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New Windows 10 Devices From Microsoft (windows.com)
875 points by yread on Oct 6, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 949 comments

That's what the OEMs get for not being able to put out a laptop that could compete with Apple in all those years, they always managed to introduce some fatal flaw in their premium laptops, from weird keyboard layouts to bad fan management software.

Let's hope the Surface Book will be succesful and Apple finally gets serious competition in the premium laptop market.

This! At least from the initial look and spec it looks like they did a lot of the things right and put effort in making this nice. Yes there are things that maybe I can get by without but the basics looks fantastic.

You don't chip $50 off a premium laptop and make it crappy. OEM just keeps making too many model at every price point .. at every 20 dollars it feels like. While I hate the almost singular choice for OsX .. both for Windows and Android I think there is just too many price points and when you try to reduce by 5-10-20 dollar you skip things that seems not so essentially but the degradation in experience is much more than the money saved.

What I really hope from this is that it shows the OEM that there are enough interest in quality product and also let them know what are some of the things that people really care about like the build quality, nice keyboard/touchpad etc. Beyond this particular laptop my real wish is that it motivates and gives confidence to the windows OEM. We really do need some good windows laptop even if to just to run linux :).

And every price point has one thing you want that the other ones don't have, so you end up sophie's choice-ing your way through Dell's website. And then you go from their Home to their Business site and the prices, features, bundles, and add-ons are different for the same hardware.

It's the same reason Google started making Nexus phones: so that someone, somewhere, would make a good Android phone without messing something up.

Something I do want to note: everyone seems to only ever look at two, maybe three companies for "serious" notebooks: Dell, Lenovo, and (maybe) HP. However, I've found that by far the best company to buy laptops from is Asus.

The latest example of this I've seen is the Asus Zenbook UX305LA. The specs are:

    8GB Ram
    256 SSD
    Intel Core i5-5200U
    1080p IPS display
    A keyboard devoid of obviously poor layout[0]
    Nice large multi-touch trackpad[0]
    Weighs 2.86 lbs (1.29 kg)
    8+ hours of battery
    Full out of the box Linux compatibility
    Price: $750
It seems to have an absolutely killer set of features at a great price point, and this seems to be a trend with Asus. My current laptop is an Asus TP300LA, with nearly the same specs (though thicker and heavier), and it sold at the same ~$700 price point two years ago.

I highly recommend people look to Asus for their standard "programmer machines".

[0] - http://cuttingedgenotebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/AS...

My two last laptops have been from ASUS. No complaints, no problems with reliability, decent trackpads and generally solid builds (not Apple-solid, but they are also not Apple-priced as you point out). For a while, they were the only company making decent 13" with discrete graphics.

The thing that I found incomprehensible, and somewhat tangential to the grandparent, is how ASUS manages to screw up distribution so badly. They release slightly different models at slightly different times in different geographic regions, and it is usually impossible to buy, say, the European or Asian versions, in the US. A year ago I was quite literally ready to throw money at them in exchange for a UX303LN to replace my aging U36SG, but my dream model was only available in Europe. The only two options I could get in US both had something wrong with them. Repeat: they actually manufactured a laptop to the exact specifications that I wanted, but didn't give me a way to buy it.

Considering they have global distribution channels, it don't imagine it actually being hard to make all models globally available, so the only other explanation I have is forced market segmentation: the two models available in US were pretty much the lowest and the highest end, with nothing in the middle.

I had been waiting to see if UX303UB will make it to US, or if it will suffer the same fate. Instead, I just pre-ordered a Surface Book.

There's more to a laptop than just its theoretical performance. It also needs to be reliable and tough, light-weight, ergonomic (good keyboard, touchpad that isn't touched accidentally), cool (otherwise CPU & GPU might be throttled), etc.

And to add to that, how repairable if something breaks?

I've found the general quality of Asus machines, especially the zen book to be exceedingly poor when trying to come off of a MacBook Pro. The touchpad and keyboards typically are horrible. That's what matters to me more than ram or Cpu.

which ones? The zenbooks have been pretty sweet, accurate trackpads, decent keys, although personal preference is hard to really nail down. build quality pretty good, screens could give you 1920 matte screen even back to their 2012 iterations.

the out of the box linux compatibility is a game of chance on those. you have half the models with shitty broadcom cards. a third with the only atheros cards they can find without any drivers and the remaining with an intel card for this month and realtek after that.

it's just a pain in the arse to find one that you can reliably recommend. and 1920x1080 is still a shit resolution.

I used a laptop with a broadcom card 2-3 years ago; it worked for me.

Exactly. I mean there are basic things for which you shouldn't have to hunt models. Anything with the basic size, shape and weight should have the standard ports and connectors I am guessing they are cheap enough. Having to shop for a different line of laptop for want of 2 USB 3 port is ridiculous. This is a made up example but you get the meaning.

What I think can be reasonable price points for laptop

  Basic build vs. premium construction (Non-plastic super rigid maybe)
  Weight (regular vs ultra light)
  Ports, keyboard, touchpad should be standard I think. Maybe premium ones might have the latest techs but nothing should be atrocious.
  The next bit should be priced based off whats chosen but really most cpu, ram, storage, display should be available on all model. You might restrict the premium to some high end configuration but even on a non-premium build you should be able to get high end display for most part.
What you shouldn't end up is having a $1400 vs. $1500 line of products where the $1400 has got better ports or display option then the $1500 laptop.

A huge amen to this...

The universe needs

4 size formats (11, 13, 15 and 17 inch) 3 screen resolutions (1920x1200, 2560x1600, 3840x2400 (17inch only) all 16:10) 2 keyboard options on 15 and 17 inch models (with or without keypad) 4 RAM options (8, 12, 16, and 32 GB) 7 drive options (128, 256, 512 or 1TB SSD, 500GB or 1TB hybrid, 2TB HDD) 4 GPU options (Embedded, High end gaming, Mid gaming, Stable/Workstation (K620, for example)) Touchscreen or not option Removable batteries (except in thin and light and cheapest possible which have integrated batteries)

3-6 body types 1) thin and light (only 11/13/15inch) 11hr battery life, no discrete video, SSD only 2a) middle of the road plastic (13/15/17inch) 6hr or 9hr battery 2b) middle of the road metal (13/15/17inch) 6hr or 9hr battery 3a) rugged/thick/workstation (15/17inch) 4hr or 6hr battery, option slot for either BlurRay RW or 2nrd drive or 2nd video card or secondary battery 3b) thick/gaming (15/17inch) 4hr or 6hr battery, option slot for either BlurRay RW or 2nrd drive or 2nd video card or secondary battery Optional) cheapest possible (15inch) no discrete video, 6hr battery

Not sure why OEM’s can’t get this straight. Also not sure why 1366x768 is still a thing nor why keyboard options aren’t a thing.

> It's the same reason Google started making Nexus phones: so that someone, somewhere, would make a good Android phone without messing something up.

The problem Google have though is they have zero input into the hardware design, other than choosing from the existing models. So their ability to prevent cock ups only extends to the software.

Except there was the Nexus 7 TRIM issue that killed SSD performance and took a year to patch. I suppose they've had a lot to learn.

This is what I was hopeful for when VAIO was spun off of SONY last year.

When I saw the "machined magnesium body" line in their video [1] I was immediately reminded of the VAIO laptops that had beautiful material way back in the 90's.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVfOe5mFbAE&feature=youtu.be

"Fun fact": Steve Jobs is said to have admired Sony [0] and things like the MacBook Air is presumably inspired by the Sony VAIO X505 [1].

[0] https://www.google.com/search?q=steve+jobs+admiration+for+so... [1] http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/6/5385716/sony-vaio-iconic-pc...

I bought a Sony Vaio 15 Flip ($1200)[1] new vs. a MBP, Surface Pro 3 or Wacom Cintiq (needs a computer) for drawing. Artists are still looking to buy them at $1400 to $1800. It has a large drawings surface vs Surface Pro 3, a dedicated GPU, lots of ports, and a great screen. It runs my CAD programs (Rhino, MOI and AutoCAD Fusion) sufficiently for an i5-based notebook. It has some other great screen positions for just browsing. It a very sleek and well-designed unit. I can see how Jobs would admire them or be inspired by their innovative designs. Just look at the PSP vs. the Nintendo Gameboy physical design. I did consider an Apple Modbook [2], but it was too blocky, expensive, and going to a third-party for a modded Macbook didn't feel right, although they are Apple-endorsed and sponsored now.

[1] http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2425731,00.asp [2] http://www.modbook.com/

Sony actually manufactured the early Powerbooks under contract.

That's correct. The Powerbook 100.

I worked at Geek Squad in the mid 2000s and we had one regular customer who had one of those X505. Its thinness and its lightness were unbelievable back then.

I still miss the z series... But the z series had ethernet ports. This surface thing is useless to me.

You can order a new Z here: http://us.vaio.com/

As a pleasant surprise, it still has a built-in RJ45.

At $3000 I expect a dedicated graphics option...

You'll probably be best served by the (ugliest ever) "surface dock." See the same page.

I use a surface and I have an ethernet to USB adapter, works pretty well.

But then you loose the USB port. But the main problem of USB adapters is that they don't like being unplugged and plugged back which happens quite frequently with a laptop. With a real port connectivity is pretty much instantaneous. I used USB adapters for a while on a MacBook pro and came to the conclusion that I will never ever buy a laptop without ethernet ports.

What I wonder is why they don't come up with a mini-ethernet port format? Ethernet ports aren't exactly high tech.

Anker makes a USB 3 hub with gigabit ethernet. I've got one, it's pretty great.


That is my docking station at work! Fully linux compatible, built properly too, albeit Apple aesthetic rather than the black plastic that is more me.

I didn't realize such a thing was being made! thanks for the tip

> What I wonder is why they don't come up with a mini-ethernet port format?

I suspect that is part of the problem. The plug is just so big - though IMO Thunderbolt and USB adapters work OK. Realise not everyone thinks this way, though.

> But the main problem of USB adapters is that they don't like being unplugged and plugged back which happens quite frequently

? That's basically what they're designed for.

Maybe I am unlucky but I tried different adapters. The Apple ethernet adapter is not even plug and play on windows and requires a reboot. But even USB adapters take a while for drivers to load then I had all sort of problems: the connection regularly being recognised as 100Mbit when it should be gigabit or the USB adapter not being recognised after a couple of unplugging without a reboot.

The Apple Thunderbolt Ethernet Adapter is basically a PCIe devices over Thunderbolt. Unless your OS has hot plug PCIe, it's going to require a reboot.

At least Windows and Linux have supported hot plug PCIe for ages.

Although hardware PCIe slot register must support the optional presence detect bits. Also slot capabilities register must report optional hotplug support and surprise removal support.

I guess thunderbolt has those features supported by default.

IIRC, the apple thunderbolt ethernet adapter violates thunderbolt spec and relies on the adapter specific driver for hot-plug when it's supposed to be a generic interface... this is a problem in other OSes running on mac hardware even.

How about a cable that’s USB-C on one side, has the ethernet controller built into the plug (similar to the way a Thunderbolt chip is crammed into the plug), and ethernet on the other end?

Remember these? http://www.recycledgoods.com/media/extendware/ewimageopt/med...

Never quite sure why the small connector didn't become the standard for laptops.

The 15-pin I/O connector for ethernet was part of the PCMCIA CardBus standard, which is why dongles could be shared between cards. After PCMCIA picked up speed, a "non-practicing entity" pulled a patent out of their portfolio for a "programmable connector". Because the PCMCIA ethernet card itself plugged into the computer and presented a different connector to the outside world, the NPE was able to sue and/or settle with something like 90% of the companies making PCMCIA ethernet cards & modems.

3COM had a cool connector on some of their cards called XJACK. It was a little tray you slid out of the card. It had a hole that your RJ-45 plug slid into and some pins. It would certainly make for thinner devices today, but the connectors broke pretty easily and you ended up with an ethernet cable sticking out at a weird angle.

Before everybody standardized on RJ-45, there was a standard called AUI which used a 15-pin D connector. Your network card would have an AUI connector and you'd buy an adapter for whatever kind of network you needed to attach to. Apple had their AAUI which was much, much smaller (about the size of 2 mini Display Ports?). But I think licensing kept that from taking off as a standard.

Well, that's actually an alternative. Instead of having a full standard RJ45 port, having a smaller laptop-friendly proprietary socket with a cheap plastic adapter to RJ45. The adapter would just be a piece of plastic and therefore this would avoid all the driver related problems and would not require manufacturers to pick up the phone to agree on a standard with their peers. That would work for me.

I think that was before my time. All it would take is a different plastic socket format. The top 10 laptop manufacturers could agree on a standard in a 10 minutes conference call.

Real products don't work like fads in Javascript.

> What I wonder is why they don't come up with a mini-ethernet port format? Ethernet ports aren't exactly high tech.

Regular ethernet is so ubiqutious that you'd end up needing adaptors anyway. At that stage, you may as well use a USB-whatever to Ethernet adaptor.

Not if it's a standard. Think micro-usb ports. You can find micro-usb cables everywhere. In this case you would find RJ-45 to mini-RJ-45 cables.

You can do Ethernet over many connectors. The end points will still be RJ45, which are very ubiquitous. That issue will not be resolved any time soon.

It has, in the docking station; which makes sense to me.

> While I hate the almost singular choice for OsX

I actually find that this is less true now, and I miss when it was more true. There are a lot of choices now, not just at price points, but at form factors. Do I get a 13" MacBook Air, a 13" MacBook Pro Retina, a 12" MacBook, or the upcoming 12.9" iPad Pro?

I was just speaking to one of my devs about this today. Steve Jobs' turned Apple around by removing choice. You had a Consumer and Pro category and they each had a laptop and a desktop. The new Apple is slowly drifting into Dell territory, where I have too many options. It becomes the Netflix problem where I find myself having too many options, so I browse the offerings, and before I decide, fall asleep.

Steve Jobs got rid of a lot of stupid choices in the Mac line, but he was not anti choice.

At one point, the ipod lineup went from about $50 to $500 in $25-$50 increments. Every little increment was just that much better, in a way that made it very easy to spend a few more bucks. This one has more space, that one is a little bigger and has a screen, that one is a ton bigger an can play videos, this one has more storage than you'd ever imagine.

The ios lineup looked like that a few years back, between the ipod Touch, carrier subsidies for phones, and the new at the time ipads. The declining subsidies has cut off the 0$ upfront low end, but they're extending up with the pro.

My feeling on the laptops is that the Air is not long for this world (which sucks, cause I really like mine), and the model confusion now is essentially a transition state because they can't make all the engineering happen in one year. At some point, Apple is going to manage to make all of their laptops essentially iPads of different sizes, with attached keyboards.

(Why they can't do a bigger one with a real keyboard, days of battery life, and a monster processor is left to the imagination)

I think the problem is they're in a transitional phase right now. Retina displays aren't ubiquitous yet and are introducing an extra axis of differentiation on the one hand, while the new ultralight Macbook is the first example of a step change in form factors. They're a long way from PC manufacturers where the main distinction between two models can be as trivial as the audio chip and speaker specs.

What I meant is a single vendor. There are other laptops out there good or bad and if I wanted one for price or design I can't. For example I would probably love to run OSX on something like a surface book if that was possible, or linux for that matter.

I hate the lack of ports in the Macbook 12 but thats the only 12" OSX machine you can get.

Microsoft has done really, really well with the Surface tablets, from what all my Dev Ops and Systems friends tell me. I'm still a bit wary of the detachable keyboard form factor but hey, it would be cool to see them get another win with the Surface Book.

>You don't chip $50 off a premium laptop and make it crappy

I got that kind of feeling though when he was talking about both the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. The SP4 is thicker than it could be because you wanted to add a full USB-A??? WHY?? and there are USB-A and not USB-C and a full SD slot on the Book ... WHY??? It made me ill to see them add that shit. It felt like typical MS snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Full SD?? Not micro SD??? Not mini SD??? Why again??? sigh

Full SD makes complete sense. Many cameras use an SD card.

Now you need a separate adapter to carry around with your laptop instead of a nice built-in SD card reader.

I'd bet an extremely high (and growing) percentage of people never connect a digital camera to their computers, and those that do probably do so rarely. So do the benefits here justify the costs?

How do people transfer photos from digital cameras then?

Many cameras don't have built in USB/networking of any kind.

Most people don't own digital cameras any more, they just use their smartphones (which have USB/networking).

LOL, your comment is quite funny. This may be true for "most hipsters that don't care about photography", but in reality there are still many folks using regular mirrorless camera or even better, full frame DSLR because their price has dropped so much in the past 3 years. And these folks also happen to be the ones looking for premium laptop options in order to get data transferred fast (wifi is too slow for RAWs) and work on their pictures before publishing them.

It's not because you dont have a use for it that everyone out there is just like you.

Actually, I have a dSLR myself. But I'm a tech nerd and extremely aware that most people are nothing like me. Most people just take selfies on their smartphone cameras, run them through an ig filter, and call it a day.

Again, most people dont have a 1000+ USD laptop. You are not talking about your regular laptop user here - there is definitely more people who have large cameras and not only smartphones among the ones who buy expensive computers.

I mean, I'm obviously biased because of my age, but walk into any college lecture hall and it's all $1000+ MacBooks. Only a small minority of those same students will ever buy a dSLR.

Wifi is not too slow for RAWs. I backed-up my entire library to the cloud over wifi. I would bet most people don't need to transfer their files on a fast enough timescale that wifi is too slow for them.

Most people use only their phones as cameras now.

No it doesn't its a horrible and unnecessary dependency. Why not simply do what Apple did with the MacBook, for those hands full of users who still need an SD reader and can't connect the device directly by wire, they could simply plug in a dongle. It's absolutely stupid really, especially with USB-C looking to take over. Hell, they put it in the damn phone, why not be consistent and go with it everywhere. stupid.

You have insert mini and MicroSD with small adapters into SD slots, but you can't do the opposite. On top of that, SD cards are the ones with the biggest capacity out there. MicroSDs are very limited in storage and tend to be very costly when you go in the high storage range.

pretty annoying, especially when its so close to being the perfect laptop for me, one that i could go a good 10 or so years without having to upgrade if it only had included usb c and a fingerprint reader.

but from their point of view it probably makes more sense because where would you go after making a perfect laptop like that!? it would already be as thin as it can and there wouldnt be that much more to add to it apart from and slightly better cpu or gpu

> and a fingerprint reader.

It has a fingerprint reader.

Take a look at "Building Microsoft Surface Pro 3." [1] Microsoft definitely has set the bar for this type of device. I personally have been waiting for such a device that all the other offerings were just not up to par as each seemed to have some quirk or problem. Bad hinge design, drivers not working, performance was subpar, battery life was lacking.

Other manufactures will have to take notice.

[1] https://channel9.msdn.com/Events/Ignite/2015/BRK3302

Too bad it was mostly slides. Very nice idea to release this anyway. I hope there will be a SP4 follow-up (somehow mentioned on this video)

Definitely worth a listen/watch. Just goes to show how seriously Microsoft is taking the quality of their products.

And for those of us early adopters with the Surface Pro 3, I can upgrade my pen and use the new charging doc. Well done. Feels thoughtful, not something I can say about my Asus Windows tablet experience.

Oh wow, you can use the new pen with the SP3? Interesting.

Why wouldn't you be able to do that? Seems logical that it would work. Unless Microsoft changed the pen manufacturer (again).

In the presentation they went on about PixelSense and how they had re-engineered everything. Evidently the protocol between the pen and screen remains the same though.

It does work. Microsoft bought n-trig last year.

Ah, I'd been wondering how they had single-handedly managed to take on N-Trig and Wacom with in-house tech. Makes a lot more sense now. I'd missed the acquisition.

Can you use the old dock with the Surface Pro 4?

It is probable. I can't find perfect specifications, but the dimensions of the Pro 3 and Pro 4 are very similar. Lining up the machines visually, as shown in the image linked below, indicates that the dock port is in the same place and is the same size. That's by no means proof but it's not ruled out. The USB and DisplayPort certainly change by comparison.

I have ~20 Surface Pro 3's in production so I am very interested in this answer.

Surface Pro 4: 11.5" x 7.93" x 0.33"

Surface Pro 3: 11.5" x 7.93" x 0.36"


Again, this is a sloppy image comparison, not a guarantee.

I've heard rumors that they'll release some sorta spacer that will allow the pro 4 to work with the old docks.

yes[1]. I thought I read that they promised this at the surface pro 3 launch but I can't find proof of that.

[1] http://www.expertreviews.co.uk/tablets/1403174/microsoft-sur...

Pretty sure I heard the presenter say 'surface pro dock, yes I said surface pro not surface pro 4 because the 3 works on it, too'. Should double check though.

I've heard this detail but I am curious about the other way around.

The simple answer is, yes.

Exactly this ... outside of ThinkPad, many Windows hardware options have been pretty embarrassing.

I'm relatively unfamiliar with ThinkPads and happened to be looking at them yesterday. Here's my problem with ThinkPads (as well as most other Windows laptop vendors):


Which ThinkPad are you talking about? ThinkPad X, ThinkPad T, ThinkPad W, ThinkPad Yoga, ThinkPad E, ThinkPad L, or ThinkPad Helix, or ThinkPad 11E?

Let's say we're talking about ThinkPad T.. Which model?

T440p, T450, T450s, T540p, or T550?

And ThinkPad is just one line of Lenovo's products, they also have: Y Series, Z Series, Yoga Series, 500 Series, Flex, Edge, U Series, Lavie, B Series, 100 Series, S Series, G Series, and finally Chromebook.

As a consumer, I have a hard enough time deciding between Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book... or Macbook Air vs Macbook vs Macbook Pro. When presented with so many options from one company I simply close the webpage. After all, how can they possibly make the product as good as MS's offering if they have so many models?

> Let's say we're talking about ThinkPad T.. Which model?

> T440p, T450, T450s, T540p, or T550?


When looking for a competitor to Apple, go for the T-series, but also take a look at the X-series.

T5XX has 15" screen and numpad in the keyboard, so unless you like numpad, forget those. 440 is the older series, before it there was 430 series, and presently 450 is the current line.

"p" stands for "performance", basically it's a laptop with an NVIDIA GeForce graphics card, if you are heavily into gaming or video production. It makes the laptop thicker, heavier and consume more power. Usually you forget the "p" option. Also Apple makes do with just the integrated Intel graphics, so we don't need NDIVIA either.

"s" is maybe for "slim". T4XXs is the flagship, and the plain T4XX is an economy version. The T4XXs is, in my opinion, the best competitor for Apple laptops.

> When looking for a competitor to Apple, go for the T-series, but also take a look at the X-series.

Sure. Joe Average has no clue about that though. Most of the main vendors suffer from the same proliferation of models. Look at Dell:

Latitude - For Business

Vostro - for Small Business (WTF? Why is this a different model from Latitude?)

Inspiron - For Home and Home Office (Seriously? Why isn't this satisfied by either of the other two models?)

Precision Workstations - For professional creators (that seems like a reasonable distinction, but then looking at the specs it's not really, it's just a slightly higher spec than other models)

XPS - For the Ultimate experience (Okay.. but what about Precision Workstation then? Why on earth does something called the Ultimate have worse spec than some of the other not-ultimate models?)

Plus their sites are abysmal. It's like they were built with technology from the 90's and nobody told them about UX.

It's like they were built with technology from the 90's

HTTP, HTML and Javascript?

Compared to the Yoga 2 (or is it 3?) non-pro (proper HD rather than faux retina or faux HD), the 'proper' Thinkpad is a generation of CPU behind with half the RAM and double the price.

The backlit 'chicklet' keyboard on the Yoga Whatever(tm) is also subjectively better than the barrage of nipples and buttons that come with those 'legendary' Thinkpad keyboards. The screen is of a magnitude more vibrant and you can run two disks - mSATA SSD + normal SATA SSD/spinny-disk. Plus touch is just a feature, not something that is a special requirement. The hinge seems better engineered too, even if it never gets used in 360 tablet mode.

There is proof of pudding in that my colleagues with 14" Thinkpads have those stands and external monitors, with external keyboards and mice, rarely with the machines being 'un-docked' or taken home. Meanwhile, my off-brand Yoga Whatever(tm) gets carried around as intended, used on trains and used at home.

Sure some of the shiny has worn off the fibreglass in the palm-rest area but I actually do not care, I don't like the feel of Apple-style aluminium, plastic is more me when it comes to what I want to rest my palms on. The build quality is absolutely fine on Yoga Whatever(tm), same power connector as Thinkpad with same USB3 connector.

I downgraded from Windows Whatever to Ubuntu and admittedly the wifi does need 'make install' every time the kernel changes, but it runs a full set of dev tools fine (my colleagues desk-bound machines run 'Outlook', a web browser and nothing else, maybe 'Excel').

I prefer a standard linux distro as the Apple dev environments don't have the repository 'apt-get install' thing done very well. Horses for courses but there are surprises in the consumer range that are better for getting work done and a worthy contender for Apple competitor. Actually I would be annoyed if company policy forced me to have either a proper Thinkpad or a proper Apple computer, the Yoga Whatever(tm) with 14" deep-colour proper-HD screen hits the sweet spot for me.

> Also Apple makes do with just the integrated Intel graphics, so we don't need NDIVIA either.

No they don't… the 15" MBP has a dedicated GPU, and a good one at that.

A good one ? Nope, not for the price.

http://www.notebookcheck.net/AMD-Radeon-R9-M370X.142763.0.ht... The AMD Radeon R9 M370X is a mid-range graphics card for laptops that was announced mid 2015.

Mac are awesome for work (mine at least) but useless for anything that requires a good gpu

And costs 1000€ more than the Thinkpad W, a graphics workstation laptop.

I went through this when trying to help my younger sister choose a laptop for college. HP had a sale / coupon, and the number of laptop choices was overwhelming. Not only do they have 3 product groups, but they have ~10 products in each group, and you can customize each product even further.

I spent over an hour narrowing down the list of laptops (with names that told me nothing) to the few that met her price / performance budget. After that experience, I can totally understand how Apple does so well. Most consumers want LESS choice, not more.

The human biases related to paradox of choice type issues are real, but there are all sorts of ways to manage that for yourself. You end up with something objectively better if push through the psychological toll that a lot of choices takes on humans. Sometimes this is clearly worthwhile, sometimes not.

It's totally reasonable to make the choice that a lowest common denominator set of features is acceptable if it means you don't have to deal with the pain of choices, but you don't magically get something better as well. I do this for all kinds of things where the extra effort to get "the best" isn't worth the mental cost, but I make that choice mindfully. I only vaguely remember the annoyance of having to pick from the myriad of Thinkpad choices years ago.

For example, Apple makes great stuff but isn't designing things for my needs in a work laptop at all. I place no value on appearance since it's just a tool to me, I'm in a very keyboard-centric software environment so a trackpoint keyboard is the best mouse for me on this machine. I need various ports to plug things into more than I need clean lines. I need features and battery life more than I need portability. And while I try to discount status concerns here as much as I can, if I'm honest the people it's most useful for me to impress with my work laptop are more impressed by novelty/customization (arch linux + tiling wm + vim-keybindings everywhere setup) than with Apple product beauty anyway. When people refer to a laptop being "ugly" it strikes me as about as meaningful an opinion as if someone told me my cordless drill or vacuum was ugly.

Now that I mention it, that's the reason I find the current designer culture (intuitive design is the be-all and end-all of design) to be fairly anti-creator. The people who create things with technology, who craft code or video or sound or images in order to build valuable things do better with tools that allow for expertise. They benefit from the payoffs that investments in mastering expert interfaces bring with them. They want the option to climb a learning curve if it's the only way to reach the heights. I find calls for the systematic removal of this option to be troubling, especially when they are aimed at young people.

So, as a consumer, value being given limited choices when it makes sense for you but please don't lobby for it to be more universal!

IMHO there is a difference between choice and the chaos you have with most vendors. I appreciate that there are different variants of Thinkpads, but why are they so cryptically? A customization based system would be better IMHO. Pick a screen size + maybe for 15.6 bulky vs ultrabook style, then pick the upgrades you want. Ideally just a bunch of sliders.

Some options really are unnecessary. Like "Do you want to spend $15 to upgrade the network card to the 3x3 model? (no, we can't tell you if you need that or not or even what it means, you gotta know that yourself)".

Makes the design step more difficult (because you shouldn't have crazy intransparent dependencies between upgrades), but is more user friendly. Give 2 or 3 preset options for users that don't want to fiddle.

This is something a dealer might be able to implement on top of the existing offerings, but I haven't seen it yet. Screenfulls of base models, then another page of dropdowns. No way to tell what specific options each of the base models offers (or doesn't offer).

What advantage do we have with this whole confusion of product lines with meaningless names? In many cases they could be replaced by a couple of lines with optionals for customization and that's it.

yeah. My Mac Air is a custom build - but getting to it was a conceptually simple process. Mac Pro/iMac/Mac Mini/Macbook Pro/Mac Air? Low-end Air or high-end Air? Want to customize that?

Apple's got about fourteen separate computers they'll sell you (plus tablets/phones), but that's folded away behind six distinct products that come in two or three stock configurations. If you had to choose between those fourteen things up front it'd be a lot more conceptually complicated.

We use thinkpads at work. They're okay, but they're not Surface/MacBook level of quality. My T450s has bad backlight bleed at the bottom, the trackpad is a major regression from my T430, and it was chock-full of crapware before I nuked it and reinstalled windows. Apple isn't perfect, but the sort of annual model lottery that is notable when it happens in the Apple world is par-for-course in the PC world.

This is one of the reasons why I never bought a Lenovo because I am not sure which one to buy. Too many choices. They did the great job in confusing the heck out of me.

You make a very good point for the average Joe. With that many options, you better hope Joe has a tech savvy friend to make the recommendation, and that said tech savvy friend doesn't just say "get a macbook" because these days that's a perfectly good recommendation 99% of the time.

As a long-time Thinkpad owner, there are really only two answers for most tech-savvy users with typical needs (media, browsing, travel, and maybe programming): The X series and the T4XXs models.

After a very long deliberation (few years:) I went with T450 (non-retina) this summer and I am very happy. I chose it over T550 due to slightly lower dpi (I have a a 15 inch Dell at work with T550's resolution and everything is unpleasantly small, on T450 it's fine).

I took SSD, 16gb ram, no DVD, 2 cores (quad core was very expensive) and 2 batteries which makes it very light, yet with proper screen size; very fast and the battery lifetime is amazing (10-20h)

Only thing I don't like is touchpad, but I usually disable it and use track point. I preferred touchpad in my old asus laptop which was lower than keyboard level hence one would rarely click it by accident.

I chose T450 over T440 since in ..50 series Lenovo readded physical buttons over the touchpad (in ..30 and ..40 they were replaced with touch zones on the touchpad and long time Thinkpad users were really furious about that on forums)

The DPI is really a software problem. More DPI should only be better except for battery use.

IMO Touchpads/clickpads on those are a deal breaker. They are so bad that it is almost impossible to be nearly as productive as with a mouse.

On the other hand, Apple really got the clickpad right.

T450 has 130dpi, T550 has 140dpi. It is small but noticeable difference.

It is a software problem that for pragmatic reasons I don't want to get into. Good luck setting non-integer scaling on current operating systems (like 1.25 or 1.50). It's either not supported, or the effect is blurry. It's a different story for retina screens, you set scaling to 2.00 and you're fine. But I was talking about non-retina.

I am surprsied reading those comments. A touchpad on my x250 is fantastic and very customizable. I hate touchpads in general but after customizing it to be very sensitive and proper dead zones (to avoid clicking on accident in areas I often put a part of my hands) even started to like it.

I customized to very low sensitivity and I use only for clicking these days as trackpoint is just much better an interface.

Lenovo should simply stop shipping touchpads on their X series.

Anyone that doesn't like the trackpoint can buy a MacBook clone instead.

I cant agree. I really dislike the feel of the MacBook touch pads. Besides that they work good

That's the issue right there. You get swamped by options, some may be good, most are crappy. How can you tell? Sometimes they'll add a letter and an otherwise good product will be a crappy mess.

They can make it better than MS's offering because they are providing you with exactly what you need.

Take for example me, compsci student. I wanted to have a sub-600€ laptop with good hardware and good battery life, but did not care much about display. I ordered a thinkpad, replaced the HDD with an SSD, and am now happy with it.

The trick is called customization: Being better because they can deliver exactly what you need.

No, they really do have too many models. The yoga line is nice, but they clearly don't invest much individual resources on the design of each of the other models, which tends to make them generic. I have a work-supplied s540, and it's a decent workhorse laptop, but a macbook it is not. It's too generic for that. I was also pretty disappointed that the coating had blemishes. Even a cursory visual QA check would have detected those, so either they're shipping product sight unseen, or they're deliberately deciding to ship blemished goods.

There is nothing more generic than a macbook

No, there's nothing that espouses the "Modern" (capital M) design ethos as thoroughly as a macbook.

T and X are the ones you want.

I think that complaining about "too much choice" is disingenuous. One of the things I don't like about the Apple eco-system is that there is hardly any choice. Choosing between a tablet and a laptop is not really making a choice. It must be hell for you to by a car...

I'm a fan of Mazda. Your analogy would make more sense if instead of Mazda offering a choice of compact (Mazda 3), sedan (Mazda 6), or sports car (Mazda Miata), instead Mazda decided to build a lineup of:

   * Mazda6L (Our most green Mazda 6)
   * Mazda6 Yoga (Our Mazda 6 that transforms into a Miata)
   * Mazda6W (Our power version)
   * Mazda6T (Our version which includes more gizmos)
   * Mazda6X (Our version which includes even more gizmos)
   * Mazda6 Helix (Our version that's like our Yoga but different)
   * Mazda611E (Our rugged version for teenagers who are careless)
.. and then within each type, have specific models like Mazda6T 554p, Mazda6T 440s, etc.

.. and then allowing you to further customize each Mazda6 model down to the finest detail.

...and then repeat for each type of car in their lineup (Mazda3, Miata, SUVs, etc).

Yes, if this were the case then I would have a very hard time buying a car! :)

Mazda in Australia is particularly straightforward as far as full-range car companies go. Three cars (2, 3, 6) three SUVs (CX3, CX5, CX9) a ute (BT-50) and a sports car (MX-5). Each of these has a few levels of trim. Some have choice of engine, boot style. Overall it's very easy for consumers to comprehend.

Whereas take BMW, which seems to have a really simple product line but has endless subtle variations in the same segment. 5 series Sedan vs 4 Gran Coupé vs 3 Grand Turismo, anyone? Then try to comprehend the endless options for each model. Then try to comprehend the relative cost of one model versus another (or one trim versus another) factoring in the inclusion or exclusion of particular features. It's insane.

Oh, you mean like having a

* Mazda 6 SE Saloon

* Mazda 6 SE-L Saloon

* Mazda 6 Sport Saloon

* Mazda 6 SE Tourer

* ...

... and then within each trim level, with or without nav

... and then within each, auto or manual transmission

... and then within each, petrol or diesel engines (sometimes several power levels)

... and then of course colours, paints and fabrics and alloy wheels and all that cosmetic stuff.

Admit it, there's more different option in a car configurator even at Mazda than in a laptop manufacturer's line-up.

I admit that other makes allow more customization and there's regional differences too (Mazda USA offers far less customization than Mazda Japan or Europe specifically because their research determined us Yanks like less choices).

But I think your example is way off. You're showing Trim Levels which are equivalent to prepackaged options list like CPU, memory, Red type cover vs Blue type cover, black stylus vs silver stylus. It's still the same model (Mazda6), still the same chassis, same body, same car! And cars are far more complicated than laptops! Buying a car in the USA for 99% of the general public basically comes down to choosing the Model (Mazda6), choosing the trim level (Grand Touring), choosing the color, and then settling for whatever your nearest dealers have on the lot :)

In comparison, the ThinkPad T models have different chassis, different physical sizes, different weight before you even start customizing things like CPU, memory, batteries, etc. And remember we're only talking about the T series.

ThinkPad is pretty embarrassing; you're supporting a company that decided to MITM all its users traffic to inject advertising using factory-installed malware by trusting the same certificate, whose private key can be extracted from any Lenovo product and trivially used to MITM all the others.

Lenovo needs to fail hard and fast. I recognize we'll probably never get those responsible into prison, but at least we can make sure they never work again.

If you wouldn't buy or recommend a Volkswagen after dieselgate, you certainly shouldn't buy or recommend a Lenovo product after Superfish.

> all its users traffic

It was only a subset of their customers, and none of the ThinkPad models.


Is that supposed to be better? The same people profit from ThinkPad purchases as the other notebooks. In fact withholding it from ThinkPad indicates a deliberate campaign not to put it where a tech-savvy user might see it.

I think it's terrible - I just wanted to point out bad information in the parent comment.

I think even Thinkpads were prone to Lenovo's malware (if not Superfish)

I support the company that makes the closest thing to a product I want. Reimaging the computer is a lot easier than installing your own pointing stick.

I don't think people understand the magnitude of this betrayal. When you buy a tool, it should obey you, and any deviations from that expectation should be disclosed upfront.

Imagine if you bought a car that detected when you were driving to a particular business, locked out steering, and instead drove you to a competitor that had "partnered" with the manufacturer. You totally own the car, and no one ever told you it had this "feature."

Imagine if you bought a gun that would refuse to fire when pointed at people who had purchased protection from the manufacturer. You don't find out about this feature until the guy invading your home has it.

Lenovo lied to your face. It sold laptops that claimed to navigate to the websites you entered in the URL bar, but instead displayed a version edited by Lenovo on behalf of its partners.

Normalizing this sort of thing is not okay and anyone buying Lenovo post-Superfish shares the moral responsibility when this is our future.

Considering we apparently don't "own" our Kindle ebook purchases, I can see a future where our hardware purchases are on indefinite loans to us rather than outright purchases.

From the beginning, though, this was a known tradeoff that one could rationally evaluate when deciding whether or not to buy into that ecosystem.

A more apt analogy might be Amazon silently editing books to include product placement for corporate sponsors.

That's a disturbing trend that I hope doesn't continue.

No, I don't think YOU understand how unusable some people find a touchpad compared to a pointing stick. Your examples are still better than a car that does not run or a gun that explodes in my hand as soon as I touch it.

You even tried to fabricate examples where the surprise factor of the product not working as expected at a key moment was the bulk of the problem. As if that's somehow not the biggest flaw of a touchpad.

Actually Lenovo preinstalls malware that persists even through complete Windows reinstallations:


I know, and stand by what I said.

Wait, really? So the things mentioned in the comment thread on this¹ post mean less to you than getting a trackpoint?

In any case, Lenovo isn’t the only manufacturer that includes a pointing stick in their laptops. HP’s EliteBook series, for example, has one. There’s a full list of manufacturers here².


¹ — https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10039306

² — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pointing_stick#Naming_and_bran...

Yes, far worse. A laptop without a nub-style pointer is effectively keyboard-only. Worse than keyboard-only if there is no way to disable the touchpad.

I know that elitebooks, latitudes, etc used to have these too. None of them do anymore.

Have you tried a Macbook Pro in the last few years? I agree most (if not all) Windows laptops' trackpads are unusable, but I've always liked Apple's.

Many Windows OEMs maintain their cheaper-than-Apple status by optimizing the things people compare (gigahertz, RAM capacity, HDD capacity) and putting in the cheapest shit possible on the rest (pixel density, keyboards, cases, hinges, and especially trackpads).

Macbooks don't have them, never have, and probably never will. The quality of the touchpad is not the issue. You are trying to sell a blind man a book by saying "no seriously, this one has REALLY BIG print" because you don't believe he's truly blind.

And you think Microsoft didn't make its Surfacebook NSA-friendly, after all the Microsoft/NSA partnerships that have been reported so far?

Hijackability is probably a feature of most consumer grade devices - accidental or not. What Lenovo did was a specific attack that enabled them blatantly to inject their own content and also did so crappily that it opened a whole back door. It's not like I expect my outdoor to be burglar proof. I do expect, however, for my door manufacturer not to give out keys and assist the tupperware sales reps to help themselves in to my living room.

One of the challenges of being the 'commodity version' is that a lot of value gets squeezed out of the pipeline.

One way to look at it is that a laptop is made up of a bunch of parts, sometimes those parts come in subassemblies, and every time someone touches a part, a small bit of margin is taken out to pay for that touch. This is the reason that vertically integrated (from chips to finished product) has a higher profit margin, it collects all of those bits into one chunk.

For a long time the windows Laptop market has been all sub-assemblies coming together at the last stage. Not much margin left for the laptop "maker" after they pay for the folks who built the motherboard, the folks who build the disk drive, Intel for making the CPU, Hynix or Samsung for making the memory modules, Sharp or Toshiba for making the display, and then pony up still more cash to Microsoft for an OS.

Apple's advantage is that they tightly control the supply line, using their own OS, and by not licensing their software elsewhere can charge a premium price for additional margin.

By going into competition with their partners, Microsoft took the the only path possible to compete with Apple, be vertical. Interesting to see what that means long term.

How much really is there to "veticalize" ? Microsoft won't build hard-drives, cpu's , memory modules, or display. And i think the big OEM's already design their own motherboards and assemble.

So the only thing MS can save is OEM margin, and it's supposed to be razor thin(maybe 10%) .

Is this such a big deal ?

I use a Razer Blade. It's bafflingly the only laptop that exists that has premium build quality, doesn't weigh a ton, and has actually good graphics. Its form and quality is pretty much equivalent to a black Macbook Pro, but it manages to fit a GTX 970M in there. I recommend it to anyone looking to do portable work that requires a good GPU (like game dev).


- It's a bit pricey

- Gamery branding

- Not a lot of ports

VAIO had an edge a while back. Toshiba still throw some stuff from time to time. Panasonic too but in the survivor category.

Somewhat off topic, what're Vaio users migrating to? I look every year or so to see what the current laptop offerings are, and nothing has convinced me to leave my 5+ year old Vaio.

I have a Sony Vaio Pro 13.3", 1080P, i7, 256GB SSD, 8GB, 2.3lbs, touchscreen; dual booting, but primarily running in Linux. It will cover me through this entire tech cycle.

The above mentioned "premium fatal flaw" in this case is the terrible internal wifi, but a micro-usb wifi has corrected that. I also fixed IMO the glossy display with a screen protector. Other than those two issues, I really like it.

When it's finally time to replace it I'll be looking at Microsoft or Dell. Maybe even Apple or ASUS. Probably not Lenovo, because they seem to be trying to destroy the Thinkpad brand. If I had to buy a computer right now without further research it would be the Dell XPS 13.

Another Vaio Pro 13 user here :)

Have you tried the internal Wifi with a newer Linux distribution? I'm using Ubuntu 15.04 and it works great :) No disconnects, speed good be better though ...

Regarding a replacement: What do you think about the Librem 13? It's one of my favorites along with the Dell XPS 13 and the Lenovo X1 Carbon.

I'm running Mint 17.2 which switched to following Ubuntu LTS releases only. So, I haven't tried a newer Ubuntu, but the wifi is terrible in Win8 too. The "Panda Ultra 150Mbps Wireless N USB Adapter" http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00762YNMG was my solution for a massive range/reliability increase.

Related: This screen protector makes the glossy display usable outside: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00HDTVJKQ

I'm really happy to see the Librem 13 nearing existence, but it's not ideal for me: i5 only, no back-lit keyboard. Up to 16GB and the matte screen is awesome though. The X1 Carbon 1st/3rd Gens are great, but Lenovo is being so bad recently.

The Librem 15 has i7 and backlit keyboard.


I've seen it, but it only runs 6hrs (vs 10-14hr) on the battery, weighs 2X and costs 2X my current machine. Plus 15" is too large. I'm really happy to see the progress on freedom-respecting hardware, I'm just not willing to make that many sacrifices at this time.

FWIW, I have the Dell XPS 13 running Linux (and Windows 10 from a USB 3 SSD), and it's great. I bought the one that comes with a Windows license and installed Fedora 22 on it. It was pretty rough around the edges at first, but with several BIOS upgrades and kernel updates, it runs perfectly now.

Honestly, the post-privatization Dells have been my go-to now (I just got work to get me a Latitude E7250, although the new XPS 13s also are tempting).

That said, it seems like the next laptop I'm getting just might be this Surface Book, or the next iteration of it.

Sony recently released the Vaio Z Canvas (who comes up with these names???) which you can demo/pre-order in the Microsoft Store. I tried to use it, but I believe the keyboard was dead (I guess since it fully detaches from the display and was not being actively charged). It also seems nearly impossible to use on your lap.

Dell XPS 13, 2015 model. That's what my family (who have two Vaio's) moved to, at least, and they're very impressed with them. Of course, they were relatively expensive, but hey, you pay for quality regardless of vendor in my experience.

What model is it ? I'm looking to buy and old 10 or 11inch my teacher had around 2008. It was said the laptop case was carbon fiber based. It had a core2duo inside. A really cute machine.

The new Vaios? Vaio recently announced their newest offerings and they look, to me, like they're still in that high-end business offerings bracket.

As far as I know (and searching around seems to confirm this) Sony is out of the laptop business and just produces tablets. I should've phrased myself a little better, "what laptops are Vaio owners switching to".

It's it's own thing now, and still has a very nice looking high-end model:


They just launched their Surface Pro competitor in the US: http://us.vaio.com/

(Typing this on the final version of the Sony Vaio Z, eagerly looking for a Skylake based successor...)

I have tried and failed to buy X1 Carbon last month - i needed it to ship in less than a month, and their online ordering has no expedited shipping (not even an option, wtf?) and doesn't tell you when they will deliver it by (wtf??) and they don't sell X1 in any store in the area (wtf???)

I truly fail to understand this - the best laptop is not sold in stores, and takes over two weeks online. The other Lenovos are, but not that one.

I hope MS is better with this, but I don't have experience yet.

It's hard to find "business class" laptops if you want one for your personal usage, and you want to buy one in person or have it shipped quickly.

Yes, and while Thinkpad is excellent, it's not really a 'cool' option. The Surface Book's design (and price point) places it solidly as a competitor to Macs.

My last three laptops have been Thinkpads, but Lenovo seems determined to destroy that brand as well. Microsoft may be the only company selling hardware that is trustworthy.

There is still a class of business users for whom the ThinkPad is cool (though I expect most of them regret the brand's decline in Lenovo's hands).

I can only hope that this compels Lenovo to ship a non-16:9, with a great screen, hi-res at low-size with 16GB of RAM. (I've found it hard to find vendors carrying 16GB SODIMMs for the X250.)

I wonder what the heat scenario will be like with the Surface Book. If it turns hot like a MacBook, that'll set yet another disappointing precedent.

Finally though, it's nice to see MS doing what people have been asking for years.

Yeah, 16:9 is disappointing especially with huge bottom bezel on x250, I mean 16:10 would easily fit there.

i'd take the rubber coated ones over the cold and sharp metal ones you call 'cool' any time.

but i guess everyone in SF just use macbooks on their desks at all times.

As a traveling consultant, the durability of the Thinkpad design is nice, but holy hell does it suck to carry through an airport, or to shove under the seat in front of you. I've had to switch to a backpack for my laptop, since a normal bag puts too much weight on one side of my body. A backpack is so much less professional than a laptop bag.

And then I drop it from a table onto a cement floor and the body cracks and the lid won't close anymore. So why do I put up with a laptop that's 50% heavier than a Macbook yet still breaks when I drop it from a table?

Or maybe Thinkpads are supposed to be used on desks at all times.

It doesn't sound like you are making fair comparisons between Thinkpads and Macbooks. My 15" T550 is just .2 lbs heavier than a 15" Macbook Pro. The charger for my T550 is much lighter than the one I have for my Macbook Pro, so the overall weight might actually favor the Thinkpad. The 13" business-class ultrabooks that Lenovo sells are pretty close in weight to the 13" Macbook Pro and the Macbook Air.

It sounds like you are basing your opinion off of an old system or a current model that isn't even in the same class as a Macbook.

Thinkpad W520. Core i7, like a Macbook. 16GB of RAM, like a Macbook. Spinning hard drive, worse than a Macbook. Has a desktop video card that is required in order to use video out, but you have to reboot and enable the video card, then it won't sleep until you reboot and disable the card... unlike a Macbook. Because Nvidia won't make Linux drivers for Optimus. No, it's not in the same class as a Macbook, that's half my point. It doesn't do anything a Macbook won't do, and it's less than a year old. It has all the downsides of being a Thinkpad with none of the upsides of... being a Thinkpad. Modern Thinkpads are not as durable or reliable as people make them out to be.

My company is switching everyone from Thinkpads to Macbooks, and this is a company that was built on Thinkpads. That's how awful modern Thinkpads are compared to basically anything else.

I'm a bit curious why a traveling consultant is outfitted with what is marketed as a "workstation in a laptop form factor". Seems like a mismatch of use case to product.

I travel a lot, sometimes for work, sometimes for leisure, so when I chose my personal computer I went with a Thinkpad X230. Fast enough to compile C++ code for my game programming hobby, fast enough to do my excel stuff for work, and the integrated graphics card can drive two external 1920x1200 screens comfortably. Just don't expect to play any graphically intensive games. With the help of a spare battery I kept around I could get 12-14 hours out of it if, for example, I were flying to Asia.

My point being, perhaps your experience had more to do with being given a computer that definitely did not fit your work/life style? Though I'd agree with you that the W520 was not well designed.

I didn't have a choice, this is what all of my coworkers have as well. Some of them found it so hard to work with that they used their own money to buy a Macbook then gave it to the company so they could use it for their job.

My last job, I had a Thinkpad T520, which was just as thick but a bit lighter and smaller footprint. At home I have a T420, again same thickness but slightly smaller footprint yet. I'm no stranger to Thinkpads. I hope I don't ever have to use another.

Even IBM is disillusioned by the Thinkpads. They created the damn thing and they're abandoning it for Macbooks: http://www.theverge.com/2015/8/5/9099451/ibm-apple-enterpris...

I'd still disagree on many of the hardware aspects if we're talking about some of their latest X series or slim T series laptops, but you have a point.

I only continued to buy Thinkpads because I knew how to remove all of the Lenovo crapware the moment I got the computer. Especially with the latest privacy issues, Thinkpads are no longer the computers you buy when you just want a solid computer without frills.

The W series and the T520's though... they were always too big to be real laptops and too wimpy to match desktops. It's an awkward place to be.

> I knew how to remove all of the Lenovo crapware the moment I got the computer

Except for the crapware they've embedded in the firmware. That isn't as easy to get rid of.

The W520 is a workstation-class model from 2011. If you don't need the dedicated graphics for something like CAD, it's probably not the right laptop for you.

You might have gotten a W520 less than a year ago, but the W520 is a system from 2011. That's ancient for a laptop.

>That's how awful modern Thinkpads are compared to basically anything else.

Your company choosing to buy Macbooks over Thinkpads is a sign that Thinkpads are worse than every other brand of laptop in existence? Its pretty obvious that you aren't interested in a logical conversation.

I work for IBM. Yes, IBM choosing to buy Macbooks over Thinkpads is a pretty bold sign.

What do you think I meant by "my company was built on Thinkpads"?

> A backpack is so much less professional than a laptop bag

I wouldn't worry too much about that, backpacks are standard issue for big 5 consultants

thinkpad just feels like a solid, workhorse.

I love my MBPr and I couldn't agree more. It will be nice to have some real competition/viable alternative. It will be interesting to see if Apple will release a touch MBPr or just stick to their iPad Pro + keyboard.

My mobile kit is MBPr with iPad for 4G, a leuchtturm notebook and some pens and pencils. I will get an ipad pro when the day comes that Apple decides to stop supporting my ipad and it becomes painful. At least there's a real shell in there somewhere. Having just experienced the pain of buying a new windows server for my lab (I'm sorry, I need a license to access the server?!), I still have no love for MSFT.

Weird keyboard layouts. Shifting the keyboard off-center to include numeric keypad which no one uses anymore. (Gamers? Please stop.) This alone makes one question what exactly they are "smoking". There wasn't a single big Windows laptop on the market that wouldn't fall into this hole of a flaw.

No one uses numeric keyboard? WTF? How’d you enter numbers then, using the number row?

A huge issue with non-standard keyboards are international layouts. German layout is already requiring 2 or 3 keys combined to reach {[]}, but on some laptops you need either 3 or 4 keys combined, or often can’t reach it at all. Equally on most mobile bluetooth keyboards.

It’s as if no one thought about languages using more than US keys.

> How’d you enter numbers then, using the number row?

How could anyone possibly enter numbers using the number keys in the number row?

It's almost as if the typical purchaser of laptops isn't entering numbers into spreadsheets endlessly.

Dell D630: Want to enter numbers? Hold FN, use uiopjkl;m,./ as a numpad. No mode switching.

No one replicated this. Sigh.

What? I have a HP 735 which has a similar thing. I believe many others do as well.

However, if you really are into all that much entering numbers to spreadsheet, you'll probably want one of those USB or Bluetooth number keypads.

I use the number row. Is that weird? I think it's much faster than using the numpad anyway since you have 8 fingers you can use instead of just 3 (or 4?) for the numpad. It also means you can much more easily switch between letters and numbers.

Many people including me use the num. pad every day. I will not buy a laptop without it.

> Gamers? Please stop.

I've never used the numpad in a game in my life (except maybe some flight sim from 1998).

I had to use one of those dinky Apple keyboards without it for a while, and I dearly missed it using Blender, Excel and even just Calc. I installed a numeric keypad app on my phone to work around it.

I think the num pad is a huge addition. I use it both in Excel and Photoshop. that being said i love this device more than anything ive seen since the XPS 13

I think the number pad on a laptop is a massive waste and an anti-feature for 99% of users. Most people don't use it enough to justify the space it takes, and especially the ergonomic awkwardness of having the keyboard perpetually off-center.

Here are some other keys that are a massive waste for 99% of users:

* Home

* End

* Backtick/tilde ` ~

* Backslash/pipe \ |

* PrtScn

* Break/Pause

* Any F key that is not F1 or F5

When's the last time most users typed a backslash? A pipe char? A backtick?! (If you say "in a command prompt" you are not talking about the mythical 99% of users)

Depending on the audience, [delete] is a waste of space too - a lot of people just use backspace. Would you abandon it?

Not being useful for everybody doesn't mean it's useful for nobody.

Sure. A number-pad that nearly no-one uses takes up a lot more space than keys that would leave empty space or necessitate a brand-new keyboard layout if they were removed. Very different.

Removing the function keys wouldn't necessitate a brand-new layout, and I suspect the num keys get used more than function keys.

This is 100% a decision in line with much of the core premium Windows audience - corporate employees who use Excel and other programs with numerical data entry on a daily basis.

There has been massive encroachment of MBP and MBAs into the corporate world as BYOD policies have been adopted.

Very smart move.

Yuck. If you are doing this much data entry, you are probably not at a Starbucks and most likely, at a bigCo desk. In that case, a $5 numeric keyboard will be better.

The offcenter keyboard (and worse yet, off-center trackpad) is a much worse compromise.

"That's what the OEMs get for not being able to put out a laptop that could compete with Apple in all those years"

Exactly. I don't know why it was rocket science, but they had years to clone the MBA (which, imo, is the end of the laptop form factor - it's the platonic ideal of the laptop computer) but they couldn't.

Yes yes yes. As someone who has used and always thinks of Macbooks but cannot stand them I really look forward to good Windows laptops.

I dunno; My Acer S7 was definitely a competent MacBook Air competitor. They were out there, if you looked.

No function keys though :(

Not stand-alone, no.

I've had the laptop since it was first introduced and I've found I've missed stand-alone function keys exactly... zero times.

Your mileage may vary I guess.

What about key combinations like Alt + F4? And triggering a build? Switching fullscreen with F11?

Also I don't have a picture of the keyboard at hand, but what about turning brightness / volume up and down?

I remember this being the only flaw I saw in the S7.

>That's what the OEMs get for not being able to put out a laptop that could compete with Apple in all those years

Dell XPS line-up is quite nice, and on par with any Apple laptop.

That's what all the Dell XPS reviews said 2 or 3 years ago too. So I thought I would surprise my wife with a Dell XPS Signature Edition laptop for Christmas. Everything from the touchpad, to the display, to the flexing keyboard, to the cheap looking hinge was truly awful and no where near the quality of the equivalent Macbook of the time. A few months later she got a Macbook Air from her company and the XPS has been pretty much collecting dust ever since. I'm sure the quality has gone up in the last 2-3 years, but since that experience I'm much less trusting of the reviews online.

I switched from a Macbook Pro to a Dell XPS in mid 2012.

I was a long time MacBook Pro user I went though three MBP models from 2006 to 2012. I switched mostly because I was frustrated with short comings of OS X. I wanted to make sure I got a good Laptop with first class Linux support so went with XPS, which had the best specs on market at time.

Pretty happy with it. The Trackpad had issues. When I first bought Laptop I had to compile my own custom kernel to get two finger scrolling working(has long since been mainlined). But quality was comparable to Macbook's quality. I have had no issues with either the keyboard or the display certainly nothing like you have mentioned...

The fan is starting to die in it now but it has lasted 3 years of heavy use about on par with lifespan of my old Macs. I'll probably pick up a new laptop in post Christmas sales I'll likely go with Dell again.

I own a Dell XPS 15 and comparing it to a Macbook air is complete nonsense.

I own a Dell XPS 13(2015) and it's a damn good laptop. I would absolutely put it up against any MacBook.

(I also like the touch-screen more than I thought I would, and I wouldn't go back).

Theoretically, yes. In practice there's been things like Dell having to issue 130W power adapters because the 95W ones weren't powerful enough. The XPS 16 runs too hot and can't use max GPU and CPU at the same time without sounding like a jet engine. The XPS 15 was nice but weighs a ton, and was also a funny shape to fit into a bag. Hinges fail regularly. Some sort of residue from the keyboard makes grid patterns on the screen if you leave it closed.

I'm now using an e7440 which is my favourite so far, but even that still has hopeless graphics (Intel HD 4400) that get the fan going crazy, and it also has the keyboard drawing patterns on the screen.

"weird keyboard layouts"

You could argue that Apple's keyboard layout is weird, but they are at least the same across the board. Now other manufacturers are copying Apple's keyboard layout in cargo cult fashion. There should have been agreement between non-apple manufacturers on the layout, including placement of page up, page down, home and end keys. Now we have to suffer them being removed altogether thanks to Apple.

What's wrong with the lineup of ultrabooks? I've switched from a Macbook Air 11 to a Sony VAIO Pro 13 and couldn't be happier.

Dell XPS laptops are amazing. What flaw did you find that noone else did? I would even go as far as to say the hardware is better (obviously many here will disagree about software side). I mean, they are carbon-fiber, lighter, smaller, with better build quality.

If he's running Linux, it might be that it tooks 5 months after the release of the Developer Edition (the one w/ Ubuntu preinstalled) to fix the most basic/egregious issues: http://bartongeorge.net/2015/08/28/recent-fixes-for-xps-13-d...

Also, that even now, they still ship w/ Broadcom, not Intel wifi. (drivers not in the kernel)

I'm curious about the new Skylake XPS models, but you'd have to either be foolish or a masochist to guinea pig their new models...

Not only that but they bring hardware for people to get things done. Instead of stripping away as much as they can, they strip away as much as they have to (As Apple did in the past).

Dell XPS 13/15 has been out for about a year.

How is your experience with it?

I only tried a friend's, and it was cool. Personally speaking, I cannot work on a any keyboard without a Numpad, since a lot of my work requires entry of numerical data. I love the look these high-end 13" laptops, and I am intrigued as a geek, but I can never fit them in my work flow.

I use an 2012-ish 17" Asus gaming monstrosity. It's not easy on the eyes, but it works for me and can run Batman Arkham games at 50+ fps.

Could you use a USB number pad? Would need a heavy one so it does not move around I guess.

But then it would mean adding yet another thing to my bag when moving around. I hope Surface book succeeds so they come up with 15" model with a numpad.

When you don't have to make a profit, you can do stuff liek this.

Not having a Thinkpad-style nub mouse is a fatal flaw.

Yep - for example, Windows 10, although being rather nice update, changed start menu to XAML (in a separate process), and a result is that when I press the Win button on my i5 with new SSD, either nothing happens (missed keystroke? really??) or I wait up to 5 seconds.

Needless to say, all keystrokes before it opens are missed, so Win + type program name + enter turns into Win ... wait ... type program name ... wait some more ... enter.

Also, touchpad drivers. They sold more macbooks to PC laptop owners than anyone else.


Ah, you were talking about third party hardware :).

Wonder how many billion dollars were lost by PC makers for the lack of a normal touchpad?

Apple's touchpad is not especially great, it's just normal, like a touchpad should be.

Wow, this page is a mess - here's an element based breakdown of the switching elements in their presentation:


- nav 1

- nav 2

- header with what sounds like a call to action, but no button to buy?

- hero image with text overlaid that has terrible contrast nobody will read

- inter-page menus with some insane zooming function that scared my browser

- another hero image

- 3 columns - maybe buttons? no not clickable.

- another hero image

- 3 more columns - maybe buttons? no not clickable.

- another hero image

- 3 more columns - maybe buttons? no not clickable.

- 2 columns marketing other products? maybe buttons? yes - those little ">" things mean they're clickable i guess.

- 3 more columns - maybe buttons? ok now they're buttons. but there's no ">"?

- another hero image with a price action, no button to click to follow the action! WTF!

VS vs the iPad Pro http://www.apple.com/ipad-pro/ which is single column and nav consistent throughout.

As the old quote goes "If I'd had more time I would have written a shorter letter."

Feels rushed.

Page on a full sized browser on a 13" screen with ublock:


Similarly, on a 13" 1080p chromebook, I get this: http://i.imgur.com/pGhjAwQ.png

Turning uBlock off didn't seem to help at all.

Edit: after letting it load for 3+ minutes, the page does load successfully, giving this: http://i.imgur.com/qnNlvYj.png So maybe it does work! Eventually.

Pretty sure it's just one of their CDN's failing.

How can we trust Microsoft Azure then?! Not even able to serve their own product

https://www.microsoft.com/surface/assets/... is resolving to 2600:1409:a:18c::2768, which is owned by Akamai.

But your point still stands: even Microsoft doesn't trust Azure's CDN offering.

I'm pretty sure Microsoft has always relied on Akamai as their CDN. They gave up on rolling out their own CDN a while ago, which makes sense.

Isn't the Azure CDN offering through Akamai?

Isn't everyone's CDN offering through Akamai these days?

Should've used IE6

didn't find out why but resizing the browser (from fullscreen to something smaller) fixed this issue. Of course you can resize it back to fullscreen afterwards.

They are getting pounded with traffic, give it a minute.

Apple isn't exactly who I would point to as a good comparison. They have plenty of overdesigned pages: http://www.apple.com/mac-pro/

Can't use mouse-scroll on this page, only arrow keys.

Disable JS on Apple.com and reload the pages. They should render flawlessly and give you back responsiveness, without the animations.

(I'm talking about their iPad Pro and Mac Pro product pages, not necessarily the whole site.)

You think the above site is acceptable because it works well if you disable JavaScript?

Yes. For me it makes no difference because JS is not enabled. So for my use case, it is acceptable. Visit the Surface Book page without JS. You'll see it renders perfectly fine and all the information is there!

I'm able to scroll, but it just move me to the next part of the "keynote," and not down the page.

I agree that Apple overdesigns too, but the DIRECT competition of the Surface Book is the Apple page I referenced.

Flash?! Wow, I wasn't expecting that from Apple.

It shows up with a Flash "click to play" icon on my browser (FF under Win7.)

So the Surface Book must be a fantastic device. Given that there's seems nothing else to hate about ...

Since the presentation of information is so broken that we have no clue what it is, hating on the web page is pretty much the only thing to hate about.

it's contradictory to have a premium device such as the Book & then have a basic webpage that doesn't load.

Traffic on launch day should not be a problem. They've been advertising microsoft Azure and the infrastructure for years. If you are web startup and launching, this is a bad sign. Better go with other providers who can scale properly

Took a while to load but looks OK now.

Servers / CDNs probably were hammered.

Microsoft need to add this to their jQuery to fix the layout issues:


You give all this solid critique but didn't consider that maybe some assets (CSS, JavaScript) were not getting properly included/cached/invalidated? That shit happens to even companies at the scale of Microsoft. But rather than waiting a few minutes and see whether it is fixed you immediately scream "IT'S NOT WORKING! LOOKS HORRIBLE! LOL MICROSOFT! APPLE DOES IT BETTER". You are like a stereotype head-of-QA. ;)

When it's all said and done for me the website is over 6MB, that's not acceptable!

Came here to say this, i was testing my work on a smaller window and page is a complete mess !

Blocking microsoft-int.com using NoScript fixes the page for me.

Renders fine in Firefox with uBlock: http://i.imgur.com/G7XeKs9.jpg

ugh yes finding it almost impossible to scroll through this page

I'm pretty sure it's a Safari problem (El capitan update I suppose) but I was actually getting massive lag earlier on that iPad Pro page. Upvoted you though be have you're right and your analysis is spot on.

Nope, I'm seeing messed up pages on chrome too.

EDIT: So the page finally loads properly, I guess for some reason it takes forever to load the images. The biggest file is a 3.5MB mp4 while all other images are under 700KB. And the loading speed doesn't change back to normal even with cache enabled. It could be some problematic static file routing and controls.

Looks like crap on IE also.

(Disclaimer: I don't use IE, I just have it available when I need to check something. I don't want people to get the wrong idea.)

No, the problem is that the pictures take ages to load and until they have loaded, the page is completely garbled. It's the same in Safari, Chrome and Firefox.

When I view the iPad Pro page on Firefox latest with NoScript blocking Apple.com, it is much more responsive than when JS is on.

Respect for detailed analysis and quote.

Turn off JS. Then it works fine. I think their servers are hammered.

Agreed. Adblock totally breaks the rendering as well.

Wow, so that's what's causing that. Even when I disable Adblock, while the page is loading for 20+ seconds on this high-end iMac the formatting is completely botched (in Chrome).

I’m on mobile. More so than usual?

Looks like a doge meme

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