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Hardware Hacking

Hacking Asus EEE 150

An anonymous reader writes "Torsten Lyngaas has published a set of instructions with photographs on his personal wiki that describe the steps he took to install $450 worth of extra hardware, including a GPS receiver, an FM transmitter, Bluetooth, extra USB ports, 802.11n, and an extra 4GB flash storage drive."
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Hacking Asus EEE

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  • Re:Honest question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Malevolent Tester ( 1201209 ) * on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @12:44PM (#22235352) Journal
    Couldn't laptop manufacturers just design the case around standardized hardware, thus making it easier to upgrade them

    And who'd buy a new laptop then?
  • Re:Honest question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @12:49PM (#22235434)

    For example...say I wanted to upgrade the video card in my old laptop (provided it wasn't one built into the motherboard)...why isn't there a universal way of doing this, similar to how it is done on a desktop? Cost?

    Because then you couldn't get a really, really thin laptop?

  • Re:Honest question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @01:05PM (#22235674)
    Not to mention the power and heat issues...
  • Re:Honest question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @01:10PM (#22235726) Journal
    Because if I don't need an internal optical drive on my laptop, it would be dumb for me to buy a case that has one. Extra weight and bulk for no benefit. But there are plenty of people who do want internal optical drives, so there really is no one size fits all solution. Is this not obvious?
  • Re:Honest question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @01:18PM (#22235832) Homepage
    My apologies for pissing you off. I had a legitimate question, and in my question I even offered up reasons as to why I thought this hasn't been done yet (and those same reasons were echoed in the responses to my original post)

    It would be one thing if I was trolling. I wasn't. I was curious as to what other slashdotters thought about the subject. Don't be an ass.
  • Re:Honest question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wwwillem ( 253720 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @01:30PM (#22235978) Homepage
    I would love to see (and willing to pay extra) if for starters standardization appears for laptop batteries and power bricks. Now that we (the world) are using for laptops for 10+ years, I guess nearly everybody has drawers full of old power bricks that are incompatible with your new and different brand notebook. Why can we standardize on 110 resp. 230 volt in our homes, but not on 18 Volt (or whatever) for a notebook.

    Notebook designers can still make their own power-bricks, but the plug and voltage should be standardized. Hey, VGA and USB are also common accross the industry, so why not the power as well.

    Same with batteries. Why do I have AAA / AA / C / D cells for my transistor radios and flashlights, but not the same thing for my laptop. Everex and Mallory should be ones where you buy your battery from. Laptops is now a mature product and the time is over where customized batteries were needed because of the constraints.

    I know of course why this doesn't happen, it's all about profit. But because it all ends up in our landfills, this is something where IMHO governments should step in and regulate. If they can regulate the CO2 emissions of my car, they should also be allowed to take on this.

  • Re:Honest question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drew ( 2081 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @01:36PM (#22236070) Homepage
    Laptops (even carefully used ones) also take more more of a beating than a desktop system, so their life expectancy is less. A desktop can run for 10 years with occasional upgrades if your needs are not too demanding (my parents current home PC is a PIII that I originally got in 1997 or 1998 and it's still going strong). I've yet to have owned a laptop that needed to be upgraded before it started to show significant physical signs of age- loose power adapter plug or bad charging circuits, busted hinges or case, missing keys, etc. Three years seems to be about the limit (for me) of how far you can get on a laptop before it needs to be replaced. Unless you're a hardcore gamer (in which case, you're probably not after a laptop anyway) it's not too hard to buy a computer that will last you three years without upgrades.
  • Re:Honest question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LandKurt ( 901298 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @01:37PM (#22236086)
    It's not just the size of the connector, it's the size you have to devote to an unknown future upgrade board.

    Just look at the amount of empty space inside the average tower PC. You can't add that much upgrade flexibility to a laptop without ballooning its size.

    Laptops are optimized for low size and weight. Desktops are optimized for upgrade flexibility. This naturally leads to two distinctly different products. Even hard drives and memory, which you can usually upgrade on a laptop, use different form factors in a laptop.
  • by Drooling Iguana ( 61479 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @01:49PM (#22236232)
    The 8G EEE has twice the RAM of the 4G model but it has the same battery and is rated for the same amount of battery life, so I don't think it makes much of a difference.
  • Re:Honest question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sbrown123 ( 229895 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @02:14PM (#22236562) Homepage
    I remember opening a friends computer many years back to help him upgrade the memory. After close examination we noticed that the memory was soldered in to place. Later someone asked me to help them upgrade their graphics card. I opened the case and noticed the AGP slot looked funny. I quickly figured out that the slot was actually backwards. So to answer your question about laptops: the answer is vendor lock-in for hardware upgrades and limit choices. Until customers start demanding standards the manufacturers are more than happy to keep dishing out the closed solutions.
  • Re:Honest question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bartab ( 233395 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @02:15PM (#22236574)
    I may underestimate the power of rich people wanting more money

    I, however, will never underestimate the ability of People With A Cause to see conspiracies.
  • Re:Honest question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @02:30PM (#22236754) Journal
    I upgrade my laptop roughly every three years. Last upgrade, pretty much everything got upgraded. The WiFi added support for .n, the CPU got faster (and dual-core and 64-bit), the RAM got faster, the optical drive supports writing dual-layer DVDs (the previous one was single-layer only), the GPU got significantly better. The screen, while the same physical form-factor, got a higher resolution and the machine got a slightly smaller box. The USB and FireWire ports are the same speed as is the Bluetooth, but the PC-Card (PCI) slot was replaced with an ExpressCard (PCIe) slot.

    What would I gain from being able to replace components in an ad-hoc fashion?

  • by e2d2 ( 115622 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @02:37PM (#22236862)
    Why is almost every post lately labeled "what could possibly go wrong". Who the fuck is doing that and what is the purpose? Every single thing you do could go wrong, wtf is your point? Do we halt progress you son of a bitch! I throw my hate at you sir!

    That being said, what could possibly go wrong?

  • Re:Honest question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by misleb ( 129952 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @02:43PM (#22236920)

    A laptop that is easy to upgrade is worth more to the consumer, so you could sell it for more by pointing out you won't need to buy another laptop.

    Most laptops are relatively easy to upgrade. That is, for the things that are important: HD and RAM. Some even allow you to upgrade the optical drive without too much trouble. Might have to have someone with some skill do the work, but it isn't impossible. Beyond that, what would you upgrade? CPU? Yeah right, CPU sockets change on a weekly basis. Even on a desktop, your motherboard is probably going to be obsolete by the time you want to make an upgrade. You'll need a new one. And with that, all new RAM. So what on a laptop is really good long term? The GPU? I suppose you could have a standard slot for that, but it would add to the bulk. The display? The keyboard? Certainly not the battery.

  • Re:Honest question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pragma_x ( 644215 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @02:48PM (#22236974) Journal

    or perhaps components could communicate by simply "seeing" each other and transmitting data via light.

    I've dreamed of this for a long time. Everything just plugs into "the bus", by mating lenses, GND and +5V rails. Plus, optical interconnects have just silly amounts of bandwidth at their disposal, all interference free. The major problem is having a cheap-but-good UART of sorts that can drink from that firehose.

    The neat thing about this is that your tech problems then devolve into rather trival territory:

    - "Don't plug that into slot 5, the lens is scratched."
    - "I can't use that, I need a few more mA on my power supply, plus my bus manager has feckity power management."
    - "I had a device conflict since that network adapter was factory preset to 'blue' - I switched it to 'red' and off I went."

    Anyway, you're right: this'll be a huge boon for portables. Removing the sheer number of metal-to-metal contacts on devices would be a huge step towards proper miniaturization of a lot of devices. You may also see some broad compatibility between desktops, laptops, palmtops and cellphones, depending on the level of miniaturization involved.
  • Power bricks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by upside ( 574799 ) on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @03:44PM (#22237724) Journal
    One small positive experience for me was IBM Thinkpad power supplies, which stayed the same for years. Until Lenovo came along, that is.
  • Re:Honest question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Wednesday January 30, 2008 @06:55PM (#22240140)

    I would love to see (and willing to pay extra) if for starters standardization appears for laptop batteries and power bricks

    There was a standard, briefly, in the mid-90's. Pushed by Duracell, I believe (who obviously wanted to sell laptop batteries), and was used in a few laptops (Toshiba?). Alas, it died mostly because it was "Yet another battery" and very few people used it. Plus, since the battery determined the formfactor, it was somewhat constraining in that all laptops now had a fixed minimum size in two directions (the last one isn't very constraining, since you need the rest of the laptop hardware). Of course, it probably lasted a few years, then people realized that they either didn't bother buying extra batteries, or if they did, it sat on the shelf, and by the time they needed it, it was as bad as their current one (such is the life of Li-Ion/LiPo batteries - their life decreases as they get older - so if you bought an extra battery when you bought the laptop, in 2 years, they both will hold very similar capacities if treated well).

    A laptop that is easy to upgrade is worth more to the consumer, so you could sell it for more by pointing out you won't need to buy another laptop. Why doesn't it happen ? In a way it does, there are laptop manufacturers that produce these kinds, but they are not really popular, they're a bit bloated etc.

    Perhaps. BUt as we see with desktops - people don't upgrade their computers much. Sure they may stick in another hard disk or change the memory, but that's about all. Video cards, other accessories are added way less often nowadays (especially since everything's gone USB or Firewire), so upgradability is less of a concern now than it was. Laptops offer portability and enough power, and with all the external hard drives, capture cards, etc. etc. etc., all the functionality that was once in a desktop without having to install cards and all that.

    A modern laptop is designed to upgradable within a limited range of parts (see the "customize" button on every manufacturer's page? They just pop in different parts), which for most people is OK. Incremental upgrades are done less and less these days because it's not worth it.

Where there's a will, there's a relative.