After many months away from the blog, I’m finally back. You guys/gals in EDU have powned my calendar since Hyper-V went RTM. I’ve decided to let all the stale Email in my inbox get staler (turns out that’s a word?) and get back to blogging, an activity I have been missing in my routine. I’ve no shortage of material given my extended blog absence, but I’m kicking off my return with a project. Minzilla
After a year of looking for someone who would consider giving me a netbook to “demo”, I finally cracked and bought one on my own dime after HP released the Mini 1000. It is the most stylish notebook to suite my tastes (PC or otherwise) on the market while remaining very functional. After doing a lot of reading, my biggest concern was actually not performance, keyboard/screen size, peripherals, or power, or drivers, it was longevity. Is it wise to buy a device that ships with max 1 GB of ram? That’s pretty low by my standards and really puts a device in the “getting too old to keep using” category for me, on day one. I’d frown on anything with less than 6 cores and 16 GB ram for a primary laptop in 2009, even if nothing is shipping with those specs as of yet…
Then I started finding forum discussion of upgrading the devices, and I became encouraged. For the price (about $520 shipped), why not try to pick one up and customize it as a secondary laptop? Mod it a little to beef it up? Then I watched the PDC video regarding Win7 and I knew I would want a Netbook for testing, so hear I am, blogging on a Mini.
My assumptions are:
- This will NOT be my primary laptop. I have an HP 8430 with an external monitor for everyday use. This will be for working from the living room at night, and to save my spine when traveling. I may even take on another project to support my 8430 with a VGA splitter and dual touch screen monitors, but not until the economy straightens out… (kidding, sort of)
- The application set I’m looking to support will be:
- Internet Explorer
- Remote Desktop
- Live Mesh
- Office Communicator
- Home Server Client
- Forefront Client Security
- Live Writer
- This will not be a “how cheap can a laptop be?” project. I’d rather it be more like a science experiment to try and build a “can’t live without it” device to fit my own tastes.
Wave One Upgrades:
- Memory. This is an easy one. I found a page from someone who has already done it. Before even booting the device, I bumped it from 1 GB to 2 GB. Note: I borrowed a 4 GB DIMM with the same specs from a good friend and confirmed the device would not even POST with 4 GB. I don’t know whether that is caused by the BIOS or the chipset. Thought someone might be interested, I know I was curious what would happen.
- Mouse. Yeah, not so exciting. I did get the new Arc mouse, which looks pretty awesome sitting next to the Mini.
- OS? The jury is still out on this one. This device came with XP and there are no Vista drivers on HP’s site. I’m yet to see any bloggers write up an upgrade. I’ll be taking on this task soon, just to report on my findings. Once Win7 hits an official beta, I’ll be going there ASAP. XP does run like a champ on this with 2 GB, but with the amount I travel I would really like to have BitLocker back. Seriously, I do hibernate and my recovery key gets backed up to Microsoft’s AD, so I feel secure with BL enabled in the event that I lose my device. I also miss the look/feel of Vista, especially search on the start menu.
- Hard Drive. This is the big one in my eyes. Although the drive has not been an issue yet, it is a 60 GB, 4200 RPM SATA. I’ve already ordered a replacement, a GSKILL 64 GB Solid State drive. I have no idea whether this will fit/work. I may come up looking foolish, but that’s why they call it trial and error. I’m not focused on a performance upgrade here (although I doubt it could hurt) as much as a boost in battery life and a reduction in heat, given that much of the time I will be using this machine it will be resting on me. I’m curious how it might effect suspend/resume times. Hell, it may not fit at all. If that’s the case, I’ll be blogging that too.
- Some no-brainers.
- I’ll be ordering the VGA dongle when it comes out. Until then, I ordered a USB based VGA adapter. I’ll let you know how each turns out.
- Looking for a good case. I found an ok sleeve but I want something awesome. The Tom Bihn messenger bag is probably going to be a match.
- Tip – go find and apply the Zune theme if you are staying on XP. Looks good against the black finish of the notebook.
- I’ll be getting the 6 cell battery when it ships too. Until then, when I post an update I’ll let you know how battery life is going. Seems to be holding a few hours thus far.
Back of my brain thoughts:
- Alternative energy sources. Clint Rutkas, I’ll be calling to have coffee soon and discuss!
- There are some forum posts indicating you can use the SIM slot in this device with AT&T. I’m happy with my Verizon aircard and won’t be cutting over soon.
- Hoping to hear of interesting upgrades in the comments section.
This gives you a relative comparison for the size of the Mini. First, sitting next to our family TouchSmart. That is the 22” TouchSmart, not the big 25”. Next, a photo comparing the full size keyboard from the TS with the more compact keyboard on the Mini. As you can see, the layout is strikingly similar without major sacrifice.