posted by Eugenia Loli on Mon 9th May 2005 08:47 UTC
IconWe got in a new loaner from LinuxCertified.com, the brand new LC2210D model: a Centrino 1.80 GHz CPU, 512 MBs of RAM, Intel Extreme gfx card, 40 GB drive and a 14" XGA TFT screen. The laptop comes with the latest Ubuntu installed and sells for $1249. Read more for our review.

Hardware:
The laptop also sports a firewire port, a pcmcia port, an SD/MMC reader, a combo drive, 2 usb ports, modem, wifi, ethernet, integrated mic, mic-in and headphones-out audio jacks. The build of the laptop is solid and it has pretty good looks too. There are some extra buttons (labeled mp3, dvd and photo) which are configured by LinuxCertified to instead launch Evolution, Firefox and Search-Files respectively. The rest of the function keys work really well, for example the screen brightness function keys. The keyboard feels really nice and the layout of the keys holds no surprises. The laptop is lighter than my 12" Powerbook and so it really feels comfortable. The performance is very good, in fact I find it faster than my other PC laptop, a P4 at 2.8 GHz. The screen is really clear and bright with a good viewing angle (better than my 12" Powerbook's which uses the same iBook quality screen (not the same as the better 15/17 inch pbooks)).

Software:
The laptop comes with Ubuntu 5.0.4 and it includes the standard Gnome software. Unfortunately Ubuntu is dog slow to load, it takes about 2 minutes to load, while the laptop *is* fast in general (there is a weird pause while loading trying to figure out my DHCP networking). LC has configured the laptop with a root password that you initially logged in as, and then create your user using ubuntu's user's preference panel. LC has installed some additional software to the stock ubuntu: mplayer, xbindkeys and suspend/resume. The suspend/resume function takes about 20 seconds to resume and about 10 seconds to suspend. A really nice feature enabled on the laptop by LC is the speed stepping feature, that allows the CPU to run from 600 Mhz to 1.80 GHz depending on the load each time. This enables better battery life, which is normally at about 3.5 hours. Synaptics was also installed by LC, and so you can scroll documents with ease using the touchpad.

Problems:
There a few problems with the current setup of the laptop, some easily fixable, some not so:
1. The mouse moves fast like crazy. LC hasn't provided the full Synaptics' config and so it uses the defaults for speed and acceleration which are not the best for this particular laptop. Gnome's mouse preference panel does not support Synaptics, so this is something that LC should fix as normal users will have some mind boggling trying to figure Synaptics out. Also, typing this very document is moving the cursor to different positions randomly. The touchpad is too sensitive, again a Synaptics configuration issue.
2. Sleep does not work: if you close the lid, the lcd will go off, but the laptop does not go to sleep. This is a more generic Linux problem which doesn't have real sleep support for most laptops.
3. XMMS with either OSS or ALSA wouldn't work here. Rhythmbox was also saying that it doesn't support mp3 (couldn't stream www.di.fm's radio).
4. There is no 3D support, as it is not compatible with suspend/resume, there are cases of lockups if both are enabled (it's a trade off, a decision had to be made).
5. After upgrading Ubuntu to the latest version using Ubuntu's update panel, mplayer stopped working, and also I couldn't load gnome as root anymore (I had to login as safe mode, and this would fix some gnome settings, log out, and then relogin to normal gnome).
6. The user I created ('eugenia', belonging to the 'users' group), could not use wifi. Only ethernet was available to that user.

Conclusion:
This is a great laptop, hardware-speaking. But Ubuntu and some of LC's setup have their problems and it would require some extra care from the user to optimize the configuration to work as expected. I am sure LC will take care of these problems in the future. Especially if you are an experienced user you would be able to fix these issues easily, making this laptop purchase a good one.

Overall: 8/10

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