A little more than a year ago, Linux developers KDE and a Spanish hardware manufacturer joined forces to offer the KDE Slimbook, a 13.3-inch laptop running a Ubuntu-based OS with mid-range specs and a mid-range price. Now KDE is back with the Slimbook II, which, like many notebook sequels, is a little bit faster, a little bit thinner, and a little bit lighter than its predecessor.
The original Slimbook wasn't a performance powerhouse, but it wasn't a slouch, either. It used sixth-generation (a.k.a. Skylake) Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and offered up to 16 gigs of RAM, 500GB of solid-state storage, and a 1080p HD display. Its successor jumps to the seventh generation of Core i5 and i7 chips, which also results in a leap to DDR4 RAM, resulting in a moderate performance gain over the first Slimbook.
Other hardware upgrades include a 1TB SSD option, a more powerful Wi-Fi antenna, and a trackpad with improved tactile feedback. The Slimbook II is also about an ounce lighter and a tenth of an inch thinner than the 3-pound, 0.6-inch thick original Slimbook.
But the biggest advantage of the Slimbook II (as with its predecessor) is that the hardware meshes with the pre-installed Linux build, rather than a user taking a Windows machine and converting it to Linux. That means no driver installs and compatibility issues, among other potential headaches. KDE neon is built on the Ubuntu Linux flavor, and the Slimbook II includes KDE's productivity apps such as Kontact (email and calendar), DigiKam (image processing), and Kdenlive (video editing).
Despite the open-source ethos of the Slimbook II, it's not exactly a budget-friendly system. Like the original Slimbook, the new Core i5 edition is priced at 699 euros ($856), while the Core i7 model costs 799 euros ($978). But compared to Dell's Ubuntu-powered XPS 13 Developer Edition, with a $1,400 starting price, it might seem like a bargain to a Linux laptop lover.