of the shell, and the fact that it sports Blu-Ray drives.

The display comes in 16″ and 18″, full 16:9 widescreen, and maximum resolution of 1920×1080, with video delivered by INVIDIA GeForce GS processor. It also carries 5 integrated speakers for true 5.1 sound delivered by Dolby Home Theater, Tuba CineBass booster and True5.1 CineSurround.

At the core of the series is the processor, of course. These machines are driven by Intel Centrino processors, Penryn, of course, with up to maximum of 4GB RAM.

The CineDash is the Star Trek-like interface found at the left side of the keyboard. CineDash is just a specialized interface for controlling media apps. Unfortunately, there is no right-side version.

Two models have been announced: Aspire 6920G and 8920G, and both are due next month. Not sure about a Philippine release date. Of course, they won’t come in cheap. The cheapest is priced around US$900 (that’s Php 36900 at US$1=Php41 conversion rate).

Prices of Gemstone laptops should drop by the time these Aspires hit retailers’ shelves.

Technical specifications below:

Aspire 6920G Aspire 8920G
Processor and Chipset Intel Centrino
Intel Core2 Duo
Mobile Intel PM965 Express Chipset
Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN
Memory DDR2 667 MHz, up to 4GB using 2 soDIMM modules (dual channel)
Hard disk 1 or 2 HDD, up to 320GB each
Optical drive 1X Blu-Ray Disc Super Multi double layer or 8x DVD Super Multi double layer 2X Blu-Ray Disc Super Multi double layer or 8x DVD Super Multi double layer
Video NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GS, up to 12808 MB Turbo Cache (512MB dedicated, up to768MB shared) NVIDIA GeForce 9650 GS or NVIDIA GeForce 9500 GS, up to 12808 MB Turbo Cache (512MB dedicated, up to768MB shared)
Display 16″ Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
16″ 1366×768 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
18.4″ Full HD 1920×1080 resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio
Sound Dolby Home Theater, Acer CineSurround with 5 integrated speakers, Tuba CineBass
Ports ExpressCard, 4 USB ports, HDMI, infrared, VGA, RF-in, headphone/speaker/line-out with S/PDIF, mic-in, line-in
Connectivity WiFi A/B/G/N
56K modem
Weight 3.5KG with 8-cell battery 4.1KG with 8-cell battery
Operating System Windows Vista Ultimate or Home Premium

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?


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!