Archive for the Reviews and whatnot Category

Ubunt On the Vye S41 – New Penmount Drivers

Posted in LINUX!, Reviews and whatnot with tags , , , , on September 17, 2008 by rdubz

Well, it seems my blog is a little boring these days.  Not many views, so I thought I’d write some news about the Vye S41 I have.  It seems to get a pile of hits on google :).  To recap, the Vye S41 is the same as the Kohjinsha SR8.  Its a tiny little 2lb tablet pc.  ITs unique in the sense that its the smallest UMPC to contain a built in DVD Burner.  As mentioned it is a touchscreen tablet.  I’ll also mention that the specs are an Intel Atom 800mhz with 1gb of ddr2.  From what I can tell, most of the internals are USB based.  I’m pretty sure the HDD is IDE -> USB, and I know the wireless is of a USB rt73 chipset (thank god for serialm0nkey).

Anyhoo, fact of the matter is, it runs LInux a HELL of a lot better than vista home premium with just the 1gb of ram.  So… as we all do, I want the touchscreen to work as well in linux as it does in Windows.  I installed a beta penmount driver for hardy (ubuntu 8.04) a while ago, and I wasn’t SUPER happy with it… again it was just a beta driver.  So I had the epiphany to check the website last night for new drivers, and new drivers I did find.  They were up to version 2.2.

Let me say its a MASSSIVE improvement.  No jittery cursor, everything is riiight where I touch… so its good.  The only thing I did notice is that I cannot touch the very top or bottom of the screen.  I hide the taskbar at the top and use a AWN at the bottom of my screen to try and get as much realestate as I can, I notice when the taskbar at the top comes down from being hidden, I can use that normally without issue, but I can’t bring it down by placing my mouse at the top of the screen.  This may also cause issues with people using screen edges to do things with Compiz and the like.  I’m going to keep trying with this, perhaps I messed up the settings.  But if you have a Vye, or anything with the penmount 6000 USB chipset touchscreen… Fly on over to penmount.com and get the newest hardy driver… its totally worth it!

Ubuntu Hardy on the Vye S41 (Kohjinsha SR8…Ithink)

Posted in LINUX!, Reviews and whatnot with tags , , , , , on August 8, 2008 by rdubz

So here’s a good topic to get into on the geekery, UMPCs.  I really like these small form factor laptops.  So much I’ve got 2!  Of course I’m paying them off, but I like the idea of being able to bring a computer with me everywhere.

I’ve had a computer since I was 13.  Thanks to one of my parental units working at one of the local universities, we were able to get a 386SX20 back in the day.  I don’t remember much about it, but I remember playing block out, and something called BEAST.  IT WAS A BEAST.

Fast forward to the present.  I’m slightly pasty from spending many years in my cave, sitting in front of a computer.  I go through what I like call “cable withdrawl” if I am not able to see a computer screen.  Sure, I might be over-exagurating a bit, but you know where I’m coming from.

Enter the Vye S41.  For the full specs, check out http://www.umpcportal.com but in basics:

  • Intel 800mhz Stealey
  • 1gb of Ram (Upgradable to 2GB)
  • 80gb HD (I got a prototype with 100g)
  • 7″ screen with touchscreen and 1024×600 resolution.
  • A lot of cool buttons around the bezel.
  • Built in DVD/RW (very few if any other umpcs have this option)

I was a little worried at firs that the processor would hurt this machine.  800mhz doesn’t seem like much when I’ve got a 3ghz X2 desktop, and a Flybook V5 with a 1.2 Core Duo (more on that machine later).  The machine ships with Vista Home Premium, and as we all know, Vista is a resource Pig.  It does work with vista, albeit it boots a little slow, but I didn’t do too much with it as I’m not a windows guy lately.  So I fired up the first Ubuntu 8.04 cd I could find (and thank the lord for the built in dvd drive on this one.  A lot of reviews I’ve read ask the question: “Why use a dvd drive on a machine that is supposed to be mobile?”, Well I think its been REALLY convenient so far, and I’ve burned a CDR and it worked really well)

Upon boot I was pleased to see that wireless was detected, resolution was correct, keyboard was good (although I set it to US, whereas this machine has a UK keyboard).  Also, It had detected the touchscreen and though it didn’t work well, and was terribly calibrated, it worked.  I’ve not been so lucky with Ubuntu on the Flybook.

First I read up on the touchscreen calibration.  Ubuntuforums had a thread going at:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=517816&highlight=kohjinsha

And Vye’s are just rebranded Kohjinsha for the western world.  So after reading that, I’ve got a fully functioning touch screen, with a few slight issue, but I’m using beta drivers from Penmount.  I’ve always got to have the newest thing, and from what I’ve read, the touchscreen would be a little better with Gutsy or Feisty Ubuntu, but I like hardy…. so there,

Now of course, there’s no sense plugging a UMPC into ethernet unless you need to do a big transfer or some jazz, so I started to notice that the wireless was SHIT.  I’ve got a 2 bedroom apartment, and even sitting in the same room as the router, I was connecting at 1mb/s.  So reading more granted salvation at ubuntu forums.  Turns out the Vye uses an RT73 USB based wifi chipset.  Ubuntu drivers are crap for this apparently, and I came across serialm0nkeys drivers.  Following a thred on Ubuntu about installing those, and I am back up and running.  Perfect wifi connection anywhere in the apt.

I installed VLC, and am able to play Divx movies and TV with 0 lag, no issues there, and the speakers are actually pretty loud for their size.  Surfing is no problem at all, I’m writing the blog post on it was we speak.  Which brings us to typing on the small keyboard.

As mentioned I’ve had a Flybook V5 for about 6 months before owning this Vye.  So I’m getting used to typing on small keyboards.  The vye is a little more tactile than the Flybook, which is nice.  It does come with a UK layout as mentioned, which does take a little more getting used to than usual.  BUt once you’ve got it figured out, and you can remember which keyboard is which (two small keyboards doesn’t make this easy) than you should be typing at least 75% of your regular speed in no time.

I’m running some of the Compiz eye candy that comes with Linux… obviously not overkill, as with a small screen, whats the point of filling it with crap… but the cube, and opacity stuff I use works just fine.  Word processing and office work is fine in linux, haven’t tried on windows yet….

In short, I’m quite happy with this Vye as a personal PC for travel and day to day stuff.  It’s not a gaming machine by any means, but I don’t need one.  The burner makes it easy to burn dvds on the road, so if I go to the cottage, I’m never without something to watch if the days or nights are rainy.  I think photographers would be happy with this machine.  Take a wedding for example, you could have all your photos on your pc (with the built in SD/Memory Stick and compact flash, sort through the good, burn to cd and have your entire session complete before you even leave for the day.  Not bad.  I’ll of course keep those interested posted with anything else I come across, and how this thing performs in day to day life.  But right now…. I LIKE IT…. I’m also a dealer for Vye and Flybook, so if you’re interested, drop me a line or leave me a comment.

MY review of the Dlink DIR-655 Extreme

Posted in Reviews and whatnot with tags , , on August 5, 2008 by rdubz

Did I spell that right?  Or is it Xtreme?  Well, either way, I REALLLLY like this router.

Routers are routers are routers… I haven’t really had a LOT of them in my time, but I’ve always had a lot of computers, and have gone through about 4 or 5 different wireless ones in my time… and one wired, but let’s not even get into that.  I’ve had Linksys, Dlink and Boutiful routers in my day… Started with linksys, and then went to Dlink when I moved out and couldn’t take my linksys with me.  I had a Dlink DIR-524 when I lived in the philippines, so when I moved out of my parents place in Canada, I bought the same thing.  It got the job done over there, and in my one bedroom apartment before, never caused any issues…

Then came the move to Apt #2… the concrete lair as I like to refer to it (actually, that JUST came to me now).  The little one antenna router was no match for the concrete walls, and extra space here, and I started getting some gigabit NICS so I thought it was time to upgrade.  In steps the 655.

To start, it really looks cool.  Glossy white with blue lights… super cool in my opinion.. very MAC esque… though I’ve never owned one.  Dlink has come a long way since the 524 let me tell you.  In the box, I got the router, a stand to keep it vertical, if that floats your boat… ethernet cable, power cord, and the cds and small quickstart guide.  The router had some plastic sticky crap covering the back, telling me to make sure I put the CD in my system before doing ANYTHING.

I run linux, so this is not going to work for me.  Standard setup works for people who have used a router before and know what they’re doing.  I didn’t try the setup features, but it looks like they’ve really come a long way with idiot-proofing routers these days too!

Performance is sweet, I had an issue with the older router and my RT73 based card in my Vye (Kohjinsha), packet loss and the sort, but that has cleared up.  My 802.11B bridge hooked into the bedroom works really well also, no speed issues there, streaming videos and music without an issue.

I haven’t tried any gigabit to gigabit transfers yet, but I’ll keep you posted on that, and how else this goes as I use it more… I really only got it on Friday.

Enjoy