The Dew Review – Intel Haswell Ultrabook Review – Part 3: A Developer’s Best Friend

Welcome to my third and final review of Intel’s latest generation Ultrabook prototype hardware, powered by the Haswell processor. You can read my previous reviews here:


I have had a couple of hiccups in the last few weeks, neither of which changes my overall impressions of these Ultrabooks. First, I had a hardware issue with the display. A 1px vertical green line was omnipresent on the screen about an inch from the right edge of the display. I returned the unit and Intel’s support quickly sent a replacement. The second issue could be hardware, driver or Windows 8.1 related. It’s impossible to know for sure. The Windows was inactive for 10 minutes and put the hardware to sleep. When I tried to wake it up, nothing worked. Closing/opening the lid did nothing, and pressing keyboard keys or the power button only made the backlit keyboard flash. Plugging in a USB thumb drive finally woke it up, but Windows had crashed and restored itself to default settings. I had to re-install all of my drivers and software. Despite this bumps in the road, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend an Intel Haswwell powered Ultrabook to any Windows developer. It’s just the nature of testing prototype hardware not intended for retail sale.

Windows 8.1

I have been using the release version of Windows 8.1 from MSDN on this Ultrabook. I installed it shortly after my second review. The little changes in the OS really make a big difference for the PC. I do not use all of the enhancements. For example, I do not boot directly to my desktop, and I have yet to press the start button on the desktop. I suspect I might use the start button if I didn’t have a touch-enabled device. I do like the changes to the start screen a lot. Not having every new app’s icon placed on my start page is my favorite change. It’s also nice to have SkyDrive more tightly integrated with the OS.

.NET Development

I have been doing all of my personal development projects on this machine, with all of the code checked in to TFS Online and backing up on SkyDrive. Because the Visual Studio 2013 Release Candidate has a Go-Live license, I have been using it as my main IDE, developing projects for Windows Desktop (WPF), Windows Phone 8, Windows 8.1, Windows Azure and the web. Other tools I have been using on this PC include ReSharper 8, WebStorm 7, WebMatrix and Icenium Graphite. I also plan on installing Xamarin Studio to do some cross-platform mobile development.

Most of my personal development time has been spent doing Windows Phone 8 and WPF development. It is really great to have a touch-enabled Ultrabook to run and test my apps. It makes interacting with the Windows Phone emulator feel more natural, and it is very likely that my WPF apps will be used by others on touch-enabled PCs. Any modern development really should be done on a PC with a multi-touch screen.

Other Tidbits

I haven’t run into any issues with performance while running multiple instances of Visual Studio, Blend, emulators and other applications at the same time.

I have not given the battery a proper torture test, but it is never something I have to think about when I am away from my power supply for a few hours.

The screen looks amazing. The resolution is true HD (1920×1080), and everything looks crisp and clean.

Tip: If you use Google Chrome on the Desktop and don’t like the blurry look on high resolution, open chrome://flags and change the “HiDPI Support” flag from Default to Enabled.

I would like to thank Intel for the opportunity to review this Haswell Ultrabook. It has been a great experience. If you have a chance to buy one, like maybe a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch, you will not be disappointed


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.