- Intel Core i7-3537U (2GHz 1600MHz 4MB) (4-core Ivy Bridge!) with Intel HD graphics
- 8gb RAM
- 13.3" multitouch screen with 1600x900 resolution
- Gigantic MacBook-esque touchpad and chiclet keyboard
- 256gb Samsung SSD
- Bluetooth 4.0 and Realtek 8723 b/g/n wifi
- 1x USB 2 port, 1x USB 3 port, 1x HDMI out, and SD card reader
- Weighs 3.3 lbs
- Windows 8, MS Office Home & Student
HardwareMy first impressions are that the hardware is beautiful and excellent, with a few caveats:
- This is supposed to be a premium mobile product, but the Realtek wifi adapter is flaky under Windows and keeps dropping my home network connection. Why didn't Lenovo include an Intel wireless chipset? We make the best wireless hardware and write excellent drivers for both Windows and Linux. My old, cheap Acer AS1410 notebook with Intel wireless has never dropped a connection or failed to pick up a weak signal.
- What, only one USB 3.0 port, and one USB 2.0 port? Ars Technica's review puts it well:
I must once again profess bafflement: why would any PC OEM include USB 2.0 ports in an Ivy Bridge-based notebook before exhausting the four USB 3.0 ports natively supported by Intel's chipset? (Sigh, moving on.)
- The screen is huge and beautiful and very high-resolution, and the multi-touch works great, but the 16:9 aspect ratio isn't great in portrait mode.
- The function keys default to Windows 8 "Fn" mode, rather than real function keys. This is annoying and many of them duplicate easily available functions anyway, but at least you can switch them back to normal in the BIOS.
There are also a couple of things I wish it had based on having gotten used to using a Lenovo ThinkPad T400 for work:
- The keyboard is nice and has good tactile feedback, and the multi-touch touchpad is similarly excellent. I do wish that there was either a backlight for the keyboard, or a little overhead light that could shine on the keyboard (as on the ThinkPads).
- No docking station. I've gotten really used to just slapping my ThinkPad down on the docking station to connect Ethernet, extra monitors, headset, and USB keyboard all in one fell swoop. I think USB 3 docking stations are dumb and needlessly expensive, because they tend to duplicate hardware that already exists onboard (like multi-monitor support, extra ports, and onboard ethernet) but simply lacks an external port.
SoftwareThe Ultrabooks do away with legacy BIOS in favor of UEFI firmware, which allow them to boot very, very quickly even from a cold start. Woohoo!
As for the preinstalled Windows 8 operating system... woof. I've heard a lot of bad reviews, but it's even worse than I expected. It's lacking in functionality, confusingly split between Metro mode and Desktop mode (which removes my favorite features of the Windows 7 start menu, for good measure), and Microsoft seems to be aiming to outdo Apple in terms of vendor lock-in, developer restrictions, and flogging their own web services (Hotmail, Skydrive, etc.).
While trying to use Windows 8, I've regularly found myself wishing I could just reach for any of the following:
- My Acer AS1410 mini-notebook, running Ubuntu with Gnome Shell 3
- My workhorse Lenovo Thinkpad T400 laptop, running Windows 7
- My Samsung Epic smartphone running CyanogenMod 10 (Android Jellybean)
LinuxI'm planning to install Ubuntu. Looks like lack of device drivers for the wireless chipset were an issue a couple of months ago, but that these have been resolved in more recent kernels.
Details to follow...