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Beware: this does not really have HDMI output
on 16 May 2013
I mainly use laptops for giving presentations, which means I need to be able to connect up to a projector. I was a little nervous at first about this laptop when I read that it had only an HDMI connector, and lacked a VGA connector. However, I was reassured that projectors that can accept HDMI input are reasonably common these days, and that it shouldn't be a problem.
If only it were as simple as that.
It is important to realise that HDMI and VGA connections differ not only in the shape of the physical cable connector, but also in the nature of the signal that passes through them. They are fundamentally incompatible. What this laptop has is a VGA signal passing through a mini-HDMI connector (yes, HDMI connectors come in different sizes, in case this wasn't complicated enough for you).
This means that you can't plug it into a VGA projector, because it doesn't have the right shaped socket, and you can't plug it into an HDMI projector, because it has the wrong kind of signal.
Fortunately, the problem is easily solved, as the manufacturer sell a £10 adaptor that plugs into the HDMI socket and provides a VGA connector. You can buy one here:
This will allow you to plug into a VGA projector, but you will never be able to connect to a projector or other device that accepts only HDMI input. The product description is just plain wrong when it tells you you can connect the laptop to an HDMI TV. You can't, at least not unless your TV also has a VGA input.
I only wish someone had told me that when I bought the laptop. It would have saved me turning up to a conference and looking like a right knobhead when I was completely unable to give my presentation.
Anyway, that aside, I'm actually quite pleased with my purchase. My main requirement was that I wanted a laptop that didn't come with a pre-installed copy of Windows that I would have to pay for and never use. I wanted a laptop that would work with Ubuntu. This one does. At least, it works with the Ubuntu that's pre-installed on it. I plan to reinstall the software sometime soon (it has a rather old version of Ubuntu on it, namely 11.10, suggesting that the product has been sitting around in a warehouse for quite a while) and if anything goes badly wrong with that I'll leave a comment under this review to update you, so do check the comments if that's of interest.
This is not the fastest laptop in the whole world ever, but at this price, what do you expect? It seems more than adequate for the sorts of things I use a laptop for: surfing the web, checking emails, giving presentations, and perhaps the odd bit of gentle word processing. If you are a hardcore gamer, then this laptop is probably not for you, but for my purposes, it's just fine.
It feels better made than I was expecting at this price, and it's a nice compact size. The trackpad is a bit awkward to use, but it's easy enough to plug in an external mouse.
Overall, if you're looking for a laptop to run Ubuntu without having to spend much money on it, then I think this fits the bill nicely. But do make sure you buy the HDMI-to-VGA connector as well if you want to be able to plug it into a projector or other external display.