Have Laptop, Will Travel—the LS1250 Laptop from R Cubed Technologies
On my old laptop, I never even thought about the function keys at the top of the keyboard, because none of them worked on Linux. However, all of them work on the LS1250 on both Linux and Windows—hibernate, wireless on/off, brightness control, display, browser launch, volume control and mute, and so on. R Cubed also provides users with a directory called .asus_acpi in their home Linux directory where users can customize what occurs when each button is pressed.
A button worthy of special mention puts the computer into five different modes of operation. These performance modes range from Turbo at the top to Word Processing in the middle to Maximum Battery Savings at the bottom. Each step down not only dims the display but reduces processor speed and hard drive spin while expanding the read and look-ahead caching in order to avoid powering up the hard drive.
Because this is a review of only one laptop, our performance assessments will be subjective. The performance matches my expectations considering the processor and memory (768MB RAM) onboard. I run all of the applications I want to, including audio CDs on Amarok, never feeling like the system is overtaxed or sluggish.
The Wi-Fi performance exceeds my expectations. Besides the excellent network management mentioned above, the signal reception excels under even challenging conditions. My ultimate test is whether I can sit outside on my porch under a metal roof about 30 feet from my router. All of my previous laptops with wireless PC cards struggled to maintain a connection. The LS1250, with its integrated wireless, maintains a strong connection. Furthermore, from an unobstructed distance of about 50 feet the LS1250 was able to maintain wireless performance of about 13Mbps.
I tried experimenting with the 3-D acceleration by playing the game Chromium B.S.U., but I had difficulty. Despite enabling acceleration with YaST, the game told me that it was unavailable, and it played sluggishly. R Cubed informed me that such a problem should not have occurred because the chipset supports acceleration. Unfortunately, I was unable to ameliorate this problem before deadline.
One of the most pleasant aspects of working with R Cubed is that the company is big enough to put out professional products yet small enough to know who you are. When I called to inquire about my order, I simply mentioned my name and the person at R Cubed knew what I ordered and its status off the top of his head. Furthermore, R Cubed has an order-tracking system that shows the order's status. My only complaint is that R Cubed does not enter any information in the system between the order placement and shipment. Thus, I was waiting for what I felt was a long time and was forced to call to discover the ETA of my machine.
Despite this complaint, the post-order support was as friendly, accessible and as personal as my earlier inquiry. The technician (probably the same person), who picked up after a few rings, knew my machine and troubleshot my problem (which was no audio on the Windows side) in just a few minutes. Phone-support hours are 8:00am to 5:00pm CT on weekdays only.
Recently I spoke with R Cubed's CTO, who told me that the firm is gradually expanding its support and features. One of these new offerings is remote support, whereby a technician can remotely access and troubleshoot a customer's machine via VNC. Another offering is a set of custom self-installations of applications, such as Internet Explorer on Wine, Google Earth and VMware Server. Finally, you can now ship your machine back to R Cubed and, for $50 US, the company will upgrade your OS with its custom kernel to maintain full functionality.
Excellent, thorough Linux configuration.
Solid construction, stylish design.
Light and portable yet usable.
Strong performance, including Wi-Fi.
Innovative touch pad.
Accessible technical support.
Cramped cursor block.
Poor battery performance (standard 3-cell).
Limited phone-support hours.
James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal.
James Gray is Products Editor for Linux Journal