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.


  1. The one big flaw I noticed with this particular configuration is that the Intel 7260 wireless card isn't well supported in Ubuntu 13.10. However, upgrading to 14.04 solved the constant dropping of the wireless link, which was driving me nuts. Now it is solved I am happy.

  2. After 6 months the only caveat in buying this model or its successor the W550SU-1, which with it appears to be identical, is the poor keyboard. I still find myself going back over my text and inserting characters I thought I had typed but didn't. Everything else I either can live with or I like. Like the trackpad. It's a delight. And the screen -- oooeeer!

  3. I have the exact same trouble with the keyboard and I found that simply vacuuming the keyboard from time to time really helps. ;-)
    It's a pain and a bit of a shame, cause I do like enjoy everything else about it.

  4. The problem is too far gone for that: the space key is bent down on the right and doesn't work on that side. I've tried to lever it up a bit to no avail. In the meantime between posting that and now the back hinge to the screen has broken, and the power supply cable has begun to fray due to ordinary use. y feeling is that these things shouldn't be happening to an 8 months old laptop and that it is too flimsy.