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Ask HN: Ultrabook for programming?
137 points by drKarl on Jan 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 162 comments
I was considering buying an Ultrabook for a long trip. I don't want to make a big investment, so something like a Surface Pro is too expensive, but I would like to be able to use it both as a tablet and as a desktop while travelling, with a keyboard.

I have found 2 options with similar specs and prices, the Chiwi Hi10 (with variants, Plus, Pro), and the Teclast x98 (with variants Plus, Pro).

Both have a decent 4 core Cherry Trail Z8300 CPU, 4Gb of RAM, 64 Gb of ROM, a decent screen (1080p Hi10 and Retina-level the Teclast). Both dual-boot Android and Windows 10 (and probably you can install Linux on both).

The Hi10 has a dock for a keyboard, and 2 full size USB ports, and is 10.1", while the Teclast has a better battery life, better screen resolution and is 9.7".

They both seem to have specs that in my opinion would be capable for programming. My question is, would they be good enough for programming? Is it possible to install any desktop app on Windows 10 in a tablet, i.e. IntelliJ IDEA? Is it possible to enable WPS (Windows Subsystem for Linux, aka Bash on Ubuntu on Windows) on Windows 10 in a tablet?

Also there is a version of the Hi10, the Hi10 Plus, which is slightly bigger (10.8") has better battery and screen resolution and comes with RemixOS instead of Android. Can you install any Android application on RemixOS?




Considering your goals and price range. I'd recommend shopping the refurb market. Specifically business laptops that are off lease. Bigcorp IT departments tend to cycle their hardware every 3-4 years and flood the market with used cheap/good used laptops. They won't be 'ultrabooks' but they will be cheap, reliable and easy to maintain.

Something like a Dell E6430 would be a good bet.

https://www.dellrefurbished.com/laptops/dell-latitude-e6430-...?

Keep in mind that raw stats/specs aren't everything. I've seen countless people held up by hardware issues that have nothing to do with the speed of the processor.


This is the exact laptop that my employer provides me. While it is not thin or light, it is a pleasant machine to use. I have no problems using it on my lap on the couch or at a coffee shop. My machine is configured as an i5-3340 with 16GB RAM and a 256GB SSD (I also added a second SSD in place of the CD/DVD drive). I frequently have 3 or more VMs running under VMware, an instance or two of Visual Studio, Chrome, Outlook, and half a dozen other small utilities (text editors, skype for business, etc). I have no complaints whatsoever about performance. The touchpad isn't the greatest (I prefer my T420 in this department), but the keyboard is fine, and the screen as well.

As someone else mentioned, the T4x0 series are also very good. I have a personal T420 that I have upgraded to 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD, and Blu Ray that has held up very well over the years. To be honest, aside from the screen resolution, there is nothing pushing me to upgrade to a newer machine, and this thing was released in early 2011.

When I am looking for something thin and light, I use an Acer C720 Chromebook which has been reloaded with a full Linux install. It is perfect for SSHing into a more powerful machine if I'm just going to be in vim / bash all day. I get 8-10 hours of battery life in this mode. I picked this machine up for $130 a year or so ago (refurbished).


I tried Ubuntu on my c720 and had issues with the cursor. I think it might have been me brushing my hand against the trackpad which I believe the Chromebook os recognizes as accidental but Ubuntu did not.

Have you had this issue?


I don't remember having that issue specifically, but I do know that on a fresh install the touchpad is not very responsive. I'm currently running arch with the following as /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/50-synaptics.conf:

  Section "InputClass"
      Identifier "touchpad catchall"
      Driver "synaptics"
      MatchIsTouchpad "on"
      MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
      Option "FingerLow" "5"
      Option "FingerHigh" "10"
      Option "VertScrollDelta" "-25"
      Option "HorizScrollDelta" "-25"
      Option "CoastingSpeed" "5"
      Option "CoastingFriction" "20"
      Option "TapButton1" "1"
      Option "TapButton2" "3"
      Option "TapButton3" "2"
  EndSection
There's also a specialized Ubuntu-derivative called GalliumOS [1] that you might try. They try to work out all these configuration oddities before you get it loaded.

[1] https://galliumos.org/


Palm detection is turned off by default for some reason, but you can just turn it back on.


I'm currently traveling around the world (8 months, 12 countries so far) carrying a refurb MacBook Air from 2013 (I think). It's great, and I especially like that the all-metal chassis makes it really quite rugged. It fits perfectly down the back of an REI Trail 40 backpack, along with the rest of my stuff (great backpack for traveling light, BTW). If it breaks down there are Apple stores or repair shops in lots of places (though it may not be a cheap fix...) and if I'd bought AppleCare I think that would cover me all over the world.

Edit: We're also carrying an iPad, and it's the least-used piece of electronics we have. For planning our trip, booking, programming, email etc the laptop is way better, and for everything else we use our phones. Unless you're sure you want a tablet you might just want a normal laptop. Also, weight matters a lot (this might be an argument back in favor of the Teclast)


In my experience traveling, about 2013 Macbook Pros got too thin to be described as rugged. I have sporadic hardware issues with mine (late 2013) due to what seems to be physical pressure while in transit.


It's not rugged in the sense of a ruggedized laptop, but I do think they're tougher than anything else of a similar size.

I've had the odd transient problem with the keyboard (keys swapping or not working) but that's always resolved itself, and actually it hasn't happened for a while. What problems are you having?


Immediate graphical corruption and hard resets based upon minor pressure on certain regions of the touch pad, comes and goes. When it's "on" it's frequent and irritating. Quote to fix is too high.


One caveat is that the battery life on used or refurb laptops tends to be quite poor, because they don't usually replace the battery with a new one. All they guarantee is that it's tested/working, which can mean battery life as short as 15-20 minutes, just so long as it holds enough of a charge to turn on and run for a few minutes unplugged. Sometimes you get lucky and it might be hours, but I wouldn't expect anything like 6+ hours. So I usually add on the cost of a new battery when comparing, unless you're planning to use it as a "luggable" that's mostly plugged in.


Depending on the model you might be able to get a new battery. Of course it could add $50-$70 USD to the price.


I second this opinion. There are for example lots of people who are happy with older Lenovo models. Performance wise you don't need to loose that much, since the Intel CPUs are not getting that much faster. Pick up some good model (for example on Lenovo side look at X2x0 or the T4x0 (where x=2,3,4,5,6) models) and swap HDD with some reasonably priced SSD and put in max memory.


The SSD is key for the Latitude e6xxx. Some of my co-workers are stuck with those and spinning rust and they are hot garbage.


I just bought a 2015 Thinkpad T450 from eBay (I do mean "just bought", it hasn't even arrived yet). Beware the T440 and earlier because they max out at 8GB RAM. I got a T450 with an i7 processor and 8GB RAM expandable to 32GB, and it came in under $500 including the fancy Thinkpad dock.

In general, nothing runs Linux quite like Last Year's Model.


It's not quite true that T440 and earlier max out at 8GB RAM - I'm writing this from a T430s w/ 16GB RAM. A T430 can also go to 16GB, and a T440s can go to 12 GB.


That doesn't agree with the docs I read. But since I am reading your post, I guess the docs could use an update. :)


I'm 2 for 2 personally and 3 for 3 on family recommendations buying refurbished Dell Latitudes. I currently have the E6430u which is very nice and light with good Linux support; that's a bit old now but I just checked and you can get an E7250 (i5, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, HD Screen) for under $600! And you can upgrade the memory... yourself!

Just make sure you double check the wireless card support on Linux. The Latitudes use a variety of different chips.


I've found that nowadays even the ones with Broadcom garbage work well enough with Linux. However, if your distro doesn't ship with non-free firmware, be prepared to plug into an ethernet port to rectify that issue.


The 14" Latitudes are great and IMHO strike a good balance between performance (you can get non-ultrabook class quad-core processors), screen size, and portability. Linux compatibility is usually pretty good, too (I'm currently using an E5470 running Fedora).

I usually buy my stuff from the Dell outlet (Catch them during a sale and you can save a crapton of money on a refurb).


This is a great idea. I'd recommend looking at a refurbished surface pro 3, those shouldn't be that expensive by now.


Yes ! These Dells are amazing


I recently bought the Xiaomi Mi Air 12.

tl;dr, it's the best ultrabook/notebook I've ever had and run Arch on it.

I was looking for a light notebook also for programming for a long, long time (and I wanted this time Linux because of tiling window managers like i3). I finally got this Chinese model and what can I say, inside it's all Intel (Wifi, BT), Arch works flawlessly, touchpad is a glass trackpad and is for a non-Macbook just great, smooth and responsive and with Synaptics generic Linux driver you can really configure every tiny piece. I like the keyboard very much and the 176ppi screen is fantastic. It's also fast for a passive cooled device (it has a Skylake m3), and I get with Arch and 'powertop --autotune' easily 11 (!) hours surfing, sshing and coding. Only drawback it the 4GB RAM but it still works surprisingly well with the 4GB. And it has two SSD slots and one is even with the fast NVMe protocol. There's also a 13 inch model with 8GB and an i5 but way less battery time and it's slightly heavier (I always wanted a real ultrabook which also stays cool).

I got it directly from a Chinese shop for €450 in an xmas sale. I think now it's around €530.

However, it was so hard to find a notebook in this space. I you want a really light but somewhat powerful notebook you look at the Thinkpad X1C which is in some countries priced ok but in many, especially Europe super expensive (as the X260). But the X1 is still a great piece of hardware and as light as the Xiaomi at 14". Then we have the Macbook which is light, powerful but super expensive and runs well with macOS and Windows but people have mixed experiences when running Linux on that device. I looked also at HP (not really bad but also not exciting, the last gen Envy 13 is ok though), Acer have some new light ones but they are expensive and ASUS has the light Zenbook series which is ok but not that cheap.

So considering that this was Xiaomi first gig in the notebook space they did it quite well.


Is it all Intel? That's excellent!

I presume you can get every component into powersaving states (which you can monitor with powertop).

Tricky question, do you get battery discharge events via ACPI (run acpid, and unplug)? That's the gold standard for uber good Linux support, and allows for neat udev rules to be written.

What material are keycaps made of?


> Is it all Intel? That's excellent!

Yes.

> Tricky question, do you get battery discharge events via ACPI (run acpid, and unplug)?

I got this:

  $ acpi // plugged in
  Battery 0: Unknown, 100%
  $ acpi // unplugged
  Battery 0: Discharging, 99%, 83:38:49 remaining
> What material are keycaps made of?

Plastic.

Edit: Just saw that you meant acpid. With acpid nothing happened:

  $ acpi
  $ acpi -f // to run in foreground
  $
Is this normal? I checked also the dir where acpid should save its event file (/proc/acpi/events) but there was nothing.

However, suspend on lid close and wakeup on lid open works very good and fast (much faster than with the prior windows installation, tried with i3). I don't know if this is related to the acpi events.


Thanks for checking this. Very few laptops support this, and its badly documented. But it's IMHO the difference between good and superb Linux support.

Run sudo acpid, will start the daemon in the background.

Then run acpi_listen. It will block waiting for events. E.g. if you press media keys, un/plug the adapter, etc you should start seeing events. One per line.

Just leave it running on battery for a while. Hopefully it has events at 1% or 5% discharge intervals. Or at least for critical battery levels, when you cross the 10% or 5% level. Emergency thresholds can be usually controlled through a variable in sysfs.

These events are needed to write udev rules that get fired by the kernel. Thanks!


Ok, thanks for the instructions! It seems to work, this time I did 'sudo acpid' and 'acpi_listen' gave me following output (scroll the code field below to the right in case my comments there are hidden):

  // Notebook was at the beginning unplugged

  $ acpi_listen
  ^[[14~^[[15~^[[20~ac_adapter ACPI0003:00 00000000 00000001 // I pressed three media keys and plugged in the power adapter
  battery PNP0C0A:00 00000080 00000001
  battery PNP0C0A:00 00000081 00000001
  processor LNXCPU:00 00000080 00000005
  processor LNXCPU:01 00000080 00000005
  processor LNXCPU:02 00000080 00000005
  processor LNXCPU:03 00000080 00000005
  processor LNXCPU:00 00000081 00000000
  processor LNXCPU:01 00000081 00000000
  processor LNXCPU:02 00000081 00000000
  processor LNXCPU:03 00000081 00000000
  ac_adapter ACPI0003:00 00000000 00000000 // unplugged the power adapter again
  battery PNP0C0A:00 00000080 00000001
  battery PNP0C0A:00 00000081 00000001
  processor LNXCPU:00 00000081 00000000
  processor LNXCPU:01 00000081 00000000
  processor LNXCPU:02 00000081 00000000
  processor LNXCPU:03 00000081 00000000
  ^C
I'll try this at lower battery levels again tomorrow (since the battery is charged now).

But it seems that the system emits charge and discharge acpi events.


Great! It'd be superb to confirm the laptop ACPI emits discharge events every once in a while, or when a threshold level is reached. Then you can write really neat udev rules.

Plug n unplug events are more common. Battery ones are quite infrequent.


How's the build quality, comparing to other ultra books like ZenBook or MacBook.

I don't have a chance to play with one yet.


Build quality is excellent, the aluminum is like that on Macbooks, it's very close, maybe slighlty rougher and the edges are a bit sharper. But you really need to have both next to each other to 'feel' this difference. It's a bit sad that they followed so closely Apple's design language and didn't create their own identity.

The glass trackpad has the same build quality as an Apple device without the 3D force thing. The keyboard as said excellent, it's similar to to last gen Macbook Pros but still different, it's clicky and nice to write on, good spaced keys.

The screen excellent, the lid when opening a bit less stiff than a Macbook. I don't know if they did this on purpose to let the device open with one hand...

Comparing to the Zenbooks: same build quality, case is much less fingerprint prone than Zenbooks and the trackpad is better since it's glass, I don't think the Zenbooks have glass trackpads. I'd also say that the keyboard of the Xiaomi is better than the last gen Zenbooks, they had mushy/shallow keyboards. I think they solved this with the new slimmer gen.


I'd recommend Lenovo laptops. I have a Thinkpad T460s, which is awesome. If you really want the tablet/laptop hybrid, maybe a Thinkpad X1 Yoga, or something from the 'regular' Yoga series will work for you. Yoga-series laptops start at around $500, whereas the premium X1 Yoga starts at something like $1.400 I believe.

Edit: Linux support on Lenovo laptops is pretty good overall, and if you're a Windows person, they ship with that by default. If you're a student, they offer discounts as well, I believe. I got mine from a local seller without an OS and put Linux on it.


> Linux support on Lenovo laptops is pretty good overall

T series and X series sure. I'm not sure that the same applies to Lenovo's consumer laptops. For example, some of last year's models initially only supported Windows, although a separate Linux BIOS was issued later.[0]

[0] http://www.pcworld.com/article/3139812/laptop-computers/afte...


ThinkPads are probably fine. It's the IdeaPads that are usually terrible even with Windows.

Typing this from a ThinkPad E545 running Slackware. Works like a charm (though OpenBSD was far less successful; the installer kernel panics pretty much immediately after the bootloader).


I saw the Yoga, but I wanted to spend around $250 or less on this. I have 2 laptops and a desktop which are great for programming, but I wouldn't want to risk bringing an expensive laptop to this trip, I want something portable and cheap in case I get robbed or something, with the convenience of a tablet when I just need to read an ebook or browse some webs, and the ability to do more advanced stuff with a keyboard as a desktop, even programming.


Maybe a Chromebook with Linux? Mine lasts around 9 hours, has a tablet mode, and was about $250-$300. Chromebooks really are the best bang for your buck for a Linux laptop IMO.


What about a second-hand Yoga 2 Pro? This should be in that price range now, roughly.

I've been using this for a couple of years now and was quite happy. It's a good trade-off between performance, weight and size in my opinion. Except some minor inconveniences[1], my Linux/Windows dualboot setup works quite well.

Heads-up: If you consider it's successor, the Yoga 900, make sure you don't get one of the series not supporting Linux (Google is your friend).

[1]: The biggest issue I've faced is inaccuracy of yellow colors on the display; they're dark and pale. Lenovo published a BIOS fix for Windows, but this doesn't work for Linux. However, if you don't plan to do any visual work like photo editing or designing color palettes, you should be fine.


I still use a yoga 2 pro. It's a decent machine, with 8gb ram. If you can find it at a low price definitely go for it.


I see. Perhaps a tablet (can't recommend any, I've never owned one) with a bluetooth keyboard is a solution?

Myabe you can also find a used Yoga or use two devices; a cheap laptop and a cheap tablet?

I feel like a hybrid laptop/tablet is a bit cumbersome as just an e-reader anyway? Not sure...


Seconded. I have a T440S which go for around 300 used. Decently thin and light with 100pct linux support and one of the last "real" lenovo typing friendly keyboards. Note the Yogas, Carbon, etc. all have chicklet keys now.


>> one of the last "real" lenovo typing friendly keyboards

And the terrible buttonless trackpad


True.

I get around that with a little synaptics hackage in the x.org vicinity to minimize palm touches and give me three buttons.


The T440s has chicklet keys. And that's not what makes a keyboard good or bad for typing.


I used to like Lenovo, but after all the Spyware controversies, I don't feel right supporting them. Can you recommend an equivalent to the T series?


Bit late, sorry.

No, I can't recommend an equivalent to the T series. I did some research about laptops before deciding to buy the T460s, and my conclusion is this: all laptops are terrible and laptop-makers are consistently moving in the wrong direction.

The T460s is the least bad laptop I could find. That's why I bought it. And I actually like it a lot more than I thought I would, but a few things still aren't the way I want them, like being unable to easily (hot-)swap batteries, which was possible in the 450 generation. And the T460s still has two batteries. Just not easily removable. See what I mean?

Anyway, honest recommendation: get a Thinkpad. Don't put Windows on it. After you do your own research of course; maybe look at Dell XPS laptops?


if you want ultra-cheap, the lenovo ideapad 100s is a good candidate. i bought it specifically to be taken to places where theft or damage are likely. as a performance benchmark: running visual studio by itself is snappy, but add firefox with a few tabs into the mix and you start to notice the lag. i usually run (without lag) atom, firefox (~10 tabs), 2 ssh sessions, and xampp localhost http server. it's $180 new, and ships with windows 10. terrible linux support, can't enable windows subsystem for linux.


If you want to go this route, go with the acer cloudbook 11" instead. Model: AO1-131-C9PM

I am running linux on it, but getting it up and running was a bit of a chore (you have to futz with the bios, close lid to suspend does not work, resume from suspend only works 90% of the time).

However, Acer rates it for 8 hours under windows 10. With "sudo powertop --auto-tune" it consistenttly exceeds that under linux.

The screen is passible for a low res tft, and there is no fan. Keyboard is fine (unlike most ultrabooks I have used). The touchpad really wants you to set up libinput instead of the synaptics drivers (palm detection isn't great under synaptics, but even with that, the touchpad is better than many ultrabooks I have used)

It is based on a braswell soc, which is probably why the Linux compatibility is so good (most of the peripherals are in one standardized chip...)

However it is a netbook. I'm not sure how android emulation would perform.


Is the keyboard backlit?


T460s owner checking in. Can confirm the awesomeness!

Screen is great (make sure to use the HiDPI one)

Touchpad works very well (better than Windows)


It doesn't look like Cherry Trail Z8300 has VT-x (hardware virtualization) -- that's something you might want to consider.

Not a tablet, but I recently bought a factory reconditioned ASUS Zenbook 305CA (8GB, M-5Y71 CPU) for a similar purpose. So far so good. It seemed to me to be at the bottom end of the premium ultrabook market and about half the price of a XPS 13, much cheaper than an X1. Also, Linux support is good.

Windows 10 memory management seems better than Windows 7. You might get away with 4GB for some things but my gut feeling is that 8 would be preferable. My Win 10 desktop is currently sitting at 7.3 GB with Visual Studio and a bunch of Chrome tabs open.


I have a budget ultrabook based on Pentium N3700. Despite the name it is also Atom core based and essentially just a tiny bit faster on paper than Z8300. Same 4 Gb memory and HDD instead of flash drive. Windows 10 installed.

It boots up for a long long time. Win10 uses about 2.8Gb in idle state (which is good and bad both). Any significant drive activity locks the system for good - antivirus scan firing up, overloaded browser etc. Battery lifetime, despite having a 6 Watt SoC with integrated video and DDR3 memory, is average - maybe 4-5 hours top, doing nothing. My big old 15" laptop with 45 Watt cpu, geforce video and other older stuff lasted for 3 hours while it was new.

I used Visual Studio on it - it is possible but painful. Building code takes significantly slower, all actions are slow. But it can cope with MSVS, open browser, books, iTunes and some other stuff simultaneously. Development in lightweight editors should be way better.

64Gb of storage for Win10 with IDEs should be just barely enough and I would not recommend that.

If possible you should put inside 128Gb or bigger ssd and more RAM, I plan to do that at some point.


I'd recommend against the Teclast and Chuwi hardware. They're cheap and they look like it works well (and spec wise it isn't too bad), but the user experience isn't the best. If I recall correctly their touchpad experience is pretty lacking (I think Chuwi one lacks the pressure sensitivity). While they are Cherry Trail Z8300 Atom CPUs, they're mostly for lightweight usage, like web browsing and youtube max. Also they should be using a brand of eMMC for storage which doesn't have the best I/O rate.

It's nice as a gimmick, but not a great one for development. If you're on a budget, I've seen fairly cheap but great second-hand hardware on ebay or craigslist. Maybe check those out. A few years ago I bought a Thinkpad X240 for around 200 dollars, it was an i5 with 8 GB RAM and I bought my own SSD to put in it. That laptop has been fairly solid for me especially with the expanded battery pack I purchased.


> decent 4 core Cherry Trail Z8300 CPU

None of the Atom chips is decent for anything that requires heavy lifting. You really need a Core processor.

> 4Gb of RAM, 64 Gb of ROM

4GB is workable but 8GB is obviously better. However, I think you mean 64GB of storage. This is usually in the form of an eMMC chip soldered to the motherboard. The performance is similar to an ordinary SD card. It's nowhere near the performance of an SSD.

If you want the tablet functions, your best bets are a second hand Surface Pro 2, one of the Lenovo Yoga's, or an Asus ZenBook -- they're all available with SSDs and 8GB or more RAM.

The Surface Pro 2 keyboard isn't good and the touchpad is awful, but you can get a nice portable Microsoft Bluetooth mouse instead.

If you can live without the tablet functions, go for a refurbished ex-corporate ThinkPad X range with an i5 or i7, and fit your own SSD. The X220 was the last model with a "real" keyboard, but the newer keyboards are not too bad. (Most of the alternatives are worse.)

Battery life isn't great but look for a model where you can buy a second extended battery. I spent many years with a ThinkPad X and two extended (9-cell) batteries and I could outlast anybody ;-)

I shared your doubts about Lenovo products but you should get over it: I've bought three in the past 18 months and they've been fine. It's the highest-volume PC manufacturer today and nobody else is competitive at the really cheap end of the market. Also, you can often pick up sale bargains when it's clearing out overstocks, which is what I've done.


> This is usually in the form of an eMMC chip soldered to the motherboard.

This is something to watch out for, but hasn't been done commonly for years. Those are the most likely parts to fail and manufacturers hate replacing an entire mobo under warranty just to replace a flash chip.


Thanks for the info. What do they do instead?


Don't even bother with those Chinese tablets. They are passable for media consumption, but absymal for anything else.

Buy something like a refurbished Dell Latitude series instead. Keyword here is you said "long trip'. When you buy something that made a lot of tradeoffs to achieve that price point, you are going to be frustrated.


How about for app development? I got a small Windows 10 Chinese tablet that I want to use for testing Windows 10 UWP apps but don't want to open it (haven't had time to use it yet) if it wouldn't be worth it.


I have a Chuwi. Honestly, from the get go, you will know that its not a development machine.

As for testing apps, If you wish to simulate the user experience on a cheap Atom, this would be the thing for your. Else, you're bound to be frustrated.


Thanks. I misspoke, I meant to that I want to use it as a testing device and not a development device. I don't think I could do development on a 13" laptop let alone a tablet


I'm considering one for media consumption (Netflix, high-bitrate 1080p video) - do any have good battery life?


It will play fine. In my case, this is what I realised.

* I bought it thinking that this would be a cheap Win10 based Netflix / Comic Reader. Windows 10 is not really a touch friendly OS. You will end up booting into Android and installing apps. Even then, there are frequent crashes / Some apps won't work because the Tablet does not meet DRM requirements.

* Netflix on Android only runs in HD with certified devices. Else you're going to be getting streams in 480p max.

* I apologise for the Caps. I got burnt by 2 of these tablets. (My fault, because I was expecting an iPad like experience without paying the price). I'm hoping that I can give you what to expect if you decide to buy one.


There's a site and YouTube channel called techtablets.com, the guy does good (and possibly unbiased) reviews of most of these tablets you should check it out it will answer your question.


techtablets.com is great. In fact, I got my tablet based on his reviews. There is a hidden subtext behind his reviews though. He already knows what he should expect for the price he is paying. Thus, his reviews are based on what all tablets in that price point offers.

I went in thinking that the specs on paper would turn out to be great value for money. That was my biggest mistake.


Yeah that's true. You can say that his reviews are comparisons between devices of similar caliber but you get to see some details that you wouldn't otherwise expect e.g. If a USB port supports display out etc


I was playing around with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) a couple weeks ago. I tried & failed to install two programs on WSL, Elixir & Debootstrap. It's worth mentioning that WSL isn't intended to be 100% Linux compatible.

From the WSL FAQ (https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/commandline/wsl/faq):

Can I run ALL Linux apps in WSL?

No! WSL is a tool aimed at enabling users who need them to run Bash and core Linux command-line tools on Windows.

WSL does not aim to support GUI desktops or applications (e.g. Gnome, KDE, etc.)

Also, even though you will be able to run many popular server applications (e.g. Redis), we do not recommend WSL for server scenarios – Microsoft offers a variety of solutions for running production Ubuntu workloads in Azure, Hyper-V, and Docker.


The biggest hurdle so far for me to make WSL useful is the file watching. A lot of my CLI tools won't work because of it. They fixed a TON of stuff in the next update preview though, so maybe then it will be a better contender.


Doesn't Erlang (and thus Elixir) have a native Windows version anyway? Or was that just a test to try out WSL?


Elixir does have a Windows installer. And yes, I was testing out the WSL.


I kind of had the same idea, some time ago, and got an Asus T100 series with Bay Trail, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of flash. So it's one generation behind the devices you're talking about. The keyboard is detachable, so I can use the thing as a tablet.

Battery life is great -- no problem charging it overnight and not worrying about charging during the day.

In my case, I'm not a commercial developer, but I do "scientific programming" using primarily Jupyter/Python. It works comfortably on the little Windows 10 machine, but is noticeably slower.

Perhaps a bigger issue than horsepower for me is the screen size and attachment of the screen to the keyboard. Those things make it hard for me to spend long amounts of time doing really detailed or complicated stuff.

You can always adapt to lower processing power by using simpler tools, but trying to program on a 10" screen may end up being the main issue.


Have you considered getting something like a mobile beamer to get a bigger screen? Particularly if the ultra-book is already HD capable.

Yes, it would require a "free" wall, but maybe that's OK. A bigger problem might be power consumption. So overall likely not very viable, but maybe someone has some experience with this?


2GB of RAM is barely enough for browsing, let alone for comfortable programming. 16GB should be the ideal minimum, 8Gb the absolute.


Browsing is the one thing that seems fine. How does the lack of memory manifest itself? It may be due to my particular activities, but for more than two decades I've been aware of what is considered the minimum RAM for a developer system at any given time, and have gotten away with 1/2 to 1/4 of that amount, typically due to starting out with a cheaper system and then keeping it for a long time.

Using a cheaper system, if possible, is my "protection plan." I like to stay within what I could afford to replace out-of-pocket if something happens like the device gets stolen or I crash my bike.

But your point is well taken, and a developer should consider the typical system for their own preferred environment, which is likely to be more sophisticated than mine.


Consider getting a good used system and budget for a new battery -- battery life on used laptops is a (loaded) coin toss. If you are price conscious you will likely get a better value than from a cheaper new one.

On choosing the model for a portable -- IMO the #1 goal is to get one with physical characteristics that work for you (size, weight, monitor, keyboard, ability to be a tablet, etc.). CPU/Memory/storage is a very distant second. Go to a store and hold many models in your hands. If you work next to other techies, ask to see their travel computer option; ask for advice. This will likely give you a lot of honest info and demos.

Extra 25% of CPU speed will get you little benefit if your ultrabook is not comfortable for you to work on.


I bought a used XPS 13 and put Ubuntu on it - I'm very happy with it. Dell ships it with linux stock, so support is good, and the battery can be replaced.

Might be worth a look?


That's very true, you have to 'connect' to the machine.


Agreed; My favorite mobile option still are 13" notebooks, but that isn't exactly an Utra-book. But I do wonder if I could do with 11", sometimes at least.


I own Chuwi Hi10 Plus with soft keyboard/case. It's a decent general purpose tablet but I wouldn't use it for work unless I had no other option.

Reasons:

  * keyboard is too small for me (I find T430s keyboard much more comfortable);
  * Windows performance was terrible (again, compared to 2nd or 3rd gen i5).
I ended up removing windows and installing Cyanogenmod.

Oh, and the stock RemixOS software was buggy to the point where it was unusable: crashes when using SD card and about 12 hours of standby time when keyboard is attached. CM build fixes these issues.

Also, if you're wondering: Chuwi's active stylus is not worth it- it's laggy, has bad palm rejection and needs too much pressure.


Is it a given you'll be wanting to develop whilst unconnected? (with travel that could be likely but it depends on where you're going and how much you'd make the effort to seek out WiFi)

If you are able to be connected, maybe consider going with a physically small but well built machine but with specs inline with your budget and then remote to a development PC (ie at home) that has the kind of ram and specs you need. This will probably not be good for more GUI heavy development but command line stuff would be largely okay. Clearly you mentioned some tools that are GUI heavy, so YMMV, but thought it worth weighing up too


I recommend the Asus Flip Chromebook (running Debian under Crouton for development) or a refurbished Lenovo X2xx series.

The ASUS is tiny for travel. The X2xx is larger, still pretty mobile, and built like a tank (military spec moisture and dust resistance).

As a side-note, the ASUS died on me during my India trip due to moisture.


I second the lenovo recommendation. An X220t with 16gb ram and ssd would fit your needs and budget for sure!


Not to mention the optional 2nd mSATA SSD!


> The ASUS is tiny for travel. The X2xx is larger, still pretty mobile, and built like a tank (military spec moisture and dust resistance).

The X205ta is not robust and not recommended if you want to run Linux, unless you enjoy painful noodling to get anything working.

It's a nice machine for what it is (A windows 10 machine for Youtube video and social media).


Parent didn't recommend an Asus Eeebook X205TA but a Lenovo ThinkPad X series tablet.


Xiaomi Notebook Air 12.5 is a good ultrabook, it has a good build quality and Linux support https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9xqJK2Hlb3U


It is very hard to get hold of one in west for anything close to the original price.


Seems to be purchasable on their site? http://xiaomi-mi.com/notebooks/xiaomi-mi-notebook-air-125-si...

With this disclaimer: Please pay attention: both versions of Mi Notebook Air will be run on Windows 10 Home Chinese Edition


This is no problem. You can get a Windows key on ebay or Amazon for 20 bucks and reinstall an English version or as I did Linux (Arch).


What happens if you just reinstall a standard win10 image from usb?


As I wrote, super easy and no problem.


There're two Chinese online shops doing quite sophisticated shipping to EU countries via UK. This seems to be legal and you get it for the Chinese price.


Do you happen to have a link?


You can buy them from sites like banggood.com / gearbest.com.

They are pretty reliable. But in my honest opinion, That kind of money should just be spent in the Dell Outlet. Get something like the Latitude 7270 / 7470 or the Latitude 7275 (Sort of a surface clone). At least warranties would be easier and you have Dell's support.


You mention IntelliJ IDEA and Win10, so I'm guessing you want a Windows based Java dev env. 4Gb RAM won't be enough for that. I use a 4 year old Samsung Ultrabook: i5, 6Gb RAM, 500Gb disk, Win8. I'm building a cloud system with Angular GUI, RethinkDB and Python/C++ servers using Visual C++ and PyCharm. I can't run all that at once. Chrome, especially running dev tools, and PyCharm are real memory hogs. I'd love to switch to a Surface Pro with 16Gb RAM, but it's too expensive. My view: 8Gb RAM minimum for a dev env.


Thanks, that's the kind of feedback I need. For developing while not travelling I currently use a Macbook Pro 2015 with 16Gb of RAM and I'm happy with it, and I've previously used Windows or Linux desktops and laptops, so I'm OS agnostic, I can be productive with any OS (on Windows I'd just install cygwin with console2, or cmder, or lately Babun which is a preconfigured cygwin with a package manager).

I remember the time years ago when I was programming with 1Gb of RAM (that was the normal for computers at the time) and it was a painful experience with Eclipse and other tools. As computers evolved with Moore's Law, 2Gb was a better experience and I think 4Gb was fine at the time. Then 8Gb should definitely be good and 16Gb is plenty even to run VMs.

Thinking that it would not be for a full time developing environment, just to be able to do some work while travelling in a long trip where I don't want to bring an expensive laptop like a Macbook Pro, I thought 4Gb might be enough, so your feedback is really appreciated.


Also worth noting the Z8300 is an Atom device. Here's a comparison of the processor in these devices vs. what I believe to be the lowest-end processor from a 2015 MBP: http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i5-5257U-vs-Intel-Atom-x5...


Since price is an issue, I'd consider a second hand or refurbished Asus UX ultrabook. They are light, well constructed (aluminium unibody if i'm not mistaken), have a high dpi displays and SSD comes standard. Linux support is supposedly very good out of the box.

If you are planning to run IntelliJ (or other JetBrains IDE's for that matter) I'd go for at least 8GB or memory though.

I wouldn't recommend running Android or other mobile oriented OS's for development, getting the tools up and running will be a pain.


I've got a Dell XPS 12 and can only recommend getting an Ultrabook like this one.

Yeah it is expensive and yeah it definitely had its quirks in the beginning. However performance is crazy, I'll get easily 6hrs+ battery life on programming workload (in energy saving mode of course).

I have no experience with passively cooled Core M processors or the cheapo tablets you are currently considering, but having a full Intel CPU inside this horse is definitely noticeable.

If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer


I was considering Asus Zenbook 3. Very light, very powerful. Reasonably priced. 12.5"

It's basically a MacBook but stronger and with decent file and window managers and pc keyboard.


I can only say good things about the Zenbook. It also has an amazing linux support, just one package to install for the two finger scrolling on Ubuntu and that's it, no issues whatsoever.


I am currently using a retina Macbook Pro 2015, but I am getting to the point of needing something with stronger specs and more configurability.

Here's what I think I'll, and let me know if you think that would work for you, I am thinking of buying a slightly used lenovo X1 Carbon. So it would cost less, but has great battery life and very decent specs, specially for such a small footprint. I'll then install linux (probably Ubuntu) and run that as a dev machine.


"for programming" ...

I programmed just fine on a single core idk-what older celeron with 512MB of RAM and a.. idk ~1000x700 resolution (and even all that was waaaay too much). Next time say what you want to program, as for web and such programming you need a ton of RAM (and probably cpu) while some things/languages you can program just fine with 256MB and a weak cpu.

Bdw cherry trail has a sound card in the cpu that doesn't yet work under linux.

edit: ".. IntelliJ IDEA?" Requirements are clear: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IntelliJ_IDEA . And you can just open your task manager and see how much memory or cpu it uses.


I use similar tablets for development, and I think 4gb of ram is pushing it, if you want to have, for example a heavier web browser and a larger IDE open at the same time.

It is doable though if you are willing to spend some time tuning your device, e.g. set the priority for some tasks lower than they want, so they don't hog the system resources while doing something. http://www.wikihow.com/Change-Process-Priorities-in-Windows-... I ran a 2gb ram, 10", dual core atom for 4ish years by doing this and using a lightweight browser, like opera or ie.


The 15 inch Acer Chromebook allows you to upgrade the SSD to a larger one for around $50 and you can install Linux on it as a dual boot.

I paid around $225 for my Chromebook on Amazon.

This particular model will is slated to get Android app store support sometime this year.


I would never go for less than 8gigs of RAM for a dev machine. My current machine sports 8GB and it's often frustrating.


What languages do you program in and what toolsets do you use?


Depends, but most of the time it's either

- Java: Eclipse and the actual application running that I am working on, or

- JS: Sublime, a server for running and testing, a few Chrome tabs + Chrome Dev Tools.

While both of those would work fine with 8Gigs, if I ever happen to have to run more things (as in, the aforementioned things at the same time or a VM next to any of them) at the same time, things slow down considerably.


Doesn't fold out as a tablet, but my dell XPS 13 is epic. I did swap out the WiFi card, but only because I run Linux, and the broadcom one had crappy driver support.


Dell is releasing a version of the XPS 13 that converts to a tablet. Although I doubt it will classify as cheap


Also only with Core M processors I think


The latest iteration seem to ship with 7th gen i7 or i5 processors, but the lowest powered and slowest Y-series versions of those processors. No idea what that means in real-world performance though.


All the Y chips are Core M chips, as used in the MacBook...


The XPS 13 made me smile again while developing. Running Ubuntu.


http://www.lappylist.com/ is a fantastic, comprehensive comparison for a range of laptops. It also dispels a lot of the myths I had about laptops, what is important in them, etc.

I can't recommend it enough.


Thanks for link. It looks very useful.


If you are a power multi-tasker (20+ browser tabs at any given time) running IntelliJ with a couple of electron apps (Slack, Spotify), it will slow down your system with constant disk-thrashing on a 8 GB machine even with an SSD. I use a Macbook Pro 2015 (8GB RAM/128 GB SSD) and I cannot run a fully featured IDE anymore. No more WebStorm or RubyMine. Vim is the only way to go!

You're a little bit in luck as Windows machines are considerably cheaper. Go for at least an i5/16GB/256GB SSD.


> I use a Macbook Pro 2015 (8GB RAM/128 GB SSD) and I cannot run a fully featured IDE anymore. No more WebStorm or RubyMine. Vim is the only way to go!

I use an identical i5 model with Android Studio (think IntelliJ with more resource usage), an Android emulator/VM, a Gradle daemon taking up 2-3GBs for builds, Safari with umpteen tabs, Slack, Outlook and Spotify open and don't have issues with disk thrashing (or at least, none I can tell based on usage and the Activity Monitor memory pressure).

I don't know how you're forced to use Vim.

I've noticed that OSX will do what I'd like any modern OS to do and use the majority of my ram with a few things running things running. But adding more of a workload when it's using nearly 8GB doesn't instantly make it "run out of memory", more paging occurs but not nearly enough to cause disk thrashing (or be easily perceptible)


I'm not forced, I quite like working on Vim. However I develop on a multi-app setup, 3 backend services and 4 npm based frontend apps with watchers and works running in background. RubyMine/Webstorm has a hard time keeping up and the memory usage shoots up to several gigabytes. As for Slack, I counted just now - the compressed memory usage is ~750MB! These things seem insignificant but do add up, especially with Chrome which itself takes a few gigabytes.


I use a Macbook Pro 2015 (8GB RAM/128 GB SSD) and I cannot run a fully featured IDE anymore.

I use a 2010 MBA with 4GB of RAM and run WebStorm or PyCharm just fine.


To contrast, I'm on a 4+ yr old MBA with 8GB RAM and the 120GB SSD and I run IntelliJ IDEA, Safari with dozens of tabs, iTunes, and usually one other text editor (VS Code or ST3) without any compromises.

I'm not sure what's happening with your system, but maybe it's not happening properly.


I use Vim on the command line, but for Java programming I also like to use the features of an IDE like IntelliJ (or at least Eclipse). I always use Vim plugins for those (Vrapper for Eclipse or Idea-Vim for Idea).


It's worth checking that the laptop actually works as per spec.

I just replaced a Mid-2012 MBP's hard drive cable. It hadn't failed outright, but the system would take a very long time to read/write anything from the drive, constantly freezing apps.

Once I installed a new cable ($12 off amazon), it's speedy again.


20+ browser tabs at any given time

Are you browsing with Chrome?


Yep, I use Chrome mainly because I like the developer tools on Chrome better.


Don't go for Cherry Trail devices https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=155241

While waiting for that to be fixed I got one for double the price, but 2x-4x the specs.


Agreed. I got myself a Braswell (N3160), 4GB RAM, 32GB eMMC (but it has an unused SATA port and bracket, so I will put in a 240 GB SSD for storage and OS and use the eMMC as a backup solution). It's the Acer ES13. Cost me 24990 RSD, or in USD $215. Pretty nice, typing this on it. Using Ubuntu as the main OS with kernel 4.9.0 (the default Ubuntu 16.10 one cannot return from suspend properly) using Remmina to access a OVH Ubuntu server which runs Windows 10 in VirtualBox. It's a decent and very portable setup, if you have Internet ofcourse. The battery lasts me 5 hours, it's a 3 cell built-in LiPo, but I can't remember the watt-hours rating, however the CPU is only 4 W, and I use the screen at half brightness.


If I may ask What did You end up buying?


I'd suggest looking at the Asus Zenbook flip for a budget between $700-900. It has options for a 4k screen and i5 or i7. It plays in the same league as the HP Spectre 360 and Surface book but is cheaper.

Another option is the brand new Chromebook pros by Asus and Samsung at $499-$550 powered by the Skylake i3. These are higher quality Chromebooks than previously. The Samsung has a nice IPS 2400x1600 resolution. They are Chromebooks though.


I recently bought a new HP ProBook 440 G3, for 610 €. Not a tablet, but thin and light. 6th generation i5, 256GB SSD, 4GB DDR4 dual channel (I upgraded to 16 GB for 99 euros), full HD screen, fingerprint reader, plenty of ports (VGA, HDMI, many usbs, SD card, ethernet, which is surprising in a thin notebook). Easy to take apart too.

Only downside is the TN screen. In the US it's probably even cheaper.


Check out the Acer C720 running Gallium OS (Xubuntu). They're available with i3s and 4gb of ram and they're quite sufficient and have a great community.


I wholeheartedly agree - though I chrooted mine instead of running Gallium. It allows me to use the super easy ChromeOS, and instantly switch to Debian when I want to do anything more. It's light, small and has a good battery life, and cheap. All things I want in a laptop so I can throw it into my bag and forget it till I need it.


Came here to recommend a modified chromebook. Excellent little computer - I got mine when I needed to go to Taiwan and didn't want to lug my monster of a laptop around a bunch of hostels.


On a extreme budget a Chromebook with crouton running Ubuntu has served me well. I use it mostly as a thin client for the server in my basement.


Me too. Delighted with my Acer 14" screen with aluminium body and all day battery, plus the sound only works through HDMI so no YouTube time wasting. 250 quid - bargain.


I second that!

Furthermore, the latest chromebooks from Asus and Samsung are a bit more expensive but have a touch screen and impressive battery life (15-25 hours)


I bought the Hi10 Pro + keyboard and it arrived Sunday. Last night it refused to turn on, got warm, then got uncomfortably hot. It's going back to Amazon today and I've ordered an iPad Pro (for my needs it's a better fit anyway (reading brooks.))

General observations - Windows was sluggish, no way you're going to be happy with IntelliJ performance on it. I installed VS Code but did not attempt any real work on it. Yes you can install any Windows app on it. The keyboard attachment is really heavy.

Get a 12" MacBook or similar laptop. They are more reliable, powerful and seemingly less likely to catch fire due to cheap electronics.


What sort of software are you planning to write? e.g. apps, webdev, games, command-line utils, etc.

In what language?

Do you need to be able to code while offline?

An iPad with the keyboard case could work, particularly if you'll always be online. You can just use it as a dumb terminal to ssh into a more powerful remote server.

Another idea is the old MacBook Air 11". It doesn't meet your requirement of being a tablet but it's just as portable and would give you a lot more grunt. You can probably get a refurb or used one fairly cheap. 8GB RAM, SSD, good battery life...


I use a iPad Pro for exactly this case. I do 50-75% of my everyday work on it. I develop node.js and web frontends and iOS apps. I mostly do my node work on emacs on a remote server via Coda. Recently I've using swift playgrounds to do real work on the iOS side and it's been great, though often I need to break out the macbook pro for debugging sessions.


I fully agree. A phablet, a bluetooth keyboard and a cloud hosting (I use scaleway) is enough for many kind of development (web, command line, ...). I am switching from emacs to vi mainly because of this setup.


My choice:

Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1. Perfect Linux support, great battery, well built solid chassis, thin.

Negatives: Costs a fortune, and some people simply don't like Thinkpads.


Completely agree with both points. My PYOD from work was a carbon and total cost with dock and RAM/SSD "requirements" ended up north of $2k. However, it is basically the best work PC I've used.


I've owned two Asus Transformers: a T100 and a T200. Both beautiful convertibles, the T100 build quality is imho better having a sturdier keyboard and being more solid overall. Anyway the developing experience on the Intel Atom is far from optimal. I do fullstack web dev and some Java on Android; VMs on BayTrail (either with 2 or 4 gb of ram) are a pain to use, everything is slow and simple tasks become very time consuming. No real multitasking with 4 gb of ram, Chrome will start to kill background tabs as soon as you open Photoshop or similar. That said I've recently bought a refurbished Thinkpad T430 for about $300. Best purchase for my productivity: runs Linux very well, is fast with an i5 and 8gb, is silent, the keyboard is very very good, ssd is fast, build quality is among the best you can find. Try a Thinkpad, you'll love it.


Program what? 4 GB is a little low these days, unless you're an Unix text editor and makefile person.

Also, the rigidity of the keyboard and connection to it will be super important. Most detachable keyboards will cause trouble (especially the cheap ones.)

I'd recommend going for more ram, as big a screen as you can stand, and solid keyboard.


The linux support for these cherrytrail atom tablets is usually terrible. You will probably have issues with touch screen, webcam, sound drivers and power management. I tried a lot of these when trying to find a baytrail/cherrytrail tablet to run linux for a project and most of them were terrible with linux.


> touch screen, webcam, sound drivers and power management

Not that big problem. I own Chuvi HI12 & Teclast X98 AIR and it's almost impossible to make WiFi work on these.

But there is a custom ubuntu distro with all fixes

http://linuxiumcomau.blogspot.com.au/2017/01/first-2017-1704...


Carbon X1 - hands down, no doubt, go for it. Get the 4th gen and you can max it to 16gb ram. Otherwise you're limited to 8GB. Excellent linux support (which I need), fantastic resolution, I love the keyboard. Touchpad can be a bit too sensitive but i got used to it. Great machine.


With Chuwi, you might find issues with hardware drivers for sound and touchscreen:

https://techtablets.com/forum/topic/linux-mint-on-a-chuwi-hi...


I ended up buying a used Lenovo x250 off ebay for a code training program that required Mac but made case by case exceptions for Linux users.

It runs pretty well with Ubuntu out of the box. I got some additional power savings with installing TLP and etc for Thinkpads.


If it's for a trip mad you don't need it afterwards, you might think about a refurbished MacBook. The initial outlay will be more, but the resale value is good. I know people who've done this and actually came out a little ahead.


I have a Dell Venue Pro 11 with it's keyboard dock, that I got for around $250 in total used on eBay. It's pretty good. It was a bit sluggish on Windows 10, but I run Elementary OS on it and it's been smooth sailing.


Zenbook UX32LN - I've got it since 2015 and still can't stop feel how amazing machine it is. Running elementaryOS on it (linux), coding in Node.js, python, cordova, rails and everything works like a charm.



I didn't try it but lately I was thinking about the same thing. I came up with conclusion that I'll try to get myself the cheapest laptop and try to log in from it to some remote dev machine. I think renting for hours Amazon Workspaces: https://aws.amazon.com/workspaces/pricing/ and working from cheap laptop might be not a bad idea.


I used an Atom-based netbook as my primary dev machine for a while as a student, and it was ... okay, but not recommended. I used GUIs, but not full IDEs. (I highly recommend KDE's Kate text editor.)

I've since upgraded to an Intel i3-based system which is much better (for a total budget of $450 including doing my own SSD upgrade). Both machines are Asus.

If you want to use an IDE, make sure you also get a big enough screen for it.

If all you need from Linux is Bash, Cygwin will be enough.


I still use me Eepc from 2007

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asus_Eee_PC


I'd suggest a used macbook air, try to go a couple years back, and look for a little bit of cosmetic damage to drop the price super low.


Programming something professionally in C++, definitely no. The main factor is CPU, #2 is RAM amount.

But if by programming you mean learn python or C#, most likely yes.

P.S. Couple months ago bought Acer V3-372-34W8. Not an ultrabook, but weights under 1.5 kg, not too large, thanks to its Iris GPU has 64MB of L4 CPU cache, and unlike real ultrabooks this one is upgradable.


Panasonic RZ6 - 18 hours battery life, i7 (not a real "U" series one, though), 18 hours idle battery life


Lenovo x220/x230.


I recently got a new Surface Pro 3 for 450 on Ebay and love it, even runs linux well.


New MacBook Pro 13" sans Touch Bar is the best for what you need.


I just got a new MBP 13", without the touchbar.

The keyboard is terrible, IMO, compared to prior models. The keys are shallower, and give less; compared to e.g., a Lenovo Thinkpad (I also bought recently), it's like typing on the desk itself. No give. My "a" key gets stuck, and it's not two weeks old. Before you buy one, go by an Apple store and type on one for yourself.

The adapter situation is nuts. the MBP 13" w/o touchbar has two USB-C ports — that's it. You're effectively using one for power, leaving you with a single port that basically won't plug into anything you have. If you have a pre-existing dual monitor setup, AFAICT you're expected to sink ~$200 into adapters and hubs. (Note that most hubs seem to come with a USB-C port, so you can get a USB-C hub that will add several USB-A ports, w/o losing any USB-C ports.)

Otherwise, it seems like a MBP. Apple did finally start putting a decent amount of RAM in them. This one has 16GB compared to my last MBP's 8GB (which Chrome just devours…)

It ironically has a headphone jack though.


I share your sentiment.

I got a 13" TB in Novemember, and I just had to return it to an apple store and have the keyboard replaced because the shift/enter key was stuck. The TB (100 % gimmick) also sometimes randomly looses light on some of the buttons (which re-appear when I touch them)

I thought I would get used to the keyboard, but I dislike it so much that I am selling it and getting a 2015 MBP instead. This proved to be one gigantic time-wasting, expensive, and annoying experience.


"I don't want to make a big investment"


Avoid Chuwi at all costs




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