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Linutop 2 review

David Ludlow
21 May 2009
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
327
inc VAT and delivery

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Specifications

AMD Geode LX800, 0.500000 RAM, display, Linux (Linutop OS)

We really wanted to like the Linutop 2.

This diminutive nettop computer is slightly smaller than a DVD box set, is silent and uses a maximum of 10W of power, making it the smallest and most power-efficient PC we've seen. On paper it seems the perfect computer for general internet use, or a simple server you can leave on permanently for downloads.

Unfortunately, when you look into how these incredible statistics are achieved, the Linutop 2 becomes a lot less impressive. For starters, it uses an AMD Geode LX800 processor, which runs at just 500MHz; the Intel Atom N270 used in other nettops, including Asus's Eee Box B202 (see Labs, Shopper 253), is more than three times as fast, running at 1.6GHz. There's also only 512MB of memory, while most nettops have 1GB. The cut too far, though, is that its solid-state hard disk has only 1GB of storage space.

In order to make the most of these meagre specifications, the Linutop 2 runs a modified version of Ubuntu Linux LiveCD. This version is designed to run from a standard 700MB CD, and so easily fits on the 1GB hard disk. The desktop has been designed to look like Windows, with the Applications menu located in the bottom-left of the screen where the Start menu usually is. With Firefox (complete with the Flash plugin), a PDF reader, VLC media player and OpenOffice pre-installed, there's pretty much everything you need to get going. It's a shame, then, that the slow components drag this computer down. It couldn't even play YouTube video smoothly, as the processor wasn't up to the job. This is even more disappointing considering that Nvidia's nettop ION platform has a graphics card that's capable of playing high-definition video. Using the desktop and OpenOffice felt incredibly sluggish, and there's only 348MB of free disk space for storing your files.

You can fit a standard 2?in hard disk up to 80GB in size inside the case. It's easy to fit one, but don't buy Linutop's own mounting kit. For €30 (around £27) all you get is a 2?in IDE cable and four mounting screws; you can buy these parts for less than £10 elsewhere. There's a wired Ethernet port for connecting to a network, WiFi is limited by the type of adaptor that you can fit. The Linutop website lists only four USB adaptors that will work, and one that "works but not very well". This is disappointing, particularly as the Eee Box has built-in 802.11n networking.

The Eee Box also comes with an adaptor to fix it to the back of a monitor using the standard VESA mounting bracket; the Linutop 2 can do the same, but the bracket costs an additional €36 (around £32), pushing the price of this computer up further.

Considering the Eee Box costs just £247, has more memory, an 80GB hard disk, built-in wireless and a faster processor, it's much better value. As it's barely any bigger and uses only slightly more power, we can't see any reason to choose the Linutop 2.

Basic Specifications

Rating*
ProcessorAMD Geode LX800
Memory0.500000

Hard Disk

Total storage capacity1GB

Software

Operating systemLinux (Linutop OS)

Buying Information

Price£327
Supplierhttp://www.linutop.com

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