Linked by Eugenia Loli on Fri 21st Aug 2009 08:49 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems Geeks.com, home of cheap netbooks, sent us in the HP 1120NR netbook, running a modified version of Ubuntu Linux. Check inside to read our experience with it.
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Crippled...
by bert64 on Fri 21st Aug 2009 09:20 UTC
bert64
Member since:
2007-04-23

It sounds like HP did everything they possibly could to cripple this product, from the slightly smaller than everyone else screen resolution, to the proprietary connectors and the hacked up older version of ubuntu...

A lot of these linux based netbooks seem intentionally half assed, all the ones i've seen have come with very broken and difficult to manage linux installs... Replacing them with the netbook version of ubuntu breathes whole new life into the machines..

So it begs the question, why can't these manufacturers work on ubuntu netbook and ship that with the machines instead?

Reply Score: 5

RE: Crippled...
by darknexus on Fri 21st Aug 2009 11:13 UTC in reply to "Crippled..."
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

So it begs the question, why can't these manufacturers work on ubuntu netbook and ship that with the machines instead?


At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, perhaps a better question is: why *don't* these manufacturers work on ubuntu netbook and ship that with the machines instead? If I didn't know any better, I'd think Microsoft was paying them to make sure their Linux offerings look as crippled and useless as is humanly possible. Not just HP either, obviously. A sane person, however, wonders why these manufacturers can't learn from one another's errors. They have intelligent people in charge, as they all got to where they are today, so that only leaves one possibility that I can see... deliberate crippling to promote another product, Windows in this case. Pathetic.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Crippled...
by jibadeeha on Fri 21st Aug 2009 12:41 UTC in reply to "RE: Crippled..."
jibadeeha Member since:
2009-08-10

[q]So it begs the question, why can't these manufacturers work on ubuntu netbook and ship that with the machines instead?

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, perhaps a better question is: why *don't* these manufacturers work on ubuntu netbook and ship that with the machines instead? If I didn't know any better, I'd think Microsoft was paying them to make sure their Linux offerings look as crippled and useless as is humanly possible. Not just HP either, obviously. A sane person, however, wonders why these manufacturers can't learn from one another's errors. They have intelligent people in charge, as they all got to where they are today, so that only leaves one possibility that I can see... deliberate crippling to promote another product, Windows in this case. Pathetic.


If that was the case then why would HP even bother with Linux on a netbook in the first place, and wouldn't Microsoft pay them not to bother? I think the reality is that XP is too expensive (compared to Linux) for the netbook and Vista is a performance hog, so Linux is a viable alternative to drive down cost of the netbook and indeed XP itself as Microsoft see it as competition.

I doubt companies such as HP intentionally go out of their way to cripple their own products, its more like they want to brand their own version of Linux and offer a compelling user experience that people like me and you would probably mistake for dumbing down the OS. Just my take on things, but not necessarily true.

Edited 2009-08-21 12:45 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Crippled...
by kaiwai on Fri 21st Aug 2009 13:10 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Crippled..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

If that was the case then why would HP even bother with Linux on a netbook in the first place, and wouldn't Microsoft pay them not to bother? I think the reality is that XP is too expensive (compared to Linux) for the netbook and Vista is a performance hog, so Linux is a viable alternative to drive down cost of the netbook and indeed XP itself as Microsoft see it as competition.

I doubt companies such as HP intentionally go out of their way to cripple their own products, its more like they want to brand their own version of Linux and offer a compelling user experience that people like me and you would probably mistake for dumbing down the OS. Just my take on things, but not necessarily true.


The reason why some make the statement of HP crippling their products is the disbelief that such a large organisation could lack harnessing of talent and direction so badly as to produce a product that is so horrible. How can an organisation such as HP produce such a horrible product given that at their disposal a large army of programmers, mountains of source code from various projects to select from and customise, and the ability to select components for not only their price but on the level of support already available in the kernel.

HP had all the components; they had a lego set in which they could build almost anything they want but they did the absolute minimum and we see the result as show in the review. A company who have failed to realise that when you go with Linux, all the decisions are placed on your shoulder. You decide the hardware, you write the drivers or improve existing drivers, you make the distribution and customise it to fulfill tasks for the target audience of the device. HP is still stuck in the mentality of "lets just image the computer and shunt it out the door" - sorry, that might work in the Windows world but this isn't Windows, its Linux.

Edited 2009-08-21 13:11 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[4]: Crippled...
by jibadeeha on Fri 21st Aug 2009 13:36 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Crippled..."
jibadeeha Member since:
2009-08-10


The reason why some make the statement of HP crippling their products is the disbelief that such a large organisation could lack harnessing of talent and direction so badly as to produce a product that is so horrible. How can an organisation such as HP produce such a horrible product given that at their disposal a large army of programmers, mountains of source code from various projects to select from and customise, and the ability to select components for not only their price but on the level of support already available in the kernel.

HP had all the components; they had a lego set in which they could build almost anything they want but they did the absolute minimum and we see the result as show in the review. A company who have failed to realise that when you go with Linux, all the decisions are placed on your shoulder. You decide the hardware, you write the drivers or improve existing drivers, you make the distribution and customise it to fulfill tasks for the target audience of the device. HP is still stuck in the mentality of "lets just image the computer and shunt it out the door" - sorry, that might work in the Windows world but this isn't Windows, its Linux.


But you have to remember that all of what you mention above takes time and costs money, and HP are not in the business of building desktop operating systems to compete in the market. They just want a cheap OS on their netbook that provides the usual every day apps (firefox, openoffice, etc) - they don't care if it isn't as good as XP or OS X, as long as it sells.

HP could have all the resource and money in the world, but it doesn't mean to say they will be good at building a desktop operating system. How many large companies have all the man power and stack loads of cash, but produce shoddy products? Plenty!

If HP were to invest a lot of time, resource, and money into customising a version of Linux for the netbook, then they may as well spend that money and resource on integrating Windows XP on to their netbook product - the work is virtually done.

Somebody in HP will have calculated that it is cheaper to get a small team together to tweak Linux and put that on the netbook, than it would be to pay Microsoft to put XP on it.

Now, if I were into consipiracy theories then I would say that HP would prefer you to buy an expensive laptop instead of a netbook so they get more per unit.

They can't ignore the netbook market, but they can put a crippled version of Linux on the netbook to detract you from purchasing the netbook and instead buying an expensive laptop with Windows Vista on it. Thus using netbooks to persuade you into buying a laptop.

Edited 2009-08-21 13:43 UTC

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Crippled...
by StephenBeDoper on Mon 24th Aug 2009 00:45 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Crippled..."
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

Now, if I were into consipiracy theories then I would say that HP would prefer you to buy an expensive laptop instead of a netbook so they get more per unit.


Oh of course they would prefer that - doesn't require conspiracy theories, that's just common sense. That's almost certainly why the EeePC came from Asus, and not one of the established laptop makers (HP, Dell, Acer, Apple, etc) - in other words, the companies who had a vested interest in making sure that big, heavy laptops (with their nice fat profit margins) remained the norm.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Crippled...
by ricegf on Fri 21st Aug 2009 15:27 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Crippled..."
ricegf Member since:
2007-04-25

They don't even have to use the Lego set - just install Ubuntu Netbook Remix onto a device with supported components, and ship it as is. It's not like all the "effort" they put into creating this travesty of a netbook helped; they just created another pointless distro, while Ubuntu NBR is a *very* nice product as is.

BTW, a much better option is the System76 Starling - read my review at http://ricegf.com/index.php?page=review&review=0000. [Website is still a work in progress, but review's done. /commercial ;-) ]

Reply Score: 1

RE[5]: Crippled...
by kaiwai on Fri 21st Aug 2009 16:20 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Crippled..."
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

They don't even have to use the Lego set - just install Ubuntu Netbook Remix onto a device with supported components, and ship it as is. It's not like all the "effort" they put into creating this travesty of a netbook helped; they just created another pointless distro, while Ubuntu NBR is a *very* nice product as is.

BTW, a much better option is the System76 Starling - read my review at http://ricegf.com/index.php?page=review&review=0000. [Website is still a work in progress, but review's done. /commercial ;-) ]


As nice as Ubuntu NBR is, in your review you pointed out things that should have been handled by the hardware vendor; the hardware vendor should be providing CODEC support by having it preloaded by having an arrangement with Fluendo for example. You talked about some error messages that weren't straight forward in providing the end user with sufficient information as to the nature of why it failed - technobable that should have come back, 'no CODEC is installed for the movie you're trying to play". So it isn't just a matter of throwing something on there and praying all hell doesn't breaks loose - it is about providing an out of the box experience where as an end user, they can start using their machine straight away. What Apple or Windows does is irrelevant - the only focus should be to provide the end user with the best possible experience at a reasonable price; then market the product properly regarding the strengths and why one should pay slightly more for your product over a competitors.

Edited 2009-08-21 16:24 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Crippled...
by lord_rob on Sat 22nd Aug 2009 17:12 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Crippled..."
lord_rob Member since:
2005-08-06

I had read previously that Microsoft gave Windows for free on netbooks, just in the hope of avoiding the progress linux of course.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by Traumflug
by Traumflug on Fri 21st Aug 2009 10:05 UTC
Traumflug
Member since:
2008-05-22

The OS installation appears to be so bad it's actually an argument to stay with Windows. Remember, most consumers never consider to install another OS, they're used to buy new hardware to get a fresh operation system.

I have no idea why so many companies insist on running so heavily customized versions of Linux distros. Must be a marketing strategy of the company selling the modifications.

Reply Score: 2

Netbooks?
by vasko_dinkov on Fri 21st Aug 2009 10:50 UTC
vasko_dinkov
Member since:
2005-09-13

To me netbooks are just toys - nothing more. No serious work can be done on such a machine even for a short period of time without at least attaching some sort of normal keyboard to it.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Netbooks?
by jibadeeha on Fri 21st Aug 2009 10:52 UTC in reply to "Netbooks?"
jibadeeha Member since:
2009-08-10

To me netbooks are just toys - nothing more. No serious work can be done on such a machine even for a short period of time without at least attaching some sort of normal keyboard to it.


That might be your experience, but I Suggest you read yesterday's article and the comments:

http://www.osnews.com/story/22027/How_Do_You_Use_Your_Netbook_

Edited 2009-08-21 10:53 UTC

Reply Score: 1

I have one
by Luis on Fri 21st Aug 2009 11:24 UTC
Luis
Member since:
2006-04-28

I have the European version of this netbook (called Compaq 700 here). The hardware differences with the reviewed one are:

- It does have a 1024x600 screen. In fact, the early US versions also had it. It was later that was changed for worse.
- It has a 60GB @4200 HDD. Rather small and slow, but much better than the 16GB SSD.
- It has Bluetooth.

I basically agree about the good things hardware wise. The machine is very well made for a sub 300 euro thing, and the keyboard is very good.

Mine came with Windows XP and I run Arch Linux very happily (with KDE4). It is the only distro/OS (Windows XP included) that can run the machine cool (at least while on battery). Everything else makes it hot rather quickly. All hardware is perfectly supported, with the only problem of needing a closed source (well, hybrid they cal it) wireless driver.

I didn't experience any wireless problems. In fact, forgetting about its closed source nature, it works really good here and with all routers I connected to.

The webcam is rather bad, I agree, but it seems that the unit tested had the problem that some units suffered: they forgot to remove a dark plastic protection that makes it almost unusable. The fix is easy, but it involves opening the lid a bit. Here a video that shows how to do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc4rZUcUkIc

Battery life with Arch is 3 hours (normal usage), or around 2h40min of movie playback. Similar with XP it seems (didn't test much). With Ubuntu I doubt it reaches 2.5 hours for what I've seen when testing it.

Overall it is a nice machine and quite Linux friendly (things like mic, webcam, s2ram, s2disk, fn keys, etc... work fine out of the box). If only it had a bigger battery (instead of the 3 cell, 24w/h one) and a matte screen...

EDIT: My two ethernet cables worked here. Not sure if the connector is different to the tested one. Probably yes).

Edited 2009-08-21 11:26 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: I have one
by Eugenia on Sat 22nd Aug 2009 01:08 UTC in reply to "I have one"
Eugenia Member since:
2005-06-28

> The webcam is rather bad, I agree, but it seems that the unit tested had the problem that some units suffered: they forgot to remove a dark plastic protection that makes it almost unusable. The fix is easy, but it involves opening the lid a bit. Here a video that shows how to do it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sc4rZUcUkIc

I opened my screen like in the video, but I didn't find a plastic like in the video. I think the camera is just that bad.

Reply Score: 1

1024x576?
by darknexus on Fri 21st Aug 2009 12:32 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

Didn't Dell also do that on their Mini 12? It doesn't make much sense to me; I can see such a resolution being employed on a portable PAL DVD player, but a netbook?

Reply Score: 2

Comment by kosmic
by kosmic on Fri 21st Aug 2009 15:26 UTC
kosmic
Member since:
2007-09-24

For me the real netbook is still for coming.

Why there is nothing like the very good and old powerpc G4 12" from apple ?

12 inches, great processor and a DVD writer, and of course 1024x768, for me the best netbook of all times ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by kosmic
by kaiwai on Fri 21st Aug 2009 16:23 UTC in reply to "Comment by kosmic"
kaiwai Member since:
2005-07-06

For me the real netbook is still for coming.

Why there is nothing like the very good and old powerpc G4 12" from apple ?

12 inches, great processor and a DVD writer, and of course 1024x768, for me the best netbook of all times ;)


The very question was asked when the MacBook Air came out; many people I know were expecting the return of the 12inch 'PowerBook' but found that they were greatly disappointed. I question the wisdom, quite frankly, of MacBook Air when the people I've talked to were hoping for a 12inch PowerBook like laptop. Small, powerful and functional.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Comment by kosmic
by Accident on Fri 21st Aug 2009 20:02 UTC in reply to "Comment by kosmic"
Accident Member since:
2005-07-29

I would say the old TC-1100 was the best netbook ever made if it was made today. I got mine with docking station for $300. I have it setup as dual screen too.


Main Specifications:

Processor: 1.2GHz Pentium M
System Memory: 2 GB SDRAM
Hard Drive Size: 160 GB
Screen: 10.4" XGA (1024x768) display
Video Adapter: 32MB Nvidia
WiFi Adapter: Integrated WLAN 802.11 a/b/g

Expansion Ports (Tablet):

Ethernet: Integrated 10/100 Adapter
Modem: Integrated 56K MiniPCI Adapter
Sound: Onboard
USB Port: Yes (2)
PC-Card (PCMCIA) Slot: Yes (1)
Monitor Out Port: 15-Pin VGA
SD Card Slot: Yes (1)

(Docking Station):

Ethernet: Integrated 10/100 Adapter
Optical Drive: CD-RW/DVD external
Sound Card: Onboard
USB Port: Yes (4) (6 altogether)
Monitor Out Port: 15-Pin VGA

Operating System: Windows XP Tablet PC Edition

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TC1100

Reply Score: 1

RE: Comment by kosmic
by Lennie on Sat 22nd Aug 2009 00:15 UTC in reply to "Comment by kosmic"
Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

I got a touchbook on pre-order:

http://www.osnews.com/story/21075/Want_Touch_Book

Reply Score: 2

Comment by moleskine
by moleskine on Fri 21st Aug 2009 16:51 UTC
moleskine
Member since:
2005-11-05

At this rate folks will soon be writing in the past tense about the rise and fall of the netbook. It's an interesting exercise in the cult of marketing. Take a product that does things nearly perfectly (the few early netbooks), then apply modern marketing ideas to "differentiate" your product based on imagined consumer needs, cost-cutting and questionable statistics while all the while your product gets further and further away from what makes a netbook desirable in the first place. It fits in your pocket, it does a few basic thing perfectly well (because those are what it is designed to do) and the batteries run for hours. As for all the extras, gizmos and nifty marketing tricks, it's been downhill all the way. If you are happy with less, go for a decent mobile phone and if you want more, shell out for a full-on notebook, imho.

Reply Score: 3

Intel
by cjcox on Fri 21st Aug 2009 17:19 UTC
cjcox
Member since:
2006-12-21

Intel is applying a LOT of pressure. With Windows, it's easy. Intel tells Microsoft to make their product not so nice on netbooks and Microsoft complies. Btw, this is done to make sure that the netbook market does not destroy the lower end notebook market where Intel's margins are considerably higher.

As I have told many, the Atom is not that much different from the low end Pentium-M that most were using as little as 4-5 years ago on their laptops. Which means that there's a LOT more horse power inside of a netbook that most people realize.

Linux distros are uncontrollable. Therefore, putting a Linux variant on a netbook gets you pretty much a NOTEBOOK like experience. Intel can't control that terribly well (there no arm to twist). Intel's Moblin Linux distro is an attempt to "control" the netbook experience somewhat to keep the experience from being too NOTEBOOK like... which again, is the issue.

You can see the problem, right? I mean an 8G or 16G SSD based netbook with 512M is not a great Windows experience (unless you run a very hampered version), but a Linux distro is quite comfortable with those numbers and thus you can get a notebook like experience for $100-200 right now (especially as all the Windows users are retuning their netbooks... massive refurb market forming).

Don't get me wrong, Intel's margins are certainly still there. They'd just rather get 2-3x that margin, which is what they get with a low end notebook when compared to a netbook.

I just gave away an Asire One A110 model with 8G (refurb) with openSUSE 11.1 (KDE 4.2.4 + compiz). The thing works VERY well. Would satisfy most Wal-mart style laptop shoppers.

I did the HCL for the HP2140 which had 2G memory and a 160G (I think) HD, it was awesome. A real powerhouse. I used it for about a week as my desktop for accessing my virtualized desktop at the office. Even using the weird low res screen. Everything worked surprisingly well.

And, of course, these units will drive higher external resolutions, even 1920x1200. But at some performance penalty (esp. if using accelerated 3d stuff).

Reply Score: 1

RE: Intel
by npcomplete on Fri 21st Aug 2009 20:11 UTC in reply to "Intel"
npcomplete Member since:
2009-08-21

As I have told many, the Atom is not that much different from the low end Pentium-M that most were using as little as 4-5 years ago on their laptops. Which means that there's a LOT more horse power inside of a netbook that most people realize.


Actually, it's quite the opposite. There's a huge different in performance between the Pentium-M and Atom. The Atom is a cut down, greatly simplified IN-ORDER cpu, which helps it cut down on heat but hurts performance. Even the new Via cpus are much stronger. Take a look at the many benchmarks done between a Pentium-M, Via Nano and Atom starting at this page:
http://techreport.com/articles.x/15204/5

I know some people have been disappointed with the performance of Atom especially with regards to video playback through flash or a native player. I had some high hopes myself when Atom debuted but have given up on Atom based Netbooks since it doesn't fit my needs and will be sticking with my old Pentium-M for now. Although the AMD low-power K8 based netbooks/small laptops might be just the ticket.

ION is also not the complete solution because it only accerlates h.264 and vc-1 (apparently poorly) and they have to be encoded in a certain way for cuda/vdpau, which few realize.
http://wordpress.fusetnt.com/2009/02/ion-close-so-close/
http://www.engadget.com/2009/04/28/acer-aspirerevo-review/

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Intel
by cjcox on Fri 21st Aug 2009 20:47 UTC in reply to "RE: Intel"
cjcox Member since:
2006-12-21

You really want to compare a high end Pentium-M at 2Ghz to the Atom at 1.3Ghz? My point is that the Wal*Mart buyer of 4-5 years ago was buying 1.4Ghz Pentium-M's... so, let's see a comparison with the lower end Pentium M and the Atom N270 (the N270 1.6Ghz being typical for netbooks now).

So... I'll stand by my remark about performance. I currently do not have access to a netbook, but if I get another one, I'll bench it myself against a 1.6Ghz P-M that I have... at least that will be somewhat close.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Intel
by cjcox on Fri 21st Aug 2009 20:52 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Intel"
cjcox Member since:
2006-12-21

Oh... and one more thing. I saw NO issue with web video playback peformance and no problems using the GMA 950 with DVD resolution (480p) video. Again, that was using a N270 on a near 1st generation Aspire One A110 netbook (considered to be a lower end nb with the N270).

With that said, I have friends that say the netbooks with the broadcom wireless do give them issues.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Intel
by cjcox on Fri 21st Aug 2009 21:17 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Intel"
cjcox Member since:
2006-12-21

Better comparison, but again, not with the N270, uses the Z530, but still (N270 will do a bit better than the Z530):

http://www.anandtech.com/systems/showdoc.aspx?i=3321&p=6

They're results seem to indicate the Z530 fits between an 800Mhz and 1.2Ghz P-M. Since the N270 is slightly better than the Z530 on performance, I still feel pretty comfortable with the 1.4Ghz P-M compare. Regardless, just the fact that it gets close is enough IMHO.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Intel
by jibadeeha on Fri 21st Aug 2009 21:18 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Intel"
jibadeeha Member since:
2009-08-10

You really want to compare a high end Pentium-M at 2Ghz to the Atom at 1.3Ghz? My point is that the Wal*Mart buyer of 4-5 years ago was buying 1.4Ghz Pentium-M's... so, let's see a comparison with the lower end Pentium M and the Atom N270 (the N270 1.6Ghz being typical for netbooks now).

So... I'll stand by my remark about performance. I currently do not have access to a netbook, but if I get another one, I'll bench it myself against a 1.6Ghz P-M that I have... at least that will be somewhat close.


I can safely say that my old Pentium M (1.4GHz) performs noticeably faster than my Atom N270 (1.6GHz) in my Eee PC 901. I still prefer my 901 though ;)

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: Intel
by bnolsen on Sun 23rd Aug 2009 12:31 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Intel"
bnolsen Member since:
2006-01-06

I have an compaq evo n410c with a 1.2 P-M.
I also have 2 of the original aspire ones.

I have to lock the compaq at 800MHz because of the massive heat this thing generates...it overheats and shuts down while playing hulu. And the fan tends to run irritatingly high.

The atoms on the other hand only just get somewhat warm doing the same things.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Intel
by npcomplete on Fri 21st Aug 2009 22:43 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Intel"
npcomplete Member since:
2009-08-21

So... I'll stand by my remark about performance. I currently do not have access to a netbook, but if I get another one, I'll bench it myself against a 1.6Ghz P-M that I have... at least that will be somewhat close.


You had compared it with a "low-end" P-M, so I gave you an example of what you can get in a cheap laptop.

But I'm not sure how you can still say that ("it's close to a Pentium-M") when the Anandtech link you provided
http://www.anandtech.com/systems/showdoc.aspx?i=3321&p=6
showed otherwise even at the same clock speed. I also happen to have a Pentium-M at 1.6Ghz and I'm confident that when you do bench yours against an Atom, it'll come out quite ahead, again just like Anandtech's benchmarks.

As far as the types of videos Atoms have trouble with, basically most h.264 at higher than SD resolution, and some high bitrate MPEG4 based codecs like Divx / Xvid / WMV9 / MP4. But it can still have issues with some h.264 even at SD, depending on how they are encoded, and more so if they contain software rendered subtitles. Playing said types of video through Flash ala Youtube ("HQ" mode + CC for subtitles), Hulu, and Vimeo exacerbates the issue even more, especially when played back at full screen.

Reply Score: 1