At Jibes I was in the fortunate situation that I was provided with a top-of-the-line laptop with full rights that I could also use privately. And at Quinity I still used a regular PC at home. So, until recently, I never had to buy a private laptop (I did bought some private laptops in the past, but those were always as an ’extra’).
So, this time, I needed to buy a primary laptop for private use.
On one hand, my main thing to do on my machine is to have a browser window open - so, should I just buy a Chromebook (just as Hanny uses as her primary device)? But, on the other hand, I was also spoiled by my previous laptops and I know that I would appreciate the build quality of a good business type laptop (and I certainly know that I disliked the lack of build quality of the Lenovo Ideapad that we had for a short while - before it broke, coundn’t be repaired, and we were given our money back)).
I still haven’t forgotten (nor forgiven…) how Apple has treated me.
So I was tempted to buy a Lenovo T series, Dell Latitude, HP Elitebook, or something like that. But when you start adding the options and increasing the config, you quickly get into the 2000 euro range. For something that I might not really use (and was certainly overkill).
I used our new Chromebook (Acer Chromebook 514) - that we bought for 319 euros - for a few days. Basically, 90% of the things that you need is in your browser, but I was wondering about the last 10%… Nowadays you can run Android applications, and you can run Linux in a container. So, after installing a few things, it was clear that I could do all the things that I might need. Installed a few Android apps, ran Visual Studio Code under Linux.
So, started looking for a Chromebook. Quickly came to the HP Chromebook x360 with an i5 (the Acer Chromebook is a bit too low on specs for my likings), it has USB-C charging, enough CPU, enough memory, enough disk, 14 inch IPS screen. What not too like?
But I was also worried about the three different filesystems (for ChromeOS, the Android part, the Linux part), and although I was sure I could manage and even get the files that I needed on more places synchronized, I wasn’t sure whether I’d like to hack/configure/maintain this. And the price was also not in the 300 euro range anymore (more in the 500-600 euro range).
Started looking into some Windows machines in that price range as well, but 1) I didn’t want to run Windows 10 anymore (every major update all kind of things broke on my old Laptop - and altough I could fix it all the time (by re-installing Epson scanner drivers that were removed every time, for example), I just also didn’t want to do that anymore) and 2) I was worried about the overall build quality. And, there were no machines with USB-C charging, a useful feature that will become a must-have in the near future.
Finally, I started looking into refurbished business laptops. For some reason a lot of those are having either TN screens or very low resolution, so filtering out those quickly made the choice-overkill less :) At some moment I was looking into a few options, a Dell E7440, a Lenovo T450(S), that kind of things. And then I saw a Dell Latitude E7470 with 16 GB of RAM, an i5, and a new 128 GB SSD and a matte full-HD screen at Happybytes, for 100 euros more than the other options. For 400 euros I got a less-than-two year laptop, that - when it arrived - looked almost brand new (only a few scratches at the dockingstation-port).
After a few days, I installed Ubuntu, and that went really well. Almost Windows-like, next, next, next, finish. I have the laptop for a few months now, and I really like it. Fast enough for what I’m doing, fine keyboard (a Lenovo has a better one, but this one is not too bad; way better than the HP or Toshiba keyboards that I’ve used, and let’s not even start about Apple keyboards), ok-ish trackpad. The main thing I miss is a fingerprint sensor.
Using Linux is something that in 90% of the cases, you don’t really know (hey, browser!), for 5% of the time, I’m happy with it (out-of-the-box proper shell, etc), and for the last 5% of the time, I can still live with it (I still haven’t figured out how to work with PasswordSafe with shortcuts, and I’m still looking for a proper Desktop Environment setup).