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 Post subject: Thoughts about Efika
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 2:05 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:30 am
Posts: 9
A like light and underpowered portable devices and I like to have a netbook everywhere with me. My first netbook was Eeepc900 with a few modification it couped well with my needs. But I still wanted to have something lighter, with longer battery life and preferably with non x86 architecture. My first buy was Toshiba AC100, which is based on Nvidia Tegra platform. It's a very nice gadget, but Nvidia doesn't do anything about Linux support on its devices so sometimes AC100 is too unstable. Next thing that got my eye was Efika MX Smartbook. Specification was pretty ok, and there where _OFFICIAL_ Linux images available, which is a rare thing, so I give it a try. After using it for some time I would like to express some thoughts about Efika MX smartbook.

On the plus side:
+ Device has a Linux support from a start. You will not encounter a lot of problems and drivers are pretty much available.
+ Device battery life is quite good, at specially for such small battery capacity.
+ Keyboard is very good, comparing with other netbooks.
+ Installation process is relatively easy.
+ Good price.
+ Device ignores trend for all sort of PADs and offers something to keyboardlovers.

But then it went all wrong. If I'm honest, I'm not very demanding user. Usually I use my netbooks for coding, reading books, surfing web and sometimes to watch a movie if no PC avilable. But still I got much more negative about this device, then positive.

On the minus side:
- !!! It's glanced !!! Who thought that a glanced surface is good for a portable device? You will never see it clean.
- It's impossible to use any IDE on this device. It all will be painfully slow. It's ok for vim / emacs users, but still may be critical for someone.
- You can browse only pure HTML web. There a lots of reasons for that, firstly because the only available browser is firefox, which can be slow even on mainstream PC's. Much faster Chromium doesn't work on this device, at least I haven't seen it working on Debian armhf system (it works fine on unofficial Debian armel). And forget about HTML5 and other AJAX-y stuff.
- It's impossible to use this device for watching movies. Forget about "Multi-format High-Definition hardware video decoder". Officially it works only on Totem, but even then you will not want to see this video. It's more like a slideshow.
- It's possible to use this device for watching youtube. You will even get the picture. But you will not want to see it either.
- Device needs to be recharged every night, even If you don't use it at all. Even if you haven't touched the device, next day battery will be empty.
- Max FPS that I could can get on this device with glxgears is around 22 FPS.
- Sound quality is appalling.

As for result - the only function this device is good at is editing texts (use light editors, libreoffice will be to demanding for it). Actually I would suggest to rename this device from Smartbook to Textbook. You may edit some code with it, but it's nice thing to use scripting languages, because compilation will be too painful. Its also cope well with pure HTML pages, with no flash and AJAX-sy stuff. Forget about movies and music. Not on this device. If you reading this and just thinking about buying this device, my suggestion is - DON'T. For same money you may get Toshiba AC100 of other Tegra based device and it will be usable in real world. In fact that is what I did. Efika now is an playing ground and backup device. I switched to Toshiba. Ok it's a bit unstable, and you can't fully repartition internal device, but still - there much more joy in using it. Actually even my old Eeepc with bigger battery and improved cooling is much better choise then Efika.

PS Ofcourse you can delete this topic, but I thought that it was right thing to say it.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts about Efika
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 8:47 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:30 am
Posts: 9
My suggestions to improve Efika:

> Screen and smartbook itself shouldn't be glanced.
> Touchpad should have scroller or multitouch scroll, like modern netbooks.
> Possibility to charge device over USB would be very useful
> PERFORMANCE should be improved.

The thing is I would pay more money to get better device. I don't think that I'm only one who thinks that way.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts about Efika
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:10 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2011 10:04 am
Posts: 29
As another user of the device, I would respectfully disagree with some of your points.

Right now Efika MX Smartbook is kind of dated both in hardware and software, but it came out in 2009 and almost all of the products that came out 3 years ago would suffer from the same issues. The internet is significantly "heaver" those days than it was before and HD video is now common while it wasn't so much in 2009.

I am using various devices like several tablets and notebooks and yeah, Efika is the weakest one mostly. Still I do use it.
It was proven to be particularly useful for:

1. Checking e-mail.
2. Browsing internet. It is mostly possible to access web pages, there are only few exceptions that are heavily loaded with stuff.
3. Writing all kinds of stuff. I mostly use plain text editors, but I also used LibreOffice.
4. Opening pdfs - it works great.
5. Watching pre-encoded videos. Sometimes I watch lectures and stuff like that while I'm traveling.

I find it's really usable and if you love keyboards, like I do, it's definitely a better alternative than most of today's tablets when you consider the price. I also think it's perfect for students who don't need more for their tasks.
Quote:
- !!! It's glanced !!! Who thought that a glanced surface is good for a portable device? You will never see it clean.
Agree.
Quote:
- It's impossible to use any IDE on this device. It all will be painfully slow. It's ok for vim / emacs users, but still may be critical for someone.
Well, Efika is not a professional developer device unless you want to program for ARM for some reason. I personally didn't try any IDEs for it, but it's clear that it will have some limitations as a developer machine.
Quote:
- You can browse only pure HTML web. There a lots of reasons for that, firstly because the only available browser is firefox, which can be slow even on mainstream PC's. Much faster Chromium doesn't work on this device, at least I haven't seen it working on Debian armhf system (it works fine on unofficial Debian armel). And forget about HTML5 and other AJAX-y stuff.
I disagree about "pure HTML", but, of course, everyone has different standards. For me it's just ok.
Quote:
- It's impossible to use this device for watching movies. Forget about "Multi-format High-Definition hardware video decoder". Officially it works only on Totem, but even then you will not want to see this video. It's more like a slideshow.
I made a small script for encoding videos to watch them on Efika. It basically changes resolution of a video to 360p and encodes it to h264. No problems at all even with 60fps and it looks nice full screen.
Re-encoding is not a problem for me, because I have a fast desktop machine.
Quote:
- It's possible to use this device for watching youtube. You will even get the picture. But you will not want to see it either.
- Device needs to be recharged every night, even If you don't use it at all. Even if you haven't touched the device, next day battery will be empty.
- Max FPS that I could can get on this device with glxgears is around 22 FPS.
- Sound quality is appalling.
This all is true, except that sound quality is actually better than I expected. I mean, I've seen a lot.

Anyway, personally I purchased Efika just out of curiosity, thinking it won't be of use actually. But, I actually found that I like it and I do use it. Of course it doesn't compare with devices like the new iPad, high end Android tablets or ultrabooks, but those devices come with a price tag and personally for 199$ I would prefer a device with a keyboard than a cheap tablet without it.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts about Efika
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:36 pm 
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Genesi

Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2006 2:28 am
Posts: 409
Location: Finland
Hi.

You should have no problems playing h.264 video's at 720p! Could you try with the official image we have for download?

Audio quality is most likely a PulseAudio issue. You can find several threads on this forum dealing with that including how to increase the quality significantly.

Johan.

_________________
Johan Dams, Genesi USA Inc.
Director, Software Engineering

Yep, I have a blog... PurpleAlienPlanet


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts about Efika
PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:20 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:30 am
Posts: 9
Quote:
Hi.

You should have no problems playing h.264 video's at 720p! Could you try with the official image we have for download?

Audio quality is most likely a PulseAudio issue. You can find several threads on this forum dealing with that including how to increase the quality significantly.

Johan.
Hello,

I'm using official Debian Unstable image, and official Efika MX repository.
Actually gowing throw my video collection, I found a few files that are allowed to use hardware decoding, but most of the time I have "fatal error" with Totem and slideshow instead of video with VLC. And I'm not speaking about HD vids.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts about Efika
PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 2:01 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 27, 2011 1:18 pm
Posts: 183
Location: Hornell, NY
There is a problem with the gstreamer plugin on armhf at the moment. If you try one of the armel images (I have a squeeze image out) those same files that refuse to work on armhf should just work with no problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Thoughts about Efika
PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:13 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:30 am
Posts: 9
Quote:
There is a problem with the gstreamer plugin on armhf at the moment. If you try one of the armel images (I have a squeeze image out) those same files that refuse to work on armhf should just work with no problem.
I tried Squeeze image, but I was unable to get graphic acceleration going. By the way - my main concern about Efika is its performance, and armhf should considerably faster then armel.


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