Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Sony's Flash-Based Notebook Reviewed 229

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the hefty-price-for-loss-of-capability dept.
Lucas123 writes "Computerworld's Rich Ericson reviewed Sony's first all flash-based laptop, which carries a whopping $3,200 price tag. Ericson says the laptop runs incredibly fast, with an average data transfer rate of 33.6MB/sec and great battery life. But, the laptop is also limited to certain uses. While lending itself to travel, the small capacity of its hard drive doesn't make it a real competitor for a main PC workhorse. 'While there's a lot to like [about the VAIO TZ191N notebook], there's only very limited uses for which I'd recommend this system. The best features — its size and the flash drive — are also its biggest limitations.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sony's Flash-Based Notebook Reviewed

Comments Filter:
  • Space issues (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jackdaw Rookery (696327) * on Monday November 26, 2007 @06:55PM (#21485327) Homepage Journal
    The big early adopters for this are Sony, and shortly Apple. I'm betting a Macbook Pro comes out in January that is going to be startlingly similar to this in spec and price.

    The big drawback is space, "6GB of that space is taken by a hidden partition (for system recovery) and still more is take by the operating system (Windows Vista Business)." So you are losing 14GB for the recovery, OS and a couple of apps; nearly half the space gone before you start saving things.

    Might not be too much of an issue for people saving documents, presentations and so on. For geeks that small amount of space would be very restricting.
    • Yeah, but geeks would probably wipe out Vista and install Linux instead, freeing up most of those 14 GB. Not sure about Linux compatibility, though.
    • Re:Space issues (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:08PM (#21485495) Homepage

      I think for geeks (and most other people, too), it'll mostly mean that it can't be your main system. If anything, geeks should be able to deal with the idea of syncing to remote servers, working in remote sessions, and things like that more easily than most people.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by lostguru (987112)
        agreed, a small protable machine running something lightweight (not vista) is great for getting things done when you don't have access to a desktop, or when a larger laptop doesn't make sense, it doesn't take a powerhouse for a few ssh sessions or lightweight text editors

        true it can't keep up with bigger laptops, but it isn't really designed to
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          It'll be interesting to see if people start using it with the Web2.0/Google office apps sort of idea, where most of what you do is in a web browser, with your documents stored on their servers. Makes it a handy small business laptop in that case, can take it wherever cos it's light and presumably durable, has enough space to store your basic odds and ends, and assuming you can get a network connection, all your stuff is on the interwebs somewhere.
    • Re:Space issues (Score:5, Informative)

      by mstrebe (451943) on Monday November 26, 2007 @09:00PM (#21486579) Homepage
      Space is a huge issue with SSD based laptops. This isn't the first Flash laptop from Sony--my UX390N is all flash and almost a year old. I had to take the stupid restoration partition off the flash drive in order to have enough space to install Microsoft Office.

      An 8GB restore partition on a 32GB SSD (that costed $600 at the time) means that Sony is using $200 of your money to avoid shipping $1 worth of DVD restoration media. Especially when you consider that the vast majority of that 8GB is all the crapware Sony pre-installs--none of it useful.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by xSauronx (608805)
      for the pricetag youd think they could save some fucking space for you and just give you a restore DVD or two. its a huge premium for the end user to have to pay so they can save on some pressed optical media.
  • Yes, but does it run XP?

  • by JamesRose (1062530) on Monday November 26, 2007 @06:58PM (#21485377)
    But I love this idea, I really dislike the currenty "portables" with 17" screens, its just like, not at all actually portable, I mean, I'm really surprised that the laptop industry has gone towards bigger laptops, rather than smaller (but that must be what people want right). I really like the idea of an ultra fast PC which is nice and small to use on the go, and the hard drive is PLENTY as long as you have a good sync program on your main PC and sync regularly, and lets face it, someone spending $3200 on a laptop probably will. But of course, $3200 for a "fast" laptop isnt ever a good investment, because the current progression (and the progression for quite a long time) has been too fast to warrant spending that much on what will very quickly become obselete. The main point is, this is an early adopter machine- very nice, but wont be the best by any stretch of the imaginiation.
    • by calebt3 (1098475) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:20PM (#21485627)

      I'm really surprised that the laptop industry has gone towards bigger laptops, rather than smaller (but that must be what people want right)
      I think it is because of the n00b's perception that bigger=more powerful, like how Walmart's Green PC is in a full-sized case when it doesn't need to be.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        I think it is because of the n00b's perception that bigger=more powerful

        We just bought a new HP server.. quad core, 16gb, iscsi, etc.

        The box was so big it wouldn't fit through the damned door!

        I blame it on the noobs.
      • Or, like me, people use them as desktop replacements. And even more amazing, some of us actually travel with them as portable computers -- imagine that!
      • "I think it is because of the n00b's perception that bigger=more powerful, like how Walmart's Green PC is in a full-sized case when it doesn't need to be."

        I think it's because many people use their laptop as a desktop replacement, not needing it to be mobile that often. Considering most of our desks look at home on a Borg ship, I'm really surprised this isn't well understood, here.
    • by Mantaar (1139339) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:29PM (#21485731) Homepage
      I think the main reason why laptops "grow" is the fact that a lot of people use them as a replacement for a desktop PC. They don't care about its size and they do care about its performance.

      And about the WalMart thingie that's bigger than need be: well, packing the hardware tight together isn't exactly easy or cheap + it's harder to cool those cramped spaces. That might be a reason. But that's just a gues..
    • by vux984 (928602) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:34PM (#21485777)
      I'm really surprised that the laptop industry has gone towards bigger laptops, rather than smaller

      You can get a device with a screen from 2" to 17" with stops at 3", 4", 5", 8", 12", 13", 15" in form factors ranging from PDA to Tablet to Laptop -- I don't really think the industry has let us down that badly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by guruevi (827432)
      Laptops are more and more becoming desktop replacements that you can take on your lap sitting down in your couch or status symbols to people that think bigger is better. Give a 19" laptop with 10 minutes battery and many people would still buy it although there are desktops that both outperform those systems and take less space although less known to the public.
    • by asc99c (938635)
      I've got one of those 'portables' with a 17" screen, weighs 4kg and yeah it's not great for carrying around. However, I use it mainly for support or at home as a desktop replacement. At home the size and weight is fine, and normally on support, it can sit in the car boot. If I'm away on business, it's not like there's an awful lot of walking around to do where 4 kilos is a problem. When I do use it, the big keyboard and screen are great to work with - pretty comparable to a desktop.

      I am thinking of gett
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday November 26, 2007 @09:42PM (#21486907) Homepage Journal
        I don't know, 4kg is pretty heavy to lug around all day.

        My wife went and bought an EeePC while I was out of town. I was mad at first because she didn't consult me, but when I saw the thing I got all moist. It's really a sweet little machine and perfect for her.

        I don't know why this Sony $3000 laptop would be preferable to the little Asus machine. I don't care to read TFA, because I know I wouldn't buy anything from Sony anyway, so actually, the idea that they've got a SSD based laptop for $3k and my wife just bought an SSD laptop for less than $500 from a company I actually likemakes me feel pretty smug.

        Since the EeePC has an SD drive, I don't really worry too much about the small storage. As long as it does what it does, I'm happy. More important, my wife is happy. Any of you who are married will understand.
    • The industry hasn't gone towards "bigger" laptops so much as a wider variety of different sizes, and it's acknowledged that not everybody who wants a laptop necessarily plans to travel with it. Laptops are only getting bigger in the sense that they're also getting smaller. Nobody is dropping their 12" line to concentrate solely on 17" machines. Apple is pretty much the only company bucking that trend, with its move from 12" to 13" on the MacBook and the dropping of the 12" "Powerbook" (MacBook Pro), and th

    • by fermion (181285)
      I think small laptops are a good idea, and I have had small laptops off and on since the mid 80's. OTOH, I have never paid $3200. I know the cost is the flash drive, but really. For lightweight purposes, I have my 12" powerbook. It cost about a third of what sony wants. My first laptop was a TRS model 100. It cost around $1000 in todays dollars. Even the newton was only $1000.

      I am not saying that sony could make it cheaper, but the price point for these types of machines seems to be around $1000.

  • Pricey (Score:5, Funny)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Monday November 26, 2007 @06:59PM (#21485385)
    So a $3200.00 limited use PC. This should be called the Sony ID-10-T PC.
  • by blhack (921171)
    Is it just me...or does an unbelievably fast drive that doesn't store very much data seem kindof pointless? If you are only storing really SMALL files (txt)...then a SUPER fast disk probably isn't your greatest concern.

    I understand the power savings..which are awesome....but storing really small files really really quickly just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

    Now if this was a web server, or a database, or something like THAT...i would understand...
    Especially with a giant price tag like that..
    • Re:Hrm... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:24PM (#21485687)
      Actually low-latency access is exactly what most desktop users really need: quick bootup and fast loading of apps. 0.3 ms is just fantastic. Heck, laptop users have been hailing the advantages of 7200 over 4200 RPM drives for years, compared to this, they're both slow as molasses.

      As for servers, you're right... flash seems poised to blow away expensive 15K RPM drives, whose access time is an order of magnitude slower(!) But that doesn't mean all other computers won't benefit, too.

    • .. it's just you.

      I want a really fast small drive (or even better, 2 or 3 really fast small drives in RAID0) for things like my OS, programs, scratch space, etc., and then a slow big capacity drive (or RAID5 array on a file server) for things that take space.
    • 32 GB is only small if you use Vista.

      In a more serious note, I don't see why the hell a 32GB drive would imply small files. I would immediately install one game (about 5 GB) and one VM with Oracle for developing stuff (16 GB). Both using huge files.

      And compiling C++ stuff would fly in that thing. That would eat another 2 GB. Still plenty of space IMO.

      I don't understand why you have to store in your laptop every single mp3 or movie or installer you got.
  • by kbob88 (951258) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:03PM (#21485431)
    32GB is really a lot of space, especially for business users. Today we don't think it's enough, because we've all loaded our computers up with games, music, and video. But for business users who only use the laptop for storing business documents, it should be more than enough space.

    My (old) laptop has 30GB of HDD, and that was plenty of room for 10+ years of business documents, plus numerous programming environments and databases. It only became limiting when I put 13GB of music on it.

    For business-oriented 'road warriors' who value speed and battery life over games and media, this is probably a good choice. Especially if they can get their company to fork over the big $$ for it.

    That said, I'd wait a year until the price comes down significantly and the space doubles or triples.
    • by PitaBred (632671)
      I'd personally love to have a 32GB "working" drive that has the OS and all the programs, and then a larger 200-300GB drive that I can put all my media and the stuff that isn't random-access intensive on. Actually, it'd be sweet if there was some sort of dynamic data management system that automatically put appropriate types of data on the appropriate drives, so I wouldn't even have to manage it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ACMENEWSLLC (940904)
      I agree. I have an external 160GB drive I carry with me which houses all my media, backups, and other files. It is very small and fits in my pocket just fine. I also have a large size USB thumbdrive with my critical files. You can get 32GB thumbdrives now for around $300US.

      I run around 50 commodity PC's as pseudo servers for mundane tasks such as driving neon signs. Cases where a high end server doesn't make sense. These things will run for 4 or 5 years then have a PSU or hard drive fail. One's th
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by camperdave (969942)
        Where is my Acronis/Ghost boot disk anyway?

        On the flash drive on your keychain? Where else would it be?
  • 32 Gigs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TitusC3v5 (608284) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:04PM (#21485447) Homepage
    I love how the articles talks as though 32 gigs is a minuscule amount of space. My current desktop setup involves a machine with 2 40gig drives, one running Windows XP and the other loaded with Zenwalk. The only times I have space issues are when I'm downloading lots of anime, but that's nothing a dvd burner can't remember, and the laptop comes with one.

    I don't give money to Sony, however, so I'll be waiting for an Apple variant.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PineGreen (446635)
      I don't give money to Sony, however, so I'll be waiting for an Apple variant.

      You're right. Sony is evil because of their rootkit, but Apple is soo good, they don't have any DRM whatsoever:, they let you copy the downloaded iTunes to any player you like, back and fort from ipod, they also give you unlimited region changes on DVD player, no DRM whatsoever. It's just pure hippie!

  • Servers not Laptops? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Albanach (527650) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:04PM (#21485453) Homepage
    I have to wonder if there isn't more of a market for Flash disk systems in servers rather than laptops.

    As flash drives get bigger, shouldn't they present an ideal storage for databases with their extremely fast random reads? The drives can be small, have low power consumption and price is less of an issue in the server market.

    What's holding the take up of these drives in the server market? Is it just that they are untested? Is availability of large flash chips still a problem? Does flash still suffer from burnout after x writes and if so isn't that an issue for these laptops?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by king-manic (409855)

      I have to wonder if there isn't more of a market for Flash disk systems in servers rather than laptops.

      As flash drives get bigger, shouldn't they present an ideal storage for databases with their extremely fast random reads? The drives can be small, have low power consumption and price is less of an issue in the server market.

      What's holding the take up of these drives in the server market? Is it just that they are untested? Is availability of large flash chips still a problem? Does flash still suffer from burnout after x writes and if so isn't that an issue for these laptops?

      Basically because "read" is fast but "write" is slow and limited in the number of times you can write. So the average lifespan of a normal flashdisk is a couple years of use as a data transfer/storage medium or about a day as a swap disk. The technology progresses but that is a limiting factor thus far. So you can boot in 30s but writing 900 meg webserver log files may take some time.

      • by Albanach (527650)

        Basically because "read" is fast but "write" is slow and limited in the number of times you can write.

        perhaps, but doesn't this sound exactly like the 'average' relational database with expensive writes and cheap reads. Most our database info changes rarely, and any decent DB should make it easy to store some tables on one storage mechanism and other tables on another that's perhaps more suited to the data or write ratio.

        I was under the impression that the number of writes possible had improved greatly in

        • perhaps, but doesn't this sound exactly like the 'average' relational database with expensive writes and cheap reads. Most our database info changes rarely, and any decent DB should make it easy to store some tables on one storage mechanism and other tables on another that's perhaps more suited to the data or write ratio.

          I was under the impression that the number of writes possible had improved greatly in recent years, but am not sure if it's still a limiting factor.

          Looking it up I found citations of guarantees of at least 100,000 write per block (for block 0) to estimates that some flash disk could last for years under rigorous conditions. I couldn't find concrete data, and a few referenced a estimated lifespan of 20 years for the wear level controller. Hard to say. I have worn out cheap usb drives, but these flashdisks may be a different breed.

          I did hear a story where someone took a flash drive, mounted as a swap partition and wore it out within days.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hrvatska (790627)
        It might be great for applications that are more read than write intensive. I'm currently working with a mid-size company whose LDAP servers are read from frequently, but not updated that often. A flash disk might be a good candidate in that situation.
    • by jrumney (197329) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:23PM (#21485675) Homepage
      Flash has a longer expected life than most hard-drives these days, for all but the most deliberately contrived use cases, so it can't be that.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by (H)elix1 (231155) *
      There is. I got to play with some kit at OOW last week. Bitmicro had a booth [bitmicro.com] with all sorts of HDD's in server form factors and interfaces (SCSI, Fibre Channel, Sata, Pata). While it is not cheap - $20USD/gig? - it is getting better with each price drop. The drives were cool compared to my old fashion disks, so it might already be at the break even point for people who count air conditioning into the cost. I'd love to replace my raptors with a fast, quite, cool, flash based device - just waiting on the
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mr_mischief (456295)
        Gee, I remember hoping for the day I could buy a hard drive for $1 a megabyte to move data around at 16MBps. Flash drives might be more expensive than traditional Winchester-style drives, but these days it's all relatively cheap. Give it a few years and you'll forget about spinning hard drives about as fast as we forgot about ESDI and MFM.

        Oh, and get off o' my lawn, you damn kids.
    • There are companies moving in this direction. For example check out:

      http://www.fusionio.com/ [fusionio.com]

      Up to 640GB NAND flash. Supposedly 700 MB/s transfer rate.

    • by Jester998 (156179)
      You mean like this [superssd.com]?
    • real database servers already have 32 GB (or even more!) of RAM... that's right full speed RAM, as well as SCSI cards with several hundred MB of battery backed up ram buffers... tied to 5+ RAIDS of disks... that's far more thru-put than these puny little flash setups have.
  • Schlock Resistant (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) *

    I'd consider one if it were built for shock resistance. Too many allegedly rugged laptops/tablets are still limited to screens which break or flimsy plastic construction which breaks structurally with normal use.

    Flash drive sounds like just the ticket, though.

    • If ruggedness is your concern, at a price such as this, then consider this tank of a laptop [toughonline.com].

      Full magnesium alloy case, shock-mounted hard drive, Windows XP, handwriting functions, vibration and drop-shock resistant, moisture/dust resistant LCD, keyboard and, touchpad protected by a replaceable screen film.
  • Why would I spend $3,200 on a Sony Saddled with Vista, when I can get an Asus EeePC [asus.com] for $350 running Linux?

    What could POSSIBLY be worth that much more money that a more conventional machine couldn't handle at a fraction of the price? so you get a little extra battery time. Woopty freakin' doo.

    It's not like it has some giamungus drive for video editing, or the Special Magic Powers of the MacOS. I don't get who they think they're selling to.

    I'm willing to say "I don't get it", but seriously - I don't se

    • What could POSSIBLY be worth that much more money that a more conventional machine couldn't handle at a fraction of the price?
      A used Thinkpad, which has none of the limitations of either and a build quality well above Asus and Sony.

      Of course, you could just go with the poorly built knockoff. It'll just cost more to repair in the long term.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by jargon82 (996613)
        Thinkpads rock. They're all we use at work, and we have a 3 year replacement policy (our consultants get a new one every 3 years, when the warrenty runs out). The old ones come back for use in training sessions, and better than 90% of them are still in good shape after 3 years of use on the road.
        I won't say they never break or have problems, but the support experience is good enough that I don't hear about it, either :)
      • by dbIII (701233)
        What's more you could put a IDE to CF adapter in the thing and run it off flash. 4GB is sometimes enough and there are larger cards out there.
    • by tknd (979052) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:20PM (#21485637)

      The Asus was designed to be small and cheap while the Sony was designed to be expensive and powerful. The hardware is quite a bit different: 1.2ghz dual core vs 675mhz single core, 4GB SSD vs 32GB SSD, different screen sizes.

      I don't see it as a bad thing because more products = more options = better for consumers. Also more products using SSD = higher SSD demand = more SSD R&D = cheaper and/or better SSDs. If all major PC manufacturers have legitimate products for sale with SSDs, then within a year or two SSD should really start putting pressure on hard drives and become even more affordable.

      So I say good for Sony. I won't buy their laptop but if it gets another SSD manufacturer some cash flow then it only means more potential for SSD growth in the future.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by timeOday (582209)
      For starters, you're comparing 32 GB with 4 GB. That's a factor of 8. 8 x $350 = $2800, which is surprisingly close to the Sony price. The Eee PC is a very cute little product, but you can't touch-type on it, the screen is only 7", and (most importantly) it can't run all the standard business software most people use. They really aren't comparable.
      • by HappyHead (11389)
        you're comparing 32 GB with 4 GB. That's a factor of 8. 8 x $350 = $2800

        Um, your math is a little off there if you think the SSD is the only cost factor in the machine. Adding 28GB of flash alone would only add at most a few hundred to the overall cost of the machine. There's also the massive difference in screen resolution (800x480 versus 1366x768) and size (7" vs. 11.1"), a jump in processor speed (900MHz to 1.2 GHz) more RAM (512 MB vs. 2GB), and the addition of a dual layer DVD burner. Those are
        • To nitpick, it does have a moving part: the fan. While I doubt it'll give out on you, I'm pretty sure you don't want to be using the thing if it does.
        • by pherthyl (445706)
          There's also the massive difference in screen resolution (800x480 versus 1366x768) and size (7" vs. 11.1"), a jump in processor speed (900MHz to 1.2 GHz) more RAM (512 MB vs. 2GB), and the addition of a dual layer DVD burner.

          Yeah the screen, RAM, and the bigger battery are probably the most expensive aside from the SSD. However Vista requires the 2GB to work nicely in the first place, so you're really paying for no real benefit.
      • by pherthyl (445706)
        Sure you can touch type on it. Just takes about a day to get used to it. I agree they're pretty different, but the rest of your argument is equally bogus, as others have already pointed out.
  • eee pc (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pimpimpim (811140) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:09PM (#21485511)
    Sorry people, but I'll go for the EEE pc. It will be the first PC I'll buy in 7 years, I've been waiting for it all that time :) It delivers a small, lightweight, laptop with limited capabilities, but still all the features you'd like a computer to have. Also, it is DEAD CHEAP. I recently looked at a site selling subnotebooks from Japan, all where going for 1200 dollars or more. Why would anyone buy those? Normally these machines were limited to upper-management people, but finally any normal person can also buy them, with an EEE and they WILL!!! Sorry if I sound like a fanboy, but if sony would have sold a 300 PC with the specs of an EEE, I would have bought it from them. Knowing Sony, they would have screwed it up badly anyway, using some strange sony-only form-factor (memory stick?). Asus was just the first to come with the right mix, and I hope many will follow.
    • The thing that those laptops had that the Asus wont have is quality. By the time you've bought enough of those, you'd be far behind the $1200 models if you bought them used.
    • I bought an EeePC yesterday - neat little gadget. Finally I have d PDA that I can use for real work.
  • Wow Sony.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by moogied (1175879)
    Sony's marketing people must be asleep. They should *NEVER* brand a sony product with the following words:

    Fire.

    Flame.

    Boom.

    FLASH.

  • I'd say this isn't really anything new. The drives have been available for months, and there are likely other vendors that have already done it. Really, what's new and exciting about this, other than it has the most expensive four-letter word in consumer electronics attached to it?

  • by sczimme (603413) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:13PM (#21485563)

    A company called Addonics has a bootable Compact-Flash-to-2.5"-IDE adapter for sale here [addonics.com]. The Dual-CF model is $21.99. The page shows the adapter populated with CF and installed in a laptop.

    I have no connection to Addonics except as a soon-to-be customer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chabil Ha' (875116)
      The biggest drawback to your solution is that you only get a small hard drive on each channel. If 32GB weren't big enough, the pictured 4GB/per channel is pretty pitiful too.

      Here's a better question:

      What are the technical limitations of buying a bunch of cheap 1-4GB flash drives (anyone else pick a bunch of those up for stocking-stuffers last weekend?) and basically soldering an array of flash memory?

      • Well... 2Gig SD flash was on sale for 13$ at wal-mart. At that price, 64GB would be around 413$. Lets compare that to.... Google Products here [google.com]

        Yowsa. 4000$ ? WTF? How does that scale???

      • The biggest drawback to your solution is that you only get a small hard drive on each channel. If 32GB weren't big enough, the pictured 4GB/per channel is pretty pitiful too.

        Oh, I'm not saying that it would be 100% equal to the Sony version, but I think you would have to agree that even 8GB of flash with a $22 adapter provides pretty darn good bang for the buck.

        What are the technical limitations of buying a bunch of cheap 1-4GB flash drives (anyone else pick a bunch of those up for stocking-stuffers
    • by isj (453011)
      On desktops I use adapters from LinITX (LinITX CF adapters [linitx.com]). The only problem that I have had is at not all motherboards support booting from a CF behind a SATA-to-CF adapter.

      It is still a bit expensive to use CF, but CF usually comes with higher performance than most USB sticks.

  • There has been a flash version of the Portage R500 out for several months now, with twice the capacity (64GB) of hard drive and even as the dollar turns into monopoly money it costs less. Personally I don't like the fact they took the DVD drive out of the flash version, but I am being a bit picky.
  • No ethernet port? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by corsec67 (627446) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:17PM (#21485599) Homepage Journal
    I know it is a laptop, but Wifi just isn't as fast as a gigabit/100baseT ethernet cable, even under the best of conditions, and with a bit of interference can be quite bad.

    Maybe they are thinking that because of the small hard drive nobody will ever need to move data quickly?

    And, no possibility to make the laptop into a wifi base-station (Yes, I have done this before).
  • by Pike (52876) on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:21PM (#21485649) Homepage Journal

    Bought one (new on ebay for $2800) to replace a Toshiba that cost me $900 in 2002, and it's great. It works for me because I don't play high end video games, and is very snappy and VERY light.

    • I love that I can stick it in my little backpack and hardly feel it.
    • With wifi on I can get 6 hours of battery life pretty easily, more with it off.
    • The screen quality is the best I have ever seen.
    • You can burn bootable recovery DVDs and wipe the 9GB recovery partition. With MS Office and OpenOffice installed and a couple GB of music, I have 13GB free.
    • Pop it onto the docking station and I have access to an external HD - no need to carry ALL my photos with me everywhere I go.
    • The keyboard is a little small but surprisingly not bad. It didn't take me long to find that I prefer hitting Fn-Left/RightArrow for Home/End and Fn-Up/DownArrow for PageUp/PageDown - less moving around for my fingers.
    • I don't even know what bootup times are because it just goes into sleep mode whenever I close the lid, takes maybe five seconds to come back up. I think I've done a full reboot maybe four times since the initial "cleanout" (which is the one downside for me - you will spend about a day cleaning up all the garbage and adware that comes preinstalled).

    I do mainly writing, php programming, video/photo editing, web design, and of course email/web. You have no idea what a productivity boon it is to be able to take your laptop everywhere with you, whip it out when you want it without worrying about battery life, then just pop it onto a docking station at night to charge just like a cell phone.

  • by darkonc (47285) <stephen_samuel@nosPam.bcgreen.com> on Monday November 26, 2007 @07:37PM (#21485815) Homepage Journal
    The one thing that I'd worry about is drive life.

    Flash can accept a limited number of write cycles before it starts to fail. This is no big deal for thumb drives, but can start to be a limit for boot/swap drives.

    The ext3-users list has had a number of postings about people using flash boot drives finding that they die after a being used for a while. I haven't tracked tha causes of the failures, but it's definitely something that I'd worry about (I expect that mounting the drive 'noatime' would probably help).

    If I had a client who bought one of these things I would strongly suggest a stringent frequent backup policy.

    • by owlstead (636356)
      There is quite a difference between flash and flash. That's one reason why flash SSD's are more expensive. If you are using a cheap USB memory stick with limited wear leveling (only dynamic wear leveling, if I'm correct) it's pretty easy to damage the drives. Current SSD's - the flash drives that are designed for this purpose - seem to have very high reliability rates.
  • Well I guess with a poorly configured Windows system where everything has to be locally installed and stored yes, 32G might be small. 32 might be too small to store a blue ton of stuff like every movie since 1940 or 30000 mp3's. In a full network enabled OS/setup where you can access and manipulate remote programs and data 32G is more than enough. What is needed is a look at networked data as apposed to pack ratted crap storage.
  • Flash! (Score:4, Funny)

    by achenaar (934663) on Monday November 26, 2007 @08:06PM (#21486085)
    Ahhhhhhhahhhhhh!
    He'll save every one of us!
  • by iamacat (583406) on Monday November 26, 2007 @08:21PM (#21486219)
    It seams that a notebook using a conventional 200GB hard drive with a 16GB flash cache would be pretty much indistinquisable in terms of battery life and performance. Cost and software complexity can be further lowered by using flash with fast read speed but slow writes. The operating system and some applications can then be installed on the flash partition while user data can go on the regular hard drive.

    It seems better to put up with an occasional disk access than not to have an option to store your stuff at all.

  • by Cloud K (125581) on Monday November 26, 2007 @09:07PM (#21486633)
    When Apple comes out with the same thing at an even greater cost :)

    Seriously though, this could be the beginning of flash based storage hitting the mainstream in laptops. The capacity is small right now (though how many people really *need* 300GB? Oh right... pr0n...) but I'm sure if it becomes popular, progress will follow at a decent pace.

There's a whole WORLD in a mud puddle! -- Doug Clifford

Working...