Tuesday, November 11, 2008

First impression with Mini-note 2133

I got it mostly because PCMall had a sale on it for $304. I have been wanting to try a sub notebook for some time and this is a good chance. If it works out, I'd have a good device to carry around for testing network and doing quick Internet stuff.

The machine came in an unassuming HP box. Only a few things inside: the mini-note itself, battery, power cord, a quick start booklet, and User Guide CD. Install the battery, plug in the power, and turn it on, no manual required. Upon booting a standard SLED configuration screen appears. If you had experience with SUSE before it'd be piece of cake. If not, a little background with Linux should get you by just fine. Even just some general knowledge about computers should be enough to get through too. Then the computer rebooted and I was presented with a proper login screen.

Once logged in, things were pretty much smooth from that point on. I got hooked up with my WPA2-PSK wireless network in no time - well, almost. I went for the Network icon in the Computer menu and got nowhere. Then I realized I should just use the NetworkManager applet on the panel directly - I should know better, as that's I always have done with Ubuntu. The included Firefox 2 was fast and easy. Realplayer played media fine, including online streams. The speakers are of decent quality and power. Evolution was a snap to set up with my Exchange, after I figured out the correct form of URL for the asked OWA server: https://servername/Exchange. Hibernation worked flawlessly, which used to be a pain with DIY Linux installations. The battery life is OK at about 2 hrs. The only thing didn't work correctly the first time was the screen resolution. It started with 800x600. I had to set it to 1200x800 in Preferences and reboot to get it to stay in 1200x768 (not sure why it didn't like the 800 height).

Please note that I had the most basic model, KR922UT. That means a VIA 1.2 gHz C7M ULV, 512 MB DDR2-667, and 4 GB flash drive. Pretty humble stuff but everything seemed responsive and smooth. I did had trouble playing a 700kbps Real video clip, but then I realized it's the SD card it's on. Once I've switched it to a Sandisk Extreme III, it ran like a champion. And there's plenty of room to upgrade: $30 get you a 2 GB memory, maybe $100+ for a 7200rpm SATA 2 drive (or SSD), and there's extended 6 cell battery.

It's really a nice Linux based subnote. You could certainly get it with Windows XP or Vista, but I doubt it'd run better. This is actually the first pre-installed Linux laptop I had (plenty of DIY of course), and I'm very satisfied. Only if they'd have Ubuntu. :) I just feel Windows wouldn't stand a chance if not for its existing monopoly.

By the way, now Amazon has it for $299 and free shipping. Nice.

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