Laptop HP Pavilion 14-al119na review.

This is not a professional review. This is more daily experience with using this laptop.

If you do not bother to read the whole article, then this is a main take away points:

GOOD

  1. Cheap
  2. Good 14″ Spec for money
  3. Speakers
BAD

  1. Glossy screen
  2. No backlight on keyboard
Summary:

   It is a pragmatic choice if you want reasonably priced 13-14” secondary laptop for a commute, lightweight work, learning or medium distance travelling. Don’t buy this laptop if are surrounding for fashion police or hipster developers. If you good spec for money then you should choose 15.6” laptops or looking to spend £700 at least.

 

STORY

    I needed an Ultrabook as my tablet is a great device for content consumption but for the simple content creation and practice some development skills failed. I tried Nexus9 with keyboard and …it didn’t work for me. I needed a device that I can use during my commute on Tube and as a secondary device while I am trying to survive as being a super father at home.  I didn’t want to spend a fortune as I assume this laptop will be murdered by my son someday during his “crash tests” of all items that he can grab or drop.

 

MY EXPECTATION:

    I want to use this laptop to practice programming skills, write blogs and be able to use as my travel laptop. I decided that laptop should have:

  • 13-14” screen with low resolution
  • Core i3 minimum. Prefer i5
  • 8GB RAM,
  • 128GB SDD (minimum 256GB will be perfect)
  • Decent battery life
  • lightweight

    Problem is that ultrabook is designed for hipster developers so it must be expensive and offer spec that it is pointless for most of them. Is it any budget ultrabook?  I did research and it turns there are not too many choices for the budget ultrabook. Best choice turns out to be HP. However, I don’t like this brand but in this price range, it was a most pragmatic choice. Anyway. It looks like a most valuable option.

This is specification:

Processor Intel(R) Core(TM) i3-7100U CPU @ 2.40GHz

RAM 8 GB

SDD 128GB (Samsung MZNTY128HDHP-000H1)

GPU Intel(R) HD Graphics 620

WiFi Intel(R) Dual Band Wireless-AC 3168

Sound Realtek with some B&O tunning.

Cost £400

In shortcut, not a good spec for 15.6” laptop but for 13-14” is not too bad.

 

FIRST IMPRESSION

    It came with the small package. It has just essentials. I will skip unboxing as you can find sponsored videos when people are much more orgasmic about the process of unboxing. Believe me seeing a middle aged fat guy cutting his finger during the process is …boring. Anyway.

    I read some complaints about battery but this one was enough to hold whole day but I use from time to time and I used for playing music, videos online and install few important apps and enjoying endless Windows Updates.

    Laptop looks quite decent outside but cheap when you open and when you touch you feel … cheated. Everything works. Typing on the keyboard is great. The touchpad is usable. The screen is good but it is glossy so I see my ugly face instead of the screen on sunny days. Overall, I was happy with the choice.

 

Screen

    It is a 14″ Screen with resolution 1366 x 768 pixels and it is perfect. I know, having a screen that is less than 4k is considered as a disadvantage, but for me, it is the ideal resolution for content creation and consumption and development.

There is a one big problem Glossy screen. It is great for narcissist person, but I am not one of them, so it is annoying to see my face on screen while I am developing. Glossy screen and battery saver change your screen to mirror. You can see your face, but you cannot see what you are typing. I am not sure what is the purpose of glossy screen apart of collecting your fingerprints and make it impossible to see anything during the sunny day while the laptop is in battery saver mode.

    The image is sharp and colours look nice but vertical view range is not good enough as I usually most adjust it.  

Keyboard

    The keyboard is OK. Key layout for this size of the keyboard is quite good. There are only 3 problems with it. 2 major and 1 minor.

  1. The Enter button is very small and it is a problem for me as a person who hit Enter all the time.
  2. The pause button is put in weird place (fn+right shift).It was difficult to find at first, but I used this button rarely, so it is not a problem.
  3. Up/Down arrows are tiny and cause some problems during development.

    Most weird thing is that there is enough space for one more column for keys which will solve all these problems. Overall, it is good enough keyboard to type but you can find much better one.

TOUCHPAD

    The touchpad is usable but not comfortable.  Moving pointer on the touchpad is quite good. It is smooth. Buttons work a bit better than on my Asus laptop but it still quite annoying to use. Left clicks works, usually. Right clicks can be tricky to trigger on many occasion. It works, but it depends on its mood. Overall, you can survive without using a mouse but it will be an unpleasant experience. 

 

BATTERY

    As I mentioned in the first impression there is concern about average battery life. With limited choices in this price range, it is hard for me to define an average and good battery. My aim was to have a battery that lasts for 5 hours of developing and listening music in background and laptop seems can holder even longer on battery saver mode. If you planning fly Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Auckland and your seat socket doesn’t work then, unfortunately, you are screwed, but for a bit shorter … like  5 hours journeys should be OK. 

 

MUSIC

    Let’s face it. This laptop is not for DJs who want play drum and bass from laptop’s speaker. However, the sound quality is great for their size. If you don’t  expect to experience a brainquake from bass then you should be happy. B&O did a great job with this speakers. For background noise, play songs to a baby or listen to the podcast at room is perfect. For teenagers who want share, they passion to dubstep in public is a bad option.

 

MY DAILY EXPERIENCE WITH Laptop HP Pavilion 14-al119na

  • I was surprised that fan works all the time. When I was exploring ‘rich’ configuration possibilities in BIOS (as I looked can you set this CPU in specific mode), I discover option “fan always on” is enabled. If you disabled, fan works when CPU gets hot. When you disabled “fan always on”, the laptop is very quiet. I have no idea what was the reason behind it, but so far laptop temperature is good.
  • Some people complain that it WiFi doesn’t support AC standard. Is it a problem? Not really. This laptop wasn’t designed with best possible performance in mind. It was designed to be cheap ultrabook and this cut seems to be reasonable. If you need ac-standard, then … it is not a laptop for you. Most funny thing is I check my laptop. It supports AC.
  • People moan on the internet that Ethernet doesn’t support gigabit standard. Many portable laptops do not have this port at all because it is not needed in wireless communication times. Another thing is it should not be a problem for me as with 128GB SSD there is unlikely that you will flood this drive with many data. I think it is good that it has a port at all.
  • I saw on the internet complaining about a lack of DVD-ROM. It should NOT have one. Ultrabook is designed to work on the move and the n digital age. This is no retro machine to support ancient technologies like CD-ROM, floppy disk and N64 cartridges. DVD-ROM is just waste of space and increases cost and weight.
  • Bluetooth works. I connect my headphones, ‘no name’ speakers’ and everything seems to work.
  • The battery is good enough for my 3 hours commute plus 1 hour spent at the coffee place and spend some time at home on doing various things.
  • It doesn’t have a keyboard with backlight which is especially useful in ultrabook.
  • Performance seems to be ok for my need playing video, having browsers with many tabs and running various CPU intense tasks. My unit tests running around twice longer than tests on my Asus laptop or worse. Performance can be sluggish on rare occasion on battery save mode.
  • Windows didn’t crash.
  • If you looking value for money, then buying 15’ish” laptop is a better idea.

 

SUMMARY

    It is weird for me to say about HP laptops but this is quite a decent laptop for my requirements in this price. I am happy with the choice.  It seems is good enough to handle browser with many tabs and developing a medium sized project without any hiccups. 

 

Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro L White LED review.

This review can be useful for people who are interesting in daily experience with Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro L White LED and people who are developers who are looking for a great keyboard.

If you do not bother to read the whole article, then this is main take away points:

GOOD

  1. Typing.
  2. Keys.
  3. Backlight.
  4. No drivers required to setup keyboard.
  5. Excellent Quality for money.
BAD

  1. Lack of wrist support.
  2. Short cable.

 

 

Summary:
It is a great keyboard for a software developer at work. It offers excellent quality and exceptional value for money.

STORY

My keyboard at work is … how to describe this in politically correct way … unpleasant to use. There are two models of the keyboard in the office. One I am using which has a classic key layout but it is uncomfortable and dull to use. Another one has better clicking experience but it annoying to use due to key placement. It is problematic when you are using many shortcuts during development and suddenly it is hard to use them efficiently as keys are in wrong place.

Last year I was thinking about to use my spare wireless keyboard that I have at home. At similar time I have noticed that some of my colleagues are using a mechanical keyboard. I decided to try it and I enjoyed a lot. My main problem with the mechanical keyboard was:

  • They are very loudly.
  • They have plenty features that are gamers friendly but it can be distracting for development typing.
  • The backlight is great for light show but less comfortable as a daily backlight.

What I was looking for is:

  • Full sized mechanical keyboard
  • A mono-coloured backlight as I don’t need to perform a light show at work.
  • Reasonable priced.

I am not playing games* so I wasn’t interested in any features related to gaming like resist to damage during ‘rage quit’ and so on.

*) That’s a lie actually.

    I did research on the internet about mechanical keyboards and I quickly released that for good keyboard you need to spend around 150 pounds. I just couldn’t justify why I should spend that much money. I decided to abandon the idea of having a mechanical keyboard and I was too lazy to bring my own wireless keyboard to work. As result, I stuck to my office keyboard.

This year I did another research and I found something that meets my criteria. I decided to buy Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro L White LED. This is an official specification found on Coolermaster’s website. http://www.coolermaster.com/peripheral/keyboards/masterkeys-pro-l/

I was a bit surprised that Cooler Master make keyboards. I knew this company for decent cooling systems for CPU  but I didn’t know, they are doing gaming stuff. Actually, after the short time, I realized that it looks like the natural evolution for this company to make a gaming toys.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I ordered it. When I received a package, my first impression was disturbing. Amazon delivered my package into recycle bin. I was a wonder if Amazon knew that I bought rubbish and it is worth recycling only.

You can find many unboxing videos, so I will skip that. It seems an ascetic and simplicity were the main theme for this keyboard. The box is as small as possible and contains essentials only. Keyboard is  simple and without fancy or quirky ‘features’.

After I plugged-in keyboard to my laptop, I was amazed. Writing experience was very smooth. I feel, I typed everything faster than on my laptop’s keyboard (Asus ROG-G771JW) and Logitech illuminated keyboard. The backlight is awesome. Overall, I was very happy. I had only one concern. My wrist feels painful after 30 minutes of using the keyboard. I bought wrist support and it solves the problem.

MY DAILY EXPERIENCE WITH KEYBOARD:

  • As I mentioned but I think is worth to repeat. Typing on the keyboard is an amazing experience. However, let’s face it. You can live with a typical office keyboard. The main difference is that on you developing with pleasure and experience on typing is quicker and smoother. I guess it is just my imagination. That’s all.
  • It has a classic layout without any quirky key design mutations and I like that because it helps me to use ‘normal’ keyboards without hassle. Truth is you can get used to it to any keyboard but it slows you down when you switch between different layouts/
  • Another amazing thing that you can setup keyboard using … keyboard. You don’t need drivers. It can come handy when you are doing pair programming with different PC and use your keyboard.
  • They provide a tool, so you can develop your own stuff on the keyboard which sounds awesome but I haven’t use it .. yet.
  • My main problem is the lack of wrist support. I used the keyboard for 30 minutes and my whites start to hurt. I needed to buy wrist support and it solves a problem. It is the second time in my life when I  have this kind of problem.
  • This keyboard has mode when you can play … Snake game. On keyboard! It comes handy when you need to wait for your tests to finish.
  • Cable is quite short. It is OK if you keep your PC on a desk, but if is under your desk, then you will have a problem. Cable quality is one of the best as I used.
  • The keyboard is not too noisy. Good enough for office use and you should not pissed off colleagues, but it is too loud to use at night at home.
  • In first few days, I had a few occasions where Windows stop recognize keyboard and it stops work. It stops happening after I restart Windows.

SUMMARY

It is an awesome keyboard so far. Typing is awesome. I think it is a great keyboard in terms of quality for money and value for money. You may need to buy wrist support or your wrist will kill you.

In fact, I am really surprised how much difference make to use a mechanical keyboard instead of the normal keyboard.

If you are a software developer who needs a great mechanical keyboard with monochrome backlight and spends reasonable money then this keyboard is the best choice.

I chose this keyboard as my first mechanical keyboard as I didn’t want invest fortune, but there are cheaper alternatives (for around £55 if you want to try a mechanical keyboard.

Second part will be after 3 months and third part will be after 1 year of usage

 

 

Picture source: http://www.coolermaster.com/peripheral/keyboards/masterkeys-pro-l-white/