Star Lite, Star Bright!
Back in “My Linux journey” blogpost, I mentioned I'd bought a dedicated Linux machine to have fun on – the Star Labs Star Lite Mk II “labtop” is a bit of a curiosity but for a £350 deal seemed like a no-brainer. 11.6” screen but with a glass, premium feel. Small, sleek form factor but solid and heavier than expected! Low powered CPU to fit but 8GB RAM. These sort of modern netbooks usually pack a small amount of flash memory but this has a comparatively huge 240GB SSD, speedy enough but not as quick as top-end devices.
There's a great review of it by Devin McElheran on Fossbytes worth a quick read. The official website is already showing the Mk III version of the machine with its new upgrades and design choices – guess that's why I got £50 of the Mk II then! The newer version seems to have ditched the glass screen for a matte display. Personally, I agree with Devin that there is a sub-conscious association of glass screens and quality on a laptop but understand those who prefer a matte offering. I remember splashing out on a MacBook in 2011 and the glass screen was a real pleasure to have. The MacBook is still going strong all these years later, upgraded with a SSD and more RAM, new thermal paste for the CPU, enjoying a second life with one of my brothers.
Anyway, back to the little Star Lite!
Frustrations out the way first. Yes, the keyboard sometimes feels cramped but right now I'm sitting on the couch typing away quite happily. Occasionally something just 'hangs' and websites don't load as fast as on more powerful computers but hey, it's good enough for me and over £1k cheaper than the 2016 Dell XPS 9360 that I'm comparing it to! When video calling friends hooked up to an external monitor and external webcam, the battery starts to drain quickly. Leaving the external webcam on but swapping out the external monitor for the USB-C connected power supply, it still drains quicker than it can charge. Using the internal webcam solves this problem at the cost of the camera quality but that's OK. It doesn't seem to remember that I want a different global scale when hooked-up to an external monitor but I suspect that's more an issue of me vs. Kubuntu/KDE than the laptop itself!
To date I'm mainly using it to browse the web and write blog posts on Typora. For these tasks it's a pleasure. I've also used NextCloud and KDE Connect to link with my “de-Googled” smartphone. Yes buying another laptop is not the most sustainable of solutions as far as the environment goes and the low specs may limit its future proofedness. I could just use the household Dell XPS but my wife would prefer me to remove the dual boot option at some point and it is just satisfying having this personal toy wrapped in a pretty package with my Linux distro of choice pre-installed on it.
Let's see how it holds up when/if I get to some more resource intensive tasks, like photo editing or streaming video. For now I'm happy with the trade-offs!
Entry 14 of my participation in the “100 days to offload” challenge. Find out more and join in!