Friday, December 19, 2008

External Monitor and WiFi

Well, I had my Lenovo S10 (actually my wife had) for exactly one week now and it is so far so good with no malfunctions (touch wood!) There was one major scare two days back when my wife complained that nothing comes on after she switched on the S10. Thinking it was the display toggled off, I tried Function+F3, still nothing. Maybe it went into hibernation so I pressed the power key, also nothing. The power LCD, the battery LCD and the Wifi LCD were all on so the unit is not dead. Finally I did the usual CPR which is to hold down the power key to kill the unit and then press the power key again to tun it back on. Thank goodness, the unit came on with the message that Windows had experienced a problem, blah, blah, blah and then I heard the reassuring Windows welcome music. For a moment I thought I had a lemon and luckily it was only the Windows XP and not some hardware failure.

Today, I tried the external monitor connection, hooking up to my desktop monitor, an Acer X173W LCD display. When both the S10 display and the LCD were on, the LCD image was out of proportion as it was using the S10 native 1024x600 mode.

When the S10 display was toggled off using Function+F3, the S10 went automatically to the maximum resolution (for this LCD display) of 1440x900. The image was sharp and bright so no problem here.

One of the reasons why I chose the S10 over other netbooks was that I read in one of the reviews that the Wifi connection of the S10 was among the best compared with other netbooks. So I was disappointed when I found that my S10 was always one bar behind my Dell Inspiron laptop when I checked the signal strength. I felt better when I found that this was similar to my desk top WiFi. In fact, the WiFi of my Dell also performs better than my daughter's NEC laptop. I suppose it is not that the WiFi in the S10 is no good, it is just that the Dell Inspiron is better and this depends on the WiFi card that they are using in the machine. (BTW, my Dell uses the Intel Proset Wireless while the S10 uses one by Broadcom; wonder what was used in the review machine.)

Therein lies the problem when we user choose a particular brand based on reviews that we read. As a netbook/laptop is made up of many third party components, the brand of these components may vary according to the production batch so what you get may not be exactly the same as what has been reviewed. I remembered the HDD in one of the S10 reviews was Western Digital but when I checked mine, it is a Hitachi. This could perform better, the same or worse. Luckily some of these components do not differ so much in their performance in the real world as oppose to lab measurements but one should be wary if a particular area of the performance is critical in your selection. Good luck in your choice and we can only plug and pray.

Ronald Kwok

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