Thursday, 3 October 2013


Back then long time ago in April of 2013 I tried out a new Samsung 840 SSD in my old ThinkPad X60 (and subsequently I moved the same drive into my X61). Of late I've been experimenting with tablet computers from the Victorian era, and after buying a cheap old Hewlett-Packard Compaq TC4400 I decided to stick an SSD in that, too, viz:

Music by myself again. On the left the TC4400 has a fast, 7200rpm conventional hard drive. In the old days 7200rpm hard drives were the crème de la crème for laptops, but nowadays they're a dying breed. SSDs are killing them off. On the right, I've swapped the conventional hard drive for a Kingston V300 solid state drive, using Macrium Reflect to clone Windows 7 Home Premium onto it.

I turn the machine on, load up VMWare Player, load up a Linux Mint 15 session, load up Firefox and check the news, and then I shut it all down. VMWare seems to hang the HDD machine at this point. As you can see it still takes a while for VMWare Player to load up - there's a limit to how much an SSD can speed up your system - but the process is most definitely faster. I'll give you a free tip: if you're filming a laptop screen, and you want both the screen and the background to be correctly exposed, you need more ambient light than I had.

The HP TC4400 was one of those laptops with a rotating screen that came out in 2005, 2006-ish. They mostly ran on Windows XP Tablet Edition, and like almost every initiative that Microsoft had in the 2000s they failed to set the world on fire, although Microsoft and its OEM partners had high hopes for the platform. I'll write about tablet PCs in the next post. The first wave tended to have Pentium M chips (which were surprisingly capable) and PATA IDE interfaces, which is unfortunate because IDE SSDs are rare and basically pointless. The later, Core (II) Duo machines are still usable for the internet and anything that doesn't require a big screen, although the old problems that bedevilled tablet PCs remain unresolved. Tablet PCs combined the awkwardness of pen and paper with the size and bulk of a conventional laptop, plus you had to use a special stylus that got lost / crushed / nibbled by the cat. It's perhaps notable that Apple complete ignored the tablet PC... I hesitate to say "the tablet PC revolution", perhaps insurrection is a better term. It was a revolution in the early 1990s, but by 2005 the tablet PC initiative was a bit like the Bay of Pigs fiasco, e.g. a hopeless mess imposed half-heartedly from afar by people who were throwing stuff against the wall to see if it would stick.

This time I used a Kingston V300 which I bought from It's slower but more durable than the Samsung 840, and slightly cheaper, presumably because it comes in a plastic bubble package with no accessories at all. Kingston's support is rubbish, too. There's a utility that identifies the drive, and that's it. Samsung's shovelware was mostly useless but at least they tried. To be fair, Kingston seems to have spend its budget making sure that the drives work, and there don't appear to be lots of scare stories about Kingston drives failing prematurely (unlike OCZ, for example).

Speed-wise the V300 seems to be feeding its SATA interface through the PATA bus, although it's still faster overall than any conventional 7200rpm hard drive:

I should really have run CrystalDiskMark when I still had the 7200rpm HDD in the machine, shouldn't I? Then I could compare it with the V300. Objectively the SSD is faster but wasted in a TC4400; and subjectively it feels faster as well. The TC4400 is heavier than my ThinkPad X61 and the V300 does nothing to change that, but it's comforting to know that a tablet-configured laptop has an SSD in it rather than an HDD, bearing in mind that I usually hold a tablet at odd angles, and move it around a lot. One unexpected benefit of the V300 is that the laptop's fan runs much less than before. The combination of drive and computer is totally silent when the fan isn't running, whereas the my ThinkPad X61 makes a quiet screechy noise under certain configurations (apparently a consequence of the machine's power saving hardware).

Apropros of nothing, here are some pictures of leaves that I took a while back, that I was going to use as the Linux Mint 15 backdrop, but chose not to:

Boxout: Ten Alternative Names that Victorian England Might have Used for The Crystal Palace Instead of "The Crystal Palace"

1. The Glittering Gallimaufry

2. The Transparent Titanic
3. The Glorious Greenhouse
4. The Fortuituous Flame: Or, Parenthetical Prosody Magnites the Upside M'Nightingale Soupcon
5. Reflection on the Monoglades
6. Reek'n'Slippy-Slide
7. How Frequent Are Such Errors?
8. Lieng
9. The Eternal Eg-noticence
10. The Hall of the Great Exhibition of 1851