Cheap laptops from Sotec

Last Updated on December 5, 2015 by Dave Farquhar

David Huff e-mailed me this morning about a Sotec 3120X laptop that sells at Office Depot, Wal-Mart, Sam’s,, and possibly other places, for around $900 and asked if I knew anything about it.
It would appear not many people do. I found a handful of discussions on Usenet, including a couple of people who claim to have bought one. They described it as quiet, cool-running, and fast. One user said it was faster than his Dell 1.4 GHz P4 at work. (Which I don’t doubt, because the P4 is a horribly inefficient chip–the Tualatin-based Celeron is the better processor, and with its 100 MHz FSB and 256K onboard cache, it’s very nearly a P3. Its specs aren’t far off from the last P3s, the chip Intel didn’t want to sell because it made the P4 look so bad.)

One user complained about the keyboard. The itty-bitty spacebar would drive me nuts. But the only laptop keyboards I’ve ever used and halfway liked were Thinkpads. You definitely pay for the privelige–the keyboards had better be good, considering the price.

Back to the Sotec. One user reported it’s less than an inch and a half thick. It has a mobile Celeron 1.2 GHz, a SiS 630T chipset (with integrated video), a 20 GB HD, 256 MB of SDRAM, 12.1″ LCD screen, LAN and modem built in, a combo DVD/CD-RW drive, and a PCMCIA slot for expansion. It weighs 4.4 pounds, and its lithium ion battery specifies a life expectancy of about 2.5 hours. It runs Windows XP Home.

What it doesn’t have: serial or parallel ports, floppy drive, or PS/2 ports. Definitely legacy-free here. Depending on your intentions, that may or may not matter to you. (I find myself dealing with floppies a lot more often than I’d like, but part of that is because of my job.) No Firewire either, so this isn’t an instant portable video-editing machine. One user reports its memory maxes out at 384 megs. Apparently there’s 128 megs non-replaceable, and another 128-meg stick you can replace with a 256 to get to 384.

So what about Sotec? A Usenet suggests they’re not a newcomer. A post from 1995 asked for parts for a 386sx notebook manufactured by the company. There are suggestions that Sotec has made notebooks for Gateway, Dell, and Winbook in the past.

The price is definitely right, and the feature set is definitely right. It’s not a performance laptop, but most people don’t need performance laptops. It’ll read e-mail and run a word processor and presentation graphics and browse the Web just fine.

Is it a risk? Absolutely. Any laptop is. But having all the stuff integrated minimizes compatibility concerns. One of my biggest gripes about laptops has always been getting them onto networks. Usually it’s easy. When it’s not, you can just about forget it. Or you can count on networking breaking something else.

That leaves reliability. The part that most often fails is the hard drive. That’s luck of the draw. I’ve seen a lot more dead Hitachi laptop drives than IBMs. Some of my readers agree with me. At least one tells me he sees lots of dead IBMs and never sees a dead Hitachi. But I know you can’t count on getting an IBM laptop drive even in an IBM Thinkpad–occasionally those ship with Hitachi drives.

All I can say is, keep a backup of any important data you’ll keep on this or any laptop. And be ready to buy a replacement hard drive in a year or two. At least they’re not terribly expensive.

Can I recommend it? Not without seeing it and spending some time with it. From looking at the picture, I think they tried to cram way too many keys into too small of a space and they’d have been much better off without some of them.

But the price is definitely right. It’s powerful enough to be useful until it dies. With 1.2 GHz of CPU muscle and 256 megs of RAM, it’ll always run Windows XP well, and if some future version of Windows manages to outgrow it, there’ll always be a Linux that’ll run very nicely on it. It’ll give much better battery life than a P4, and it’ll outrun any low-end P4 as well. (P4-based laptops aren’t a good buy right now.)

And it’s small and light, which I know matters a lot to some people. (I’m old enough to have serviced one of the old Compaq luggables. I never had to carry one with me, but since I know and remember those, I have a hard time listening to anyone complain about the size and weight of any modern laptop.) Don’t buy one sight unseen. But don’t write it off sight unseen either.

If you found this post informative or helpful, please share it!

253 thoughts on “Cheap laptops from Sotec

  • December 6, 2002 at 4:52 pm

    Interesting, thanks 🙂 I’d like to hear from more real end-uers, too. Especially about how good the on-board audio is. Searched Google for reviews of the SiS 630T chipset and didn’t see that mentioned on way or the other…

  • December 6, 2002 at 7:07 pm

    Should indeed “always run Windows XP well” and rumor has it the next version of Windows will outgrow anything and everything you can buy today anyway – some say “This next version of Windows will not even install on a system that does not have some variety of Trusted Computing-enabled hardware on it.” based on an alpha test of Longhorn – Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows

  • December 7, 2002 at 10:00 am

    I’ve just bought one of these from Walmart. After 1 day, I’m impressed. The keyboard is a little small, but the half spacebar doesn’t bother me. The arrow keys where the shift should be, and the small backspace key takes getting used to. Otherwise, I can type as well as on any full size keyboard. The screen is bright, and big enough, and the DVD works well. Looks like the battery will last about 3.5 hours, maybe more once it is conditioned. Nice magnesium alloy case, light, seems pretty sturdy.

    I also bought a linksys 802.11 adapter, which loaded right up and connected to my home network quickly and easily.

    And to me, the best feature is scroll buttons under the touchpad, allowing me to very easily scroll through Dave’s lengthier posts!

    Speakers are a little weak. I’ve been using headphones for the DVD playback. But, I have 3 little boys just a little excited about Christmas, so my house is just about as quiet as a Who concert!

  • December 7, 2002 at 2:34 pm

    Thanks for your impressions of it, Mark. I’m much more interested in the experiences of someone who bought something (or whose company bought something) than in the opinions of someone who gets review units and then gets to keep them. Very few reviewers are able to remain objective under those circumstances. But people who paid money for what they bought can be (and usually are) very honest and candid.

    Has anyone else out there bought one (or even seen one up close and had a chance to play with it?) and care to comment?

    • November 11, 2004 at 1:01 pm

      I’ve owned one for about a year. The key board and functions are pretty much self explanatory. I’ve found that playing games on this is tough. you can go into the bios and bump the shared memory for the video up to 64. That helps. But still isn’t enough. i have tried looking for a bios upgrade, hoping to bump it up to 128, but haven’t been successfull. Other than that, I have noticed that when watching a dvd, and I use windvd platinum, usually around 3/4 of the way through the movie starts glitching. It is because the processor gets too hot. I simply place a book under the laptop. The fan will get better supply of air and cool really well. In case you are wondering, I put a new fan in and ran through the fan learning in the bios and still had the same problem. It is just a design flaw. Raise the laptop up a bit and cools great.

  • December 7, 2002 at 6:49 pm

    I’ve just noticed something about the keyboard — the ketter keys are all normal size, but all the other keys are about 3/4 size. This makes typing pretty easy, but punctuation and editing requires some accuracy. I am a big dude (6’5″), so someone with normal sized hands might not have a problem.

    I wanted a small laptop, something I could put in my backpack and use to store photos on, or surf the web at starbucks. The sony 505 (I think) was a possibility, as was the Ibook from Apple. This sotec hits on all of my requirements, but it is not a real desktop replacement. Still, I’d recommend it as a subnotebook those who want a really nice companion notebook.

  • December 7, 2002 at 7:11 pm

    Mark, if you have a spot of quiet time, I was wondering how well the on-board sound worked. If you put a favorite CD in the drive and plug in a decent pair of headphones, does it sound good ? Glad to hear the Linksys wireless card worked well, too.

    Thanks much for the rest of your “mini-review” 🙂

  • December 7, 2002 at 8:15 pm

    I have been looking for a thin light laptop for several months. I originally was going to buy a used IBM ThinkPad for under a $1000. I did not want a Dell because I found the CPU fan too loud (I am an audio engineer). When this deal came along I decided to buy it. My impressions:


    Fast! 1.2Ghz is nothing to sneeze at. Since it is based on the P-III core (and running at 133Mhz system bus), I can’t complain.

    256MB RAM to start-off. Good amount of ram to start of with. Having multiple applications running has not been a problem.

    DVD/CD-RW. For such a small computer to have the combo drive is cool. When I run out of space I can burn some files off. The DVD playback is smooth.

    LCD screen is very bright and nice output. No bad pixels.

    Windows XP. The laptop was all set to go. I turn on the computer, input my information and off I go. Standby and hibernate work every time.

    Drivers. I like that on Sotec’s website they have drivers for all the win 98/ME/NT/2000/XP OS. So if I want to install a different OS I can. I don’t know if you can install Linux.

    3 USB plugs. I can plug in my USB mouse and Printer at the same time without using a hub.

    4 pounds! You are not going to find a new system this light at this price range. All the new $699-$899 laptops weigh at least 6 lbs or more.

    Cool. The problem with the AMD laptops is that the chip is so damn hot. I can rest the laptop on my lap and not have to worry about burning my legs.

    Built-in LAN and Modem (which runs very fast unlike some other laptops do not give you the full bandwidth).


    Too bad it doesn’t have speed step like the P-III mobile. The CPU runs at 1.45v where the P-III runs around 1.10v. This would help extend the life of the battery.

    Keyboard. It does have a strange placement of the del and backspace key. It will take some time to train myself on the keyboard.

    Weak speakers. I understand you are not going to get great sound out of the system but I heard better systems from Dell and HP. You have to modify the settings in the control panel to get it louder. Had to find out about this on their tech support website

    Crackling sound in audio output. Since the plug is close to the HD, you hear it spin up and down during the quiet passages. I’m not worried because I am getting an external USB sound converter. The crackling sound is a common problem on the laptops because of the tight space on the systems.

    This is my first laptop purchase and I am pleased with the built-in features. I know I can add fire wire or wireless through the PCMCIA slot. I am a happy customer (at least for the past two weeks.

  • December 7, 2002 at 8:20 pm

    I’m no audiophile, but the jazzy Christmas CD I’m listening to now sounds pretty good. I’d say the audio is pretty good,but as I said earlier, the onboard speakers leave a lot to be desired.

  • December 9, 2002 at 8:27 am

    Tyson and Mark, thnaks for the add’l comments. True, if there’s any crackling sound in audio output, one could go with either a Sound Blaster® Extigy™ for USB audio or use the PC Card slot for something like a CAC Bullet33 (I’m partial to this one, since it uses TI DSP technology – yes, I work at TI 😉

  • December 9, 2002 at 11:43 pm

    Sotec 3120x
    1.2ghz Mobile Celeron / 12” XGA / 256MB RAM / 20GB Hard Drive / DVD-CDRW
    Office Depot : $804 after 10% coupon and $50 rebate

    Who should buy this?
    This is perfect for people that understand that “Laptops should be portable” and not “Desktops in a bag”. Its lightweight, packed with everything you need and cheap as heck.

    At $949 retail then this is a steal. You can get it cheaper at walmart/sams club or with coupons at office depot. Yes, there are faster, more powerful notebooks out there but those are in another class. This is an ultralight with onboard dvd/cdrw so for what you get its very affordable

    Magnesium Alloy case. I always love laptops that use that. It looks silver in pictures but mine has a hint of blue in it.

    Well, I understand that laptops don’t need to be equivalent to your home desktop. So the processor being “only” 1.2ghz Celeron doesn’t bother me at all. Its plenty fast for any normal sensible user. Its nice to see that despite the low price it comes with 256mb RAM. My last notebook only came with 128mb so I had to fork over some extra money right away. 256 here will keep me happy for a while.

    3USB 1.1, Ethernet, 1 PCMCIA, VGA out, headphone and mic jack and modem. Pretty standard stuff. A bit TOO standard for me. No firwire? No S-Video? What about my divx files? This would’ve been a great portable Divx player. The port positioning for some things are weird too. The usb are all on the right side. Meaning, when I put in my USB mouse then its awkward. The usb shouldve been on the other side. Headphone and volume are on the front of the machine and the vga is on the left side. Weird.

    DVD/CDRW Drive:
    Works like a charm. At 10x burning then its very handy when on the road. Plus DVD’s are always a good time waster. Everything worked as promised.

    Battery Life:
    I timed it at 2:10 before my 10% warning came up while installing. It ran another 20 minutes before hibernating. I figure that during less strenuous activities then you’ll average 2:45

    1024×768 on 12” screen takes some getting used to. But since I had that before on my Gateway 3150 then it wasn’t too tough. It is small though compared to what the other guys out there have but again, it’s a laptop. Personally 13” is the sweet spot but 12 is just fine on this guy.

    By far the thing that I hate the most here. Whoever designed this thing in Japan obviously doesn’t understand how keyboards should look. I may be exaggerating but still, this keyboard takes some getting used to. Primarily due the backspace, insert, delete and arrows layout. (See Picture) I am constantly hitting ”end” instead of backspace and “del” instead of the right arrow. “PrtSc”, “Scroll Lock”, ”Num Lock” and “Pause Break” all get their own dedicated buttons on top while “F11” “F12” “Pg Up” ”Pg Dn” are forced to requiring holding down the “Fn” in order to work. Pretty ridiculous.

    At first I was upset by how quiet it was. I could barely hear anything. But then someone on the newsgroup pointed out this link on Sotecs site. Once I enabled 3D sound then everything is fine. As far as quality goes, its pretty standard stuff. I do like volume wheels so that you can control the volume quickly without using hotkeys and having it located in front is growing on me.

    Pretty quiet machine. There is a fan on back and on the bottom which turn on when needed and so far they don’t turn on much. Ive had some loud laptops before so this one is pretty good so far.

    WinXP Home, WinDVD 4, Roxio Easy CD Creator 5, MS Works. Well, outside of the incredible WinDVD, the rest are all suck. I partitioned immediately, reformatted and tossed on XP Pro. The thing that irritates me is that you don’t get install CD’s for the software included. Only a restore disk (which is how everyone seems to be doing it nowadays). So I had to get WinDVD 4 through other avenues even though it came with the computer originally.

    1 slot for Ram upgrades and there already is a 128mb chip in there. So if you want to max it out to 356 MB then you need to dump the 128 and buy a 256. The processor has a “void if removed” sticker and a few screws so it looks upgradeable but outside of that then this is a disposable machine. Hard drive and cdrom and both fixed so 20gb is what you’re stuck with.

    – Extremely affordable for an ultralight
    – Onboard DVD / CDRW
    – Quiet
    – Magnesium Case instead of plastic

    – Keyboard layout takes getting used to
    – Included software is only available through system restore
    – Sotec? Popular in Japan but who knows how they’ll do here

    Rex Dart
    Eskimo Spy (and Sotec 3120x Owner)

  • December 11, 2002 at 11:23 pm

    I’ve enjoyed reading all of the info you guys have about these little computers! I am thinking baout buying one, but I have have a few questions. I looked on the Sotec website and it says that the laptops are available at Office Depot, Wal-Mart, and Sam’s Club. On the Sam’s Club website, it cites specs for a Sotec 3123xs instead of the 3120X that the Sotec site introduces.

    I cannot find ANY info on the 3123xs except on the Sam’s Club website

    Has anyone else found this??

  • December 12, 2002 at 12:03 am

    The only difference I’ve heard between the 3123xs and the 3120x is that the 3123xs has a 30-gig hard drive rather than the 20-gig drive you’ll find at Wal-Mart or Office Depot.

    Pricing is about the same–I guess that’s your reward for keeping up a Sam’s membership.

  • December 12, 2002 at 10:01 am

    I was tempted to renew my Sam’s membership to get the 3123, but I stuck with the 3120. An extra 10 GB wasn’t worth renewing a $35 that I never use (Costco has similar stuff and is part of a much less evil empire), considering that I plan on keeping this notebook data-light anyway.

    Wally World’s web site (that’s has the 3120X for $898, plus only $7 shipping. That’s the best I could find, since the Office Depot 10% coupon expired last week (the $50 rebate is still good until 12/31/02). My laptop shipped yesterday, and should be here in about a week. They have a 15-day return policy (you pay the shipping) if you change your mind.

    Now if HP, Compaq, Toshiba, and Dell would quit confusing the issue with somewhat similar laptops at somewhat similar price points…

  • December 12, 2002 at 12:55 pm

    office depot has a 15 percent coupon now.

  • December 12, 2002 at 1:18 pm

    Officedepot online does charge tax, but walmart online does not. The price difference is small then. I ordered one on officedepot for $872 (-15% coupon but +65 tax). I’ll see if the rebate works.

  • December 12, 2002 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve been eyeing that Sotec notebook too. But a better comparison to the HP,Toshiba, and Compaq models you were talking about would be the Sotec 820P Notebook With 2 GHz Pentium 4 & CD-RW/DVD. It is faster, has dual firewire, handles more RAM, video out, and is only $998 after $100 rebate from Walmart. Sure it is 3lbs heavier and quite a bit thicker than the 4lb 3120x but its size is closer to the others and with a better feature set.

  • December 21, 2002 at 12:30 am

    I’m looking to replace my busted Sager notebook. The only usable things are the P-3, 1 Ghz, hard drive and Ram. Anybody know if theres a way to get the 3123 w/o those parts?

  • December 21, 2002 at 5:07 am

    has anyone installed linux yet on the sotec? Do the modem and internal ethernet port under linux?

  • December 22, 2002 at 3:03 am

    I’ve tried installing Linux. Didn’t try the modem, but it supposedly should be supported. Ethernet works fine. Everything I tried works except for PCMCIA. Redhat 8 is hard to install becuase it hangs trying PCMCIA. Use “linux nopcmcia noprobe resolution=640×480” at the boot prompt and you can install fine.

    I was able to sort of get PCMCIA working briefly, but once I fixed other stuff, it didn’t work anymore. I’m no expert at this stuff.

    Anyone else try Linux on this thing?


  • December 22, 2002 at 1:34 pm

    Update: I’ve gotten PCMCIA working under KNOPPIX, which is a debian derivative. I think RH uses too old of a pcmcia distribution. If anyone else uses one of these under linux, let me know.

    I’m starting a web site, for info on running linux on these babies. Check it out.


  • December 23, 2002 at 1:14 pm

    These laptops are 950 – 150 rebate – 50 rebate = $750 from with free shipping. Rebates expire the 24th

  • December 24, 2002 at 5:07 am

    The only bad part about buying the laptop from is that the extended warrantee is something like $199 for 3 extra years. That is the 3120x model also.

    At Sam’s Club, we bought the 3123xs with 10 GB extra HD space, for $897 but we got the 3 year extended warranty for only $54.99. So if i did my calculations right, it comes out about the same price, right?

    That is the extra 10 GB hard drive.


  • December 24, 2002 at 5:36 am

    This could be another 100 reply article. If I didn’t buy my Toshiba 1800-S253 last year, I’d be seriously looking at this.

    The good thing is that Knoppix is a cool way of testing Linux compatability on your laptop. But any mainstream laptop (except the modem) should have at least generic Linux support for the peripherals out of the box.

    The Sotec does look like a cool buy, though. 🙂

  • January 1, 2003 at 1:57 am

    So, I stumbled upon this page from Dave’s blog. I’m looking at replacing a Dell Latitude CS (the very thin Dell model). It’s a PII 400, 12.1 inch screen, one USB port, 6 gig HD.

    I run Windows 2000. Anybody know if the DVD player is supported under Windows 2000? I know it has XP Home on it to start with, but the networks that I administer are Windows based, and I would need to add the machine to a domain, hence the need to run something other than XP Home. I don’t want to go to XP Pro at this point.

    I like the size, and I like the fact that it comes with 3 USB ports.



  • January 1, 2003 at 8:58 pm

    Just picked up a 3120x. Was looking for something between a PDA and my 8lb laptop. Easy to carry and has a screen that I can see without a magnifier. So far I’m really pleased. Nice screen, plenty fast for internet and office apps. Real lite and compact.
    I would agree with most of the previous comments sent in except for “really quiet”. Mine has an annoying clicking from the hard drive. It escalates to a high pitch rattle as the drive winds up. My daughter told me “there’s a rattle snake in the office”. Is it normal? Annyone else heard it?
    Office Depot is a little short on tech support. I emailed Sotec but have not heard back.

  • January 2, 2003 at 12:32 pm

    Hi, Mark, I would say ur hd having defects. That sound always means the hd will stop working or, at least, start to loss data. Get a replacement before u can. BTW, my 3120 is working well. I was using it hours on car trip and no problem. Go Fry’s n get a car DC-AC invertor for only $25, way cheaper than DC-DC adapter for laptop. I am happy.

  • January 3, 2003 at 11:29 am

    commentHas anyone seen reviews for the Sotec 820p?

  • January 5, 2003 at 2:42 am

    A week ago, I bought three of the Sotec 3123X for my business. Sams Club, $897 w/the 30 GB HD, and a $55 3-year coverage plan. They thought I was nuts when I told them I wanted three.

    I have had a chance to play with them all and here are some replies to previous postings in this section:

    None of my hard drives make any noise, you should get this fixed. I have hardly heard the fan kick on with any of them. Battery life 3 hours plus, even when running the cd drive to install Win2K

    I set-up a duel boot on one of these units and loaded Windows 2000, then downloaded the drivers from the Sotec website. They don’t include a CD-RW/DVD driver for Win2K. I have searched a bit on the net and have not found the driver yet. I guess I may email Sotec and/or Matshita/Panasonic. What if I copied it from the XP driver folder and put it in the Win2K folder… anyone know if this will work? I am thinking it has to be entered in the registry by windows?

    These little laptops are really very nice machines. I think the screens are easy to to use, the keyboard seems natural for me, and the touch-pad works very well. The port layout is nice and the internal optical is a major plus for me.

    I’m counting on these little babies to help my employees be more productive and make me more money.

  • January 5, 2003 at 4:15 am

    I bought myself a Sotec 3120X a couple days ago and so far i’m lovin it. I wanted something i could do alot of different things on. So far i’ve been running alot of Photoshop 6.0 and Age of Mythology on it.. both run awsome and AOM looks so crisp. I had the shared video at 64mb for awhile and switched back to 32mb and didn’t really see a difference. Let me know if anyone finds Windows 2000 drivers for the DVD/CDRW, cause i’d rather be running that than XP.

  • January 5, 2003 at 11:33 am

    I purchased a 3120x with the office depot 10% coupon on nov. 2 2002. I like it. Plays dvd fine, works with smc and robanton (offbrand) wireless cards. Connected to network both wired and wireless without a hitch. Battery life seems great. One of the first things i did was burn a 650 meg file from across my network with the drive and it worked fine. Speakers are not loud but dont believe that is likely in most laptops because of speaker size. Looks cool (silver is my fav color) and weight is unbeatable at this price. I have thought about changing the logo from sotec to sony to see if anyone is the wiser. Friend bought this on my recommendation for work and loves it. She was ostoperiosis (sp?) and needed a light laptop. She got an even better one than mine the 3120xs (only difference i know of is the 30 gig hard drive) for about the same money.

  • January 5, 2003 at 10:21 pm

    Any comments for Sotec’s 820P laptop. I am having problems with the modem. I have to reinstall the modem after using AOL 8.0

  • January 6, 2003 at 12:36 am

    I don’t have any firsthand experience with the 820P, but modem problems after installing AOL 8.0 are common, or so I’m told by someone who’s had to deal with AOL 8.0 and modems.

    I assume after reinstalling the modem, things clear up?

  • January 6, 2003 at 10:46 am

    Not very sure but I think DVD/CDRW doesn’t need drivers in windows. At least I installed two CDRWs on my desktops without any drivers. But you need CD creator to burn CDs (Seems Nero can’t recognize this burner).

  • January 7, 2003 at 1:50 pm

    The modem works fine for a couple of times and then you have to reinstall. AOL points the finger at SOTEC and SOTEC points the finger at AOL. The manufacturer of the Modem, Smart Link does not appear to have any technical assistance available. SOTEC has no interest in contacting Smart Link to resolve the problem and are thus unresponsive. I suspect they will be unresponsive to most needed firmware and driver upgrades in months to come.

  • January 15, 2003 at 5:55 pm

    Hey, Im very tempted to go ahead and get the 820P;
    if anyone has any advice/knowledge on the subject and whether I can buy it from anywhere other than Walmart,
    feel free to email me. My initial fears about a no name brand were overcome by realizing that they made some laptops for Gateway, and that they have a great record in Japan.

  • January 22, 2003 at 8:41 pm

    Has any one successfully install Windows 2000 on the Sotec 3120x? I just bought one from BestBuy, but I need Windows 2000 for work. The Sotec site has a list of drivers for Windows 2000 — except for the CDRW/DVD drive. I’ve just called Sotec’s tech support, and the guy I talked to told me he has no idea. (And added, “may be you can modify the XP driver for 2000.” Sigh…)

  • January 22, 2003 at 9:57 pm

    Charlie, after booting into XP once, the first thing I did with my 3120X was to install Win2K, Office2K, and the typical plethora of patches and service packs. No hitches there.

    I installed Nero, and it couldn’t figure out that the CDROM had write capabilities. Windows at least believes that the drive has DVD capability. Haven’t played with it much, but I haven’t had much luck yet either.

  • January 23, 2003 at 3:03 am

    Thanks for your comment, Steve. I’ve called Sotec again, and this time, talked to someone who seems to know what she’s talking about, despite a little attitude problem. She says Windows 2000 doesn’t have built-in support for CD-RW (which is true), so it won’t allow CDR function like XP. However, with proper burning software, the CDRW should work just fine. I’m going to test and see if my Music Match works as soon as my notebook gets here on Friday; I’ll keep you posted.
    Also one more question for you: did you format your computer before installing Windows 2000, or did you just install onto of XP?
    Thanks again for the info.

    – Charlie

  • January 23, 2003 at 11:36 am

    Well, Nero wasn’t giving me any joy, but I was also using V5.5.0, I think. I’ll see if an upgrade helps.

    As for installing 2000, I just booted with the install CD in place, and used the formatting capabilities of the installer to repartition my drive. That’s how I’ve always done it, and as a result, the system partition gets formatted anyway. I’m not sure you could install on top of XP anyway. My general rule of thumb with MS OSes is to do a clean install. It avoids any upgrade gotchas and cleans out old registry cruft (and spyware and dead programs you never use anymore and…) to boot.

  • January 24, 2003 at 11:52 am

    do u guys read my post before? nero does NOT support this CDRW. try to use cdcreater. plus CDRW needs no driver under windows.

  • January 24, 2003 at 1:47 pm

    wolf – I think CDRW doesn’t need drivers under Windows 2000 to run as a CD-ROM drive. However, without manufacture drivers — that is, when you use a generic driver provided by MSFT — it might be difficult to get 3rd party burning programs to recognize the drive as a CDRW. Anyway, Sotec seems to have conflicting answerson this topic; I’ve just been emailed the following:

    “…after installing Windows 2000, install SP1, SP2, and then driver will be available from Windows update.”

    Seems like it’s pointing back to the generic driver after all.

    – Charlie

  • January 24, 2003 at 7:35 pm

    Sorry, I missed your mention of Nero previously, wolf. And Charlie, don’t believe that email. I installed SP2, and Windows Update didn’t have any new drivers, except for the audio or video, I believe.

    I purposely avoid Adaptec/Roxio CD/Coaster Creator. And I won’t be doing much if any burning from this laptop anyway (I have desktop machines for that; this is just a surf and work anywhere machine), so I can probably live without the CDR functionality under Win2K.

  • January 26, 2003 at 2:58 pm

    My experience of retrofit W2k on a machine (laptop or tower) that ships with WXP(home). The first time, I took the precaution of using the XP CD-burn option to save out the shipped drivers folder from the HDD, among other things. Smart move, because it turned out that W2k happily accepted a driver out of that folder when it came time to install some devices that hadn’t been properly detected during the W2k install.

  • January 28, 2003 at 12:19 am

    Hi was wondering if anyone has good reviews & prices for a slim usb 3.5 external floppy for the 3123xs? thank you

  • January 28, 2003 at 2:59 am

    I’ve just installed Win2K and surprisingly, it recognized my CDRW/DVD drive right away — indicating that it’s a “Matshita UJDA730 DVD/CDRW”. My 3120x is now buring an Audio CD using Music Match 6.1.

  • January 29, 2003 at 10:50 am

    Got the 3123xs at Sam’s with 3-year warranty. Figure it was a better deal that Best Buy. BB only has 3120 with 20G + extended warranty is $$$.

    The SOTEC is a delight!!!

  • January 29, 2003 at 12:17 pm

    Has anyone noticed a sharp noise (it’s not loud, but very high-pitched) during battery calibration in the BIOS. In fact, I think whenver I’m in the BIOS (by hitting DELETE at startup), my 3120x makes this high-pitched noise. Anyone?

    – Charlie

  • January 29, 2003 at 12:21 pm

    There is a bit of news floating around that Sotec will put WiFi and USB 2.0 in that Sotec 3120 series laptop around April, for about the same price it is now. I think a slight processor upgrade is also in order. I also found out that Twinhead is the ODM (original design manufacturer) for the Sotec 3120x series. I want one, but I can wait for USB 2.0 to make its appearance. 🙂

  • January 30, 2003 at 9:07 am

    Just bought one of the Sotec 3120x’s a few weeks ago from Best Buy. I went with them because they had the $150.00 and $50.00 rebates active at the time and so got the machine for $750.00. I have to say this is a great machine for a user wanting a truly portable laptop. So far no complaints except for the keyboard. The layout is odd but at $750.00 who can compain?

  • February 1, 2003 at 4:24 am

    Had to return mine to BestBuy just yesterday. Battery charging during calibration or when in BIOS makes a really high-pitched noise. I called Sotec Tech Support, and the support person actually was able to hear it while we had our conversation. She advised “take it back for an exchange; if BestBuy won’t let you return it, we’ll exchange it for you.”
    BestBuy took it back after I demo’d the high-pitch problem. Anyway, I was so impressed by the notebook’s other aspects I’ve ordered myself another one. Hope I’ll get a good one this time.

  • February 1, 2003 at 8:55 am

    I’ve had my unit for a week or two now, and I’ve got no complaints besides the keyboard. It *is* a bit awkward, but you get used to it (it’s nothing compared to typing on my old Phillips Velo handheld). The touchpad isn’t bad, but it slows me down, so I grabbed an optical laptop mouse for $20 to make life easier. Battery life seems good. I’ve got a DLink AirPlus wireless card and access point going, and I’m liking my new couch potato life.

  • February 1, 2003 at 11:09 pm

    I’m also looking for a PDA replacement and the 3120x sounds interesting.

    Does anyone know if the hard disk can be replaced without opening up the system and voiding the warranty?

    I tend to move hard disks around when I change systems and currently I’ve a 40MB one (dual booting Linux/WinME).



  • February 2, 2003 at 5:43 pm

    Does anyone know how well the graphics card works. I’m not very good at finding reviews and stuff so I thought maybe one of you would know.

    Thank you

    PS This web site is cool

  • February 3, 2003 at 1:38 am

    I was wondering if anyone knew exactly what i would have to do to hook up a tv out to this laptop. Also how i can get it to connect to the internet thu my desktops cable modem without having to buy another ip address from cable company?

  • February 3, 2003 at 8:21 am

    I am planning on purchasing a laptop for my daughter for college. Would this be a good purchase? This is all new to me, any input would be greatly appreciated.


  • February 3, 2003 at 10:59 am

    I’ll answer the last three comments at once. 🙂

    Jason, the graphics are pretty good from what I’ve seen. I haven’t tried pushing things with games or anything intense, but the streaming video is as smooth as my desktop with a Banshee-based card. I’ll admit that the use of shared memory for video always annoys me, but it’s fine for what I do with the laptop.

    Shaun, there’s no TV out on this machine, so you’ll need a modulator to get NTSC from the VGA signals. Radio Shack probably sells one, but you’ll probably pay the Rat Shack premium for it. I think Dave mentioned something about this within the past few weeks, so you might try a site search to see what he had to say.

    As for sharing multiple machines on one IP, you just need something that’ll do NAT (network address translation). Your options are Linux-based solutions (Freesco, Coyote, a full-blown install), Windows-based products (no experience, nor would I want any), or a DSL/cable modem router from Netgear, Linksys, or the like (typically $40 to $60 for a decent one). To me, the hardware router is the best investment in time and money. Give it your “outside world” info, assign IPs to your machine (or turn on DHCP), and start surfing. A Google search will turn up many resources here.

    jth, unless your daughter is going to be running high-end simulations on her laptop, this machine will more than suffice. It’s got good specs for the typical things college students do: write, surf the web, and do multimedia. 🙂 My only advice is to let her test one out at an Office Depot or some other store that carries it in-house. If she’s going to be using it much at all, you’ll want to make sure she’s comfortable with the ergonomics of the keyboard and touchpad (I’d buy an external USB mouse for any heavy use), and the screen size.

  • February 3, 2003 at 9:16 pm

    Just found this site for the first time on a google search for “sotec”. I LOVE IT! I love gadgets, but am hopelessly inept at understanding the behind the seens stuff. I ordered one of these 3120’s from Best Buy with rebates for $750 that will be here 2/5. I also ordered an upgrade version of XP Pro because my IT guy at work says HOME doesn’t work on our network. Is there anything I should know before I install it? Price was the primary reason for my purchase, and I know my smug IT guy will say its junk. I will use it with office xp, internet, and what I have to beleive is a simple spreadsheet based mortage origination system. I also plan to use a pcmcia card port replicator for monitor and ethernet conections at two office locations and a pcmcia wireless card for home office. Do you forsee any problems?

  • February 4, 2003 at 5:09 pm

    I’m trying to decide between the 3120x or the more powerful, but heavier, 820p. Anyone have experience with both machines? How do they compare?

    Also, is there any way to buy an extended warranty if I purchase the computer through Walmart?

  • February 4, 2003 at 10:44 pm

    I’ve been eye-balling both the Sotec 3120 and 820P. I want to have enough power to play some 3D games on the road. Not sure about the 3120, but think the 820P will be able to handle that with it’s sis 650 chipset?

  • February 5, 2003 at 1:35 pm

    I found this site after Best Buys $100 notebook rebate expired. Bummer. They still offer the $50 rebate which keeps them at the lowest price. The Sotec site is offering a promotion of a *Free* 32MB Portable USB drive for $9.95 until 2/28. They also sell refurbished 3120’s for $799. Here’s a current summary of prices ( I didn’t compare extended warranties):
    Sam’s (30GB) $897.63 + Shipping +$35 membership $898.00 + shipping
    Best $901.99 -$50 rebate
    Office $947 + shipping, tax -$50 rebate
    Sotec $909.00 + shipping
    Sotec (refurbished)$799.00 + shipping

  • February 5, 2003 at 4:40 pm


    I’m going to ask what a few people before me have asked, does anyone know about the 820P??? I’ve been researching laptops for about a week now and finally found something in my price range that has everything I want. However, everyone is only talking about it’s little sister! The people who were asking before, did you buy it, what are your thoughts? Any information on the 820p would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!!

  • February 6, 2003 at 12:50 pm

    I just got my Sotec 820P yesterday. I ordered it from I love it so far. I’ve never owned a laptop and I thought that this one looked to be the right price. I haven’t found out much about it from the net. Everyone seems to be talking about the 3120X model and not the 820p. So far, I’m impressed with it. It’s fast and has a great picture. I haven’t used all of its functions, but I am looking forward to it. I’ll write more as I use it.

  • February 6, 2003 at 3:11 pm

    I’m surprised at how long this thread has stayed active. But, since I was one of the earlier posters, and I’ve had the 3120x for 2 full months now, I’ll post an update.

    I still love the little thing.

    I watch DVDs, surf the net, do email every evening. Even watch ACC basketball and follow the stats in real time. I can’t hardly imagine now living without this. I use my desktop only for photo editing. (I’ve just had to add an additional 80Gig external drive to it, now I’m at 140GB of storage. Unbelievable.)

    Battery life is around 3 hrs of normal surfing, more like 1:45 if I’m watching a DVD. All of this with the wireless network attached.

    I have had not a single problem with this little laptop. I recommended one to my father-in-law, who bought one shortly after Christmas. He seems to enjoy it as well. I recommend it to anyone who needs a better than basic laptop, but it is not a replacement for a desktop for photo editing or 3D games.


  • February 6, 2003 at 7:10 pm

    Very nice site. Helpful 🙂

    You sotec owners might want to check out

    There’s a small community forming 🙂


  • February 6, 2003 at 9:19 pm

    I returned my first 3120 (manufactured in China) because the battery was making a very high-pitched noise and Sotec recommended that I exchange for a new one. This second one I got was manufactured in Taiwan, and boy, there really are some differences. I was skeptical when I read about this topic, but here’s what I’ve found so far with my new, Taiwanese, model:

    1. Fan definitely much quieter. Before, the fan sound was similiar to the DVD-spin, but now it’s very quiet.
    2. Battery charging while in the BIOS is whisper quiet.
    3. Packaging inside the box was better.
    4. PCMCIA slot much smoother inserting/ejecting cards
    5. Battery fits a little tighter (still a little rattling, but very slight)
    6. Display contrast is a bit lighter.

    Of course the sampling size is too small for any meaningful conclusion, but just FYI. Over all, a much better unit, I think.

    – Charlie

  • February 7, 2003 at 7:54 am

    I’m going to get my Sotec in 20 minutes! I’m really excited. I’ll let everyone know how it goes.

  • February 7, 2003 at 1:32 pm

    commentThank you all for your inputs on the Sotec laptops. I have been looking at the 820 at wal-mart. If anyone has anymore info about it, I would appreciate some feed back.
    thank you

  • February 7, 2003 at 7:42 pm

    I bought an 820 before the New Year…works like a charm..its a great deal from Sams Club 1038 with 100 rebate. Not prblems so far very quiet, runs DVDs extremely well. Hope it stays this way..its a cheap backup to the Dell desktop I own.

  • February 7, 2003 at 9:31 pm

    A co-worker asked me to look at her new laptop, Sotec 820P, because it would not boot. She said turned it on once. After a quick check I determind that the hard drive was not spinning up. Verfied this in the bios which did not detect the hard drive. She purchased it at Never heard of the Sotec brand or what kind of support they have. I personally found Compaq to have the best, before HP bought them. I will post what and how quick the system is fixed for everyone’s info.

  • February 8, 2003 at 12:08 pm

    I agree with others who have found this web site useful and, might I add, intelligent. There has been mention of firewire as a possible PCMCIA peripheral for the 3120x series. Has anyone out there tried this as of yet, and more specifically, used it in the application of editing/making digital movies? At this time I am using my wife’s Mac Powerbook, which is great when I can pry her apart from the machine she loves more than me. Perhaps the question I should be asking, is, can any configured PC match the Mac in terms of digital movie making?

    Thanks much.

  • February 8, 2003 at 2:07 pm

    I bought a 3120X at Wal-Mart back in November. Pretty much right out of the box, the fan made a terrible clatter whenever it ran, and it quickly got even worse. So I exchanged a few days later. Now, 2 months later, my new machine is making the same clatter whenever the fan spins. It’s definitely the fan, not the hard drive. I can’t tell that anyone else has ever experienced this problem, from reading this site and talking to Sotec people. I have invested a great deal of work getting this machine set up, so I don’t want to exchange it. I want to replace the fan. Sotec can’t/won’t tell me whether the fan is garden-variety or is proprietary. I’d consider losing the rest of my warranty and swapping it out myself if I could be sure before I open the machine that I can buy a replacement. Sotec says they don’t sell parts.

    I love the machine except for this bad situation and also the keyboard problems that everyone talks about.

    Only thing I can figure is that there was a bad batch of fans and, getting two machines from the same store within a few days, I got machines with fans from the same bad batch.

    Anyone else had such problems or have any information or suggestions? Thanks much.

  • February 8, 2003 at 3:15 pm

    Randy,Unfortunately, I’m the one who had the same problem as you. I do believe your assumption—a bad batch of fans. I got mine from Walmart on Dec 4. I noticed those slight noises as soon as I first booted up. It got worse after passing the exchange period. I didn’t send it in for warranty service until two weeks ago I couldn’t stand the sound any more and had few things to do with the little toy. It took a total of 12 days including shipping time, and I got it back yesterday. An attached paper indicated that Sotec replaced the fan. After one-day nonstop use, I haven’t heard noises. I only can hear the normal spinning sound, not loud though.

    Someone in another forum had the same problem and sent it back for repairs in mid-Dec. He is stll active in that forum, but didn’t report any problem with the new fan. I noticed that people getting the machine prior to Dec 20 did complain more about the fan issue. Probably Sotec has found the problem and done considerable improvement (I have followed several fora discussing the model).

    I think there is good chance to encounter other potential problems if you choose to exchange it for a new one. So, I didn’t care to send it in for repairs. It was just a little bit inconvenient because I have only one PC.

  • February 8, 2003 at 10:17 pm

    Like a couple of people here, Im looking for more
    information on the 820P; can you run data crunching
    apps on it ? One slightly worrying factor is that
    the level 2 cache is only 256Kb, as opposed to the 512Kb.

  • February 10, 2003 at 10:08 am

    Henry, thanks for the response. I tried something yesterday that seems to be working well for the moment. With the computer off and upside down, I stuck something through an opening in the fan screen and pressed down on the hub of the fan blade. I then performed the fan learning thing, which runs the fan for about 20 minutes. It ran pretty much noiselessly. Then it started making a little noise again as I continued using the computer. I repeated the “press down” routine, only a little harder this time. So far no recurrence of the noise. I did this because the sound didn’t really seem to me to be a bearing noise. It seemed to be the tips of the blade hitting the metal housing. I think it might be possible to fix the thing without replacing it by doing something to increase the clearance between the fan blade and the housing. Or perhaps my pressing down harder on the hub of the blade will have fixed the problem permanently. It’ll be interesting to see how it comes out eventually. For now, though, I’m not going to send the thing back.

    Thanks again for the response.

  • February 10, 2003 at 10:50 am

    I received my 3120x last friday. It was a breeze to setup!
    The size is perfect and friends are amazed at how thin this machine is. I also bought a 128mb USB drive to transfer files –only $50 dollars and much faster than floppy or cd-r. Everyone should have one of these.

    Rating: 4 of 5 Stars. Good performance, features. Be aware of software problems

    Good: screen is good and bright. very crisp. The speed is excellent. My friends 1.8 ghz desktop isn’t much faster. Portability is wonderful. DVD works flawlessly along with writing cd-rw.

    Software Problems: There may be software incompatibility issues with the Sotec. I am well aware that it is not a gaming machine. However, I can’t even install a clipart program that would work on my five year old computer.

  • February 11, 2003 at 3:31 am

    This a follow up to my co-workers new 820P the had a HD spin up defect. I wanted to check what brand the HD was but it is not installed on a sled that can be easly removed. Appeared to be behind a panel that had a ‘void warranty’ seal. She has decided to just get her money back and pay a litte more to get a name brand.

    From what I saw of it, it seem to a nice system and feature for the price. Notice many people’s complaint was it did not have a ps2 or serial port. I really don’t think that is a problem since it has 4 usb ports and I can’t think of anyone who still used serial devices. I also thought the short space bar was kind of strange but not a big deal.

    Randy, Most newer fans are non bearing, brushless. But with as much heat that a P-4 chip and your hd puts out your laptop could heat up pretty quick if that fan isn’t blowing correctly. Heat=An early computer death.

    Henry, I was suprised to read that it took them 12 days to repair a defected fan… I own a Compaq Armada that I had purchased used but still had 6 months warranty and just after receiving it the internal modem and all the led lights went out. I called Compaq tech support at 9am, 12:45 Airbore Express was at my door with a packing box, then to my supprise it came back a day later. I worked for a small computer Co. and we always tired to get a 24-48 hr repair + shipping time on all rma’s. 12 days just seems like an excess amount of time for an easy job like that…

  • February 11, 2003 at 11:40 am

    Regarding the fan: Yesterday I decided to try pressing down on the fan blade hub about as hard as I dared (didn’t want to break anything!), and I think I may have felt a little movement like the blade seating more firmly on a spindle. At any rate it’s OK so far.

    Regarding turnaround time. I imagine that economizing on service is one of the ways of keeping the cost down. I was told that shipping TO the repair facility would be my responsibility; they would bear the cost of return shipping. I don’t know whether they match your shipping method or not, but a slow shipment two ways cross-country would eat up most of that 12 days. They told me they guarantee a 72-hour turnaround time in the shop.

    Fast service is great, but I imagine most Sotec buyers would be patient with slower service as long as the quality is good, realizing that at some level in the overall product package the company has to save the money they’re saving you.

  • February 12, 2003 at 12:49 am

    Yeah, Randy has it right. One negative side for Sotec warranty service is that the laptop owner has to absorb the one-way cost. If I did want fast shipping, only the next-day service would make a difference to me. But the rate difference is too remarkable for a student to afford. I finally decided to use UPS ground for about $13, and Sotec did Fedex ground back. Actually, my laptop slept in their trucks 9 days or so.

    As I got it back, I used the tracking number to see when my laptop left the repair center and found it was Monday. Since Sotec’s 72-hour turnaround time does not include Sat and Sun, they only spent one day fixing my problem. Now I can say their service is efficient.

    Anyway, had Sotec offered a shipping box, the service would have been flawless. My fan has worked pretty well so far.

  • February 12, 2003 at 5:53 pm

    I just want to say thanks to all for posting on this site (and Dave for starting it). This is the place where I’ve received the most comprehensive feedback on the 820p and the confidence to invest in a Sotec over the next couple of months! 🙂

  • February 12, 2003 at 6:46 pm

    I can’t say for certain, but in doing some research, it seem that the Matushita UJDA730 DVD/CDRW drive in the 3120X laptop is compatible with ahead nero version and up. Hope this helps someone out.

    • June 9, 2004 at 8:26 am

      Nope. I have Nero and still unable to write using Nero to the MATSHITA UJDA730 DVD/CDRW. Some one please help.


  • February 13, 2003 at 8:39 pm

    comment I purchased the 820p 2 months ago loaded it with loads of software having it running on a wireless network have burned 20 or so cd’s so far not a hitch. No complaints so far.

  • February 14, 2003 at 5:25 pm

    I just saw that is offering it’s $100 rebate on the 820p again. Great news for people who are asking about it but haven’t bought it yet. The offer lasts until April. I also found this site on the 820p, everything is useful since info is limited! Hope this helps someone:

  • February 15, 2003 at 10:21 am


    Henry & Randy addressed my fan problem with my Sotec, which I find almost impossible to turn loose with my work. I’m digital literacy trainer for e-Polk in Polk county NC, and other jobs involving ESL, literacy, etc. So, I just can’t seem to turn loose the laptop for 12 days to fix the fan

    I had concluded that the fan is loose, but wasn’t sure. I’m going to try the chiropractic method you used, Randy. I bought mine the first week of Dec. 2002, so our laptops are apparently siblings with fan defects. I’ll follow your progress with the fan and send my results.

  • February 15, 2003 at 10:51 am


    Noisy fan–chiropractic adjustment worked.

  • February 15, 2003 at 11:34 am

    Is Sam’s club not going to carry Sotec anymore?, I don’t see the laptops on their website anymore. I wonder why that is.

  • February 15, 2003 at 12:34 pm

    I talked to a Sams club representative online and he said that they still carry the laptops but are out of stock for ordering right now.

  • February 15, 2003 at 3:36 pm

    Carolyn, interesting that we’re not too far apart. I’m in Greenville, SC.

    My fan has not stayed completely quiet since I wrote a few days ago. It has been clattering a bit on startup, when I think it runs at full speed for a few seconds. So far, though, only at startup. But that’s the way it always was before, too. I figure it’s likely to repeat its trend toward clattering more and more. If I can get a week or two out of each “adjustment,” as you put it, I think I’ll stay on with it until close to the end of the warranty period, in case something else is about to go wrong, too. It looks like I’ll have to send it in, though.

    I have one possible hope, though. If I’m going to wait until the end of warranty, and if nothing else goes wrong, I’d rather buy a replacement fan locally and replace it myself (it won’t matter at that point if I break the warranty sticker). It would probably cost less than shipping/insurance to send it off, and it’s probably not more than a 15-minute job.

    Does anyone know whether the 3120X fan is some kind of generic fan that can be purchased from a computer store? So far I haven’t been able to get the Sotec people to answer that question.

    Thanks to all.

  • February 17, 2003 at 10:38 am

    commentthis is a great site, very helpfull, thanks for all the work it takes to maintain it. jec

  • February 17, 2003 at 11:38 am

    I got my Sotec about 2 weeks ago, and it wasn’t until yesterday that my fan started making noises. It sounded like blades hitting the casing, similar to Randy’s fan. So I tried the chiropractic technique and now it’s back to normal. If anyone else has that kind of noise coming from the fan, I suggest trying this before sending it back.

  • February 17, 2003 at 7:43 pm

    I ordered my 820p from yesterday. I will post any info I get later.
    One thing I want mention here is Walmart do take tax right now, since I read some one wrote his or her comments said Walmart did not charge tax.

  • February 19, 2003 at 6:58 am

    Just ordered one from BB this weekend. For those of you have have successfully set up a dual boot (ie win98 and xp), how did you do it? If you install win 98 on the c: partition can you “restore” the xp system to the d: partition? How big should I make the win 98 partition if I just want it for running office 97?

  • February 19, 2003 at 3:39 pm

    I’ve had my 3120 for a couple of weeks now, and havn’t had any hardware problems. Software is a different story however: I have had zero luck getting diablo to run. Does anyone know of games that run well on the notebook? It would be nice to know in advance; Warcraft 3 (demo version) installed perfectly and runs beautifully, other games I have tried give mixed results.

  • February 20, 2003 at 3:46 pm

    Randy and Carolyn. I bought my Sotec 3120X from Office Depot on January 7th and have been using it continuously since then. I love this little machine (my previous laptop was a mamoth Dell Inspiron) and am getting used to the keyboard (why did they put the Del key next to the right arrow?).

    About two weeks ago I started hearing that fan clicking noise that Randy and Carolyn described and used the Randy technique to fix it earlier today. So far the noise hasn’t returned (thanks for the tip Randy!).

    The one complaint I have does not involve Sotec at all, but Windows XP (and any version of windows I’ve ever used). A few weeks ago I checked for and installed Windows updates and now it takes more than twice as long to boot up the computer. I’ve found this problem with all my windows machines. The more you update them the more cumbersome and buggy they get. I just installed a Linux machine (Debian distribution) in my lab for the first time and am LOVING it! Linux will be the wave of the future!

    This website and thread is a great resource for us Sotec converts!

  • February 21, 2003 at 12:42 am

    i’ve had my 3120x for about 2 months now and i’ve lately been hearng this sound like a marble dropping inside the machine. It makes the sound pretty constantly after the computer has been running for bout 5 min. i was wondering if anyone else has been having this problem? i haven’t called sotec yet but probably will soon.

  • February 21, 2003 at 5:46 am

    I ordered the 820P from Wal-Mart last night. Chris is correct about the tax. It added $54.90 to the cost here in Maryland. The $100.00 rebate will at least off-set that. I did go by the local Office Depot just to take a look at the construction of the 3120X that they stock. The screen and construction look good and convinced me to go ahead and place the order. I wish Office Depot had the 820P in stock so I could be writing this from a new machine !!

  • February 21, 2003 at 4:52 pm

    Where is the best deal now on the 3120x.


  • February 21, 2003 at 6:19 pm

    Best Buy has it for $799 after two mail in rebates, plus a 24 month 0% finance deal. The service agreement is $$ but I went with it because it is so close to my home and is well known. Has anyone seen a better deal lately?

  • February 21, 2003 at 6:21 pm

    Having trouble with modem…. taking it back

  • February 24, 2003 at 12:53 am

    I still believe the best deal on this little guy is to be found either at Sam’s Club or Best Buy. Sam’s Club is the way to go if you want the extra 10gb of hard drive (model 3123sx) and a cheaper 3 yr extended warranty ($54). Sam’s cost, $897 (w/o ext warr) + membership. At Best Buy, you can get the 20gb version for $800 (after rebates of $100 and $50, and free shipping). If you need the 30gb, can’t bear to pay for a Sam’s membership and you are willing to hand over 900 bucks to a perfect stranger, you could always camp out by the entrance and ask some guy to buy you a 12 pack of Michelob and a Sotec 3123sx. Your call.

  • February 25, 2003 at 4:05 pm

    Hey Bob, I did the same as you. A few weeks back I checked out the 3120X at Office Depot just to see what it was like and last week I finally ordered it from WalMart (glad I waited until they brought the rebate back). I too desperately wish that Office Depot stocked the 820p, especially since you can buy an extended warranty through them. Oh well.

    Question – has anyone played the DVD component while it was hooked up to their TV set. If so, how well did it work?


  • February 26, 2003 at 4:39 am

    I almost decided to buy Sotec 3120x, but I have one doubt: I travel a lot and I would need 110/220 AC-DC adapter. Is the adapter that can be bought with 3120x this kind of an adaptor, or is better to look for one in a local store?

  • February 26, 2003 at 2:15 pm

    Well my 820P was delivered today. I checked the Airborne Express tracking from work and saw they where “Out for Delivery.” I decided to go home at lunch and to my horror the package was left proped against the door!!

    Anyway, I have to say the 820P is more than I had hoped for right out of the box. The screen is brilliant. The D-Link 650+ wireless card installed without any problem. I seams fast with the factory installed 256mb ram especially running Windows XP. Still, I’ll install an additional 512mb soon and take it up to the max 1gb by years end.

    The DVD player worked well. I would not really want to watach a movie ona laptop, but in a pinch it would do.

    Here’s to keeping my fingers crossed that the laptop holds up in the long run. I’ll check in after using working with the 820P after a while.

  • February 26, 2003 at 3:17 pm

    Love my 3120x, however one burning question
    regarding the modem. I have never seen a
    port such as one on the Sotec; what type of
    modem cable do you need to connect modem to
    wall jack? The connector on the Sotec seems
    very oddball to me, maybe I need to get out
    more. Where can you buy such a cable?

    Thanks all..

  • February 27, 2003 at 3:13 pm

    I got my 820p today – WOOHOO!!! I can finally hook up my PDA (that I got last month) to a computer 🙂

  • March 1, 2003 at 9:00 am

    For those having trouble with games the problem is that out of the box the sotec does not have any 256 color video modes. Any program tht uses 256 colors will not work. The answer is to remove the video driver and reboot. The machine will boot in to a 640×480 256 color mode. just set the res back to 1024×768 and your desired color depth. The 256 color modes will be available from then on. Suspend and Hibernate will work again after another reboot.

  • March 2, 2003 at 10:46 pm

    Hello and good day to you all. I just bought the sotec 820P. I have yet to recive it yet, but I’m soo excited to recive it, the only ? that i have is, can you upgrade the hard drive? I have no knowlage of computers acutaly i really don’t even know what the hard drive does, but it have been told that 20 GB is pretty small. Can anybody help?

  • March 3, 2003 at 1:57 pm

    Looking for DVD-ROM CD-R/RW, drivers, for Matshita UJDA730. Can someone help me?

  • March 4, 2003 at 2:05 pm

    Hey “secondtonoone” I’m sorry to say that you cannot upgrade the harddrive. Well, actually you can but it would be better to buy a new computer than to go through all the hassle it takes to upgrade a hard drive on a notebook. I can tell you that while I had reservations about the 20g’s at first myself, it’s more average than small. If you don’t plan on doing any large applications (such as Photoshop) you’ll be fine. And remember, things can always be deleted from the hard drive so if you do start to run out of room, I’m sure you’ll realize you have something on there that you no longer need – just delete it and some space will open up. I just received my 820p last week and I love it. Best of luck!!!

  • March 4, 2003 at 4:32 pm

    the newer version of nero update/upgrade can use the DVD/CDRW drive, it’s free upgrade if you have nero 5.5.
    I use nero on my sotec without any problem, nero is far better than easy cd creator.

  • March 5, 2003 at 12:56 am

    Thanks alot elly.

  • March 5, 2003 at 2:52 pm

    Sam’s is the best deal still for the 3123XS if you consider it is 30G drive + $54 for a three extended warranty. Probably worth a membership fee for a year.

  • March 5, 2003 at 5:48 pm

    I’ve owned my 3123X for almost 2 months. I use the machine for taking notes at school, and it is a great little machine – and I wouldn’t part with it except for maybe the built in wireless in the new 3120 laptop.

    Here’s my negative comments and maybe some observations that will help out others.

    1 – Odor – the processor/heatsink emits a slight odor – but don’t despair – I think it has gone away with use…

    2 – DVD player – try playing DVD’s without the laptop plugged into the power cord – mine has a problem playing with out freezing every couple seconds – it can get really annoying – the sound is fine… just the video is having problems. I’ve attempted to adjust the amount of memory available to the video adapter and the # of colors and resolution, but it persists. I’ve tried several different players – still not fixed. I’ve come to the conclusion that maybe Windows XP is too much for this laptop when it is running on the battery alone and perhaps it is ‘throttling’ the processor. I’ve considered upgrading the amount of physical memory to 384 and see if that fixes it yet, but I can live without DVD’s 99% of the time.

    3 – Linux – I used Partition Magic 8.0 to create a second partition (4.3 GB) for linux and a third boot (53 MB) partition for Boot Magic. Proceeded to install Mandrake Linux 9.0 and had no problems at all with the install – nothing special – no scsi problems as has been reported with RedHat, Mandrake doesn’t support APM/APCI for laptops (yet) so you can’t tell how much battery power is left, or take advantage of any power saving sleep mode (which I’ve never experienced in linux yet), but maybe they’ll address APCI in 9.1 – so we’ll see in a few more months… Ethernet worked just fine – didn’t attempt to see if the modem would work (I assume that it is like most modems and is a WinModem which is difficult to support in linux). Need linux and a modem? Buy a PC card modem. I’ve succesfully used a PC Card modem in an old Thinkpad 233 MHz/96 MB with Mandrake 8.0.

    4 – USB 2.0 – I understand that a USB 2.0 external drive should be able to operate with a USB 1.1 master at the slower rate (12 Mbps) … well – my Archos Jukebox Recorder 20GB MP3 player had really serious problems… I tried many different driver upgrades/reinstalls… and came across a site that specifically states that Windows XP and the USB hardware that is built into the 3120/3123X has some bugs – even with the XP patch it is still a little buggy. It works for everything that I’ve used (Samsung printer, IOMega zip drive, Imation iMac floppy drive, 32 MB Sotec Flash drive) except for this USB 2.0 device. The solution? Bought a USB 2.0 card at CompUSA for $50 and now it works flawlessly AND FAST – didn’t even need to install a driver as XP recognized the PC Card immediately.

    5 – CD Burning – Again … I’ll preface that my experience with XP is limited to this laptop alone. I’ve burned a few MP3 CD’s for a portable CD player, and I find that there are serious audio glitches if I burn at 16x – less at 8x – and practically none at 4x. I do not recall if this was with or without the power cord plugged in. It may be that XP is too much of an OS for this little processor when its processor is being throttled back to conserve energy. I’m not certain if more RAM will improve this or not.

    6 – Chattering noise – I’ve not heard anything resembling hard drive noise (unless I’m listening to headphones and have the volume turned all the way up and hear a little background noise as the hard drive spins up or down) … but the fan does chatter every time the laptop is turned on (which goes away as soon as the Windows XP boot screen appears) – and occasionally as it is running. I’m trying to see if reseating the fan with a little extra pressure helps or not.

    7 – Speakers/audio – Audio is superb with headphones – the speakers are lacking when in a mildly noisy environment. If you want to boost your sound a little – you can attempt to turn on the “3D Depth” option in the Volume Control – click on “Advanced”. It helps in some instances, and in other instances it produces a serious amount of echo/feedback which is very annoying depending on what you are listening (this is with the mic muted). It sounds like an aweful lot of reverb when it sounds bad.

    8 – Modem – This works great when plugged into power. It has a hard time negotiating a connection when running on battery power – again – this causes me to believe that this is a WinModem and the throttled processor burdened with XP reduces the overall effectiveness of the system. Attempting to listen to an audio file on the net while connected through the modem results in a pretty painful experience when not using the power cord. BUT – networked (either wired or wirelessly) and running on battery power seems to operate flawlessly as far as internet radio/audio is concerned. If you have 802.11, you can enjoy true mobile internet access the way it was meant to be.

    9 – Software compatability/Games – I got burned on this one when I tried to use an older version of ChessMaster 7000 ($10 at WalMart) and learned that it is not compatible with XP. It worked mostly (and it is possible to click on the file properties and adjust it for Win98 operation within XP). The game plays well – just the tutorial is buggy and prone to crash (which is the real reason I got it – to get coaching and lessons to improve my play). Remember that you are not going to be able to use all of your old software from 98 on an XP machine. That was one of the hassles of the NT framework that XP is based upon.

    Keep in mind – these are only minor annoyances that I am willing to deal with. If you want my Sotec laptop – you will have to get me the newer one, or take it from my cold dead hands. The whole reason I got this laptop is because it was small enough to not be annoyingly obtrusive – this fits in with my books easily. It’s size does make it difficult to find a laptop case that doesn’t dwarf the little thing. For anyone who is looking for a laptop for the college bound senior – this is a great laptop and I wouldn’t do without it. Typing can be a pain at first, but take notes for a couple weeks with it, and you’ll work around the annoying up arrow key (where I try to hit ‘?’).

    I can’t understand why the other manufacturers are all producing giant laptops compared to this one? Nobody will haul around a 6-8 lb beast. Make it as light as a textbook – and you will never leave it home again!

  • March 5, 2003 at 6:34 pm

    Daniel Reynolds,

    I’m sure you’d find yourself much happier with Windows 2000 installed on your Sotec. It isn’t a memory hog like XP, is more stable, and runs faster. I would just check to make sure all of the drivers were available, especially for the dvd-cd-r drive. I see many of them listed on sotec’s website but would like to hear if anyone has 2000 on thier sotec any if everything works fine, including dvd. If anyone has put windows 2000 on thier machine please speak up and let us know if everything worked out!!!!!!!

  • March 5, 2003 at 9:54 pm

    commentCan someone elaborate on the (new) sotec 3120,that was said to have built in wifi among other features,it was referanced two postsago

  • March 5, 2003 at 10:51 pm

    Purchased a Sotec 3120X and installed Mandrake 9.1 and Knoppix 3.1 on two partitions (leaving a third 8 GB partition with the original M$ XP on just for kicks.)

    All is wonderful in Linuxland – Video, sound, built-in ethernet, CDR/DVD, USB, etc…EXCEPT for the PCMCIA/Cardbus slot, it locks up when I load the PCMCIA driver – [insmod yenta_socket] in Mandrake. It almost works under Knoppix (insmods yenta OK, detects card insertion, loads appropriate card driver(s), etc), but, locks up the PC when I extract the card.

    Both distrobutions load the yenta_socket driver built into the 2.4.2x kernel. I tried recompiling the kernel w/o PCMCIA support and then building and installing the stand-alone PCMCIA drivers, but still locked up. I have heard of others having similar problems, but I have found no resolutions as of yet.

    Has anyone been successful at getting a particular distrobution working correctly? -Knoppix is close, but…? Has anyone built the yenta socket driver to properly control the O2Micro 6912 Cardbus controller in the Sotec 3120X? Is anyone willing and able to troubleshoot the driver and find out why it’s locking up? Maybe an interrupt thing, not sure – but I was hoping that someone has already conquered this battle and I (we) could reap the benefits without all the pain… 🙂

  • March 6, 2003 at 1:36 pm

    I was so impressed with the user reviews on this product, and was looking for a replacement for a broken Thinkpad, that I went out and bought one.

    After two months usage I am so delighted that I wanted to include my own feedback on this board. I Love it.

    Does everything I need and more. For the price and performance (and I did a lot of research prior to purchase) I do not think you can get better.

  • March 6, 2003 at 10:12 pm

    I need to retract a few comments. After glancing around a few other Sotec user sights I came across a comment that suggested adjusting the Power Scheme in the Power Properties Control Panel. Low and behold – I had my Sotec over optimized for battery life – as soon as I chose “Portable/Laptop” the DVD I’m playing with just battery power is now playing smoothly. Now you can disregard half of the performance issues I mentioned related to processor throttling (including CD-RW performance, modem speed, DVD playing, …)

    This is an awesome laptop. Now that I can play DVD’s without a cord, I don’t think that there’s too many other things I can complain about. Even fixed the fan noise…

    I just had to make sure I corrected my statement above for the sake of those who will come back and think that this laptop is too deficient to play a DVD on battery power – in this case it was an operator deficiency.

    If you don’t have one yet – you’d better hurry – is selling the 3120x for $800 instead of $900 (among many other retailers).

  • March 7, 2003 at 2:00 am

    I purchased a Sotec 3120X Laptop from Office Depot in early January. I have to say, it’s an amazing little notebook… after exhanging it 3 times!

    Notebook 1: Everything ran fine, but gradually the CPU fan started making nasty sounding noises, and the recovery CDs didn’t work (2nd image file was corrupted). To top it all off, the CDRW/DVD drive would not click shut!

    Notebook 2: After exchanging it, I switched it on, to realise that there were multiple dead pixels. Actually, they weren’t “dead” but “stuck” in bright red!

    Notebook 3: Same problem as Notebook 2, with the added bonus of the hard disk dying!

    Notebook 4: After lengthy apologies from Office Depot ( am now on 1st name terms with the staff) I have a notebook that seems to be fault free… well… almost – there is a slight noise that comes from the fan once every so often, but after the hassle of exchanging the damn thing so many times, I’m willing to overlook this slight imperfection!

    I think, in hindsight, I’ve just been very unlucky; generally people have not had major problems with this laptop, and I’ve been very impressed with it’s performace/features. DVDs play flawlessly, CDs are recorded quickly, and Windows runs smoothly. All I recommend to Sotec is that they perhaps make their quality control testing slighty more throrough!

  • March 7, 2003 at 5:01 am

    I am thinking about getting a 3120x but I am wondering:
    1. Can I upgrade to the new Celerons running at 1.7 Ghz?
    2. Can I add more than the 256 mb limit?
    An help would be appritiated.

  • March 7, 2003 at 1:09 pm


    1. NO. Celeron 1.2G is P3 based, and 1.7G is P4 based. Actually, P3 has much better performance/frequency. I would say this 1.2G is not much different to the 1.7G thing in performance.

    2. YES. 128+256 according to the spec. According to the chipset, maybe even 128+512. Not test yet.

  • March 9, 2003 at 3:25 pm

    Best Buy online has the 3120x @ $949 Less $200 rebates.

  • March 10, 2003 at 7:50 am

    I have just picked up a 3120x for my daughter who will be going to college next year. One question…what should I get for virus protection?

  • March 10, 2003 at 1:20 pm

    Where can I get the info on Basic and also, if you can help where do I get the network cable for her? Here school sent out a letter saying she’ll need a network interface card and network cable.

  • March 10, 2003 at 1:44 pm

    jth, all the school network are using RJ45 cable, you can just pick one up in local bestbuy, circuitcity, office depot, etc. There are two type of RJ45 cables, don’t buy the cross over one, buy the normal one will be fine.(it will print LAN cable on the package) it should cost you about $14 dollar, a 15 ft one should be enough.

    sotec already have a LAN port, so you don’t need to buy anything for network interface. if you do want to use wireless, then you need to pick up an access point and a 802.11 card, that should cost you about $150.

  • March 10, 2003 at 2:00 pm

    Hai, Thank you so very much. I am clueless about this stuff.

  • March 10, 2003 at 8:35 pm


  • March 12, 2003 at 3:33 am

    Time for a 3 month update. I am one of the first posts at the top and I still have the original laptop (no exchange).

    I just love my Sotec! 😀 All my friends are impressed with the size and weigh on this laptop. It is nice to carry a 4lb laptop around the house and at my workplace. I have stayed with Win XP and had no major issues. sleep and hibernates works great (win2000 had problems with that). It is a very solid device. USB connections work and I usually have a USB mouse, USB hard drive and a USB sound device connected.

    I have notice the fan noise when I have 100% CPU usage. Otherwise it is very quiet. I think I lucked out by getting a Taiwan laptop. No pixel problem, no HD problem. It just works right out of the box.

    I interchange my internet connection by modem and network connection using proxy and it has been fine.

    For a case I recommend the sony 505 case. The laptop fits perfectly in it. It is $20.

    Some small issues I don’t like:
    *Playing a audio CD the CDROM drive has a high RPM. I wish it would run at a lower pitch. My solution has been to just rip the CD onto the HD.

    *Not very clean headphone volume. With such a small and tightly configured computer, there is bleed of electronic components in the headphone jack. I use my laptop as a music studio so I bought an external 24-bit USB audio device and it is quiet and works right out of the box. Just plug it in and go.

    *XP Home doesn’t allow domain name connection. I am fine now for home and work but I might have to switch to XP pro in the future.

    Otherwise I am happy I made this purchase. I have no regrets. This laptop is a killer purchase and I have recommend it to my friends and anyone who inquires about it. It is good to see others who are happy purchasers.

  • March 12, 2003 at 8:21 am

    Basic – sorry. If you’re in the US, there’s a free version. That’s what I meant by Basic.

  • March 12, 2003 at 6:19 pm

    Everyone is talking about the 3120X so I figured I’d put up a posting for my 820p in case someone is wondering about that computer. I’ve had it for almost two weeks now (I think) and I LOVE IT!!! Yes, it’s bigger and heaver than the 3120X but I knew that going in and I’m fine with it. The first night I got it I played a DVD with no problems. A week later I hooked into the internet and I’m all good to go.

    Actually the only problem I have is that I can’t get my MS Outlook e-mail from my Pocket PC link up to actually send e-mail. But I know that’s my own ignorance and no fault of the laptop. There is still so much I have to explore and learn, I just downloaded Kazaa to burn CD’s but I have to figure that out as well (weekend project!). Anyway, the 820P is great, knock on wood – I’ve had no fan, pixel, DVD, anything problems. It was a great purchase and thanks to all those who posted previously and gave me the confidence to buy it!

  • March 12, 2003 at 11:13 pm

    HELP, guys. I got a postcard form Sotec saying I did not provide the original serial number in the rebate for my 3120. I actually am not sure which number is its serial number till now. What I put in the rebate form was a number from the back of the laptop like SYxxxxxxxxxx. Do you guys know where the number is? I saw a number on the box as 1896xxxxx-001. Is it the number? Thx.

  • March 13, 2003 at 1:24 am

    I actually work at Office Depot, and after months of debating whether I should pick one up. I decided I’d go for it, cause I’ve wanted a laptop for some time, but i wanted something cheap and light. Obviously the Sotect fits the bill. 🙂

    My question is this: Mine has, in the upper right hand corner, a small splotch of pixels (maybe 1\8th of an inch..) that aren’t…dead, just not as bright. Like when it should be black, they’re a gray…or when it’s blue, they’re a faded blue. I haven’t tried any cleaning solutions, but i don’t think it’s dirt or a smudge.

    If the laptop is working great, should I just go with it? Learn to live with it? Has anyone tried contacting Sotec? Any of you early adopters had to get any warranty work done that can comment on how good\bad a job Sotec does with support? Thanks!

  • March 13, 2003 at 4:10 pm

    The 820P looks like it has everything I need, but I’ve been unable to find it at any store. It seems the only places to obtain one are online (,, etc). I have no problem buying one online, but would like to actually see one before buying. Does anyone know of a retail chain which carries this laptop in their stores?

  • March 14, 2003 at 12:23 am

    I’m waiting for my 3120 to arrive from Best Buy. I called Sotec’s customer service number today to ask some basic pre-sales questions. They told me that the hard drive is upgradable…in fact, the tech rep said he knows of an individual who put a 60 gig in the 3120. And, he told me that when the Sotec was first marketed that the 512 PC133 SODIMM’s were too tall and only the 256’s would fit into the memory slot. Kingston and a couple of other mfr’s now make low-profile 512mb PC133 SODIMM’s so if anyone’s willing to take a chance let’s see if it works?

  • March 14, 2003 at 11:02 am

    I’m a high school student pursueing a writing career. I don’t need a fancy laptop. All I need is one that serve as a good word processor and some other basic programs. Is this the one for me?

  • March 14, 2003 at 11:55 am

    Hi, I just bought the 3120 through and it should be arriving within a couple of days. My question is this: Is it worth the $200+tax for the 3-yr warranty?? To me it seems a little steep but it’s my first laptop and don’t know if I should get the warranty. I know the logical answer is “yes” being that it will be hauled everywhere I go, but is $200 worth it?? Thanx for any reponses. (This board has helped me a lot!) 🙂

  • March 14, 2003 at 1:26 pm

    nobody knows about where is the serial number and what it looks like? help.

  • March 14, 2003 at 9:10 pm

    this comment is to first applaud the device, and second to address the problems associated with ejecting a pc card on a linux system.

    i just got my 3120x from best buy (1050 with tax and next day (only $10 extra!!) shipping, less $200 from rebates… $850 total for this kick ass laptop is impossible to beat) this morning. kudos to best buy and ups for delivering _very_ promptly (i ordered it wednesday morning and got it friday at 10 am). I’ve been fooling around with it all day and am very impressed. like pretty much everyone else, i _hate_ the backspace key placement/size as well as the delete key where my pinky goes when it’s trying to push right. I’m sure i’ll get used to the keyboard soon enough. I was pleasantly surprised with the size of the alpha keys… they’re as big as on most conventional keyboards. all things considered, awesome laptop for the price. anyway, I haven’t tried booting/playing with knoppix yet, but i plan to this coming week. btw, has anyone tried gentoo? i think that’s where i’ll focus my efforts as soon as i find some time.

    as for the ejection issues… last summer i did some work using linux on hand held computers (sharp zaurus and compaq/hp ipaq). They worked well with linux as the os, but we had some pcmcia issues there as well. As far as i know, the problem with pc cards on eject is a poorly written “hot plug” script. try looking at the log files when you insert the card and see what scripts are being run. modify the script to gracefully remove the kernel modules as soon as it notices that the card has been removed (kill any processes that are associated and then rmmod the card module).

    i hope this is the problem and i was helpful. i’ll devote some time to it after spring break. (woohoo!!)
    again, great computer for the price. i definately recomend it.

  • March 15, 2003 at 2:01 am

    When I found the 3123 at Sam’s, I decided pretty quickly it had the right balance of features and price. I wondered how I would do without Microsoft Office – especially since my company runs on it, so I went searching for Word-compatible word processors. I ended up downloading Opensource suite, a FREE suite from Sun Microsystems, that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program (like power point) and an HTML web authoring program (like front page.) The programs are absolutely full-featured, having some capabilities the MS products lack. They’re essentially MS compatible, and will run w/MS file extensions OR their own. All in all, a great discovery. Did I mention…FREE!?

  • March 15, 2003 at 2:18 am

    Ahhh…one other thing that made me feel good about my little Sotec. I stopped by the Dell web site and priced out a Dell-built Sotec-wanna-be. While not EXACTLY spec for spec, the comparable Dell machine w/DVD/R-WCD, at 4.8 lbs, priced out at something over $1500.

  • March 15, 2003 at 2:24 am

    Well I may be a little late to the party on this subject but I only just found it as my machine is making a very loud fan noise and I started searching the internet.

    My Sotec ordeal began the day I bought the thing, the day after Christmas. The speakers were defective. Sotec customer service recommended I return it. The store does not let you return laptops for a refund so I had to get another sotec. The second one has a keyboard that is not attached right and flops up and down but by that time I knew that I was dealing with a second rate product and knew that I was going to have to live with it.

    Now about two weeks ago it started making the fan noise. It is making it about half the time now.

    This computer has been used only 2 hours a week so far. I am major league upset and to top it all off, the refund mail-in rebate has not come after 3 months time. I did save copies of everything so maybe I can badger them into sending it.

    It was not worth saving a whopping $50 to buy this laptop compared to a Compaq. What was I thinking?

  • March 15, 2003 at 5:54 pm

    commentcheck the compaq and apple forum,tons of hardware issues and complaint up the kazzooo ,and at twice the bottom line, I paid 100.00 less for a 3 yr extended warrantee for my sotec than i did for my ibook. peace ps ; owned a 3120 for 2 months no hardware related problems yet…knock on mag-alloy

  • March 15, 2003 at 6:55 pm

    comment i owned a compaq 725us for 3 months, i bought it new and they are great if you like a laptop that 1. runs so hot that it freezes up after an hour or so, 2. cant use a webcam on because it freezes up, 3. the cursor jumps around in the middle of every other typed sentence, 4. the battery goes bad after 2 months, and has the worst customer service in the world. I basicly sold this for half of what i paid for it just to get rid of it. I purchased a 3120 at walmart for $798 a couple nights ago and its nice to have a laptop that does what its supposed to and isnt a 7 pound paperweight. Have fun with Compaq.

  • March 15, 2003 at 9:23 pm

    I am thinking of getting a refurbished SOTEC 820P from sotec directly. any suggestions?
    or maybe I should wait till sotec upgrades it’s laptops and include WiFi there? I am not sure what WiFi would be useful for?

  • March 15, 2003 at 10:12 pm

    I purchased a Sotec 3123XS at Sam’s Club last Wednesday, and am thus far very pleased…especially with the combination of price and features. I have had some issues using a LAN to connect to the Internet and was wondering if anyone else had a similar problem? The system recognizes the network connection, but the PC does not receive any data. I am in grad school and had the IT guys there check it out and they are at a loss as to the problem.

    Dial up seems to be working just fine and the system is quiet. Overall, a great deal for such a small laptop. I had a Gateway and this is FAR superior to that product.

    Also, has anyone been able to find a carry case that does not overwhelm it?


  • March 16, 2003 at 1:23 am

    I had problem with my Sotec 3123, when I go to destop and right click properties, then go to Settings, then click Advance, click Utility Manager, but cannot click Gamma correction. Anyone has this problem?

  • March 16, 2003 at 5:18 am

    Did a lot of research on this laptop and finally decided to buy it since it was comparable to Sony’s 505 series but for half the price.

    Here’s a couple of things that I did after I got it.

    1. Calibrated the fan. Hit DEL when booting up to enter the BIOS setup to calibrate the fan to keep the laptop even more quiet.

    2. Calibrated the battery. Again, in the CMOS setup.

    3. Installed a larger hard drive. This will VOID your warranty. Remove the seven screws located underneath near the front of the laptop. They do not extend further back than where the trackpad is located. Lift the trackpad SLOWLY as there is a VERY SHORT cable connecting the cover to the mainboard. You should disconnect the shorter cable instead of the longer trackpad cable (which is more fragile). The hard drive is located on the right side and can be slid out easily.

    4. Downgraded to Windows 2000. The only driver missing is the SiS PCI to ISA Bridge driver. Make sure you snag this off the Windows XP directory before downgrading.

    The keyboard does take some getting used to. Since this laptop was initially designed for use in the Japanese market, the keyboard layout is designed for the Japanese language. Sotec merely added English labels to fit the keyboard layout. But overall, a very good laptop for $750. As for extended warranties, this laptop will probably be obsolete before you ever get to use the warranty.


    Marko: power adapter will run from 100 to 240 volts.

    Eden: You need to manually set the duplex for your network adapter. Click on Start | Settings | Control Panel | Network | Right-click on your ethernet adapter | Properties | Advanced | Media Type | and set the duplex model manually (100BaseTX and 10BaseT is half duplex).

  • March 16, 2003 at 6:22 pm

    Check out ebay for Sony 505 and you will find a case which will fit.

  • March 17, 2003 at 4:59 pm

    I bought this just yesterday, and I like every thing about it except for 2 things. The keyboard, and where the speakers are located. The speakers are right where you would rest your palms when playing a game, or listening to music and surfing the web. Just to let you know the on board video card can be changed from 32mb to 64 in the bios. That is pretty cool but of course that means it takes 64 mb of ram away and puts it to the video card. Other than those 2 things I think this labotop is great for the price.

  • March 18, 2003 at 12:11 am

    I posted a comment on March 14. Here’s a follow-up.
    I purchased a 3123xs from Sam’s Club this weekend. Today I went to a local/internet memory retailer (The Chip Merchant) and explained that I wasn’t sure that a 512mb would work in this machine. They pulled out a low profile stick of 512 for me to try at the counter. I removed the 128 and popped the 512 in and it worked. I paid them with a smile on my face. This thing really smokes now! Multitasking is a breeze…something it couldn’t do well last night with the standard 256 configuration. I’d recommend skipping the 256 chip and going straight for the 512 low profile for anyone thinking of upgrading their memory.

  • March 18, 2003 at 3:22 am

    Wow, the 512MB memory worked!! That’s sounds awesome Mark! Can you tell us the brand and model number of the memory you bought?? And about how much it costs? To think, having 640MB total RAM…totally awesome!! Thanks for your input!!

  • March 18, 2003 at 9:01 am

    Impressed. Amazed! This laptop literally does everything I could want. And the portability factor is probably the best. I have DSL on it now and it runs flawlessly. Games, internet, etc all work. I carry it everywhere (although i need the smaller case). I have had no hardware problems. (Does the batteries in my portable mouse count?) Just kidding. I would like to have an extra battery and portable wireless speakers. Get a USB Flashdrive. It’s very useful for transporting files, mp3, videos, etc. I got 128mb for $50.00.

  • March 18, 2003 at 9:29 am

    commentcurious about putting in 512 mem upgrade.Is it possible that even though it works now that it may cause problems later? Will incompatabilities with the motherboard /or chipset have effects down the road? Can someone who really knows about this explain please..

  • March 18, 2003 at 10:46 pm

    I do not think I have ever heard of a problem with too much RAM. I am running 384 with no problem as I have not seen a cheap 512 yet.

    Think the 3123 is great except for the really light weight speakers and volume. Even with “3D” the audio output is cheesy sounding.

  • March 19, 2003 at 3:54 am

    I purchased the 512 stick for $114 plus tax from The Chip Merchant. Their web site is and if you search for laptop memory you’ll see the low profile 512 memory module. They are local for me so I do will call with them…lifetime memory warranty, etc… They’re not the only memory game in town so shop around. As for too much memory…c’mon guys, let’s not get ridiculous!! As the previous poster said he’s never heard of too much memory. Besides, I didn’t want to screw up my investment so I talked to Sotec twice about this issue and they said there should be no reason it wouldn’t work…just short of endorsement in my mind.

  • March 19, 2003 at 7:21 am

    I have been looking at this notebook for a while and might purchase one but I am wondering how it runs newer games?

  • March 19, 2003 at 1:31 pm

    did any body get the rebate from sotec? just wondering which number is the serial number. Is is the one on the laptop back?

  • March 19, 2003 at 3:04 pm

    I’m just connecting the dots with a couple of comments I’ve seen here – if you upgrade the memory in the Sotec with the 512M chip, to total 640 in the box, it would seem to make sense to increase the video allotment to 64M. You probably wouldn’t suffer any performance penalty at that point.

  • March 19, 2003 at 5:32 pm

    commentwolf you can find the serial # on back of laptop.small barcode sticker and it begins with SN,and yes got my rebate and pen drive.good luk….

  • March 19, 2003 at 11:07 pm

    I owned my Sotec 3120x 100% trouble free for 4 months now and totally LOVE IT!! I own a computer sales service and repair company and have owned/repaired/sold and seen it all! This computer for the price blows away anything in its comparable class…I would say the closest would be the sony but this is so much nicer, especially for the money! I feel a “notebook” should be just that, the size is perfect! The screen is sharp bright and clear…And I found the coolest case at a Comp USA store, its made by targus and its for a mini DVD player so its compact and fits the Sotec perfectly with pockets for all your cords and cd holders etc,,,,Its the best money I’ve spent in years! Highly recomended..feel free to e-mail or call me, as I would be happy to answer any questions or help you out with yours..
    For any of you techies, I am looking for a fan control program to manually control the speed (rpm) of the fan..mostly to keep it high if anyone knows of one,,,(similar to the one that was out there for Dell and IBM at one point). Thanks

  • March 20, 2003 at 7:44 am

    comment mark, do you have any opinions on putting a 512 mem upgrade in. someone mentioned that there might be some heat issues involved,is that a valid concern?thankyou in advance.

  • March 21, 2003 at 12:54 pm

    comment Has anyone useing a 512 memory dimm had any problems whatsoever…?

  • March 21, 2003 at 5:17 pm

    Greetings from South Carolina, I bought a sotec 820p from Sam’s club and I had to carry it back twice because of a noisy fan. It was a sweet little machine and DVD playback was great however I could not stand the fan noise. You would think anyone who could pack all that technology into such a small space could design a quiet fan! Well, I got my money back and I am waiting for a suitable laptop in the Sotec’s price range to buy. Great screen, lots of ports but noisy fan 🙁

  • March 22, 2003 at 4:19 pm

    I ordered the 512 Low Profile chip and installed it – loosen two screws on memory bay, lift and slide the 128 meg chip out, slide and snap the new one in and you’re done. The machine recognized the added memory immediately, and it works like a charm.

  • March 22, 2003 at 11:11 pm

    to firemedic re: 512 chip and heat..the added heat on that area of the board would not be an issue, however it’s proven time and again cooler is better for overall performance. I am searching for a program to be able to run the fan speed on high when the computer is getting a workout…there was a program for toshiba a while back….I recommend the 512 upgrade…when using your Sotec on your couch or in bed with a pillow on your lap as I do,make sure to place a book or magazine underneath the notebook, as to not block the fan intake or vent. I have forgotten a few times but my nose reminded me! Happy computing!

  • March 23, 2003 at 8:41 am

    commentto mark;thanks for your reply;mark are you familiar with the progi speedfan? I think it may be what you are looking for;tells you the temps and allowws you to adjust fan speed/frequency.good luck

  • March 23, 2003 at 8:42 am

    commentto mark;thanks for your reply;mark are you familiar with the progi speedfan? I think it may be what you are looking for;tells you the temps and allowws you to adjust fan speed/frequency.good luck

  • March 24, 2003 at 9:45 pm

    Hey secondtonoone & elly_34,

    Actually replacing the hard drive on the 820P is quite easy. You just remove the two screws holding the cover in place on the bottom of the laptop. There are a few screws securing a bracket that holds the hard drive in place. Remove the bracket and the drive can be carefully removed.

    This is a lot easear than replacing the hard drive in my older Compaq laptop. I had to take of the wrist rest portion in order to remove the keyboard. The hard drive is located under the keyboard.


    ******** original post below *******
    secondtonoone – … can you upgrade the hard drive? … Can anybody help?
    Sun 02 Mar 2003 @ 22:46:06

    Hey “secondtonoone” I’m sorry to say that you cannot upgrade the harddrive. Well, actually you can but it would be better to buy a new computer…

  • March 26, 2003 at 8:30 pm

    If you are looking for a notebook in this price range, go to your local Wal-Mart and pick one up right now! Wal-Mart has an awesome 90-day return policy. I liked the Sotec, but did not meet my needs…Wal-Mart asked no questions, and refunded my money right there on the spot.

  • March 27, 2003 at 6:11 pm

    I’ve had my 820 since Dec. upgraded the memory to 512 not much difference in performance. No other problems at all and knock on wood I have not heard any noise from the fan at all. Runs fine for only bitch with SOTEC is they said I was out of compliance for the $100 rebate..even though I know I did everything correctly in be appears that it may be a very subjective and technical review on rebate filing.

  • March 29, 2003 at 12:08 am

    Has everyone checked out the dual video on the 3120/23 ? One app on the TFT and another app on a external montor. It rocks. Connect a second monitor and tweak the display properties. (settings, advanced,utilties will get u there.)

  • March 31, 2003 at 8:25 pm

    comment thank anyway, but that progi speedfan does not control fan speed in the sotec…anyone know of one?????

  • April 3, 2003 at 10:14 am

    3123XS I like …I like it !!!

    1) Partition the hard disk half anf half …

    In the first partition Advanced Server 2000 for my

    MCSE classes . Second partition – Win XP Pro .

    Work’s good !

    Thank’s SOTEC for providing the video drivers .

    (Example : most of HP lap tap’s have no video drivers

    for Win 2000) .

    2) Compaq® Mini USB Optical Scroll Mouse

    3) Belkin F5D7010 54g Wireless Notebook Network Card

    4) Belkin F5D7130 54g Wireless Network Access Point

    54G Exstrimely Fast !


    1) Hot Key Buttons for Windows 2000 Server or Pro

    do not work . XP drivers give’s no problem .

    2) Quick launch button lock brocked in the first

    time was carrying in the Notebook Case :

    3) To many trashy programs in the Restore Disk .

    Need only Win XP with drivers . Win XP Home is the

    most ….. OS . Just for the stability of your

    system get the XP Pro .


    Tonight I will try to install the Server 2003 .

    Intresting …

  • April 4, 2003 at 6:59 pm

    First of all, thanks for all the great info. I have definitley found a lot of useful comments in here. I am wondering if anyone has heard anything about Sotec changing their name? I read a press release on Yahoo Finance the other day that Sotec was changing their name to Averatec. I also heard that they have some new products shipping this month with USB 2.0 and XP Pro as an option and some CPU upgrade. Can anyone confirm this info? I have a 3120X now and absolutely love it and can’t wait to see what they come out with next. Thanks!

  • April 5, 2003 at 4:05 pm


    The heat from extra memopry question is interesting. You might not think so, but more memory will allow not only less disk caching in and out, but should also reduce overall CPU usage. Because your programs execute in less time without the need for swapping frames in and out to disk all the time, the CPU works less in managing scheduling and context switching for all the extra IO activity.
    Bottom line: More memory should equal cooler operation.

    I’ve had my Sotec laptop for a week and am extremely impressed with the quality and value.

    Thank you everyone for your comments! This site was the major influence in my final decision to go ahead. Bestbuy appx $800 incl tax after $200 in rebates (I hope).

    I happen to know some stuff about Walmart -> they employ extreme Gestapo tactics to shake-down thier suppliers (and -famously- thier employees). Well, it looks like they quickly figured out that they were being used as a Sotec Demo outlet. They seem to have pulled the product from the shelves and the website. So hey! You don’t get to be a Fortune 50 company selling mountains of mexican-made plastic containers and various other useless landfill by being a good sport about things!

    I guess I won’t be shopping Walmart for my (multi-$K annual) computer purchases any more. But I will keep them in mind if I need some fishing waders, a copy of The Lion King DVD, a 50 gallon bucket of muti-colored popcorn, bulk ravioli, an overstock copy of “The Complete Idiots Guide to Professional Wrestling” or a low-quality shotgun (for repelling communism of course).

  • April 5, 2003 at 5:50 pm

    Interestingly enough, mikeb, Wally World is still selling the 820P online, though the 3120X is indeed gone.

    As to rebate issue, I submitted two rebates: one for $150, one for $50. I received the $150 check without incident, but I got a notice from “Sotec” (aka the Best Buy rebate center) concerning the other. Apparently, I thought there was only one serial number “proof-of-purchase” on the box, so I only sent it with the form for the larger rebate. Looking more closely, the serial number (looks like a bar code) shows up on *both* sides of the box. Duh. Luckily, sending the UPC and the “oops, you messed up” card back should get me my money.

  • April 5, 2003 at 8:14 pm

    I use the laptop all the time, and i love it. best $750 i ever spent. it’s definately the best portable laptop out there right now.

    anyway, for anyone that cares, i just got gentoo linux working on this machine. ok, not “working”, but the install cd booted correctly and the kernel is currently building. gentoo kicks ass! give it a try if you haven’t.

    anyway, i had troubles getting the install cd to boot. if you do, make sure you disable hotplug and scsi… probing for a scsi drive will screw you, so will doing pci hot-plug probes.

  • April 7, 2003 at 6:39 am

    Anybody who added memory to an 820p, can you help with instructions The manual talks about some clips by the screen edge of the clipboard but do you push them down to release them and thus the keyboard. Like to have at least 512 ram


  • April 9, 2003 at 7:17 am

    To add memory to your 820 there is a screw in the bottom dead center where your keyboard is on top. Then flip over the laptop and at the top of the keyboard are three clips. They are hard to see but there is one on each end and one in the center. You will need something thin to get in there and push them back, they are spring loaded so you need to pull up as you release the keyboard.
    By the way I have had a 820P since October and love it, I have ran every major distro of linux with little or no problems (never tested the modem though) I’m currently running Slackware 9 on it with a dual boot of Win2k. The only complaint is the video drivers for both Window and Linux.

  • April 9, 2003 at 11:54 pm

    In response to Steve DeLassus, I got the same card today, and had the same problem – no serial number on the box label. I called them up, ready for a fight, but instead simply read off the serial number on the bottom of the 3120X, and was told to expect a check in a couple of weeks. That’s not fair – I’m still keyed for a fight. If I leave my phone number on this site, will somebody call me just to argue? 🙂

    BTW, I’ve had my Sotec since January 21st, and I’ve had no problems to speak of. Amazing for $750 (after rebates). I was 100% happy with it, until a read a comment here about USB2 and WiFi comming on a new unit. Sigh.


    PS. Great blog.

  • April 10, 2003 at 9:32 am

    Follow-up to the rebate issue: I called up the Sotec rebate line (turned out this rebate *wasn’t* handled by Best Buy but by Averatec/Sotec after all). I’m wondering if they’re getting a bunch of rebate submissions without a serial number. I was told to expect my check to mailed out within 10 days, but they didn’t ask for any further info. Fine by me. I’ve still got until May 4 to mail the serial number back if the rebate rep was mistaken. (I’ll be nice, forget my previous experiences with hotline reps, and not put quotes around “mistaken”. Now, there I’ve gone and done it…)

  • April 13, 2003 at 7:02 pm

    Have the dreaded fan drag after only three weeks, complete with “fan error” at startup.

  • April 13, 2003 at 7:03 pm

    Have the dreaded fan drag after only three weeks, complete with “fan error” at startup.

  • April 13, 2003 at 7:05 pm

    Have the dreaded fan drag after three weeks and it is worse each startup!

  • April 13, 2003 at 7:08 pm

    Sorry for the dupes.

  • April 15, 2003 at 2:26 am

    hey guys, I’ve had my 3120x since Feb. The fan problems started like 2 weeks after I got it. The best thing that works, is to push on the bottem of the fan, through the grill with a paper clip. Push with a bit of force(not too much) and it the sounds will go away. IF that doesnt work, send it in. L8

  • April 16, 2003 at 12:00 am

    My 3120x came with an offer for a free Sotec 32M usb flash disk. Works great for transfering files!
    Problem, the usb disk won’t work on a win98 box. If it came with a driver disk, I lost it. Does anyone know where to get a driver for 98?
    PS. I also had the fan problem (thought it was the HD at first.)Office Depot gave me a new PC without even listening to it.

  • April 16, 2003 at 12:18 pm

    Fan noise is getting worse. I have called sotec for service. They said they will call back. I will put my experience here later. Right now DELL is selling m500 and m600 about $1000, which is about 5 lbs and with 14″ display. Maybe no need to go sotec anymore?

  • April 16, 2003 at 9:24 pm

    Help, any one can provide the address of sotec(averatec) service center? Seems I did not get it correctly.

  • April 18, 2003 at 2:28 pm

    Mark E.

    I think it is true that the flash drive will work only with Win98SE and later. The win98 drivers are here:

    You’ll see two drivers. Look at your flash drive to see which model it is. Mine is the 32M-C.

  • April 19, 2003 at 2:25 pm

    comment I bought an 820p from Bestbuy and it keeps losing the dvd combo drive. Is it something I’m doing or what? I’m new with XP, but come on. When I go into device mgr, the drive is gone! Any thoughts?

  • April 20, 2003 at 11:40 pm

    Well, I want to get the computer but just can´t bring myself to take the leap, sight unseen. Any chance that they’ve fixed the fan problem in the last few months?

  • April 21, 2003 at 8:07 pm

    About to return 3120 to Sotec for fan fix . They claim none have come back after the fix????

  • April 23, 2003 at 1:28 am

    Does anybody know when Averatec will release there laptops and what kind of pricing they will have?

  • April 24, 2003 at 1:03 am

    AVERATECs are already for sale at BestBuy, got the 3120V, Mobile celeron 1.33, 256mb, 30gig HD, DVD-CD Rom ONLY, NO CD-RW, rest same as the 3120X for 649.00 AR Today. Looks good, Good price if you don’t need a burner.

  • April 24, 2003 at 3:17 pm

    comment Any idea about the priceing on 3150p?

  • April 25, 2003 at 9:00 pm

    After spending four hours today trying to Hot Sync my serial Palm with the Palm Serial to USB kit, I’ve found out that the 3120x won’t support many serial to usb applications. Anyone else had this problem and have a workaround? Palm says it’s because the application looks for a COM1 and that you have to set up virtual COM1 in the BIOS, and Sotec says you can’t set one up, because they rely completely on Windows XP to manage devices. Any ideas out there?

  • April 26, 2003 at 10:56 am

    I am a Best Buy employee in St. Pete, FL, and I just purchased the Averatec 3120x yesterday for $799 with $150 in mail-in rebates.

    This model has a Tualatin Celeron @ 1.33, 2×128 Mb PC133 compliant SDRAM, a 30 Gb hard drive, and a DVD-ROM. Since I have the means, motive and opportunity, I’ll be trying out the 512 Mb SODIMM in about 4 days.

    After reading Matt Ettus’s FAQ about running RH 8.0 on a similar model, I installed trouble-free.

    I’m going to try 9.0 later. I noticed that immediately after displaying /sbin/loader, the screen will go white and the laptop will hang. (in 9.0 setup) I suspect that some of the boot options suggested by Matt might help here.

    I’ve had no problems with RH 8. I’m using xine to watch both DVD and VCD movies, can play my favorite linux video game ever (Kohan immortal sovereigns), and I’m getting roughly 2 h 45 m battery life. (based on three cycles of drain/charge on moderate use — web surfing and music playing)

    I’m in the middle of running Averatec’s battery calibration.

    For all the linux folks — who’s using a nice battery monitor?

  • April 26, 2003 at 7:32 pm

    I own an 820p notebook and have had no problems with it. I have had it for about 3 months and it has not crashed once. The one thing I find frustrating is the lack of technical info on removal and upgrades. What I have found through experimentation is that it is very easy to remove the keyboard, upgrade memory, install wireless, and remove/upgrade the hdd. I also found that it is very reassuring that the machine is built with quality components. When I removed the Hdd, I found that I had an IBM travelstar. This is shocking to me because IBM has mst expensive and reliable drives available (speaking from experience that I currently work for IBM technical support) If anyone has any questions about upgrading or feaures e-mail me with the subject line “SOTEC NOTEBOOK”


  • April 26, 2003 at 7:35 pm

    PS – Does anyone know where the tech support is located. Also, add anything notable such as ability to send parts, support skill, understandability, ability to speak english etc.

  • April 26, 2003 at 7:58 pm

    Averatec is in Fremont CA and sounds very much like any other CA Tech company. My 3120 is visiting them now for the fan fix. Thet say they will turn ut around in 72 hours but I had to pay to ship it out there.

  • April 30, 2003 at 11:04 pm

    I am a very happy owner of the Averatec 3150P…it is awesome! You can not slow this thing down or lock it up….WoW! It is the perfect notebook computer…lightweight,powerful and great looking too! Sounds like a Porche..hmmm..The wireless worked plug and play right out of the box and connected to my home network w/a Seimans hub. I took it to my office and it automatically found my lynksys wireless network too! The coolest thing is the custom leather case I modified/engineered. Picture a leather book cover that can fold backwards for a start. Then I added thumbnail sized clear rubber feet that give 1/4 inch clearance for the notebooks bottom to rest on the leather cases bottom. here are the details…

    Ideal to be used for storage or carry your notebook between meetings, this leather cover is designed for your portable convenience. It can be used either as a notebook cover or notebook lap rest when folded backwards and underneath. The case will prevent your notebook from overheating due to covering the fan vents from not being able to breathe. It also has a card holder and an outside pocket for papers, files, accessories etc.

    3 in 1 versatility
    Designed to fit inside your existing notebook carrying case
    Constructed of sleek glove leather
    Scratch-resistant plush interior lining
    Inside the front flap – leather trimmed/acetate business card holder
    Cover provides campus type transport from meeting to meeting
    Can be used inside the cover on both Notebook and reverse mode
    Retractable, snap lock strap to support your system when closed
    Elastic retainers hold notebook snugly
    Durable high quality leather
    Loop for Pen
    Snap on closure strap
    Designed to fit notebooks the size of the Averatec and similar.
    One year limited warranty
    Material: Leather
    Color: Black
    Exterior Dimensions: 12.25″ x 1.65″ x 10″
    Compartment dimensions: 11.5 x 1.4″ x 9.25″
    Weight: 1.66 lb
    If you are interested in this case, you can e-mail me for pictures and pricing.

  • May 2, 2003 at 12:33 am

    Just bought the Sotec (Avertec) 3120 from Best Buy for $799. That’s for the 1.33GHz Cel, 30GB, DVD, 12″. There are three rebates running, $150, $50, and another $50. Just can’t beat $550 for notebook with such fine reviews 🙂

    I’m glad to hear Linux is working, anyone try FreeBSD yet? Otherwise I’ll post back my results when I get the machine.

  • May 13, 2003 at 5:08 pm


    I bought a Sotec 3123 a couple of months ago from Sam’s Club. Only time I hear the fan is when it is started. It stops within a few seconds and then I do not hear it even when the laptop is on for two hours. Is my laptop fan functional?

  • May 13, 2003 at 9:37 pm

    The normal fan is loudest at startup. The “disfunctional” fan makes grinding noise at startup and then quiets. This gets worse over time.

  • May 14, 2003 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks, Bruce.

    I have a further question. What is a way to check whether my laptop fan is working after it is on for about two hours? I will appreciate feedback from someone with experience.


  • May 14, 2003 at 6:40 pm

    The fan is a very low speed when the machine is idling. Flip it over and use flashlight to look into fan port.

  • May 15, 2003 at 1:16 pm


    Thanks again, Bruce.

  • May 16, 2003 at 8:29 pm

    I am currently using the laptop in question and i would have to reccomend it to just about anyone, especialy if you are, as i am, strapped for cash. direct of the sotec website the thing was under 1 grand, and it is faster than my mother’s 1.9 GHZ p4. It is a light little thing, and it responds well to just about everything i throw at it.

    great screen resolution, and just about no problem as far as watching DVDs etc, except that it must be viewed from head on or you cannot really see it. (as in you cannot see the picture when looking from way over to the side)

    ok this is where it can get a little ugly. If you are a perfect typist, then you probably will have little trouble. If you occasionally need the backspace button, but not all the time, like myself, you’ll find yourself annoyed but not infuriated. If you are a just above hunt and peck level typist…. invest in a punching bag cause youll get pretty pissed. The backspace, as well as the other non alphabet buttons are TINY. really freakin tiny… but you can get used to it, and until you screw up the keyboard’s great. the regular text keys are all full size, and all the keys have a nice ruberized feel to them.

    the best touchpad i’ve ever used. has some great features as well as fantastic control. i’ve used a Sony VAIO that was a friends and the damn curson jumped every time i tried to type. this has a really awsome PalmCheck feature that lets the mouse become less sensative to accidental bumps while typing. (can you tell that’s my favorite part?) the other thing i like is virtual scrolling, which is that you dont have to use the scroll bars, but you can glide your finger down the side of the touchpad and the window will scrol up or down, or horizontally if you choose.

    can get irritating that the thing has no legacy drives if you need them, but it does have three USB ports so you’re pretty much covered as far as finding a peripheral to cover the job. Integrated LAN/modem… and also a moniter output…. but that’s it. finito. no mas. this has irritated me at times, but it’s tolerable. especially if all you need the laptop for is business and schoolwork, (which was the plan anyway when i bought it…=P)

    fast fast fast fast fast. this is so much better than any other laptop ive seen. It is a 1.2 GHZ and feels like a 2.2, or at least if you maintain it.

    The battery life says six hours or so, but if you are watching movies, be prepared to plug it in. A 2 hr movie caused me to get the “Save your documents and power down or connect to an alternate power source” warning, which was slightly annoying but considering that the dvd player was working the whole time that’s ok. for tasks not involving the DVD/CD-RW drive (which was standard) the power lasts for substantially longer.

    :OTHER features:
    there are four quickstart buttons which are really quite intruiging, and handy at that. They access internet, search engines, favorite web site, and email prog. it says you cannot configure one or two of them to be whatever you like, but that’s not true. For instance, instead of outlook express for the email, which it said was not changable, i just selected any other executable file, and it would launch that program. There is a simple interface for customizing the quickstart buttons that any windows troll could figure out. the buttons are on the front of the laptop, which i thought would be a problem cause of accidental bumping, but there is a quickstar button lock, which you slide into or out of locked mode, which makes the computer ignore any button pushes, or respond if unlocked. This is very handy especially if you are clumsy like myself.
    another handy feature is an external volume control, like that on a portable cd player…

    here’s where i vent =)

    the dvd/cd-rw drive usually works fine, but sometimes it cannot read a cdr that it just wrote… i cannot explain why. this is not limited to directly after writing it but permenantly =(. other cd drives have read cds which this has happened to, but the Matshita will NOT for unknown reasons probably related to bill gates who causes all computer problems (or is at least a handy scapegoat for any problems that arise while running windows xp which comes installed)

    one other little thing is the fan can get quite loud when the processer is heavily in use, but otherwise the fan will be quiet… only on occassion does it become the CPU-SUPER-FAN and sound like you’re in front of the turbo fan used in the movie twister! (i’m kidding its not that bad… just slightly noticable)

    overall. i like it. i’d suggest it. i’ve told friends to buy it. i hope they do…

    good luck

    the sparkedstar

  • May 17, 2003 at 6:46 pm

    I just found out about Sotec, and am seriously thinking about getting a 3120 – average work-related user – primarily MS Office, Outlook, etc. Maybe Quark, Photoshop. Nothing extravagant. My only concern, as just about everyone points out, is re: the keyboard. I know you can get a USB mouse, so that you don’t have to fool with the one on the laptop. Is there such a thing as getting a USB keyboard to plug in when you’re not traveling (aka at the office), too? I type approx. 80 wpm on a desktop keyboard, so any inefficiency could potentially drive me crazy. Thoughts? Suggestions? Comments? Thanks! Trish.

  • May 19, 2003 at 4:56 pm

    The Fan Problem has kicked into high gear after three months. It is like cans dragging behind a car with you being drug right along with it. I may choose to send it in, but it seems like that has failed for some people. Has anyone tried and successfully fixed the problem using the method on the message board?

  • May 20, 2003 at 3:47 am

    This from another Sotec/Averated forum is a very good illustration of the problem and corrective action. There are also some other Sotec/Averatec forum links provided with the article. It looks like a pretty easy fix.

  • May 20, 2003 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks for the pointer, Dean. Next time the fan gets noisy on me, I’ll weigh the cost of voiding my warranty against getting some peace. 🙂 It does look like a pretty simple fix – just a couple of screwdrivers and some thermal compound for reseating the heat sink.

  • May 23, 2003 at 9:39 am

    comment Yes, thanks Dean.
    I sent mine back and the fix is fine but you have to pay ~$25 to get it there. I wonder if they too, only take off the lugs?

  • May 23, 2003 at 9:08 pm

    I have a question / complaints about my Averatec 3150P: I have it for two days only and one of the 3 USB ports does not work. The HW troubleshooting does not show any problems.
    Any suggestions?

    Also about PC games – I have SimCity, Combat Mission 2, Flight Simulator 2002 installed and running well enough for this small unit (256MB RAM with 32 MB shared Video RAM). The quality and performance is not as good as on my 3-years old desktop Dell, 800 MHz, 512MB RAM, 128MB Video Card, but it is better than I expected.

    So any suggestions about the not working USB port?

    Thank you.


  • May 24, 2003 at 12:42 pm

    Well one of my employees have averatec 3120v with celery 1.3ghz and well fan was making noise for some time and now its totally dead and every time laptop powers up it throws the fan warning and gets so hot it starts to smell, i am trying to figure out if there is a fan replacement anywhere to be bought, i opened it up and they use weird shaped sunon fan, but nowhere on the net does that model show up, has anyone figured any kind of fan replacement ??????

  • May 26, 2003 at 7:28 am

    If it is still under warranty your employees best bet is to send it in.

    (PS, Keep turning it on with a defective fan and the processor wil eventually fail and also possibly damage the mainboard).

  • May 29, 2003 at 1:10 pm

    HOT COMPUTER!! My fan has been acting up for quite some time now. Just recently the computer has been running extremely hot….but the fan is still running. From reading previous posts it looks like a fan defect has been a common problem so I’ll be sending my 3120x in ASAP.

  • May 30, 2003 at 9:25 pm

    I just had a question about the sotec 3120x, My question is basically the walmart in my area is selling theres for $798 and I was just wondering if that i should go and look at office depot and best buy before i buy this one from walmart. And does the ones from walmart come with any type of warranty?

  • June 13, 2003 at 11:47 pm

    commen i hooked up a deluo usb gps to my 3120 and it work awsume, it has the usb/ serial converter right on the cable

  • August 17, 2003 at 2:31 pm

    My 3123sx runs a bit hot but am happy with the overall package. fan is still working fine. can hear the hard drive when spinning up like the head is draging. also i have never burned a cd before and wish what blank disks i should buy. speed and all that is not in any info i have found for my machine. disks are 2x or 10x or that stuff and also cdr or cdrw. i have the cdrw i think but do not know the speed of cd rw to buy. Please help

    over all this is a good package for the price

    please email cdrw speed i should buy as i might not find this page again

  • August 19, 2003 at 8:45 am

    i guess this BB is dead now. or all are on vacation or still sleeping all month long.

  • August 24, 2003 at 3:26 pm

    I had the same fan noise problem with Sotec. I opened it up. After unscrewing the fan from casing, I noticed metal case was scraped by fan blade. Fan blade tilts and wobbles. I used computer screw washers to pull fan blade away from casing. It has been quiet since. I will let yall know if it comes back. But seems like problem solved. If you do it yourself, don’t fry mother board with static electricity. And don’t pull static sticker. It is a unscrew and assemble process.

  • September 22, 2003 at 2:31 pm

    Well I did love that Sotec.
    I crushed the screen from the outside, and now there is a big black starfish in the middle.
    Virtually no chance for parts for repair. Any Ideas?
    Anyone want to sell me a shell of a sotec 3120x with a working screen?

    I use it as my “Inside the Desk Drawer top” now.
    I did get to ride a train and watch a movie 1 time though.

    Upside: There are even nicer Averatec’s going pretty cheap at Staples, I just can’t pony up again this year.

  • October 8, 2003 at 1:59 pm

    I have a Sotec 3120x and I decided for the heck of it to go ahead and buy a 512 RAM chip and throw it in. It works great so the 300 something max on RAM is bull. I also just bough a 60 gig HDD that I’m planning on installing tonight. I think it will work.

  • October 9, 2003 at 2:33 am

    FYI – Regards any Sotec memory limits – the issue has been discussed many times on the various Sotec/Averatec boards, the limitation was set not because of limitations on the bus but because the available 512 sodimms (at the time the Sotec was first being produced) were too thick to fit properly in the notebook. Soon after the Sotec’s introduction, “low profile” 512 sodimms became available (which now seem to be the norm) and no one has had any problems w/ 512 chips since (ie heat or other associated problems) Regards installing any other hardware upgrades – generally – if the power supply can handle it and it doesn’t generate extra heat – they seem to work fine. Larger hardrives have been installed – though to date I have yet to see any reports of successfully upgrading the processor.

  • October 24, 2003 at 1:07 pm

    3120 FAN UPDATE
    A couple of weekends ago, the fan noise on my 3120 became so annoying that I got off my lazy butt and followed the directions that Dean pointed to earlier (here). The part of the heat sink enclosing the fan was scraped quite badly. Per the instructions, I made sure the fan impeller was seated, and tried to file down the manufacturing defects that cause the fan noise. I didn’t have any spacers handy to give the fan some headroom, as I’d have liked. Sure enough, when I reassembled everything, I still had noise.

    So I ventured into the wild, and after visiting three stores (the first two being mega-centers with mini-selections), I found a couple of very thin vinyl washers. I needed three, but the remounted fan wasn’t going anywhere. When it was all said and done, my fan is barely audible anymore. Peace at last!

    The procedure isn’t that tough, and the only thing I was in the least bit concerned about damaging was the cover over the back quarter of the case that needs to be removed. I’d strongly suggest getting spacers to offset the fan from the housing, though. It was the difference-maker in my case.

  • October 25, 2003 at 4:56 am

    For those intereseted. One of the dedicated Sotec/Averatec forums can be found at:

    Under “General Sotec Topics” the administrator keeps a couple of fan related threads at the top. The instructions have been updated some if you haven’t looked lately. Also one thread tells you how to order a new fan if needed. Generally a helpful place for 3120 owners and now the newer Averatec model. (for those who might not know Averatec took over Sotec America operations though you can still order Sotec products from the web site

  • November 10, 2003 at 6:23 pm

    Have a Sotec 820P, purchased new from Wal-Mart on Sat, 11/08/2003, brand new mind you, and wouldn’t you that it refuses to power on until after 1-2 minutes (this is not hot-air; I timed it) of “playing” with the button. When she starts, I LOVE IT, but this power issue is a pain in the bottom. Called Sotec, and yep it’s under warranty, but shipping is the issue. WalMart has no more (go figure) so this is the question(s): anyone else experience this problem? Short of FEDEXing the thing to CA, any suggestions, fixes (BIOS maybe??), ideas or comments? Love the computer (even with the friggin fan noise) and would very much like to keep it…

    Thanks all.

  • November 11, 2003 at 3:02 am

    Not to depress you but I’ve seen very few posts on the 820 on any of the Sotec (now Averatec) web forums and I’ve been following them for about 10 months. There may be more in some newsgroup but I haven’t checked. That said I have a Sotec 3120 and many people had comments on the funny power-on button. It’s a bit of a finese issue. The usual method was push the button down, hold, a quick count to 3, and then release. That usually worked. A quick “tap” never worked, pushing the button harder never worked (and could damage the machine). I didn’t think the 820 was made anymore so you may in fact have one that was left in inventory. (Averatec took over Sotec-America and has updated the entire line) It may help you generally to look over the old posts at the following link. Be sure to go to the “Old-Forum” which has been archived and is now read only. Good Luck.

  • November 23, 2003 at 11:44 pm


    Thanks for the info… I have searched and seareched and have found nothing but the information that you posted, I think, has put me on the right path.

    Sent the machine in to repair, since I was still under warranty, and as of today, 11/23/03, am without the machine. Funny, but with everything that the machine offers, and all the positives that I had read prior to purchase, I thought that I had made a good investment.


  • November 28, 2003 at 5:05 pm

    I am posting this for a friend but he came to me asking if the hard drive in his Sotec 820p can be upgraded to anything larger then a 20 or 30 gig. The research I have done on Hitachi’s website says yes but trying to find motherboard info on this little machine is a pain. If any one has done a HD swap for a more space please get back. That 80gig looks really nice.

  • November 29, 2003 at 9:27 am

    As noted in the last set of messages, there isn’t much info out in the forums on the Sotec 820. Reportedly the old 3120x used a mobo from Twinhead, a company which manufactures laptops for many of the bigger name brands and house brands for some stores. I would guess there’s a good chance the 820 used a Twinhead mobo as well. As for installing larger HDs, several people have reported doing it in the 3120 without any big problems noted but as for the 820 -???. There are 3 “main” dedicated Sotec/Averatec forums that I know of, you might try posting there, even in the 3120/3150 areas because maybe someone knows someone who knows. Good Luck

    The last link is locked and for info only, but it goes back to the pre-Averatec, Sotec days and you might find something useful. Unfortunately you still won’t find much specifically on the 820. The Sotecs/Averatecs were mainly popular for their small size and price. The larger models, even though they were/are a decent value don’t seem to compete as well with the lower end name brands

  • December 1, 2003 at 1:35 pm

    Anyone check out the new Medion laptops? Thoughts?

  • December 10, 2003 at 1:00 am

    Wondering about my 3120
    Hmm .. After taking a close look at the socket
    i seen it was a socket 479 not p-3 370
    i took cpu out it is a socket 478
    i looked up the SIS 630 chipset . supports both P3 & P4
    cpu’s , one fallback for laptop 133 fsb.
    a Pentium 4 mobile cpu will fit on the sotec 3120
    but will it work . bios has no fsb toggle and no firmware as yet to change it.
    has anyone tried ?

  • December 11, 2003 at 7:13 pm

    We bought my daughter a Sotec 3120X and she loves it, however,the flip-out door on the modem requires her to plug the jack in at an angle. It is very fragile and broke off. Any ideas, suggestions on replacing it? Install mew modem? buy new phone jack? Help, I’m a non-techie! Thanks.

  • December 23, 2003 at 4:39 am

    I have an 820p sotec and having the following problem recently: it takes the computer 6 minutes to start after I press the power button! then, I find out after each time I turn off the computer, the CMOS date/time changes back to November 1, 2001!!
    any suggestions any one?

  • December 27, 2003 at 2:18 pm

    If it was a desk top, I’d say your CMOS battery (generally a watch type battery roughly the size of a nickel but not as thick, located on the Mobo) has died and the system is booting off whatever defaults were burned into the chip. I haven’t used many laptops so I’m not sure if they use the same setup or if it’s fixable with out opening up the case. This doesn’t sound like a Sotec unique problem – suggest asking someone familiar w/ laptops who may have seen this problem before. or call Averatec (company that replaced Sotec) tech support, number available at their web site.

  • January 18, 2004 at 7:07 pm

    Answer Bill’s Question
    I have the same problem in last week.
    I just change a battery for it. The battery is CR 1220. If your 820p out of their warranty, it is easy to change a battery, otherwis, it is a little bit hard to do it without broken that warranty tag. Anyway, I made it.
    I will write detial later, or you ca email me, we can discuss it.

  • February 10, 2006 at 11:19 pm

    I couldn’t resist. My wife’s Sotex 3120 laptop from Office Depot is still running strong. The only problem we’ve ever had is the intermittent fan noise, but it’s never overheated or had any problems. It’s great when we go on vacation because it takes up a heckuva lot less space and it’s so light. At home, a USB keyboard solves the tiny keyboard issue.

    • January 31, 2007 at 2:22 pm

      Well the fan on her Sotec X3120 finally died a few months ago. After most of the good information had fallen off the web, I still found two resources. One was an eBay vendor wanting $25 plus shipping/handling. The other was someone who recommended Allied Electronics. They have the SunOn MagLev fan for $18 plus tax and $7 shipping/handling. Their part number is 997-0006 The SunOn model number is 054010VH-8 MS.V1.M.B24

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: