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Sat, 05 Feb 2011
New toy - A netbook with great battery life - 15:43
I have been reading about various netbooks for a while, and finally I realised I have a good laptop for the things I need a laptop for provided by work. However when travelling it is handy to have something less important and expensive, with better battery life. Everything else can be easily dealt with. The Samsung series of netbooks regularly had the best battery life mentioned in reviews, so looking at the models in stock at JB Hifi the NF 210 was claimed (by Samsung) to have 14 hours. Most Linux reviewers of it seemed to suggest 8 to 10 hours was the norm. So I headed over to buy one.
For AUD $437 I got a 1 GB RAM, 250 GB hdd, Atom N445 dual thread (I think) netbook with a 1024x600 screen and a huge battery life with the 6 cell battery it came with. At lca I was able to leave the (rather minimalist) power adapter where I was staying and just take the netbook, it easily lasted the whole day open during all talks and using wireless the whole time plus some other usage.
Gnome power battery status suggests 12 hours from 100% charge with the screen on minimum brightness, right now I am typing this outdoors with the screen at 50% the battery is at 50% and the report suggests 5 hours remaining. I installed a standard Debian Squeeze netinst install off a usb stick and downloaded an identical set of packages (almost) to those on my laptop, no need for a restricted environment as it is a fairly powerful computer anyway. Pretty much everything has worked well under Linux, the only slight complication was the need for a ppa samsung-backlight deb to control the backlight from the keyboard. The backlight seems to go dim on no use even when those options are not selected in gnome power manager so also something that could be investigated.
Also Paulus bought one and had a few problems with it freezing due to the closed wireless firmware on resume from suspend it seemed. I have had one lockup (possibly related) but it has not been a problem. The wireless driver does need to be reloaded on resume from suspend before it works (easy to do) but that is something I may be keen to look into at some point. I should not be surprised though how easy it was to have a capable working Linux system, that is often the norm with hardware these days (especially with much better/broader driver support than any other operating system).
For getting around the place some light work (compiling, interpreters, emacs, web browser, etc) it is a capable system and not lacking. I am a happy purchaser, even though my first one had to be returned within three hours of purchase due to a failed hard disk, since then it has been excellent.