I recently described how I came to purchase a Sager NP2092, after searching high and low for a laptop that would meet my requirements. Now, I’d like to share some first impressions about the laptop, upon which I’ve installed Ubuntu.
The specs on the machine I got are:
- 15.4″ screen running at 1680×1050, Nvidia 8600m GT w/ 512 MB RAM
- Core 2 Duo T9300 (Penryn 2.5Ghz, 6MB cache)
- 2GB RAM (One DIMM,max 4GB)
- 80GB HDD, DVD/RW
- Bluetooth, Intel Wireles, Broadcom GB NIC
It’s a fairly high-end machine, nearly as powerful as my desktop, really. It weighs about 7 lbs, so it’s still fairly easy to carry. That’s a couple pounds heavier than I usually like, but with the release of inexpensive devices like the eeePC and Cloudbook, I can get an ultraportable that I can treat as an accessory to this larger machine and not have to compromise on performance like I have in the past. The best part is, I saved so much money buying the Sager instead of the Lenovo or Dell machines I was considering I can do that and still be about $500 under budget.
As I mentioned the Sager is a bit chunkier than I like a laptop to be, but the fit and finish is very good. Not as solid as the Thinkpads I’m accustomed to but still better than average. The keyboard is very nice, and though I miss the trackpoint, the touchpad works well.
I was disappointed to see that the lid has a glossy paint job on it. It’s not clear from the pictures on the website that it is glossy, and I don’t remember it being explicitly mentioned anywhere on the site. I am not at all a fan of glossy gadgets, they collect fingerprints and generally scratch easily. That said, I’ve found that a quick polish with a soft cloth easily brings it back to a like-new shine. Who knows though, I may get ambitious and refinish the lid at some point.
There are two buttons to the left of the keyboard, which enable the two most unique features of this machine. One allows a “quick charge” of the battery. If this button is pushed while the machine is off, it will bring a totally flat battery to 70% charge in only an hour. This is substantially faster than the normal charge rate, and can maximize your re-charge potential on layovers while traveling.
The seond button enables another power-releated feature. Pushing it delivers power to the USB ports on the left side of the machine without booting it up. This is also very useful while traveling, I can charge my other gadgets from the computer, even if I’m not actually using it. Super handy.
Getting up and Running
Installing Gutsy was something of a non-event. The one hitch was that I had to pass the “vga=vesa” option at boot time to get the live CD to come up. I understand that this is true of all Nvidia 8xxx-based laptops though, so I can’t really knock the NP2092 for it. Once up, the install was as I expected. A few clicks and a reboot and everything looked good, but I had no sound. I quickly found this page, which has directions for getting sound going which worked for me. Once that little hiccup was overcome, everything that I expected to work did, with no fiddling. The wireless, camera, and card reader all work 100%. Suspend works, but sounds doesn’t come back when waking up. This is a minor niggle for me, and can be worked around by having the system reload the kernel module when it resumes, but I haven’t tried setting it up yet. The fingerprint reader is also lacking Linux support, but other models from the manufacturer are supported, so it seems possible that this may change down the road.
The display on this machine is great. It has a nice low-glare matte finish and is generally very bright and crisp with good off-angle viewing. My old T23 looks particularly dull sitting here next to it. Compiz is easily handled, and all the catchy eye candy looks great. A couple of my co-workers were really impressed when they saw me working on this machine the other day, tabbing through windows and rolling the desktop cube around. This machine really makes Ubuntu look good.
I couldn’t resist putting Quake War: Enemy Territory on here, and I’m happy to report it runs quite well. With “normal” detail settings at the native screen resolution it stays in the 30-40 FPS range with the occasional dip into the high 20’s. Not perfect, but very playable. Less demanding games like Nexuiz, Warsow, and Tremulous are even better, sticking pretty close to the 60 fps sweet spot.
When running these more intense applications, the machine does get noticeably warm on the left side, but I would not consider to be overly hot. The cooling system seems to be fairly effective, quietly venting all that heat out the back before it has a chance to build up.
The standard 9-cell battery lasts about 3 hours doing my typical on-the-road tasks. I did a little web surfing and nearly watched two movies while waiting for a flight, all sans AC power. I did turn off the wireless while watching the movies and turned the brightness of the screen down a bit, but other than that did nothing special to extend my charge time.
All in all, I am extremely happy with the Sager NP2092. It is a very solid feeling machine that meets my performance needs. It was also available without Windows, and for substantially less money than I had planned on spending. I wish it were a little slimmer, and did not have a glossy lid, but those are hardly deal breakers. I’d happily recommend this machine to anyone looking for an Ubuntu capable laptop that has the power of a desktop replacement, but without the heft of a 17″ screen. Be sure to check out System76, ZaReason, and even Dell, but if they don’t offer something that meets your needs, an OS-less machine from Sager may be right up your alley!