Hack a Day reader [The_Glu] shared with us a project of his. He used an Eee PC 701 he had lying around with a broken LCD, along with three 1TB SATA drives to create a custom NAS server for his house. The server features a number of other interesting components, including USB2SATA converters to connect the hard drives, as well as a 2 line LCD to display RAID information and server status. The entire project is wrapped up in a custom made Plexiglas enclosure with case fans to keep the whole thing cool. While this may not be the first Eee PC NAS, or the fastest, this is a wonderful way to repurpose a broken netbook. We also love the idea of netbooks being used more and more in projects like these as the first generation reaches its end of usefulness age. More pictures after the break.
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It seems that our french friends over at BlogEEE.net have gotten their hands on a prototype of the Asus EEE Keyboard all-in-one keyboard computer. After plugging it in and messing around it a little bit, they decided to take it apart. Although BlogEEE.net is in French, we were able to learn several things about this prototype. According to the site, the PCB in their EEE keyboard is marked as Revision 1, meaning that it is very possible that this could be the finalized version of the PCB that will be seen in retail units. Also, they mention the presence of a Silicon Image sil1392cnu, a chip responsible for sending HD graphics via the EEE’s onboard HDMI port, supporting resolutions anywhere from 480i to 1080p. Perhaps one of the most impressing details uncovered was that when weighed the EEE keyboard clocked in at an impressive 2.1 pounds, lighter than most keyboards that don’t have an onboard CPU or display. While we’ve learned a lot about the Asus EEE Keyboard so far, there is still no information available regarding its release date.
We’ve all seen a million digital picture frames. Usually, people use an old outdated laptop or something. [Quinten] just sent in this one he made using an Eeepc 701. Being the first one available, the smallest both in terms of screen size and storage, they are available pretty cheap. There’s nothing amazingly groundbreaking here, just yanking all the parts out of the Eeepc and mounting them, nicely, in a wooden frame. [Quinten] did a great job getting everything in, with the least amount of space wasted. It strikes us that He has made a super cheap tablet conversion, he’s only missing the touch screen. We’ve seen Eeepc tablet conversions, but they seemed to have much more difficult to construct cases.
AppleDifferent decided to run some benchmarks on their MSI Wind hackintosh to see how it stacked up to real Apple hardware. It comes in under the MacBook Air in most cases and they conclude that it performs about as well as a four year old G4. Being so small and inexpensive, you can’t really expect much better. As a counterpoint, Obsessable posted a video demoing just how slow a first generation Eee PC can be (embedded below). Boing Boing Gadgets is maintaining an OSX netbook compatibility chart. It shows that the MSI Wind is probably the best case for OSX usability. If we were buying today, we’d probably pick up a Dell Mini 9 even though it requires an SSD upgrade before it will sleep properly.
Are any of you running OSX as the primary OS on your netbooks? What has your experience been?
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[luke] has put together a set of EeePC upgrade instructions for those who suffer from solderphobia. If you have the EeePC 700 or 701, also known as the 4G surf, you can upgrade the storage, add bluetooth, and a touch screen without having to solder a thing. Those models don’t have the built in camera, so they have an unused internal USB port. With some crafty taping and careful placement, you can upgrade as easily as [luke]. We’ve really seen the EeePC mature, the product line has expanded quite a lot. For those who don’t mind a little solder, there have been tons of hacks for the EeePC.
[Jeff] is continuing to work on his WiFi streaming radio project and is now into part 7. The reason it’s taken so long is because he’s bothering to document every single piece of the system instead of assuming too much of the reader. The core of the system is an Asus WL-520GU wireless router. It is supported by OpenWRT and has a USB port for use with an external audio card. mpd, Music Player Daemon, is used for playback. This latest part features adding an LCD display for the current track. The router board already has points for the serial port, so it’s just a matter of adding an AVR to talk to the LCD. The next step is building a simple user interface and then boxing everything up. You can view a video of the display below.
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Gadget blogs have been a fluster the last day about TechCrunch stating that netbooks “just aren’t good enough“. Writing a response post hasn’t proven very hard given the number of factual errors in the original. Boing Boing Gadgets points out that the low-end of the spectrum that TC post seems to cover are almost impossible to purchase because they’re so outdated. Liliputing rightly states that comparing the browsing experience to the iPhone isn’t worthwhile since it’s entirely a software problem. Laptop goes so far as to recommend the HP Mini 1000 and Samsung NC10 specifically for their keyboard. TechCrunch isn’t alone in their opinion; this week Intel stated that using the ultra portable devices was “fine for an hour“. TechCrunch is designing a web tablet right now using the collective wisdom of blog commenters. Looks like they’re just reboxing a netbook for the prototype.
We cover the netbook market for different reasons than most: Their low low price makes people much more willing to hack on the device. For the price of a smartphone, you’re getting a fully capable laptop. The low performance doesn’t matter as much since we’re running different flavors of Linux that are much lighter than Windows. People running OSX86 are doing it to address a market that Apple doesn’t.
What’s your experience with netbooks? Do you have one that you adore or are you annoyed by their shortcomings? Models we’ve covered in the past include the Acer Aspire One, Asus Eee PC, Dell Mini 9, and MSI Wind.
[Photo: Onken Bio-pot]