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Another piece of hardware in the family

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Well nothing really all that exciting to post here except for the recent purchase I made of a netbook for my mother to use. To get everyone up to speed, my mom is usually the last person to get any tech upgrades and I felt that she would need something at least to use while working on genealogy or at the library, or simply to enjoy in her spare time. Right now she owns an older model HP Pavilion (800 MHz, 512MB RAM on XP PRO) that was originally my twin sister’s computer, that I have since morphed into a useable machine for her and her family history/email usage.


This machine is a little different, it is a netbook that I bought from someone really really cheaply and then reconfigured it to do the basics but in a more modern environment: Check and Sync her email using Windows Live Mail, Browse the internet and play games or watch videos on YouTube via Google Chrome, write reports, letters, spreadsheets, powerpoints, etc using OpenOffice, view and manage pictures (Live Photo Gallery), webchat/video conference (Live Messenger) make movies (Movie Maker) and finally read PDF’s using Foxit Reader. I must say that I was amazed at what I could tweak on this extremely minimalist piece of machinery and still have it perform almost 90% of what she does on a day to day basis. The main loss was any CD installed or large hard drive programs, which is what the main computer is designed to complete. Hopefully this will allow her to spend her time organizing the family history and bills in one area (her desk) thus keeping it clean, and her more personal stuff or internet based entertainment can be done on this one (with the exception of using it while traveling). The battery was still good on the machine and it runs most applications in about the same amount of time that her older desktop runs them, which translates into an enjoyable user experience.


images (1) So what about stats? Well for starters this little baby was purchased for $50! Yes, a $50 used netbook with a working battery (2.7 hour+ charged capacity still!). Still more interesting is that it only has a SD Card has a HD with a capacity of 8 GB! Yes, this computer stores all of its data on an SD CARD (you know, the kind that you use in your camera or smart phone to store pictures)!!  The RAM is pretty small at 512MB, but for running XP Home and the lighter applications, it has been shown to meet my demand (with some small quibbles from software bloat). Oddly enough this machine has a slower Celeron Processor (like the desktop) that runs at about 900MHz, which for a 2008 machine could have been installed with something running at 1.5GHz minimum. What is clock speed you ask? That is the number of calculations that a computer can do in a given second, and generally the larger the clock speed will result in a faster computer (all things being equal). Finally, this little netbook can still be upgraded. If the need arose or money found its way to making this run better, I could replace the 512MB RAM chip with a 2GB RAM, and replace the 8GB SD Card with a 32GB (or even higher) one, thus making this machine much more competitive with a current machine worth about $250-$400.


To summarize: I got a great deal on a netbook that was outdated, fixed it up and tweaked it to run modern apps and be useful to my mom, and did it for $50.

images (2) Let this be a lesson to all of you who think that the latest is the greatest : in some things it is, but in the tech world, just like the car markets, you can usually save a lot of money by adopting the slightly aged piece of machinery that someone else no longer wants. In this way you save on the depreciation costs and still get value out of it for its remaining years. If you doubt this, remember that I am writing this on an ASUS W5000A, made in or earlier then 2005, using XP Pro, and I have no intentions of upgrading for the foreseeable future (if I do, it will be because my applications are no longer functioning or from a major hardware failure that I can not repair for less then $50). It only has a 60GB Hard drive capacity (less then 50% used) and 750MB RAM with a 1.75GHz Centrino processor (of which I under-clocked to 800MHz for nearly all my work). It can and has done everything I wanted it to do since I bought it in Bogota, Colombia two years ago for $325 (650,000 pesos then). Could I have spent more and bought a nicer pc? Yes, for about $500 extra. Could I have spend just a little more and bought a new netbook? Yes, for around $400 (800,000 pesos) I could have bought one, but then I would have lost a lot of the features I needed in a laptop. Those features (a moveable camera, card reader, IO ports and Disc Drive) I used and continue to use for PC repairs, data backups, upgrading or testing. Suffice it to say, a 5 year old laptop does the job that I need it to do with only one exception: battery power. Naturally I am a heavy user and that used battery that gave me 2 hours of juice when I first used it is down to only 20-25minutes. A new battery is about $100 which is pretty cheap, but not cheap enough for my tastes (I would just buy another laptop or netbook at that price and upgrade it).


Written by Josecito

October 12, 2010 at 1:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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