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Cheap, Easy-to-Mod NetBooks Are a Hacker’s Paradise
By Brian X. Chen EmailOctober 15, 2008 | 8:01:08 PMCategories: Hacks, Netbooks, Notebooks
Thanks to their utilitarian design and low prices, netbooks are inspiring a booming subculture of hackers souping up their liliputers with touchscreens, GPS and unauthorized operating systems like Apple’s Mac OS X.
Eeepcopened_2As netbook sales continue to soar, more and more tech-savvy grease monkeys are dismantling netbooks to add fancy features including back-lit keyboards, GPS and longer-lasting batteries.
“I’d say it was a work of passion and love for computing,” said San Diego resident David Winter, who has crammed three solid state drives into a netbook, upping the capacity to 128 GB. (Normally, netbooks only ship with solid state drives in double-digit capacities.) His next project? A laser espionage microphone that he plans to implant into a netbook, which will enable him to record sound from behind someone’s window.
Eeepcundermotherboard_3 Netbooks may seem like unlikely devices to attract the interest of hardware hackers, who traditionally have been drawn to bigger iron. Compared to full-size laptops, netbooks are low-powered and have limited feature sets. But in the face of a broad economic meltdown, hacking a $400 netbook makes more sense than risking a pricier, full-featured laptop.
Netbook modding is becoming so popular, Winter has launched a netbook-modding business: Winter Computer Solutions, which mods customer’s netbooks with GPS, Bluetooth, DVD readers or HDTV tuners.