Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 20th Apr 2012 21:14 UTC, submitted by ingraham
Linux Liuns Torvalds is a finalist for this year's Millenium Technology Prize, prompting Scott Merrill with TechCrunch to do an e-mail interview. Interesting how Torvalds ignores the existence of ultrabooks - the Air is the exact same Intel-designed machine. Curious.
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Macbooks vs Ultrabooks
by WorknMan on Fri 20th Apr 2012 22:17 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

I'm not a laptop person myself, but I've always heard that Apple makes the best laptops. I'm not sure why that is exactly, but one thing I've heard consistently is that the track pad on Macbooks are the only ones that are worth a damn. That's really encouraging to hear, since any other track pad I've ever used sucks major ass. The one on my Lenovo work laptop blows whale cock, and is used only when there's no mouse in sight.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Macbooks vs Ultrabooks
by ssokolow on Fri 20th Apr 2012 22:23 UTC in reply to "Macbooks vs Ultrabooks"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

If it's the same problem I'm thinking of, then it's that the trackpad drivers in pre-Win8 windows suck. (And you get the same problem if you run Win7 via BootCamp and don't get it if you run Win8 or OSX on any hardware, Apple or otherwise.)

Of course, I also just read a post on Planet Mozilla yesterday about how OSX apparently has 32ms latency on the cursor and that can be a bigger deal than you'd think.

http://monogatari.doukut.su/2012/04/os-x-mouse-strangeness.html

Take that as you will.

Reply Score: 5

RE: Macbooks vs Ultrabooks
by Ravyne on Sat 21st Apr 2012 03:15 UTC in reply to "Macbooks vs Ultrabooks"
Ravyne Member since:
2006-01-08

The trackpad is glorious -- its huge, smooth (glass) and doesn't have any useless physical buttons or ridges/texture playing button.

There is a minor learning curve, but I actually came to prefer the trackpad not just over other trackpads, but for basic pointer-needing tasks like web browsing and email. I only pulled out a mouse when I needed to do some serious coding/writing, or to play a game.

I haven't tried out any of the ultrabooks myself, but they all seem to have buttons or faux-buttons. Ironically, the Google ChromeBooks all have mac-style, glass, no-button trackpads. If they had a bit more oomph, a hacked ChromeBook (bigger mSata SSD + OS of choice) would make a pretty sweet, and cheap, laptop. I'm hoping the rumors of new ChromeBooks sporting i3 processors are true.

I'm almost sad to say that I handed down my unibody MacBook to my girlfriend, and traded over to a not-much faster, used Lenovo T61p -- but then I remind myself it has discrete graphics and a 1920x1200 panel.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Macbooks vs Ultrabooks
by gan17 on Sat 21st Apr 2012 13:16 UTC in reply to "Macbooks vs Ultrabooks"
gan17 Member since:
2008-06-03

Your Lenovo's not a ThinkPad, is it? I'd take a clit-mouse over a track/touchpad any day. Don't have to take my hand off the keyboard to use it.

But yes, most non-Apple trackpads suck. Don't really know why that is. It's gotten even worse with the advent of multi-touch, I think. Sensitivity is all over the place. Strangely, I find this even worse on Windows than it is on Linux/BSD (for synaptics/synclient, at least) these days. Most probably it's some sort of driver issue.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by galvanash
by galvanash on Fri 20th Apr 2012 22:43 UTC
galvanash
Member since:
2006-01-25

Interesting how Torvalds ignores the existence of ultrabooks - the Air is the exact same Intel-designed machine. Curious.


I hate to find myself defending Apple on a "who had it first" discussion, but Apple came out with the air in 2008 - Intel's Ultrabook initiative spec was released 3 years later in 2011. The ultrabook spec is essentially an Air, not the other way around...

I don't think it is at all a stretch to say that Intel's ultrabook specs are a direct result of looking at what Apple did and enhancing upon it. Give credit where credit is due and all that.

Granted, the original Air kinda sucked and was ssllooowwww, but it was essentially the first unibody netbook size device with a better-than-atom class processor that didn't look like a child's toy.

Back to Linus - he uses an 11" Air... How many 11" ultrabooks are actually on the market? The only one I even know of is the Asus Zenbook UX21E-DH52 - granted there may be more I just am not aware of, but if the Asus is used for comparison it fails badly imo. The 11" air is a MUCH better product, and it is the same price.

Full discolsure - I have an 11" Air so I am of course bias, but I did try out a friends Asus before buying it and I didn't like it at all. And I run Windows almost exclusively on my Air, so it is not an OSX bias - I don't even like OSX and only use it for development of iApps.

Are there any other 11" ultrabooks?

Reply Score: 5

RE: Comment by galvanash
by fran on Sat 21st Apr 2012 16:06 UTC in reply to "Comment by galvanash"
fran Member since:
2010-08-06

It was always going to be so thin. Apple or not.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by galvanash
by StephenBeDoper on Sat 21st Apr 2012 22:50 UTC in reply to "Comment by galvanash"
StephenBeDoper Member since:
2005-07-06

I hate to find myself defending Apple on a "who had it first" discussion, but Apple came out with the air in 2008 - Intel's Ultrabook initiative spec was released 3 years later in 2011. The ultrabook spec is essentially an Air, not the other way around...

I don't think it is at all a stretch to say that Intel's ultrabook specs are a direct result of looking at what Apple did and enhancing upon it. Give credit where credit is due and all that.


While that's true, it should also be pointed out that there's very little difference between "ultrabooks" and ultraportables/ultralight laptops. You can pretty much define ultrabooks as "ultraportables that are less-expensive & less-expandable than most 'business ultraportables' and use ULV processors." E.g. laptops like the ThinkPad T410s (my current laptop) are really only distinguished from ultrabooks by the CPU, the pricetag, and the lack of the "ultrabook" trademark.

And ultraportables certainly aren't anything new. I've personally owned a Toshiba Portege (forget the model #, but it weighed about 3lbs and was from around 1996-97), a Sharp Actius A120 (under 3lbs & circa 1998, though it would probably be classed as a netbook by today's standards), and three X-series Thinkpads. Depending on how much you're willing to stretch the definition, I also have an old Sharp laptop with a 286 (from '89 I believe) that weighs around 3.5lbs - and going back even further, there's the TRS Model 200/Tandy 200, which was also one of the earliest portable computers to use the modern "clamshell" form factor:

http://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=234
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:TRS-80_Model_200_and_Vaio.jpg

If anything, Apple was one of the last major computer manufacturers to release something that could be considered an ultraportable. One thing I will give them credit for is that the MBA does seem to have started a trend of more affordably-priced ultraportables - but unfortunately ultrabooks also seem to be copying the Air's flaws compared to business ultraportables (fewer ports, no wired ethernet, batteries that aren't user-replaceable, RAM that isn't upgradeable, etc).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by galvanash
by galvanash on Sun 22nd Apr 2012 07:57 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by galvanash"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

You can pretty much define ultrabooks as "ultraportables that are less-expensive & less-expandable than most 'business ultraportables' and use ULV processors." E.g. laptops like the ThinkPad T410s (my current laptop) are really only distinguished from ultrabooks by the CPU, the pricetag, and the lack of the "ultrabook" trademark.


Well it just depends how picky you are with the definition... As things are now, 3 lbs is considered the absolute maximum weight allowed for an ultrabook. Personally I consider a 3 lbs to be too much to lug around comfortably, which is why I opted for the 11" Air (which is closer to 2 lb).

For business class "ultraportables", 3 lbs is pretty much the minimum weight you can find - most of them are in the 4-5 lb range. Your T410 weighs more than two 11" Airs... Nothing wrong with that, just saying you considering that distinction trivial doesn't mean other people do.

If anything, Apple was one of the last major computer manufacturers to release something that could be considered an ultraportable. One thing I will give them credit for is that the MBA does seem to have started a trend of more affordably-priced ultraportables - but unfortunately ultrabooks also seem to be copying the Air's flaws compared to business ultraportables (fewer ports, no wired ethernet, batteries that aren't user-replaceable, RAM that isn't upgradeable, etc).


Those are not flaws... To get under 3 lbs AND retain good battery life AND have a small form factor - well you have to give up some things (like a lot of ports, user replaceable batteries, upgradable ram, removeable media, etc. - although not necessarily all of these).

Its a trade off. This is essentially the main reason why I consider ultrabooks to be descendents of the orginal Air - they make almost exactly the same tradeoffs in almost exactly the same way. Business class ultraportables make tradeoffs too, but not the same ones and they are not aiming for the same targets.

Both types of machines have their audience - but one is not "better" than the other, it just depends on your priorities.

Edited 2012-04-22 07:59 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by galvanash
by AdamW on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 16:22 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by galvanash"
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

"To get under 3 lbs AND retain good battery life AND have a small form factor - well you have to give up some things (like a lot of ports, user replaceable batteries, upgradable ram, removeable media, etc. - although not necessarily all of these)."

The 2010 model year Vaio Z is under 3lbs (just barely, admittedly) and has all those things. And dual RAIDed SSDs (that was a pretty off-the-wall idea, but mine have amazingly not ided yet). And a 1600x900 (or 1920x1080, optionally!) 13" screen.

I'm typing this on one. And I still don't think anyone's made a better laptop, period, even in the last two years. Including the 2011 model year Vaio Z.

The new Samsungs are probably just about as good, though.

Reply Score: 2

RE[4]: Comment by galvanash
by galvanash on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 16:31 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by galvanash"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

Well that does sound interesting... Ill take a look at it, thanks!

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by galvanash
by AdamW on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 16:19 UTC in reply to "Comment by galvanash"
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

The 'better than Atom class processor' stipulation is a nicely arbitrary way to let out the Vaio X. I like how you slipped that in there.

Yeah, the Atom CPU in the X is why it was a pretty useless system for most real-world usage. But then, as you point out, so was the original MBA. And if the CPU used in the MBA had been available when Sony came up with the X, they'd probably have used it.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by galvanash
by galvanash on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 16:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by galvanash"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

The 'better than Atom class processor' stipulation is a nicely arbitrary way to let out the Vaio X. I like how you slipped that in there.


I didn't know the Vaio X existed... I wasn't trying to exclude it - just saying that there were hundreds of netbooks with Atoms in them - but that was basically their Achilles Heal.

Having looked at it though I'll concede the Vaio X certainly did not look like a fisher price toy (compared to most netbooks).

Yeah, the Atom CPU in the X is why it was a pretty useless system for most real-world usage. But then, as you point out, so was the original MBA. And if the CPU used in the MBA had been available when Sony came up with the X, they'd probably have used it.


Yeah, that part is true... Apple did have a somewhat unfair advantage by getting a custom chip from Intel. It was way faster than an Atom - but that only got it to the bottom rung of usable for most people.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by galvanash
by AdamW on Mon 23rd Apr 2012 16:53 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by galvanash"
AdamW Member since:
2005-07-06

The X was very much the MBA-before-the-MBA, but the Atom and the price tag killed it pretty dead. Really awesome technology, though. Sony does a lot of crazy stuff with its high end / niche laptops, though its low-end / mass market ones are fairly crappy usually. They were way, way ahead of netbooks too, with the old Picturebook series (I owned a couple of those).

If you can get a 2010 Z off eBay for a decent price it's still a really good thing to get, though I imagine some of the SSDs may start failing in a year or two. They're replacable, but it's a bit finicky as they're 1.8" drives, and not a lot of people make those any more. If an MBA isn't enough system for you, I think one of the new Samsung Series 9 systems might be the best thing around at current retail. The current model Vaio Z is interesting, but lacks an optical drive and a good internal graphics card, the bezel is somewhat larger than the 2010 one, and the keyboard isn't as good as the 2010 one.

Reply Score: 2

Comment by kaiwai
by kaiwai on Sat 21st Apr 2012 08:29 UTC
kaiwai
Member since:
2005-07-06

Excuse me Thom but did we read the same article when you said:

"Interesting how Torvalds ignores the existence of ultrabooks - the Air is the exact same Intel-designed machine. Curious."


Given that the following appeared in the linked article:

Linus Torvalds: You *really* don’t want me to start designing hardware. Hey, I’m a good software engineer, but I’m not exactly known for my fashion sense. White socks and sandals don’t translate to “good design sense”

That said, I’m have to admit being a bit baffled by how nobody else seems to have done what Apple did with the Macbook Air – even several years after the first release, the other notebook vendors continue to push those ugly and *clunky* things. Yes, there are vendors that have tried to emulate it, but usually pretty badly. I don’t think I’m unusual in preferring my laptop to be thin and light.

Btw, even when it comes to Apple, it’s really just the Air that I think is special. The other apple laptops may be good-looking, but they are still the same old clunky hardware, just in a pretty dress.

I’m personally just hoping that I’m ahead of the curve in my strict requirement for “small and silent”. It’s not just laptops, btw – Intel sometimes gives me pre-release hardware, and the people inside Intel I work with have learnt that being whisper-quiet is one of my primary requirements for desktops too. I am sometimes surprised at what leaf-blowers some people seem to put up with under their desks.

I want my office to be quiet. The loudest thing in the room – by far – should be the occasional purring of the cat. And when I travel, I want to travel light. A notebook that weighs more than a kilo is simply not a good thing (yeah, I’m using the smaller 11″ macbook air, and I think weight could still be improved on, but at least it’s very close to the magical 1kg limit).


How does he ignore it when he points out that "notebook vendors continue to push those ugly and *clunky* things" referring to the fact that notebook vendors TRY to create clones/copies but they always end up half-assed, half baked and no matter how good the hardware is you're always going to end up having to tow around the boat anchor called Windows.

Reply Score: 7

RE: Comment by kaiwai
by Thom_Holwerda on Sat 21st Apr 2012 11:23 UTC in reply to "Comment by kaiwai"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

How does he ignore it when he points out that "notebook vendors continue to push those ugly and *clunky* things" referring to the fact that notebook vendors TRY to create clones/copies but they always end up half-assed, half baked and no matter how good the hardware is you're always going to end up having to tow around the boat anchor called Windows.


Uhm, a) you clearly haven't been keeping up with ultrabooks, and b) for Linus, Mac OS X is just as much of a boat anchor as Windows, probably even more so because MacBooks often don't like Linux all that much.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai
by chithanh on Sat 21st Apr 2012 13:37 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kaiwai"
chithanh Member since:
2006-06-18

[q]Uhm, a) you clearly haven't been keeping up with ultrabooks
Why don't you name one Ultrabook then which can as good as Linus' MacBook Air 11"?

I am only aware of ASUS UX21E and Samsung 900X3A which rival the Air some categories but lose to it in others, especially those that Linus considers important.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai
by galvanash on Sat 21st Apr 2012 16:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai"
galvanash Member since:
2006-01-25

I am only aware of ASUS UX21E and Samsung 900X3A which rival the Air some categories but lose to it in others, especially those that Linus considers important.


Personally I'm on the fence about even considering the Samsung 11" a true competitor to the Air - they screwed up on that model badly (the 13" isn't bad though).

It's fatal flaw is that it only has 2GB of ram and can't be upgraded. The base model Air is 2GB also - but you can get 4GB and double the SSD for $200 more. On the other hand, the Samsung can be found online for $650 - which is substantially cheaper than either the Air or the Zenbook. I think I could live with the slower Core i3 and the lower resolution screen, but for me 2GB of ram just doesn't cut it...

If they just offered a 4GB model I think it might have had a chance - but seeing how low the prices have gone on it I suspect Samsung is having trouble getting rid of inventory - the original price on it was $1200 so they have cut the price nearly in half...

Reply Score: 2