The win continues…

I seem to have hit a rich seam of win with my recent technology purchases. OK, so it’s only 2 in a row and I don’t want to jinx it, but it’s always nice to have one’s decisions reaffirmed. It’s like the opposite of buyers remorse.
So, first I bought my MSI Wind netbook and it got voted product of the year. Then, last weekend I finally got round to replacing my colour printer and scanner. I had decided I wanted to get an MFP (Multi-Function Printer) rather than separate devices as this would free up some desk space, plug sockets and USB ports in my office and make photocopying easier. So, I shopped around a little and quickly settled on the Epson PX800FW (also known as the Artisan 800).
Not only does it look gorgeous and do all the things I want and then some, but the price has just dropped from £299 to £195. Add a duplex module for an extra £25 and free delivery from Amazon and what gets delivered is a box full of win.
For your £195 you get a 40 page per minute, 6-colour, 5760 x 1440 edge-to-edge photo printer, a 1200 dpi photocopier and 4800 x 4800 dpi flatbed scanner with auto document feeder and a Group 3 fax with colour LCD screen. The unit also communicates via USB, Ethernet, Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and PicBridge with an expansion slot for Bluetooth, has dual paper trays and a CD printing tray and supports about 20 different kinds of removable memory card including USB drives. It probably does more but I don’t want to labour the point.
When I finally get it out of all the packaging and remove the 30+ strips of that heavy blue tape they use to secure everything for shipping it looks even more gorgeous than in the pictures. How rare is that ? Not only that but the LCD control panel folds down at the touch of a button with a slow, silent hydraulic action that is perversely gratifying.
Could things get any better ? We apparently yes because today Kevin Rose blogged his list of Top 10 Gifts For Geeks and there’s my printer at #7. Now I know this is not the be all and end all of affirmations but, like the hydraulic whirr of my new LCD, it’s the little things that make us happy.
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MSI Wind is pocket-lint’s product of the year

pocket-lint recently announced their gadget of the year and the wind came out on top in both the best laptop and best product of the year. Beating the apple iPhone to the top place as the must have gadget of the year.

Product of the Year was fiercely fought this year, however the MSI Wind pipped the Apple iPhone 3G by a whisker to be crowned the “must have” gadget of 2008.

The wind also manged to come out on top over the Toshiba Portege R500

The MSI Wind gained the Best Laptop/Netbook award from Toshiba who came in second with the Portege R500.

Great news as pocket-lint is one of the more reputable sites around.

So my MSI Wind has arrived in time to be announced product of the year by pocket-lint. Thus far I have :

1) Upgraded to 2GB of RAM.

2) Installed all my software.

3) Upgraded the OS to XP Pro.

4) Upgraded the BIOS to 1.09 and the SCM to 2.0208.1031.001.14

5) Bought a 6-cell battery on eBay for £50.

One of the coolest features of the Wind is that with the latest BIOS (1.09) you have overclocking built right in to the BIOS settings. Just by hitting Fn + F10 on the system you can crank the 1.6 Ghz Intel Atom N270 upto 2Ghz.

To this I have also added an 8GB SDHC card to go in the SD card slot. The card slot however is the short kind so the SD card sticks out of the side of the Wind protruding by about 6mm which drives me nuts so it sits in the bag when not in use. I also have a 2.5″ USB/eSATA 160GB 5400 RPM with USB or external power for external storage and backups and a very small wireless mouse.

From reading the web it’s clear that the Wind is one of the most popular and most hacked devices available. Popular hacks include dual or even triple booting with Windows, Linux and OSX, upgrading heat sinks and network cards, over-clocking the CPU and the FSB, skinning and even installing a touch screen.

Plunge Taken

So I finally made up my mind and ordered the MSI Wind U100 and the extra RAM.
It should be all delivered, upgraded and configured ready to take to TechEd next week 🙂

NetBook Update

Following on from my last post about my mission to buy a NetBook I am now leaning toward the MSI Wind u100. I am also favouring the 10.2" screens over the 8.9" inch screens.
 
Here’s how they have stacked up so far :
 
ASUS EEE s101 :
 
  • Probably the most attractive.
  • Lightest.
  • Most expensive by far.
  • Hardest to upgrade because of slimness.
  • Not available yet anywhere that I can find.
  • VGA camera only
  • UK release dates seem to be slipping all the time.
  • Cannot get 64GB model with WinXP so would have to buy with Linux and install XP from scratch.

HP MiniNote 2133 :

  • Best screen resolution.
  • Feature rich (GB ethernet, express card slot)
  • Fast HDD (7200 RPM).
  • Small screen size.
  • Via CPU, not Intel Atom (next model MiniNote 1000 will have Atom but no release date yet).
  • VGA camera only
  • Second most expensive.

Acer Aspire One :

  • Joint Cheapest.
  • Max 1.5 GB RAM.
  • Small screen size.
  • VGA camera only.

Dell Inspiron Mini 9 :

  • It’s a Dell.
  • Joint Cheapest.
  • Small disk size.
  • Small screen size.

MSI Wind u100 :

  • Huge HDD
  • Good feature set for the money
  • Supports in-BIOS overclocking
  • 6-cell battery (9-cell available)
  • Still fairly light

Lenovo IdeaPad s10 :

  • It’s a Lenovo
  • Good features for the money
  • No UK release date
  • Cannot confirm UK Price (the £320 was a press guess based on the US price).
  • Really heavy

So the MSI has it at the moment. I have found a store that will sell it for £309 plus £7.99 next day shipping. The RAM upgrade will cost me £15.00 shipped. I can also get a blisteringly fast 64GB Patriot Extreme Flash Warp SSD at a later date if I want and still have change from the ASUS.

Netbooks…

I am thinking about buying a netbook (very small laptop). So far I have narrowed it down to the following.

ASUS Eee s101 HP MiniNote 2133 Acer Aspire One Dell Inspiron Mini 9 MSI Wind u100 Lenovo IdeaPad s10
Processor Intel Atom N270 (1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 cache) VIA C7-M ULV processor (1.6 GHz, 128 KB L2 cache, 800 MHz FSB) Intel Atom N270 (1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 cache) Intel Atom N270 (1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 cache) Intel Atom N270 (1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 cache) Intel Atom N270 (1.60 GHz, 533 MHz FSB, 512 KB L2 cache)
RAM 2 GB 2 GB 1 GB (1.5 GB Max) 1 GB 2 GB 1 GB
Disk 64 GB SSD 120 GB SATA (7200 rpm) 120 GB SATA 16 GB SSD 160 GB SATA (5400 rpm) 160 GB SATA (5400 rpm)
Screen Size 10.2″ Wide Active Matrix TFT LED-backlit 8.9″ 8.9″ WSVGA TFT LCD 8.9″ WSVGA (WLED) Truelife Display 10.2″ TFT 10.2″ Wide Active Matrix TFT LED-backlit
Screen Resolution 1024 x 600 WSVGA 1280 x 768 1024 x 600 1024X600 1024 x 600 WSVGA 1024 x 600 WSVGA
OS XP Home Vista Business XP Home XP Home XP Home XP Home
Ports 1 x VGA, 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x RJ-45 (10/100), 1 x Headphone, 1 x Mic, 4-in-1 SD, MMC MS, MS-Pro 1 x VGA, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x RJ-45 (10/100/1000), 1 x Headphone, 1 x Mic, SD, 1 x Express Card 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x VGA, 1 x mic, 1 x headphone, 1 x RJ-45 (10/100), Multi-in-1 card reader 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x RJ-45 (10/100), 1 x VGA, 1 x mic, 1 x headphone, 3-in-1 Media Card Reader 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x VGA, 1 x RJ-45 (10/100), 1 x microphone, 1 x headphones 1 x VGA, 2 x USB 2.0, 1 x RJ-45 (10/100), 1 x Headphone, 1 x Mic, SD, 1 x Express Card
Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.0 802.11 a/b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 802.11 b/g 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth 2.0 802.11m b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.0 802.11 b/g
Camera 0.3 Megapixel 0.3 Megapixel 0.3 Megapixel 1.3 Megapixel 1.3 Megapixel 1.3 Megapixel
Weight 1 Kg 1.19 Kg 1.26 Kg 1.1 Kg 1.17 Kg 1.6 Kg
W (mm) 264 255 249 232 260 249
D (mm) 180 165 195 172 180 185
H (mm) 18 ~ 25 27 36 27 ~ 31 18 ~ 31 23
Battery 36W/hr; 2S2P (2450mAh/cell) 6-cell (55 WHr) high capacity Li-Ion 3-cell (6 optional) 4-cell 2200AHr Battery 6-cell 2.5 Hr
Extras 30 GB Online Storage 3G 7.2 Mb/s HSDPA and 2 Mb/s HSUPA
Link Link Link Link Link Link Link
Price £499 £440 £299 £299 £320 £320

One of the most annoying things about this is that in many cases I’ve had to allow for the machine with 1 GB of RAM and then upgrading it to 2 GB at a cost of around £25 – £30. They will take 2GB but none of the manufacturers will ship with 2GB. This is because of Vista. The manufacturers’ distribution agreement with Microsoft says that if a new machine falls within the minimum specs for Vista it must ship with Vista. As a result the manufacturers are selling the machines “crippled” so that they can get away with shipping them with XP. I have even seen the HP, which ships with 2GB as standard, come with Vista plus an XP downgrade pack. I’m also getting frustrated by a similar problem with SSDs. In the case of the ASUS and the Dell it’s hard to find a machine actually for sale with XP and a large (greater than 16 GB) SSD. It’s hard to know whether this is another licensing shenanigan or an attempt to keep the price points between the XP and Linux models close.

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