Freya levels up!

A week after I ordered the netbook, the RAM upgrade I purchased arrived. After a quick bout with a screwdriver, I removed the bottom panel and installed the new module. Here’s the result:


Although Win7 shows 2.50GB of memory available, the chipset is limited to using a maximum of 2GB. Despite this, the upgrade from 512MB to 2GB is pretty striking. Freya is far more responsive than before and applications are less prone to stuttering. As a testament, the Windows Experience Index for memory jumped from 2.9 to 4.4!

In addition to today’s upgrade, I found a couple of driver enhancements that could potentially improve battery life and functionality. The first major change was a BIOS upgrade that was issued by Lenovo a couple of days ago. The most noticeable change was alterations to the fan speed controller. Previously, the fan was either on or off, depending on the CPU utilization. The new update adds a more granular fan control scheme, reducing the amount of noise generated as the fan spins up. It also keeps power drain to a minimal since the fan won’t run at full power when not needed.

In addition to the upgrade, I finally found a compatible power management driver for Windows 7. It seems that the S10 is a mismash of hardware from other Lenovo machines, so it’s all a matter of finding the right driver for a different model. Fortunately for me, Windows 7 eventually identified the power management system as the same system used on one of the Y series laptops. It even gave me a link to Lenovo’s site for downloading the driver. Once installed, I’ve noticed some improvements in the battery life. Currently, the battery gauge is reading just over 50% and 2 hours of power remaining. Pretty good for such a minor tweak!

Brand new Netbook!

Meet Freya, the latest addition to my home computer network. She’s a Lenovo IdeaPad S10 netbook, featuring a 10in screen, 1.6Ghz Intel Atom processor, 512MB RAM (stock) and 80GB hard drive. I’d been considering getting something small and light for on-the-couch use as well as for travel, and this seemed like the perfect form factor for the job. Since Lenovo offers a discount for Microsoft employees, I decided to take advantage.

IMG_1553 Tsuruya-san seems interested in the new toy

After a couple of hours of setup, I got Windows 7 and my required apps installed. Since I’ll be using this as a lightweight machine, I decided to go with a relatively lightweight application suite. The basic Office install is probably the most heavyweight program I put on. Other apps include:

  • Windows Live Suite (Messenger, Photo Gallery, Writer, Mail)
  • Firefox
  • K-Lite Codec Pack
  • Virtual Clone Drive
  • 7zip

In all, I am very impressed with the performance given the size and specs. Windows 7 runs passably on half a gig of RAM and I even consider it usable. That, however, won’t stop me from upgrading to 2 gigs. The extra RAM should be here within the next few days, as it was placed on the same day as the machine itself. From what I’ve see, I don’t doubt that Win7 will become the OS of choice for low powered netbooks, easily replacing Linux as the users’ choice.

The form factor has presented a couple of challenges, however. the smaller keyboard is taking some effort to get used to. The lack of a full sized right shift key has caused me several problems, including constant mistypes of the “up” key. Also, the thinner keys means I’m not used to the shorter distance I would have to go to read the apostrophe key. I’ve been finding myself hitting enter by accident and having to correct for typos.

Battery life has also proved, as I’m currently on track to hit the 3 hour target for the 3-cell battery. At some point in the future, I may switch to a 6-cell, though I don’t foresee my usage habits to really dictate a strong need for one. At ~$50 for one, it’s a pretty pricy investment considering that I currently have $350 invested in the machine and upgrades so far.

Lastly, I decided to give Freya a fresh wallpaper today. After doing some searching, I found a half decent wallpaper with a “dark Chii.” Using (not on the netbook, of course) I cropped around her image and cleaned up the edges. I then superimposed her onto an existing Windows 7 wallpaper I’d been using on other machines and altered the subtext. I’m pretty happy with the results. While is a great editor and has a lot of features, it isn’t by any means a replacement for Photoshop. The magnetic lasso tool alone would have saved me a good chunk of time trying to select the outline. I guess I can’t complain, is free while Photoshop is a several hundred dollar program… Anyways, here is the result of tonight’s work:

Win7freya Windows 7: Freya edition


***this post was written entirely on the netbook***