Intel Ultrabook–A longer look

In a previous posting, I explained that Intel sent me an IvyBridge Ultrabook to review. Ultrabook  I decided to take it on the road with me, on my tour of the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK and Bulgaria.    This was a great opportunity to check out many features of the Ultrabook, as I was giving a dozen presentations, and had other work to do while on the road, including blogging, book-writing and coding.

The computer weighs just 3.5 pounds, which over the course of three weeks was a delightfully light load to have to carry from place to place.  The only rub, was that the brick and plug were a bit bigger and heavier than I’d have hoped; nothing out of the ordinary, but not tiny either.

I purchased a Cable Matters Gold Plated Premium Mini HDMI to VGA M/F Active Adpater for $20 from Amazon and in a dozen presentations I had zero problems with plugging into projectors (though at DevReach I did end up getting help from the techies on wiring up HDMI –> HDMI –> VGA).  I had brought my slate with me as a back up, but didn’t need it.

<disclaimer>I received the Intel Ultrabook (pre-release) for free in the hope that I would write about it in this blog. I only recommend things I personally endorse and would otherwise recommend without further consideration. I’m disclosing this in accordance with the FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Just in case, I also cleared it with my employer and I made sure the agreement said that my review would be my honest opinion. This review reflects my opinion alone, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of my employer or anyone else.</disclaimer>

The machine is wicked fast, and this was a life saver the one time that everything got hung up (more my fault than the computer) and I opted to reboot; rebooting is incredibly quick.  I was back up and running in PowerPoint 13 and Visual Studio before I had time to apologize for the interruption.

After about 6 weeks use, I can say that this is a solid machine, one I can work on for hours at a time without a problem.  I used it for email, for Skype, for revising my presentations, for coding, for just about anything I might have used my desktop computer for.  Would I have liked to have two 25” monitors? Sure, but as laptops/ultrabooks go, this one is ready for work.

I found myself using the touch screen more than I expected to.  I don’t much like taking my hands off the keyboard, but once I do, the multi-touch screen is a lot more physically intuitive than a mouse, even though I’ve been using mice for over 25 years.  It is, in any case, much more satisfying. 

The twin USB ports work out very well, and the Mini-HDMI port worked fine once I bought the adapter mentioned earlier.  The absence of an Ethernet port would have been an inconvenience at the one or two hotels that had Internet in the room but no Wi-Fi, but that was easily solved by the purchase of a TP-LINK Wireless Nano Router ($25 and smaller than a mouse!) and the Wi-Fi itself works brilliantly.

The 180GB SSD is proving to be large enough for all my needs, and faster than I can quite comprehend.  Visual Studio 2012 itself is faster than its predecessor, but with this SSD it just screams. 

In my previous write up I complained about the fan-noise, but that was clearly an artifact of it being pre-production because they sent me an updated model and it is nearly silent. 

Installation of Windows 8 went very smoothly (it came with the preview; I updated it to RTM) and I was up and running with Visual Studio, Office and all my files, programs and utilities in under two hours. 

Before getting this, I thought I wanted a slate for Windows 8. But having brought both on this trip, it is clear to me that by the time I fuss with the Bluetooth keyboard and the mouse, there is little to gain with the Slate, and much to lose. I ended up using the UltraBook every day, all day, and the Slate sat in my bag.

I’m inclined to think that when the dust settles, I’ll end up with this UltraBook or something very much like it. It is solid, fast, reliable, and good looking. I will follow up with a final review in a few months.

About Jesse Liberty

Jesse Liberty has three decades of experience writing and delivering software projects and is the author of 2 dozen books and a couple dozen Pluralsight & LinkedIn Learning courses. He was a Senior Technical Evangelist for Microsoft, a Distinguished Software Engineer for AT&T, a VP for Information Services for Citibank and a Software Architect for PBS. He is a Xamarin Certified Mobile Developer and a Xamarin MVP and a Microsoft MVP.
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