March 08, 2010

New netbook

Follow-up to Installing Windows 7 from Snap!

In a previous blog I described installing Windows 7 Pro, the commercial release on my Acer Aspire One. The latter came with Linux but using that was too unpleasant an experience so I put Windows 7 RC on it which was a fairly problem-free experience and made the netbook a pleasure to use.  The commercial release was a less easy install but eventually I had it set up the way I wanted.

Then it broke.

It refused to boot, neither from the hard disk, nor from the Windows install DVD. It would begin to boot, then stall after a few seconds. I decided to abandon the Aspire One, which I had bought at a cut price from Tesco, thinking that it was probably the hard disk and get a second generation netbook, one with Windows 7 drivers, good screen, good keyboard, good battery life.

After reading lots of reviews, I settled on a Toshiba NB200. Toshiba had learnt from their first netbook, the NB100, and produced a 10" netbook with a nearly full size keyboard, a 1024x600 LED backlit screen and a 9 hour battery in a 1.3kilo package. Not the most compact of machines, but very usable and it feels quality. I got it for £245 from Amazon with XP installed. There's no built-in bluetooth but there's a software stack so adding a miniature USB dongle fixes that.

I then wanted to install Windows 7 which I had already activated on the Aspire One. I emailed Microsoft who reset the activation on the old machine and set up activating Windows over the phone -- I keyed in to the phone a 60 digit number generated by my NB200 and was given a 48 digit number in exchange to activate the software.

Now I can get round to installing the application software I need such as Photoshop Elements and a LaTeX distribution, Office, Acronis for backups and AVG Free for antivirus.

Devices and Printers was still showing an issue even though Device Manager was not showing any missing drivers. In the end I turned on automatic updates and told Windows to troubleshoot the issue. Which it did, found a driver, installed it, issue resolved. But it never told me what driver...

Nice feature: one of the USB ports can supply power even when the netbook is sleeping or switched off. That was not working until the mysterious issue was fixed even though I had installed Toshiba's software. Twice. This means I can charge devices from the large NB200 battery when travelling so long as they have the ability to charge from USB.


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