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[Hardware Review] Haswell/Harris Beach Intel SDS Ultrabook Review - Part 1

As I mentioned in the first post, "Haswell is coming...", I've been given an opportunity to review the latest and greatest Intel chipset, Haswell, in the form of a engineering reference ultrabook from Intel. Today I'm going to share the unboxing and my initial impressions (hint, 95% positive, 5% whines). Next post I'll share the spec's and more real world using impressions...

This is the first time I've done this kind of thing, so please bear with me if I'm over doing it a bit. :)

The Unboxing

For people like us, you and me, is there anything better than that first unboxing of your latest geek treasure? (okay maybe puppies, ice cream and rainbows, but you get the idea) It's like Christmas, birthdays and finding a lost treasure all rolled into one brown box.



Yeah, I know a box! Like, wow! Oh what's inside the box? I bet you can't guess!


A box! Ahhh, but it's a shiny cool Ultrabook box.



Opening the box made me laugh. You know those cards that play a sound when you open them?


Yep, you guessed it. On opening this box I was greeted with the Intel jingle. At first I thought the ultrabook had turned on and it was a jingle on boot. Nope, just a jingling box... lol

(The audio is there, it's just really low... Sorry about that...)

Here's the rest of the stuff in the box,


Those little cable adapters? Mini HDMI to Full and to VGA and a USB to Ethernet.

"Wait, Greg, that isn't the power brick is it? That's like the size of a deck of cards!"

Yep, that's it. Maybe it's just me, but this is the smallest power brick I've ever seen for a notebook.



So how big is this thing? Let's compare it to a Surface Pro


Surface Pro, without cover on the left, Ultrabook on the right. Yeah, you're seeing it right, they are about the same thickness. Length/width, as you would expect the ultrabook is bigger.


Weight? The Ultrabook is almost the same.

Finally, first boot!


Initial Impressions

To set a basic baseline, my impressions and comparisons will be between this ultrabook against my current primary personal notebook, an Alienware M11xR3 (which I've upgraded to 16GB RAM & 512GB SSD). While the M11 is pretty portable, it's not ultraportable nor touch enabled, so for portability/touch I'll also be comparing against the Surface Pro too.

To make this a fair review, I'll be using this Ultrabook as my new primary personal device for the next month. And of course, my comments will be personal and subjective...

Okay, we good? Got it? We on the same sheet of music now? Good!

Initial impressions... In a word, wow.

The screen is awesome. The performance is pretty much blinding. The battery life is OMG...

Yesterday, I unplugged as I left from work, used the notebook throughout the day, keeping it awake for most of the time and when I got home 12 hours later the power as at 24%. I want to repeat this, but I've not seen a device this size with that kind of battery life.

I think this will give you a feel for the battery life I am seeing.

imageAfter using the Ultrabook for hours today, installing stuff like the Windows Phone 8 SDK, writing a number of blog posts, etc, at 48% power, I have an estimate 5 hours left of battery (my M11 get's maybe 3-4 hours total)

Oh it's not perfect (here comes the whines). 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, which I don't know if they are upgradable (but doubt it) and fan that's irritating in a quite room. It's erratic in that it speeds up/down, on/off seemingly randomly (but again, you only really hear it in a quite room).


In short, it seems the promise of Haswell, with it's ground changing battery life, is going to be fulfilled. Thinking about a Surface Pro with Haswell makes me drool... :)

Here's the planned post schedule:

  • Part 0 - "Haswell is coming...", July 20
  • Part 1 - "Hello Haswell" - Unboxing and initial impressions, July 28 [This Post]
  • Part 2 - "Life with Haswell"  - A couple week with Haswell, August 17/18
  • Part 3 - "It's been a Haswell Summer", September 7/8

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe my readers will enjoy. 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.

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