New Chinese Netbooks......

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New Chinese Netbooks......

Postby White Nun » Mon Sep 05, 2011 7:05 pm

After the death of my HP Jornada......
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...... which was the grandaddy of all notebooks and netbooks and ran an early version of Windows CE, - I found myself severely missing the simple convenience of a machine that would bootup in an instant and was just about as quick as pencil and paper to use.
When writing I find that ideas can come out of the blue just about anywhere and while writing rough drafts on my knee longhand with pen and paper is Ok, it's always a pain to have to copy type them onto digital media when I get home.
So after looking around and finding that new mainstream Windows CE notebooks were too $$$$$ for my budget, I thought I'd try one of the Chinese EPC (Empress Personal Computer) netbooks that were being sold here in New Zealand for around $NZ150.00 each.

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Well it arrived yesterday afternoon and I must say it's a nice looking little netbook. It's around 7/8th the size of the Jornada and a lot lighter. The screen is still 7 inches wide, but it isn't as tall which I haven't found to be that much of a problem at all. The Jornada had a fairly large battery that was physically larger and heavier than the one in some full sized laptops, whereas the EPC has a very small neat Lion battery that lives under a cover accessible by taking out two screws. The Jornada ran on 12volts and had a fairly chunky charger, the EPC runs on 9volts and has a nice neat small plug pack.
The EPC has WiFi built in so I can use it at the local library and get on the internet without having to wait for one of the public use computers to become available. The other thing is that I can plug a full sized USB keyboard and mouse into it as well, but not a full sized monitor. With the Jornada I could plug in either a keyboard or a mouse (but not both), and a monitor. The Jornada had no immediate internet connectivity, but it did have a PCMCIA slot so it was possible.
The Jornada used CF memory cards, the EPC uses the smaller SD cards AND it has a 2Gb flash internal hard drive as well which the Jornada didn't have.
Back when I was using the Jornada a lot I had to carry it in a seperate bag because it was just that much too big to fit into my shoulder bag. The EPC fits in my shoulder bag just like it's made for it which makes me think that I might see if I can get copies of the Bible and the Prayers of the Church I use everyday in electronic form so I can lighten my load even more.

Some people who've purchased these EPC netbooks have complained loudly about them, but I think the problem is that they expected to get a fully tricked out laptop running full sized Windowsfor the price they paid; - which the EPC isn't. As a paper spiral bound note book and pen combination replacement I think the EPC netbook is great. AND there is the additional benefit of being able to access the internet which I use as a gigantic dictonary and encyclopedia when I'm studying and writing. :D

EDIT: And the EPC can use USB memory sticks which my Jornada couldn't which was a pain in the @#!%$ I can tell you.
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Postby White Nun » Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:45 am

Just thought I'd mention that if you're planning on buying one of these EPC netbooks, it pays to check out what you're buying. The one I ordered was advertised as having a 300Mhz processor, but as the trader was out of the colour netbook I wanted I had to wait for the next shipment. Just as well I did because the next shipment was of 800Mhz netbooks with more RAM which is the latest upgraded model. I'm certainly not complaining btw :D
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Postby ForlornCreature » Wed Sep 07, 2011 7:52 am

What's Windows CE?
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Postby subyrally » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:03 am

i have an old tablet pc that is simular. its pretty fun to mess around with, but the battery is toast and i only have a car charger for it.... the cool part about it is that the screen rotates and folds flat against the keyboard, basically, making it a large touch pad, kinda like what everyone is ranting about these days with the ipad and all that stupid stuff. back in the day when it was new, this was a pretty high end peice, but it is pretty old now and isn't much use anymore.

the note pad was fun though, you could write on the screen and the software would convert it to text. most of the time, it guessed, kinda made for some pretty funny results.

i miss my last netbook pc though, it was only a couple years ago that i got it, basically, a full function laptop without a disk drive and a 10.1" monitor. that little thing was great until the motherboard crapped out on me, then i folded it in half. i have anger problems with electronics that don't work, lol. i am actually going to pick up another one soon i think.
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Postby Tzan » Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:35 am

ForlornCreature wrote:What's Windows CE?



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_CE
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Postby muffinman42 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:58 pm

I personally like Lenovo's thinkpad line, they are small and feel well built, and even for a weak machine the easily upgradeable parts(RAM,HDD,a pair of PCIe slots) are accessed though a pair of hatches on the bottom.
though they are chunkier than what you have i love it non the less, and the 8 hour battery life(Intel atom and a battery that makes up about 1/4 of the device...) puts my phone to shame.

i don't own it officially until the end of this academic year. but once it's mine I'm sticking a lighter OS on it, maybe upgrade it's shoddy 1gb of ram to 2gb and it's HDD(100gb) to anything larger. then a test run of DF. :lol:
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Postby Keldoclock » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:07 pm

Lenovo is pretty sweet, those Thinkpads are indestructible.
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Postby muffinman42 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:31 pm

Keldoclock wrote:Thinkpads are indestructible.

:lol: well... our year have managed to destroy several members of the s10-2 family. i am surprised by how badly some are damaged given i have dropped mine from about desk height multiple times while it was running. only damage so far is a broken audio out. might take the HDD out and ask for it to be sent to repair.
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Postby White Nun » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:21 pm

muffinman42 wrote:I personally like Lenovo's thinkpad line, they are small and feel well built, and even for a weak machine the easily upgradeable parts(RAM,HDD,a pair of PCIe slots) are accessed though a pair of hatches on the bottom.
though they are chunkier than what you have I love it non the less, and the 8 hour battery life(Intel atom and a battery that makes up about 1/4 of the device...) puts my phone to shame.

I don't own it officially until the end of this academic year. but once it's mine I'm sticking a lighter OS on it, maybe upgrade it's shoddy 1gb of ram to 2gb and it's HDD(100gb) to anything larger. then a test run of DF. :lol:


Having just got myself a second hand T30 Thinkpad I have to agree; - it's an absolute Roll Royce and puts every other laptop I've ever owned to shame.

@subyrally: Old laptops & etc that have duff batteries that can't be got no more can be easily fixed so long as you're good with delicate soldering. When I couldn't get a new battery for my old HP Jornada I carefully cut open the old battery case and replaced the individual battery cells. Kept my Jornada going for a lot longer until something on the motherboard finally went poof and stopped play.
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Postby White Nun » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:34 pm

Having used my little Chinese netbook for a while I've found it to be reasonably Ok for basic word processing, but not much more than that. Windows CE based systems are really really difficult to upgrade or add new software to because there are so many incompatibilities between the different CE versions. Power management doesn't seem to be so good either as the battery doesn't last as long as I thought it should.

Sooooooo having heard so much about the Chinese netbooks running Android 2.2 as an operating system I thought I'd get one of those. Essentially it's the same hardware, but with the open source Android operating system which was mainly developed for smartphones & etc. These little Chinese netbooks are as cheap as chips so it was no great expense to get another one and besides I could always use the CE one for spare parts if push came to shove.

Well first off it's dead easy to add and remove applications/software with Android 2.2. My netbook came with a lot of very strange games and applications all in Chinese, - so they went for a start. Some of the Chinese apps that were in English didn't work so well, - so they went too and were replaced by better ones. All this deleting and replacing was done and dusted inside an hour and that included finding the applications I wanted from scratch. Trying to put an ePub reader on the CE netbook took me the best part of an afternoon and I still didn't actually manage to do it and get it working!
Setting up an ePub reader was just sooooo easy with Android and it's really great to be able to carry around what would normally be a huge stack of books in my shoulder bag. Finding a decent wordprocessor is still not so easy with Android since it was primarily devised as a phone operating system, but it's being worked on like Bonn-o-Tron. I've got the Kingsoft wordprocessor on trial at the moment, but I don't like it so much because it won't recognise .rtf files and I've always worked and saved in .rtf because it supposedly worked with everything.
Most apps for Android seem to be apps for the bored, with various forms of games and puzzles being the most commonplace. There's plenty of Internet and e.mail apps, file managers and the like as well as PDF and ePub readers which is good, so overall Android is well on the way to overtaking anything by Microsoft. Power management is better as well which has to be a big plus.
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