• Budget vs Premium Portable Laptop

    is Eee PC budget?Well, after the popular ULPC (Ultra Low-cost PC), more specifically Asus Eee PC, has such a steep selling rate over half a year on the market so far. Since then, this category has been grown epidemically and of course, more choices from many manufacturers, more variety of spec as well. Yet, any of them couldn't really dominate over Asus Eee PC. Nonetheless, ULPC exacerbates itself by forgetting what it was and trying to hike up the price so high. That almost crosses the line of being low-cost machine completely.

    Asus Eee PC, for example, used to be a target for real low-cost notebook $199, but it ended up around $299-$499 for the 1st generation. After a while, Asus released Asus Eee PC 2nd generation which has bigger screen, a bit bigger capacity, and importantly higher price tag. For current model, Asus Eee PC 901 20GB Linux and 12GB WinXP cost $549 and it will be a new one with Intel Atom which probably costs $649 or so. That's around 3-4 times higher than what they had planned. IMO, it's just defined its new category which is not ULPC, but budget ultra portable PC instead.

    On the contrary, there is another category in parallel which is meet this condition. It's oldish-premium-laptop. You bet it would cost more than what you pay for Eee PC, but considering every factors. You probably have to sit back and rethink again what you should buy really.

    I will compare a pair I have, you are the one who decide which suits you better. In the photos, it's Fujitsu Lifebook P7230 (bought off from Fujitu Outlet = $750+$20 s/h) and Asus Eee PC 702. Sorry that it's not Eee PC 900 as in the comparison table underneath, but you would get an idea.

    Fujitsu P7230 & Eee PC 702 Fujitsu P7230 & Eee PC 702
      Asus Eee PC 900 series Fujitsu LifeBook P7230
    Display 8.9" WSVGA 10.6" WXGA
    Resolution 1024 x 600 1280 x 768
    CPU Intel Celeron (900MHz) /Intel Atom (1.6GHz?) Intel Core Solo  U1400 (1.2GHz)
    Memory 2GB max 2GB max (dual-channel)
    Hard Drive 4GB+12GB SSD 40GB 1.8" 4200rpm HDD
    Media N/A DVD Writer
    Connectivity 10/100 Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
      WLAN 802.11b/g WLAN 802.11a/b/g
        Bluetooth 2.0
    Extra Built-in camera Built-in camera
      Built-in microphone Built-in microphone
      SDHC slot SDHC slot
        Fingerprint sensor
    Battery 5200mAh 5800mAh
    Battery Life ~3 hour ~5 hour
    Keyboard still tiny layout small, yet comfortable size
    Dimension (W x D x H) [inch] 8.86 x 6.69 x 0.79~1.33 10.74 x 7.91 x 1.07~1.18"
    Weight [lbs] 2.2 2.93
    Price $549-$649 ~$800

    This is what you probably get from either budget or premium one. In my opinion, on the paper, there is no any significant difference. You may feel that extra $150-$250 is too steep, but I can say that it's worth every penny.

    You will feel from the first touch of both system that Fujitsu is by far superior in term of build and material while Eee PC is just okay. For features, there is no way that Eee PC could compete as well. Other more important thing is battery life; thanks to Intel Core Solo which consumes <5.5W at all time while Celeron would eat almost twice as much and Atom would do around 4W, but you will lose some performance as well. Last but not least, it's about power management, I don't know if Eee PC 900 is getting better or not, but what I found with Eee PC 702 is standby mode consumes a battery almost 10% per hour while most systems do about 1-2%. It's really destroying the concept of portability--easy and fast to use. That means Fujitsu P7230 will give you much more balance to the system. However, if Eee PC is still on the same track, below $400-500 price tag, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Eee PC definitely. So sad, it could not hold that line no more.

    Briefly, for whom you are looking for cheap portable laptop these days, you have plenty of choices, probably too much. But that's a good sign, isn't it? I just want to remind you guys that don't be blind with a hot-cake budget ultra portable system since you may find that you are able to get much better with a little $ more.

  • renewal is almost over

    “So far so good” is the exact phrase for myCapsules right now. I have done most of thing for any user-convenience to find the old article in previous version of myCapsules. I hope most of the link/bookmarks you have would work well as it used to. In addition, search ability could help you quite a lot after I deicided to put for everyone.

    Yet, it still has plenty of things to do from category link and put some new article in queue on. Please be patient, I finished all exams now; I should have much time to do so.

    For any suggestion, please welcome =)

  • new myCapsules landed

    It would not be as cool as much as you expected but all I can say that it will be better by the time. Since I couldn’t and haven’t had enough time to improve my old code, then I choose to return to basic, build up from the scratch again.

    Yet, it has and works as I want it to be. If you have any suggestion, don’t hesitate to let me know.

    For old articles, I’m in hurry transfering data from the old site; it’s a bit difficult since I was doing really odd stuff at the time. As an alternative, now you could go back to an archive site here. It’s still the same, but perhaps contains some bugs from changing sub-domain. For moved article, you may just hit “Recent posts” at side bar. After completed moving, I will find better way to walk through them, besides “search.” (remember that you need to register & login to be able to use search)

    Woo-Hoo I’m so happy that myCapsules is alive again!

  • Second month passed, how is my Eee PC going?

    Since the first month, I wrote what I would want anyone to know how good Eee PC is in my viewpoint. It might not answer every questions or every doubts, but this article might be able to complete it. Briefly, this month I have installed another 2 OSes which are Windows XP (lite by nLite) and eeeXubuntu which is using Xfce as x-window. You will see whether they could outperform the original linux on Eee PC.

    Before anything, what I have missed in the first month article is side-viewed comparison. I won’t miss that again!

       </center>

     

    First take, similar to the original OS, I got into eeeXubuntu, which is based on Debian as same as Xandros, first. The installation is a breeze–less than 20 minutes to complete. I haven’t found anything different significantly. I can tell that the interface of eeeXubuntu is much cleaner than Xandros but that’s not the point really since if you really want to have cool interface, you could do that on any platform–just put some more effort :-D In addition, network manager is another area that has an improvement. While Xandros doesn’t offer to automatically find and connect trusted wireless networks, eeeXubuntu manages this like a caveman can do. However, there is a huge drawback of using Xubuntu in Eee PC that is veeery slooow boot time. Thus, you may find better to stick with Xandros; you might have to put effort a bit to connect to wireless network, but that’s not bad, isn’t it?

    Overall, I don’t think there is any significant thing better than the stock distro–Xandros. If you want more, just add Advanced mode–KDE. You will be all set.

    image

    Take two, setting up Windows XP, I have a bit trouble getting it work properly. I went through the setup process, but after first boot I got an error message: NTLDR is missing. The fact is I hadn’t remove all partitions in SSD (BIOS and something..) and the bad part is one of those partitions is set as active or like a boot flag. So Windows will not be able to start. If you face the situation like me, just wipe all partitions and install Windows again.

    I forget to tell you that I minimize Windows XP by nLite but I won’t get in depth of that; you may look at EeeUser wiki, it’s all there already. After installing drivers and needed program (not MS Office), I used only 877MB. Impressive, isn’t it? I also noticed that Windows XP installation on Eee is just a pain in the ass; it takes so long and I have no idea why, maybe due to the CPU speed itself–lower clock to 630MHz by default. But once you finished, it’s like a breeze.

    And then you have your Eee back. The feeling of very fast turning on is back; it takes a bit longer than Xandros but with 35s ready with network connection. I can’t complain. Otherwise, everything is just like ordinary Windows machine. Maybe you could feel awkward using with limited screen area, esp. limited height–480px. You will find some windows have larger layout than that. By the way, there is a way which is Asus EeePC Utility which allows you to adjust the screen resolution to virtual 800*600 by single click. Then most of thing shouldn’t be a big problem.

    Surprisingly I haven’t had things to say much this time since everything is just what we expected with Windows XP. We just have to put more effort to turn off swap file, move any document location to SD to prolong the SSD life.

    Performance with Windows XP on Eee, actually I plan not to write this part since Eee doesn’t build for performance, but with SSD, it does help open program faster. Thus you might want to know how good it performs. For example, I can open Firefox with about:blank as a start homepage within 5s and NYTimes.com as first home page (never open before) within 17s. They are <2s and 12s respectively on my Thinkpad X61T. You may get an idea.

    One thing I have to show you is the BETA driver that is able to use higher screen resolution (800x600, 1024x768, or 1280x1024) on tiny 7” screen. Basically you have to install this driver to make it work. However, everything has a drawback. If you use this driver, you have to sacrifice standby mode because it will return as unusable screen. You have to restart to make it work again. The procedure to do so is here.

    800px*480px 800px*600px 1024px*768px 1280px*1024px

    Above is 800x480, 800x600, 1024x768, and 1280x1024 respectively. You could click on each to see larger images too.

    You could see the advantage of this driver; If there is no problem with it, I guess it would be really improvement over LCD screen setting. Although it’s not crisp or sharp like displaying as native resolution, sometimes more screen estate is much more productive. You may click to see the actual size image to see how it really looks–sorry for not very clear photo since I don’t have a camera stand. Nonetheless, I choose to go back to stock driver since I don’t want to bother with problem after standby mode. This tweak looks really promising though.

    All in all, I could say that Eee is built for Xandros and surely Windows XP. It doesn’t mean that you couldn’t do anything else, but it’s just performing better on what it is designed for. At this time, I will revert back to Xandros and have an XP in SDHC just for god’s sake reason. This is because I just want to leave thing the way it was, get the best of it, and get fun with Linux.

  • All about mouse

    Since computer was introduced by GUI, Graphic User Interface, mouse has become a necessary tool for all of us. tons of models are available right now with very large price range, $2-$150 or even $200 with keyboard bundled. What I’m going to talk about is how different they are between cheap and good one and surely good one doesn’t have to be the most expensive one, and not that cheap.

    What should we consider before buying mouse?

    Of course, price tag is the most important. Then size, shape, look, sensitivity, feature, and performance. It’s the same method we buy anything else. Okay, I was also like everyone. I was looking for cheap stuffs and never thought of buying an expensive one since I did not believe that there was a large gap between the basic thing like mouse. Unfortunately, I was so wrong.

    First irregular fancy mouse I bought is Creative Fatal1ty 1010, many of you may argue whether it’s good, but it has something more than regular mouse indeed. However, I got it when it’s $30 plus $30 mail-in rebate ;-P Now you know how I started buying nice mouse. However, the one that’s really impressed me is Logitech G5. Oh, man. That is really awesome and makes me want to write this.

    Now, the factors I would have to buy another mouse are shape, feature, and the last but not least price. I’ll do my best to describe one-by-one attribute.

    • Size & Shape: there are many choices to choose but I found they can be classified in several categories.
      • Small mouse - the fingertip grip style, mainly for laptop user. I found that most of them aren’t good if you are using for a long period of time. There are some which are very good though. If you want a good one, you really need to have a strange looking–very fat–one because the curve of mouse will suit your palm well. You will not feel pain after using for a long period. The idea behind is like the curve is long enough to hold your full palm (from palm to finger tip.) That’s why you will be most comfortable. Otherwise, although you feel cool to have it, suffering will catch you after a while. Microsoft Mobile Memory Mouse 8000 Logitech VX Revolution Kensington Slimblade Ice Blue MoGo Mouse Bluetooth
      • Full-sized mouse - like mainstream mouse, suit for everyone since it has a long rest area for palm. However, things that could distinct between good or bad would be what material it is, how good it is built, and how smooth & precise it responds. It has been improved so much for the time being. You would know what I’m talking about if you were using ball mouse. Now you should know that laser mice are very by the model as well. Some might be able to use on only particular surfaces, some may be able to use on almost any surface. That’s what you should know before buying one. Logitech MX Revolution Microsoft Optical Mouse Apple Bluetooth Mighty Mouse
      • Gaming mouse - this is mostly the same as full-sized mouse, but better and sensitivity is the most concerned thing. Thus, mouse in this category mostly come with adjustable sensitivity on-the-fly button. Fast and precise mouse can help you win the game indeed. Logitech G9 Logitech G5 Razer CopperHead </ul>
      • Touchpad (aka mousepad, trackpad) - this is mostly coming with notebook, you may find some model of keyboard have this as well though. Touchpad can have cool gestures to make more wow factor like what Apple did to their TrackPad, but I find this category is out-of-my-favor since I could use it comfortably no matter how hard I try it to be. At least, you may adjust to the highest sensitivity to get the optimal performance. That’s what I feel though. Yours could be vary.
      • Trackball - only advantage I can see of this category is saving space. If you know more, I would love to hear :-D
        Logitech Cordless Trackman Wheel Logitech TrackMan Marble FX Trackball Logitech Optical Marble Mouse </ul></ul> * TrackPoint - originally ThinkPad mouse, saving space and very comfortable if you can type on keyboard. I posted my opinion here. Marvelous is just the right word.
      • Tablet Pen -  I don’t know whether this belongs to the right category but it’s pointing device as well. So it should be related in some ways.
    • Features: there are so many thing you couldn’t even think of.
      • Wireless Mouse: Bluetooth, radio signal, or whatever it is. One thing I could recommend is searching for a review about battery life. That’s vital factor as far as I’m concerned. The advantage of Bluetooth is if you have Bluetooth build-in, you don’t have to waste your USB port at all, but comparing to wireless mouse (radio freq.,) it’s a bit slower and does have a lag right before working condition.
      • Many customized buttons: This will be useful if you have a good bundled software.
      • Bundled software: You might have no idea why we need this, but you’ll like it when you meet a good one. It doesn’t like bloatware, features it provides really make a different.
      • Weighting tool: a heavy mouse for precise moving, and light mouse for faster movement. You can choose!
      • Adjustable sensitivity or DPI: I have no idea if this is really good feature. I use only to set as DPI I want and that’s it.

    Okay, there are too many choices, but what I could recommend is choosing whether you want regular-sized mouse or small one. Then from my experience I will not regret choosing these models! Firstly, brand,  I bet most of people will not surprise why I choose factor first since brand can tell so many things about products. Most of the time, you could even decide if this is good item or not by its logo. I know this is not applied to every gadgets, but when we talk about “mouse”, it is. And you may be able to guess which brand I’m going to talk about. Yep, it is _"Logitech."_ No matter how hard you are going to argue me. Logitech is still the best mouse manufacturer; in the other words, if you choose mouse from Logitech, you are less likely to get disappointed. I don’t know whether I could say this because the second that flashes on my mind right now is not clear really. If I have to say, I would say _"Microsoft"_ could take that place. I found that some models are great but most of them are decent. Nevertheless, I couldn’t find another brand to beat this up. _Razer?_ yep, I agree it’s good, but it’s mainly targeting gaming mouse too much. Kensington? they are expensive and I had expected them to be at least above par, but unfortunately my palm just doesn’t say that. It’s probably because their shape is just not right for my palm. Targus? that’s far from the league we’re talking about. Creative? Apple? or else? That’s the minority which is hard to make an real impact.

    Next, there is nothing but model to show:-

    Wireless small mouse
    Logitech VX Revolution _Logitech VX Revolution_ is greatest small-sized mouse I have ever use. Firmly touch, long battery life, plenty of customized button, very good SetPoint controlling software, and absolute-zero-fiction wheel. Although its USB receiver is still big, it can be pop-in the mouse easily. The only drawback is only for right-handed folks. $60-$79.99
     Logitech VX nano _Logitech VX Nano_ is almost the same technology, but the shape is different which has an advantage as two-handed support. The selling point like such a tiny USB receiver is so small that you could always leave in USB port. The sacrificed feature is small number of extra buttons. $50-$69.99
     image This is _Razer Pro Click Mobile Mouse_ which support Bluetooth rather than radio frequency. I have no idea how good this is since I haven't seen and tried in person, but Razer brand could guarantee the level of quality. $59.99
    Full-sized mouse
     image There are so many great features to talk about _Logitech G5_, such as Adjustable DPI (up to 1800DPI) and weight, lengthy and durable wire, size and shape which are just right for everyone. Whoever have this would be pleased. This is really good mouse. It could be use as left-handed mouse but you may feel awkward click the side button. $45-59.99
     Razer Copperhead Tempest _Razer Copperhead Tempest _(up to 2000DPI) is another popular mouse for gaming folk. It's different than G5 in term of feeling and it's two-handed support by align every buttons symmetrically. So, I find it's hard to press right-sided button. I don't really know if that's the cons though. $50-$69.99

    These are not all great mice around since people do have different taste and favorite. But all above are model I like and it’s likely for you to like them too. To choose your mouse, first thing I would recommend is finding one that’s easy for your palm. Other Features are plus. From this standpoint you will feel positive about your mouse and be enjoy using computer more. I will try to review in depth of any interesting mouse as much as I can; stay tuned.

    ps. As you could see, the price tag is really high for almost every models. However, if you are patient enough waiting for promotion/coupon/rebate, you will get VX Revolution for $19.99, G5 for $25, or Razer for $35 like I do. Just wait for the right time :-P