First day with a Win 8 laptop

I ordered and Acer E1 with a third generation (aka Ivy Bridge) Intel i5 processor and Windows 8. It arrived yesterday. Almost certainly, I should have waited a couple of weeks longer as prices are likely to keep falling through August, but ordering the laptop was the only way to stop myself from obsessively checking for deals. If you want a laptop with a 3rd generation processor, the first weeks of August are probably the best time to buy, if you look for deals. My laptop has a 3rd generation i5 processor, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 500GB hard disk, and I got it for $399 plus shipping (after a mail in rebate) from Tiger Direct. It does not have a touchscreen. Prices are falling so dealers can make way for the 4th generation (Haswell) processors. If battery life is important to you, you might want to pay the extra money and hold out for a Haswell.


Acer Aspire E1-571-6837 3rd Gen i5, 4GB, 500GB, from Tiger Direct: 449.99, 399.99 after Rebate

While looking for deals, don’t get tricked into buying a 2nd generation (Sandy Bridge) chip or older. If you get a great price on an older chip and it’s what you want, that’s fine, as long as you know what you’re getting. The generations are marked by the first number after the dash. My chip is an i5-3230M, and it’s the first “3” that designates the generation. Also don’t get fooled by a “5” after the dash, followed by two more digits instead of three more. Those are actually older.

The i5 seemed like a good match for me. I’m on too much of a budget for an i7 and I’m not a gamer. An i3 is better for budget buyers who don’t run a lot of intensive applications. Budget buyers who will primarily use their laptops for email should also consider the very low prices available on 2nd generation Intel chips, Pentiums, Celerons, and several others out there. AMD makes comparable chips to Intel. The AMD A8-4500M seems to be at about the same level as the Intel i5. As with Intel based computers, be careful about chip model numbers.

One of the first things I tried to do was load Ubuntu 13.04 in a dual boot configuration, but the Ubuntu setup didn’t recognize the existing Windows 8 installation and wanted to format the disk as if it was empty. There’s plenty of information on-line about working around that problem, just like there’s plenty of information about working around the new UEFI security feature, but the less then perfect installation start and the difficulties I’ve read about overcoming the UEFI feature were the last of a dozen or so reasons that made me decide, for now at least, to leave the laptop configured as a single boot Windows 8 machine. Instead, I installed Virtualbox and loaded Ubuntu on a VM.

So I’m succumbing to Microsoft for now. My first impression of Windows 8 is: I like it. The negative backlash against Windows 8 is wrong-headed but I do appreciate the affect that it’s had on prices.

Windows 8 is surprisingly keyboard friendly. Even though it’s designed for touch, I can hit the Windows Key and then type a command or part of a command, like “chrom” or “word”, and get a list of matching applications. It works better than hitting Alt F2 in Unity or Gnome. I can also navigate the start screen easily with the keyboard arrows, and I can shutdown the system without touching the mouse or touchpad by hitting ctrl-alt-delete, then using the tab key to get the power icon. When using the keyboard is easier in Windows then in Linux, it might be time for a shift in thinking.

Windows 8 results from typing 'word'

I also like the live tiles.

I’m still wary of using Windows as my primary OS. I spend a lot of time fixing bugs and removing spyware from my wife and daughter’s computers. My son uses Linux and I never had to fuss with such problems on his laptop. But I like Windows 8 so far. I like the UI more than the UI of previous versions of Windows and I’ve gotten very frustrated with Unity and Gnome. I’m willing to give Windows another go.

So, so far so good. As of Day 1, I’m happy with my Acer and I’m happy with Windows 8.

Update (same day) I’ve already had to remove adware extensions from Chromium. I was getting ads when I clicked on links, and while poking around the settings found an extension called “tidynetworks”. I removed the extension but I don’t yet know if I’ll have to do more to properly get rid of it. I also had something called webcake and I removed that as well.

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