New Gaming Netbook: The Unboxinating

Secret bonus suprise toy!

We’re occasionally asked why we don’t do more hardware related content on Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Here’s why:

Today I received my brand new netbook. The faithful Aspire One that has accompanied me the last couple of years had become completely useless after the screen was horrible cracked, then taken over by a peculiar purple disease that now obscures most of the visible area. It was time for a new one. But the quest to find it was truly quite horrendous. Buying a netbook is so ludicrously complicated, with not only an ever-increasing number of manufacturers creating an ever-increasing number of various spec machines, but also with each distinct machine being produced in about sixty-seven different formats, each subtly, but crucially, different than the other. Narrowing the field requires deciding on at least one wild extreme, and then picking from whichever you’ve got left. My picks, because in the end I’m a writer and a gamer: A screen larger than 11″, and one containing an ION graphics chip. Which, amazingly, reduces the field from seven hundred million billion to just four.

And led me to my HP Compaq 311c-1101SA. As distinct from the various other 311cs.

I’m not sure I’ve read as much in my adult life as I have trying to fathom which mini-laptop to get. I’ve read so many review sites with so many varying opinions that I’m still left panicked that I should have got the new MSI Wind with its huge screen, amazing processor, but rubbish keyboard and integrated graphics. Or the Asus Something Something, that slightly out-performed the 311c on most things, but had a terrible battery. Or perhaps I should have been modest and bought the new Aspire One – a straight upgrade. Or listened to many people telling me to pick up the Samsung NC20, or variants thereof. Or… or… This has been the inside of my brain for the last few weeks.

Hardware review sites are very strange. There seems to be a pact amongst all of them, worldwide, that they will not under any circumstances create any sort of buyer’s guide telling the reader which one is best out of all of them. In fact, so determined are they to not compare one to another that they’ll change the criteria for what makes a piece of hardware good or bad between each review.

Some sites pretend to do comparisons. I found quite a few saying, “The Top 15 netbooks out today”. One even written by a friend of mine. But none of them were any such thing. They’re, instead, just a series of mini-reviews for the products, mostly critical, with no sense of their being ranked, nor telling you which one is best. I would skip from one review to the next, by the same author, and see things like this:

“The Gammon X-RAY 3000 comes with the bog-standard netbook setup of a weak Intel Atom N270 processor, a measly 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and the same 10″ screen as all the rest, only offering a tiny 1024 x 600 pixel display.”

Next review:

“The Xplodo Cat-Racked Z444 carries a decent Atom N270 processor, easily capable of running most tasks, helped along with a healthy gigabyte of DDR2 RAM. The 10″ screen offers ample space with 1024 x 600 pixels, letting you easily browse websites.”

BUT WHA HUH HOW?

I just want someone to put photographs of all the machines, and underneath say what each of them does best. Which is why this article by LAPTOP magazine is absolute stellar, and completely helped me settle on the HP ION machine. More of this sort of thing!

In the end, however, my decision was made by Jim. He too owns the 311c-1101SA (and not the poorer 1020SA nor the 1030SA), and told me it can run Portal. And despite nearly three weeks passing between hearing that and finally making my mind up, it was those words that clinched it. My desire for a netbook is to be able to write on it – write on planes, in hotel rooms, on trains, in Starbucks… But the thought of having one that I could also install Steam on, and not have to stick to games from pre-2000, seemed too exciting.

After some extraordinary trauma (the machine cost £230 on Amazon when Jim recommended it that afternoon, but by the evening was amazingly up to £310. I waited all those weeks to see if it would drop again, and eventually paid £320 for it – anyone who points out that tonight it’s down to £299.95 gets a punch), it’s finally with me. And so, for the first time in both my and RPS’s fifty year history, here is our first unboxing. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right?

So here it is. Upside down.

There’s a warning sticker. And I love me a warning sticker.

Let me explain that for you:

1) Consume a ludicrously full glass of wine. Do not spill any.

2) Gather all the batteries in your house.

3) SET EVERYTHING ON FIRE.

It was time to open this baby up. I believe this to be essential when unboxiginising.

But damn if it isn’t covered in all of the sellotape and stickers in the world. I’m going to need more scissors.

Was it murdered? The chopped up parts bagged and tagged by the police? There’s so much unwrapping to do! This isn’t Portal. Not even a bit. More equipment.

Better.

And finally, here it is, just seventeen more layers of protective plastic to go.

Time to introduce it to its older, bigger brother. And a flat surface.

AHHHHHH-OOOOOOOOOH-AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I started it up, told Windows which country I live in, and then… watched it install a bunch of software I would be deleting very soon.

Whereupon it promptly bluescreened. Which I forgot to photograph. Because of the tears.

But it seems fine now.

Of course, it didn’t turn up with the extra 2GB of RAM I ordered, that lets it do anything other than be an 11.6″ slideshow, so there’s still no Portal for me. But that should be in the post tomorrow.

But I sure took it out of its box.

And that’s the story of my buying a new gaming netbook. Now it’s very important that everyone tell me that I bought the wrong one, paid too much, and most of all, that a newer, better version will be coming out in three weeks that costs half as much.

148 Comments

  1. Nick says:

    I’m glad to see you take the only sensible approach to package opening: lots of pointy things.

    Also the cat is adorable, but then most cats are.

    • drewski says:

      Ohhh, *there’s* the cat.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Apparently he already did the drink the ludicrously full glass of wine step before handling those scissors.

      Things I know about John Walker:
      He is a terrible healer
      He has a cat
      He is trying to outdo Robin Williams in terms of apeness.

  2. Lewie Procter says:

    You need to do a “Can I finish Portal on one charge” test.

  3. pupsikaso says:

    KG is gone for barely a week and already there are pictures of cats on the front page?

  4. Jimbo says:

    You clearly didn’t fill the wine glass correctly before installing the software.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I think the problem was, that he installed Windows on a real computer instead of a Playmobil one. ^^

  5. Ateius says:

    Brilliant. RPS needs more sterling hardware coverage such as this.

  6. terry says:

    Came for the unboxing, stayed for the unfeasibly hairy Walker-arm.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      Six comments before my hairy arm got mentioned!

    • terry says:

      It….it just popped in there….I tried to think of the most harmless thing– something that I loved from my childhood, something that would never ever possibly destroy us

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      Funny thing is, that arm isnt hairy. Not by a long shot.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Well, I just read “somethingboxsomething”, thought “Minecraft” and…
      Damn you, tons of mouth-watering Minecraft articles!

    • Spook says:

      Walker = man

      Real men have hairy arms

      Men complaining of hairy arms confuses me have they been that whipped by their woman and the media that they now shave themselves.

  7. Matt says:

    Netbooks are not gaming machines, its kinda the whole point of them. If you want portable PC gaming you need a full form laptop costing at least 1500. Sites like Tom’s Hardware and AnandTech have good reviews on gaming laptops.

    • Premium User Badge

      John Walker says:

      But I don’t. I want a typewriter than can play Portal.

    • Birky says:

      Yes Tom’s hardware is about the only site I can understand when it comes to hardware reviews that actually tells you what’s good.

      Having said that I when I build my last PC on a budget reading power supply reviews was completely soul destroying.

      SET EVERYTHING ON FIRE.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      Well, IBM just created a very lightweight netbook-like gadget, that allows you to outlive every fantasy you can imagine*! It’s called the SchreIBMaschine.
      ___
      * Yes, you have to imagine it first. ;)

    • JP says:

      “Netbooks are not gaming machines, its kinda the whole point of them.”

      Only if by “gaming” you mean “games that were released in the last 5-ish years”. So many wonderful old games still unplayed! Planescape Torment runs great on my wife’s netbook.

      [/public service announcement]

    • DrGonzo says:

      It can kinda play Portal but not really. Source is pushing it too far. Though it can play the first three-ish levels of Alien Swarm but then the levels get too big for it to handle.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Oh I wanted to add that extra RAM won’t help with most games. It’s big bottleneck is the proccessor. Suprisingly it can handle Dawn of War 2 pretty well, but the resolution and size of the screen makes it pretty much impossible to see anything.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      Actually 900 is a more realistic figure. My brother paid (well my mom paid) 700 quid for his netbook, which packs 4GB of RAM, a GT 9600 and an Intel Dual Core (I forget the exact model) that runs at 2.4something ghz 2 years ago. I paid 1100 for my Toshiba Qosmio x500 128 with 6GB of RAM, an Intel I7 1.6ghz turbo boost to 2.6 and a 360m GTS about 4 months ago.

      Admittedly, you do have to browse around A LOT if you want something that packs a punch and isn’t a complete rip off, and even then, for that price you need a reason better than desktops scare me to invest, e.g. both me and my bro needed something fairly portable but also fully gaming capable, as in really needed it, not just kinda wanted it, therefore a desktop was just out of the question, and he couldn’t afford to get a competent netbook and desktop, I just don’t have the space for a desktop (living in university halls atm and have way too much stuff) even though I probably could have afforded one, but then my netbook would have had to have been in the 500 region.

      ASUS, Toshiba and MSI all do fairly reasonable (by high spec notebook standards) and fully competent machine from 900 to 1500. Obviously if you want something really fancy you’e looking at 1500+, but there again, if that’s what you’re looking for 1500+ isn’t a big deal… also I want your bank account.

    • JohnH says:

      I bought an Acer TimelineX 3820TG some time ago. It’s a 13.3″ laptop that got what it takes to play the latest games out there. When you’re using it for non-demanding tasks the battery lasts for ~8 hours (12 hours in theory but most I’ve managed was just over 10). It cost me £700. So unless you want a desktop replacement computer with 17+” screen you can get good “gaming-grade” hardware in smaller laptops today for alot less than £1500.

    • JohnnyMaverik says:

      @ JohnH

      That is a pretty impressive machine for that price…

  8. Barman1942 says:

    You know you could have got it tonight for £299.95, right?

    :3

  9. the wiseass says:

    John Walker is the best of all possible Walkers!

    • Jimbo says:

      Better than an AT-AT Walker? *looks doubtful*

    • Wipa says:

      AT-AT Walker is one of John’s many aliases.

    • the wiseass says:

      Yes and even better than the Walker, Texas Ranger!

    • Wulf says:

      I don’t know… don’t dismiss the Amiga WALKER out of hand…

      Bah! Who am I kidding? You’re right, of course.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      This is an interactive comment. Choose my reaction:
      A) Hey, why so singular? Imagine Walker, Texas Ranger, in an AT-AT Walker, drinking Johnny Walker! That’s like spinach for Popeye! He’d rip the world apart!
      B) Damn, why did I have to misread “Wanker”! Now I see it everywhere!

    • Quasar says:

      I think you’re forgetting Salt and Vinegar.

  10. noobnob says:

    In the couple months I’ve avidly visited RPS, I always wondered why there was a lack of hardware reviews in a PC-centric gaming blog. Sure, it’s better to focus on the games rather than technical hubbub, but articles such as the one about mice are nice once in a while.

    I’ll just say that the ION notebooks are probably the best for netbook gaming right now. Perhaps you should’ve waited two more months before buying that, as AMD and Intel have something to show in the near future that will interest many “I want to play games on a portable computer without having to spend hundreds on an Alienware” gamers. AMD’s Fusion and Intel’s Sandy Bridge are things you should look forward to, as they should make things simpler when it comes to choose the right hardware for your daily needs, instead of the mess that many get themselves into when they explore the netbook/notebook market, just like you did.

    • noobnob says:

      *ION netbooks are probably the best for netbook gaming

      damnit

      Also have to add that Intel’s graphics have a long history of being shitty, but Sandy Bridge should improve things a bit. AMD’s Fusion is the one that looks really promising, though.

    • noobnob says:

      argh, forgot this too:

      link to youtube.com

      Last post in this chain, I swear. It’s a demo of AMD Fusion running City of Heroes on a low-class, mainstream chip which should be used on netbooks.

    • BAReFOOt says:

      I’m gonna go with a ARM chip. Intel/AMD are energy-hungry with a lots of horribly crappy architecture, that is only there, to pointlessly support Windows, which nobody needs anyway.
      (Don’t try to argue with “But Games only run on Windows”. That’s circular logic! If Windows were dead, there’d still be games. They would even perform better, as can be seen when a game is available for many platforms.)
      See, I made the start. Now all you have to do, is to follow. And as most people are cattle anyway (hence the above pseudo-argument), this shouldn’t be hard.

    • noobnob says:

      No point in arguing, though. Just gotta wait till Q1 2011 to see the next step towards mainstream netbook gaming.

      And lol at ARM on netbooks…

    • 2ds says:

      Yeah I recommended he wait until the new AMD processors come out too but he didn’t listen ;p

      it’s the first hardware I’ve been excited about in a long time because it’s looking like I might be able to get a decent gaming machine in the same power evelope as atom (also hopefully minus intels ridiculous only a 10″ screen and only 2gb of ram requirements)

      I’m quite looking forward to something that has twice the processor twice the ram, a 720p screen and probably 8x the graphics performance of atom in the same power envelope.

  11. Richard says:

    I’ve got the “poorer 1020SA” and its very nice, so much better than my old msi wind, its like a proper laptop but small, and with a 5 hour battery life. Only down side is the touch pad is rubbish.

    Oh and the 1020SA is only poorer if you want to game on it, I don’t, so the dual-core on that one (and 3Gb) is actually better.

    • Alonzo says:

      I’m looking for a 12″ netbook without the requirement to run any games on it. Is that the one to go for, it is currently £290 on amazon.co.uk?

  12. Rodalpho says:

    Don’t forget to use the decrapifier to uninstall all the crapware!

    link to pcdecrapifier.com

    • BAReFOOt says:

      The link above is wrong. Here’s the correct link:
      link to ubuntu.com

    • Mad Doc MacRae says:

      The link above is wrong. Here’s the correct link:
      link to debian.org

    • DrGonzo says:

      Now what would be the point of getting a gaming netbook and then installing Linux on it?

    • Renzatic says:

      @DrGonzo Now what would be the point of getting a gaming netbook and then installing Linux on it?

      What are you talking about, guy? Linux gaming has come quite far in the last couple of years. Nowdays, you have like 5 different versions of Open Source Solitaire to choose from. That’s a big upgrade from the days when Linux gamers only had Ted’s Parcheesi and Let’s Spell Microsoft With A Dollar Sign And Call People Who Use Any Other OS Sheep On An Internet Forum.

      But seriously, I think of Linux as being the perfect OS for a netbook. It runs lighter than Windows 7, does all the nettish and editing stuff superbly, and has native support for Dosbox and a ton of emulators. Dosbox and emulators being what I’d most likely play on a netbook.

    • Renzatic says:

      Addendum: When I finally get around to getting a netbook (which will most likely be an Asus 1215N YOU GOT THE WRONG NETBOOK INTERNET WRITER GUY), I’ll probably be opting out of Win7 and going with Ubuntu. I don’t intend on playing the latest and greatest games, nor use any of my 3D editing crap on it, so it’d be perfect for me.

      Plus Ubuntu’s netbook interface, Unity, looks pretty nifty keen.

    • Mugi says:

      Do absolutely NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY on an 1215N if you plan to install Linux on it, BE WARNED, there is NO Video drivers for Linux who handle OPTIMUS and Nvidia will NOT support an Linux driver with it either. If you get it for that, your really throwing your money away.

    • Bob's Lawn Service says:

      In response to :

      “The link above is wrong. Here’s the correct link:
      link to ubuntu.com

      Unfortunately Walker did mention that he had to get work done on it – not just fiddle with his kernel and act superior to no neck-beards

    • DrGonzo says:

      @Renzatic

      I understand the appeal of Linux, especially on a netbook. But this netbook can play ‘real’ games not just old games etc.

    • Renzatic says:

      @Mugi

      From what I understand (and admittedly I do need to do more research into this), Linux doesn’t have the capabilities to switch graphics cards on the fly within the OS, but still has access to both. You just have to choose which card you want to use specifically in the bios. A bit less convenient, but hardly a waste of money.

      @DrGonzo

      If by real games you mean anything past 2008, then not quite. As been stated around here before, even the best ION2 equipped netbook isn’t up to the task of playing recent games very well. You might get some to chug along, but it won’t be what I’d call a smooth and enjoyable experience.

      If you want to play games on a really really small computer , it might be better for you to look into 13 inch laptops than a netbook. They’re not exactly powerhouses either, but they’re more likely to get decent performance out of recent games.

      For me, playing Dosbox, emulators, and the occasional GOG-bought game is all I’d intend on using a laptop/netbook for. All of which I can do quite easily with Linux and wine. For all the latest and greatest games, I’ve got my Win7 desktop.

  13. Zyrxil says:

    Obviously you bought the wrong one, because the netbook I’m getting to replace my Aspire One is the Asus EEE PC 1215N. Newest dual core Atom, ION, plus the fact that I can’t be wrong, therefore you must be horribly mistaken :p

    • rei says:

      I got that one when it came out, and I’m very happy with it. Even happier than I expected to be, and I expected to be pretty happy.

  14. Saucy says:

    Talk about the cat.

    • qrter says:

      I read that in the same tone one would read the question “what are you wearing”.

    • LevingLasVegas says:

      Yeah, how much RAM does it have? What OS is it running? What’s your 3DMark score? We want details on the fuzzmachine!

  15. Po0py says:

    Sometimes, or so I have heard, Amazon logs what you’ve been looking at and sneakily ups the price over a time so that eventually you pay premium whereas some random dude who just browsed Amazon for the first time and did a search for the same netbook will be able to nab it for £230 or whatever.

    In other words: Try to browse as anonymously as possible. Delete cookies and log in until you actually intend to buy something.

    • Po0py says:

      Do I get a punch for that?

    • Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

      I dont think this is true. There are apps/extensions/addons that actually track the price of items on sites like amazon, letting you view when they are cheap and expensive, and even alerts you when the price of an certain item drops.

      Now, given these exist, you dont think someone would notice this, and blare it all over the internet? It would be a huge scandal.

      It could be true, however, that the more people start browsing certain products (Lets say netbooks in autum) the more amazon see a demand, and hike prices.
      But i would never expect it on an individual basis.

    • terry says:

      *dons tinfoil hat*

      *confirms amazon is expensive as shit no matter what*

    • Po0py says:

      @Peter Radiator

      Apparently that is exactly what happened. They got caught out and had to admit it. Weather they still do it is another thing.

    • Rich says:

      I’d question the legality of doing that in EU/UK. In the UK at least, pretty much anything that’s regarded as misleading or unfair to the consumer is illegal.

    • Rich says:

      Some googling has suggested that their prices move around a lot, but I’ve found nary a whisper of individually targeted increases.

    • Dozer says:

      Amazon definitely used to customise prices based on what you’d bought before, so if you bought expensive stuff Amazon would generally raise prices for you only, and deleting cookies could lower it. But that was years ago, and they stopped after people found out and journalists started shouting. I read about it in “The Undercover Economist” by Tim Harford; it was in the chapter on market segmentation.

  16. Peter Radiator Full Pig says:

    Why couldnt you just fix the screen on your old netbook?
    Theres even a recent guide over on lifehacker (second time iver written about that site on this site today!)

    Also, will you be posting any attempts to run games on it? Maybe a john walker list of good netbook games, to accompany the forum.

    • President Weasel says:

      A Walker List of “these games work pretty well on my netbook” would be good.

  17. Zetetic says:

    I still marvel at how much effort most computer manufacturers go to make their machines as ugly as possible.

  18. Enigmatic Gray says:

    I recall reading an article about how Amazon used to do price adjusting based previous browsing, but their was, as you said, a great hubbub, and now they no longer do that.

  19. Tetragrammaton says:

    I feel your pain, hardware site are universally rubbish. For my own needs (admittedly niche – I needed a powerful gaming/Intensive software for work laptop) I would heartily recommend Xotic pc. (more so if you are US based)

  20. DrGonzo says:

    Ooooh! I have the same netbook! It’s rather ace.

  21. Sagan says:

    Awesome. Best unboxing ever.

    When looking for a laptop, what you really need is this benchmark list of all mobile graphics cards:
    link to notebookcheck.net

    Seriously, bookmark that page right now so that you will forever have it.

    When looking for a laptop for the next time, look for what new models are out, then compare them only on their graphics cards using that benchmark list. A better CPU is not worth it, because even current graphics cards on the laptop are only as good as desktop graphics cards from three years ago. Even the slowest CPU will be too fast for your graphics card. Do make sure to have enough RAM though.

  22. deimos says:

    Better post how it performs playing (new-er) games – the old classics are pretty much a no-brainer.

  23. Jhoosier says:

    I’ve been thinking of getting a tablet PC. Wonder what games would run on that, especially if it used Win7. As it is, my Acer Aspire 1 is fine for browsing, but has a tendency to pause every 10 seconds for a nice long think that is slowly driving me mad.

  24. blargh says:

    That’s nice and all… but why in the world do you have a bottle of ketchup on your computer desk? I’m pretty sure everyone here would like to know that. o_o

  25. Chris K. says:

    Now you know why I stopped buying/building PC hardware…Tomshardware is semi-decent but there’s always something better. Me, I find my Macbook suits me just fine. Sure, there’s a premium, but I like to pay to not have to slog through review site drivel. (Yes I know that’s nonsense. There are other reasons for my decision. But I’ve pondered wading back into the PC market occasionally for a dedicated gaming rig, and always run screaming after hours of hardware review confusion.)

    • bildo says:

      I just don’t see the sense in paying THAT much money to not browse websites for about an hour or two for the sake of convenience. I mean the price difference between a Macbook Pro and a similar lappy is pretty big. you seem happy with it though.

  26. bildo says:

    daw, no unboxing VIDEO? it’s okay. this was the best article on RPS in days.

    You should consider the occasional hardware review instead of the non-pc-game boardgame feature you have. so much more interesting and relevant!

  27. TeeJay says:

    Here’s a really cool link for anyone with a new PC or doing a fresh install – it is an automated installer for the latest version of multiple useful programmes (you can pick and choose from it’s list of c.80 everything from Firefox, Steam, Spotify, AVG, CCleaner etc, and just leave it to get on with it)…

    link to ninite.com

  28. Snall says:

    …build your own.

  29. Tony M says:

    So John Walker doesn’t care about Hardware Journalism. He just wants a hardware metacritic so he can buy the one with the highest metascore…. me too.

  30. Matt says:

    Yardware journalism

    Forget laptops, where are the rake and lawn mower reviews?

  31. faelnor says:

    Man I hate netbook keyboards…
    Also, screens.

    • Nova says:

      Yeah, the fun starts if you want a net/notebook without a glare screen.

  32. Vagueism says:

    I want a Metacritic-like site for hardware!

  33. Little Tohya says:

    I bought some variant of Aspire One back at the start of the year for about £200; the most advanced thing I’ve tried on it is Minecraft (Which runs a bit poorly) and Alien Assault (Which runs great!), but it was bought for reading PDF’s and general, light away-from-house computing duties. Spending more money wouldn’t really have bought enough extra computer to be worth it, given my needs.

    I should go and get a RAM upgrade for it, actually. And try installing IWD…

  34. Drug Crazed Dropkick says:

    Hardware review sites are for hardware geeks. Not us mortals.

    Solution? Ask on forums.

  35. Lilliput King says:

    Is that tomato ketchup on your desk?

    Why do you need such quick access to ketchup?

    • Heliocentric says:

      If you have to ask, you’ll never know.

    • Edgar the Peaceful says:

      That’s like a masonic handshake, but for Rum Doings listeners.

  36. Forceflow says:

    All that bloatware really is annoying.

  37. Mugi says:

    PS I got that Asus ‘sometihng something’ :P or with the real name

    Asus 1215N if thats the one you refer to :P LOL, battery life so far have been great to me, on average when I don’t game it last me abut 5 to 6 hours more then enough to do all my work that I need between the times I need to charge the battery so I dunno about ‘bad’ battery life :P

  38. Inigo says:

    You kids and your “Giguh-hurrts” processors and your “Grafick chippings”. I’ve still got my Eee PC 701 and it still serves me perfectly weË`ßh±ûŠ�5](¨Vu=¥ NO CARRIER

  39. Tei says:

    The first thing you need to do wen you start one of these machines, is to remove all the bloadware and software made by hardware engineers from your machine. This result on a speedup of 800%…

    Is amazing how bad is the software preinstaled by the likes of HP.

    • Tei says:

      *punch*

    • mlaskus says:

      Poor Tei, having to punch himself. You should be ashamed of yourself John.

    • chokoladenudlen says:

      My current HP laptop even had some kind of virus on it when I first got it. I think it was called ‘Vista’ or something like that…

  40. Temple to Tei says:

    Annnnd, right there is why I bought an xbox.
    Trying to decide on a gaming pc a couple of years back made me cry, in a manly John Walker way.
    It is not just ‘choice’ it is that the choice you make will be the wrong one.

    Needed a new stereo, researched intensively, bought it, used it, did not like it and now it is packed away in its box in a corner for about 4 years.
    My new widescreen monitor, researched intensively etc etc… though I am at least using that.

    I have no tv at present, because, well, choice.

    Pc makers do shoot themselves in the foot with the naming/numbering.
    Last time I tried to upgrade my pc, the processor upgrade did not work because my motherboard was not compatabile -because of an extra letter on it (that I missed when reading it), not a letter less a letter more, and suddenly it has less functionality.
    With cars aren’t more letters on the end generally better?

    Or maybe it is deliberate -to get people to buy the worse model?

    Ask on the forums?
    In answer to John here we have had many different replies not least ‘ram is not important’ and ‘make sure you have enough ram’.
    Then of course next year there is the saviour of netbook gaming coming out -just like last year this years lapotops/netbooks were announced as better.

    And are people really so worried about a punch from John?
    Come on, I was expecting a lot more: ‘It is being given away free with a box of cereals now’

    • Blackberries says:

      Doesn’t have to be tricky to know what hardware to buy.

      link to bit-tech.net

      Bam.

    • Rich says:

      Overclockers.co.uk does a great line in pre-overclocked motherboard, CPU, cooler and RAM bundles that I plan to take advantage of after Christmas. Or you could just buy a whole system. Again Overclocker’s are pretty good.

      As a rule, I buy stuff that has plenty of customer reviews, or professional reviews from places I trust.

    • Vague-rant says:

      Beyond a certain amount of money you need to make sure something is a worthwhile investment, not only for PCs. I’ve known people to stress out over buying consoles too. PS3, 360 or Wii? What about the 60GB version? Is this version more likely to RROD? Should I wait for Kinect? Will I get “exclusive game 2010”? etc.

      (Also, the naming is a pain, but if you spend a few hundred quid on a PC, its down to you to make sure you get what you want.)

      John only had a choice of 4 laptops in the end, and even that was enough for him to stress out over. The problem doesn’t seem to be the number of choices or even the presentation of those choices, just the fact you only get to choose one. And generally when you have a choice you can’t easily go back on, you end up doubting yourself.

      Asking on the forums is actually a decent idea, but make sure its multiple forums. Get as huge a range of opinions as you can. Then ask yourself who’s choices are based on needs similar to my own? You can’t just leave it at “which one is best”. (E.g. 1GB of RAM could be enough if you don’t multitask alot and use certain Linux distros). In my opinion, by copying Jim, he took the ‘best option’. Well done John.

      And yes, there is always a shinier PC around the corner. As there is always a shinier phone/console/peripheral/patch of grass on the other side of the fence. Just make a choice you can use and try not to ever look at a hardware site until you actually need a new device.

    • Nethlem says:

      Your complaint doesn’t really apply to desktops… desktops are more customisable, you can chose what goes in there and knowing what goes in there is done pretty quickly by looking at a few benchmakrs/asking somebody with at least half a clue.

      Same doesn’t apply with netbook/notebooks, you can’t just chose what you want in there you have to find a model that suits your needs and that’s difficult because one might have the GPU you want but a sucky CPU while the other has both but is insanely expensive.

      But with desktops it’s another story because you can basicly select what you want and have it. That’s why many of the bigger hardware communities have threads in their forums with current example setups in different price regions.

  41. Dreamhacker says:

    John Walker, Hexes’ Ranger!

    *takes cover*

  42. Artist says:

    The new HP Compaq 311c-1101SA – Cats included!

  43. Carra says:

    Well, it should be enough to play some adventure games.

    And another reason why I prefer desktop pcs. Plenty of guides which tell you to take part x, y, z and put it all in case a.

  44. bill says:

    Oh thank goodness, for a minute i thought you were going to do serious hardware news. Please don’t.

    There are dozens of annoying cliquey PC hardware reviewing websites out there like VE3d is we want that kind of thing (which we don’t), but we avoid hanging out there because it’s full of elitist idiots comparing their FPS’s FPS. We come here to avoid that kind of thing because the RPS writers clearly couldn’t tell a graphics card from a toaster. Which is how we like it.*

    I’ll let you off this time, but don’t do it again.

    *speaking for everyone, not just me.

  45. Lewie Procter says:

    I should really get around to installing the SSD I got the other week into my netbook.

  46. espy says:

    The process of selecting a new laptop is always lengthy and excruciating for me. Which is why I’ll take the easy way out next time and buy a macbook pro. It may not be perfect, but it’ll be nice, and they don’t make four million different versions of it.

  47. KTD says:

    Thanks. Laughed so hard. Maybe I’m old.

  48. Frye says:

    Hey thanks! I use half of those. (winamp 5 is already bloated though. Get 2.95 here: link to oldversion.com )

  49. Hobbes says:

    Your first link says it has “battery life of up to XX hours”. Are Roman numerals back in fashion round Compaq’s way?

    Thumbs up for the review, also.

  50. Fumarole says:

    Are those Cutco knives?