$250 Chromebook

$250 is a very good price point for a light laptop for basic email/web surfing/document editing.  It’s not a full feature laptop with a full OS, that is one reason the price point is the same as a 7″ Android tablet.  It’s fairly full featured hardware wise.  Web cam, USB ports, card reader and a 16GB Flash drive for storage.   This $250 laptop is a good second system.  I have a big desktop with a Drobo for storage, picture editing and other higher end functions.  For the cost of the Nexus 7, you can get a real keyboard and better monitor.  I’ve been using tablets, both iOS and Android for years, but I keep coming back to a device with a real keyboard for content creation.

For another $80, you can get a 3G version of this Chromebook, which is important if you are going to be using this device on the road.  It really does require Internet access to be entirely useful.

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Expanding the desktop…

No, I’m taking about monitors, screen size and resolution. I’m talking about the tower PC I built.

Running quite nicely.  I’ve got dual monitors set up, and it is handling just about anything I’ve tossed at it so far.

The thing has plenty of room for additional drives, but I decided to go with a Drobo for external storage.

The system has a 256 Gig SSD and a 1 TB Western Digital drive, but wanted something for storage that was going to give me some level of data redundancy.  Having it  not in the tower was a plus from the suspenders and belt viewpoint as well.  The only downside was the Drobo’s USB was USB 2.0 and the  ASUS Maximus IV Extreme Z-LGA 1155 Z68 motherboard is a USB 3.0 beast, with lots of USB 3.0 ports.  It also has a few ESATA ports, but the only Firewire port was on the front, and not well placed for what I wanted.

Easy enough to fix.  I’ve got open slots, so I added a Firewire card. That and an 800-800 Firewire cable and I’ve got much better transfer speeds from the Drobo.

System Building

I’ve been thinking about building a new desktop and finally bit the bullet and ordered a bunch of parts.

One of the first things to arrive was the Cooler master HAF 932 Advanced Full Tower Case.

w00t! This thing is big!  It comes with three 230mm fans.  One on front, one on the side and the last one on the top.  If that isn’t enough airflow, you can replace the side fan with four 120mm fans, and the top one with three 120mm fans.  I’m going to stick with the default fans for now.

The 800 Watt power supply also arrive, so I installed that. The Sandy Bridge processor and CPU cooler arrived, but not the thermal compound, so those are still in their boxes.

I figured this would have to last me a few years, so I went with the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme Z-LGA 1155 Z68 motherboard. Lots of I/O on this beast, including plenty of USB, 800 Firewire, ESATA and two Gig Ethernet ports.

Once the thermal paste and 8 Gig of RAM arrive, I’ll be able to install the motherboard.

The two other key components I’m waiting for is a  256 Gig SSD and a Samsung Blu-Ray reader/DVD writer optical drive.

Once I have those, I can fire it up and install Window 7 Ultimate, 64 bit.

Ya, I hear you.  No video card.  I’ll be cannibalizing  the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 out of my old system, which will have to get by with the on board graphics again. That and a 2 Gig 7200 RPM hard drive.

That should be enough to get me rolling and installing software.  I’ve also got a multi card reader on order, but I can always add that later on, especially since that seems to be the long pole in the shipping wait.  The old system will eventually end up in the basement, hooked up to the TV for the display and a wireless keyboard/trackball.  It’s got enough horse power to make a good music/movie server, and given the big screen on the TV, hopefully a decent device for stray web surfing.

New toys

I recently got my nerdy paws a pair of Asus Eee PC netbooks. (Thanks John!)  These are the ones running LINUX off solid state drives.

I’ve got one updating, but the 4 Gig system drive on the other is full, and I’m going to have to find a way to clean that up.

Dell jumping on the Android Netbook bandwagon?

Microsoft is rushing to get Windows7 out the door. One reason is so they can push it into the netbook market.

Netbook manufacturers have been looking at alternate OS solutions, including Google’s Android (it’s not just for Cell Phones anymore).

The latest rumor is that Dell is working on an Android based netbook

If a major retailer like Dell starts shipping Android on systems, I’m betting that somebody in Microsoft OS sales is going to buying a lot of Malox ™.

Dell enters the small notebook market

The NY Times reports that Dell is entering the low cost, mini-notebook computer market.

It’s called the Mini 9. For $349 you get Ubuntu LINUX. For another $50, you can have XP. The base model has 512 Meg of RAM and a 4 Gig solid state flash “hard” drive.   You can get more RAM and and a bigger flash drive, but the price goes up.  The model with 1 Gig of RAM and 16 Gig flash drive will put you back $450, which puts close to standard laptop costs.

They come standard with 3 USB ports, a 3-1 media card reader, audio I/O jacks, WiFi and an Ethernet jack.

Prices dropping on small notebook computers

The NY Times calls them “netbooks”, which is what probably what one of their reporters heard someone call one at a Starbucks while he was trying to think of what to write to meet his deadline.

Small systems, typically running UNIX, and in some cases XP, and have been selling for around $400.  Now, the prices are dropping to the mid $300 range and will probably be flirting with $300 or or even $250 soon.

About the price of a SmartPhone, and in some cases, less.

I’ve been on the road for the past week, and yes, I did bring a laptop with me.  I really didn’t need to.  I just wanted something to back my pictures up on and do a limited amount of editing of both photos and text.

My gen one iPhone has been able to handle most of my short term Internet needs. I don’t need to find an Internet connection for it, which I would need for my laptop.

An Acer EEE PC would have fit the bill as well as the larger laptop I’m lugging.  Being lighter and smaller is a big plus.  Even with an 80 or 120 gig mini harddrive for backups, it still would have been smaller and lighter than the larger laptop running XP.

The NetShare app that Apple pulled from the iTunes store would have been a perfect fit with a small WiFi enabled laptop as well.