the itjerk

my adventures with technology

Tag Archives: notebook

new computers

My teenage daughters received new computers this Xmas. The younger one (freshman in high school) got the Surface Laptop Go. It was relatively inexpensive at $540 for a 10th Gen i5, 8GB RAM, 128GB model. I also opted for a Microsoft Complete package that runs $84 for two years. It has a touch screen, touch Windows Hello power button, 12.4″ screen with 1536 x 1024 (148 PPI) resolution. On the disappointing end was that it arrived with Windows 10 2004. After a round of updates, I had to use that Windows 11 Installation Assistant to get to Windows 11. Also disappointing is the 720p camera and lack of lighted keyboard. But for what she’ll be doing, web browsing, watching movies and (hopefully) schoolwork, it was a great solution. I just hope it’s durable.

The older daughter (junior in high school) made the pitch for an Apple MacBook Air, as she didn’t want “some janky-ass Surface computer that I’ll never like”. Fair enough, all of her friends have Apple computers. Ordered on a Tuesday evening, it arrived the next morning at 9:30am in an Apple Store bag, hand delivered to my door (for $9.00 extra). It was a base model, with M1 chip, 8GB RAM and 256GB SSD, costing $899 (with Education pricing). The Air has a superior Retina screen (though without touch capabilities) and a lighted keyboard (good to see that touch bar gone). I also opted for annual Applecare at $70 per year. Kids, right?

Those Dell Latitude 3190s? Not sure if I’ll scrap or sell them, they got some heavy use during the pandemic and you know, kids put stickers all over their laptops! But I did upgrade them to Windows 11 (one required me to turn on TPM in the BIOS) before doing a Reset this PC that (among other things) cleared the TPM before restoring the OS. That’s comforting.

microsoft surface go 4/64

I have had a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for quite a few years now. It’s a “hand-me-down” from work, that gives me access to Active Directory, etc. when I’m not in the office. Nice computer, but it’s showing its age, type pad is glitchy, front camera doesn’t work – but what do you expect for free?

I’ve been using that and what amounts to be a terrible tablet (Lenovo Tab 7) – painfully slow, always needs updates, poor battery life – in my man cave for running Roon controller, and that old Surface for running REW, Room EQ Wizard software. Here’s the thing. This room is my sanctuary. Once I’m at home, I leave my phone in the kitchen, not to be bothered. I want to sit in the sweet spot when I play digital music, and not get up; one must get up to play vinyl! So, the desktops won’t do. Plus, I need the portability of a notebook or laptop for room correction. So having a Windows computer that can do all that, and a few other things – having a working webcam – is a real bonus. Yes, the itjerk loves Windows, and that old Surface.

I looked on CDWG’s site and found the Microsoft Surface Go 10″ Pentium Gold 4415Y 4GB RAM 64GB EDU in stock for $390. Wow. In stock! Plus, as an EDU edition it comes with a license for Windows 10 Pro. So a couple days later, here I am settling in with my new Go. It’s very elegant hardware, with a screen that’s great on my eyes, though maybe a bit small. But the kickstand and touch screen are fantastic! I didn’t initially get the cover type pad, but will, eventually.

The Surface Go was only current to Windows build 1809, which meant a ton of updates. I know what I’m getting into with a Pentium with 4GB RAM. It’s just fine to run a few applications and surf the web; after all, I’m not planning on using Adobe Creative Cloud on it. But updating to the current 1909 build took a long time. The tablet has one USB-C port and one 3.5mm audio out – minimal to say the least. Thankfully it doesn’t use that USB-C for charging; speaking of which, that’s one universal ding the Surface Go gets – battery life. Another thing to look out for is disk space. 64GB is pretty paltry, especially considering I only had 14.5GB free after all those updates (though running Disk Cleanup freed 38GB, including 32GB from the Previous Windows version). TGFTC? (Thank God For The Cloud)!

All in all, it’s great solution because as a Windows notebook, I can do more than I could with an Android tablet, and as a tablet it’s much more convenient and less expensive than a notebook.

One the web:
Meet Surface Go – Portable Power – Microsoft Surface

lenovo thinkpad edge e430

I ordered a new notebook computer for my wife, a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E430. Very nice machine, with a 14" non-glare screen at 1366×768, Intel Core i3 processor, the usually bells, and weighs in at just under 5lbs. What I really liked about it was that all the ports are on the sides and front (SD card) of the computer (including a HDMI port) – nothing connects in the back. That's really handy for tight spaces. Another selling point was the "new" keyboard layout, a substantial if different "upgrade" from the ThinkPads of old. The keys have a really nice touch and spacing and layout is great. The computer also has a very nice form factor, light, easy to open up, and pleasant on the hands, though a few more pixels in the screen (size, not density) would have been nice. I choose to upgrade the RAM by running down to my local Microcenter and purchasing a 4GB SO-DIMM (PC3-12800 1600MHz DDR3) for $30; not only was it a lot less than what Lenovo wanted to charge, but it was the SAME Samsung chip that was already installed. How freaky is that?! All-in-all, the laptop cost around $525 with tax and discount, not bad by any means.

I did have an issue when I first tried to update Windows 7 (Home Premium 64 bit). The updates would install, but when I went to reboot to finish, they would revert after getting about 15% done. No worries, a bit of googling found the solution. I first ran a chkdsk /f/r and then rebooted. Then, I ran the updates in order, with a reboot in between each set:

1) Critical updates (about 10 updates)
2) .Net and IE (3 updates)
3) first half the Windows Updates (7 updates)
4) second half of the Windows Updates (6 updates)
5) last Windows update (it was about 1.2 mb in size)

Viola! Only someone in Redmond would know why a perfectly new installation would experience this, or why Windows Update couldn't have figured this out itself, but there you are; it worked, and my wife is now enjoying her new computer, in all its understated glory!

On the web:
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E430