I had Acer Timeline t3810 (or something close) in my shopping list, but was swamped by real world, so when I came closer to actual shopping - oops, that model is no longer available. That's another trait of modern hardware market - it's not like good stuff gradually becomes cheaper and better stuff comes in, it's like good stuff being replaced by more expensive and mediocre one.
So, I started looking for another replacement, and I found MSI X430. Gosh, it was brilliant. They cramped 14" in 1.5kg - there was/is no competitor in that regard. Battery life was crap (~2hrs), but that's actually brilliant engineering thought. Because laptop battery doesn't last "X or Y hours", it lasts untill next hot summer - when it completely dies. So, it makes little sense to pay lot for large battery which will anyway die soon. So, thanks to that nice crappy battery, X430 costed just $500 (my ideal upper bound for a contemporary piece of technical stuff), it made decent weight to of course. The performance wasn't great, but at least it had latest AMD X2 which has come to these vicinities, L335.
Guess what - when I started to actually call shops, it turned out the model went out of stock like a week ago. Yes, it was on hot sale the whole summer, and boom, suddenly there's only X410 & X420 which are less performance and/or much more pricey. Well, I waited a bit, and oh, miracle - one shop got it back.
Got it in a day, just to find out that:
- Max amount of memory ambgiously (not explicitly) mentioned in the docs is 2Gb. Come on, this is not netbook, which 2Gb?? And it doesn't have dedicated RAM cover to easily try 4Gb module - would need to disassemble it completely (either void warranty or go to service center - with what - 4Gb SODIMM I purchased not knowing if it works or not?)
- Booted Ubuntu 10.10. Got complete mess on the screen, more specifically torn off signal sync. Remember how old CRT TVs looked with broken row sync heterodyne? I couldn't even imagine that effect can be so faithfully reproduced on LCD panel! I was able to found just single report of someone else facing that, did some hacking, found a workaround, and then thanks to DRM driver people found easy solution. So, well, that DRM/Ubuntu issue, though, taking into account all points above and below, MSI engineers outwitted themselves too. (Support for such funky videoadapeters, as in X430, will be (was) fixed in next kernel version).
- One final point which really put me over the edge and made me return the thing. Its touchpad doesn't support scrolling. Well, to be exact, it does, in a following manner: you have to tap at top right corner to scroll up, somewhere near bottom right corner to scroll down. So yes, you had to target the tap, and target pretty carefully, requiring an eye-look. How that compares with familiar blind swipe near the right side? If that sounds like a petty complaint, you've got to use that yourself! Remember, I started all ecstatic about the box, and that dissatisfaction grew subconscious ways. It's like making you walk on the knees. Many people would say "So what? Connect any mouse you like, voila!" Well, but I'm buying a subnote to be light and lean and not carry extra stuff, and still being able to use it comfortably. If to start bringing around crutches everywhere, why bother with lack of selection, higher price, lower performance of subnote? Well, I started to drop into any notebook shop I saw in city motion and know what - all notebooks out there have sane touchpad scrolling, newer ones brag about multi-touch (2-finger) scrolling with stickers, couple of MSI models were the only ones with such brain-dead scrolling. I finally made a search over the Internet. And found dozen-of-pages hate-topics regarding MSI's touchpads. People go by any length to do something with them, like soldering out that thing and solder in normal touchpad.
No, I will not. I'm not keen on returning stuff, but that box went back to the shop. And I even wrote this blog post ;^).