review trs june 2014 mobile staff picks

TR’s June 2014 mobile staff picks

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Once upon a time, our TR System Guide covered not just PC components, but also peripherals and what we called “mobile sidekicks”: the notebooks, tablets, and convertibles we recommended to supplement our desktop builds. Unfortunately, covering all of these things in a single guide became more and more of a challenge over time.

Earlier this year, we revised the structure of the System Guide to focus exclusively on PC components. Our aim was to cover peripherals and mobile gear in separate articles. Besides making the System Guide itself less unwieldy to update, breaking out those sections into stand-alone articles was meant to give us more time to spend on each one—resulting, hopefully, in better content.

Our first revised System Guide went up in February, and we published another update last month. In the meantime, we also put up our first peripheral staff picks as a standalone article. Today, we’re completing the set with our first standalone mobile staff picks.

There haven’t been that many big developments in the notebook and convertible markets in recent months, so our favorites are by and large the same. Still, the stand-alone format has given us the opportunity to refine and elaborate on our recommendations a fair bit. We’ve also added some new gear introduced at Computex earlier this month, and we’ve waxed poetic about upcoming and unreleased products in our new “What’s on the horizon” section. This should, all in all, be an informative read for anyone seeking to supplement their desktop build with some mobile hardware.

Straight-up tablets

Product Price
Nexus 7 $229.99
iPad Mini with Retina display $399.00

Let’s kick things off with tablets—just plain tablets designed to be used without detachable keyboards. We’re not overly fond of larger offerings here, since they tend to be heavier and bulkier, and their larger screens don’t unlock very much extra functionality. We’re also avoiding the murky waters of low-end 7″ slates, which tend to have lower-resolution screens and other such shortcomings. Rather, our current favorites are Google’s Nexus 7, which is made by Asus, and the iPad Mini with Retina display, which is made by you-know-who.

Source: Google.

The Nexus 7 is the more affordable of our two picks, at $229, but it’s by no means less desirable. Its 7″ IPS screen has a 1920×1200 resolution, yielding a pixel density of 323 pixels per inch (PPI). The Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro processor and 2GB of RAM under the hood team up to deliver snappy web-browsing and multitasking performance. Finally, since this is a Google Nexus device, the Nexus 7 ships with the latest Android release, lacks ugly vendor-specific customizations, and should receive future updates promptly.

The Nexus 7’s only real downside is its 16GB of integrated storage, which seems a little stingy by today’s standards. You can get a 32GB version of the device, but it’s priced at a disproportionate $40 premium over the 16GB version. Ah, if only there were a microSD slot to allow for DIY storage upgrades…

Source: Apple.

Speaking of locked-down hardware, Apple’s iPad Mini with Retina display is our other favorite tablet. At $399, it’s definitely pricier than the Nexus 7, but it has a slightly larger screen with a better aspect ratio for portrait-mode web browsing. It’s also somewhat more powerful. In fact, the iPad Mini with Retina display basically shares its internal specs with the full-fledged iPad Air, despite costing $100 less. The two iPad variants even have the same 2048×1536 screen resolution, which yields an even higher pixel density of 326 PPI on the Mini, since the screen size is smaller (at 7.9″ vs 9.7″).

The iPad Mini’s smaller display makes for a lighter, more compact tablet, too. This thing weighs only 0.73 lbs, down from a full pound for the iPad Air, and it’s only 5.3″ wide instead of 6.6″. Beside the obvious advantages of a smaller, lighter device, the iPad Mini’s narrower shape should make for easier typing in portrait mode.

Like the Nexus 7, the iPad Mini with Retina display comes with only 16GB of default storage and lacks microSD expansion. Apple prices 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB versions of this tablet at $499, $599, and $699, respectively, which is even more preposterous than the premiums Google charges. Oh well. At $499, the 32GB iPad Mini with Retina display is still a better buy than the 16GB iPad Air, we think.

Convertible tablets

Product Price
Asus Transformer Book T100 (w/ 500GB HDD) $339.00
HP Split 13 x2 $699.99
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 $799.00

Here, we have our convertible tablets: devices that, while fully capable of operating as discrete tablets, are really designed to pair up with detachable keyboards or keyboard docks for a more laptop-like experience.

Asus’ Transformer Book T100 is the most affordable of the bunch, at $339 for the base model with 64GB of built-in storage. There’s also a $374 variant with 32GB of built-in storage and a 500GB auxiliary hard drive nestled in the keyboard dock. The extra capacity on those spinning platters is welcome, but we’re not so keen on the reduced flash storage, which is what you’ll be stuck with when the system is undocked.

The Transformer Book T100 ships with Windows 8.1 and one of Intel’s Bay Trail processors, which means it’s more or less a fully featured PC crammed inside a 10″ tablet. Plug in the keyboard dock, and the T100 turns into a mini-notebook ready for productivity work. We reviewed the T100 last year and came away quite impressed with its performance and battery life. The system’s battery run times clocked in at 10 hours for web surfing and 12 hours for video playback.

The only real downsides here are the 2GB memory capacity, the 32-bit operating system, and the 1366×768 screen resolution. Considering the price, however, those blemishes are easy to look past. For what it’s worth, we haven’t yet found a comparable system with a 64-bit version of Windows and 4GB of RAM.

For folks who need a convertible that’s more notebook than tablet, the HP Split 13 x2 is worth a look—though we haven’t reviewed it yet. It follows the same formula as the Transformer Book T100, but it features a 13″ display, a Haswell-based Core i3 processor, and 4GB of RAM. This ought to be a more powerful machine than the T100 overall, and its full-sized keyboard should make long typing sessions more comfortable. The rated battery life sounds pretty good, too, at 10 hours.

Just keep in mind that the Split 13 x2’s faster hardware and larger screen have their shortcomings. The tablet part of this machine weighs 2.36 lbs, and the whole thing tips the scales at 4.89 lbs put together. Also, since the screen resolution is still just 1366×768, you’ll have to put up with a lower pixel density.

Source: Microsoft.

The Surface Pro 3 is a strange animal. It’s sold sans keyboard, but Microsoft claims that, when paired with the $129.99 Type Cover, this device is capable enough to replace both your laptop and your tablet.

Not unlike the Split 13 x2, the Surface Pro 3 comes with a Haswell processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage capacity in its most affordable incarnation. The Surface’s display is smaller, though, at 12″, and it’s got a higher resolution (2160×1440, yielding 216 PPI) as well as an unusual 3:2 aspect ratio. Microsoft says the bizarro aspect ratio lets the Surface Pro 3 show 6% more content than a run-of-the-mill 13″ laptop.

The Type Cover, which is sold separately, adds a full keyboard and touchpad to that package. It doesn’t have a hinge like the docks for the Asus and HP convertibles, though. Instead, it attaches to the Surface Pro 3 magnetically, sort of like Apple’s Smart Covers. The tablet then uses a retractable kickstand to prop itself up.

This kickstand arrangement may sound awkward, but it has one major upside: it prevents the keyboard’s weight from limiting the display’s range of motion. Most hinged convertibles are somewhat top-heavy, since all the critical hardware sits behind the screen, so they’ll only let you open ’em up so much. The range of motion can be increased by weighting the keyboard, but that just makes the system heavier to carry around. For reference, the Type Cover adds only about 0.65 lbs to the Surface Pro 3’s weight.

The Surface Pro 3 also comes with a free Surface Pen, which allows one to doodle on the screen and take notes using Windows’ handwriting recognition scheme.

With all that said, we’re still not sure how comfortable the Surface Pro 3 and Type Cover combo is to use on one’s lap. We also haven’t tested the thing ourselves. Our recommendation, then, will have to be a tentative one for now.


Ultrabooks and premium laptops

Product Price
13″ Macbook Pro with Retina display $1,299.99
13.3″ Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus $1,399.99

Whoa, whoa. Are we skipping straight to thousand-dollar systems? What happened to regular notebooks?

Good question. The short answer is that vanilla notebooks outside the convertible and premium ultrabook categories tend to be, you know, not so great. It’s not that they aren’t capable productivity workhorses; it’s just that most of them have lousy keyboards, low pixel densities, and crummy battery life. One can occasionally luck out and find a machine with just one or two of those shortcomings, but avoiding these issues altogether calls for a budget in excess of $1,000.

Source: Apple.

Probably the best deal north of the thousand-dollar mark right now is Apple’s 13″ MacBook Pro with Retina display. Good keyboard? Check: Apple’s laptop keyboards are among the best in the industry. High pixel density? Check: the 2560×1600 native resolution gives you a pixel density of 227 PPI. Good battery life? Check: the 72-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery is rated for nine hours of web surfing.

There’s plenty more to be excited about. The base config comes with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Apple pre-installs OS X Mavericks, which is pretty solid as far as operating systems go, and it provides drivers for Windows, should you choose to dual-boot (or go Windows-only, which is also possible.) Finally, if you live near an Apple Store, you also get the benefit of Apple’s terrific in-store customer service, which is head and shoulders above the kind of support big PC makers typically provide.

Source: Samsung.

If the thought of using a computer with a fruit logo makes your skin break out in hives, there are Windows-toting PC notebooks similar to the Retina MacBook Pro. One of them is Samsung’s Ativ Book 9 Plus, which has roughly equivalent specs and an even higher display resolution: 3200×1800 (which works out to about 275 PPI). The rated battery life on this laptop is a little shorter, though, at 7.5 hours, and the built-in Wi-Fi is only 802.11n.

Also, keep in mind that a lot of Windows apps don’t handle high-PPI displays gracefully. That may change thanks to the influx of cheap 4K monitors, but at least for now, OS X should deliver a better high-PPI experience.

A note on Chromebooks
For the most part, Chromebooks lie at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from the premium notebooks mentioned above. Chromebooks are small, cheap, and surprisingly limited in their functionality.

HP’s Chromebook 11, for example, costs only $279 and features an 11.6″ IPS display with a 1366×768 resolution, an ARM-based Samsung Exynos processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of built-in storage. Naturally, it ships with Chrome OS, which is less of an operating system and more of a glorified web browser running on top of a Linux kernel.

Source: Google.

The premise of Chrome OS is that, with a handful of exceptions (for basic file management, video playback, and the like), the web browser is the center of your world. All third-party applications and games are meant to be web-based, and there’s really no out-of-the-box way to install anything like a native copy of Steam, iTunes, or Photoshop—or The Gimp, for that matter.

If this is going to be your second or third computer and you just need a web-browsing, note-taking machine for school or work, that’s probably fine. There are lots of good web apps out there nowadays, including online versions of Microsoft Word and Excel. For anything more involved, though, we’d strongly recommend that you consider something else. Heck, even an iPad can run the kinds of native apps and games Chrome OS just doesn’t support.

Because some Chromebooks are Intel-based, some folks might be tempted to squeeze Linux or Windows onto them. Keep in mind that most Chromebooks are stuck with 16GB of built-in storage. The idea is, of course, that everything should be stored in the cloud. Unfortunately, that doesn’t quite fit the modus operandi of traditional operating systems, which involve a reasonably hefty footprint and additional storage requirements for third-party software.

So, no, you probably shouldn’t get a Chromebook—unless you’re really, really sure you want one.

What’s on the horizon
That about covers our recommendations in the realm of currently available systems (or almost-available ones, in the case of the Surface Pro 3, which doesn’t come out until June 20). We’d be comfortable buying most of these machines for ourselves, provided we were in the market for new gear right now.

What about the systems that are just around the corner? Is anything truly groundbreaking mere months away from release?

Well, yes, actually. Intel’s next-generation Broadwell processors are due out later this year, and one of them, the Core M, promises to enable a new breed of convertible tablets: thinner, lighter, fanless systems that should still pack a lot of processing punch.

We haven’t gotten confirmation of this yet, but we expect Asus’ upcoming Transformer T300 Chi will be powered by the Core M. That machine will have a 12.5″ screen with a 2560×1440 resolution, and it will be just 0.56″ thick… with the keyboard dock attached. For reference, the Atom-powered Transformer T100 is 0.8″. If Asus plays its cards right, the Transformer T300 Chi could very well be the finest dockable convertible ever.

Broadwell isn’t going to be out right away, though. In the nearer term, we’re intrigued and hopeful about some of the systems unveiled at Computex earlier this month. Those include HP’s Pro x2 612, a Haswell-powered convertible that packs an auxiliary battery in its keyboard dock. HP claims a whopping 14 hours of run time thanks to that battery. Too bad the machine isn’t due out until September.

64-bit Bay Trail convertibles are also starting to break cover, which is a welcome development. Earlier this year, Scott deplored the absence of such systems, which have the potential to offer a great blend of portability, versatility, and affordability, all without restrictive memory limitations. HP’s Pavilion x360 and Lenovo’s Yoga 2 11 both wrap Bay Trail in a 64-bit package with 4GB of RAM, though they don’t have detachable keyboard docks. Sadly, we’re still on the lookout for a 64-bit version of the Transformer T100 with 4GB of RAM—or something like it. We’ll probably have to update this guide as soon as we find one.

0 responses to “TR’s June 2014 mobile staff picks

  1. Depends on the angle you have to hold it at, but I would say 2lb is about my limit for a phone.

  2. Bought a T100 with 64GB storage first day it came out. It’s a brilliant little device – perfect replacement for my netbook when travelling. It’s a mini Eclipse IDE Java development workstation. Very responsive and with enough screen space to comfortably code. As a tablet and web surfing device it’s also very responsive – the quad-core Baytrail is a very good thing. It’s got enough grunt to allow me to play Fallout New Vegas with settings turned down as an experiment.

    But, it hard crashes every third time or so I plug it in to recharge necessitating holding the power button down for 15 seconds or so for a hard reboot and losing any state in the process. The really crappy Asus updater fails so if there were BIOS or driver fixes I can’t use them. I’d like to recommend it to other less computer-savvy people as it really is a very nice thing to use. But I can’t because of that fatal flaw.

  3. If your phone is 1lbs, would you call it heavy? Or would you just say it’s fine, because you can lift 1lbs?

  4. > punkUser: Do you have the active stylus? So not worth buying?

    Yeah I do, both the original “bad” one and the newer “fixed” one that they sent me for free later (unprompted, so kudos to them). I don’t know what your intended use case is really, but for drawing (diagrams, math) and writing it’s a pretty large step down from a Wacom. It’s probably still better than nothing though 🙂 I got it on sale for $15 or something so I’m not that disappointed, but if you’re used to Wacom or similar do not expect it to be in that league.

    Regarding free space, you can regain some of it by moving the recovery partition to a USB drive. Just google around, it’s quite easy to do. With microSD for file/video storage I’ve done ok with the 32GB model but if I bought it again I’d definitely get the 64GB. Like you said, it’s a bit tight for heavy use 🙂

  5. You are quite correct in that it probably is the [i<]least bad[/i<] budget laptop but the line between laptop and convertible tablet is getting very blurry. I've used a T100 and they are amazing machines, especially at the low asking price. I think the distinction (my fault for not making it) lies is that a 'laptop' is [i<]more[/i<] than a tablet - it'll run things that you typically need a desktop for - and the only limitation should be that you compromise some speed and ergonomics to get it into a portable package. For me, at least, 32-bit, 2GB of RAM and the ability to run pretty much no modern games is what makes it a deal-breaker. There are phones coming out with more powerful hardware and massively better screens than the T100.

  6. I have the Nexus 7 and I also just picked up the Dell Venue 8 Pro (32GB) for $229 at FS here in Canada. I do like the slightly larger screen on the Dell over the Nexus. The text on the Nexus is much sharper compared to the Dell. In terms of performance the Dell does very well, quite usable and snappy enough to not notice. The downside is the 32GB model has very little left over (I think about 12GB free), but the Dell does have a micro SD card slot. I have been using the Dell more then the Nexus also.

    To bad Dell’s keyboard and case is around $90 for the Venue 8 Por, so I may just grab a small Bluetooth keyboard.

    punkUser: Do you have the active stylus? So not worth buying?

  7. I can’t upvote you enough.

    I have a couple of 2560 screens, but with the exception of a very few games 1080p is absolutely fine. The GPU horsepower that isn’t wasted on trying to keep up at 4MP can be spent on eye candy and maintaining fluidity.

    In fact, 1366×768 even looks okay on my 11″ laptop. It’s all about getting the RIGHT ppi. Bigger numbers are just marketing bulletpoints and perhaps not all that practical in the real world yet.

  8. As long as laptop manufacturers continue to crank out laptops with 768p panels and charge an arm-and-a-leg for 1080p, programmers aren’t going to update the software to support higher resolution.

    If the the manufacturers even offer that choice.

    Example: Elitebook 700 series. The Elitebook 745 G2 requires around $800 to go from 1600×900 to 1080p ($929 to $1690).

    And the Elitebook 725s and 755s aren’t much cheaper.

  9. What’s the point of printing paper at resolutions of 600+ DPI? What is the use case for this beyond spec envy?

    The answer to this question applies to paper and monitors both.

    Windows applications will adapt to HiDPI or fade into obsolescence. The days of 96 PPI displays are finally past.

  10. Just as a tablet actually. I have desktops at home/work and don’t do a lot of travelling so I don’t need a dedicated mobile productivity device per se. Still, it’s nice to know I have the option to run whatever I want on it in a pinch.

  11. You guys should check out the haswell XPS 12. I’ve had mine since December 2013 and it’s been a fantastic machine for less than $1,000. Great keyboard, awesome battery life, great display. I use the tablet flip feature with windows 8 stuff about 1% of the time I use the machine, but it’s there if apps get nice some day. In the meantime, I still prefer it to my friends’ macbook pros.

  12. Do you use the V8P exclusively as a tablet or do you have a keyboard/case with it? Dell didn’t offer anything at the time I was buying. And it was to new for any after market options. Otherwise it looked like a great device.

  13. The Venue 8 Pro is a vastly superior tablet to the Asus unfortunately (I have both). The wacom is nice (even Dell’s latest “fixed” stylus is terrible in comparison) but in all other categories the V8P is far better.

    I’m start to realize that that’s more due to the V8P just being an exceptionally good tablet rather than the Asus being bad. My Nexus 7 barely even gets charged these days in comparison. For the regular $300 price it depends on the user whether I recommend spending the extra over the N7 but it’s not abnormal to find the V8P for ~$200, at which price it is a no-brainer recommendation to everyone.

    I know I sound like a mindless fanboy (for Dell? ha) at this point, but I have a ton of tablets through work and otherwise and the V8P really stands out from the rest.

  14. I recommend this MSI: [url<][/url<] I have one and it is a tight little system for $899.

  15. Which phone does the staff use (recommend)?
    Think that would be interesting information.
    Hope they all don’t use Apple.

  16. But it runs Chrome OS. I guess if you can get a real Linux install it’d be worthwhile but I don’t want to buy a PC solely for a web browser acting like a full shell UI.

  17. Which is why I think they should abandon these storage tiers and just go with one model with a ton of storage, like 64GB or more.

  18. Agreed.

    The 1366×768 is perfect on the T100TA I just bought…any more would be even more obnoxious in Windows.

  19. This. To me, 1080p is the perfect resolution right now, pretty much regardless of the display size (although I’d be OK with fewer pixels on 11″-and-below displays). Anything higher seems waste of money and battery life

  20. Amazon has the Toshiba CB35-A3120 13.3-Inch Chromebook for $248 right now, Prime-eligible sold/shipped by Amazon. Celeron, 2GB RAM, 16GB HD, 3.3 lbs. HP has a 14″ equivalent in white for $289, 4.1 lbs. 13-inch is my sweet spot for something like this. The 11.6″ ones are good if you travel around a lot, as they’re a bit smaller and lighter.


  21. I’d look for something with mobile Kaveri in the near future. You’re not going to get long battery life and discrete graphics for less than $1500-2000.

  22. The Y510p has extremely poor battery life. 2 hours is simply not acceptable to people who don’t use their laptops as desktop replacements.

  23. [quote<]Also, keep in mind that a lot of Windows apps don't handle high-PPI displays gracefully. That may change thanks to the influx of cheap 4K monitors, but at least for now, OS X should deliver a better high-PPI experience.[/quote<] I'm still confused by the recent trend of shoehorning massive resolutions into tiny laptop displays; what is the use case for this beyond spec envy? Applications often don't play gracefully with high-PPI displays, media isn't available at the 3K+ native resolution, game settings will have to be dialed down to run at full resolution, and the benefits of making everything smaller are questionable on a tiny 13" screen. I'd rather spend less on resolution and more on display quality or laptop features, which is what I did on my last laptop purchase (15.6"; 1080P).

  24. Add me to the group of readers who are surprised that TR won’t recommend a laptop under $1000.

    I didn’t exactly go crazy with my laptop purchase last fall, yet it has been a surprisingly capable system. I bought an Asus Q500A with a broken screen from eBay for $220, purchased a 15.6″ 1080P AUO Optronics screen from a Lenovo system for $50 (a particular model which is known for excellent viewing angles and color reproduction) and added in a Samsung 840 Evo 250Gb on black friday for $120.

    Total cost of the system was under $400 for an i5 3210M (2.6Ghz, 3.1Ghz Turbo, Hyperthreading, HD4000), 6Gb of DDR3, excellent 1080P screen, 250Gb SSD, 2 USB 3.0 ports and a 750Gb Hitachi drive I can use as an external drive. The system is plenty thin, if a little on the heavy side, and has a nice brushed metal + soft touch plastic casing. Battery life is acceptable for me, though more would always be appreciated. Gaming performance is about the only area that I wish there was some improvement, but even that has been surprisingly good for older titles and indie games.

    Is there really nothing out there that can provide a similar experience out of the box for under $1000? I would think that with a 1 1/2 year old Asus laptop like mine being quite a solid system and the TF100 being praised as a great system, at the very least Asus should have some decent systems in the $600 range out now.

  25. I have an LG G Pad and I highly recommend it. I was going to buy the Nexus 7, until I tried it out. The jump to 8.3″ is significant.

    I can’t imagine spending the current $330 price, though. I snagged mine at $175 when it looked like it was going to flop and Newegg slashed the price.

  26. i was surprised no mention of any of the decent 8.1 tablets. the Dell venue is well reviewed, the asus note 8 is a great system (though i hear build quality is hit or miss, typical for asus). Any particular reason, or just don’t consider them worth buying?

  27. It’ll get upgraded in July hopefully. My mom got a new 7″ HDX last week when her OG Kindle Fire died. It’s night and day between the old OS and the new one, but their aversion to Google’s services make it kind of hard to use for me. It’s not so much the lack of the Play Store (because I’m a Prime member, I’d get quite a bit out of a Kindle Fire) as it is poor integration with Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.

  28. I’ve seen that sorta thing pop up with several consumer electronics in the last couple years. Things that appear as design flaws are actually glitching out. The fan thing is a RMA situation on that device.

  29. Cool article. The Nexus 7 is long in the tooth and needs a replacement. Do you not think that the Kindle fire compares or is there an aversion to their OS? I want to love the fire but its closed OS does drive me crazy.

  30. Didn’t test it first-hand, no, but I did my due diligence checking online and user reviews, etc. Didn’t get the sense that there was a design flaw that would cause constant fan noise. Someone mentioned fan noise in [url=<]this thread[/url<], but based on the responses, it seems like a defect that you'd want to get the system RMAed for.

  31. Lenovo Y510. not exactly “budget” but they are sub 1000. Cnet has a lot of excellent reviews for midpriced laptops.They were actually the site that recommended the y510.

  32. Yes, but for those who want the extra space to store media, the speed difference is irrelevant. So, $40 stings.

  33. It’s a shame you guys can’t recommend any laptops in the sub-$1000 category – I mean that’s the area where people need the [i<]most[/i<] help and advice. Given that they are all flawed, what are the [i<]least bad[/i<] budget laptops?

  34. Good info, thanks for posting. That Asus transformer just might be one of the cheapest quad-core windows computers on the market.Though I agree that 32gb is a bit low for the on board flash memory, considering this is full retail windows 8.1 and not RT, that will leave about enough space for native windows apps and saving a few documents. Still, even with the space limit in tablet mode it becomes one very powerful eReader or Citrix client.

  35. I agree, although it’s still roughly 4x as much per GB than what you’d pay for a SSD. I guess many people look at those prices and compare them with how big of a MicroSD card they could buy for that money, but that’s not a valid comparison as the flash mounted in tablets should be way faster than your run of the mill SD card.

  36. Do you really think that charging $40 to move from 16G to 32G on the Nexus is ‘disproportionate’ in today’s market? I think it’s one of the more reasonable upgrade prices out there.

  37. Haswell one, right around Thanksgiving. I don’t remember the exact CPU model number, but I know it started with 42.

    Did you try one? The fan just killed me…

  38. Did you try the Ivy Bridge version or the Haswell one? HP offered both, and I believe the Ivy Bridge one had more negative reviews.

  39. [quote<]For folks who need a convertible that's more notebook than tablet, the HP Split 13 x2 is worth a look.[/quote<] No no no No [b<]NO!!![/b<] Are you serious?!!?!? I mean, do you remember how loud and heavy it was?!? [quote<]The rated battery life sounds pretty good, too, at 10 hours.[/quote<] Oh. Sounds like you haven't actually tried it. [s<]FYI - the tablet part is horrendously heavy, and the fan runs non-stop. Switching from "normal" fan mode to "quiet" mode made it run a little bit slower but it was still running continuously, and it was still easily loud enough to make me want to kill something.[/s<] I think it would be prudent to refrain from recommending items you haven't tested yourself. EDIT: So it appears the fan issue was a manufacturing defect, and HP has presumably fixed the issues since last November.

  40. Any worthwhile 13″ to 14″ laptops to recommend? I prefer that it support light gaming (Intel’s IGP doesn’t count) while still having at least 6-8 hours of battery life. And less than $1000.

  41. I love MBP hardware, but non-OSX OSes ran like a dog for me on my C2D era MBP, and I’m looking for hardware that will allow me to run Linux, issue free.

    So while I would spend the green for a MBP, I’m actually eying a ChromeBook that I can put a native install of Linux on — but you guys did not mention how good the keyboard is, et al.

    Thoughts on how good the best of the ChromeBooks are i.e. keyboard, trackpad screen quality (resolution is independent of quality, of course), et al?

  42. I’m sure I’m not the only one that looked at the title and started imagining Damage moving the staff around like chess pieces. Or else it’s the most flexible of the staff.