I mentioned awhile ago that I was looking for a new laptop. Folks who commented – online, and off – had good points to make about their preferences, and I took a lot of them to heart as I evaluated what, specifically, I was looking for.
Last week I bought an HP 8510w laptop. I had seven days to return it if I decided I didn’t want it. That week has passed, so I guess I’m keeping it! Now I feel comfortable posting the details about this laptop.
The “w” indicates that this is the “workstation” class laptop (indeed, on the case it even says “mobile workstation”). This is intended as a desktop replacement, suitable for hefty applications. This is the laptop that is being recommended by the college of Engineering for students to buy, because it has the oomph to execute the applications used in our college. The biggest difference between the 8510w and the 8510p, which is the step-down professional consumer model, is the graphics card. The 8510w comes with an Nvidia Quadro FX 570M graphics card, and 512MB graphics memory. As I mentioned in my post linked above, hardware OpenGL acceleration was a requirement in a new laptop.
Predictably, I installed Ubuntu 8.04 onto this laptop. I installed the x64 version. To my delight, everything I needed worked right out of the box: wired and wireless network, touchpad and thumbstick, hardware WiFi kill switch, Bluetooth, and the volume slider at the top of the keyboard. I installed the binary Nvidia drivers to enjoy the fancy new desktop effects in Ubuntu.
When I got the laptop home, I connected it to my television via the HDMI connector. Using the nvidia-settings application, I was able to access the TV as either a mirror of the laptop display, or as a second display. The laptop also has an analog VGA connector on the back.
Both suspend and hibernation work. The wireless network re-initializes just fine after waking up, so I’ve taken to putting the laptop to sleep rather than shutting it down most of the time. For reasons now forgotten, I never used either suspend or hibernate on my previous laptop.
I get just under 3 hours of battery life when using the laptop on a regular basis. If I leave it on but not doing anything, the battery seems to last well over three hours, though I admit that I haven’t bothered trying to quantify this. Putting the laptop into sleep mode uses almost no battery: I put the laptop to sleep with a full charge, then left it unplugged in my office through the work day. When I finally woke it up, the battery reported it had more than 2.5 hours of charge left. HP sells an extended life battery, which when combined with the stock battery provides more than ten hours of battery life. I’ve considered getting this extra battery, but frankly I don’t need that much battery capacity right now.
The only thing I didn’t try was the fingerprint reader, for which I have no real use. There do exists a few libraries and suites of applications for various fingerprint readers. The fingerprint reader in the 8510w is supported by at least one of these. However, since the libraries are not yet integrated into Ubuntu, I’ve not bothered to compile them. I’d prefer to wait for them to trickle into the distributions so that I know everything continues to Just Work.
Here’s the output from lspci:
And here’s the output from lsusb: