Laptops

In late 2019 I bought a new laptop, and I want to write up about how that compares to the laptop I had been using until then. It’s taken me until now to get around to writing that review, but it’s given me a good opportunity to really use the new machine.

The two computers are the Entroware Apollo (the new laptop) and a refurbished 2014 MacBook Air (my existing laptop).

In the photos below, the Entroware Apollo is shown on the left and the MacBook Air on the right (despite the Entroware sticker on the Mac to confuse things!)

So first up, some basic stats between the two:

Entroware ApolloMacBook Air
CPUi7-8565U (1.8 GHz x 8)i5 (1.4 GHz)
Memory16 GB8 GB
GraphicsIntel UHD Built inIntel UHD Built in
Disk120 GB SSD + 500 GB SSD 120 GB SSD
Screen14″ (1920 x 1080)13″ (1440 x 900)
DimensionsH 18.8 mm
D 225 mm
W 329 mm
H 16.1 mm
D 212 mm
W 304 mm
Weight1.4 kg1.3 kg
Operating systemUbuntu 20.04
(supplied with 18.04)
macOS Mojave
10.14.6
(I think it was supplied with
Mavericks 10.9)
Some laptop numbers

From a quick look online, it seems that current versions of both laptops have updated their hardware to some degree but this is what I have.

I have to say that the battery life on the Mac is amazing – even with it being a pretty old machine now. It’s easily still 8-9 hrs of light browsing/emails etc. The initial battery life on the Entroware was disappointing (I can’t remember the specific daily life, but I think it was somewhere around 5 hrs). I then discovered TLP which is a power management tool for Linux. And it totally changed the battery life up towards 8 hrs so that it’s more comparable.

Linked to the battery lifetime is the issue of what happens when the laptop lid is shut. Both machines hibernate, but the power usage of the Mac is almost nothing and I have left it in that state for weeks and come back and opened the lid and carried on working with very little loss of battery life. However, the Apollo continues to trickle drain power when the lid is shut (I don’t know if this is an OS issue or a hardware issue) and the battery will be totally drained after a couple of days in that state. This bugs me, but I’m not sure what to do about it. What do Apple do to make their power management so good?

The build quality of both laptops is really good. They are both aluminium cases and despite a small amount of additional flex in the Apollo lid/hinge I would say there is little difference between them. One small advantage of the Apollo laptop is that the screws are standard so if there was a hardware issue, I could just open it up and (in my dreams) deal with it.

In terms of the operating system, I love Ubuntu 20.04. This is a professional, easy to use, fun OS. It is easily the best Ubuntu ever. I have been using Linux as my daily driver for about 10 years now and although not an expert, I find it the easiest to understand OS of the three major ones. Now that there are Snaps (and similar) for software installation, I find it much easier to set up the software I need than MacOS. Closed software system just annoy me these days. If you’ve not used Ubuntu 20.04 I recommend you check it out.

However, another thing that Apple get right is the magnetic charging cable. This is such a good idea. And one that all devices should use (I guess it’s patented though). Although the cost of a replacement if the cable cracks is not so good….

The Entroware Apollo wins on the number of external connection ports. In fact it probably has the most connection ports of any laptop I’ve owned. The MAc is OK, but is non-standard and requires the purchase of all those expensive, fancy conversion cables.

Overall, I like both machines. But I am really chuffed with the Entroware laptop and would recommend that you check the company out if you are after a new computer (and are not wedded to Mac or Windows – go on, give Linux a try!).