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TheBestPessimist's XMG Fusion 15 review

Updated: 2019-12-17 21:06

Headnote

This review is done from the perspective of a software developer. Of a person who is used to work whilst not looking at the keyboard, using touch typing, and pressing multiple keyboard shortcuts comprised of multiple keys such as Ctrl+Alt+Shift+ any key including the F-Keys (pressing Alt+F8, Ctrl+F11, etc.) tens if not hundred times a day.

You can understand that my main and strongest complains regarding the laptop are related to the keyboard.

Currently I am considering if I can live for the next 2-3 years with this laptop, or if I should return it, so this is a review as much for you, reader, as it is helping me to organize my thoughts.

Display

The display is bright enough for me while using indoors. The colors are okay. I have not done any photo work lately, so I cannot give a good review about this.

Performance

I work as a Java/JVM developer, and am used to having big, large and heavy applications running on my machine. Using Windows as OS. Using Intellij Idea, Docker with Kubernetes in which i have Postgres and RabbitMQ running. Having 28 out of my 32 GB of ram filled doesn’t scare me in the least.

The Fusion has no problems whatsoever here, churns thorough all the multitasking I throw at it with breeze, whilst being acceptably quiet for an open-space with people not wearing headphones. I have found that the balanced power setting (not windows power plan) has as good as performance power setting, whilst keeping the fans a bit quieter.

All in all Performance OK :white_check_mark:.

Battery Life

I did not have enough time to test the battery life, but here’s a battery report as of right now: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1LrT43caKfktnGwg_MqeuX2LEzEiPtDIC/view?usp=sharing.

Touchpad

I really believed (and expected) the touchpad to be larger. Alas it was not :(. Where can one get a Macbook Pro sized touchpad without buttons on windows?

I solely use the touchpad while working, and I appreciate the size. I also appreciate the ease with which my fingers move over its surface.

I suffer from the weird rattling when I press the touchpad. It happens when I am double tapping (NOT pressing the touchpad to click, but only tapping it for double click, or click to drag!) on the lower half of the touchpad. This rattling doesn’t happen when my girlfriend uses the touchpad, as she is a “light tapper” while I am not. I generally press harder on things.
The rattling is not problematic at work, but it 100% is extremely irritating while I am in the bed and my girlfriend is sleeping beside me.

I have not tried the tape workaround, but intend to.

The double tap to disable the touchpad is mildly-annoying and i find it quite easy to press by mistake. Does anyone know of a means to turn it off?

Keyboard

The keyboard tries its best to mimic a mechanical keyboard and it somewhat succeeds.

I have, however, a lot of gripes with its design and the user experience that it entices.

No automatic illumination off timeout

There’s no automatic function/timeout for the lighting on the keyboard to turn off after 15 seconds of not using the keyboard when using monocolor.

Here’s a simple situation where this is useful: I am looking at a film in the dark. In this case having the light automatically turn off (and on when I press a key) is really beneficial and good user experience. Currently I have to manually turn the keyboard lights off via Fn+F6, then when I need lights again I have to manually turn the keyboard lights on via Fn+F7.

Does this look repetitive? If yes, it’s because it is very repetitive and making for a bad UX.

This is a feature that could be easily changed via Control Center or BIOS update.

The keyboard doesn’t have very solid anchor points for touch typists

There are these little lines on F and J keys. I will refer to them as bumps from here on.

There is no way to differentiate the keys as they are too close one to the other/the difference between them is not “palpable” enough. This feeling is especially enhanced as the bumps on J and F are too light/small and they can’t be felt/found by just moving my fingers over the keys easily. Most of the times I have to search for them in 2 or 3 movements back and forth.

There’s no space between the F-keys groups.

What I mean by this is that in normal keyboards there should be 3 groups of 4 F-Keys with a space between them: F1-F4, F5-F8, F9-F12.

Right now this space is missing and it really bugs me that each time I have to press F4, F5, F8, F9, F12, I have to take my eyes from the screen (which may be an external monitor so i have to make both vertical and horizontal head and eye movement) look at the keyboard, pause for a second, search for the F-key I want to press, press it, pause for another second to find my position back on the screen. Really gets me out of the normal flow because I have to do this tens if not hundreds of times a day.

As an alternative to this space between the blocks, what could have been done is make bumps on the right side of F4 and left side of F5, so that the finger knows that “right now I am in between a block of F-keys”. Another alternative would have been to make a slight bump right on the edge between the key blocks, so that the finger (yes the finger, because really, this should be muscle memory) can feel that bump and know again the relative position.

Frustrating anecdote: I have pressed Ctrl+F4 or Ctrl+F4+F5 instead of Ctrl+F5 for so many times that I’m almost-always moving to Ctrl+Shift+T afterwards now. This is not good experience.

There should have been a bump on the Up key (right at the top where it connects with enter)

This could help touch typists know when they reached the arrows and position the hand accordingly. I believe this need/issue arises because from the J key, I have not found a means to “feel” my way to the arrow keys properly. Now I have to make this awkward gesture where I start from J, go bottom-left of the keyboard completely, then come back to the arrow key that I wanted, then search for the J key again (which has too shallow-feeling bumps).

If there was a bump on the Up key, I could have just used my pinky to press up/down and left (right is too far) faster as I had that stable anchor point.

The shortcut F-keys are badly arranged and half of them are useless

Volume and display brightness keys are positioned wrong: I always need to use 2 hands to change the volume of brightness as my hand is not long enough to press Fn+F12. I can barely reach Fn+F10.

They should have been F1-F5, instead of the currently redundant/useless keys.

Here’s why I believe F1-F5 shortcut F-keys are redundant/useless:

  • F1 - Sleep: just turn off the lid. Done
  • F2 - Joystick: What is joystick? It does nothing for me
  • F3 - Project: This function is already controlled by Win+P since windows XP times
  • F4 - Airplane mode: Possibly useful but put it on the right. I don’t use this nearly enough to justify it being within “one handed reach”
  • F5 - Touchpad lock: Why duplicate this if we already have the double tap=disable on the touchpad. If we really want this, it should be moved way to the right.

Here are some actually useful F-Key shortcuts: toggle bluetooth, media key play/pause, media back, media forward (for controlling music).

Take a look at this keyboard (the Eve V’s keyboard which I am a proud owner of) which does this so much more thoughtfully: https://static.techspot.com/articles-info/1528/images/F-11.jpg

There’s no Fn-lock

Which makes the layout of brightness/volume shortcuts an ever bigger problem.

Note: If anyone’s interested in having a Fn-lock like function, I am developing that right now in Autohotkey. Please ping me if you’re interested in using, or helping me develop/test it.

Power brick is too short

Why is the laptop’s power brick cable so short compared to the 150W one? It’s barely long enough to reach from the floor to my laptop on my desk. If I move my laptop a bit more to the center, the brick itself has to hang in the air because its cable is that short! Like Really reeeeeaaaaally short!

The LED bar cannot be configured when plugged/unplugged

I would like to configure the LED bar to be off on battery and on and cycling plugged in. Currently there’s no way to do that.

This is a feature that could be easily changed via Control Center or BIOS update.

The fans are too loud even at minimum

It seems to me that the fans turn on way too often even when on power saver (quiet) mode. They are also quite loud even on their slowest rotation speed.

Here’s an example: It’s 6 in the morning and I am in my bed, my girlfriend sleeping beside me (she’s a normal human). I turn on the laptop, then start firefox which has (normal thing for me) about 20 tabs open, both pinned and unpinned. In this situation, the fans keep spinning for waaay too long after windows has started even though i see the cpu temperature drop to less than 43 degrees right after Firefox loads. After I browse the web for a little, the fans start again – imo for no good reason. I have talked about this problem in this topic as well.

I don’t have any resource-consuming programs running @boot. Whenever I work, I start all I need, then turn it off at the end. In my previous example the only resource-heavy application could be firefox.


I’ve said a lot of things here and most of them are negative. I have written all of them into words though as I want to help myself decide if I want to use this laptop for the next 3 years. Unfortunately I only have 14 days to decide – which is really not enough to get myself all close and personal with the keyboard, and to see if I can get used to working with it as it is now. It may be that I can change my habits - change the way I touch type and learn all the new positions, but it may also be that I can not.