Category Archives: New PCs and Laptops

Category containing information based on new PCs and laptops.

Samsung N145P Review – a brilliant on-the-go netbook

I recently decided that it was about time that I invested in some form of portable computing. I’ve been wanting a netbook for some time, but I was never sure what to get as I wanted a good balance of strong battery life and solid performance.

Last weekend I found the answer. Whilst browsing through various retail stores, I came across the Samsung N145P. I liked the look of the specs (see below) and the design so I took it home and gave it a spin.

The specs of the machine are:

  • 1.66Ghz Atom N450 with Hyperthreading
  • 1GB DDR2 (800mhz) RAM
  • Intel GMA 3150 graphics
  • 250GB hard drive
  • 3x USB 2.0
  • 6 cell 4400mAH battery
  • Windows 7 Starter

I have to say, I’m seriously impressed with the machine. I have made a couple of modifications to it – admittedly – such as replacing Windows 7 Starter with Home Premium and moving it from 1GB RAM to 2GB RAM (which made one hell of an improvement).

The battery life is brilliant. Before I upgraded the RAM, it would go for more-or-less 9 hours on a single charge. I’ve upgraded the RAM now which seems to have hampered battery life a little, but I’m still getting 8-8.5 hours of light use which is more than enough for my daily needs.

The Atom processor is more powerful than I thought it would be, booting up a clean Windows 7 installation within 30 seconds. The 1GB RAM was definitely limiting factor – making the system very jumpy if more than one application was open. I’m really not sure how anyone can sell a Windows 7 machine with 1GB RAM. Anyhow, sticking a 2GB chip in the back made no end of improvement. My system can now happily deal with 4 or 5 applications open at the same time.

The system also comes with a built-in webcam and microphone which perform well in Skype and Windows Live Messenger calls. The built in stereo speakers (1.5W each) cope will with music; a little lack of bass to be honest – but for a netbook you would never expect 5-star sound. Plugging in a decent set of headphones will solve the problem well.

The 250GB hard drive is speedy and seems to perform well in read-write tests. You also get a 4-in-1 card reader so there’s room for flash expansion if you want, but the cards don’t slot in properly so be careful.

The machine itself is very quiet. The only thing you can hear in the hard drive, but even that is very quiet. The built-in cooling fan is more-or-less silent, even at full pelt. In terms of comfort to use – I’m very impressed too, as the device does not get very warm after consistent use. The keyboard is a joy to use, with decent feedback and keys that aren’t too springy.

Overall – as you can probably tell – I’m extremely impressed. For a mid-range netbook, it does cope very well with some of my demanding software. If you’re looking for a machine to deal with your office work and light entertainment on the go – this is your netbook!

My new homebuilt PC – is it worth it?

Well, after many months of wanting to do it, I have finally built myself my own computer. It was great fun – for a tech nerd like me – and it also saved me a lot of money!

Here’s what I bought myself:

  • An AMD Entry Level Barebones PC kit costing £140 – that includes the case, motherboard, a dual core AMD processor and 2GB RAM
  • A 512MB Gigabyte HD4550 graphics card costing about £35
  • A 250GB hard drive costing about £25
  • A DVDRW drive costing £18
  • A 19″ LG monitor costing £92
  • A Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse set costing £17

That was it. If my calculations are right that comes to £327 and in my opinion that is a bargain. I’ve got a really good spec PC and a nice monitor and keyboard/mouse set to go with it. Perfect!

It does go to show how much cheaper it can be to go for the build your own PC option. It is much cheaper so is perfect if you’re on a tight budget, plus it can be really good fun if you enjoy working with computers.

I wouldn’t recommend this way of getting your hands on a nice new PC if you consider yourself a novice with computers. You do have to be careful – put the wrong component in the wrong place and you’ll be adding costs for replacements. Also, make absolutely sure that you have some sort of anti-static kit for your hands. Static electricity and internal computer components do not mix!

If you like a challenge and have a few hundred pounds to spare give this a go! You might be really pleased you bothered!

    PC sales to fall in 2009… except for netbooks.

    Gartner has today announced that PC sales are set to fall across 2009 by 11.9% (per cent) to around 257 million units. The company has said that this is going to be “the sharpest decline in history”.

    According to Gartner, the PC industry is facing extraordinary conditions due to the economic downturn. When it seemed as if PC and notebook sales were increasing rapidly in 2008, we are beginning to see how the credit crunch is affecting the PC industry.

    However, Gartner have also said that they are expecting an increase in the sales of laptops and notebook – more specifically the new mini-laptops or netbooks. 

    So we’ll have to see what happens to sales over the course of this year, but it looks like many brands could be in trouble. I would like to hope that the rush of new technology might help ease the pain of the economic downturn on computing, but we’ll have to see what knock-on effect the downturn has this year.

    Netbooks are the future. They just are.

    I’ve been having a good play-around with a couple of recent netbooks. The first one being the EeePC 701 and the second being the Acer Aspire One. They are both really good laptops. They both will run Windows XP (there is some difficulty one the EeePC – I’ll explain later), they are both relatively fast, they both have decent battery life, and both have expandable memory.

    The EeePC 701 uses an 8GB solid-state drive whilst the Acer Aspire 701 uses a 120GB normal hard drive (although it is available with a solid-state drive). 8GB will not get you very far, even if you don’t have any music or video, but you can expand it with any SD or SDHC card. The 120GB hard drive in in the Aspire is relatively fast whilst fairly quiet, although it does drain the battery quite a lot. And ofcourse, because the solid-state drive has no moving parts, it saves battery and is less suceptable to damage from drops.

    As for the battery power, they are both very good. The EeePC will run for just over 2 hours whilst working quite hard, and the Aspire just a tad longer. I believe the Aspire does have a slightly better battery, but there isn’t a huge amount of difference and both are fine for going on short trips.

    Neither have an optical drive which is quite a downside if you want to watch a DVD on the move. You could add a USB DVD drive but this would probably hammer the battery life. There are netbooks available that will cope with a USB DVD drive, but these two will both struggle to make it through a DVD movie on one charge.

    The screen size is definately a bit of a pain on the EeePC. The 7″ display is quite hard to work with, especially in Windows XP. It will run 800×480 without scrowling the screen, but you can run 800×600 or 1024×768 with the catch that you’ll have to scroll down the screen. The 8.9″ on the Aspire One (also available in 10″) is much more usable and can run 1024×768 without screen scrolling.

    As for trying to install Windows XP, it can be a right nightmare on the EeePC. It will install fine, but trying to get programs to work properly is utter hell. Windows Live Messenger seems to fail horribly, and then you get issues which collide with other pieces of software. The Aspire is much better and will install software with ease. It will even run Google Earth with fantastic performance.

    I really think notebooks will be the future. They aren’t perfect at the moment, and you definately get what you pay for. I wouldn’t go and buy one right now, but give it a few months and I think they will definately be the thing to have by next year.

    When you see the potential of these mini laptops, you begin to think why you lug around these huge 15″ laptops which are several kilograms heavy every day.

    They just don’t have the power right now. I couldn’t bear having to use a 1Ghz computer for general use – I can’t live without my lovely dual core processor – but I think this technology will come as processors get smaller and less power-hungry over time.

    So, no, don’t go buying one now. If you’ve got a decent laptop now, it isn’t worth it. But give it a little while, and hopefully manufacturers will be able to get more RAM, bigger harddisks and better processors without costing a bomb. It will all come in time.

    Asus EeePC 1000HE on the way with 9.5 hour battery claims!

    Asus’ latest addition to the well known EeePC series is the very good looking 1000HE. Asus claims that it has a 9.5 hour is battery life which is perfect for that long plane flight or tiring car trip.

    EeePC 1000HE

    Above: EeePC 1000HE

    It doesn’t have a CD/DVD drive so film-watchers will be dissapointed, but it does have a 160GB hard drive (plus 10GB online storage provided by Asus) with Windows XP preloaded so you could load a few movies onto the hard drive. I’m not sure that the inbuilt graphics card would cope with very high quality films but it should be able to cope with a fair quality film.

    It also comes with a 1.67GHz processor which is quite enough for word processing and document handling in Windows XP, plus the fair sized keyboard will make typing much less of a chore on such a small device.

    It also has 1GB RAM preloaded, so you might even be able to do a little bit of multitasking on it.

    The screen size is thereabouts 10″ so it’s not great unless you have good eyes, but most people should find it just-about usable – and any user of the previous EeePC’s should have no problem.

    I was unable to find any information about the actual screen resolution, but I would guess it was either 1024×600 or 1024×480 judging by previous models of the EeePC.

    The product itself has a 1 year warranty, but the battery warranty is only 6 months – so you may have to replace the battery ever so often to keep that 9.5 hour claim up.

    Generally, it looks like a nice piece of kit for any regular traveller. I won’t use one myself because I love my 13.3″ dual core laptop which is fine for my travels, and I don’t think I could live without a DVD writer (or even player) built in as I watch a lot of DVD’s on my laptop.

    It’s price tag is about 300$ in the US, which means it should be around £230 in the UK.

    What do you think of it? Take a look at the Asus promotion page at