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15/August/2008

This is my little notebook. It is a Sony Vaio UX17GP. I bought this for me to use during on-call for work as a laptop is not very convenient to carry around. I carry enough as it is when I go out with my kids, so smaller the better.

The specification is on the sidebar if you interested. I had this notebook now for almost 3 years now. It was getting sluggish so I reinstalled everything from scratch so it will be a little bit faster.

After the install. I was happy with the speed of the unit, however it is running Windows XP. I guess when I install Vista on it, this little thing would struggle, so I started to look into upgrading the memory.

The unit is almost over the warranty period, but I still didn't want to open it up as I already know the memory is soldiered on the motherboard. I just need to find out what kind of memory chips are they so I can try de soldiering it and put higher capacity chips on. I then started to look on Google for an internal picture of the unit.

I found the picture, but bugger it is not a surface mount memory chips. It is a BGA (Ball Grid Array), which means it is not possible to do it. Now I think this is not very good. Well if I cannot upgrade the memory, what else can I do?

I then decided to upgrade the slowest part of the notebook instead! The hard drive. Sony does have a newer model of mine with SSD in built so I thought to myself, it shouldn't be this hard to find one. I started to look for SSD in a 1.8" size. No matter how hard I look, I cannot find one SSD in 1.8" size with a ZIF connector at a reasonable price. The all too pricy or they are not a ZIF connector type. What a shame!

As I keep searching on the internet. I come across a 1.8" ZIF to CF adapter. Great news, it should work. The adapter does support faster UDMA Mode 2 transfer rate is well. I had a SanDisk Extreme IV 8GB for my camera. I can use that temporarily to see if the whole thing works good before I decide if I get a 16GB CF.

Now just one more hurdle. When you use the adapter, the SanDisk does not report itself to the notebook as a fixed disk. Instead it tells the notebook it is a removerable disk. Linux and other OS don't give a toss, they just boot. But why on earth Windows XP don't boot off it? This is just a stupid design on Microsoft's part. (That's my opinion anyway).

To overcomes this, there is a utility available from SanDisk (if you ask nicely) to change the removable disk flag on the CF back to fixed disk. The utility is call ATCFWCHG.COM Just install the adapter and the CF, boot DOS off a floppy disk and run the utility and it will fix it. Command is as follow:

ATCFWCHG /P /F

The command means the CF is on primary channel and /F is the fixed disk flag. If the CF is on secondary the replace /P with a /S.

Here is the pictures after the install.



This is a picture of the CF adapter and the original 30GB HDD next to it.



Once the install had finished. I re deployed the image back on to the computer. It runs definitely faster than the HDD. I can now use this notebook in the car when I go 4WDring without having to worry about the HDD be shaken to pieces. The RAM mount I got for it finally can be put to use!

Everything works very good. Now I just need to get myself a 16GB CF!


Specifications:
  • Microprocessor: Intel® Centrino® Mobile Technology, Intel® Core™2 Solo Processor U1400 (1.20GHz)
  • Processor System Bus: 533MHz
  • Cache Memory: 2MB
  • Main Memory: 512MB DDR2 SDRAM (on board)
  • Hard Drive: 30GB (Ultra ATA/100, 4200rpm)
  • Wireless LAN: IEEE 802.11a/b/g
  • Graphics Processing Unit: Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator 950
  • Total Available Graphics Memory (Max): 251MB
  • Display: 4.5" Wide (WSVGA 1024 x 600) TFT colour display (Clear Bright LCD: White LED)
  • Built-In Camera (Front side): Effective Pixels: 640x480
  • Built-In Camera (Back side): Effective Pixels: 1280x1024
  • Interfaces: USB 2.0 x1, CompactFlash Slot Type II x1, Headphone Jack (Stereo mini jack) x1, Microphone Jack (Stereo mini jack) x1, Memory Stick Duo Slot x1, I/O connector x1
  • Audio: Intel® High Definition Audio Compatible, 3D audio (Direct Sound 3D support), Built-in monaural speaker, Built-in monaural microphone
  • Keyboard/Input/Pointing Device: 64 Keys, Touch Panel, Multi-pointer, Stylus
  • Battery: Up to 3 hours of use with supplied lithium-ion battery
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): 150.2 x 95-100.5 x 32.2-38.2mm (with standard battery)
  • Weight: 520g (including the supplied battery)