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  1. #1
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    low cost off-grid laptop use?

    $34 for a 10 watt solar panel, powerful enough to charge a laptop battery in a reasonably short period of time.

    Less than $140, very low power usage, netbook computer. Capable of word processing, basic picture editing, internet use...

    ---------
    I haven't tried the solar panel, but I have used an EEEPC. The screen's small, the hard drive's small, and if you must have a CD drive, or need specific programs that might not run well on the EEEPC, it's not for you. If you are willing to deal with the limitations or what you really want is an ultra portable computer that has bare bones internet and word processing capability, then the EEEPC is appropriate for you.
    Some awesome folks who are working to give Haitians the ability to manage their safety and their lives:
    Haiti Partners

  2. #2
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    The key to a low-wattage netbook seems to be in the selection of hard disk. Nowadays you can purchase a system with a flash drive rather than the spinning hard disk. This would greatly reduce energy consumption. But it would likely only work when we all move towards applications served from companies like Google.

    Basically, what that means to your computing is that every runs in the browser.

  3. #3
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I have a Dell Netbook with a 64g Flash drive in lieu of the normal SATA hard drive. So far it can do everything my larger Dell D630 can. Not quite as fast on some of the heavier processing. Only issue is the space on the drive, but I keep a spare hard drive that I can use to keep file on. There are large SSD out there but the prices haven't come down on them yet.

    I can get a solid 6 hours of computing, surfing, or whatever out of a single charge on the battery, I have the larger 6 cell battery.

    I haven't gotten a solar array...yet.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  4. #4
    Nighttime Rider
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    My specialty.

    I use a Kill-A-Watt to measure the power draw of several computers. My big ol' Dell takes 35 watts (everything running with a 3D load) if charged up and 45 watts if charging.

    The EEE PC has variations. A 2G (which I own) can barely get out of its own way. Some later models like the 1000 series has a better Intel Atom processor which is faster and uses less power. It also has options of a 20GB solid state (flash) hard drive or a conventional 120GB HD. Honestly, the only real advantages of Solid State is speed and reliability (shock resistance). Power consumption between the two is only 2-5 watts.

    Most programs run just fine on the newer EEE PC's. The 2G is the only one with specific limitations.

    BTW, the 2G pulls 11 watts charging while off, 25 watts charging while on.

    Don't get me started with how much my desktop used to draw. (sheesh!)

    CE
    Last edited by CrimsonEclipse; 08-16-09 at 02:19 PM.

  5. #5
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    I'm writing this on an early EeePC 4G. Game selection is limited, but aside from that I can do pretty much what I want. It has a full Open Office suite, among other things. If I was looking right now, I would get one with a bigger screen (the later eees have 8-9 inch screen in practically the same housing).

    Some eees have user-replaceable SSD, so you can upgrade when prices come down. Mine is soldered, though. When I'm home, I hook the eee up with external monitor, mouse and keyboard. I also have a HD and a DVD/CD drive. But without all the external boxes, the base unit is very lightweight and portable.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  6. #6
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    I'm running on an eeePC, 901HA. The power supply for it is 35W so thats max. This is my main system now replaced a 6 year old Latitude C400 (12"). The once or twice I needed a drive in that 6 years I used an external. The eee i have now is perfectly useable as a main system, wife has one as well. Both hdd models,hersthe stock 160G and mine a 500G.

  7. #7
    This steel horse I ride Skones MickLoud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    But it would likely only work when we all move towards applications served from companies like Google.
    Anything you can put on a "normal" HDD can be put on a SSD...

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nycycle's Avatar
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    I use the EEEPC for work, boss seen me using it a few times, I am running Ubuntu as well, so thew owner of the company I work for says he wants to convert all our field staff over to them.
    Its so much faster than Windoze, and we got $100 off for getting it without windoze.
    I hate cars,

  9. #9
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    I couldn't find any hdd versions of the eee cheaper than the $299 windoze version sold locally so I just bought that and installed Linux myself.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rbrian's Avatar
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    I bought an Acer Aspire One with Linux. I was surprised to discover that it crashed far more than the Vista machine I'm using now, more even than the underpowered (128mb RAM, 6GB HDD!) overstressed Windows 98 SE work laptop I was using up until 2008 (which crashed at least once a day). After emailing Acer support, trawling forums, and reinstalling 5 times, I still couldn't get the WiFi to work for more than 3 minutes at a time, and it was 50-50 whether it would switch on. I sold it not long after - it was too frustrating, and too small to give any satisfaction punching it. It's a great idea, I love the small size, but the market is still young. You can buy a laptop from any company and it will just work - but not yet a netbook. I've heard nothing but good things about the EeePC, but the Acer was 10% cheaper. It should have been 80% cheaper.
    Be the change you want to see in the world - Mahatma Ghandi

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  11. #11
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    Linux doesn't crash that much, I'd suspect hardware issues with the Acer, they are not known for high quality hardware. I've seen one Linux crash in 6 years, my cd burner died in the middle of burning a cd, I had to buy a new one to replace it.

  12. #12
    Dare to be weird!
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    Quote Originally Posted by enine View Post
    Linux doesn't crash that much, I'd suspect hardware issues with the Acer, they are not known for high quality hardware. I've seen one Linux crash in 6 years, my cd burner died in the middle of burning a cd, I had to buy a new one to replace it.
    It's true that the kernel doesn't crash very often, but applications (browsers, etc) can sure lock up pretty good. True, you can usually open up a virtual console and get things going again with a little command line magic, but for most users that's not much better than a real crash.

  13. #13
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    I've been using Linux Mint on my home computer for about a year. It's mainly as a browser based machine too and it has never locked up. However it does one thing that is very curious. Every day about 3 minutes after I log in and start the browser, it becomes non-responsive and start dimming. This lasts for maybe 20 seconds, then it's good to go.

    Much nicer than Windows vista anyway...

  14. #14
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I am running a older version of Debian on what was originally a Windoze98 machine. Works great and never have issues with it, only ***** was getting a PMCIA wireless card to work. It is probably headed for the scrap parts bin, the motherboard has gone flaky and I doubt I will find one for a 10 year old machine.


    o 533 MHz AMD K6-2+ Processor
    o 64 MB on-board RAM
    o 6 GB Toshiba hard drive
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    o One Type II/III PCMCIA card slot
    o 6x Toshiba DVD-ROM drive
    o 56K Modem
    o On-board JBL stereo speakers

    I also use dual boot on a couple of my newer laptops. Flash hard drives are definitely going to be the future of the smaller laptops. They are available up to around 250g but they run ~$750 for one that size. I want to see them get down to around $1.50 a gig before I shell out the bucks. I did buy a 64g for around $125 on sale at Tiger Direct, just to have something to play with.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  15. #15
    gwd
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEclipse View Post
    I've installed Ubuntu on everything from top level laptops to Pentium 3 desktops.

    Never had a lockup or a crash.

    Stick with the LTS (long term support) versions 8.04 LTS.
    I've installed Ubuntu on low level laptops too as well as higher performance machines. Version 9 seems a little clunky on a very old gateway laptop, but its way better than the windows xp that it replaced. I get the wine windows emulator sometimes hogging the cpu even after I stop using any windows applications. The system monitor allows you to kill the wine stuff as easily as using the terminal. I haven't had a lockup problem. What friends notice most after I replace their windows with ubuntu is the lack of viruses. One good thing to do with Linux is check the hardware compatibility lists on the internet before buying devices. Many devices even from reputable manufacturers are windows dependent. Many others appear to be windows dependent from reading the manuals but you plug them in and they just work without the driver installation from disk. Others have software wrappers that you download.

    The cool thing about windows is that it creates free hardware for your linux systems. A neighbor had the Czech version of Windows and it got so flakey he tossed the box, and keyboard, and Euro to 'murican power converter. The keyboard is a little weird but I'm a touch typist anyway. Ubuntu installed easily on the machine. All I had to do was buy a monitor. Its great, the box had dual 64 bit processors, and somehow linux figures out how to keep both busy during intensive programs. I've set up 3 ubuntu systems so far on ex windows boxes where the owners got so frustrated they just tossed the hardware. I set up a fourth and fifth for a friend who kept the hardware but was going to toss the desktop and laptop because the systems just slowed to a crawl. Over a year later and Ubuntu is till humming along nicely on both.

  16. #16
    Senior Member rbrian's Avatar
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    The biggest problem Linux has is that at the last count there were 6.3 million slightly different not-quite-compatible versions. Once you find one that sort of works on your machine, you then have to spend the next six weeks searching for the correct drivers to make the hardware work. And after all that, the WiFi still doesn't stay connected for more than 3 minutes.

    At least when my crappy work laptop crashed I could use it as a punchbag with some satisfaction. Those Panasonic Toughbooks really are tough! And after a particularly good punch broke the hinges, so all that was holding the screen on was a ribbon cable, it got the message and became too scared to crash more than once a month.
    Be the change you want to see in the world - Mahatma Ghandi

    Live as if the world were the way it should be, to show them what it could be - Angel

  17. #17
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I WAS going to go Ubuntu on my new Dell Mini 10. BUT I use a Crackberry via bluetooth as a modem fairly often. I did a bunch of research prior to making the decision and stuck with Windoze because getting a BT VZW Crackberry to play nice with a Ubuntu machine was going to take some major code work, and I didn't want the hassle. I did a bare bones install of WinXP and run everything else open source.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  18. #18
    gwd
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbrian View Post
    The biggest problem Linux has is that at the last count there were 6.3 million slightly different not-quite-compatible versions. Once you find one that sort of works on your machine, you then have to spend the next six weeks searching for the correct drivers to make the hardware work. And after all that, the WiFi still doesn't stay connected for more than 3 minutes.

    At least when my crappy work laptop crashed I could use it as a punchbag with some satisfaction. Those Panasonic Toughbooks really are tough! And after a particularly good punch broke the hinges, so all that was holding the screen on was a ribbon cable, it got the message and became too scared to crash more than once a month.
    I've not had this problem with Ubuntu. I like the way you can test it from the cd first to see if it works on a particular machine before installing it. I did have to install a wrapper for the d-link WiFi drivers with the synaptic package manager but it just worked. It worked so well I bought another d-link setup. Another good thing is the hardware lists where you can report or search for your hardware. You can do this before installation and see that everything will work or see which things you need to sell. The six weeks is a typo, more like six minutes if you're a newbie and using Google.
    I'm typing this from an old dell running ubuntu 8.04 with a d link usb wifi connection. It doesn't drop the connection.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbrian View Post
    The biggest problem Linux has is that at the last count there were 6.3 million slightly different not-quite-compatible versions. Once you find one that sort of works on your machine, you then have to spend the next six weeks searching for the correct drivers to make the hardware work. And after all that, the WiFi still doesn't stay connected for more than 3 minutes.

    At least when my crappy work laptop crashed I could use it as a punchbag with some satisfaction. Those Panasonic Toughbooks really are tough! And after a particularly good punch broke the hinges, so all that was holding the screen on was a ribbon cable, it got the message and became too scared to crash more than once a month.
    Again, because you had one bad model of machine doesn't mean the whole OS is at fault.
    I used to work for a large reseller and sometimes we had a hard time selling Compaq Deskpros or Proliant servers because someone had bought a Presario for their home system.

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    If you want good battery life, look for an acer timeline. Larger screen than your average netbook (13.3" vs. 8-11"), tons more memory (4gb vs. 1gb), larger hard drive (320gb) and a tad better video card for playing movies. Supposedly gets 8+ hours battery life which is much better than the average netbook out there. Of course it is a bit more expensive, but not a ton.

    The line between netbooks and notebooks is blurring very quickly. Unless the netbook manufacturers figure something out to really sell their devices, it won't make any sense to buy one over a thin, light, more powerful notebook. The limitations imposed by microsoft for a single core processor and 1 gb of ram really hamstrung the netbook market.

  21. #21
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
    If you want good battery life, look for an acer timeline. Larger screen than your average netbook (13.3" vs. 8-11"), tons more memory (4gb vs. 1gb), larger hard drive (320gb) and a tad better video card for playing movies. Supposedly gets 8+ hours battery life which is much better than the average netbook out there. Of course it is a bit more expensive, but not a ton.

    The line between netbooks and notebooks is blurring very quickly. Unless the netbook manufacturers figure something out to really sell their devices, it won't make any sense to buy one over a thin, light, more powerful notebook. The limitations imposed by microsoft for a single core processor and 1 gb of ram really hamstrung the netbook market.
    Price will continue to sell the netbooks over a notebook. FWIW I had a 12" Toshiba several years ago that sold for ~$2500, I paid about 15% of that for my new Dell Mini 10.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  22. #22
    gwd
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    Quote Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
    The limitations imposed by microsoft for a single core processor and 1 gb of ram really hamstrung the netbook market.
    That was their intention wasn't it? They had to do something about GNU/Linux in addition to lying about return rates.

  23. #23
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    Same here, replaced my 6 year old 12" laptop that I paid $1500 for with a $300 9" netbook.
    Its funny how MS claims everyone else stifles innovation while they are the ones putting limits on things. I gave up on MS about 5 years ago.

  24. #24
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    I'm still using the free computers at the library. 19" flat monitors, super-fast hookup, in-person IT available at my beck & call, extensive subscription data bases.

    Did I mention that it's free?



    "Think Outside the Cage"

  25. #25
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    I'm still using the free computers at the library. 19" flat monitors, super-fast hookup, in-person IT available at my beck & call, extensive subscription data bases.

    Did I mention that it's free?

    I stopped by my local library on the way in the other day, sadly they are still running old machines and half are out of service. But the libraries around here have to fight for funding.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

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