Sunday, April 21


Age Of Miracles And Wonders And Budget Notebooks

I bought a Windows 8 computer today - an HP Pavilion DM1-4306AU.

Looks like this.

One the one hand, it's woefully underpowered - a mere dual-core 1.4GHz, only 80 graphics shaders delivering a pathetic 48GFLOPS, just 2GB of RAM, and only 320GB of disk. The screen is a tiny 11.6" at a lowly 1366x768.

On the other hand, I haven't bought a new notebook in more than three years, haven't tried Windows 8 at all, and it cost $298 at the local hi-fi store.

And for a little perspective, it has four times the memory and four times the clock speed of the amazing Digital AlphaServer 8400 TurboLaser that I ran an entire phone company on back in 1995. It's not so long ago that this would have been a dream machine; it has 8 times the memory, 4 times the bandwidth, and 16 times the CPU performance of my SGI O2 - and that cost $25,000.

I don't think it has USB 3, or even gigabit ethernet  (Update: Looks like it has gigabit ethernet but not USB 3; the higher-spec but more expensive US version has both.) but it's small, light, has a decent screen (if rather sensitive to viewing angle), is surprisingly responsive (I played with it in the store), and supports up to 8GB of RAM and a full-size notebook drive.

Now all it needs is a name.  (Interim name is Sasami.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at 04:07 PM | Comments (10) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (Suck)
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1 So we'll be expecting a report on Win 8 real soon now.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at Sunday, April 21 2013 10:54 PM (+rSRq)

2 If you're hankering for a start menu, my favorite so far is ViStart (

Posted by: Kayle at Tuesday, April 23 2013 04:14 AM (M7tH0)

3 The Start Menu was crippled in Vista anyway, when they removed the expanding capability and constrained it to a small, scrolling rectangle.  I assert that the new Start Screen is a net improvement over the Vista/7 menu.
You can reorder things, make them appear or hide by default, and so on, and the hit box is MUCH larger than on the old menu.  Plus, if you don't like it you can mostly ignore it by pinning shortcuts to the taskbar or desktop.

Posted by: RickC at Tuesday, April 23 2013 08:32 AM (WQ6Vb)

4 The touchscreen-oriented not-Start screen has proven to be much less useful to me than any previous iteration, in part because I upgraded, which meant that 90% of my existing applications had to be found again and pinned, and also that the not-Start screen was cluttered with everything that it managed to find in folders that had applications, including dozens of Readme files and uninstallers. It was a very poor upgrade experience, especially when combined with the number of incompatible apps and drivers that made the machine unstable. It took me a week to get back to more-or-less where I was, and it's still a pain to try to fit everything onto the not-Start screen without having to scroll horizontally using the mouse or touchpad. (why upgrade from Win7 at all? To test the OS before too many people started using it at the office)

I have the same "meh" response to the OSX Dock, which has gotten progressively gaudier and less useful over the years. Long ago I bought a license for Overflow and have never regretted it.


Posted by: J Greely at Tuesday, April 23 2013 09:11 AM (fpXGN)

5 Yeah, the shortcomings of Windows 8 for desktop use are why I haven't upgraded, but for a tiny notebook like this, it looks like it might be more palatable (even without a touch screen).

We'll soon see.  I still have my eye on that Toshiba Kirabook, but better to spend $300 now to test the waters (and worst case, reinstall with Linux) thnt to drop $2000 on a shiny toy I never use.  (Looking at you, iPad.)

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, April 23 2013 11:30 AM (PiXy!)

6 "The shortcomings of Windows 8 for desktop use," as far as I can tell, consist almost entirely of "I don't like the fact that it's different."
See also Vista, XP, 95.  I don't know if anyone complained about Windows 3 looking different, but I bet it did.
FWIW I haven't tried doing an upgrade, only clean installs, and I admit I did have to re-pin a handful of shortcuts but after that I am in the desktop all day long and other than the theme changing, it's just not that different.

Posted by: RickC at Tuesday, April 23 2013 12:33 PM (WQ6Vb)


RickC: The loss of the Start Menu is a pretty big annoyance (a start menu replacement fixes that, fortunately), but otherwise I mostly agree, but there are a lot of new annoyances.

I'm probably rare in that every laptop I've owned had touch and stylus support; Windows 8 is better at touch than Windows 7, but it's still a pretty lousy touch platform.

Posted by: Kayle at Tuesday, April 23 2013 04:05 PM (M7tH0)

8 RickC - the problem is, for a normal desktop (non-touch) with a good sized screen, the whole Metro/Modern interface is a distraction, an annoyance.  It serves no purpose.  I always want to be on the desktop doing desktop things; anything that takes me out of the desktop needs to die.  From 95 through to 7, Microsoft never broke the normal workflow they way they have with 8.

Once you've slapped the Start Screen down, it does seem relatively functional, albeit a cheap downmarket clone of Windows 7.  But then, why bother with Windows 8 at all?

Now, if you have a touch-enabled device, everything changes.  Windows 7 is not touch-friendly.  Half of Windows 8 is.  Which is better...  Maybe?

Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, April 23 2013 04:26 PM (PiXy!)


Windows 8 does have Hyper-V (if your hardware has EPT)  and also makes a dandy network Hyper-V administration system--a lot cheaper than a Windows Server 2012 license.

Touch is improved outside of the Metro box but Windows 8 is still not a good touch UI. I don't believe anyone has yet built a UI good for keyboard, mouse, pen, and touch all at the same time; Microsoft's schizophrenic solution isn't a good solution.

Posted by: Kayle at Wednesday, April 24 2013 11:42 AM (5q4P3)

10 Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say great blog!

Posted by: Nolan at Saturday, April 27 2013 12:32 AM (tuLJl)

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