Off shopping for a Windows8 laptop

While I’m loving Windows8 via Fusion on my Macbook Air, my daughters HP tx2 has finally bitten the dust (two batteries, two chargers, a strip down to repair the fan) but it’s done a good 4 years of daily (and pretty unforgiving) use.

So it was time to go shopping.

Her requirements were pretty simple – about the same size as the tx2, a decent keyboard, WiFi and bluetooth (for the mouse) and good graphics capabilities.

We road tested an older laptop I had lying around (Acer 1420p from PDC09) – great size and keyboard but the integrated graphics were causing some problems with Minecraft (can someone tell me why a digital lego-land needs such good graphics capabilities) but it looked like integrated graphics was not the answer.

So off we went. And the story was pretty much the same with the Windows 8 choices. Either they were perfect hardware but horribly expensive, or they were affordable (bear in mind this is for a just-teenager) and had okay hardware with some compromise or another.

WinRT based machines were, sadly, a no-go because of the aforementioned Minecraft (and they didn’t offer much in the way of cost saving anyway). The Microsoft Surface Pro, while an awesome technology platform, isn’t usable on the lap (keyboard doesn’t hold the screen in place). The Microsoft store was in itself very disappointing – it was great to see how busy it was (though a lot of people playing and not many buying), but it was skewed either towards Surface machines, $1500 convertible or other esoteric machines and the remainder were either big and clunky or too small.

ImageSo we picked up a Lenovo IdeaPad U410. Mid-range price, i7 processor, decent RAM and a dedicated graphics subsystem with 1GB RAM. The compromise was no touch but after using Win8 on the Mac for a few months now I don’t think that’s a big deal.

So now we’re retiring the tx2, Minecraft and Office2013 are installed on the Lenovo and the performance is making the new owner very happy. We had to remove a couple of pre-installed crapware apps and I’d love to find a way to default to desktop view but all in all it’s been a pretty good experience.

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