Thoughts On the Lenovo Yoga Laptop

I’ve been using the Lenovo Yoga Windows 8 laptop now for almost a month and this may be something you would be interested in if you’re looking for a touch screen laptop. I was able to get it for $995 in my previous post Windows 8 Laptop Choices-Part Deux: The Choosening!

Since then, I’ve

  • Upgraded the RAM from 4GB to 8GB and it took me all of 5 minutes using this and this video.
  • Planned my next upgrade to the laptop which will be a second SSD of 256GB.
  • Got rid of most of a couple of the bundled software that Lenovo installs.
  • Read a lot of articles and pdfs. Easy to read. In fact on a plane ride recently I read a couple journal papers and someone’s thesis in a cramped window seat and the laptop worked beautifully in tent mode (which is when the laptop looks like /\ ).
  • Watched Channel 9 and Khan Academy videos. Smooth as butter.
  • Skype video chatted. Experience was great.
  • Used SkyDrive which I love.
  • Played some music using the Music app.
  • Loved reading the news on the News app.
  • Used the kindle app which is easy to read.
  • Fixed the insane partitioning of the drive by using Lenovo’s Partition Structure Hotfix. You will want to do this to reclaim some space.
  • Replaced the hosts file with the one from winhelp. No more ads!

Some other observations:

  • I’m blown away by how thin and light this laptop is. I put it in a leather carry case with legal pad etc. and so I didn’t need to buy an extra case or bag for it.
  • The touchscreen is responsive and you’ll quickly get a good feel for it.
  • The coolest thing by far is how windows 8 just found and installed drivers for my printer on the network without my intervention. Day 1 no printer. Day 2 HP Printer Control installed. BAM! That is nice.
  • I also installed Google Chrome and I must say I’m disappointed with it. There is no pinch zoom in Chrome so if you’re in tablet mode, its a pain. And yes, I use tablet mode a lot. I love the size of the screen in tablet mode. I read about how people complained that the keys were too weird but I was not irked by them.
  • Believe it or not, but I like the mail app. I mostly use it for reading mails and a few responses so I’m not really putting it through its paces but I have 3 different vendor accounts linked and it works great.
  • I just can’t get the hang of the touchpad. Its the single touchpad with integrated buttons and I have a tendency to keep a finger on the left button while trying to scroll which ends up zooming in certain apps. I really don’t think touchpads should be integrated and prefer the days of buttons.
  • The keyboard is great. No problems here. Can I also mention just how fast this thing boots up! Blazing!
  • I find myself using the touchscreen more and more even when in normal laptop mode. I had read articles where people were arguing that the screen bounces when you touch but I don’t find a problem here.
  • I wish the Windows 8 store did a better job of showing worthy apps. I would like to see the top apps organized by how downloaded they are and what is the most grossing etc. Maybe they do it but all I see is 8 rows x # columns which makes it really hard to read. I think the idea number of rows should be 5. Also, there is no facebook app (even though I don’t use facebook I’m sure others want it). There are a lot of 3rd party devs making facebook apps but I’m not about to download those and there is no way to see who made the app without going into it. I’d also love to see better recommendations for apps. Right now, each category gets 5 apps which are mostly junk. This app display needs some rework and I’m sure the good folks behind this are working to revamp it.
  • The Travel app is marvelous. I can spend hours on there.
  • If you have an android phone like I do, you can install EasyTether and use your phone’s internet through a cable. I used this recently on my trip and it was fantastic. Works great with windows 8 and I was able to get to mail and sites very easily.
  • Its been able to meet all the requirements set forth in my first post in this series called Windows 8 Laptop Choices.
  • The wifi sometimes takes time to come on but I haven’t noticed that in a long time now. Wondering if a windows update fixed it.

Final Verdict: Very happy with this laptop. And in honor of Roger Ebert who passed away today, I give it two thumbs up.

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Windows 8 Laptop Choices–Part Deux: The Choosening!

After contemplating Windows 8 Laptop Choices for almost a month, I finally Deux’ed it! I just ordered the Lenovo Yoga from Lenovo Outlet for $865.87 after taxes. The details are as follows:

image

Once I get this, I will add a 2 year Depot warranty ($39).

And I will get a 8GB RAM memory module for Lenovo Yoga 13 from Crucial for $50.

They also have a 128GB SSD and a 256GB SSD available should you need it.

So what’s the tally?

Lenovo Yoga 13 – Core i5 1.7GHZ, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD $866
2 Year Depot Warranty (you need to call Lenovo for this) $39
8GB RAM Module $50

TOTAL


$995

That is well below the cost of a Surface Pro before all the additions and has 4GB extra. More to come as I get this and play around with it.

Thanks to Scott Hanselman and The Curvy Fashionista for their tips and info.

Replacing RAM and replacing SSD for Lenovo Yoga 13.

 

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Reach Out, Touch Me

I just saw a question on life hacker about why you would want a touch screen PC. The thing I found interesting is the talk of ‘Gorilla arm’ whereby your arm gets fatigued because of having to be in an unnatural position for long periods. There are studies done on this topic such as ‘Human arm stiffness characteristics during the maintenance of posture’ and ‘Dynamic and loaded impedance components in the maintenance of Human Arm Posture’.

The biggest thing you have to remember is

  • Ergonomics are important whether you’re using a laptop, desktop, mobile or tablet
  • As a developer you should imprint ergonomics into your daily routine. Reduce your stress, stay healthy, alternate between a standing and seated desk and most importantly, be considerate to your poor wrists.
  • If you’re not a developer, but still use technology, learn about the best ergonomical positions for that device. Then teach your family, kids especially about this. The sooner you teach them and imprint upon them the importance of ergonomics, the better it will be for them in the long run by reducing injuries.

There are numerous studies done on tablet size and usage position:

The image above shows just how complicated ergonomics is from a business perspective. Getting businesses to change their approach to ergonomics is a slow process and neither you or I have the time to pursue such a goal. Take matters into your own hands. After all this is your health and your life. So what can you do?

Companies have been creating ergonomic products to use with computers for a while. Ergotron is probably the best known manufacturer of single and multiple monitor arms.

See LifeHackers post on Ergonomics for more info. Here are some noteworthy posts.

If you do one thing this year, invest in your health. We need you. (NOTE TO SELF: EXERCISE YOU LAZY SOD!)

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Using Tincr with ASP.NET MVC in Windows 7

If you’re not aware, tin.cr is an extension to Chrome that allows you to edit your JavaScript and CSS files in Chrome or using your editor of choice and affecting the source and destination. I personally wanted to use it to make modifications to JavaScript files in VS2012 and have Chrome auto load the file and put it into effect on the page. Thus I save myself numerous page refreshes while I work out kinks. Tincr was developed by Ryan Ackley. Here is the official video for Tincr.

Installing Tincr on Windows 7

  1. Visit the tin.cr website.
  2. Click on the Download Tincr button (Do this through chrome and it will take you to the chrome extension install page).image
  3. Once you have added the extension restart the browser and you should see a Tincr tab in the Developer Tools windowimage<

Setup Tincr

  1. We now need to create a tincr.json file. Open up your favorite editor and post the following code into it (remember to change MyApp to your app name):

    {
        “toFile” : [],
        “fromFile” :
        [
            {
                “from”: “\\\\Scripts\\\\([a-zA-Z]+)\\.js”,
                “to”: “/MyApp/Scripts/$1.js”
            }
        ]
    }

    This tincr.json file tells tincr to look for JavaScript files in the Scripts folder and apply that to the ‘to’ URL. Notice it is using regex so if you have funky named files, you will have to change the regex. In my case, the js file is called ‘common.js’. Once you are done, save the tincr.json file to the root directory. This will be the location of the ASP.NET MVC app directory that is hosted in IIS. In my case, it was C:\dev\tfs\MyApp.

  2. Now you need to setup Tincr. You can mimic the options I set here. For Root Directory, you should point to the location of the ASP.NET MVC app directory that is hosted in IIS. In my case, it was c:\dev\tfs\MyApp. You should see the green ‘Project loaded successfully’ before you begin to use this.image

Using Tincr

  1. We are ready to test this out. Open a browser window and navigate to the URL. In my case it is http://localhost/MyApp. Now go into VS2012 and make a change to a JavaScript file. You should see a message in Dev Tools Console saying “Auto-Reloaded http://localhost/MyApp/Scripts/common.js”. In the case below, I had a console.log(‘asdf’) that I changed to ‘its alive’ in a jquery function that did something on hover. So I just saved the file in VS 2012, moved my mouse over the element and saw the new message. AWESOME!image

Issues with Tincr

If you don’t see the Auto-Reloaded message, it means that your tincr.json file is incorrect OR the extension is not able to figure out your file. This is something that I struggled with for a little bit.

  • The Extension has an issue with windows where query string parameters affixed to the JavaScript URL will make it fail.
  • Another possible issue is if you have an AJAX request that downloads a JavaScript file because it’s a link in the content that was returned. Well, your URL for that JavaScript file may have been altered by JQuery. Use Fiddler and make sure that your URL for the file does not contain any query parameters. It will save you a bunch of time.

Happy Coding.

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Windows 8 Laptop Choices

My wife’s laptop recently destroyed itself. It was a feat of harakiri hitherto unheard of from inanimate electrical objects.

So like any good household support husband, I showed her how to use my desktop with Windows 8. Then like any good household support husband, I got the itch to buy something so I started looking at laptops.

My wifes’ use case for a laptop is mostly for emails, excel/word/powerpoint, music/YouTube, occasional Hindi movies from websites I’d rather not know about (must display on a TV) and video chat with family. Hearing that, I decided to come up with the ‘actual’ list of requirements that any married couple conveys via telepathy that is only understood by them.

Requirements

  1. The device must connect to various email systems.
  2. The device must support 3rd party email clients with connectivity to IMAP, POP and SMTP.
  3. The device must provide portability throughout the house and connect to g/n Wi-Fi.
  4. The device must provide office tools for productivity.
  5. The device must connect to SkyDrive.
  6. The device must connect to Drop Box.
  7. The device must be easy to backup and restore if something goes wrong.
  8. The device must be able to run windows apps (thunderbird, chrome, etc.).
  9. The device must allow the hosts file to be modified (ok that is one of MY requirements).
  10. The device must allow Netflix streaming.
  11. The device must allow YouTube streaming and playlist management.
  12. The device must allow mp3 songs to be played through cloud or local storage.
  13. The device must allow flash for Hindi movie watching.
  14. The device must connect to a TV via a HDMI port.
  15. The device must have a front facing camera and run Skype for video chat.
  16. The device must be small enough to carry and must have a keyboard.
  17. The device must be usable on the couch.
  18. The device must support an external keyboard and mouse.
  19. The device must support USB 3.0 for USB sticks and external drives.
  20. The device must run for at least 5 hours on battery.
  21. The device must use a true SSD.
  22. The device must have at least a 128GB SSD drive.
  23. The device must support smooth PDF reading.
  24. The device must have 4GB of RAM and Core i5 at a minimum.
  25. The device must be responsive and no lagging should be encountered in any usage scenario described above.
  26. The device must be future proof and work with with any OS released for at least 3 years.
  27. The device may have a touch screen.
  28. The device must have a tablet mode if it has a touch screen.
  29. The device must allow printing to the home Wi-Fi printer.
  30. The device must support or contain a CD/DVD drive (or external USB drive).
  31. The device must connect to an external monitor.

Laptop Options – Cost

As far as laptop choices go, I want to stay below $1200 before tax & shipping. Without checking the requirements above, I am looking at the following

Machine Cost
SAMSUNG Series 9 NP900X3D $700
Microsoft Surface Pro + Touch Keyboard $1030 *
Lenovo Yoga 13 21912XU $1150
DELL XPS 12 Ultrabook $1200
Acer Aspire S7-391-6478 $1323

* – Not sure of the exact price since it hasn’t released yet.

I’d like to consider the Acer Aspire but its over the $ threshold so its out.

Laptop Comparison – Full

  Series 9 Surface Pro* Yoga 13 XPS 12
Cost $700 $1,030 $1,150 $1,200
Dimensions 12.3 x 8.6 x 0.51 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 13.1 x 8.9 x 0.67 12.48 x 8.46 x 0.79
Screen Size 13.3 10.6 13.3 12.5
Touch Screen No Yes Yes Yes
Screen Resolution 1600 x 900 1920 x 1080 1600 x 900 1920 x 1080
Weight 2.49 lbs 2 lbs 3.4 lbs 3.35 lbs
CPU Intel Core i5-2537M dual core Sandy Bridge 3rd Gen Intel Core i5 Processor 3rd Gen Intel Core i5-3317U processor 3rd Gen Intel Core i5-3317U processor
Memory 4GB DDR3 1600 4GB 8.0GB PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MH 4GB Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 3000 Intel HD Graphics 4000 Intel HD Graphics 4000 Intel HD Graphics 4000
Camera 1.3MP webcam  720p HD 720p HD 1.3MP webcam
Storage 128GB SSD 64GB SSD 128GB SSD 128GB SSD
Battery Life 7 hr 5 hr 5 hr 5.5 hr
Warranty 1 yr 1 yr 1 yr 1 yr

* – The actual specs for the Surface Pro are not yet known so this could change.

The Series 9 is out because it uses the second gen Core i5. Not something you can use for the next 3 years. Also reviews show that high def video causes stuttering. Performance wise, this machine is now off my contender list.

The Surface Pro is 10.6” and has a 1920 x 1080 resolution. I’m worried that text will not be easily readable on a screen that small with such as high resolution. At this point I don’t know and will have to go see it personally when it comes out. Ignoring resolution, the screen size is just not viable for working and producing content with ease. Having multiple windows open is a necessity and I think this device would fit well as a consumption device instead.

The cost of a 128GB SSD is approximately $100 on NewEgg. If you can get the Surface Pro with 128GB SSD for $1130, it would still be missing 4GB of RAM when compared to the Yoga 13. I’m taking the Surface Pro off the contender list because for $120 more, the Yoga 13 gives more bang for the buck. And really, you can’t do much with 64 GB.

The XPS 12 is almost an inch smaller in screen size to the yoga 13. It also has a higher res screen. But at the higher cost, it has only 4GB of RAM. I’m not sure I’m gaining much with the XPS 12 over the Yoga 13. Same graphics, same CPU. So performance wise, more RAM is a winner especially when the Yoga 13 is $50 cheaper.

Right now, I feel that the Yoga 13 has the best value for money. I also think the Yoga 13 would handle the list of requirements I set forth earlier as well. My only worry is having a Core i5 instead of a Core i7.

If I were to do a Core i7 for the Yoga and the XPS 12, the prices change to $1330 and $1400 respectively. The Yoga 13 is still a better choice at that level being $70 cheaper for an almost identical spec sheet.The Surface Pro does not support a Core i7.

The Final Countdown

Yoga 13 FTW!

Websites were not harmed in the making of this list. However, much voodoo was practiced and entrails read while sipping tea.

http://liliputing.com/2012/12/samsung-series-9-np900x3d-windows-8-ultrabook-review.html

http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/23/dell-xps-12-review/

http://www.zdnet.com/why-im-not-trading-my-surface-rt-for-a-surface-pro-7000010132/

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/12/review-dells-acrobatic-xps-12-is-the-windows-8-convertible-to-beat/2/

http://www.notebookreview.com/default.asp?newsID=6706&news=

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/11/a-good-ultrabook-a-bad-tablet-the-lenovo-ideapad-yoga-13-review/

http://damieng.com/blog/2013/01/23/acer-aspire-s7-review-two-months-in

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