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DIY and expansion capabilities
All right, so it's a DIY notebook. Just how hard is it to set it up yourself?

Six screws keep the Neutrino's guts safe from prying eyes, with the cover coming off as one solid piece. As you would hope from a netbook that's designed to be tinkered with, the Neutrino's internal layout is extremely easy to access.

The Neutrino uses a drive sled to keep the user's chosen storage device in place. Simply use the included screws to attach your drive to the sled, and then just slide it into place. The exterior screws that hold the cover down keep the drive from moving around, as well.

You're free to use any 2.5" SATA drive you can get your hands on, whether it's a leftover from a previous upgrade or a state-of-the-art SSD. Unless you happen to find a killer deal, new laptop hard drives tend to start at around $50 and go up from there.

Installing RAM in the Neutrino is the same process as in just about any modern laptop. Since this is a netbook, though, you'll only find room for a single SO-DIMM with a size up to 2GB. If you don't have any spare SO-DIMMs lying around, 2GB of DDR2 should set you back around $20.

Well here's an interesting design choice. Along with the aforementioned ExpressCard/34 slot, OCZ provides us with an easily accessible Mini PCI Express slot designed for an HSDPA or WiMAX broadband adapter. The Neutrino even has a pre-installed spare antenna, with leads provided right next to the Mini PCIe slot. There's also a socket for a requisite SIM card.

Aw, look at that! It's a little doggy door for a SIM card—how cute. I've been known to swap between multiple SIM cards while traveling, so easy access to the Neutrino's SIM card area is a useful addition. There's only one problem: you need a screwdriver to get it open. I don't know about you, but I don't keep a miniature Phillips-head screwdriver on me while I travel. A simple latch would get the job done just as well.

Getting started
Once you've got all of your hardware installed, you may turn to the documentation to figure out how to get an operating system onto this bad boy. After all, plenty of us have installed hardware before, but not everyone's had to install an OS on a system without an optical drive. The Neutrino comes with two pieces of documentation: an installation guide and a quick-setup guide. Thumbing through the former, you'll realize it only deals with installing a hard drive and RAM, which you've already completed. On to the quick setup guide, of which I will provide the Cliffs Notes version below:

  • "Step 1: installing the battery pack." Well, I didn't need instructions on how to do that, but thanks.
  • "Step 2: plugging the power cable." All right, that one I really didn't need instructions for.
  • "Step 3: opening the display panel." Are you making fun of me?
  • "Step 4: turning on the Neutrino netbook." Let me guess: you press the power button!

That's it. That's where the quick start guide ends. There's no "Step 5: how to install an operating system;" no "Step 5: apply directly to the forehead;" not even a "Step 5: Google!" OCZ provides instructions for the most simple actions, but it neglects to tell you how to get an OS on the thing. In fact, the documentation doesn't even mention an operating system.

The only hints you'll get are in the driver CD, which contains a folder called "WinXP," and on the box, which says "Windows XP & Vista Compatible." There's also no mention of needing an external optical drive or even a USB thumb drive to get your system off of the ground. Maybe they think enthusiasts will figure it out (which they probably will), but if that's the case, why include the simplistic quick start guide at all?