Looking for an UltraBook

It looks like I’m going to be doing a lot of travelling in the near future. This is all well and good, but my current laptop (a Sony Vaio VGN-Z) is starting to creak, and has quite a low battery life. This is unfortunate, as I really like my Vaio; the screen resolution is good, the weight is fantastic (roughly 1.6kg), and the keyboard is a pleasure to type/code with.

So I have a couple of options. I could hack about with my Vaio and try to increase performance and battery life. Or, I could buy a new laptop.

For the first option it looks like the 3.2 kernel will offer battery life improvements, so I could have a go at upgrading to this. I could try installing a different flavour of Linux, one designed for increased battery life, such as Fundutu or even Arch, and heavily tweak it, but I had a nightmare last time I tried Arch on the Vaio.

If none of these work then I’ll have to look into getting a new laptop. I have some strict criteria for choosing the laptop:

  • Must weigh the same or less than my Vaio (1.6kg)
  • Must have a long battery life (6 hours+)
  • Must be able to run Linux (Ubuntu or Arch) with minimal tweaking

I’ve been doing some research and the best two seem to be the MacBook Air 13 inch and the Dell Latitude E6220

1. Dell Latitude E6220

This comes in at the same weight as my Vaio but less screen resolution.  However, it is Ubuntu Certified (whatever that means—I assume it’s good) and the best thing is the battery life is roughly 7.5 hours.  Price is roughly £1,000 including UK VAT.

2. MacBook Air

The weight of this thing is just silly, and with a 7 hour battery life you can’t complain. However, it’s a Mac! I know I’m going against the grain, and my father would disown me if he ever saw this sentence, but I don’t really like Macs. Don’t get me wrong: they look great, and they are far superior to Windows, but there are some irritating features about them that completely throw me. However, upon some research it appears Ubuntu is installable after some tweaking.

I went through the config screens for both the Apple and the Dell to see if I could get the specs as close as possible to compare the price, initially assuming that the Mac would be far more expensive. It turns out that they are pretty much neck-and-neck.

£1.00 per month for 36 months to install an outdated version of FireFox.

£1.00 per month for 36 months to install an outdated version of FireFox.

However, whilst selecting the software to install on the Dell, as well as the mandatory shitload of bloatware which couldn’t be “Not Included” there was the option to install Firefox 3.06 at a cost of £7.00! For fuck’s sake, Dell! Charging seven pounds to install an out-of-date browser?! Actually, it gets worse. You can also opt to pay by installment: just £1.00 per month over a period of 36 months!

Dell, I’ve scratched you off my shortlist.

So, it looks like I have more research to do, some of which includes:

  • Asus Zenbook UX21E
  • Lenovo IdeaPad U300s
  • Asus Zenbook UX21E review

The search continues.