UPDATE from 2020-04-01 April. I ended up getting a new machine, mostly because the x230 something else failed on it every month, most noticeably the battery (replacement I bought a couple months ago because the original died in a week or two) which is usually completely unchargeable. Not a problem with the machine, but with German Amazon that advertises it as being basically new but really it arrived chipped, broken, and things started failing on it immediately and continued. Also, I was unable to post a review (negative) or comment to warn others. It seems Amazon Germany sensors reviews, so other people now are buying the same machine from the same company.
I ended up getting a 380 Yoga because it's more than twice as powerful by benchmark numbers as my x230, and has touch screen and yogas. It has only 8gig of RAM but it's expandable. It also uses M.2 which is reportedly faster than my SSD cartridges for the x230. So far though I'm frustrated and want to seriously just smash this machine to pieces for satisfaction. I don't know why companies can't make products as good as they did 8 or 10 years ago in computers. Problems with the 380 Yoga (note: running Ubuntu Studio 20), and I put in a 1tb Samsung m.2 hard disk which appeared to be faster than the original but I'm not sure:
- Too big. It's not the little laptop I want to carry around or put on my lap. It's actually quite big, despite people saying it's smaller. It feels in size like a regular laptop, which is not good
- Too heavy. It's I think over 3 pounds. My x230 is lighter, under 3 pounds although I want something about 1.5 pounds like my Acer aspire 11.5 inch which is my ideal computer body (it just doesn't have the power, and takes minutes to boot and load a music DAW, all you can really do on it is type text, barely watch YouTube, and run maybe one or two non-instensive tracks on a DAW).
- Heats up so much you will be sweating if it's on your lap. Fan is on the bottom not on the side where it should be.
- Speakers quiet like the x230, neither any good for that. You can't hear them.
- Power adapter in is like a phone charger adapter. I know it will soon bend inside and break when it gets pulled a bit
- Keypad, despite people saying it's Lenovo Thinkpad and the best keypads, isn't that great. The x230 is better. I feel I'm missing keys sometimes on the 380
- Power seems to be better, as a 20 minute slideshow (with a couple video clips in it) video I wanted to render on Kdenlive took like 20 minutes instead of about 2 hours (I didn't complete it) on the x230. However a second video I wanted to make that had more video clips in it's makeup, which was about 30 minutes long, said originally about 35 minutes, but then crashed. Then I tried a few more times and it said 45 minutes or 1 hour 20 minutes, but always crashed in the render. So I took half out, but the 12 or 15 minute video also crashed.
- Touchscreen despite being much newer doesn't really seem that much more accurate than the touchscreen on the Elitebook 2760p (very comparable to the x230 in being a small, powerful, well build machine from 8 to 10 years ago, although I would never buy any other HP because I've hated every one I've bought, and I've mostly had HPs until I started with Thinkpads, and just had one Lenovo before which for it's power-grade I'm still happy with (it's also an older one though). The pen in the Yoga 380 is also not as great as I hoped. It has two buttons but I don't know what they do. I thought they'd be like a right and left click button, but they're not. The pen is only better than your finger or mouse it seems for actually drawing or writing, any clicking or dragging is still better with a mouse.
- The screen has huge black borders around it. I thought they'd maximize space by having a screen almost as big as the panel, which is what it sounded like they were doing from reviewers, but the screen looks quite small on the big panel. The screen seems brighter than the x230, which makes me notice new things in pictures I was used to viewing on the x230, but it also seems like it might just have the saturation turned up.
- The wifi card may be weaker than the x230. On the x230 I frequently have full or almost full, while the 380 has usually 30%. Maybe it's the same speed downloading though, I'm not sure.
Posiitives: - It does seem to run VMs faster. The Windows7 VM with Ableton seems to respond faster than on x230. Not fast enough to actually play midi notes (you hit a key and then hear the note), but faster anyway, noticeably.
To me, this machine seems like you'd use it sitting on a desktop, but if that's what you want to do, why wouldn't you use a 17 inch or greater? As a portable it's kind of a piece of shit so far. The inability to buy in 2020 a machine that suits my needs is very frustrating. If Sony's VAIO can support linux and they make a Yoga touchscreen for their tiny 11 or 12-inch, 1 pound computers I would buy that at basically any price.
I'm thinking now to get another x230, despite being less powerful, and being careless with this Yoga 380 until it gets stolen or broken. Or maybe just sell it.
What pisses me off is the people at Lenovo can't make a decent machine to compare with something made by other people there 10 years ago. All they have to do is make it a bit smaller (mostly thinner) and lighter and more powerful, and put on a yoga touchscreen which they had 10 years ago (although then they used a swivel screen I think, as did Elitebook).
ORIGINAL BLOG POST:
Reminder because I keep forgetting what's wrong with them.
(Another reminder: It's at least an option to get one of these, then run Win7 Ableton in a VM. There is lag you won't be able to get past, especially as regards recording live audio [not fully tested]), but it's an option. You also would have to learn how to pass a midi keyboard through into the VM if you want to use that [with lag probably too]. This method basically converts Ableton into just a sequencer, because the time lag is like half a second, for example, for a midi note played through the computer keyboard. This is worse than it sounds, because in practice you will play something, then hum a little melody, but you won't be able to add that melody to your song except through extremely difficult processing.)
Probably for music production the best way is Win7 (no internet) with Ableton. This sucks, but Bitwig is shit, and also you can't plug audio into the X230 using Linux because 1)the mic doesn't work it seems and 2)your preferred audio interface also doesn't work (no drivers on the newer Ubuntus for it, plus even if you get it working its big and you have to plug it in. Do you really need internet on your laptop? Can you just use your phone for that? Still, that means no touch screen to arm tracks and press record.
TO CONTRAST WITH: Thinkpad X230 i5 with 16RAM. Good: Good enough to do all the programs. Can swap SSDs. Can swap RAM ("socketed RAM," not soldiered). Doesn't look valuable. Isn't costly.
Kickers: Only 4500benchmark i5 (2300 or something on other website). Kind of thick and heavy, compared with ideal (ideal is like an Acer Aspire V5 11.5inch plastic laptop). Does not Yoga or have touch screen (although there is a swivel/touch X230). Battery only a couple of hours (once you hack the Lenovo hardware whitelist).
TARGET: 12-inch or less, very small, very light (1.5pounds or less), Linux-friendly, access to swappable SDD card, access to swappable RAM slots, powerful (at least around 8000 benchmark). Good battery life. Touch screen. Yoga-ing ability. Swappable battery.
(Purposes: audio processing, video processing.)
New Thinkpads: none under 13.3 inch most larger, plus limited storage disks, it seems, and all 3 pounds or more.
Around the same width as x230 (0.7 inch), 13.3 screen.
13" laptop is designed with a 12" footprint. 2.7 pounds.
As equipped with the Core i7-8565U, the ThinkPad X390 posted excellent benchmark (like 8250). This four-core, eight-thread chip has just a 1.8GHz base clock, but an impressive 4.6GHz Turbo Boost.
The storage is tweakable via an M.2 Type-2280 slot (under the bottom panel) for PCI Express solid-state drives (SSDs). Lenovo offers up to 1TB options.
14 hour battery
KICKERS: RAM is soldiered in and not upgradable (or fixable). Not sure if it can take bigger than 1TB SDDs?
Thinkpad L390 (Front runner because its fairly swappable and has touchscreen and yogas. Main problem is it is a bit big and heavy)
This is a business-class laptop. A bit bigger than I'd like, and metal. It has good ports, and comes with the 8900benchmark i7-8565U 4core i7 (like basically all these laptops in 2019). It has 2 removable RAM ports (so you can go up to 32gig). It also Yogas (keys don't lock on this one, they just don't function), and has a touch screen and a pen with its own charging bay. Battery life about 6 or 7 hours (less than X1 Carbon by far or other more expensive Thinkpads). Also built to operate in really high temperatures for long periods of time.
Stickers: 3 pounds a bit heavy, size a bit big. Has that hard disk that screws in (so I can't just slide my 2tb ssd in, I guess, like I can with an older machine).
DELL XPS 13 9380
12 inches and 2.7 pounds. 11 hour battery. $900 and up. Soldiered RAM up to 16GIG.
Is it Linux-friendly? What's up with the ports?
Dell Latitude 7390
At 0.7 by 12 by 8.2 inches
12 hour battery
SONY VIAOS (would be great if they had touchscreen, Yoga-ed, and had swappable RAM)
Sony is making some nice little VAIO's again like the SX12. They're very small, and super light (like 1.5 pounds I think, or 1 pound). Size is good. They come with the 8900benchmark i7. They have good ports, including VGA. I think they have decent battery life. This is like a nicer version of the Acer Aspire V5 11.5 inch.
Kickers: I think RAM is soldered on up to 16GIG. They do not Yoga. They are not touch screen. Price is high for some (1200 and up), considering the things they don't do. Battery life only like 5 hours (not the 10 they say). They run really not like 90 when doing lots of processing (not dangerous to CPU hot but hot). Smaller trackpad. Harder to take apart (lots of phillips screws, then use a guitar pick to pry it apart).