Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Maybe the best Laptop I ever bought

Dear reader,

my apologies for the long break! It has been a while, a while you have not seen me blogging. Will be back occasionally, when there is something to share.

Today, I got some to share with you. It seems my most favorite notebook computer found the way into my home. It probably wont be a surprise to my regular readers that the device is on the less expensive side of life.

While I am still pretty happy with my MacBook Air (11"), I felt to be in need of a higher resolution screen in a smaller sized notebook. For the first time ever in my life, I queued up to get advice from a dealership.
Requirements: daily work with LibreOffice and some documents (mostly PDF).
While we were going a few options I already found on their webpage, we went deeper down their stock... and there it was:
the Acer E 14 E5-475-32LH.
I figure, this is a model of the year passed. The information that my advisor had was: 6 GB RAM expandable (1), 128 GB SSD and 500 GB HDD (2).

This sold me on the particular model!
(1) expandable RAM of an odd size, i.e. 6 GB, means, we are taking modules rather than soldered on chips.
(2) HDD don't come in soldered in, that can only mean that there are exchangeable options in the mass storage department.

Turned out that I was right about the above. On top of that, the SSD is not soldered in either, in contrast to later Acer Notebook Computers. The SSD is an M.2-SATA drive.

The best thing about this notebook is that Acer actually intended it to be user serviceable. Acer opted for providing a portion of the bottom to be removable by unscrewing 4 obvious screws. Nothing hidden here!
Further, unlatching the hatch-cover disable the built-in battery. So, it you are testing, you need to put the cover back in place, screws not needed at this stage.

The notebook came with Windows 10, as you might expect. And guess what, I did not like that!
So, I installed Linux Mint.
Here are a few hints how to do that.
First, you want to disable "secure boot". This requires supplying a superuser password in the BIOS.
When that is done, install an OS of your desire which is capable of EFI booting.
Go back into the BIOS and locate the EFI-file for your OS. Add said file to the trusted boot options. Change the boot order such as to boot your alternative OS first.
Depending on your OS and the options installed thereon, you might might be able to enable "secure boot" again. As a side note: Linux MINT w/o proprietary  stuff will boot in "secure boot" mode, w/ proprietary stuff enable, it won't.
Pick your poison!

On Linux MINT Serena, every single function of the notebook worked OOB.
Now I am on MINT Sylvia Cinnamon 64bit and still everything works.

Linux MINT resides on the SSD, while I kept the HDD in the NTFS format.
This way, Linux sees the internal HDD as an external device which can be mounted and ejected just as needed.
This further allows to have a Windows 10 OS on a separate M.2-SATA drive, in case that OS is needed.

Should dual boot be required, I figure there will be an option to install both OSs alongside one another and be able to select the OS during boot in GRUB.

Back to the particular piece of hardware I selected.
The FULL-HD screen is good, very good, not brilliant though.
The keyboard is great, just to my likings!
The touchpad is responsive and well made, however there are no separate right/list switches. The touchpad is similar to a Chromebook touchpad.
Audio is OK, actually pretty good for a notebook.

I got the Core i3 model, which is plenty of power to me.

Due to the dual mass storage option and easy user upgradability of the notebook, I highly recommend the Acer E 14 E5-475 to anyone, Linux or Windows...

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