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:
and the official HP maintenance manual
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.]]>
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.
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.]]>
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.]]>
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):]]>
Here’s my initial take on the specs published.
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.
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.]]>
Congratulations again Asus, may you continue to innovate for many years to come.]]>