"Awesome machine in a need of a higher resolution screen"4.0 starson by bigbadwoolfe
Pros: Keyboard, no junk pre-installed, light, USB3, good selection for CPUs, HDDs.
Cons: Low screen resolution, electrical buzzing when some power settings are changed, rubbery finish collects fingerprint smudges like crazy, headphone jack hidden behind a cover that's a pain to remove every time I want to use headphones.
Summary: This laptop came with a 160GB SSD, 8 GB memory and an i7 CPU, so it's quite the powerhouse. It is super fast (boots in 20 seconds from dead, wakes up from sleep in 1 second, starts any program in under 2...), light, and the keyboard is the best laptop keyboard I've typed on so far. One can turn on and off the backlight, and the keys make this soft clicking sound that's just ... perfect. Charging the battery is pretty amazing too - it really goes from 0% to ~80% in half hour, and takes another half hour to get to 100%. At full brightness and CPU utilization (doing tasks like installing software/updates, compiling code, Angry Birds of course) however, the battery goes for about 3.5 hrs (so not bad, but not the advertised 7 hrs). The trackpad is good, but I find that the 2 built in buttons at the bottom are sometimes tricky to use - they don't register if I am touching the trackpad, but I guess it's something I need to get used to. The red nubby joystick thingy is very useful tho, and works great combined with the 2 hard mouse buttons. Speakers are loud and clear, webcam is satisfactory (i'd say average) and the mic works surprisingly well.
Now my biggest hangup about this laptop - the screen. It looks very pretty with it's edge to edge Corning glass... until you turn it on. The default settings are not great and the picture looks too pale, almost washed up, so it needs to be calibrated for brightness, alpha, color... and this is well hidden in "windows settings". And this will bring it to a point where it's quite usable... I don't love that changing the viewing angle changes how colors appear on screen - but this is something I can live with - I usually look at it straight on anyway. Finally, something that I find exceptionally weak with this laptop - the graphics card and screen resolution of 1366x768. I'm not a gamer, but the resolution is really, really low, and on bright images I can see individual pixels. Maybe I'm too picky because I haven't had a resolution this low in years, but if I could change something on this laptop, this would be it. Probably not the end of the world for Word and email and casual web browsing, but I use things like Photoshop and Visual Studio on a regular basis and there's just not enough pixels to show everything I need on one screen. Even Gmail looks better on my old Sony(1440x900).
Overall I'm happy with the purchase so far. If the screen resolution was higher, it would be a no brainer 5 star rating. I I don't think you get more bang for your buck going any other route regardless. A Sony with the same specs costs 50% more, and let me tell you, they are gentle. This things looks like it can survive a nuclear blast... at least a 3 foot drop, and they say it's spill proof, tho I hope I won't be checking that feature soon.