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43 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Touch screen that just plain WORKS!
, November 26, 2012
This is my first review ever on a product, so excuse me if it's a tad jumbled or jumps from subject to subject. I guess I should also mention that this is for the 6648 model that is Best Buy exclusive ($519, but i3 processor)
I received this laptop as a gift after I sold my gaming desktop computer. I am about to start graduate school, so I was in the market for a nice, efficient laptop for school work. I fully intended on buying a Surface tablet, but after extensive review and playing with this in-store for a few minutes, I decided this would do much better for my needs.
So there I was in Best Buy, wondering why this was so cheap. From first looks of this device on the exterior, I was drawn towards it. The shell has a nice smooth, silvery exterior, but is actually plastic. Oh well, it looks great. The backlit keyboard is just an awesome bonus, as NO OTHER keyboard in this price range has this feature. Seriously, I HATE having a bunch of light on, and I cannot function without a backlit keyboard. The track pad is nice and large, but guess what? I hardly use it due to the AWESOME touch screen feature.
The touchscreen itself is insanely accurate, even down to the small menu boxes! It's so great to use, that I find myself neglecting the large trackpad below the keyboard. One really negative aspect of the touchscreen is that since it's so great to use, you WILL notice horrible smudges. I happened to have a slight cold when I got this last night, so just remember to keep your hands clean before groping the screen with your dirty hands.....just saying.
I'd consider myself pretty high-tech, and just recently, I laughed at someone for getting a windows 8 laptop and crying about it not being touchscreen. Man, I need to go apologize to them. I think I'd cry to if this didn't have it! Windows 8 is......unique. I've tried the windows 8 phone platform and did not like it one bit. Windows 8 on a touchscreen-enabled laptop is pretty slick. If you don't like the tiles you can always switch back to a classic desktop for a minute for more familiar navigation. It does take some getting used too.
I don't really have TOO much experience with laptop keyboards, but this one seems to do just fine for me. It's a good mixture of softness and firm "clickiness" to let you know you've hit the key successfully. I don't feel as if I've had to compensate for anything while typing, which is good because I type close to 100 wpm. I imagine I'd be pretty upset if I had to slow down my typing deliberately to make up for a keyboards faults. Like I've said before, I just could NOT live without a backlit keyboard. It helps tremendously, even during the day. At night, it's a blessing. Keyboard keys are nice and bright, and are illuminated by a nice, bright, white LED lighting. (I could be biased somewhat as well, because white those bright, white, almost light blue LED lights are my favorite at Christmas!) Just as a bonus, there are a full set of numbered keys to the right of the main keyboard. The keys also have a nice matte finish to them. It's really nice to type on I've found.
For all of the aesthetics so far, the screen is really nothing special to look at. I mean, hey, it's not bad, it's just not GREAT. Like I said, I'm a techie, but I can live with the screen. The native IE browser appears washed out while typing this. Colors just don't "pop" out. It's definitely not an iPad Retina display (Before you cry bias, I've used Android products primarily over the past few years. I can just recognize when certain brands have better qualities, and Apple makes ridiculously awesome screens. Truth.)I watched a few YouTube videos and an episode of Battlestar Galactica and Family Guy on Netflix, and was neither amazed or disgusting. It's just.......a screen. For $519.00, an awesome backlit LED keyboard and touchscreen, I'll manage!
The audio is actually pretty decent for a laptop. It touts a Dolby Advanced Audio Virtual Surround Sound capability. I mean, I dunno, I'm no Audiophile, but judging purely in comparison from the laptops I've owned before, this laptop seems to project sound a little better. No bass to speak of (obviously), but pretty decent. No distortion on 100% volume. I find the best to be around 50% volume. I can definitely hear it from across my bedroom at 50% with ease. No complaints whatsoever about the sound on this laptop.
All of the reviews I have read on this battery describe it as terrible. I agree. It drains really, really fast. I have no benchmarks or tests to prove it from, but I can attest to the reviews. It is just. plain. horrible. Whatever, I don't plan to take this camping, or skydiving, or watch DVDs for hours on a car trip with it. It's a core i3 laptop, I just plan to do work with it for a graduate program, so I plan to be in civilization and near electrical outlets like 95% of normal Americans. This is fine with me. All hail the electrical outlets.
What else to say? I have really, really enjoyed using this laptop so far the past day! I am still figuring out various aspects of windows 8. Some are annoying, some are cool. As a previous power PC user, it is slightly aggravating that I can't just jump in and go, but the new part of me is enjoying something fresh and fun. The fact that I have an Xbox 360 is even sweeter, as this integrates awesomely with my Xbox! Game requests and messages from my friends all are shown on the tile screen to let me know. It's really cool. I love how in windows 8 you can split screen with applications! This is where touchscreen really, really shines. I couldn't imagine doing some of these functions without it.
Like I said, this is the Best Buy exclusive variant, which is $519.00, but replaces the i5 with the i3. I couldn't imagine performance being any different with the i5, maybe slightly faster if anything. It comes with 4GB, which is been sufficient for me. Power users might want to consider an 8GB upgrade. Startup time for the laptop seems to be lengthy, but I've been spoiled by an SSD. I will be looking to upgrade to an SSD if possible. I can't think of any other upgrades I think would be necessary.
Overall rating (purely subjective, and no scale or previous experience for judgment):
Windows 8: 4/5 - This is due to some annoying aspects of Windows 8.
Display: 3.5/5 - I feel this is an average screen, nothing horrible, nothing fantastic.
Touch screen: 5/5 - This touchscreen is AWESOME, and INCREDIBLY accurate. After using it, I would NOT recommend getting Windows 8 without a touchscreen capable device. You are missing out on so much!
Keyboard: 5/5 - I am a power type, and do not have to compensate for anything while typing. Keys are slightly small, but so are my hands. Backlit keyboard is just incredible, as I found no other laptop in my price range that offered this option.
Sound: 4/5 - Horrible low end (It's a laptop, duh). Good representation of mid/high ends with music. 50% volume is the sweet spot for me, and music sounds good, clear across my bedroom from previous laptops I've owned. I'm no expert, but it sounds good enough for me.
Hardware: 4/5 - Nice options for a budget laptop. 4GB DDR3. 500GB HD. Second Generation Core i3, which is quick enough for all the applications I use here. Intel HD3000 graphics, which is good enough for HD videos and all the apps. Comes with Bluetooth, Wireless, and all the necessities. Having an SSD drive, 8GB, and possibly Intel HD4000 GPU would have been nicer, but saving ~$200 bucks is definitely worth the downgrade for what I use this laptop for.
Battery life: 2/5 - My non scientific testing of just running it slightly to see the drain seems to match up with more through reviews and bench testing. It drains really, really fast. But like most technologically savvy Americans, I am near electrical outlets. It's acceptable if you don't use it on commutes or long trips. Who uses a laptop in a car anymore anyway?
Overall, I give this laptop a 4.5/5. I really am not including the battery life, as this would drag the rating down. Its quick, THIN, and meets my needs perfectly so far. If you get this, you won't be disappointed. And if you can find one for $519.00 at Best Buy, I would HIGHLY recommend you snag it while you can! I would be hard pressed to believe you'd find any significant performance differences between the i3 and the i5 for what you would use this laptop for. I hope this review has helped!