Unboxing the Acer Aspire 1410

Although my notebook of choice (and primary computer) is my MacBook Air, I sometimes prefer something smaller and cheaper to hit the road with… Enter the netbook!

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Modding the Acer Aspire One – eSATA

Welcome to part 4 of a multi-part post on moddng the Acer Aspire One!

In part 1, I showed how to take the Aspire One apart, how to upgrade the RAM, and how to add internal Bluetooth. In part 2, I showed how to replace the SSD with a 1.8″ PATA hard drive and how to reassemble the Aspire One. In part 3, I showed you how to add internal 3G (specifically HSDPA)…

In this final part, I demonstrate how to add eSATA to the Aspire One. Here’s another video and additional pictures that cover the process. As usual, I’m not responsible if you damage anything.

Continue reading “Modding the Acer Aspire One – eSATA”

2nd anniversary

tnkgrl Mobile is 2 years old today!

It’s been a great 2nd year. I’ve looked at a lot of devices, both short and long term, like the Nokia N95-3, Apple MacBook Air, Nokia N82, Apple iPhone 3G, Nokia E71 and HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1.

I’ve hacked the Asus 701 (Eee), the Vulcan Flipstart, the MacBook Air SuperDrive, and the Acer Aspire One. There’s even been some crazy adventures

But I’m planning to bring you a lot more goodness – in fact, Matthew Bennett and I are starting a weekly podcast. So come back soon and come back often :)

Modding the Acer Aspire One – HSDPA

Welcome to part 3 of a multi-part post on moddng the Acer Aspire One!

In part 1, I showed how to take the Aspire One apart, how to upgrade the RAM, and how to add internal Bluetooth. In part 2, I showed how to replace the SSD with a 1.8″ PATA hard drive and how to reassemble the Aspire One…

In this part, I demonstrate how to add internal 3G to the Aspire One (specifically HSDPA). Here’s another video and additional pictures that cover the process – enjoy :)

Continue reading “Modding the Acer Aspire One – HSDPA”

Tasty bits, revisited

Yes, I know. I’ve completely & utterly failed at maintaining my tasty bits column – it’s been dormant since late April…

It appears I don’t have the time or motivation to publish it in the present format, so I’ve decided to try something new – and this is it!

Here’s a list of tasty bits, devices I’m excited about, and hoping to get my hands on.

Nokia N85:
Take the awesome N95-3, add a lens cover, add European 3G (in addition to US 3G), add USB charging, replace the single LED flash with a dual ultra-bright LED unit, replace the LCD with an OLED screen, and make it a lot thinner. That’s the N85, and after playing with it in Helsinki, I can’t wait to replace my N95-3 :)

HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1:
What’s not to be excited about? It’s the first Android device and the first HSDPA smartphone on T-Mobile USA’s AWS network. Want! See you in line…

Samsung i8510 (INNOV8):
Take the N95-2 (European 8GB), add a lens cover, add a micro-SD card slot, replace the 5 megapixel sensor with an 8 megapixel unit, replace the single LED flash with a dual ultra-bright LED unit, and make it a bit thinner. That’s the INNOV8, and I’ve played with it. It’s a great phone, other than the lack of US 3G.

LG KC910 (Renoir):
If my experience with the LG Vu is any indication, this device might be worth getting for the 8 megapixel camera alone. Hopefully, LG’s improved the touch screen and user interface…

Lenovo IdeaPad S10:
It’s the only 10″ netbook that I’m excited about, because it offers a great balance between price, features and design (it even looks like a smaller IdeaPad U110). Hopefully, it’s just as mod-able as my Acer Aspire One!

Voodoo Envy 133:
I’m not a PC person, but I love everything about the Envy – the ultra-thin design, the carbon-fiber body, the Ethernet port on the AC adapter, the external optical drive, the back-lit keyboard, the removable battery. It almost makes me want to cheat on my MacBook Air :)

Here’s a few more random pieces:

– I got to play with the Yamaha Tenori-on at Austin GDC last week. It’s a very cool device. Here’s a video of it in action, featuring industry colleague and rock star Kurt Larson

– I made a couple more videos during my trip to Finland. I’ve also posted the last of my pictures.

– Have I mentioned how much I enjoy Nokia’s design direction, lately? Even its low-end devices are sexy!

Modding the Acer Aspire One – hard drive

Welcome to part 2 of a multi-part post on moddng the Acer Aspire One!

In part 1, I showed how to take the Aspire One apart, how to upgrade the RAM, and how to add internal Bluetooth. Today I demonstrate how to replace the SSD with a 1.8″ PATA hard drive and how to reassemble the Aspire One…

Here’s another video and additional pictures that cover the process. Of course, I’m not responsible if you damage anything.

The Aspire One SSD features the same ZIF connector found on 1.8″ PATA hard drives, which are small, light, efficient, affordable, plentiful, and somewhat shock resistant – all this while providing more storage and better performance than this particular SSD. Blame the iPod :)

Apparently, there’s just enough space for a thin (5 mm) 1.8″ PATA hard drive under the Aspire One’s motherboard. I happened to have such a hard drive floating around, a 60 GB Samsung HS06THB. It’s a plug-and-play mod – just disconnect the ribbon cable from the SSD and connect it to the hard drive.

I used double-sided adhesive foam squares to secure it to the motherboard. This adds some padding and provides protection for the hard drive, but makes for an even tighter fit. Check out the pictures.

In part 3, I’ll be adding internal 3G to the Aspire One. Stay tuned :)

Update: As mentioned in various people’s comments on various other posts that have linked to my mod, thick (8 mm) 1.8″ PATA hard drives also fit!

Also, if you are having problems connecting the existing ribbon cable to the 1.8″ PATA hard drive, try another ribbon cable with a different thickness. If the 1.8″ PATA hard drive is not recognized once connected, try flipping it over (it’s unlikely to be damaged if improperly connected)…

Modding the Acer Aspire One – Bluetooth

Welcome to part 1 of a multi-part post on moddng the Acer Aspire One!

In this part, I demonstrate how to take the Aspire One apart, how to upgrade the RAM, and how to add internal USB Bluetooth…

Here’s a video and some pictures that cover the take apart and RAM upgrade process. Of course, I’m not responsible if you damage anything.

The internal USB Bluetooth mod is pretty much identical to the one I performed on my Asus 701 (Eee). It works without interfering with the built-in wireless or disabling any of the available USB ports. Use this post for reference.

Basically, I connected a micro USB Bluetooth module (Bluetooth 2.0 + EDR) to a 5V trace (off in standby), a nearby ground trace, and the USB signals (pins 36 & 38) available on the mini PCIe card slot occupied by the WiFi card. The Bluetooth module was stripped, wrapped in Kapton tape and installed under the palm rest.

In part 2, I’m going to show how to replace the SSD with a 1.8″ PATA hard drive and how to reassemble the Aspire One.

Continue reading “Modding the Acer Aspire One – Bluetooth”

Unboxing the Acer Aspire One

I’ve been eying the Acer Aspire One for a while now, because it’s one of the few netbooks equipped with both a 9″ 1024×600 pixel screen and a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU that’s true to the original spirit of netbooks, i.e. affordable, small, light, SSD, Linux, and mod-friendly.

I learned from my experience with the Asus 701 (Eee) that the 7″ 800×480 pixel screen was too small and that the underclocked 900 MHz Celeron CPU was too lethargic. But I liked the sub-$400 price, sub-3 lbs weight and hack-appeal of the original Eee :)

I was disappointed with the HP 2133 (Mini-Note), because of the price, weight and the limited mod-appeal. Built-in Bluetooth was nice and the keyboard was fantastic, but the 9″ 1280×768 pixel screen was too good for my eyes (resolution-wise), the Via C7-M CPU was too inconsistent (performance-wise), and the 120 GB HD was overkill…

I’m really enjoying the Asus 901 (Eee), with its 9″ 1024×600 pixel screen, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom CPU, 12 GB SSD, built-in Bluetooth, multitouch trackpad, and hack-friendly design – but the price is too high!

So today I picked up my Acer Aspire One – I got the A110 model in fabulous Sapphire Blue (512 MB RAM, 8 GB SSD, 3-cell battery, Limpus Linux). Take a look at the unboxing pictures.

I’m very impressed so far. The SSD uses a 40-pin ZIF connector compatible with most 1.8″ PATA hard drives, and there’s a missing mini PCIe connector and SIM holder on the motherboard for 3G. But first, I’ll be upgrading the RAM and adding internal Bluetooth.

It’s just so, so, so hack-elicious :)

Update: I’ve cracked it open, upgraded the RAM to 1.5 GB, and located an additional USB port and power on the motherboard for Bluetooth.

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