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Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 1:59 pm UTC
by RahulKolasseri
So, I'm starting a new thread because my search-fu didn't find any similar thread. I'm thinking of getting a new netbook, and I'm probably going on the budget side of things(aka, the cheapest new netbook you can find). I'm going to be using it for school, and since I have a desktop at home, I just need it for typing up reports, and the occasional browsing, but it needs to be able to take some rough use. Right now, all the netbooks seems to be atom-based ones(which even pentiums mop the floor with), and though I've been hearing of amd fusion powered ones(which I've heard are waay better) I have yet to find one. I'll probably be throwing linux on it as soon as I get it, so I only *need* the bare minimum(though a little better would be nice). So, what mythical netbook can fit these requirements?

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:47 pm UTC
by Zamfir
RahulKolasseri wrote:So, what mythical netbook can fit these requirements?

RahulKolasseri wrote:the cheapest new netbook you can find

Question answers itself.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:49 pm UTC
by GenericAnimeBoy
For light browsing and typing, I find that my atom powered Acer netbook works okay, but I do sometimes wish it had Windows and MS Office. While Ubuntu netbook edition works fine and runs fast even on atom-powered machines, your teachers will (perhaps inadvertently) make linux use very inconvenient for you. For instance, my circuits professor distributes homework in MS Word drawing format (ugh, how hard would it be to export as a PDF?) and OOo/LibreOffice don't properly convert Word drawings yet AFAIK. Especially if you're a university student, get something capable of running Windows and get yourself an academic discount on Office (my college campus bookstore sells it for $12).

Apart from that, since light browsing and typing are your primary objectives, I'd say look for something that has a comfortable keyboard (for your hands) and is lightweight, durable, and fitted with at least 2GB of RAM, in that order.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:32 pm UTC
by Endless Mike
GenericAnimeBoy wrote:For instance, my circuits professor distributes homework in MS Word drawing format (ugh, how hard would it be to export as a PDF?)

Have you bothered to ask him to do this?

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:56 am UTC
by Solt
RahulKolasseri wrote:Right now, all the netbooks seems to be atom-based ones(which even pentiums mop the floor with), and though I've been hearing of amd fusion powered ones(which I've heard are waay better)


Do you have any basis for that?

AMD is NOT magic, contrary to what many in the gaming community (used to) believe.

In the end you get what you pay for. If AMD is selling their processors at a lower price point, it's because they are selling you less capability than the more expensive intel equivalent. (being on the bleeding edge IS a feature that you should expect to pay more for)

If AMD is selling something wayyyy better, you are going to pay wayyyy more for it.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:31 am UTC
by Zamfir
You can't really apply the efficient market hypothesis to a situation with only two participants and heterogeneous products, let alone one that borders so much on a monopoly as the CPU market. In such a market, pricing is mostly strategic.

It's perfectly possible that Intel charges higher prices for similar perfomance because they have a lock on parts of the market, or better marketing. Or that AMD lowers its prices to fight its way into the low-power segment of the market. Or that Intel lowers its prices to dump level to keep AMD out of that part of the market. Or AMD having to charge more for similar quality because of lower volume. Etc. Etc.

You cannot simply assume that you will get what you pay for.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:48 am UTC
by RahulKolasseri
Solt wrote:
RahulKolasseri wrote:Right now, all the netbooks seems to be atom-based ones(which even pentiums mop the floor with), and though I've been hearing of amd fusion powered ones(which I've heard are waay better)


Do you have any basis for that?

AMD is NOT magic, contrary to what many in the gaming community (used to) believe.

In the end you get what you pay for. If AMD is selling their processors at a lower price point, it's because they are selling you less capability than the more expensive intel equivalent. (being on the bleeding edge IS a feature that you should expect to pay more for)

If AMD is selling something wayyyy better, you are going to pay wayyyy more for it.


Oh no, I'm not saying that! what I am saying is that the amd fusion is meant to be a cheap, powersaving CPU and GPU in one, and thus does things like video playback, and such waay better than what atom can do(which, from my experience[of atom on windows, not sure how it does in a light flavor of linux], is not alot).

EDIT: Also, is it worth the drop in storage capacity to say, have a SSD? Because, if I wanted to, say, use the netbook on the bus or in a car, an SSD wouldn't have the problem HDDs have

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:46 am UTC
by raygungothic
The market hypothesis doesn't work well here. Intel have become accustomed to being so dominant that they feel they can segment the market however suits them. As a result, AMD are at their most successful where Intel's segmentation screws them up.

Atoms are crippled to try to keep them clearly separate from Intel's much more expensive CULV chips. AMD have concluded that many people would like "more than Atom" for "less than CULV" and targeted accordingly. Judging by the level of interest I'm inclined to say they hit the target.

AMD also have much more experience with the design of graphics hardware than Intel, so have incorporated a better graphics part. This is just a different design tradeoff. It benefits you if you want a modest level of 3d gaming, or video, or have some specific application that benefits from OpenCL (ok, ok, clutching at straws here). Enough people have already been frustrated by Atom's feeble graphics that Atom + Ion solutions are already available, almost as able as AMD's fusion, but costs more and draws more power because it's two separate parts. And Intel are hardly encouraging future iterations of Atom + Ion to get better.

Now if only I could buy that DM1Z in the UK...

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:25 pm UTC
by m4d4sb34ns
My pair o' pennies:

I have an eee 901, with it's titchy keyboard and atom processor. It's reasonably useful for quick web browsing when I don't want to power up my desktop, and is very portable due to its size. I've had it for over 2 years now, and aside from needing a new battery recently, it still works fine with a lightweight linux distro. That said, if I were to buy a laptop/netbook now (which I'm considering...more on that below) I'd be leaning more towards a 12" netbook or 13" notebook. My main reason for skipping up to 12" in my searches was purely keyboard comfort, then once I started looking at netbooks of this size I noticed the price was pretty high - around £430 for the top-end eee pc, the 1215N. There are lots of options in the 13" size bracket at various price points, and while laptops of this size with comparable mobility to a netbook tend to be £500-600, there are a few cheaper alternatives too (again, below...).

Now, on to my inquiries. As stated above, I'm looking for something a bit more usable than my 901. I've been reading into the 1215B for a while - this is the upcoming AMD eee pc, but I have yet to read anything about battery life and price and frankly I'm not hopeful of getting it in the UK for months yet. Another option I've found is this. It seems to have a great balance of battery life and performance at an excellent price. Anyone have any comments on this?

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:39 pm UTC
by Zamfir
m4d4sb34ns wrote: Another option I've found is this. It seems to have a great balance of battery life and performance at an excellent price. Anyone have any comments on this?

I recently advised one of those to someone, and she is very happy with it. Make sure you do not accidentally get the single-core version. Build and keyboard are OKish, but not anywhere near business-class machines even though it has a metal screen cover. That budget might get you a better second-hand business machine, but second-hand has its drawbacks. It is by the way the previous model, which might actually make it a good deal. The 8 hour battery life claim is a lie, but for the rest battery life is still good.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:15 pm UTC
by GenericAnimeBoy
A lot of people are bringing up the keyboard size issue, and while the 85% scale keyboard on a 10" netbook does take some getting used to, I don't have a problem with typing comfort on my Acer netbook, even though I have rather large hands. Try to find the models you're considering at a meatspace store (whether or not you're actually going to buy it from them :roll: ) and get some hands-on time with them. It's the only way you can really judge whether the keyboard size/shape and touchpad placement (which is weird on some netbooks) is a good fit for you. While you're there, you can also examine the build quality. Not all netbooks are created equal(ly durable).

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 4:42 pm UTC
by archeleus
I don't get people wanting to buy netbooks. They've a small screen, the keyboard sucks because its small and its not powerful or anything anyway. MB air > all netbooks.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:34 pm UTC
by Zamfir
archeleus wrote:I don't get people wanting to buy netbooks. They've a small screen, the keyboard sucks because its small and its not powerful or anything anyway. MB air > all netbooks.

Exactly. I never understood why people buy hyundais either. Or why they buy their own groceries. Do they like supermarkets that much? Why not send your servants?

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:10 am UTC
by GenericAnimeBoy
archeleus wrote:I don't get people wanting to buy netbooks. They've a small screen, the keyboard sucks because its small and its not powerful or anything anyway. MB air > all netbooks.
Sure, if you're volunteering to make up the cost difference, I'll take a MB air! :lol:

You could buy 5 netbooks for the cost of a MB air. Or, more practically, you could buy one netbook and pay rent for a month. :roll:

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Fri Feb 18, 2011 4:38 pm UTC
by archeleus
I agree that the price is a bit steep but you do get good stuff worth it.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:54 am UTC
by GenericAnimeBoy
Oh, I agree, don't get me wrong. It's a pretty fantastic piece of hardware--I just need a better job to afford one.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:45 am UTC
by alexriehl
RahulKolasseri wrote:Also, is it worth the drop in storage capacity to say, have a SSD? Because, if I wanted to, say, use the netbook on the bus or in a car, an SSD wouldn't have the problem HDDs have

Well, that depends on what you'll be doing. SSDs have slightly lower seek times, but have much lower data transfer speeds. (The fastest SSD I've seen for sale can pump out 995 Mb/s. The fastest HDD I've seen can do 6 GB/s.) So, if you're trying to get to a word doc on your drive, SSDs are better. If you're trying to stream a lot of data into memory fast (like loading a level in an ubergame), SSDs probably aren't what you're looking for.

GenericAnimeBoy wrote:
archeleus wrote:I don't get people wanting to buy netbooks. They've a small screen, the keyboard sucks because its small and its not powerful or anything anyway. MB air > all netbooks.
Sure, if you're volunteering to make up the cost difference, I'll take a MB air! :lol:

You could buy 5 netbooks for the cost of a MB air. Or, more practically, you could buy one netbook and pay rent for a month. :roll:

Or you could buy a killer desktop. And pay rent for 2 weeks.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:20 am UTC
by PhoenixEnigma
alexriehl wrote:
RahulKolasseri wrote:Also, is it worth the drop in storage capacity to say, have a SSD? Because, if I wanted to, say, use the netbook on the bus or in a car, an SSD wouldn't have the problem HDDs have

Well, that depends on what you'll be doing. SSDs have slightly lower seek times, but have much lower data transfer speeds. (The fastest SSD I've seen for sale can pump out 995 Mb/s. The fastest HDD I've seen can do 6 GB/s.) So, if you're trying to get to a word doc on your drive, SSDs are better. If you're trying to stream a lot of data into memory fast (like loading a level in an ubergame), SSDs probably aren't what you're looking for.
I don't know what the hell you're talking about here, other than that I suspect you've confused b and B as well as drive and interface performance. Current SSDs will max out at somewhat over 250MB/s reading or so at the moment, which is about the limit of 3GBps SATA (which uses 8b/10b encoding, IIRC) A 600GB WD VelociRaptor is more like 150MB/s. New SSDs look to be capable of more around the 500MB/s range. I'm not aware of any spinning platter drive, including 15k RPM enterprise drives, that break 250MB/s in sequential read speeds.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 3:30 pm UTC
by Game_boy
Solt wrote:
RahulKolasseri wrote:Right now, all the netbooks seems to be atom-based ones(which even pentiums mop the floor with), and though I've been hearing of amd fusion powered ones(which I've heard are waay better)


Do you have any basis for that?

AMD is NOT magic, contrary to what many in the gaming community (used to) believe.

In the end you get what you pay for. If AMD is selling their processors at a lower price point, it's because they are selling you less capability than the more expensive intel equivalent. (being on the bleeding edge IS a feature that you should expect to pay more for)

If AMD is selling something wayyyy better, you are going to pay wayyyy more for it.


http://techreport.com/articles.x/20415

AMD's Brazos is slightly better to dual-core Atom plus Ion graphics in performance, and uses less power. AMD is selling it for cheaper possibly because it is cheaper for them to make than the 45nm Atom.

I agree on the desktop then AMD vs Intel CPU pricing correlates well with performance. This does not apply to laptops since Intel's share is so overwhelming (I think AMD is sub-10% compared to 25% on the desktop).

Also Bulldozer will upend all of the above. AMD may well have the performance crown and start overcharging.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 9:09 pm UTC
by GenericAnimeBoy
PhoenixEnigma wrote:
alexriehl wrote:
RahulKolasseri wrote:Also, is it worth the drop in storage capacity to say, have a SSD? Because, if I wanted to, say, use the netbook on the bus or in a car, an SSD wouldn't have the problem HDDs have

Well, that depends on what you'll be doing. SSDs have slightly lower seek times, but have much lower data transfer speeds. (The fastest SSD I've seen for sale can pump out 995 Mb/s. The fastest HDD I've seen can do 6 GB/s.) So, if you're trying to get to a word doc on your drive, SSDs are better. If you're trying to stream a lot of data into memory fast (like loading a level in an ubergame), SSDs probably aren't what you're looking for.
I don't know what the hell you're talking about here, other than that I suspect you've confused b and B as well as drive and interface performance. Current SSDs will max out at somewhat over 250MB/s reading or so at the moment, which is about the limit of 3GBps SATA (which uses 8b/10b encoding, IIRC) A 600GB WD VelociRaptor is more like 150MB/s. New SSDs look to be capable of more around the 500MB/s range. I'm not aware of any spinning platter drive, including 15k RPM enterprise drives, that break 250MB/s in sequential read speeds.


Actually, you should probably be aware that while SSDs in desktops and higher end notebooks mop the floor with spinning platter drives, most stock netbook SSDs are cheap & crappy MLC drives, and no better in terms of speed than a 5400rpm HDD (though they retain the reliability advantage when using them on the go). However, if you're willing to void your warranty... :twisted:

EDIT: Redundant clause is redundant.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 1:40 am UTC
by Endless Mike
alexriehl wrote:Or you could buy a killer desktop. And pay rent for 2 weeks.

Desktops have a pretty big disadvantage in that I can't carry and use one on a plane.
GenericAnimeBoy wrote:Actually, you should probably be aware that while SSDs in desktops and higher end notebooks mop the floor with spinning platter drives, most stock netbook SSDs are cheap & crappy MLC drives, and no better in terms of speed than a 5400rpm HDD (though they retain the reliability advantage when using them on the go). However, if you're willing to void your warranty... :twisted:

Since when did replacing a drive in a netbook void your warranty?

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:17 am UTC
by GenericAnimeBoy
Endless Mike wrote:Since when did replacing a drive in a netbook void your warranty?
It does when you have to take the whole thing apart to get at the connector. :? Also, there's no door over the RAM slot so you have to disassemble it completely (mobo out of the case) for that upgrade too. It's what I get for buying a netbook in 2008. Fortunately, I am not afraid to void warranties.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:26 pm UTC
by PhoenixEnigma
True, cheap controllers + very few NAND channels = crappy performance, but they seem to have fallen by the wayside (maybe due to the footprint of Win7?). Looking over newegg, for examples, every netbook seems to ship with a 160GB+ HDD (except an out of stock, $1100 Sony that somehow stumbled into the category?). I'm actually not sure when I last saw a netbook for sale with 8 or 18GB of flash as primary storage.

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:13 am UTC
by m4d4sb34ns
AFAIK, the eee 1000 and its brethren were the last set of netbooks with PCI SSDs.

The setup my 901 has (a 4GB "fast" SSD, plus a 16GB "slow" one) seems to work pretty well, kind of a shame they went away. Boot times are good, other disk-based performance is fine, and 16GB + SD card is plenty for a machine of this type. I've actually looked for similar SSDs for my desktop PCI slots, to use as an "OH SHIIII...." backup. Alas, I got bored before I found one, so that idea went out the window.

For me, the downfall of netbooks has mostly been their ridiculous price increase. I paid £260 for this thing two years ago - they still sell basic 10' netbooks with the same processor and no other advantages over mine, for £200-300 , and if you want something which is in any way an upgrade, £400 is a closer bet :?

Re: Yet again, another laptop thread has emerged

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:33 pm UTC
by Endless Mike
GenericAnimeBoy wrote:
Endless Mike wrote:Since when did replacing a drive in a netbook void your warranty?
It does when you have to take the whole thing apart to get at the connector. :? Also, there's no door over the RAM slot so you have to disassemble it completely (mobo out of the case) for that upgrade too. It's what I get for buying a netbook in 2008. Fortunately, I am not afraid to void warranties.

Oh, weird. My eee 901A has everything fairly easy to get to. At most you have to remove the keyboard or a flap on the bottom. Upgrading the RAM in my Macbook was more difficult since it has eight screws to remove.