Slimbook Katana, an Ultrabook with Linux

The Linux users do not usually enjoy too many options when searching equipment with any of its preferred distributions pre-installed. Few manufacturers pay attention to this area, but we had the opportunity to have the latest Slimbook, a company that focuses on this type of proposal a while.

The new Slimbook Katana is an Ultrabook that has good hardware specifications, noted for being designed in our country, and be available in both Windows and Linux. We have tried Ubuntu 16.04 LTS with, and if you want to know what has seemed the result of this combination, attentive.

A familiar design

The first thing that stands out the team is, of course, design. It does it because inevitably reminds the MacBook Air from Apple, which mimics the characteristic wedge and the system format and appearance of the hinge that allows the screen display or keep it closed.

These similarities are also evident once we open the equipment: screen frames are so pronounced in one another, though the touchpad Slimbook Katana is slightly smaller.

In fact, these similarities in appearance do not end there, but the finishes are different in some sections. Not in the housing, which like Apple hardware makes extensive use of aluminum to provide a “fresh” feel, as indicated on the official website, in addition to contributing to the weight of this laptop, which stands at 1.36 kg.

We have the edition in gold, although teams are also available in silver and black gray tones. On the back of the screen is, yes, some distinctive features.

First, two thin bands that give that part a different aspect, but also the logo of the company, which in our opinion is not entirely well integrated with the housing but as in the case of Apple (at least until not long ago) lights turn on once the team.

Image Source: Google Image

Specifications and performance Slimbook Katana

This unique laptop also draws attention to its proposal hardware, really balanced and options that make users that are more ambitious can count with even higher performance. Here’s that piece of technical specifications:

PHYSICAL DIMENSIONS 330 x 220 x 18 mm
1.36 kg
SCREEN 13.3-inch LED
RESOLUTION Full HD 1920×1080 pixels
PROCESSOR Intel Core i5-6200U 2.30 GHz
Intel Core i7-6500U 2.5GHz
RAM 4/8/16 GB
MEMORY 120/250/500 GB SSD
SOFTWARE VERSION Windows 10 / Several Linux distros
CONNECTIVITY Intel Dual Band 7265N or 7265AC
BATTERY 4-cell, 6,800 mAh / 50 Wh
PORTS 2 x USB 3.0, RJ45 adapter, Mini HDMI, SD card reader

The choice of processors is remarkable: both models have two cores, but its power is more than enough for most scenarios and the decision to integrate models Skylake family can also ensure good efficiencies, although it is a pity that no we can access the new micros of the Kaby Lake family are even more striking in the field of energy saving.

Those processors accompany them both in various configurations available RAM fortunately this component is expandable by the user, fantastic decisively and mSATA SSD with prices naturally are increasing as we choose better components. Also we can choose the WiFi chip that can be a variant with support 802.11n or 802.11ac support one.

Within Slimbook ports, makers have taken some curious decisions: in addition to the two USB ports have at our disposal a port further expansion that can connect different adapters. The assembly includes an adapter to enjoy a RJ45 network jack, something that certainly is welcome, but there are adapters / USB hub that solve this problem.

More questionable is the inclusion of a Mini HDMI port that allows you to connect your computer to a monitor or television HDMI if we have the appropriate cable. It is possible that a port of full size is not possible in this chassis, but maybe if I had felt a Mini DisplayPort or even a USB-C port with support Thunderbolt 3, although in both cases it is likely that the cost of equipment had shot up.

The LED display has a diagonal of 13.3 inches and a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. In the Katana Slimbook we have a matte panel that allows avoid reflections, while the keyboard has LED backlighting with three different levels that can be configured through one of the function keys that have this additional option.

The truth is that these minor gripes are not too important when you consider that teams, a price really tight for these settings and these designs. We analyze a model with a Core i5-6200U, 8GB of RAM and 250GB SSD capacity also came pre-installed with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.

Although we have no specific test suite for this operating system there are benchmarks known as the Phoronix Test Suite that can offer many details about it. To establish basic references we prefer to go unless specific tests, and for example it is possible to run Geekbench 4 in console mode, which allows to obtain results then compare with other teams.

In this case we got 3,338 points in the Single-Core tests and 6,114 points in the Multi-Core, which shows the team has a computing power more than decent : my Dell XPS 13 (9343) with an Intel Core i5- 5200U reaches 2,810 points in 5,561 Single-core and multi-core, for example. The doubts in this regard are solved, but how the Slimbook Katana behaves in day to day?

You may also like to read another article on NetDigEdu: Laptops – This is how they have managed to be increasingly fine time without losing the best innovations

The Linux experience, perfect

For someone who has been using Linux almost a couple of decades -now more intermittently, true – you can access a computer installed with any default by the assembler distribution is almost a small miracle. The support of major manufacturers has been mostly -Dell testimonial has been the exception and there are few who dare to cover a market segment that much we weigh is very small.

For that reason, we wanted to have the possibility of testing this equipment with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS pre-installed instead of opting for a Windows 10 traditional, also available even if it means the software license fee.

In the online store Slimbook not only offer this Linux distribution, beware: also we can pre-install other distributions such as Kubuntu, Debian, Elementary OS, Linux Mint, Open Suse, Fedora or antergos, although once in our hands logically we install ourselves either one or other of the many we have at our disposal.

The truth is that in the software section meets the Slimbook everything one would expect from a team with Ubuntu, and indeed the assembler provides in this case we do not know if other distributions also does – your Slimbook Essentials tool a small control panel that allows easy activation and deactivation of features and installing some interesting software applications.

Among these settings is the ability to add a unique repository Slimbook in which are recommended to update drivers and utilities equipment packages, but also the system update (which hides a “sudo apt-get update && apt-get upgrade”) or distribution itself. We can also control Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity from that panel, view system information, monitor the temperature sensors or install applications directly from there as Chromium, Unity Tweak Tool or VLC, among others.

The fluidity of the system is absolute at all times and here the experience offered by the Slimbook Katana with Linux is great. The guarantee that we will not have problems with issues such as WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity and attention to detail is remarkable, and for example we have specific utilities to monitor and manage the use of the battery, the touchpad or the display backlight they do nothing to further polish the user experience.

The battery life is also remarkable: in our tests with a “conventional” use -Navigation web, playing some videos and music, using various applications so intermittently exceeded seven hours, allowing us to be fairly quiet in section of the autonomy of the team. Logically reduce screen brightness and limit the use of certain applications and options such as the connectivity- can lengthen this parameter, but as we say in normal use data are pretty decent.

A keyboard and touchpad peculiar

Linux users well aware of the advantages and disadvantages of these distributions, and the truth is that we find a striking hassle nothing more start using the computer: the touchpad does not have support for ‘feature Palm Rejection’ that prevents writing the support of the palm is not confused with a volunteer touch on that surface.

As we commented Alejandro Lopez of the company Slimbook, “Canonical has removed this option when the driver is not Synaptics. This is something we did not like and we have already reported, but it seems that we have in mind. In fact he would make the biggest touchpad, but we view this option would increase the problem.”

Lopez assured us that the problem stops being both a few days once you get used to it and avoid touching the palm of the hand the touchpad while typing, but fortunately the company offers an option through said control panel Slimbook Essentials where you can activate the use of an alternate driver that seems to alleviate some of the problem.

If still there are problems there is a workaround: You can disable the touchpad with the Fn + Z keys and then activate it (have to press three times that combination and then click the left button of the touchpad, that is, the corner infer left), but it is also possible to disable at startup to work directly with a wireless mouse or one connected to the USB port.

That touchpad responded well in the pointer movement and action of clicking with a simple touch of the finger (or double – click with two), but if you want to click with the left button or the right will have it somewhat more difficult, because to do more strength than expected : the resistance that imposes such a mechanism is the largest I’ve seen in a long time, and that encourages the use of all that double – clicking the last key to keeping things as moving or resizing windows.

The keyboard is also another element that gave us surprises: we have a keyboard much higher profile than usual and with a rubbery finish. The island format is welcome, as well as the slight concavity that each key to match the actual shape of the finger. The distribution is curious and follows the philosophy of ThinkPad computers Lenovo with the Fn key to the left of the Ctrl at the bottom, which is not the norm except in those teams and therefore you may confuse some users.

More annoying is the location and size of the Enter key, which is curiously smaller than the Shift key and that is cornered at the top by the Ç key is usually located just to the left, and not on top. All this makes the key is smaller than normal and initially cost quite used to that format and dimensions.

You may eventually one actually gets used, but we believe that key deserves more space. The problem, eye, is not exclusive to these devices, and brands theoretically more resources also benefit the keyboard layout in some of their models.

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