Scott Hanselman

My next PC will be an Ultrabook

December 4, '12 Comments [114] Posted in Reviews
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Darn it all. I didn't want to like this little computer. I've always been a "MOAR POWER" laptop user. For me, laptops are desktop replacements. It's less about the carrying and more about the "setting up in a remote place and having all the power of your desktop." My main laptop has been a Lenovo W520 for years. It's got dual SSDs, 8 (logical) processors and 16 gigs of RAM.

But lately I haven't even turned it on. I have a MacBook Pro but it also goes unused. I've been using this little Intel Ultrabook prototype near-exclusively for months and I've gotten to the point where I've decided that my next machine will be ultralight.

The Good

  • You really can get good power and responsiveness out of a 3lb machine.
  • Don't knock a touchscreen until you've used one. Every laptop should (and will) have a touch screen in a year. Mark my words. This nonsense about how your arm will hurt assumes that you're only using it. A touchscreen is complementary not primary. I use it for pinching, for scrolling web pages, and for launching apps. It's much faster to just touch the icon than to mouse over to click one.
  • Not thinking about memory. I am shocked but I have only 4 gigs of RAM on this machine. I didn't think that would be enough to get anything done. However, I've been able to run Hyper-V VMs, do Windows Phone 8 development, run multiple copies of Visual Studio along with Outlook and have had no problems. I think that a fast SSD along with a fast processor as well as an OS that manages memory more aggressively (Windows 8) adds up to a situation where anything around 4 gigs is sufficient, even for me.

The Bad

  • Flaky drivers. As I said, I'm using a hardware prototype but the drivers for this device are flaky. The WiFi and WebCam are both goofy and a little unreliable. I'm not worried about it and neither have really caused me any trouble other than a reboot twice a week.
  • Mini HDMI. I find the lack of a proper VGA port to be irritating and mini HDMI just isn't physically strong enough to support the dongles I need for presenting and I am always worried I'll one day break the port.

That's about it. Otherwise my experience with an Ultrabook has been rock solid.

Two of the machines I'm looking at getting are one of these.

The Acer S7. Small, light, touchscreen, backlit keyboard, cool on the lap.

S7-Benefit-images-1

The Lenovo Ideapad Yoga. It has a hinge that supports a use as regular laptop, a tablet, a stand (or as a "tent") for movies on a plane or presentations. I'm leaning in this direction.

ideapad-lenovo-ideapad-yoga-13,P-X-356037-13

I'll want to get an i7 rather than an i5 processor. If possible I will want a 1080p display, so I'm hoping the Yoga adds screen resolution, although, I've been running 1600x900 on this Intel and it seems OK. I just like the idea of 1080p and True HD.

The Surface Pro (with Type Cover). The Touch Cover is cute, but I want a laptop more than I want a tablet. This device has the benefits of being a 1080p screen, runs all my Windows apps. It's an i5 which gives me pause, although it's only 2 lbs.

3286.Surface_Pro.jpg-550x0

What Ultrabooks are you looking at?

Related Links

Disclosure of Material Connection: Intel sent me this Ultrabook for free in the hope that I would review it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I I would use and think you would find useful. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:41:09 PM UTC
Dell XPS 12" because it makes a reasonable tablet at least for use in bed. Also it is the only ultrabook currently available in Bulgaria with 8GB of RAM
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:41:41 PM UTC
I have the Acer Aspire S7, here's my thoughts until I write a full review:

Good
1. Size & weight - about perfect size for regular travel
2. Screen - size and 1080p resolution nice for 13"
3. Touch - 10-finger touch capability is responsive
4. Keyboard - Nice to type on, has a proper delete key
5. Finish - Very slick machine and packaging
6. Accessories - Comes with VGA, Ethernet and case


Bad
1. Battery - doesn't last very long, about 2.5h
2. Keyboard back-light - comes on every time out of suspend
3. Power button - gets hit almost every time I pick it up
4. Fans - loud and on even when it's not very warm
5. RAM - stuck at 4GB too really want 8GB
6. Screen - far too shiny
7. Keyboard Fn - can switch off trackpad, WiFi and shut down machine too easily without notice
8. Keyboard - No function keys means Fn + numbers
9. Trackpad - Too unpredictable to me, had to turn off most of options


[)amien
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:45:32 PM UTC
Another problem with Ultrabooks (besides being limited to 4GB or 8GB of RAM), is that they usually have a 128GB proprietary SSD that you often cannot upgrade. A few do come with a 256GB SSD.

They also usually have a low-voltage version of whatever Core i7 or i5 processor (with a U suffix in the model number), which helps battery life at the expense of performance.

I still like "thin and light" notebooks (like a Toshiba Portege or a Sony Vaio Z) at little better.

I am hoping the Haswell-based Ultrabooks will be better, starting in Q1/Q2 2013
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:46:54 PM UTC
Glenn - Good point. I really would rather have a 256gig SSD. And also a good reminder to wait for the Haswells.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:47:21 PM UTC
If you're getting an Ultrabook, can I have that W520?? :-D
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:49:56 PM UTC
My next PC will be a huge great full-tower monstrosity with as many latest-generation chips as I can cram into its capacious slots.

My next laptop will be an Ultrabook which I will use almost exclusively to RDP into the monstrosity.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:52:20 PM UTC
I also have the Acer Aspire S7, and I love it. Quiet, cool, perfect size and weight. It supposedly comes with a VGA adapter (although mine seemed to be missing and I didn't care enough to complain). Full 1080 HD. The screen hinge is very stiff too, so the screen doesn't give much when you're touching it.

The main thing I don't like about it is the lack of dedicated function keys, which makes a lot of hotkeys more complicated, and the terrible touchpad (which is less of an issue since it includes both a touchscreen and a mouse).
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:52:37 PM UTC
As a developer, at the end of the day, all I need my computer to do is access the internet, edit text files, and build code. I'm no different from the soccer mom that only uses her laptop for Facebook and email. I'm not running Photoshop, Final Cut Pro or playing games.
jinushaun
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:52:56 PM UTC
I agree Scott, my next laptop will be a Ultrabook too. I can't commit to a tablet only for most of my tasks. I guess I depend on the keyboard too much.

For what it is worth, this is so what what I've decided in my limited research:

- Lenovo Yogo:

I've checked out the Lenovo Yoga, and while the tent feature is fine, the tablet feature is weird as you are constantly holding on the keyboard and keys when it is in tablet mode. The keyboard is disabled mind you but again it just doesn't make it comfortable to hold. Also the keyboard isn't like the ThinkPads we are used to (I have a W510).

- Lenovo Twist:

I am interested in this laptop, but it is only a 12" option. If that changes, I will really consider this a go.

- Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch:

I think this will be my next purchase as long as I have some hands on experience with it. I used a Series 9 Ultrabook and I must say I am impressed. Mind you that costs 1500 at the time.

As long as I can get Visual Studio 2012 running with a good resolution so I can get those long statements on the screen I'll be happy.
Rick Seenarine
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:55:06 PM UTC
Two questions:

1. Doesn't the 13 inch screen bother you? That's terribly small. If I were to get one of these as my main development machine, it just wouldn't be enough real-estate for me on a daily basis.

2. Have you considered a USB / VGA adapter to solve the display issue? Try something like this: http://amzn.to/TMEZmQ
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 8:58:28 PM UTC
I'm amazed! I use my laptop in a very similar manner, and I'm shocked that you can get away with 4GB. My current laptop has 20GB, but I'm not running Hyper-V. I may have to pull the trigger and do that upgrade.

What about monitors? The biggest thing I miss when I am not docked at home is my second (and third) monitor. I have tried solutions like DisplayLink/Airdisplay/iDisplay to make my iPad function as a second monitor when I am away from home. But I have not had a lot of success with that. What do you do when away from home? Do you have a solution for a second monitor??

Thanks,
Rick
Rick Arthur
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:02:43 PM UTC
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, the one I really like is the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A-DB71 which seems to coincide with the ideal configuration you described, and I probably should get it before Apple sues them (the design looks pretty much like the macbook air).
Juan Calcagno
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:08:39 PM UTC
Rick - I am able to run a 24" monitor without any trouble using the mini HTMI, so that gets me two monitors right there, using the external PLUS the built-in LCD.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:09:54 PM UTC
Scott, I have the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 and it has replaced all my development machines. I was quite surprised that just 4 gigs of RAM would do this with an i5 processor.

Carl
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:14:13 PM UTC
Scott, I've got my heart set on an ultrabook that HP isn't really promoting, the 15t-4000.

i7, 8GB RAM, platter drive that I'm replacing with a 256-512GB SSD, 15" 1080P touchscreen, 5+ hrs of battery life. Really my perfect laptop.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:14:35 PM UTC
Recently I have bought Asus U500V (Zenbook). It's not a ultrabook per se, but it rocks:
Quad i7
8GB
NVidia 650M, 2Gb
512Gb SSD (2 x 256Gb, RAID 0)
15.6 Full HD IPS, mat!
Audio Bang & Olufsen + sub woofer

~4.5h browsing/movies
~4.4lb
Alex
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:14:44 PM UTC
Sorry, but one geek to another, I have to ask, have you been living under a rock? :)

Starting with the Macbook air, a lot of portables in that category have been performing amazingly well. The Asus zenbook (bar it's trackpad), the samsung 9 series and so on.

Also, are you sure you'll need an i7? Especially after the Haswell/Crystalwell CPUs start coming out next year?
Aniket
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:26:54 PM UTC
Doesn't that 24" monitor make your computer bag a little heavy? ;)

I was actually thinking of a portable solution that is usable on the road: in the hotel room, in the speakers lounge, or where ever you happen to be. I'm looking purchasing a portable USB monitor, but it seems a shame that there are no good iPad based solutions. I hate to carry yet another screen.
Rick Arthur
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:27:37 PM UTC
I bought ASUS VivoBook X202E Touchscreen for $499 from Microsoft Store. It's perfect as a home computer. 11.5" screen, weighs about 3 lbs. Although it runs on Intel i-3 processor, it doesn't feel under-powered. Certainly better than Surface RT.
Mahesh
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:36:56 PM UTC
It's very simple, and no real choice for me:

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:36:57 PM UTC
I am waiting with baited breath for the Surface Pro. Based on the specs it looks like it will fit into my life with the grace of an iPad and the portable work-ability of the MacBook Air. I do hope it will allow the base RAM and SSD to be upgraded, but I'm glad you addressed you impressions of 4gb with an SSD.

I have heard good things about the Yoga, but I have concerns about the outward facing keyboard in tablet mode vs. the ability of the surface to simply detach the keyboard.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:39:12 PM UTC
Currently I'm using the Samsung Series 9, a predecessor of the editions currently available. However, this doesn't have touch...
My next one will be either the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Touch with 8 GB RAM, 1,600x900 resolution, 256 GB SSD, or the HP SpectreXT Touchsmart 15-4000
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:40:47 PM UTC
The only thing I don't like about the Lenovo Yoga is that when it's in "tablet mode" the keys are heading to the holding hand(s) :( Other than that it looks very promising, I was also considering to buy one.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:42:18 PM UTC
+1 for Asus U500/UX51

Asus did terrible job releasing this one, and as far as I concern (source) it have some fan issues, but currently it has best specs (US)

1. There will be touch screen available.
2. 512 GB SSD (unfortunately only in RAID 0 (2x256))
3. NVIDIA 650M 1920x1080 2 GB
4. Matte screen (may be different for touch screen version)
5. Limited to 12 GB RAM (I do not understand why nowadays one will solder 4GB plank to the MB instead of 8 GB)
6. i7-3610

IMHO right now this one simply the best.

I hope that Lenovo, HP and others will release something compatible to drive prices down and specs up. Or maybe they will deside to wait for Haswell and will continute for now to release 1366 x 768 mainstream.
Andrei
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:43:14 PM UTC
Given the finite number of writes that a SSD can handle, are you going to significantly shorten the life of your SSD by aggressively using it for swap given the lack of RAM/RAM hungry apps in use?
aa
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:43:19 PM UTC
I have a "thin and light" Sony Vaio and although it is indeed thin and light it has a horrible keyboard. Surprisingly, I can tolerate most other things but a poor keyboard layout kills a programmer.

Above all review the keyboard layout and make sure it works for you if you plan on using it a lot...
Aaron King
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:44:55 PM UTC
aa - SSDs last longer than folks realize and with TRIM support built into Windows 8 it's largely a non-issue in my experience.

Peterfoldi - Doesn't the Yoga disable the keyboard in tablet mode?
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:53:26 PM UTC
I expect my next machine to be a MacBook Air but I am waiting as long as I can before upgrading so I can get as much performance as possible for the money. So far my 2010 MacBook Pro is getting the job done and going strong (I've upgraded it to an SSD and maxed the RAM) so I doubt I will be doing any upgrading in the near future although my laptops have a history of dying right around the 2yr mark and I am about a month past that so I'd be lying if I said I wasn't getting a little worried.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:55:47 PM UTC
SSD write limitations are a complete non-issue. I stuck an SSD in my development server (with significantly higher-than-average write loads caused by encoding and shuffling around sizable media files daily as part of a build process) a year and a half ago and it's still reporting 98% life remaining.

Frankly I'm more worried about one of my spinning discs of rust breaking down. You rarely get circa 50 years' advance notice on that.
Timothy Fries
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:56:57 PM UTC
I've been using a Samsung Series 9 with 6GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD exclusively as my main machine for more than a year. Loving it. It's pre-ultrabook but pretty much the same idea: very light and thin laptop with great perf. Wouldn't go back. Next one probably an ultrabook as well.
(still unable to comment on your blog from Chrome btw, fails silently)
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 9:57:04 PM UTC
I have been using the Samsung Series 7 Slate since June; always with some flavor of Win8 on it. I also use a W520 here at work.

My slate does not have a built in keyboard, no vga, has only 4 gigs of ram, an i5, is noisy as hell, and has a battery life of like 4 hours. But... the fact that I can actually take notes in OneNote using a Wacom stylus = heaven for me.

It can run multiple copies of VS2012 and the WP8 emulator just fine. But I won't buy another tablet/computer/ultrabook unless it has the same Wacom support.
Luke Sigler
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:02:38 PM UTC
Here's the only sticking point for me so far: they only support 1 external monitor. I'd love to be able to connect it up to a dock-like system when I'm at my desk where I have 2 x 24" monitors. Without using a USB to DVI converter which definitely aren't a 100% solution.
Jordan
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:10:55 PM UTC
I hate plugging in a mess of cables when I sit down at my desk. I want a real keyboard, mouse, dual monitors, and gigabit ethernet. That usually meant buying a business laptop like a Latitude with a docking station solution.

But with USB 3.0 there's enough bandwidth there for a one plug solution. Asus, Lenovo and others now have USB 3.0 docking stations with dual monitors(DVI and HDMI ports) and gigabit ethernet.

Steve Sheldon
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:37:19 PM UTC
I ordered a Lenovo Yoga 13 with an i7, 256GB SSD, and 8GB or RAM. Sweet machine -- only problem is, the expected shipping date is 1/25/2013! That's a full 2 months after my order date. Sheesh!
Jason Williams
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:37:25 PM UTC
Been using W520 for over a year...running VS2010 and EClipse..recently got a 15 MBP Retina Display and boy this swallows that W520....and in size?! the radiator of W520 is ticker than the whole W520 tickness! damn!
Bobak
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:43:28 PM UTC
ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A is a Core i7 (not sure if it's dual or quad core), 4gb RAM, 256GB SSD, 13.3" 1080p IPS screen and a backlit keyboard.
I. Fracking. Love. It.

There's also a 15.4" Zenbook Touch available for pre-order as well that adds in a touchscreen.

Also waiting to see what the Surface Pro & HP ElitePad 900 w/keyboard "jacket" is like in January.
Mark
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:50:11 PM UTC
The macbook air has:
8 gigs of memory
512 gigs of SSD
an i7 processor
and will support 2 27 inch Thunderbolt monitors running at 2560x1440
All connected with a single cable (will all handle mouse, keyboard + whatever other usb peripherals you need)

It has a great trackpad + a very nice powercord that snaps in via magnets. The keyboard is also backlit, which is nice for both planes and lecture halls.
It only weights 2.96 lbs. (2.38 for the 11 inch version)

I think it also qualifies as a ultra-book.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 10:56:42 PM UTC
I'm surprised that a console ninja like you would need a touch screen... This is stuff for your mamma.
gbelzile
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 11:00:31 PM UTC
I am working off a Dell XPS 13 right now that I love. No touch screen, though I think the new versions have them. Its great for packing around, and it has the full keyboard for when I need to use just the laptop. But I also have a USB 3.0 docking station for my desk at work (which has 2 24" monitors and a mouse/keyboard.)

That being said, I'm planning on getting a 128 GB Surface Pro, and doing most of my work from there when they come out. It's got that usb 3.0 port on it, so I should be able to plug into my docking station when I want the full experience. And then it's even easier to go see clients with! I'm onsite support for a large university, which means I walk ALL over campus. (and its a big campus!!) Definitely getting a type cover though. I tried the touch cover at the Microsoft Store, and didn't really like it that much. I'm also not too worried about the type cover being small. I used to have a 9.6 inch netbook that I had no trouble typing on at all. Used to write essays for school on it.
Rosanne Lester
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 1:14:06 AM UTC
I'm with Stilgar, that Dell XPS 12 has piqued my interest (even though it's a Dell).
geek herder
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 1:42:27 AM UTC
Scott, it's not about activating the keyboard while holding the Yoga in tablet mode, but about the user-experience of the hardware: you will hold the tablet on it's keyoard. And that can be even worse when you change the holding position. I can't imagine it to be comfortable, but I will try it as soon as I can put my hands on one.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 1:46:56 AM UTC
I can't understand why so few ultrabooks have DisplayPort connectors. It seems like Dell and Lenovo are the only vendors really committed to that standard.

The worst offender is the Sony VAIO Z - a beautiful little machine with an ugly VGA port on its side. Even its insane media dock, with the Radeon 7xxx series built-in, has only VGA and HDMI out.

Crazy! How am I supposed to drive my U3011? :-)

So I ordered a W530 to replace my previous-gen XPS 15. I guess I'll have at least a couple more years of lugging a brick around...

Ben
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 2:24:45 AM UTC
Went with the Lenovo Twist ordered it when it first went on sale - i7, 8gb Ram, 500gb hard drive (not SSD), tried the Yoga but couldn't get over the keypad being exposed.

Battery life is about 3hr, which is not bad for a laptop, but not for a tablet.

Didn't come setup for virtualization, but wasn't hard to get hyper-v running with the VS2012 ALM virtual machine. Plan to setup others, with more than enough disk space.

Don't have need for external video, but for watching Hulu, etc. the screen is sharp and very clear. HD Quality.

Beats having to lug the old laptop around. I see this going everywhere and be able to do just about anything, but that's what ultrabooks are all about.

Paul
Paul D'Anna
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 2:29:20 AM UTC
In terms of performance I think even for programming an ultrabook with an SSD is now enough (especially haswell ones).

The issue I have is still screen size, thin and light laptops always seem to be targeted at small screen sizes. I don't want to give up a 17" screen, but would like a thinner and lighter laptop.

If someone starts making a thin and light 17" laptop with no optical drive and virtually no bezel around the screen I would be very interested.
Pete
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 2:43:27 AM UTC
I have been using Vaio Z series for 2 years now and one of the main reasons I picked it was due to its size factor (13inch).

It came with 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD which is quite handy when you want to compile large projects :)

I was about to pick up Macbook Air with 512GB SSD but I am going to wait and watch to see what is around the corner with touch screen ultra notebooks :)


Wednesday, December 05, 2012 3:52:31 AM UTC
This is a great post. I was pretty much dead set on getting the Surface Pro when it comes out, but now I'm not so sure. That XPS 12 looks really sweet, but then so does the HP Spectre XT.

In all honesty, I will probably get the Surface Pro. Whatever I get I won't be using the provided keyboard since I'm hooked on my HHKB 2 Pro. Add a USB3 hub to the Surface and I'm good to go.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 4:57:17 AM UTC
I'm looking at the Lenovo Twist. I still like the traditional convertible.
Curtis Gibeaut
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 10:34:34 AM UTC
************New************
New HP Elitebook Revolve Tablet


The Revolve does however pack a host of new internal components. It’s available in all of Intel’s Core processor flavours, supported by a 256GB SSD and 4GB RAM, with an option to upgrade to 12GB


http://www.youtube.com/embed/Yxd8IEN3GvE


Wednesday, December 05, 2012 10:58:20 AM UTC
I use a 2011 13" Macbook Air daily.

I run Windows 7, and 8 in VMs without a hitch. As at work I do both iOS development and .NET development. So it works for me.

The only thing I wish it had was slightly a little more disk space. I opted to get the 128 gb model to save a little money but wish I splurged and got the 256gb model at the time.

But defiantly happy to not have to carry around a 5lb laptop anymore that is for sure.
Dan Swatik
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 11:42:14 AM UTC
Hi Scott.
How is the noice and heat from your prototype ultrabook?
I have a w520, and I'm so tired from the fan noice (even when the fan is runing slow)

- Niels
Niels
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 2:01:39 PM UTC
I purchased the Zenbook UX32VD, but could not get past the horrible font/image scaling in Windows 8 (I have very good eyes, but 1080 on a 13.3" is just a tad small).

Anyway, I returned it and am seriously considering the Lenovo X1 Carbon. Just can't decide whether to wait for Touch version.
Cory
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 2:04:57 PM UTC
Acer - Ultrabook 14" Touch-Screen Laptop

Why? It was the one I could afford and met minimal requirements: 6GB RAM, Touch-Screen, 14" screen, 500GB HD, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, and i5 processor. I paid $730.00 almost two months ago but I see it advertised in Best Buy today for $700.

Like I said, I been using it for about two months and don't regret having bought it. I really wanted something with more power such as an i7 processor, 8GB of RAM, and an SSD drive but those were outside my affordable range.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 2:36:19 PM UTC
Scott,

I was looking at those 2 models as well. Do you know any information about their noise levels? Does the fan always run from what you know?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 2:52:56 PM UTC
I have been using one of those new Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pros that are so hard to find (got mine from a Microsoft store).

Core I5, 128gb SSD, 4gb RAM, Windows 8 Pro.

Pros
11.6 inch ultraviolet that is actually a tablet.
Wacom digitizer (SPen)


Cons
Hinge, I am already seeing evidence of future issues.
High DPI displays don't really work when in desktop mode, fonts to small even at 150% scaling (which does not scale everything)

This has replaced my MBP and my Windows 7 tower.
DG
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 3:02:05 PM UTC
I'm using the Lenovo Yoda, but I'm considering rebuilding it since most of the SSD drive space is "wasted" In retrospect perhaps I should have waited for the i7 and get a lot more drive space, but for what it has, the Lenovo is awesome
Norman Headlam
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 3:45:33 PM UTC
Try Asus Zen Prime. Got everything U need even graphics
Ravi
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 4:45:45 PM UTC
The more I use the Surface RT, the more I like it as a replacement for my netbook. The touch cover took more getting used to than the rest of the system, but it's pretty good now, too.

I have to imagine the Surface Pro will be great as an Ultrabook. Two pounds, 4 GB of RAM/I5/1080p will be great, especially when you got used to being productive on a 2 GB/Atom/1024x600 netbook. I might still hold out to see the Haswell-based devices, though.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 5:00:38 PM UTC
What about the new Samsung Series 9 Prototype?
13" 2560x1440!!

http://www.engadget.com/2012/08/31/samsung-series%209-wqhd-ultrabook-matte-display/
Gurpreet Singh Sohal
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 5:01:48 PM UTC
=)) I would like to see in your sandwich (picture) my old Asus G71G =)).
I always had the same idea: the laptop it’s a desktop replacement! As long as I can move it it’s ok. (I used to joke: “what’s the problem my laptop is big!? I am a big guy!” - even I lost a lot of weight I am still a big guy!). When I use it I put it on a table anyway! But... Maybe I am getting old... maybe I am getting tired... I don’t know... my next laptop has to be light to have 14+ inches with at least 1920X1080 resolution, long battery life, SSD 256GB+, 8GB+ memory (my wife has in her “kitchen pc” – actually a laptop – 4GB :P), backlight keyboard. Those are a must. It would be nice to be transformable in a tablet like HP Elitebook Revolve (I like this way mode because the keyboard is hidden when you are in a “tablet mode”). I kind of like Zenbook Touch U500VZ but with Asus generally is better to wait for the second generation to have less problems (my G71G was G70G initially which Asus replaced it with this one after I had three times the same problem in the first three months… one of my coworkers had the same situation with the same model). Unfortunatelly the Zenbook doesn’t transform in tablet :(. I kind of miss my iPad. My daughter uses it now (And I can’t fight with her :P)
Cristian
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 5:27:55 PM UTC
In reguards to your micro HDMI concerns, i think the future of presentation displays will be WiDi.
James
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 5:59:49 PM UTC
Apple Macbook pro 13 seems to be ideal for me!
Ivan Gavnov
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 6:21:59 PM UTC
Although not technically an ultrabook, I am doing Windows and iOS development off a MacBook Pro Retina 15. At 3.5 lbs, 512 GB SSD, 16 GB RAM, it serves me extremely well. The instant on feature can't be beat. A touchscreen with a henge like the Lenovo would be icing on the cake!
Doug Lott
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 6:24:33 PM UTC
*** Correction. 4.5 lbs....
Doug Lott
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 7:19:03 PM UTC
Gurpreet - That Samsung looks darn-near perfect.

Eli - No, the fans don't run unless it's working HARD.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 7:19:50 PM UTC
I am also looking for a desktop replacement/laptop ultra book/thin. Probably my preferences are still impossible for today's tech:

Requirements:
- Resolution: 17" 1600 x ... above or 15" 2440 x ... above.
- at least 8 gigs memory
- at least 256 SSD
- even if it's 5 lbs. as long as it's ultra book/thin

Plus(+):
- at least 4-battery-hours before depletion.

Will be used for Internet, occasional SQL and VS development, media(music, movies), ebook reader, and Diablo 3. Soon, Torchlight 2 :-)
Lester
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 9:28:48 PM UTC
I've been keeping an eye on the Ultrabooks for awhile now.

My main development machine will be a big tower desktop PC for the foreseeable future. As a guy who doesn't travel that much, it really makes the most sense in terms of value.

So for me things like portability and battery life are the most important qualities to look for in a laptop for the few cases when I do have to travel with it. And I think a 13" Ultrabook would be the perfect replacement for my 11.6" Netbook I have now. I'm just waiting for the prices to come down a bit more.
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 10:08:39 PM UTC
The machine I want doesn't yet exist ... you can find all the features on various other machines - but none have them all:

- Ultrabook form factor (ultraportable)
* Intel Core i7
* 15" Full 1080p IPS capacitive touchscreen
* Wifi a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 4.0
* Intel Wireless Display tech
* 8GB RAM
* 256GB SSD (better yet, 512Gb)
* Convertible (or flipscreen)
* Secure Platform Module (TPM)
* At least 4-5 hours of battery life
* Built-in Pen Input support (digitizer)
Leo Bushkin
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 10:56:38 PM UTC
After reading this blog post I think your Lenovo is better unless you care about weight. I prefer waiting for Haswell.
Thursday, December 06, 2012 3:27:28 AM UTC
Regarding the ratio of screens to PC's, I prefer a one-to-many arrangement over many-to-one. <alt><tab> is quicker than turning the head and mouse pawing. It's a myth that developers need multiple monitors - we just like the feeling of being starfleet commanders.
Thursday, December 06, 2012 5:45:57 AM UTC
I'm using XPS 15 with i7-2720QM, 16 GB, 256 SSD, and my visual studio still slow like turtle, especially in editing cshtml. Must be the bloody resharper then.
jimmy
Thursday, December 06, 2012 6:59:48 AM UTC
--Lester
Dell Precission M6700 :) but it's not so light and thin, but you are man, isn't it ?
Ivan Gavnov
Thursday, December 06, 2012 7:11:50 AM UTC
I was craving a Yoga, lack of a TPM chip is a deal breaker though. Going Lenovo Carbon X1 Touch.
Thursday, December 06, 2012 8:36:16 AM UTC
Have you considered the Lenovo Twist?

http://www.lenovo.com/products/us/laptop/thinkpad/thinkpad-twist/

Has an i7 option, and up to 8GB of RAM.
Sean McLeod
Thursday, December 06, 2012 9:18:05 AM UTC
I have the Sony Vaio SVT1312B4ES. Its small, very light weight with a good keyboard and runs well with 8gb ram and an ssd. I was not a fan of the touch screen at first but now find myself using it more and more.

So far it has never got hot and fans have never kicked in and I find myself using it for browsing instead of my galaxy tab.
Thursday, December 06, 2012 1:37:08 PM UTC
Not intending to incite jihad here, but what about a Macbook Air with Windows in VirtualBox for those rare instances where you may actually want to work with that godawful OS and tools?
Thursday, December 06, 2012 2:55:16 PM UTC
@MarkRendle, I wish this was a FB/SO post, so that I could like/up vote.
Pradeep
Thursday, December 06, 2012 6:41:26 PM UTC
I tried out an Ideapad Yoga 13 (i5, 4GB) for two weeks and returned it for an older Samsung 9 series. I thought that I could straddle the diverging constraints of portability, usuablity, power, & battery life. But the screen was just too small, the trackpad was difficult to use, and Windows 8 on a development machine just doesn't work for me.

I'm happy with almost every feature of the Samsung NP900X4C-A01US (i5, 8GB, 128GB SSD, 15.6") except for the display. It is washed-out and faded. But I will live with it because the thing is super-thin and not heavy at all. Battery life is 4-5 hrs.
Keith Payne
Thursday, December 06, 2012 6:52:51 PM UTC
Hello Scott,

I've also been choosing between this two models and finally bought Acer Aspire S7 with i5. This machine is absolutely fantastic. The problem with yoga is it's touchscreen is not as responsive as Acer's.
Zamir Musaev
Thursday, December 06, 2012 6:54:17 PM UTC
Ivan Gavnov that is a powerful machine, even my biceps will become powerful with that machine. Hehe. It is nice though I am taking back about the weight. At most, 5lbs. :-)
Lester
Thursday, December 06, 2012 7:41:25 PM UTC
@Mark Richman

I don't know other peoples but If I get a new laptop I want it touch screen. I got once a mac mini and I returned it after a week. As computer it was nice but I didn't like the OS. Maybe I am a (too) "Windows guy"... I really like Windows 8 even I don't have a touch creen laptop/monitor (and I don't say you need one) but if I get a new one I would like to be touch screen. When Macbook Air is going to be touch screen I am going to consider it. I don't get it, Apple started this table revolution and they don't see touch it's the future. It's only common sense. My three years daughter first time in front of her mom laptop tried to touch the screen to interact with it (as on the iPad) and she was surptised it doesn't work: "It's broken daddy!! Fix it!"
Cristian
Thursday, December 06, 2012 7:46:40 PM UTC
This was exactly what I was looking for when trying to determine the specs for my next development machine!
emmett childress
Friday, December 07, 2012 1:58:40 AM UTC
My //build/ tablet from 2 years ago (Samsung build) has been my main home dev machine since I got it .. BUT I definitely believe 4GB is not enough.. More would definitely be better

Most of my solutions are big and I like having atleast 3 solutions open. + Blend..

Ofcourse I can juggle things around and make do with 4GB BUT 8GB would be so much more productive for me!!!
Friday, December 07, 2012 2:03:21 AM UTC
I want a MacBook Air! Yay! In the future :)
Friday, December 07, 2012 2:30:16 AM UTC
Search for the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix. Not officially announced yet (probably CES) but looks like it could be a great laptop and tablet so I am waiting on that.

The ATIV Smart PC Pro is a similar option but the Lenovo looks much higher quality. Surface Pro is also nice but doesn't work as well on a lap.
Charles
Friday, December 07, 2012 3:12:04 AM UTC
It's going to be really difficult to avoid getting a Surface Pro when it hits the market. I want to see one at a store, yesterday. I'm currently using a Mac Mini (that's right) with an i7 and 16GB of RAM running Windows 8 on Bootcamp. Unsupported, but it works fine. With a dual monitor setup hooked into that and an older custom built Window 7 tower, that is more than enough home compute power. Getting the Surface Pro is specifically for living room and travel use. The Surface Pro solves a few problems. It would have a longer battery life than my aging laptop (1 hour on a full charge at best). It has SmartGlass which makes it a big XBox360 remote. It can remote desktop in to the machine in the office if needed. It can run all the apps I would want for casual Windows 8 and Windows Phone development.

Because i5 is the only option, however, the Lenovo Yoga with the i7 looks like a great alternative.

Such a difficult choice!
Friday, December 07, 2012 4:09:33 AM UTC
You do realize you left out the Apple Macbook Air for no good reason, except maybe that you're PC biased... just sayin'
Friday, December 07, 2012 4:57:08 AM UTC
I've been using this Dell XPS 12 for a week now. It's pretty much perfect for all my VS2012 Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 work. 256GB SSD, 8GB. and it runs my 27" 2560x1440 monitor through the Mini DisplayPort.
Graeme
Friday, December 07, 2012 7:16:08 AM UTC
Victor - LOL, no not my intent. I have a Pro already and consider it an Ultrabook.
Friday, December 07, 2012 10:13:41 AM UTC
I just upgraded my windows work laptop to a MacBook Air. I initially wanted a Dell XPS 12 but my boss looked at me like I was nuts. In the end I justified the Air by saying I occasionally need to test SharePoint on Mac OS and it didn't make sense to have two machines - why not just dual boot.

As it turns out our Level 2 engineers can't netboot the Air so can't put their standard build on and it makes a fairly useless test machine. They couldn't even join the AD domain until I had gone over the road and bought a usb to Ethernet adapter.

On the plus side it has all the specs you want, I7, 8Gig ram, 256 ssd and its still the most stylish laptop out there.. just. No touchscreen though - wonder when that's going to start hurting MacBook range as their dual OS strategy seems to leave no reason to ever have them?
Joseph Mills
Friday, December 07, 2012 1:25:51 PM UTC
I have a Toshiba Protege Z835 with I7 (it's sandybridge), 12Gb of ram, and 256Gb SSD. It's perfect!! Just the screen is not the ideal to use every day, BUT, I can use TWO external monitors (one on the VGA and the other on HDMI) at home/office! And mine has almost 3.0lbs, which is fine for me... And the battery lasts for 5 hours on regular use (Visual Studio, Internet, IM...)! I'm loving this machine!
Caio Ferraz
Friday, December 07, 2012 2:33:53 PM UTC
The ultrabook only appears thinner due to clever use of blackness and the curve. It appears to be the same thickness as the Mac Book.
Adam Speight
Sunday, December 09, 2012 12:03:03 AM UTC
Is there a good 12-14in ultrabook with touchscreen and built-in finger print and smartcard reader?
Reddy
Monday, December 10, 2012 3:45:11 PM UTC
I've been using a 2011 13" i7 air for development under vmware since I bought it in 2011. Its absolutley great and the 4 gig ram not been a problem.

Have the benefit of running osx, which is an OS I prefer for email/browsing and then win7 for my dev.

The only thing that has given me pause is the fact that win phone dev requires a VM (on a VM in my case). This does seem to work but not that fast. Also windows 8 animations etc aren't very snappy under VM on the air. Might be better on something with more gfx power though.

If I wasn't on Mac, WITHOUT DOUBT I'd have a Vaio Z. Way beyond ultrabook performance. Only compromise is the small track pad... and er the price... but its on clearance at the moment as they have EOL'd it.
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 2:47:15 PM UTC
Get a Lenovo X1 Carbon TOUCH (just announced this week).

I have been using Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 13 ($999.99 Bestbuy version). I wiped the disk, installed Windows 8 Pro and then installed VS 2010 Ultimate, VS 2012 Ultimate, SQL 2008 R2 and SQL 2012 Developer editions (all components, everything!) and it runs like a champ. No problems with multiple instances of Visual Studio with just 4GB of RAM. Boots up super fast and runs super fast. The resolution of 1600x900 is totally usable and this thing is so portable, I take it everywhere.
Sanjeev
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 4:59:23 PM UTC
I love my Yoga!
Lenovo just makes good stuff. Full size HDMI, 10 pt touch, ~8 hrs batt.(I get like 6-7). They will have the i7 with 256GB and 8GB RAM soon. It's my full time laptop workstation and my part time tablet.
John G
Tuesday, December 11, 2012 5:14:08 PM UTC
My wife has the Ideapad Yoga. She loves it other than one occassional problem.

The keyboard auto disables itself when the screen gets flippped all the way around for tablet mode.

This unit is having issues with sometimes disabling the keyboard even when it is still in open like a laptop and there has beeen no movement at all.

It appears that other people are seeing this issue also.
Scott
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 1:42:32 AM UTC
I *had* the Ideapad Yoga and loved the IPS 1600x900 screen and its size and weight. The ability to flip the screen around was also handy on occasion.

For those who are picky about keyboards like I am, the keyboard on the Yoga simply wasn't up to the usual Lenovo standard. I found the keyboard on mine to be very mushy/springy/spongy. The action wasn't consistent across the keyboard and ultimately I sent it back even though I loved everything else about it (except the trackpad which was very temperamental). The trackpad can be fixed with drivers, but the keyboard wasn't meant for a work machine. It'd be fine for an hour at a time, but not on a dedicated work laptop. I used mine for development and writing every day all day.

The only ultrabook I'd seriously consider on the market today is the Lenovo X1 Carbon. It looks as if it has a better keyboard (I haven't actually used one), the screen is perhaps not as awesome as the Yoga but still pretty good, and it's light tough and powerful. The second generation Yoga with a better keyboard and trackpad could be the ideal ultrabook though.

In my attempts to find a decent laptop I also tried a MacBook Air 11.6" 2012. It had an i7 processor, 8 GB RAM, and 512 GB SSD drive. Ultimately I sold it because I just don't like how the Mac OS works. The build quality of the machine was impeccable, as were the trackpad and keyboard. And yes you can run Windows 8 (or 7) on it, but the drivers aren't very well optimized so Windows runs more poorly on a Mac than it does on a laptop designed for it. Too bad we can't have Apple quality in Windows laptops. Now *that* would be a killer combination.
Abe
Thursday, December 13, 2012 8:56:40 PM UTC
My current development environment is the cheapest laptop, WI-FI or LTE card if on the road, Remote Desktop, and cloud VM (Azure or Amazon EC2). Azure is currently free. I get Amazon spot pricing at 5 cents per hour, that is $2 per 40 hour week. This way I can get a laptop which has the best battery life and work for a really long time.

null
Friday, December 14, 2012 7:39:21 PM UTC
I bought last March the Sony Vaio Z-series, complete customized with i7 processor, SSD, full HD screen, etc...
Took it with me of a 5-month trip in Australia and Indo-China.

It's a wonderfull machine, much more powerfull than my current desktop and extremely light so easy to carry with you if you only have carry-on luggage.

Only down side now is that it has no touch screen. Since I got the Surface at DevIntersection (and installed Windows 8 on the laptop), this may become a problem.
The other thing is that the battery life has reduced drastically within 6 months.

But I agree, Ultrabook is the way to go ;)
Friday, December 21, 2012 12:52:04 PM UTC
laptops need mice, because touchpads are always too small. whichever you use, you must move one hand from the keyboard, so I can imagine touchscreen is as useful and less dangly than a mouse. Poor precision, though? Have you tried touchscreen with sketchup, for example? (I should google that for me...)

I've used a 10" (display, too small) atom mini with 1mb, winxp. the keyboard is awful, but i've always disliked "normal" laptop keyboards.

short battery life is terrible on phones and laptops. not so much a problem with camera that uses a li-ion battery.

someday i'll try dual display. dragging and typing notes is my most common activity. and webpages are often too wide for the browser window. annoying.

comment: "baited breath" is "bated breath". the meaning seems related to "abated"






-
Wednesday, December 26, 2012 12:08:56 AM UTC
My question is not about ultrabooks.
Does anyone has a all-in-one pc?
What do you recommend for programming?
DeN
Wednesday, December 26, 2012 3:27:14 AM UTC
@DeN I have couple of Dell Optiplex 9010 AIO with touchscreen. These are great mahcines. The consumer model is called Dell Inspiron One 2330.
Karan Singh
Wednesday, December 26, 2012 3:28:28 AM UTC
I have ordered a Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch. 3rd gen i5 CPU, 4GB RAM and 256GB SSD.
Karan Singh
Tuesday, January 01, 2013 1:58:12 PM UTC
I'm looking at an ultrabook as well but can't decide. As it is a month later, have you made a choice? Leaning one way or the other? I heard the Surface pro will be 3 lbs, not 2.
Dina Berry
Thursday, January 03, 2013 9:37:44 PM UTC
I recently received my Yoga (i7, 8gb, 120gb), it's worth its weight in gold only in laptop mode. The responsiveness/feel of the keyboard and thouchpad are the best I've come accross. Thoroughly recommended. Not even planning on using it in tablet mode!
Thursday, January 03, 2013 9:49:08 PM UTC
Samsung Series 7 Ultra has been refreshed with 8hr battery, up to 16gb ram, 4g connectivity, discrete AMD Radeon gfx card and 256gb ssd. I know what i'm going to get when it comes out.

http://www.ubergizmo.com/2013/01/samsung-series-7-ultra/

Matt
Sunday, January 06, 2013 9:32:29 AM UTC
Just curious. Is it fun to code on a screen smaller than 14"?
Raihan
Saturday, January 19, 2013 2:19:49 AM UTC
I've always had bad experiences using pc laptops. overheating especially. I'll have to do some research on the ultrabook.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013 8:24:12 PM UTC
Any recommendations with today's options?
Thanks :)
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 4:58:21 PM UTC
My friend google brought me to your website while searching for ultrabooks that I can buy to use primarily for visual studio 2012 or any programming software since I am an IT student.

Do you have any recommendations? I'd rather not spent over $800 but having a laptop that I can carry around (that is not bulky) would be a nice option. Thanks :) Anah
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 5:32:28 PM UTC
Anah - I think the Acer Aspire M5-481PT-6644 would be good for about $750.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 6:43:34 PM UTC
Scott,

I'll check it out and thank you! :)
Sunday, July 28, 2013 11:28:40 PM UTC
I'm looking for an ultrabook that has a 17" screen, preferably touch.

Do they exist?
MareLuce
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 8:48:03 PM UTC
Hi Scott,

I'm interested to know whether the latest Acer Aspire S7 with Haswell chip would have swayed your decision had you been looking for a replacement today?

I'm torn between the Lenovo X1 Carbon without Haswell, the new Acer Aspire S7 or a Razor Blade 14.

Simon
Simon Jones
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.