All Geek to Me

August 17, 2006

Cool Blue

Filed under: Geek Stuff — britinla @ 8:56 pm

Once it became apparent that we would be spending substantial time away from our base in West Covina, I realized that sharing a laptop with my wife was going to be more than just an inconvenience. I am spending a large amount of each day looking for permanent employment and doing work for my former employer in the UK. In the evenings, I enjoy playing computer games, and my wife’s laptop lacks sufficient graphics capability.

The solution was found in Circuit City, in the form of an HP dv5000 Multimedia laptop. It came with a decent processor, 1024Mb of Ram a graphics card with 128Mb dedicated memory (Rare on a laptop, but pretty much essential to play games), and a good 15.4” widescreen display. Not essential for my needs, but good to have it also included a Dual Layer DVD recorder and integrated multi-format card reader; although it does not support the compact-flash used by my Pentax. The clincher was that the laptop retailed for $850, with a $50 mail in rebate. I would usually turn to Dell to purchase PC equipment, but they had no equivalent laptop without spending twice that amount.

The laptop runs Windows XP Media Center Edition, which allows you to watch DVD or play CD without booting all the way into Windows. The DVR functionality that the OS supports requires the purchase of an additional TV tuner; so I think it unlikely that I be using it. There is an included remote control, which conveniently slots into the Express Card slot; although this would cease to be convenient if I had a card that needed the slot.

The laptop came with more unnecessary software preinstalled that I had ever seen before. The utility to create restore discs needed two Dual Layer DVD, or over twenty CD-R; I went for the DVD-DL solution. Most of the software has now been stripped away, although I kept the Netscape browser as an alternative to my first choice; Opera.

The performance playing Everquest 2 is more than acceptable (At least on a par with my desktop), although using it without a mouse with scroll wheel is proving somewhat tricky. Although, most of its use is likely to be while plugged into the mains, I have been impressed with the battery life which runs comfortably into several hours. I worked on batteries from a coffee shop, looking for employment opportunities and posting a blog entry.

One feature of the case, which I have not seen previously, is that the various ports and slots, all of which are on the side, have icons above them on the surface of the open laptop. This makes it a lot easier to know where the power, the headphones, TV out, etc should be slotted. Having a button to toggle wireless mode on and off seems like a good idea, once airlines allow you to carry hand-luggage again.

The only downsides are:
The1Gb of RAM is achieved using 2 x 512Mb chips, so it will not be possible to raise the memory to its 2Gb limit without buying two new chips.
As previously mentioned, the multi-format card reader does not support the compact flash in my camera.
I think that it would be helpful to have more than two USB ports.

Best feature? Undoubtedly the cool blue lights used to indicate power and the status of the multi-media buttons.

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1 Comment »

  1. Now a real geek would be running some flavour (or flavor) of ‘nix on their laptop!

    Comment by Ammonyte — August 18, 2006 @ 10:04 pm


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