Friday, October 14, 2016

Review Day

There are no major spoilers in these reviews.

KIN by KT Tunstall:
The good KT is back after the disappointing, overly mellow Invisible Empire / Crescent Moon album in 2013. This album is full of catchy hooks that will get stuck in your head.

Final Grade: B+

Architect by Wallis Bird:
Wallis Bird strays away from her folksy guitar sound into electronica here, and the result isn't particularly exciting. There are a few good songs interspersed, but overall, the production is cold and forgettable.

Final Grade: C-

Stranger Things:
This series was fun, but not nearly as amazing as hyped. It's a pleasant homage to every 80s movie ever made (like ET meets the Goonies) and has a nice story arc that's just the right length. Winona Ryder's shrill performance is exactly what it's supposed to be, but it gets annoying after just one episode. Free on Netflix.

Final Grade: B

Dell XPS 13:
Although I miss my HP Folio 13, which started having random keyboard failures (and sometimes the failing key was part of my login password) and graphics issues, this has been a great replacement so far. It has a normal amount of bloatware that comes off fairly easily but a much thinner profile than any laptop I've had before. The screen is still 13", but extends all the way to the edges, and boasts a very sharp picture with an unnecessarily high (but appreciated) range of brightness. One area it surpasses the Folio is its matte screen covering, as glass makes it nearly impossible to use a laptop outdoors in the daytime. Windows 10 is annoying as expected, constantly readding apps I removed and making poor UI choices like forcing "All Apps" into the Start Menu.

There are three minor annoyances, none of which are deal-breakers:

  • There's no bezel on the edge to help you open it with one hand. The form is so thin that you're going to need two hands unless you want to risk dropping it.
  • There's no HDMI port, so you'll need a $15 USB-C to HDMI convertor which looks bulky compared to this tiny piece of technology.
  • The backlit keyboard (a feature I didn't know I needed in my life until I had it) turns off after a few seconds of inactivity. There's no way to have the keys backlit all of the time. I found a Dell utility for it, but it was designed for Windows 7 and crashed on 10.
Overall, I'm liking the XPS 13 for my use case, which is about 75% hooked up to the big TV for streaming, 15% reading websites in comfortable places, and 10% coding.

Final Grade: B+

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