The laptop that could

I've never heard about a "flash sale" before, but recently I saw an ad on a local retailer's website offering a cute Toshiba laptop (M50-137) for a really low price only if you buy it on December 23rd. They take 200 Euro off the list price of 1200 Euro. I thought it was making it sweet. The system was a 1.7 Ghz Pentium M, with a WXGA Ultrabrite 14" display, 1GB RAM, 80GB HD, Wifi+Bluetooth, built-in SD-card reader, and a multistandard optical unit (DVD+-RW/DVD-RAM) weighting 2.4Kg.

I took the deal and I picked it up at the local store. It took them longer than the advertised delivery time but eventually I got it home. First impression was good, system was fast and quiet. Sorry, you cannot get along without accepting the Windows blue thing: You have to provide some user and location data so Windows gets happily installed. Till you do this, SuSE Linux repartitioning failed to work. After that, I successfully installed SuSE Linux 10.0 and it almost worked fully. I decided to disable Bluetooth and my Wifi LAN was working ok (the unit had a ipw2200/centrino chipset). What was not working ok was the video as it was using fdev and it refused to accept 1280x768 WXGA resolution. So the unit was running at 1024x768 and all the display was stretched to fit the panoramic display. It did not look pretty.

When running Windows and using Mplayer to watch a movie, I needed to use -aspect 1.5 to get the right display aspect. I never need to do this with other systems (maybe it's because I use 4:3 displays).

I noticed that battery time was under 3 hours of casual use. I did not like to see that it will only allow you 16 hours in "Hibernate" or 22 days in "Suspend". The system got warmer than I would like when using it off the batteries and the panoramic screen did not please me a lot. Ultrabrite technology creates good colors but uses a highly reflective coating on the display so a headlight will create some reflection. The viewing angle is also a bit critical with this display. So, after pondering all the cons and pros I decided to return the unit.

Maybe I'll be getting another 12" iBook soon. It is not lightning fast but it gives you solid 5 hours of use and it does not get that hot. It feels way more comfortable on your lap, maybe due to not having protruding parts. It all depends on what you value more.


Hiroshi Ikeda said…
A good and interesting review fellow!
Time over time I think I'm gonna move to Linux at the same time DSL comes home.
I am tired of Windows and all the restrictive politics of propietary software. Altough I use some of this software I'm searching for free ones.
Salutes my friend!!

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