Gadgets from a flea market: why buy a 20-year-old Packard Bell laptop for 10 euros

    The other day, at a local Granada flea market, I came across an unusual laptop. It was very thick, it was sold with its own documents (manual, warranty, etc.) and had a Windows XP sticker, which indicated that it belonged to the 21st century.

    A little bargaining, I bought this laptop for 10 euros and brought home. At the weekend I decided to figure out what constitutes a miracle of technology, and in the sequel - the results of the study. Many pictures, including pictures of electronic insides - are available.

    There were two Packard Bell EasyOne Silver models: one with 256 MB of RAM and a 1 GHz Intel Celeron processor, the second with 128 MB of memory and a 1 GHz Intel Pentium III-M processor. I got the second model, but with an increased amount of RAM (256 MB).


    • Model Name: Packard Bell Easy One Silver 3100 DVD
    • Dimensions: 31 cm x 26.5 cm x 4 cm
    • Weight: 3.4 kg (according to the sensations - 6 kilograms, no less)
    • Processor: Intel Pentium III-M 1 GHz
    • Cache: 256 KB, L2 Cache, Advanced Transfer Cache
    • RAM: 256 MB / 384 MB (max), SDRAM, 133 MHz
    • Floppy Drive: 3.5 "1.44 MB
    • Hard Drive: 20 GB
    • DVD ROM
    • Display: 14.1 "TFT 1024 x 768 (XGA)
    • Modem: 56 Kbps
    • Battery: nickel, capacity 4400 mAh.
    • Work time: up to 2 hours
    • OS: Microsoft Windows XP Mediacenter Edition

    This is what the laptop I bought looks like.

    And this is a photo of the documents that came with it. Here is an illustrated manual for quick setup, a more detailed multi-page manual and instructions for caring for the battery and using the laptop itself.

    Unfortunately, I did not get the XP disc, but there is a licensed OS code on the label.

    Surprisingly, the laptop turned out to be fully operational - everything works from sound (it is VERY LOUD, perhaps due to the thickness of the device and the size of the speakers) to a DVD drive. Unfortunately, the battery turned out to be a weak link. For 20 years of work, she stopped holding a charge (autonomy - 50 seconds, no more).

    The laptop did not turn on immediately. It turned out that the BIOS battery was also discharged, which is not surprising - the device lived a long life. Windows XP booted normally, it turned out that it works quite fast, like all other software. However, once I did catch a BSOD.


    Packard Bell EasyOne Silver, like many other models of the time, has the ability to control some functions using specialized buttons displayed on the panel. Basically, this is music playback control, although there is a button on the front panel that calls the mail client. Convenience is dubious, but in the 2000s it was fashionable.

    A wheel volume control is also displayed on the left side - this is the first time I see this on a laptop. Usually all this is implemented with buttons, but the developers decided to do their own thing.


    She was comfortable. Surprised that the keys are translucent - under the plastic, the keyboard components are clearly visible. Unusually. The paint from the keys has not been erased for all the long years of operation. In general, the laptop itself is very high quality, the details are fitted tightly to each other and even after 20 years they do not creak.


    DVD in those years was not yet commonplace, so the ability to watch movies directly on your own laptop was cool. The drive turned out to be working, he read a couple of disks.

    It turned out a little worse with the FDD drive. Someone shoved business cards into it. I already thought that the drive was not working, but decided to check. He took out all the business cards, looked at whether everything was at first glance intact in the drive and began to look for floppy disks. There were three floppy disks. Two of them turned out to be working and showed files stored for many years.


    Unfortunately, the laptop does not have an Ethernet port, and there is no WiFi or Bluetooth either. But on the other hand, I managed to find a Wi-Fi card in PCMCI storage rooms, which installed without problems. It was possible to connect to the local network, but not to the Internet.

    The card software allows you to select various work profiles, with and without encryption, with and without authorization. But, probably, just the card is incompatible with modern WiFi standards, because it is a model with a maximum connection speed of 11 Mbps (manufacturer EZ Connect).

    I went through several configuration options, but it didn’t lead to anything. Home devices pinged, but Packard Bell refused to go online.

    I went the other way - I took a modern USB WiFi dongle with support for a / b / g / n networks (in the photo below) and inserted it into a laptop. Naturally, he decided, but XP did not find drivers for him. But, fortunately, I still have the installation CD for Aqprox (manufacturer of the dongle). I inserted it into my native DVD and automatically took part in the new quest “read the CD” - the drive did not want to see the CD.

    And here the LG external drive came to the rescue, which I also found.

    This one was detected immediately and XP saw the disk. The system picked up the drivers, and a WiFi network appeared on the laptop.

    I had the opportunity to contemplate the Internet since Internet Explorer 6.0.

    Here is what he looks like (photo). Yes, Habr refused to open.

    It was possible to go only to and search for the Habr page through this search engine. Here are the results:

    And here is an attempt to translate the Habr page into Spanish using Bing.

    Neither Yandex nor Google opened.

    My old site opened halfway, the top of which looks as it should. IE 6 could not cope with the second half.

    Well, here’s what the attempt to download Firefox ended with:

    Then I tried to download old versions of Firefox to a USB flash drive and installed from it, but the installer required a newer processor, so this attempt was unsuccessful.

    Obviously, this laptop is clearly not suitable as an Internet station. It is quite working, it can be used as a typewriter (although not very convenient) or for playing old-school titles. Purely from a practical point of view, it is useless, because it is hopelessly outdated morally.

    Thermal paste cooling and replacement

    The fan was already very noisy. I decided to disassemble, clean and replace the thermal grease. A detailed analysis is in the video (in general, initially I planned to replace the HDD with a more capacious one, but it turned out that the installed hard drive is not SATA, but IDE. I do not have such hard drives). The cooling system is still very simple, the cooler itself is mounted in a metal radiator, which covers the processor. If you remove the cooler with a radiator, you get access to the processor, everything is simple.

    After I cleaned the system, the laptop became much quieter. Yes, and active cooling is turned on less often than before - apparently, the replacement of thermal paste helped.

    Here is a video with the analysis of the laptop to the processor and a small overview of the device.

    What is an old laptop good for?

    The laptop is very high quality, it looks if not new, then not too exploited. But, unfortunately, this applies only to the physical condition. It has become obsolete many years ago. It can be used for teaching children to work on a PC (it’s okay if they break something) or for typing and playing music. For something else, this machine is hardly suitable - both because there are no network connection interfaces, and because the laptop is already very heavy.

    What else can you buy at a Spanish flea market?

    Anything. I go there every Saturday, sometimes very interesting devices come across. So, relatively recently I bought a fully working external TB MyBook 3 TB HDD from Western Digital for 10 euros. The seller did not know what it was.

    Recently I came across a laptop without an HP Pavilion battery with Intel Core i3 and 8 GB of RAM for 70 euros. I bought a battery for 16 euros and now there is another laptop on the farm for solving common problems.

    Often come across hard drives - both for laptops and desktops. They are sold at 3-5 euros for 500 GB - 1 TB. But there is already a lottery, sometimes the disks turn out to be inoperative. But just a week ago I bought a working 500 GB HDD for a laptop for 2 euros. So the game in most cases is still worth the candle.

    And here is the flea market itself.

    If one of Habr’s readers lives in Spain and for some reason you need such a machine - write, I’ll send it. Delivery to other countries will be expensive, because the gadget weighs a lot.

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