Does an Ultrabook Make a Good Dev Machine? My Final Thoughts on the Intel IvyBridge Ultrabook.

Intel asked me to use their prototype IvyBridge Ultrabook for a few months and let them know what I thought about it as a dev machine. You can read about my initial thoughts in my “First Look at the Intel IvyBridge Ultrabook” and my thoughts after a using it for a couple of weeks in my “A deeper look at the Intel IvyBridge Ultrabook” post. I have been using it off and on since then, so I thought I’d share a couple more comments and let you decide if you should buy an Ultrabook as a dev machine.

The biggest advantages to using this Ultrabook has been its portability, battery life and touch screen. Ultrabooks are so much lighter and smaller than typical laptops that it makes it easy to throw in your bag or carry around the office. With my current laptop setup I have to bring my laptop and a massive power adapter (total about 7 lbs) whenever I leave my desk. The Ultrabook is so light that I don’t even realize it is in my bag and the extended battery life means I don’t have to carry my power adapter everywhere I go. I mainly used the Ultrabook when on the road and I could go days without charging it. I never measured it the exact length, but it is definitely a lot longer than a typical laptop.

As for the touch screen, this is where the machine shines. I find myself now trying to touch and swipe any laptop screen because I’m so used to it with the Ultrabook. Every machine I purchase from now on will have a touch screen.

Like I mentioned in my second review, the biggest drawback to this prototype is the lack of docking station support. And that is honestly why I didn’t use the machine as much as I would have liked to. If it would have had docking station support I would have taken it with me to the office more. Because it doesn’t have a docking station I would have to take both my Lenovo W510 and the Ultrabook with me. Yes, it is light, but I couldn’t justify carrying two of everything back and forth.

The answer to the question “Does an Ultrabook Make a Good Dev Machine?” is yes, it does…but make sure you get one with docking station support. Otherwise you will be manually connecting and reconnecting all your monitors and devices everything you move locations. No big deal if you work from one location all the time, but I assume most of us go from home to the office and need very fast dock and undock capabilities.


title: First look at the Intel IvyBridge Ultrabook

  • review
  • visual studio
    categories: [Tech, Reviews]
    alias: 2012/09/intel-ivybridge-ultrabook-first-look.html
    date: 2012-09-27 20:32:00

Intel just sent me an IvyBridge Ultrabook to try out and review as a development machine. It’s not a final machine and won’t ever be sold by Intel. The main purpose of the machine is to show what can be built with Windows 8 and Intel components. To do so, it comes with sensors including:

  • 5 point multi-touch screen
  • accelerometer
  • magnetometer
  • gyroscope
  • ambient light sensor
  • GPS
  • NFC

I’m not sure how I’m going to integrate the usage of these sensors into web dev, but I can definitely see an opportunity with mobile apps.

I have had a lot of opportunity to play with other Ultrabooks on the market, so I was surprised that it wasn’t as thin and light as the others. Yes, it is a pre-production machine that will never be on the market, but they haven’t quite hit the mark with size and portability yet.

It shipped with a non-RTM version of Windows 8, so the first thing I did was install RTM on it. The OS installed quickly as did Office and Visual Studio. I was up and running with my normal tools in a couple of hours.

I haven’t done any real dev on this machine, but from what I’ve seen so far, it is fast. Switching apps, moving around Windows, using Office and IE are all instantaneous. I’m very curious to see how this thing does with 5 instances of Visual Studio and Resharper. My gut is that 4GB of RAM isn’t going to scale since each instance of VS usually takes about 500MB in resting state. They are definitely going to need to ship these with more RAM if they are to be considered a true dev machine.

I personally can’t use any laptop trackpad and keyboard for very long, but the trackpad and keyboard that ships with it is a little more difficult to use than other Ultrabooks I’ve used. I definitely need to figure out a way to set this up to work with my normal mouse and keyboard and multi-monitors.

I’ll do more in-depth reviews in the weeks to follow.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Like I mentioned above, Intel sent me the Ultrabook and are letting me keep the device so I can continue to give them feedback on it as a dev machine. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.