l didn’t quite realise how much I used my laptop until it pretty much died a couple of weeks ago. It was a ASUS S200e , a touch screen i3 jobbie that cost me a couple of hundred pounds about three gears ago. You sort of don’t realise how used you get to something until you don’t have it any more. Irritatingly the problems with my ASUS seem to be at least partially software related; I constantly get failure to install Windows updates. The various MS tools for fixing this fail to fix it and the recovery partition that all ASUS laptops have on the hard drive to save them shipping a disk with it is corrupted. I took a long deep breath and decided to install Ubuntu on it (Ubuntu 14.04 LTS to be precise), since it’s one of the better Linux flavours that supports touch screens. It more or less works, Chromium is slightly different to Chrome as a web browser and the inherent security in Linux makes enabling Chrome remote desktop a massive faff but overall I’m reasonably happy with the desktop experience. For the most part I use my laptop for web browsing and blogging, so there is no real difference in functionality there. The problem I now how, which makes laptop replacement more and more likely is again probably software- Ubuntu keeps on dropping my wifi connection. It’ll happily connect to my router (or a mobile hotspot on my phone) for differing periods of time but then it will drop. It will see the networks and attempt to connect to them but fail every single time. Unfortunately I don’t know enough about Linux to trouble shoot this properly.
Still the handwriting recognition on my Shield Tablet isn’t so bad, and I’m sure if I went back in time 5 years, it would seem like pure witchcraft as it does a pretty good job of recognising cursive script:
It’s not the same though and I need something with a keyboard I can put on my lap. My typing is a lot faster than my handwriting, more accurate and to be honest, whilst the WordPress app is okay at a push when out and about, it’s nowhere close to the full website dashboard experience. And so I find myself looking for a new computer.
There are a few that I’ve had a look at and don’t look half bad:
- Asus Zenbook UX305;
- Surface 3;
- Surface Pro 3 (i5 variant);
- Toshiba Click Mini;
- Dell Chromebook 11.
There seem to be persistent issues with the Asus Zenbook though; the internet is awash with stories of woe with regards to the Intel video drivers and the problem is mentioned in the majority of the reviews. It doesn’t stop the reviewers giving it a very high score but actual buyers seem to think the problem is worse than the reviews do. It’s a software issue but doesn’t seem to have been fixed yet. The Surface 3 looks brilliant for a small screen device but, like the Surface Pro 3, I need to be won over to it’s lap sitting credentials. The Pro 3 is about to be superseded by a newer model, but the newer model will have a lower powered CPU in it. Whether the newer version is quicker remains to be seen but I can’t help think spending money on a lovely bit of kit a month or so before a new model comes out might be a bit daft. Confusingly the Surface 3 (without the Pro bit) is actually brand spanking new. I am seriously tempted with the Dell Chromebook 11 but I do worry about those rare moments where I might need something other than a Google service. This will be ameliorated by A lot of Android apps now working through a Chrome plugin called ARC Welder but I’m not quite sure. At some point, the flexibility of Windows 8.1/10 might be useful. Having said that, the Dell is enormously cheaper than all the other devices, so at the moment I’m a bit torn. I use my laptop an awful lot, and although we’re a bit strapped for cash at the moment, replacing it with something cheap and cheerful would almost certainly be a false economy. I’m leaning towards the Toshiba Click Mini but finding a definitive review is proving to be a bit tricky as it’s very new. There are plenty of hands on reviews from CES but no actual lab test…