The Acer "Aspire One" Experience...
A couple of laptops in need of minor assistance appeared @ the Peabody Labs doorstep recently, in the form of a used and abused HP DV 6000 and an Acer Aspire One netbook. The latter being brand new and still in the box, with a request for some tweaking and security "up armoring". The little "One" came equipped with the minimalist Windows 7 Starter and sporting the Intel Atom N450 processor and 1 gig of DDR3. The only changes made were to get rid of all the crapware and the 30 day trial of McAfee for something permanent and free, that being "Avast Free Antivirus" ( a personal favorite ).
Also loading the latest version of Firefox, with Forecast Fox and setting it up to maximize the screen space, 10.1 inch @ 1024 x 600 is about as limited as you can get in anything larger than a smartphone. A few free improvements in the form Auslogics Disk Defrag, Malwarebytes, VLC Media Player and Open Office.
The lack of any desktop customization features is a glaring omission in Win 7 starter, without the ability to change the visual style or even change the desktop wallpaper. The only solution I could come up with that covered most of the bases safely ( without doing something stupid, like trying to edit the file path for the wallpaper in the registry ) was another free program from the fine folks @ "Stardock" called "MyColors".
The free version of "MyColors" comes with 3 free desktops, the least obnoxious of which is the "Diamond" desktop. After a flawless installation the program functioned beautifully, just as advertised and allowed for an easy change of the wallpaper from the bland "Starter" desktop.
|We're Talking Blaaaaand Here...|
|"Stardock" to the Rescue...|
|The "MyColors" Peabody Wallpapers|
To top off the situation "ObjectDock" was added along with the obligatory custom Peabody icon set, and a couple of desktop "must have" gadgets namely, "Battery Gauge", the only accurate functioning battery meter I've found yet, ( the new version has time remaining displayed) and "Pro Weather", a nifty little weather gadget with a slick interface and a built in doppler radar feature.
|The "ProWeather" Gadget ( expanded view )|
I did find a slight glitch in ObjeckDock's Windows Start menu link in the form of incomplete display and upon closing, leftover video remnants. It was deleted and the keyboard Start key ( which functions fine ) will be the link.
|We've got a problem here...|
I would liked to have added some Ram, as I have 1 gig of DDR3 that I would have gladly parted with to give Miss Lacey a little more speed, but oooh nooo, Acer made no provisions for putting memory in this thing without completely disassembling the entire machine, and there's no friggin way I'm doing that on a brand new, in warranty unit. (Of course I wouldn't hesitate, if it was mine). I did try the Windows "ReadyBoost" feature but the results were inconclusive as to any real speed gains...
The "Basket Case" was next on the agenda, actually other than an unauthorized version of Vista Business and a couple of broken keys this HP DV 6000 laptop was pretty nice for a freebie. ( free is always a nice starting point...) This HP is billed as an "Entertainment Laptop" and it does have a few nice features such as a row of backlit, touch sensitive media player controls, decent speakers, a beautiful widescreen display and a button on the touchpad to turn it off while typing... and this unit showed up with the larger 9 cell battery pack which is a big plus as it also functions as prop to help with venting underneath. ( the AMD processor puts out considerable heat )...
|Oh Craaaap, This Could Present a Slight Problem...|
|Hey, Just Avoid Any Words With the Letter "B"...|
|No Windows 7, Dammit...|
|"I'm Holding It For A Friend, Officer"|
|Some DimWit Actually Paid For a Copy of "Vista"|
The only problem I experienced after reloading Vista, other than the interminable wait, was the low disc space warning soon afterward. What the heck? This thing has a 100 gig hard drive...Oh Yeah, no problem, easy fix.
To reclaim any unallocated hard drive space: Go To : Control Panel > "System and Maintenance"...
Click on "Create and Format Hard Disk Partitions"...
Right Click On (C:) "Healthy System Boot Page"...
Select "Extend Volume"
And There You Have It...
Next is the damaged keyboard which is an easy fix, and was obtained on Ebay for $12.89 with shipping included, yippee...
After removing 5 screws under the battery ( holds media controls bezel and keyboard ) and 1 under the memory access cover ( holds keyboard )...
Gently raise up the media controls, being careful not to disconnect or damage it's ribbon cable / connector.
Flip the keyboard up and out from under the media player bezel.
Gently unlock the connector by sliding the black retaining clip forward. ( I use a small plastic screwdriver )
All that's left is to carefully remove the keyboard and reverse the whole process.
This unit shipped with AMD's 1.8 ghz. Turion dual core and 1 gig of ram ( 2 x 512 mb sticks of course ) so a cheap upgrade was imperative. After a long and drawn out wait from the slooooow folks @ MemoryDepot.com... (recommendation "not" included), 2 x 1 gig of Kingston PC2 5300 finally arrived for $55.39 with shipping. These folks must have one huge freakin facility, as it took 9 days for the order status to go from "in transit between warehouses" to "at our loading dock, awaiting pick up". It's been my experience this is generally not a good sign and translates as "we don't actually have your stuff in stock, so we're stalling for time, tough toenails pal"...
Alrighty then, this leaves us with about $17 bucks, so I went for it and purchased the Logitech M305 mouse for $24.88 @ Wallyworld, I know that puts us over budget but the additional cost was not passed on to the customer, ( what a guy ole Peabody is, huh? ), family members... who needs em...(giggle...snort)
The usual suspects added and configured, all the drivers updated and Vista brought up to service pack 2 and we have a really nice, basic laptop here. (I'd definitely give up a 100 bucks for this thing)
|Bethy's Rig... The $108.99 Laptop... Thanks Jimmy!|