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Pavilion, SUSE Make for Great Portable 64-Bit Computing - page 2

Why Put a Year-Old Distro on a Brand New 64-bit Notebook?

  • May 12, 2005
  • By Rob Reilly

I was a little sad when my eight-year-old 300-MHz PII laptop's second disk abruptly gave up after about 30,000 hours of near continuous service. We had been through a lot of Linux stories together and it's a tribute to the all the great developers that I was able to use my antique for so long. Many thanks.

Just like last time I chose a machine with specific features that would allow upgrades as needed. My old PII laptop cost me $2200, on the Web back in '97. This time I purchased from the local CompUSA retailer, at a fairly reasonable final price of a little over $1300.

This is what I received for all that money:

Microprocessor 2.0GHz AMD Athlon 64 Processor 3200+
Microprocessor Cache 1MB L2 Cache
Memory 1024MB DDR SDRAM (2 x 512MB) at 333MHz
Memory Max 2048MB DDR SDRAM (2 x 1024MB)
Video Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 4 440 Go with 64MB DDR (dedicated) video memory
Hard Drive 80GB (4200RPM) Hard Drive (Toshiba MK8025GAS)
Multimedia Drive DVD�RW and CD-RW Combo Drive (NEC ND-6450A)
Display 15.4" WXGA Widescreen (1280 x 800) LCD Display
Wireless Connectivity Broadcom 802.11b/g Wifi chip (Broadcom BCM4306 chip)
Sound 16-bit Sound Blaster Pro-compatible audio chip (nVidia nForce3 audio chip

The machine also had the usual collection of connectors and slots, as you would expect. They included a Type I/II 32-bit card bus slot, a slot for SD and other memory cards, 3 USB ports, a parallel interface, headphone-out, mic input, VGA out, an RJ-11 connector for the 10/100 LAN, a phone port for the modem and an IEEE 1394 (FireWire) port. Interestingly, there was also an S-Video TV out port.

It's possible to spend less, if you can live with fewer features and speed. At any given time HP has dozens of different notebooks for sale, both online and in retail outlets. The processor, memory, graphics chips and disk combinations seem to vary every few weeks. You'll have to look at HP's Web site store and local newspaper inserts to find out when the model you want goes on sale. Over a couple of weeks I researched what was available and then decided on the HP Pavilion model zv5460us.

Be aware that this machine is a notebook and weighs in at 7.9 lbs. It also takes up a decent footprint, at 11.6" long by 14.25" wide by 1.8" think. Nevertheless, it is a sleek, rounded package that makes packing easy. The power supply brick is stout, too, at 6" long by 3" wide by 1.5" thick. You should keep these figures in mind when shopping for a computer bag.

If you keep an eye on newspaper fliers, the various HP notebook/laptop models seem to rise and fall through a sales cycle. When a particular model becomes available, it will show up on the HP retail site and consumer retail markets for a few weeks. CompUSA discounts seem to be on a two week cycle. So I timed my purchase to hit the sale price on the zv5460 at Comp. Other retailers have similar cycles.

The notebook ended up costing $1587 with tax, minus the $200 in rebates for a total of $1387. I thought it was a pretty good deal considering the hardware.

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