Travel laptop

I wanted to get a cheap and light laptop mostly for travel use. I did not need a lot of performance, but I wanted enough so that I could do a build of Tweetian using Sailfish SDK if I wanted to. This rules ARM based netbooks out and in practice means that device needs to have 4GB of RAM at minimum and reasonably modern CPU.

I ended up buying Acer Aspire V3-111P The device was quite cheap at 399€. The performance seems to be good enough for the tasks I had in mind and even though the hardware has a bit cheap feel to it the device looks good. Trackpad and keyboard are OK and its surprisingly fun occasionally use the 11.6 inch touchscreen for pointing and scrolling.

I've never had Windows 8 or Windows Phone device before so I was curious about the Metro UI and for the first days I used the preinstalled Windows 8.1. The UI indeed was quite nice for touchscreen use. However, a lot of the time the things I needed were traditional mouse/keyboard driven things and the mixed traditional/touch environment become quickly painful. Originally I thought of making dual boot system with preinstalled Win8 and Kubuntu. The device had secure boot and UEFI enabled in BIOS and getting dual boot to work correctly did not work right and quick Googling did not help so instead I just changed to traditional boot and installed only Linux.

Display brightness adjustment has issues and Ethernet does not get IP, but everything else works with Kubuntu. Two finger scrolling is too fast with trackpad, other than that keyboard, trackpad, and touchscreen are working quite well. 4GB of memory means that sometimes the device lags a bit, but less than it did with Windows. Also, Sailfish SDK is clearly quicker under Linux. According to specs battery should last 7h of use. I haven't measured, but my feeling is that it is probably true, could be even a little better.

I really wanted to buy a MacBook Air, but it would have been way too expensive just for travel use. I think I got good value for the money and if the laptop gets stolen or broken during a trip it will not be a huge loss like it would be with a premium laptop. I may still swap the 500GB harddrive to SSD to get a bit more speed some time later though.