Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h04/mnt/15326/domains/hpmininotepc.com/html/wp-settings.php on line 399

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h04/mnt/15326/domains/hpmininotepc.com/html/wp-settings.php on line 414

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h04/mnt/15326/domains/hpmininotepc.com/html/wp-settings.php on line 421

Deprecated: Assigning the return value of new by reference is deprecated in /nfs/c02/h04/mnt/15326/domains/hpmininotepc.com/html/wp-settings.php on line 456
HP Mini Note PC Blog

Broadcom HD Video Accelerator - Part 3

I had a couple of follow up questions regarding the Broadcom Adapter,  so I thought I’d write a quick post on what I can remember from installing the card in my HP2133.

Taking the machine apart to install the card : This is a little tricky as you have to get to the motherboard which is beneath the keyboard.  A couple of useful reference are:

http://www.insidemylaptop.com/remove-keyboard-replace-memory-access-hard-drive-hp-2133-mini-note-pc/

and the official HP maintenance manual

http://bizsupport2.austin.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManual/c01658655/c01658655.pdf

Be very careful with the keyboard connector! I broke mine the first time and had to get a defunct motherboard to replace it.  I have successfully disassembled the machine many times since without breaking it but just be extra cautious.

What did I give up to use the card?:  I think you have to take out the wireless card.  I had problems with mine because HP didn’t attach the antenna to the card so it appeared that my wireless card was unable to find networks.  Once I opened the machine to install the Broadcom adapter,  I found the manufacturing issue but had already purchased a USB Wifi adapter!

Battery Life/Performance: Running the Broadcom adapter did drain the battery faster.  It also made the machine run with the fan on at constant high speed when video was being decoded.

Software:  I had the hardest time getting the software I downloaded to install so that the accelerator would work correctly. I think I got it working with Microsoft Media Player and Arcsoft Totalmedia Theater.  It looks like the drivers are now on the Broadcom website so it might be easier than when I tried it.

Final thoughts:  I didn’t keep the accelerator in the machine for very long after installation,  I think the heat and the noise from the fan were the deal breakers for me.

I hope this post is helpful and answers some of the questions raised recently.

Painless (and free) hard drive cloning

I’m sad to report that my HP2133 mini note spends most of it’s time these days as a device for helping me do backups. None of my recent laptops match my mini note for portability but they meet my other needs for decent performance and light gaming.

Last week I bought a Lenovo Ideapad Y460 from the Lenovo outlet.  The machine has an amazing spec and buying from the outlet means you can save about 45% off the price on the Lenovo main site (look out for sales on the outlet). I’ve had Thinkpad’s pretty much my entire career and respect the quality of workmanship of these great machines.  The Ideapad’s are not as sturdy but they do offer considerable performance for the price (when you pay the outlet price).  I won’t get in to my experience with customer service at the outlet (basically abysmal) but the machine arrived in good condition, working perfectly.

I’ve done two major upgrades since I got the machine last week.  I installed 8 gb of RAM (it came with 4 gb) and put in a faster hard drive (going from a 5400 RPM to a 7200 RPM drive).

As computer enthusiasts we spend a lot of time working with drives so I thought I’d document my experience of cloning the Y460’s drive.

I chose the Western Digital Scorpio Black as the drive for the upgrade.  It comes with an amazing 5 year warranty and was recently given the The Tech Report Editors Choice Award for 7200 RPM 500gb notebook drives. At the time of purchase the drive cost $59.99 (Newegg).

To do the work of cloning the drive without having to buy an intermediate hard drive to perform a backup, I selected the Thermaltake BlacX eSata USB Docking Station.  I wanted a docking station that did both eSata and USB 2.0 as I have machines with both ports. At the time of purchase the docking station cost $33.28 (Amazon).

Having spent just under a $100 on hardware I wanted to minimize further cost so I looked around for a free, open source solution to drive cloning.  After some research I selected Clonezilla, a free, open source alternative to the commercial cloning and backup software available.

I installed Clonezilla on to a small (about 500 MB) USB thumb drive using the mechanism described here.

The installation uses Tuxboot another free, open source utility available from SourceForge (where I used to work!).

To download the software and setup the thumb drive will take you about 15 minutes, and requires no technical knowledge.  Your thumb drive will become a bootable version of Linux, but don’t let this worry you!  You will need to be able to select your thumb drive as the boot drive so you can do the cloning, but most modern BIOS’s provide this functionality.

I admit that the thought of accidentally erasing the contents of my internal hard drive by incorrectly choosing the new drive as the source and my internal laptop drive as the destination scared the pants off me, so I did read a couple of tutorials on using clonezilla before going ahead.

http://linuxgravity.com/creating-and-restoring-an-image-of-hard-disk-with-clonzilla

http://www.mindworkshop.info/windows/windows-adjustments-back-up-your-windows-installation/

The process itself was seamless, and completed in less than 1 hr, including removing and installing the new drive in the laptop.  Using the eSata interface my drive was being cloned at about 3 GB/per minute.  The 500gb drive had about 70gb of content and copied in about 15 minutes.

It’s great to be able to use free, stable, open source software to quickly clone hard drives.  If you do decide to use the software, don’t forget to donate to the project - it’s the right thing to do.

Broadcom HD Video Accelerator - Part 2

Shortly after posting the video’s of the upgrade I did to the HP2133 to add a Broadcom HD Video Accelerator I took a trip to Japan.

Unfortunately whilst I was in Tokyo I lost the camera which I used to take step-by-step photos of the hardware modifications I made.  Hence I never got to update the article I wrote as promised and have not felt like going back in to my HP2133 and dissecting it again.  I have responded to a couple of readers who got in contact with me directly about the modification.

I apologize for my lack of follow through on the original article I wrote, but I lost enthusiasm for the project after loosing my camera.

Adding a Broadcom HD video accelerator to the HP mininote 2133

My HP 2133 (1 Ghz) plays 480p video flawlessly, but any attempt to play a high definition format makes the video look like a slideshow.

When Broadcom announced the “Crystal HD Enhanced Media Accelerator” I decided to purchase one, dissect my mininote again and see how well the card works.

The following videos are examples of the “before” and “after” experience of using the accelerator on my HP 2133 mininote. Installation of both the hardware and the software had it’s challenges which I’ll document in a later post this week.

The sample Stormchasers_1080 and Robotica_720 video files were downloaded from the Microsoft HD Content Showcase.

I think you’ll agree that the results are very impressive. I also tried the accelerator with a blu-ray clip from the movie “Body of Lies” which also worked great, provided you paused the player for a couple of seconds after forwarding the video.

The Broadcom cards are available as PCI Express mini cards and for the ExpressCard 34 slot. I bought the mini card on ebay for $24.

Robotica_720 before HD Accelerator installation:

Robotica_720 after the Broadcom HD Accelerator has been installed:

Stormchasers_1080 before the Broadcom HD Accelerator has been installed (on an external monitor):

Stormchasers_1080 after the Broadcom HD Accelerator has been installed (on an external monitor):

HP prepares for US launch of the HP Mini 311

HP are preparing for the launch of their next generation laptop products, including the new HP Mini 311, a netbook that will come with the new Nvidia ION LE graphics platform.  On the HP website we now have links to two HP Mini 311 models, the 311-1011TU and the 311-1012TU.  No price is published on the site yet but other mininote blogs are saying that models will start at $399.

Here’s my initial take on the specs published.

Pro’s:

  • 11.6″ HP LED Widescreen Display (1366 x 768)
  • 6-Cell Battery
  • HDMI
  • 3 USBs
  • Price - starting at $399

Con’s:

  • No Gigabit NIC, only 10/100
  • No Wireless N, only b/g
  • Heavier than I expected at 1.46 kg (3.2 lbs)

What’s interesting is HP have decided to ship this laptop with Windows XP Home, in advance of the Windows 7 launch (probably with a free upgrade when 7 becomes available).  Both Samsung & Lenovo are waiting until the Windows 7 launch to bring their ION based products to market.

I must admit I’m tempted.

HP mini 311

A successor to my hpmininotepc blog

I’ve not been writing much about my HP mini-note recently. I’m still actively following the netbook market and recently started a new blog, netbookstyle. This blog will give me the opportunity to write about the continuing evolution of the netbook.  Check it out at www.netbookstyle.com.

The HP 2133 mini note (real) successor arrives

Frankly, I was very disappointed when HP introduced the HP 1000 netbook series. I felt the HP 2133 mini note was a sturdier, more attractive netbook and that HP had decided to forsake many of the features that made the HP 2133 mini note such a great little machine. From today’s posting at Engadget, it looks like HP have built the real successor to the HP2133, the HP2140. Same great keyboard, design and shell, better processor (Intel Atom N270) but a lower resolution screen (1024 x 576). Both Computer Shopper and Laptop Magazine love it. I really hope my mini note accessories (especially the batteries) work with this new machine.

HP 2140 image

Accessories for the HP Mini note

This holiday I spent most of my holiday disposable income on accessories for my HP mini note. Here’s what I bought (with links). I’ll write a more in-depth review of each accessory over the next few posts.

Kensington 120-Watt Notebook AC/DC Power Adapter - Purchased from Circuity City, on sale around Thanksgiving for $59.99 (regular price $149.99). This thin and light power supply comes with multiple tips and supports both my mini note and my work laptop (an IBM t60 thinkpad). It also works in cars and planes (adapters included).

Samsung External 8x DVD Drive - Purchased from Newegg before the Christmas holiday for $59.99. This external DVD does not require an external power supply and runs directly from the mini note’s powered USB port.

Buffalo 500gb Ministation Turbo external Hard Drive - Purchased from Fry’s Electronics for $124.99. Link to product on Amazon. This compact 2.5 inch hd drive comes in a shock resistant chassis with a convenient built in cable.

Tucano Neoprene 9″ Sleeve - Purchased from Fry’s Electronics for $19.99. Link to product on Amazon. Fits the HP mini note very well.

Tucano Neoprene Cable Pouch - A matching cable pouch for my mini note accessories. Link to product on Amazon. I bought the case in a steel grey color. This was a really good deal at Fry’s electronics, who had them on clearance for just $3.99.

Finally, I bought a great pack of casual games for entertainment whilst traveling. The mumbojumbo game pack includes 6 puzzle type games, each with great graphics that run perfectly on my 1.0ghz machine (with upgraded RAM). I’d recommend them to everyone.

Here come the SSD’s for your netbook - 32gb for just $79?

Did you get a measly 3,4 or 8gb SSD with your netbook? I know I did. I immediately switched it out for 120gb SATA hard drive so I could easily run Windows XP, load as many applications as I needed to be productive, and carry my entertainment with me.  However, I felt pangs of regret as my HP mini-note then ran hot and was no longer virtually silent.  Now, OCZ have made high capacity Solid State Drive’s affordable. For a very cheap $79 ($139 before rebate) you could upgrade your notebook to 32gb running this new OCZ drive.  Check out the reviews on NewEgg.com before deciding if these drives will work for you.

ocz-32gb-ssd image

Two badges of Honor for the Eee PC

Brad over at Liliputing reported that the Asus Eee PC has recently won two awards, PC Pro Hardware of the year, and Stuff Magazine PC Gadget of the year (both UK publications).  It was good to see the Asus beating out the Apple MacBook Air (I love my MacBook Pro, but the Air was a disappointment) in the PC Pro Award, and Asus being given the credit by Stuff magazine for defining a whole new genre of computers, the Netbook.


 

Congratulations again Asus, may you continue to innovate for many years to come.