With the background and first impressions out of the way, let’s talk about what really matters. How does this machine hold up during daily life of a .NET developer? I have run into some good scenarios over the past few weeks:
- Traveling to another office, which leads to:
- Connecting to unfamiliar Wi-Fi hot spots in airports, hotels, restaurants and on the plane.
- Stuck in all-day meetings in a conference room far from the cubicle where I left my power cable.
- Accessing corporate resources from a machine that does not belong to the domain.
- Testing out my new on-ear Bluetooth headphones.
- Speaking at a local user group meeting. The potential horrors:
- Availability of power source.
- Availability of Wi-Fi
- Connecting to the projector
- Getting through my talk on a keyboard & touchpad I have been using for two days.
First, I was pretty happy to discover that this Haswell Ultrabook is nearly the name form factor as the Ivy Bridge Ultrabook I reviewed last year. Thus, I was able to use the neoprene sleeve I purchased last fall for this trip. I love how small the power brick is for this Ultrabook. It doesn’t create a huge bulge in the sleeve’s pocket like most other bricks would.
I had no issues connecting to Wi-Fi anywhere during my trip. I always had a good signal, even in my hotel room which I find to be a rare occurrence. If you have the need to be connected and cannot count on Wi-Fi always being available, there is a SIM card slot in the Haswell Ultrabook, which I believe would be functional if I had one to try. It shows up in the network sidebar in Windows 8.
Battery life has been fantastic. I have not done any exact, timed tests of the battery, but in an all-day meeting using OneNote, Outlook, Google Chrome and Visual Studio 2012, I did not have to go seek out the power supply that I left on my desk. I did put it to sleep over lunch and for a quick afternoon cake break.
As far as getting access to company resources while on the road, that’s not a problem because it’s Windows. I have VPN, Lync, Outlook and access to SharePoint through the awesome GimmalPoint Windows 8 SharePoint client app.
The Bluetooth 4.0 on-ear headphones I use connected to my Ultrabook without any problems. I listened to my music collection on the plane while reviewing some technical design documents for the first day’s meeting.
As I mentioned in my first review, two days after the Ultrabook arrived, I presented a session on APIMASH Starter Kits at the First State .NET User Group in Wilmington, DE. The Wi-Fi there was very slow, but I was prepared for that and had planned to do all of my essential demos locally. Had the connection been better, I was planning to demonstrate coding in the cloud with an Azure Virtual Machine set up with Windows Server 2012 and Visual Studio 2012. I have been running this on a medium VM instance recently. It performs great and doesn’t come close to using my monthly MSDN allotment as long as I remember to shut down the VM instance every time I finish using it.
Connecting to the project went smoothly. The Ultrabook has a microHDMI port but adapters for VGA and HDMI were included, along with a USB Ethernet adapter. The VGA adapter did the trick and I was up and presenting.
I am still getting used to the clickable multi-touchpad. It’s very hard to break my habit of resting my left index finger on the bottom of the pad when I am doing a lot of mouse intensive work. I normally rest it on the button down there to click as needed. I am getting better and don’t blame the hardware for this one. It’s all me… getting old and set in my ways, I suppose.
Ninety percent of the development work I have been doing on the Haswell Ultabook to this point has been either personal Windows Phone and Windows 8 Xaml app development or some sample applications I have been creating while evaluating controls that I have been asked to review. In both of these situations, the Ultrabook has done the job.
I have run three instances of Visual Studio 2012 at some times, along with an instance of Expression Blend without noticing any performance issues or slow-down. With only 4gb of RAM, I wouldn’t recommend running any local virtual machines. I will continue to leverage Windows Azure to host and run my VMs.
I have to say, the 1920×1080 resolution is a joy in which to code. The screen is crisp and looks great. I have used it for coding in Visual Studio and WebStorm for over 10 hours straight on a couple of occasions.
The Last Word
That’s it for the review, part 2. I am enjoying my Haswell experience immensely. Stay turned for part three next month when I get into some coding examples with the built-in sensors. I also did this with the Ivy Bridge Ultrabook last year. We will see if anything has been added or improved for the Ultrabook developer in the last year.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe my readers will enjoy. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.