Friday, 26 February 2016

Laptop comparisons

So after a bit more research, I’ve come up with a shortlist of laptops to consider. Most vendors (with the exception of HP and Microsoft) give you quite a few options to customise during the order process. For my own reference, I’ve also included the specs of my current laptop – the Dell XPS 1645 – to contrast how hardware has progressed over the last 5-6 years.

My mandatory minimum requirements:

  • i7 CPU
  • 8GB memory
  • 512GB SSD
  • Touch screen
  • Lighter than 3Kg

Nice to haves:

  • Xeon CPU
  • 16GB memory
  • PCIe SSD
Laptop feature comparison
Dell XPS 1645 (Circa 2010) Dell XPS 13(9350) Dell XPS 15 (9550) Dell Latitude E7450

HP ZBook Studio 15 E3 Mobile Workstation

ThinkPad X1 Yoga - Core i7

Microsoft Surface Book

CPU Core I7-820QM Processor (1.73GHz) i7-6500U (up to 3.1 GHz) i7-6700HQ Quad Core (up to 3.5 GHz) i7-5600U Processor (Dual Core, 2.6GHz, 15W) Xeon® E3-1505M v5 (2.80 GHz, up to 3.70 GHz), 4 cores)

Intel Core i7-6600U Processor (up to 3.40GHz)

i7-6600U
(2.6 up to 3.4 GHz)

Cache 8MB L3 4M 6M 4M 8 MB

4MB

4 MB

Memory 8GB Dual-channel 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM (2 x 4GB) 8GB LPDDR3 1866MHz 16GB Dual Channel DDR4 2133Mhz (8GBx2) 8GB (1x8GB) 1600MHz DDR3L 8 GB DDR4-2133 (1 x 8 GB) 16GB LPDDR3 SDRAM 1866MHz 16GB LPDDR3
Storage 500GB 7200RPM SATA Hard Drive 256GB PCIe Solid State Drive 512GB PCIe Solid State Drive 256GB (SATA3) 256 GB HP Z Turbo Drive PCIe SSD

512GB Solid State Drive, PCIe-NVMe

512GB SSD
Video Video Card -ATI Mobility RADEON(R) HD 4670 - 1GB

Intel(R) HD Graphics 520

NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 960M with 2GB GDDR5

Intel® Integrated HD Graphics 5500

NVIDIA® Quadro® M1000M (2 GB dedicated GDDR5)

Intel HD Graphics 520

Intel HD Graphics 520
+ Nvidia GeForce 940M GPU with 1 GB of memory

Display 15.6 Full High Definition(1080p)
1920x1080
13.3 inch QHD+ (3200 x 1800) InfinityEdge touch 15.6" 4K Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) InfinityEdge touch 14.0 FHD (1920x1080) 15.6" diagonal FHD UWVA IPS anti-glare LED-backlit (1920 x 1080)

14" FHD (1920x1080), IPS, 10-point Multi-Touch

13.5” PixelSense™  3000 x 2000 (267 PPI) 10 point multi-touch
Network Wireless Network Card -Intel(R) WiFi Link 5300 (802.11a/g/n) Half Mini-c DW1820A 2x2 802.11ac 2.4/5GHz + Bluetooth4.1 DW1830 3x3 802.11ac 2.4/5GHz + Bluetooth 4.1 Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265AC 802.11ac/a/b/g/n 2x2 + Bluetooth 4.0 LE Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2x2) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth® 4.0 combo Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260, 2x2, Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 4.1, vPro

802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless networking; IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n compatible
Bluetooth 4.0

Battery 9-cell (85WHr) Lithium Ion 56WHr Integrated Battery 84Whr battery 4-cell 52 Whr Lithium Polymer 4-cell 64 WHr Li-ion prismatic

4 Cell Li-Polymer Battery 52Wh

12 hour
Weight 3.06Kg 1.29kg 2kg 1.56Kg 2Kg 1.27kg+ 1.516 Kg
Dimensions (W x D x H) 380 x 260 x ? 304 x 200 x 15 357 x 235 x 17

337 x 232 x 20

375 x 255 x 18 333 x 229 x 17 232 x 312 x 23
Service 3-Year Premier Service 3Yr ProSupport : Next Business Day Onsite Service 3Yr ProSupport : Next Business Day Onsite Service 3 Yrs Next Business Day Onsite Service 3 years standard parts, labour and on-site limited warranty 3Y On-site NBD upgrade from 1Y Depot/CCI 2-year hardware warranty
Price (as at 25th Feb 2016) $2,100 (as at 2010) $2,879 $3,379 $4,441.80 $5,481 $4,118.51 $4,199

Notes

  • Where choice was offered, maximum CPU and memory selected
  • All prices in Australian dollars, including GST. Enterprise agreements or other arrangements/discounts/specials might give better prices.
  • Enterprise and/or special business programs may offer additional hardware choices/customisations.
  • Where offered, 3 year support was chosen
  • No Office subscription was included
  • Windows 10 Pro 64bit

Thoughts

I think I’ll forget about a Xeon CPU - can’t justify the premium price. Maybe one day!

Most of these devices have built-in batteries, so the option of buying a spare battery (like I did with my 1645) simply doesn’t exist these days.

Looking at that list, I think the models that stand out are the XPS 15, X1 Yoga and Surface Book. I’ve probably been looking most closely at the Yoga, but the XPS deserves some closer attention – especially as the price seems a bit more affordable. The Surface Book looks nice, but for me I think it’s in 3rd place behind the other two.

Let me know of any corrections or suggestions for other models that I should consider and anything I’ve overlooked.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Book review: Why

As part of their support for user groups, O’Reilly sent me a free copy of “Why: A Guide to Finding and Using Causes ” by Samantha Kleinberg to review.

Kleinberg is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science, so I was interested to see what she had to say about finding “causes”. It probably wouldn’t be the first book I chose if I was browsing, but I’m always interested in learning new things.

What I liked about this book was the use of written examples and illustrations. The first chapter opens with the story of Sally Clark. A tragic miscarriage of justice that resulted in Clark serving 3 years in prison for the murder of her babies. One of the significant pieces of evidence that was used to convict Clark was the suggestion that the probability of two babies dying of SIDS was 1 in 73 million. This is wrong, because the witness (a medical expert) didn’t understand statistics and probability. The expert witness believed Clark was the cause of death the two babies.

The Clark story isn’t the only one told. I’m glad for the generous sprinkling of those examples – without which it would be pretty dry going. It is very helpful to bring things back to something you can relate to.

A warning, this is a pretty in-depth book. I can’t say I found it an easy read, but there’s plenty of detail there.

Before reading this book I guess I assumed that finding the cause for something was a pretty straight forward. Turns out the correct method is “it depends”.

Trying to identify the real cause of an event is not always easy. Kleinberg takes us on a journey to better understand ways (and there are more than one) of finding causes – Beginnings (concepts), Psychology (how do we learn about causes), Correlation (correlation and causation aren’t the same thing), Time, Observation (watching to learn), Computation (automating the process), Experimentation (experiments and research), Explanation (this caused that), Action (making decisions).

The writer comes from the Computer Science field but she writes in a generally accessible (if a little bit academic) way. There are plenty of references (the notes and bibliography take up a not insignificant amount of the book). I noticed a lot of examples were medically-related, so if you work in the medical field, then I think you would get a lot out of it too.

Finally, a suggestion for the title of the sequel – “Just Because” Smile