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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Why Samsung N510

An unusual topic for this blog but this toy turned into a wonderful surprise and maybe, somebody would like to know how come that a developers decides to buy a netbook, rather than latest ultra speedy tech on the go ...

Decide What You Need

It was about 5 years or more I bought another elegant toy: the VAIO vgns2hp, with an extra 512Mb of RAM in order to reach the mythical Gig of RAM which did not come for free. I spent a fortune by that time but it was for a good reason: in 2009 I was still able to perform every task I had to perform ... except gaming.
Please note I am talking about a daily basis "back home from work" computer and not necessary about development environments, where compilation time as example has to bee fast or we gonna spend our life compiling and nothing else ...
So, being a performances maniac I always thought dated hardware is the best proof that we are doing well. Specially Web speaking, it does not matter if we have the 16 core 128 bit monster, 'cause people do not change hardware so frequently as we think. As example, if we put IE6 over an Quad Core Opteron I bet it will be faster than every browser I have used so far with my "humiliating hardware".
The funny part of web development is testing (I know ... I know ...) and we cannot recognize performances problems, bad practices, missed optimizations, if we test with a powerful platform. Ideally we should use iPhone, Android, or Palm to test our web applications! A bit extreme, I agree, but one thing is sure: if that little device has been able to render and execute the page code in a reasonable time, I don't need a degree to understand that everybody else at home or office will be able to experience good overall performances.
Does anybody remember the option: simulate 33.6Kbps connection?
In Flash world what we call Ajax has always been there (since version 5 and loadVariables, switched to LoadVars in version MX ... plus XMLSockets).
That option aim was to better understand bandwidth situation by that time. The IDE was able to simulate low bandwidth connections giving us the real feeling (or the real frustration). Nowadays, I do not know tools able to simulate precedent hardware configurations, neither about virtual machine able to run browsers in slow mode ... but it does not matter, I don't need them, cause my hardware is a good compromise between the past, and the present ... the future? Well, it's far away and unpredictable!
As summary, if the VAIO was still ther, I would have use it for other N months because I have never felt it was not good enough to do what I do on the go, or at home: experiments, projects, surfing, developing, music listening, some movie ... all good ... but!

Decide What You Miss

In 4 new hardware generations I have missed different things such:
  • long battery life, mine died a year ago but even before I could not be productive on the go due to 1 Hr and a half maximum battery
  • led based display, I have always been envious of these new amazing brilliant shiny displays people where showing off around ... and I need to read and write 80% of the time, and my eyes got bored even if VAIO had a truly good LCD display
  • recently, WebGL and O3D support, that 32Mb mobile radeon has always been a pain the ass with 3D stuff and O3D as WebGL could not even work properly
  • 720p and 1080p HD support, a connection with the present and the future few mobile devices can handle properly
  • money, come on, Christmas is coming, and I was not planning at all to spend 1000 or more pounds for myself since I could have done well with my VAIO for other 6 months or more ...

Be Happy With Your Choice

Too many times I have bought something without being absolutely sure about the product ... specially in an emergency (without a keyboard, a monitor, and a flat connection I feel like Gollum without his ring) it could happen to buy something knowing something better is coming soon.
Let's think about a kid waiting for its first console ever for his birthday, knowing that PS3 is out since two months ago and the rich uncle arrive with the PS2 present ... that feeling! Even when I have chose the VAIO I knew Intel was planning to release new kickass mobile dual core processors but at that time I absolutely need a laptop and I could not wait other 2 months ... but hey, this is about technology, the second you pay the latest gadget ever somebody has already tweeted the same company released the new one and for half of its price!
In few words, if we decide to buy tech, specially IT related tech, we pay 1000% more the value of the tech if it's new, and just the right price for the old one ... but if we spend a reasonable amount of money for something that will match 100% our expectation without being greedy about having the last piece of the art technology, we will appreciate more what we have, and this has been the case so far: I am happy!

Be Updated

I used to be a Quake 3 Arena killer and during my career an hardware and software technician ... in those days there was nothing I did not know about latest technologies. I was talking about SLI and multi core as the computation solution only thanks to my Voodoo 2 card and it was in 1998 or even before, I was an hardware maniac, overclocker, bios hacker, etc etc ... but now I am a completely different person ... I mean, I don't care at all about hardware, I have switched my IT interests, but I still like to have a quick view of the tech panorama. We don't need that much time. Sites such Tom's Hardware has always been there, it is worth it to have a quick look, specially if we are thinking to buy some new stuff (and it is since O3D problems I started to think ... maybe I should change this VAIO ... ).
Being updated is also the key for the precedent point: be happy! If we buy something and we don't know that something is old, we'll feel like idiots the second after we'll meet our geek friend who spent less money for the newer model ... isn't it?

Define Your Product

This operation is not that difficult to perform. All we need to do is to define a price range, the rest will come easily 'cause in the same range we often have similar products, so we don't need to decide between a dishwasher and a lighter, we need to decide between similar products, considering different variables.
I have used one of the first Samsung success in the netbook market, the NC10, a truly exemplar piece of art by that debut time. I was stunned by its compactness and speed ... it was performing better than my VAIO and it was half the size with 8 times more battery life ... are you kidding me? That has been the day I have decided my next "portable friend" would have been a netbook. I don't get why people would like to spend more to use 1/16 of their hardware and I don't use heavy software at all ...
That NC10 was amazing, but few months later ASUS came out with another piece of art: Eee PC Seashell 1101HA, a masterpiece of design and features.
I was going straight on to buy latter toy but something blocked me: the Tottenham Court Road Escalator has been completely covered with new Samsung X-Series Advertisement ... an artistic way to do ad and I have been trapped by that ad like an idiot. Models where cool and tiny, and I thought those were new netbook from Samsung ... and I was wrong. As soon as I have found a Samsung shop I went in to ask about these new netbook and they corrected me saying: Sir, these are powerful laptop for these prices ... OK, reasonable, a powerful laptop for 499 pounds, elegant and reach of features, become instantly part of my new range of products.
But it is only thanks to that ad that I could have spotted the N510 ... and that shiny nVidia logo: ion
All I knew is that nVidia and Intel has few arguments about this ion solution ... and you know what I have done? The simplest thing to do: I said thanks, I went outside the shop, and I went back to the chapter: Be Updated
Surfing with my Android I have discovered that nVidia finally arrived into netbooks and laptop and that this ion is promising 10 times faster performances and full HD stream decoder. The price is that obviously if we use ion 100% of the time the battery life will be shorter, but this N510 has a maximum declared battery life of 7 hours! As average, the battery life should be about 3 or 4 hours even if I am watching a movie or surfing the latest porting for Compiz into WebGL (AFAIK it does not exists yet).
The price, less than latest new entry, the X-Serie laptop, a bit more than Seashell, but with an Atom N280 CPU, slightly faster than the Z version present in the Seashell, and the newest nVidia technology inside, theoretically able to move new Operating Systems as well (Windows 7 - Kubuntu or Ubuntu) ... Deal!


Christmas is close, and I thought that some guidelines about shopping could be nice. The IT sector is extremely complex, we can rarely find the best product because every product seems to miss something. The Seashell had slower CPU for no reason and no hardware acceleration, but it has best battery life and stunning design plus it's ASUS, a company to me historically famous for its speed prone motherboards and always in the performances field. The X-Serie wa new and cool but it missed Seashell dimensions, battery life, and it does not come with nVidia ion. Intel Graphic Chips are truly good but every netbook has not the power ion has.
Samsung N510 has everything to be truly used as daily basis on the go device. The keyboard is good, the hardware is excellent, the price reasonable (I have spent 390 pounds) and it is future proof thanks to this pioneer match between Atom 280 and nVidia ion. Any side effect? The OS is XP and not Seven, as showed in the website, and I have spent long time to remove unnecessary crapware, but now it boots fast and it works like a charm. I think Seven could run without problems adding 1 Gb of RAM and there are already specific drivers and software in the product page. I would vote this Samsung N510 5 stars out of 5 'cause I am convinced this is the best netbook you can find in the market right now: pretending zero but giving all you expect from a netbook and even more, good stuff!


alsanan said...

I asked you yesterday about the model of Netbook cause I've bought a Packard Bell Dot M/A some days ago. I find it a little slower than I expected, but I can really live with that if I win more battery, less weight and the possibility of carrying with me wherever I go. The design is great and the price, well, that is the best part: 284€ (254 pounds) for a perfectly usable computer.

Andrea Giammarchi said...

sounds closer to Seashell which is the one I was going to buy, also the price is similar.

Theoretically N510 should be around 350 (not in Tottenham though) which is still more than your but the HD resolution and the ion plus 6 cells battery could be worth it.

What I do like is that starting from 250, as you said, we can have everything we need and in some case even more!

Andrea Giammarchi said...

I have tried right now Counter Strike - it works like a char, at 1366 * 768!!!

dolar hoy said...

sounds closer to Seashell which is the one I was going to buy, also the price is similar.