This is a read-only archive. Find the latest Linux articles, documentation, and answers at the new Linux.com!

Linux.com

Feature: Reviews

ZaReason's MegaLap is a desktop replacement with an Ubuntu twist

By Thomas Holbrook II on April 07, 2008 (4:00:00 PM)

Share    Print    Comments   

MegaLap, a notebook computer from ZaReason, a company that builds and sells computer systems that run Ubuntu, is bound to give its owner bragging rights at any LAN party, especially with how loud the system can get. It has the hallmarks of on-the-go computing, while performing comparably to a desktop gaming system.

MegaLap comes with a choice of Intel Core Duo processors. The $2,000 notebook I reviewed had a Core 2 Duo T7400 operating at 2.16GHz. The machine also sports a 17-inch LCD display with 1680x1050 resolution, which works well for viewing videos in full screen. Speaking of multimedia, this desktop replacement has four speakers with a subwoofer at the bottom that can be loud without suffering from distortion. Graphics are powered by a GeForce Go 7700, which has 512MB of dedicated RAM. There are two audio jacks under the touchpad: one for headphones, and another for microphones.

You can purchase the system with 1GB of DDR2 RAM (the review unit came with 2GB) and expand it up to 3GB. A default configuration contains an 80GB hard drive running at 5400 RPM. You can also upgrade to an expensive 7200 RPM 200GB drive. A DVD burner, integrated wired Ethernet port, Intel 3945ABG Wi-Fi adapter, and integrated Bluetooth round out the system.

You want expansion ports? Four USB ports and a FireWire port allow you to add a variety of devices to the system. The MegaLap has an MMC/SD slot, an ExpressCard 34/54 slot, which is a replacement for PCMCIA, and an eSATA port. In addition to the traditional VGA port, MegaLap offers an HDMI port for external monitors.

One drawback is MegaLap's power profile. It sucks battery power rapidly, yielding about an hour of power at the most. The hibernate and suspend features work well, however, and they can act as a security measure of sorts, since the screen has to be unlocked with a password upon turning the machine back on. To preserve battery life, take advantage of GNOME's power management capabilities.

Putting it through its paces

Upon booting the machine, I chose a username and password. You need to enter the password to gain root access temporarily for applications such as Synaptic, which performs software installation and removal.

ZaReason doesn't include DVD or multimedia playback functionality to avoid the wrath of the MPAA, so I added the Medibuntu repository through Synaptic and installed libdvdcss. MegaLap played movies smoothly and without artifacts. I also installed a couple of 3-D games to test the performance of the GeForce Go 7700 video adapter. The PlanetPenguin Racer game played on its highest settings without jerky movement. First-person shooter OpenArena also performed well. I also installed Adobe Flash, though for those who prefer entirely free software, Gnash is included.

Although lockups were few and far between, they did occur when I was using OpenOffice.org Writer and OpenArena. Turning the power off and on again was the only way to get a working system back. The problem seems to be a driver issue; many of the 100 series Nvidia drivers don't play well with the system. You may want to use the 9639 driver instead, which you can find via Synaptic.

I was able to connect to wireless networks that were open to the public. If you want to connect to encrypted networks, you can use the WPA supplicant package, which is installed by default.

Conclusion

MegaLap packs in a lot of hardware. The system provides an effective multimedia platform, as well as one for everyday tasks such as word processing and Web browsing. Other than random freezes due to an Nvidia driver issue, which you can solve with a driver update, system performance is stable. But if you'll need three hours or more of battery power at a time, this notebook may not be for you.

Thomas Holbrook II is the founder and editor of The *nixed Report, an online news site that covers Unix-related technology and other items overlooked by mass media.

Share    Print    Comments   

Comments

on ZaReason's MegaLap is a desktop replacement with an Ubuntu twist

Note: Comments are owned by the poster. We are not responsible for their content.

ZaReason's MegaLap is a desktop replacement with an Ubuntu twist

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.55.17.58] on April 07, 2008 04:33 PM
i gotta have one. Also looked at the site via article link, and dig on the usb keyboard with the ubuntu logo instead of the windows logo.

#

Re: ZaReason's MegaLap is a desktop replacement with an Ubuntu twist

Posted by: Seraphyn on April 08, 2008 03:49 PM
> i gotta have one. Also looked at the site via article link, and dig on the usb keyboard with the ubuntu > logo instead of the windows logo.

I do not like Ubuntu and in my opinion i think it should better be a tux, not a distributionsign.
Not everyone likes every distribution...
One of the Reasons i dislike the machine and my next Laptop would be again an IBM Thinkpad...

Greetings Seraphyn

#

"A Man from Mars"???

Posted by: TK on April 07, 2008 08:04 PM
That has got to be another "A man from Mars" commentor, but with a distinct lack of spelling and grammar. What in the world does it all mean??? ;)

#

I like ZaReason, when they use ATI or Intel video, not nVidia

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 151.188.247.104] on April 07, 2008 11:21 PM
Hopefully ZaReason will start sourcing only laptops that use ATI video instead of nVidious. This is what happens when drivers are proprietary, you can't fix problems like that system lockup issue you described. AMD/ATI are going back to what they used to do in the 1990's and early 2000's, publish the programming specs w/o NDA. Good drivers are now starting to appear once again because of this.

Same with Intel, there are FOSS drivers that work very well because Intel made their drivers FOSS. Different approach, similar result.

Therefore, look for laptops with ATI or Intel video. Vote with your wallet.

--SYG

#

ZaReason's MegaLap is a desktop replacement with an Ubuntu twist

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 203.122.246.231] on April 08, 2008 02:31 AM
How is it a gaming laptop when there is no integrated keypad? I don't understand why every laptop with a large-enough base doesn't have a full keyboard...

And who cares about the battery life? Any desktop replacement is the same. My Inspiron 9100 (one of the earlier heavy desktop replacements) is the same, but boy when I got it it could beat the pants of most desktop systems! It's still running 4 years later!

#

ZaReason's MegaLap is a desktop replacement with an Ubuntu twist

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.126.208.102] on April 08, 2008 07:30 AM
Not a big deal, many vendors sell them. You can get them with Uubuntu, Fedora or SUSE. I have similar unit LC2520DC with Fedora8 ( http://www.linuxcertified.com/linux-laptop-lc2520dc.html ) from LinuxCertified, Inc.
But no doubt its a mobile workstation.

#

Re: ZaReason's MegaLap is a desktop replacement with an Ubuntu twist

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 72.254.143.152] on April 09, 2008 07:31 AM
"I have similar unit LC2520DC with Fedora8"

ZaReason looks to have much better prices than linuxcertified.

#

Resolution sucks!

Posted by: ttype on April 10, 2008 08:38 AM
1440x900 for 17" laptop!? Sounds like NaReason to me! :)

#

ZaReason's MegaLap is a desktop replacement with an Ubuntu twist

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.91.145.154] on April 13, 2008 06:45 AM
Looks like you can get a much better machine for less money from System76.com

#

This story has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.



 
Tableless layout Validate XHTML 1.0 Strict Validate CSS Powered by Xaraya