Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

AMD laptop offers style but is hot on the thighs

Filed under
Hardware
Reviews

Two years after Intel Corp. made a splash with computer chips specially designed for notebook PCs, rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc. jumped on the bandwagon with a microprocessor similarly pitched to the portable crowd.

Like Intel's Centrino processors, the AMD Turion 64 is supposed to offer zippy performance but use significantly less power than chips designed for regular desktop computers.

To see how the new AMD chip stacks up, I borrowed Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Special Edition L2000 "LiveStrong" notebook.

Not only does it run on a Turion. It also - rather unusually - has the name of cyclist Lance Armstrong's foundation printed on the case.

The LiveStrong notebook line starts at about $900 but my model as configured runs about $1,249. (For each of these notebooks sold, HP and AMD are donating $50 the LiveStrong Foundation to promote cancer survivorship programs.)

Centrino systems with a similar configuration are available for roughly the same price. So the Turion obviously isn't being positioned as a low-cost alternative to Centrino.

Performance-wise, the strategy makes sense.

The LiveStrong notebook had no problem running software ranging from Web browsers and e-mail programs to word processors and games. I watched DVD movies and there was not a single hiccup to suggest the system was under any strain.

But it didn't fare so well in other areas likely to be important to anyone buying a mobile computer - battery life and heat.

While watching movies with the notebook on my lap, my legs got uncomfortably warm and sweaty. It's a problem I've never experienced with a Centrino system though high temperatures are fairly common with notebooks built with regular desktop processors inside.

But the LiveStrong's biggest disappointment was its battery life. After fully charging the battery, I continuously played movies for about 1 hour, 45 minutes before it was depleted. By comparison, I got 2 hours and 10 minutes of play on a Centrino-based Toshiba Satellite M45-S351.

After recharging the battery, I ran another test by sitting on the couch and surfing the Web. This time, the LiveStrong notebook lived longer - 2 hours, 20 minutes - before the battery pooped out. That compares with 2 hours, 40 minutes on the Centrino system.

That said, comparisons are not precise.

Though the Turion and Centrino notebooks both had six-cell batteries, their microprocessors ran at slightly different clock speeds (1.8 gigahertz for the AMD-based HP notebook, 1.73 GHz for the Intel-based Toshiba).

Also, AMD is only supplying the microprocessor - the brains of the computer. Intel, on the other hand, requires PC makers to use the Intel Pentium M processor, an Intel chipset and an Intel wireless radio before they can use the Centrino brand name.

The approach doesn't just mean more money but more control for Intel. Still, when it comes to squeezing the most performance out of electronics with least amount of power, that sort of clout can be a good thing.

The Turion also is a 64-bit chip, which means it can handle more memory than the 32-bit Pentium M processor. But the LiveStrong doesn't ship with the 64-bit version of Windows; instead, it comes with the 32-bit edition of Windows XP. Even if it did, HP offers only up to 2 gigabytes of memory (for $475 more) - well below the 4 GB maximum for 32-bit chips.

The LiveStrong does have its strong points, including a bright 14-inch display, solid-sounding speakers and 512 megabytes of memory included in the default configuration. It also includes ports for plugging in Universal Serial Bus, video and FireWire devices. And it has a built-in, 6-in-1 memory card reader. In all, it weighs just over 5 pounds.

Its looks aren't terribly exciting. It's a black box with a large yellow "LiveStrong" logo painted on the lid. Opened, there's a quote from Armstrong - "I live strong" - and his signature to the right of the tracking pad.

To reinforce the connection to the charity, HP also includes yellow ear buds and one of those ubiquitous yellow bracelets worn by supporters of Armstrong's foundation. The default - and changeable - desktop pattern is a blinding yellow, too.

And, in a possible nod to the rigors of cycling, the LiveStrong will indeed make your lap sweaty.

Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension

Historically, data replication has been available only piecemeal through proprietary vendors. In a quest to remediate history, SUSE and partner LINBIT announced a solution that promises to change the economics of data replication. The two companies' collaborative effort is the headliner in the updated SUSE Linux Enterprise High Availability Extension, which now includes LINBIT's integrated geo-clustering technology. Read more

Tizen and Android

Open source is mission critical for Europe’s air traffic

It is entirely possible to use open source in a highly regulated environment such as air traffic control, says Dr Gerolf Ziegenhain, Head of Linux Competence & Service Centre (LCSC) in Mainz (Germany). Open source service providers can shield an organisation from the wide variety of development processes in the open source community. Read more

today's leftovers

  • DRM display resource leasing (kernel side)
    So, you've got a fine head-mounted display and want to explore the delights of virtual reality. Right now, on Linux, that means getting the window system to cooperate because the window system is the DRM master and holds sole access to all display resources. So, you plug in your device, play with RandR to get it displaying bits from the window system and then carefully configure your VR application to use the whole monitor area and hope that the desktop will actually grant you the boon of page flipping so that you will get reasonable performance and maybe not even experience tearing. Results so far have been mixed, and depend on a lot of pieces working in ways that aren't exactly how they were designed to work.
  • GUADEC accommodation
    At this year’s GUADEC in Manchester we have rooms available for you right at the venue in lovely modern student townhouses. As I write this there are still some available to book along with your registration. In a couple of days we have to a final numbers to the University for how many rooms we want, so it would help us out if all the folk who want a room there could register and book one now if you haven’t already done so! We’ll have some available for later booking but we have to pay up front for them now so we can’t reserve too many.
  • Kickstarter for Niryo One, open source 6-axis 3D printed robotic arm, doubles campaign goal
    A Kickstarter campaign for the Niryo One, an open source 3D printed 6-axis robotic arm, has more than doubled its €20,000 target after just a couple of days. The 3D printed robot is powered by Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Robot Operating System.
  • Linux Action Show to End Eleven Year Run at LFNW
    Jupiter Broadcasting’s long-running podcast, Linux Action Show, will soon be signing off the air…er, fiber cable, for the last time. The show first streamed on June 10, 2006 and was hosted by “Linux Tycoon” Bryan Lunduke and Jupiter Broadcasting founder Chris Fisher. Lunduke left the show in 2012, replaced by Matt Hartley, who served as co-host for about three years. The show is currently hosted by Fisher and Noah Chelliah, president of Altispeed, an open source technology company located in Grand Forks, North Dakota.