Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction, Design

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I often think of ASUS as the PC’s answer to Apple. Their products are not up to Apple’s rigorous engineering, nor is the customer service as accessible, but ASUS does offer a number of products that were obviously designed to meet a set of high standards. I’ve always enjoyed the company’s G-Series gaming laptops, ultraportables like the U33 Bamboo and high-end multimedia laptops like the N53 and N56.

The original Zenbook didn’t impress me, however. PC Perspective never reviewed it, but I did have some hands-on time with one courtesy of Intel’s CES 2012 ultrabook giveaway. The build quality wasn’t great, the touchpad was quite poor and the overall look and feel proved a bit tacky (the cursive lettering below the display panel being the most obvious example).

ASUS has now followed up the original Zenbook with the new Zenbook Prime. There are a couple of different variants. We received the 13-inch UX31A which come equipped with the 1080p IPS display panel. As for the rest? Well, see below.

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This is one well equipped ultrabook, which explains why it comes with a nearly $1500 price tag. You don’t have to spend that much, however. The basic Zenbook Prime, which still has the IPS display but downgrades to a Core i5, is $999 on Amazon.

Does the flagship of ASUS design deliver the goods? Let’s find out.

Continue reading our review of the new ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A Ultrabook!!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction, Design

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Lenovo has become an important player in the mainstream laptop market. Five years ago the offerings from Lenovo were not great, but today the IdeaPad line has matured. This has been reflected in Lenovo’s growth. The company has posted gains in global market share over the last few years.

In this review we’re looking at the Z580, a laptop that’s smack dab in the middle of the company’s IdeaPad brand. It’s a 15.6” laptop that starts at $469 but can be optioned to around $900. Our review unit is a well configured version which includes an Intel Core i5-3210M processor. Lenovo’s website prices it out at a cool $599.

What else will six Benjamin Franklins buy you? Let’s take a look.

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The $600 price point is important. Studies of the laptop market have consistently shown that the average price of a new laptop hovers around $600 (much to the dismay of manufacturers, who’d rather people spent more).

This market is extremely completive as a result. If you want a portable laptop with an IPS display you don’t have many options, but consumers who want a powerful and competent laptop for $600 have a buffet to choose from. Can the Z580 make room for itself in this crowd?

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 Notebook!!

Synaptics Announces New TouchPads And Keyboards

Subject: Mobile | August 22, 2012 - 12:51 AM |
Tagged: touchpad, synaptics, notebook, laptop, keyboard

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The march towards thinner laptops has challenged computer manufacturers in a number of ways. When designing a laptop that’s just three-quarters of an inch thin or thinner, everything matters. Even the size of thickness of a keyboard or touchpad makes a big difference.

Synaptics is responding to these design realities with the introduction of new user interfaces. One is the ForcePad, a new type of touchpad that is capable of measuring the precise amount of force the user inputs. This makes it possible to drop physical left/right mouse buttons entirely, reducing maximum thickness from 5mm to 3mm. It also provides additional input which can be harnessed by software for precise control.

The company is also introducing a new keyboard design called ThinTouch. This keyboard redesigns (or rather, eliminates) the keyboard switch to reduce overall thickness by 30 to 50 percent without sacrificing an optional backlight. The keyboard is also force sensitive, which means that users can activate alternate characters by pressing harder instead of using the Shift key.

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Both new technologies are interesting, though also potentially problematic. Of concern is the lack of key travel in the ThinTouch design, which is evident in the picture above. There’s little movement in the key, which makes me wonder what typing on this keyboard is like. I’d wager it’s not the best experience. I find it very odd that a company responsible for designing user interface elements for a laptop would seek to reduce one of the laptop’s most noticeable advantages over a tablet – a tactile keyboard.

With that said, I'm sure these devices will make their way to ultrabooks in short order. Reducing the size of the keyboard and touchpad will allow for a larger battery and/or better cooling. The battery life increase will be of particular use to OEMs, who see battery life as a nice, easy figure that can be used in marketing materials. A better battery can be explained with a handful of words. Explaining a better keyboard takes more time.

No release dates or launch products have been detailed yet. We'll probably hear more at CES 2013.

Source: Synaptics
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Samsung

Introduction and Design

 

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Samsung played a little trick on me when I reviewed the Samsung Series 5 earlier this year. You see, I barely finished my review of it when – surprise! – Samsung announced the new Series 5 550.
 
With that said, I can forgive them. They sent me the new model to review as well. It is a complete redesign both inside and out. The updated exterior is built with better quality materials and is only available in silver instead of your choice of white or black. 
 
Inside, Samsung has thrown Atom aside and replaced it with an Intel Celeron 867. This part uses the Sandy Bridge architecture and offers two cores clocked at 1.3 GHz. It, of course, lacks the Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost features found in some Core series products.
 
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The rest of the laptop is similar to the previous model. The display size is the same and the hard drive is still a 16GB SSD instead of a standard mechanical hard drive. Going with a Sandy Bridge part has also upgraded the graphics, so the pathetic GMA 3150 found in the previous Chromebooks has been replaced with Intel HD, albeit a low-power version with a base clock of 350 MHz and a maximum clock of 1 GHz.
 
These improvements have resulted in a price adjustment that brings the new Series 5 back in line with the debut price of the original. You can expect to pay $450 for the Wi-Fi model or $550 for the 3G version. Consumers who opt for the 3G version receive 2 years of free service from Verizon, but the data cap is a strict 100MB per month. That’s enough for occasional web browsing but not enough for serious use. 
 
Increasing the price puts the Samsung Series 5 back in competition with budget ultraportables like the ASUS 1225B and the Lenovo X130e. Can the Chromebook and Chrome OS hold up against such competitors? Let’s find out.
 
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Origin

Introduction, Design

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The death of the Alienware M11x seemed as if it might leave a hole in the market – or not. As it turns out, that discontinuation of the world’s smallest gaming laptop coincided with the introduction of a new generic 11.6” gaming laptop chassis from Clevo. You can still get your netbook-sized game on.
 
Origin was kind enough to send us the EON11-S – one of several laptops based on the Clevo chassis – for review. If you’re in the North American market, the EON11-S is going to be one of the most attractive variants simply because of the company behind it. Origin is an established and well-known company with a great reputation.  
 
The Alienware M11x, which you can still purchase (while supplies last!) ended its life at the tail end of the Sandy Bridge era. It also always relied on Intel’s low voltage processors instead of the standard models – something I noted as a disadvantage when we reviewed the M11x in 2010. The lack of an optional quad-core processor made the Alienware feel half-baked as well.
 
Origin’s EON11-S, on the other hand, is the full enchilada. Base models come with a Pentium dual-core, but our review unit arrived packing an Intel Core i7-3720QM. All EON11-S laptops come with an Nvidia GT 650M as well. Let’s check out the full specifications.
 
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While the base model is priced at $999, our review unit rings up at $1,626. That’s quite a chunk of change – for the same money you could have a nicely equipped ASUS G55 or G75. Those laptops aren’t nearly as portable, however – so does gaming on the go justify the premium? Let’s find out.
 

Looking longingly at a Linux Laptop?

Subject: General Tech | July 12, 2012 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: linux, laptop, Chromebook, asus, EeePC 1225C, sputnik

If you are less than impressed by Windows 8 or are looking to avoid the costs incurred by a Windows installation on the laptop then Linux.com has four systems you should consider.  First up are the Chromebook models available at stores like Best Buy, like the Samsung 12.1-inch Series 5 Chromebook.  If the ChromeOS isn't to your liking then perhaps the Asus EeePC 1225C which comes with Ubuntu installed on it.  It is not yet widely available but should make it to North America in the not too distant future.  Dell is also getting into this market with their Project Sputnik which Tim covered a few weeks ago.  Finally are what are referred to as Diminutive Desktops which cover devices like the Raspberry Pi, VIA's APC and a number of other models.  You might have more choices when it comes to Linux powered retail PCs than you think.

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"Windows may still be the default operating system on the vast majority of mainstream PCs thanks to Microsoft's many longstanding OEM partnerships, but that's not to say it hasn't been possible for some time to buy desktop machines with Linux preloaded.

No, indeed! Thanks to vendors such as System76, ZaReason, EmperorLinux and others, Linux fans have long been able to get desktops, laptops, netbooks and more preloaded with a variety of Linux distributions -- and that's not even counting several on-again, off-again efforts by Dell, Wal-Mart and others to sell Linux boxes on their retail shelves."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Linux.com
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: HP

Introduction and Design

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One of the most impressive laptops at CES 2012 was the HP Envy Spectre. It was a sleek, attractive laptop that seemed to indicate that HP was really starting to understand what the Envy brand could be about. It’s been a long time since a PC OEM was able to challenge Apple in the arena of design. The Spectre indicated that might change.
 
There more to any laptop than design, however. What had made Apple’s products popular is combination of design and functionality. Connectivity aside, the MacBooks are useful tools with big touchpads, nice keyboards and beautiful displays. Any PC alternative needs to compete on the same level.
 
And the HP Envy 14 Spectre is certainly a competitor. Its $1400 base price tag puts it well into MacBook territory. So what does that wad of dough buy you?
 
Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Design

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In the wilds of the laptop market, nestled between the hordes of 15.6” mainstream laptops and the slim ultraportables, there is an odd breed. The 14” multimedia laptop. Even describing them as such is limiting because each model seems to offer its own take on the concept. Some are nearly as thin and light as laptops with much smaller displays while others are bulky powerhouses hidden behind a façade of portability.

Lenovo has long been a proponent of the 14-incher in actions if not words. IdeaPads of this size have also been common, usually gracing Lenovo’s website as a smaller alternative to a 15.6” laptop with a similar model name.

As a result, absolutely no one was shocked when Lenovo announced the IdeaPad Y480. It’s exactly the kind of product most consumers end up buying and exactly the kind of product tech journalists don’t care to talk about. 

So what’s powering this new mid-size laptop? Let’s have a look.

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Continue reading our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad Y480!!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer:

Introduction, Driver Interface

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There exist a particular group of gamers that are consumed by dreams of gigantic dual-SLI laptops that replace towering desktops. And who can blame them? Walking into a LAN party with a $5,000 laptop under your arm is the geek equivalent of entering a party wearing a $2,500 jacket or driving through your neighborhood in a $250,000 car. We can dream, right?

On the other hand, those super-powerful laptops are a bit...boring from a critic’s standpoint. Why? Because they are almost always excellent machines (due to price) and because most readers gandering at a review (of an expensive gaming laptop) I pen about will never buy one – again, due to the price. 

Most folks – even many geeks – lust over a beefy gaming rig, but end up buying a $600 to $1000 multimedia laptop. This is the laptop that the average person can actually afford, regardless of his or her enthusiasm about computer hardware. 

In the past, this market segment was a gaming wasteland, but that began to change about five years ago. The change was due in part to the fact that many game developers started to veer away from (a focus on) jaw-dropping graphics in favor of expanding their potential markets by going after clients with average/medium-range hardware. 

About two and a half years ago Intel (again) committed to raising the bar on integrated graphics with the release of Intel HD and has since consistently improved its IGP offering with each new generation. AMD has done the same with its Fusion products and NVIDIA (already in the game with its numerous x10/x20/x30M products) just recommitted to power efficient GPUs with its Kepler architecture.

These changes mean that “serious” gaming is now possible on an inexpensive laptop. But how possible? What sacrifices do you make and how do low-end IGPs and GPUs stack up against each other?

Continue reading our comparison of current generation notebook graphics options!!

Author:
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Origin

Introduction, Design, User Interface

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This summer is shaping up to be an amazing time to buy a gaming laptop. Intel has launched its Ivy Bridge processors, bringing faster performance to the entire range without increasing power consumption. Nvidia’s new Kepler based parts, although technically launched a couple months ago, are only now widely available.

We’ve already looked at many low-end solutions including Trinity, HD 4000 and the Kepler-based Nvidia GT 640M. We’ve also looked at one high-end gaming solution in the form of the ASUS G75V. 

Today we're reviewing the Origin EON17-S, an obvious competitor to the G75V. It's packing an Nvidia GTX 675M. An Intel Core i7-3920XM joins the party as well. Clearly, this laptop is meant to provide maximum performance - as the other specifications make clear.

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Though it has gobs of high-performance hardware our review unit did not arrive with an internal optical drive (it did come with an external Blu-Ray). The drive had been removed and a 1TB hard drive installed in its place. This is a clever bit of packaging that makes a lot of sense and isn’t offered by Alienware, Maingear or ASUS. While I know some gamers do still use optical drives, I personally can’t remember the last time one was required for install. 

Our review unit tallies up at about $3500 bucks, which is expensive but not outrageous. Spending much more is difficult and requires that you either pony up for every frivolous option available or buy Nvidia Quadro graphics cards instead of the consumer-market GTX. Or you can put the price in reverse by downgrading to a Core i7-3610QM, which saves you over $1000.

Continue reading our review of the Origin EON17-S Gaming Notebook!!