Monday, January 27, 2014

Short review of Clevo W550EU

I bought myself a new laptop recently - a Clevo W550EU. For $1000 I got an Ivy bridge i7@2.4GHz, 8GB, 128GB SSD, the latest Intel wireless card and a 1080p screen. A lot of bangs for my buck. I installed Ubuntu 13.10, wiping out the 13.04 they gave me. After playing with it for a few days, here are my likes and dislikes:

  • Likes
    • The screen is fantastic. Very bright. I love the crispness and the pixel space for programming with an IDE. This is an absolute must have if you want to program on a laptop.
    • The trackpad is sensitive and responsive, although it keeps firing off right menu clicks whenever I two-finger scroll in NetBeans. But not in other programs, so this seems to be a NetBeans only quirk.
    • The battery is good, giving me 4 hours with normal usage on a charge. (Quoted as eight but who believes that?)
    • It's light and fairly well constructed, and looks nice. The top deck seems to be metal, but the rest is definitely plastic, but a nice kind of moulded plastic rather than faux metal with paint. The surface seems to be cast to look like brushed metal and so won't wear off.
  • Dislikes
    • The keyboard is tinny. I can mitigate that by putting it on some cloth or felt, but it's a bit annoying. It's not too bad if I type slowly, though.
    • The case does not sit quite flat. I guess this is due to it being made of plastic and thin at that. Putting it on cloth helps though.
    • It's easy to mishit the F4 "sleep" key when you want to adjust the volume. It's sandwiched between Mute and Lower volume. In the middle of a movie that screws VLC up big time.
    • It came with the network card turned off with the F11 key. I spent more than an hour trying to figure our why my fancy wireless card wouldn't work.

So that's it so far. No worse than most laptops you buy. So I don't regret buying a non-Apple, non-Microsoft computer and avoiding to pay the OS-tax. Penguins of the world, unite!

Addendum: After only 8 months it developed the following faults: 1) the right hinge broke. It still opened and closed but the screen backing started to split off and eventually broke away entirely, so I had to stick it back together with tape. 2) the screen developed a hotspot on the bottom right hand quadrant. Annoying but not fatal. 3) The power supply cable frayed, although I treated it well. 4) The space bar on the keyboard malfunctioned. This was really annoying. In the end I bought another computer because I couldn't be without it for the time it would take to repair.

Addendum: I got most of the above repairs fixed for $140, except for the space bar which still doesn't work, although they claimed it does. One month later I tripped over the cable and the laptop fell about 50cm onto padded carpet. After that it wouldn't charge, and when it ran out of charge it was effectively dead. I presume it will need a new motherboard so it is useless now. So I would NOT recommend this laptop - it's too fragile.