Discovered when my touchpad goes all wonky and I type xinput there is an extra touchpad driver, PS/2 Synaptics Touchpad. When the touchpad is working properly and I type xinput, the synaptics driver is not present. Renamed the file /usr/bin/syndaemon to syndaemon.bak and rebooted. Testing now for the next few days to see if the touchpad fails again.
Before reading further be aware there are more than one version of this notebook. In my search for information before buying it I found at least 4 different versions, three of them having a 4k display and one having a 1080p display. I have put the model I am reviewing in the title so there is no mistake which version I am referring to.
For my thoughts about this notebook and how it performs on UBUNTU 16.04 read on.
Lets first talk about its form factor. Lets make no mistake about it, this is a small notebook. The notebook measuring at 0.61 by 11.8 by 8.2 inches is thin and packs a lot of features, as a result much of the tech is soldered onto the board, more on this later. The screen can be moved into 5 different positions, the most usable are the regular laptop view and the tablet view. Putting the notebook in tablet view is a little awkward for 2 reasons, the weight of the notebook is roughly 3 pounds and is a little heavy to be holding for any extended amount of time and the keyboard is exposed on the back of the machine when in tablet mode. Holding the tablet from the sides is the most logical place however, this also makes it a bit awkward to use because of the weight and the inevitable need to move your hand on the screen holding the "tablet" with one hand. When the computer comes out of suspends sometimes the keyboard doesn't respond to the password input. This is fixed by putting the computer back in suspend and waking it up again.
Display, Keyboard and Trackpad
The IPS Touch Screen at a resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 is gorgeous and at a size of 12.5 inches is a technical feat. The screen does not stretch from edge to edge with a reasonable bezel on the sides, a little chunkier on the top and a little over an inch on the bottom. A couple of issues I would be remiss not to mention, because of the high screen resolution everything is tiny and hard to see. There are two solutions to fix this issue:
1. change the resolution to something larger like 1080P or what ever screen resolution works best for you. This is the best solution because everything is at the proper scale and allows you to navigate the interface and application as intended.
2. there are two settings in Ubuntu that allow you to change the size of the launcher bar and the menu bar size. Goto Settings/Appearance/Launcher Icon Size to make the the launcher bar of usable size . The other is Settings/Displays/Scale for Menu and Tile Bars to make the menu's and title bars visible to the naked eye. While these settings definitely make navigating the higher resolutions easier there are still some things to be worked out. One of these issues is the in APP icons do not scale with the rest of the interface. So while the menu and titles bars may be of visible size the icons remain the same small size and can make it difficult to navigate the application.
Of course the screen can also be bent back and forth to varying degrees to allow for different perspectives such as notebook and tablet mode.
The keyboard as expected is a little cramped because of the small form factor. Compared to my 15 inch notebook all of the keys are a little smaller and some of the keys have have been reduced in width by as much as 50%.. The keyboard doesn't make typing a chore for my medium size hands but may cause a problem for people with large hands. All but one key on the keyboard is back lit making it easy to type in darker lit rooms, strange enough the FN key is not. Many of the keys work as expected in Ubuntu however the back, play, and forward multimedia keys do not work also, the trackpad off key seems to be challenged as well. The multimedia keys were tested with VLC. Pressing the Windows key brings up the Search your Computer window. Oddly enough the search key does something altogether different than what you might expect.
The Trackpad on the Satellite unlike everything else is of a size you would expect. The width in comparison to my 15 inch notebook is of the same or very similar size. The height has been shortened a bit due to the space limitations. The Trackpad has been positioned slightly to the left of the notebook just as it is on my 15 inch notebook, so nothing different for me here. On occasion I have had an issue with the trackpad becoming unresponsive, or more accurately, the cursor seems to be stuck and will move ever so slightly making it useless. In this situation I have attached an external device via the USB port, looking into possible fixes. ***New Information***There is a potential hardware issue that existed on older versions of this notebook for the trackpad. Trying to track down if it has been fixed.
The sound is powered by a Realtek ALC233 onboard chip that was found and configured during setup. Sound seems to work well with a caveat, there is a random crackling and popping noise coming from my right speaker even when nothing is playing. This can be distracting so I usually mute the sound when I am not using it. Have done some testing and this appears to be a Ubuntu/Linux issue. Booted into Remix OS 2.o Beta and the crackling and popping sound is still there. Booted into Windows 10 Home, the OS that came with the computer and the crackling and popping is not present. Attempted to update my drivers but that attempt failed disabling my sound preventing Ubuntu from finding it again. Tried the suggested fixes however none of them fixed the issue.
Processor, RAM, Storage and Graphics
The processor is a 6th Gen Core i7-6500U dual core processor like every other 6th Gen core i7 processor on the market for notebooks. Everything seems snappy and opens up quickly as expected. Have had some issues with APP's that seem to hang and the cursor spinning, but I click on them again and they open. For now I am attributing this to Ubuntu 16.04 as it is still rather new.
RAM for the Toshiba satellite Radius 12 is average with a size of 8GB. This has not proven to be an issue running applications such as GIMP, Synfig 2.0 and a host of other typical applications all while multitasking. There are resources that say the RAM can be upgraded to 16GB or 32 GB, this is false, the 8GB's is soldered onto the board and there are no SODIMM slots allowing further expansion. To validate this is true I disassembled my notebook and there were no slots to be found.
As with many of the new notebooks this one also has an SSD drive that helps to make everything feel quick. Boot is much faster than that of a system with a mechanical drive and with 256GB of storage should be enough for the average user. If this is not enough space for you the SSD drive is replaceable however is some what difficult to get to. Unlike many of the SSD drives you see in your local electronics store, this SSD is rather thin and comprises of a board and chips to save on space. Click on the link below to see a partial tear down of the notebook
This link will bring you to another website not managed by me.
As a side note, because this notebook uses an SSD, optimizing UBUNTU to limit the number of writes to the drive among other steps to reduce wear and prolong the life of the SSD drive. There are caveat to this and should be fully understood before proceeding.
Not much to say about the graphics except it is what you would expect from Intel. The latest iteration of their HD graphics chip line being adequate for light game use and multimedia. The video is powered by an Intel HD Graphics 520. Being an Intel chip the graphics driver in UBUNTU works quite well, although it is still stuck on OpenGL 3.3 even though games like Divinity: Original Sin Extended Edition require OpenGL 4.x.
Ports, Ports and More Ports
There are a reasonable number of ports to various expansion and external device use. On the left side of the notebook there is an HDMI port that works quite nicely with my 1080p TV, simply plugged it in and the TV is automatically detected. You then have the option to mirror or extend your display to your TV. There is 1 USB 3.0 port and one USB 3.1 type C port. One 8.5mm headphone jack is on the side of the computer and allows for either headphones or a MIC to be plugged in. An AC plug for the power, the notebook does not use the USB type C port for power and an AC power led. On the right side of the notebook there is another USB 3.0 port, SD Card reader, requires an adapter for anything smaller than an SD card, volume buttons, search button, another power led and a power button.
Not much to say here, the battery is 3655 mAh and rated at 43Wh. I have not done my own tests of the battery but people are claiming 4-6 hours of battery time in Windows. The fans seem to run more than you would expect reducing the time on battery, this is also true in Windows. Battery life in UBUNTU may vary.
Overall I am happy with my purchase of this notebook. The beautiful display, Fast processing power, fast SSD card, adequate RAM and varied ports make for a satisfying experience. If you are looking for a notebook that will last all day like the fabled Apple Ibooks of previous years then this is probably not the machine for you. If you are looking for a small form factor with a great display, snappy performance, good storage and reasonable RAM with a host of good port options and can live with the caveat's mentioned previously then this might be the notebook for you.
Recently I have been having issues with the touchpad freezing, or what seems to be freezing. Did some research and found there was a hardware issue that was fixed. There also seems to be an issue with the driver, by resetting the driver the cursor comes back to life but not always for long. Continuing to research and troubleshoot for a possible solution to this issue.