Buying a netbook with Linux

sn3rd

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To me, a netbook should have a SSD. While the extra storage provided by a hard drive is nice, it seriously hampers the portability of the machine, being heavier and susceptible to problems caused by mechanical shock.

The real reason to get a netbook is for portability which for most doesn't require a lot of storage space. So getting a netbook with a hard drive makes the machine more of a lifestyle toy than a portable workstation.
 

km2

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Next article: Which of these netbooks runs OS X the best?
 

Terencek

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Just for the record, it seems the author made a mistake in the article. The Acer Aspire One in SA is far and away the cheapest netbook if you go for the basic model he describes: it's currently R2999 (at Incredible Deception) and not R3,500 as he states. The basic configuration this buys you is more than enough for casual work if you're staying with the installed Linux -- but if you want to move to XP you really need more memory, which is ABSOLUTELY not a job for the technically-challenged and to be honest, after realising what's involved (virtually dismantling the machine!) I wouldn't even entrust it to your average shop technician who's not familiar with this machine). But bottom line: for the price the Acer is now by far the best bet, as most reviewers agree, with an excellent build quality.
 

bwana

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To me, a netbook should have a SSD. While the extra storage provided by a hard drive is nice, it seriously hampers the portability of the machine, being heavier and susceptible to problems caused by mechanical shock.

The real reason to get a netbook is for portability which for most doesn't require a lot of storage space. So getting a netbook with a hard drive makes the machine more of a lifestyle toy than a portable workstation.

Laptops are portable and also tend to have hdd's so I'm not sure how much I would agree that having a ssd is essential.

On the other hand if you're planning on operating it whilst jogging I can see your point. ;)
 

greggpb

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Another thing to note is that the flash in these netbooks is really slow. much slower than a 4200rpm hdd.
 

PeterCH

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To me, a netbook should have a SSD. While the extra storage provided by a hard drive is nice, it seriously hampers the portability of the machine, being heavier and susceptible to problems caused by mechanical shock.

I agree but SSDs are either VERY EXPENSIVE (Intel) or sub-standard (and still quite expensive) - JMicron controller/Samsung memory based ones.

However, do note that HDDs have been included in portable audio and media players for a good few years. The iPods first came with HDDs as did Creative Nomad Jukeboxes. I still have my 3rd Generation iPod with it's 40GB 4200RPM
drive it still works despite walking while listening to music. I also have a couple other PMPs - Cowon A3 and Creative Zen V. They're all HDD based and none has ever crashed on me - despite the fact that it's mechanical storage.

Unless you're gonna be jogging (and bouncing up and down) with your netbook, I think HDDs will work well and be safe. People still jog with their HD based iPods, don't they?
 

killadoob

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Laptops are portable and also tend to have hdd's so I'm not sure how much I would agree that having a ssd is essential.

On the other hand if you're planning on operating it whilst jogging I can see your point. ;)

I think his point was how many laptops have problems from shock and what not, so he is correct in saying that an ssd has a far less change of being damaged while being moved around. when i was in the pc business alot of laptops come back with hdd problems, driving in your car, moving them around or even a dropping it can cause severe damage to the hdd. Anetbook is suppose to be rugged and an ssd will not fail should you drop it or shake it around to much.

It also makes it lighter and majority of the ssd laptops come with 1gb memory and not 512 which is far from ideal for windows xp, slow hdd and 512 meg ram is horrible for xp. 1gb memory and an ssd is super fast and can run windows nicely. As i mentioned before if you are going to use a netbook like you would a notebook buy a notebook.
 
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PeterCH

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I think his point was how many laptops have problems from shock and what not, so he is correct in saying that an ssd has a far less change of being damaged while being moved around. when i was in the pc business alot of laptops come back with hdd problems, driving in your car, moving them around or even a dropping it can cause severe damage to the hdd. Anetbook is suppose to be rugged and an ssd will not fail should you drop it or shake it around to much.

It also makes it lighter and majority of the ssd laptops come with 1gb memory and not 512 which is far from ideal for windows xp, slow hdd and 512 meg ram is horrible for xp. 1gb memory and an ssd is super fast and can run windows nicely. As i mentioned before if you are going to use a netbook like you would a notebook buy a notebook.

Netbooks are not rugged. If anything they are made very cheaply and fail on that aspect - build quality in netbooks is not all that great, because the margins are bad. A ruggerised laptop with a shock mounted HDD will work as well as any SSD - short of you not taking it inside a highly maneuverable jet fighter to experience extreme g forces. I've watched video on HDD based PMPs (Creative Zen Vision) while on bumpy roads (I was a passenger) - potholes, bumps, fast turns - no problems - not even a hiccup and we're talking big video files here - 250MB on a device with small amounts of RAM to cache the reads (32MB).

As someone who uses a laptop while travelling and who uses HDD based PMPs virtually every day - I've never had problems with HDDs. Of course you need to take good care of your equipment. You shouldn't walk with a powered up laptop but brisk walking or driving with HDD based audio/portable media players has never caused me problems. I jog using a flash based MP3 player though.
 
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bwana

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I think his point was how many laptops have problems from shock and what not, so he is correct in saying that an ssd has a far less change of being damaged while being moved around. when i was in the pc business alot of laptops come back with hdd problems, driving in your car, moving them around or even a dropping it can cause severe damage to the hdd. Anetbook is suppose to be rugged and an ssd will not fail should you drop it or shake it around to much.

It also makes it lighter and majority of the ssd laptops come with 1gb memory and not 512 which is far from ideal for windows xp, slow hdd and 512 meg ram is horrible for xp. 1gb memory and an ssd is super fast and can run windows nicely. As i mentioned before if you are going to use a netbook like you would a notebook buy a notebook.

So how many laptop hdds have you had fail on you from carrying them around? I've been using laptops exclusively for more than a decade a travelled all over the world and I've yet to experience one. All my current mac laptops also have sudden motion sensors which park the drive and I doubt apple is unique with this regard.

Sure there are advantages to sad but there are still enough reasons for me to avoid them including price and size. My aao is plenty fast enough with it's 120 gb hdd and I can use it for whatever I want without having to worry about space
 

killadoob

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You 2 do not make up the entire laptop population :).

I have seen quite a few laptops come through my side with noise making hdd's or dead hdd's. whether this was a failure from shock or just failure i do not know. I can tell you though without doubt that SSD's do not suffer a shock problem. Like it or not it is a fact. So by having an SSD your hdd is much safer. I know the 2 of you have not had problems but like i said above :p.

O yes for the SSd haters check out this vid, This is the most convincing one ever :). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Elujjdo_8XU now tell me ssd's are not faster peter. Look here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4cK0L__B9U go check out more and show me this huge problem anadtech is claiming and then find me the test they used so we can try it out as i have not found the test anadtech used for this jmicron 1 second problem that may not even be noticeable. the cost of having a shock resistant laptop might rival one with an SSD.

Also your battery life is increased. Can you explain to me why someone would not want an SSD? Fast, reliable and uses next to no power. regardless if you okes have had no problems many people have and do have the shock problem. So lets go through it again.

pros:
Speed
Reliability
Very low power usage
Light
Runs cool, no heat. ever felt how hot a traditional drive can get?

Cons:
One random test that you cannot find on the net claiming there is a massive problem.
price
Anymore?
 
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PeterCH

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You 2 do not make up the entire laptop population :).

Of course NOT, but I will use my own equipment in the same way throughout. My usage pattern won't change. I still take good care of my stuff. I've seen people run with powered laptops while typing away - guess you can get HDD crashes that way, ne? I don't do that.


the cost of having a shock resistant laptop might rival one with an SSD.

The cost of having a business ruggerised laptop is high but only a fraction of that goes into a shock proof HDD caddy. The build quality is usually superior, the locking mechanism works, the screen is protected, the laptop may be spillproof and the chassis is protected from drops - even when the HDD is powered down. In contrast the Netbook will fall apart long before it's SSD does. I've had my Acer crack from just taking it across the security checkpoints in Airports.

People who often crash their HDDs through incorrect usage, I bet will also have keyboard, screen, optical drive and chassis issues.

Also your battery life is increased. Can you explain to me why someone would not want an SSD? Fast, reliable and uses next to no power. regardless if you okes have had no problems many people have and do have the shock problem. So lets go through it again.

They are VERY EXPENSIVE. The Intel costs $600 or more. That's a lot of money for a device which will be faster, better and cheaper next year and the following year. When the price drops to $300 for 250GB and up (from Intel) I'll buy one. The other makes I won't consider except maybe for Toshiba or Hitachi when they bring out their parts.

pros:
Speed
Reliability
Very low power usage
Light
Runs cool, no heat. ever felt how hot a traditional drive can get?

Cons:
One random test that you cannot find on the net claiming there is a massive problem.
price
Anymore?

Cons - SUPER EXPENSIVE and will get cheaper next year (and better).
Immature technology with performance issues - this could be mitigated if the devices were cheap - but they're not.

If I can pick up one cheap (Intel based) in SG, Malaysia or Dubai next month maybe I'll buy it but otherwise I'll wait till they are reasonable in price.
 

killadoob

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How can you say performance problems? have you not seen the video's on youtube i see no performance problems haha. show the performance problems other than the illusive test done anandtech.

Anyways whatever the proof of performance is clear on youtube so no further discussion needed :) as you take anandtech as a GOD and cannot fathom that the 1000's of youtube videos are correct :). I am assuming you watched the video i posted and saw how fast ssd's are compared to normal drives?

Anyways i am enjoying the performance of an ssd and will be more so when my dell mini 9 arrives this week :).

These drives will replace hdd's in the next 2 years without doubt as once they come down in price nothing can beat the performance, reliability and power consumption :). You won't pick up cheap intels, they are massively over-priced like gaming ram is. Peter it is your loss if you have option to get a cheap a ssd and fail to so :) guess booting 50% faster and running applications way faster your still unconvinced :p even though it is there for you to see on youtube. Mind blowing the performance when you look at video's on youtube.

Also go search for the jmicrom problem on youtube, not one hit. Now surely if it was a major problem someone would be able to show us on video, but it is a synthetic test they use that does not replicate real world situations. Anyway like i said you can see on the youtube video's how an SSD is mind blowingly fast compared, your loss should you choose not to buy one in dubai. I can go on about this all day but its pretty pointless when you can click on youtube video's and see for yourself :).

Bwana what do you think after watching the youtube video's? would you be temped to buy an ssd after seeing some of those video's even with its price? Price is around 200 dollar for a 128gb now which is not all that bad i think :). People are more than willing to spend 4k on a cpu and 5k on a mobo but spending 4k on a hdd gets the strangest reaction even though the hdd would make your pc so much faster more so than going from core 2 to i7.
 
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bwana

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@ killadoob - I'm not a SSD hater - as soon as they come out with an affordable, fast, large SSD I'll be the first to buy it but today is not that day. The cost of a large ssd is going to eclipse the price of the actual netbook.

Anyway - as this discussion is about netbooks with linux then the SSDs are an ideal choice. Shoehorning Windows onto a 8gb netbook is not an enviable task so as limited as some of the linux netbook distros are (or perhaps its only linpus?) and not having to pay the windows tax is also a plus.

I installed Linpus, Ubuntu, and Windows 7 at no cost and had them running of the same drive - score another point for a large hdd. ;)
Next article: Which of these netbooks runs OS X the best?
Start here - http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2008/12/17/osx-netbook-compatib.html
 

km2

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How can you say performance problems? have you not seen the video's on youtube i see no performance problems haha. show the performance problems other than the illusive test done anandtech.

Also funny go search for the jmicro problem on youtube, not one hit. Now surely if it was a major problem someone would be able to show us on video, but it is a synthetic test they use that may not replicate real world situations?

It may not happen to everyone all the time, but considering that JMicron changed the design to increase the cache with some of the newer chips I don't think it was just in Anand's head. The point is you're forking out an awful lot of money for something with a lot less space. It's got to be pretty close to perfect before one considers spending that much more money, and when even the Intel's have a gradual decrease in write performance it says that one should probably wait a couple more years before the kinks are ironed out.

But for most of the scenarios where it's painfully slow, you'll get more bang for your buck just shoving in some more RAM to reduce swap. I know it can be a pain to do with the Acer, and involves taking out just about everything to reach the slots, but it's still far more worthwhile.

If you find yourself chronically unlucky with harddrives, where the abuse you give the laptop tends to result in them dying frequently, then yes get a SSD. For the rest of us who have little to no trouble with our drives, we'll wait another few years.
 

killadoob

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Yea well i have a guide on how to setup windows 7 to take up no more than 4gb so hopefully :p.

If not i will just use linux as all i want it for is to check out soccer scores/internet when i am away and email, did not see a choice at vodacom for a linux netbook for some reason. I can also use an sd card for storage if i stick with windows 7 :). Not using it for massive files that take up 20gb :).
 
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ponder

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That would be the shoehorning part he was referring to...

Dunno, I do that with my quad core desktop with >1TB HD space. The install CD contains a LOT of junk you really do not need and will not miss.
 
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