Acer Aspire One 722

This is a small notebook with a 11.6 inch display. It came with 2gb of ram, but I upgraded it to 4gb. It has a 320gb hard drive, and it has a low power dual core amd 1ghz processor. The keyboard works fine, and the display is reasonably clear. It doesn't weight much. No optical drive (which is how these small form factor computers are). The processor is pretty slow, but the notebook works for simple tasks.

Compaq Evo N600c notebook

This is a notebook I purchased for around $1000 in early 2002. It has a Pentium m 1.2ghz processor. It can slow down to 800MHz or so when the load is low. The maximum memory is 2 x 512mb. It has usb 1.1 and 100mbit Ethernet, which was pretty good back in the day. There was an optional module that went in the back of the display for wireless. Of course the battery wore out. I think the hard drive has also been replaced. Of course it is a PATA drive. One of the number keys has fallen off. Other than that, it is still running strong. I have the max memory in the notebook. I am quite impresses by its robustness. I was running it 23x7 for about 8 years. The screen is high resolution for the day, at 1400x1050. The external video looks better than most of its era. I put in a pcmcia card to provide usb2. It has a docking port though I have never used it. Too bad Compaq isn't around anymore, they made a great notebook.

Dell Latitude 15 7558 2-on-1

This is a 15.6 inch 2-in-1 laptop. That means that it works like a normal laptop, but it will convert to a tablet. Of course, this requires a touch screen. I bought it because it was on sale for $310 after rebate and it was reasonably well equipped. The screen resolution is 1920x1080, it has a low power 2 core 4 thread Intel Pentium 3825U processor (broadwell), 2x2 AC wifi, 4gb of ram, 500gb hard drive, 2 USB 3.0 ports, a user replaceable 3 cell battery, and a backlit keyboard. I replaced the hard drive with a 240gb SSD which speed it up quite a bit. I used the windows 10 'usb recovery' feature where you make a usb key with the recovery partition and restore onto a new hard drive. Creating the usb key took a few hours, but the recovery process was quick and painless. I was quite impressed when I opened up the computer to swap out the hard drive. The entire back comes off with 10 or so screws. Everything is quite easy to access. Specifically the hard drive, battery, wifi adapter, ram, and even the CPU cooler are easy to access. I have taken apart a few laptops and one of the least reliable part is the CPU fan and it is usually quite difficult to replace. The battery isn't as easy to replace as a notebook with an external battery, but decent batteries last several years, so it should not be a problem.

Dell Inspiron 17 5758 (5000 series)

This is a 17.3 inch notebook from Nov 2015. The Dell web site has some specs, but many are missing such as the dimensions of the laptop (really large), and the wired network speed (really slow). Before I purchased it, I called Dell to find out the speed of the wired Ethernet. They told me it was gigabit Ethernet. They lied to me. I ordered it based on that information. The wired Ethernet is a Realtek pci-e FE. FE means fast Ethernet, i.e. 10/100. I verified that, using speedtest. The fastest speed I could achieve was around 70 mbits per second. Using a computer with gigabit ethernet, I can achieve speeds of around 213 mbits per second. Also if you read their reference guide it states 10/100 mbit ethernet. It does have 802.11ac wireless, and I was able to get a speed of about 120 mbits/second using it. The problem is if you want to back up the hard drive using ethernet or wifi, you are limited to roughly 12 mbytes/sec, though the hard rive is likely capable of over 100 mbits/sec. There are usb3 to gigabit ethernet adapters, but I have heard they can be flakey. usb4 is limited to about 500 mbytes/sec, which is faster than any spinning hard drive. Gigabit ethernet became popular on decent notebooks around the time that usb2 came out. My IBM T-40p notebook from around 2002 has gigabit ethernet, so it is pretty basic stuff in 2015.

I got the notebook for about $250 after rebate, which is a great deal. The keyboard is ok, though it is not backlit. I don't expect backlit at this price point. There is only one usb3 port, though more would be lice, it isn't common at this price point. The screen is likely TN and the color quality is quite dependent on the viewing, which is also quite common at this price point. The resolution is 1600x900 which isn't great, but quite common on low end 17 inch notebooks. The notebook is quite thin, at about 0.75 inches, but is quite large in the width and the depth. The display bezel is about 15mm on each side which is ok, but it is roughly 24mm on the top and 34mm from the flat body of the notebook on the bottom. Dell says the dimensions are 416.9mm wide and 283.2mm depth. The 2011 macbook pro 17 inch are 393mm wide, and 267mm deep. This means the dell is 23.9mm wider, and 16.2mm deeper. In inches, that is almost an inch wider and 5/8 inches deeper.

The notebook comes with one 4gb stick of ram, and an empty slot. You can put in up to 16gb total memory in the notebook, which is pretty standard. It has a 500gb hard drive, and an Intel i3-4005U 4th generation ultra low voltage 1.7ghz processor with 2 cores and hyperthreading. The battery pack is small, but it is supposed to have about a 5 hour life, and it is removable. Overall it is a decent cheap notebook. I am quite upset that Dell lied to me about the ethernet speed. It would be nice to support a small form factor SSD, such as a M-2 SSD, but that isn't common on low end notebooks.

Dell Latitude D820

This is a 15.4 inch notebook from around 2005. It has an Intel core-2 duo processor. The screen resolution is 1680x1050. It has some usb2 ports (the notebook predates usb3), a docking port, gigabit Ethernet, and 802.11a/b/g. It has 2gb of ram. I tried upgrading one ram, but it doesn't work. Perhaps it needs both rams to be upgraded at the same time. After about 5 or 6 years the hard drive failed. Every 3 years or so, the battery fails (if it is left always plugged in). The notebook is still in use, and refuses to die. The CPU cooling fan is beginning to make a bit of noise, despite being clean. Considering it is 10 years old, that is pretty good. If it fails, I will replace the fan. Dell sure knows how to build reliable computers, for their business class notebooks.

Dell Customer Service

Dell's web site did not document the speed of the wired Ethernet for the Inspiron 17 5000 notebook. This is a bad sign. I called the Dell people, and they told me it was gigabit Ethernet. They were wrong.

I ended up calling tech support, customer service, and the returns people at dell. They have crappy support. There are several issues. Their tech support people are generally clueless. One kept on telling me where the RJ-45 connector was, even after I told them I had measured the wired network speed. I am not sure how I could measure it, without knowing where the port was.

What is worse, there were several very annoying features of dell support. There were really long wait times to speak to someone. I am pretty familiar with that. They hung up on me many times. Generally while I was on hold, or being transferred around. Once or twice I could consider happenstance, but it was a common pattern. It happened several times each day I called them. A new trick they used is to transfer me to a department that was closed, without telling me they were closed. That also happened several times a day. I don't trust the technical accuracy, or the honesty of Dell support, and I cannot recommend them.

FAILED Direkt-Tek DTLAPY116-22 notebook

This is a small, cheap laptop sold by Walmart. It sometimes goes on sale for $150. It is a 2-in-1 laptop which turns into a tablet. It has a 11.6" 1920x1080 FHD IPS Touchscreen Display w/ Windows Ink (an active stylus), an Intel Apollo Lake N3350 Dual Core Processor 1.11Ghz - 2.4GHz, 32GB eMMC Storage, 4GB DDR3L Memory, 802.11ac Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.0, Windows 10 Home, Fingerprint Reader, 1x USB Type C, 2x USB 3.0, Micro HDMI, Micro SD Slot, 1x 3.5mm Headphone Jack, 4000mAh Lithium Battery. It is different than the other Direkt-Tek 11.6 laptop because it has a better processor, usb-c, but most importantly it has a M-2 SSD Slot. It comes with 32gb of emmc flash, which is fine for Linux, but unusable for windows 10. It also does not have a backlight keyboard. The Direkt-Tek website is very spartan. If you install a M-2 SSD, and reinstall windows from Microsoft media, there will be several drivers missing. You will not find them on Direkt-Tek's website. There is a similar laptop, but with 64gb of flash called the primebook. You want the drivers from them. Unfortunately, they come in s 566 mbyte zip file. For linux, I have been unable to get the touchpad working. I am told there is an out of kernel solution for this. Also Mageia 6 install process won't work. This should be fixed in Mageia 6.1. For the price, this is a great laptop. No idea if I will ever be able to change the battery...

Well the laptop has failed. When I power it on, no LEDs light up. Also there is a clicking sound coming from somewhere inside the laptop. Since the laptop doesn't have any moving parts, that is clearly bad news. I don't recall the laat laptop I own that has failed. Clearly this one isn't very reliable.

HP Zbook Studio G3 i7 Nnotebook

This is a 5 year old laptop. Even though it is old, it is a very powerful laptop. It comes with 32gb of ram, a 1tb sSD, an i7 mobile processor, and a 4k 15" screen. It has a reasonable complement of ports, including HDMI, gigabit ethernet, and a bunch of USB ports. The battery is build in, rather than externally accessible. The battery started discharging when the laptop was turned off. Recently, it would not charge at all. I ordered a generic replacement battery, specifically designed for the Zbook. I needed to remove about 10 t8 screws, and 6 Philips screws to replace the battery. Unfortunately, the battery refuses to charge, and the BIOS says the battery is not a genuine HP battery. Apparently the corporate HP laptops have some kind of chip or authentication built into the battery. If the BIOS doesn't authenticate the battery, it won't charge it. One would think that a generic battery would have some compatible authentication method, but they don't. I did some searching and found that HP had a battery recall on this laptop. I called HP and they said based on my serial number that the laptop may be subject to the battery recall. They said they would contact me in 2 or 3 days and let me know if it was subject to recall, and if so they would send out a battery, and a service tech if needed to replace the battery. I was pretty impressed, but a bit baffled that they couldn't look up the serial number and tell me if the battery was recalled. After 5 working days, I called HP and they had no news. After another 3 working days I called again, and they still had no news. After another working day, I called, and they knew nothing. I am pretty sure the battery should be recalled because it died and won't charge. Finally, after 12 days, HP got back to me and told me the battery was subject to recall. They will send me a new battery, and a tech if needed to install the battery. HP did send me a battery. Inside the battery was a note saying HP would send a tech to replace the battery within 3 days. HP did not contact me for awhile, so I called, and they were unable to help me. Finally, after 17 days since I got the battery I was contacted by a tech. The tech came and quickly replaced the battery. I cannot recommend HP due to the inability to determine what parts are in their products and if they are subject to recall.

HP 17-cn i3 notebook

Before I purchased this laptop, I wanted to find out how many hard drives (really SSDs) the laptop supported. I also wanted to find out how much memory the laptop supports, and how many memory slots the laptop has. I tried looking up the information on HP's web site without success. I then called HP, and they didn't know the answers. This should have let me know HP support really sucks, but I didn't figure that out. Fortunately for me, I found a non-HP site, were someone took the laptop apart. There are 2 memory slots, and it is known to work with at least 32gb of ram. There is space for a 2.5" hard drive, though no mounting hardware, or cable to support a 2.5" hard drive. So I decided to buy the laptop...

I purchased this laptop during black friday. It comes with windows 11 home. I decided to dual boot the laptop with linux. I shrunk the windows 11 partition, using windows 11 disk tools. However, windows 11 by default uses bitlocker, which seemed not to like me shrinking a partition. It didn't produce an error message saying shrinking the partition will render it unusable, or anything like that. I successfully installed linux and booted it without incident. When I tried to boot windows 11, I got a bunch of errors which were unrecoverable. No problem, I thought, I will do a fresh install of windows 11. I downloaded the latest windows 11. The trackpad didn't work, but I have an external mouse. The installer didn't recognize any hard drive, and asked if I wanted to install a storage driver. When I tried to install windoes 10, I had the same issues with the trackpad and the disk not being detected. I presume these issues are due to new hardware. When I looked into it, it was clear that windows 11 is not really ready for general use. I used gparted to fully erase the hard drive, but that didn't help. All of these issues are microsoft specific (since linux worked flawlessly).

So I contacted HP support. I told them I needed to do a fresh install of windows 11, and I needed a digitally signed storage driver. After a lot of stupid questions, they told me I could try again with installing with my USB media, or I could buy a 'windows recovery kit' for $35 - $45. This same problem would occur if you decided to put in a new hard drive and couldn't clone the existing hard drive. I asked HP if they could provide the storage driver, or point me at the OEM ISO image. I think eventually microsoft will update their windows 11 ISO to include drivers for things like Intel storage, as well as the trackpad. I ended up returning the laptop. I cannot recommend this laptop due to poor HP support. I cannot recommend windows 11 at this time, due to it lacking maturing and robustness.

I decided that 8gb of memory was not enough. Fortunately, the laptop comes with 2 slots for ddr4 and one of them is unpopulated. I bought a 16gb stick and installed it. I have taken apart more than my share of laptops. There were 4 silver screws on the bottom, which I removed. I then tried to remove the back cover without success. So I consulted the service manual. There are two rubber feet, which are really rubber strips that run across the entire bottom of the laptop. You need to pry them up (as they are glued on). Under the feet, are 6 black screws. After that, you need a non-conductive pry tool to remove the bottom. I used a credit card. It was not very easy, but I was able to remove the bottom. I added a memory module, and turned on the laptop. No video, but the caps lock blinked slowly 3 times and then quickly 2 times. There are no led blink codes in the service manual. I removed the memory, and put back the 8gb. That worked. I removed the 8gb and installed 16gb in the first slot. That worked. I then put 8gb in the 2nd slot along with the 16gb in the first slot. That also worked. No idea what the blink codes mean. I don't recommend putting the bottom back on without testing that the computer boots. I am now running memtest. The latest version of memtest shows each memory module and the exact model number of each module, which is very nice... HP shoulda made it easier to remove the bottom.

HP 17z notebook

On black friday, HP had a really good deal on a laptop. so I ordered it. A few hours later I heard they were claiming it was a pricing mistake. I called HP and verified that it was not a price mistake, and my order was fine. A few hours after that, they cancelled my order. They did give me a gift certificate of $50 so I could buy HP stuff. I ended up ordering s HP 120gb SSD, which was $49.99. I really should have cost about $20. They did not deliver the order as scheduled, and when I called, they said they had no idea where the order was. They did ship me another one, with next day delivery. That one arrived, as did the original one, about a week late. One would think a big company like HP would verify prices are correct, especially for black friday. Some simple sanity checks would be good. If there are suddenly a ton or orders, perhaps that might indicate there was a price mistake. But HP did not do that. A decent company would honor their price, even if it was a mistake, as Office Depot, Amazon, and Walmart are known to do. I thought that was the end of it. But I was wrong.

On Dec 14th, I got an email from HP.

"Your opinion is very important to us and the HP community. Please take the time to write a review on your recent purchase(s): HP Laptop - 17z touch optional

Write a review

Thanks again, HP

So, clearly HP can't keep track that they had cancelled my order. I decided to write a review. After the review, HP sent me an email:

Your review has been moderated

It cannot be published to the website, but..

no more HP for me,

Our staff has read your review and values your contribution even though it did not meet all our website guidelines. Thanks for sharing, and we hope to publish next time!

Well, since HP won't print it, I will. here it is:

HP Lied to me about this laptop, and cancelled my order

I ordered this laptop for black friday, because it was a really good price. I called HP to verify the price was correct, and my order would get shipped. I was assured everything was ok. About 8 hours later, I got a cancellation email, and I never got the laptop. How can you trust a vendor that can't even get the price of an item correct? I will not be buying any HP products, as I don't trust them. I am now looking to get a dell 17 7000 laptop.

HP Pavilion DV 9000 notebook

I was in need of a new notebook, and I wanted a 64 bit processor (so I could run a 64 bit version of linux and optimize my code for 64 bit operations) so I decided on the amd turion 64 x2. HP made a 17 inch widescreen notebook, so I ordered it. It was roughly $1350 after rebate. It arrived a day earlier than they had scheduled, which was impressive because it shipped from China. It has a very glossy finish, which looks great, but collects fingerprints. The screen is also very glossy, which makes it reflect light well. You can often see yourself in the screen. The notebook comes with a 'media card reader' which only reads secure digital sized media.

The first problem I had with the notebook was the battery was not charging. I contacted HP support online, and they had me download a battery diagnostic program, which said the battery was defective. I remember a similar problem I had with a Compaq notebook, and I suggested reseating the battery. That fixed the problem. I consider it a bug if you can insert the battery in a way that seems to be ok, but is really not fully seated electronic.

A recovery dvd cost an extra $10 or so, but I could make my own. As soon as I had access to some blank media, I started up the make a recovery dvd (Needed for all of the shovelware that HP includes with the notebook). It ejected the dvd disc tray. I put in a blank disc, and closed the tray. It bounced open. I closed it again. It bounced open again. I exited the program, but I still couldn't close the tray. I rebooted. Still no close. After trying about 60 times, the tray closed. I ran the program again, and there was a click, but they tray wouldn't open. It was jammed.

I contacted HP support online, and explained the problem. I expected that they would ship me a new drive. But no, they told me to call a toll free HP support number. I called them, and explained the problem to them. I expected they would ship me a new drive. But no, they told me they had to transfer me to sales. I said ok. I heard elevator music. After about 10 minutes, the tech came on and said there would be more delay. I was getting frustrated. After about 15 or 20 more minutes on hold (while I looked up a core 2 duo notebook from Dell) I got HP sales. I told them there were two defective things with my notebook, and their service was unacceptable. I said I was returning the notebook (and the free after rebate inkjet printer). Looks like I will be getting an Intel Core 2 Duo based notebook, which seems like a higher performance cpu.

HP Pavilion DV 8305 notebook

Well I still needed a notebook. I looked around at some with the Intel Core 2 Duo (a great processor). They were very expensive. I decided I really needed the 17 inch screen, and not much else. I ended up getting a HP dv 8305 from a local store for $800 (after the stupid $50 rebate). It came with Windows XP Media Center Edition. I had never used Media Center Edition, but I thought it was basically the same as XP.

Well the version that came with HP has lots of shovelware. There is about 2gb of 'media' files in c:\documents and settings\all users. That went quickly. HP also sees fit to have some odd directory on the C drive that seems to have a copy of all software that one might install (including trial software). I accidental deleted this odd directory before realizing that there was lots of 'useful' stuff in it. I had to reload the OS to get it back. It also had a copy of the 2gb of media files. That also went. Then there is the recovery partition which has a copy of everything (which takes up about 9gb). To make backup dvds requires 4 dvds for some reason.

In addition to windows update, there is also HP update. The problem is that windows update might be running (perhaps in the background as it sometimes does), and if it is, the HP update seems to corrupt the ability of the update to work. Manually downloading the update again, just produces error messages like contact HP. I did contact HP via their internet messaging. They said to uninstall the update, and then run a Microsoft install cleanup program. I got disconnected from the messaging session before I could find the specific thing to cleanup with the Microsoft program. I connected again to the messaging system, and before finding out what I needed, I got disconnected again. These were the only two times I got disconnected. I did get a log of my chat session, but I was never contacted by HP to see why I got disconnected, or to resolve my problem. I decided it would be faster to reload the OS than to try to clean up HP's stupidity.

In all, I think I reloaded the OS 4 times. There is an advanced option to reformat the hard drive. Do it. Otherwise the corruption that I experienced would not go away.

After I got the system configured and updated, I removed the 'recovery' partition. I then downsized the OS partition by deleting as much junk, shovelware, and trialware as possible. I then installed linux and a user partition. The notebook works pretty well. I used RightMark CPU Clock Utility a program that can monitor the cpu voltages, temperature, and battery condition. I was able to lower the idle voltage by 0.05 volts (not a big deal, but it should reduce cpu power consumption by 10%). I was also able to lower the full power voltage by 0.25 volts, which should reduce the cpu power consumption by 34%, as well as reduce the cpu temperature quite a bit.

IBM t40p notebook

This is a notebook that was made around 2002. It is a bit newer than my Compaq evo 600. It has a Pentium m 1.6ghz processor that has EIST and can run from 600mhz up to 1.6ghz. The processor has 1mb of cache, which is twice as much as my Compaq. It uses pc2700 ddr memory rather than pc133 memory the maximum amount of memory is 2 x 1gb, which is twice as much as the Compaq. It also has usb2, gigabit Ethernet, and wireless unlike the Compaq. The screen resolution is 1400x1050 which is a bit less then the Compaq and the external video isn't as nice. At 1920x1090 is is pretty blurry. Not that there were any monitors that ran at that resolution in 2002. The battery isn't dead, but is almost dead. I am not sure if it is the original one. The hard drive makes a bit of noise when seeking, but still works. Other than that, it is still running strong. I have the max memory in the notebook. I am quite impresses by its robustness, and it has been running 24x7 for at least a year. It has a docking port, and I bought a dock for it on ebay for around $10. When I added more memory to the notebook, I read the hardware maintenance manual. One memory was accessible from under the notebook. The other one was under the keyboard. I switched the one on the bottom. When It came time to switch the one under the keyboard, I was a bit concerned. I have taken keyboards off of notebooks and it is never pleasant. I was quite surprised by the IBM. I removed 4 screws from the bottom. I pushed the keyboard down then up. I removed the connector which was really easy to remove. I reversed the process. It is much easier to take apart than any other notebook I have worked on. I was quite impressed. Too bad IBM sold its notebook stuff to Lenovo.

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