Apple introduces PCI-Express based SSD in new MacBook Air

Subject: General Tech, Storage | June 12, 2013 - 08:04 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, sandisk, Samsung, pci-e ssd, Marvell, MacBook Air, macbook, haswell, apple

As Scott covered earlier this week, Apple quietly announced an update to the MacBook Air line along side the headline-grabbing Mac Pro redesign preview. Being a MacBook Air user for the past 2 years, I decided it was time to replace my Sandy Bridge-based model with some new Haswell goodness. Today marked the first day of retail store availability, and I picked up an 11" model with 256GB SSD.

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Naturally, when I got back to the office there was only one route to take, installing Windows and disassembling it. While Anand uncovered the fact that these MacBooks were hiding a new unadvertised option, in a PCI-Express based SSD, I wanted to check it out for myself.

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When I did some digging, I discovered that while Anand found a Samsung based SSD in his MacBook, mine actually contained a model by Sandisk. I did a quick initial benchmark in OS X, and proceeded to inspect the hardware itself.

Click here to read more!

Computex 2013: Intel Demos Baytrail Tablet, Haswell Ultrabook, Ivy Bridge Passive Tablet

Subject: Processors, Mobile | June 6, 2013 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2013, Intel, haswell, Ivy Bridge, k900, Lenovo, baytrail, silvermont, ultrabook, acer, aspire s7

Intel had a host of new technologies to show off at Computex this year, starting of course with the Haswell processor launch.  Hopefully you have read our review of the Core i7-4770K LGA1150 CPU already but thanks to some video sent our way, we have other interesting bits to share.

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Below you will see Intel demonstrating four new products.  First is the Acer Aspire S7 using a Haswell dual-core platform playing back 4K content.  Next up is an Ivy Bridge tablet that is running completely fanless (passive) thus generating no noise at all while still offering impressive CPU and graphics performance.  Intel then pulls a Lenovo K900 Android smartphone out of its pocket powered by the Clovertrail+ enabled Atom Z2580 SoC.  Finally, we get a sneak peak at the next-generation of SoC designs with a look at a Silvermont-based Baytrail tablet running at 2560x1440. 

ASUS VivoBook comes close to the original spirit of the Ultrabook

Subject: Mobile | March 19, 2013 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: asus, VivoBook S500, ultrabook, win8

The ASUS VivoBook is under $1000, lightweight with a touchscreen for Win8 and it does have an SSD, a small 24GB cache SSD but enough to trim down on boot times and resume from sleep all of which come close to the original specs for an Ultrabook.  Legit Reviews tried out the 1366x768 Core i5-3317 powered Ultrabook, configured with 4GB RAM and a SanDisk cache drive.  It lasted a reasonable 2 hours and 21 minutes in Futuremark Powermark, simulating heavy usage but when it came to the storage subsystem it really lagged behind the competition.  Overall ASUS did make compromises to keept the price low, but if you are looking for an ultramobile touch device and don't need fast storage it is a decent choice.

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"Are you looking for an affordable Intel Ultrabook that features Windows 8 with Touch? The ASUS VivoBook S500 just launched this week and is an entry level 15.4" Intel Ultrabook that is loaded with features and costs under $700 shipped. Read on to see how the ASUS VivoBook S500 Ultrabook performs with an Intel Core i5-3317U processor, 6GB DDR3 memory, 500GB 5400RPM hard drive and 24GB SSD for caching purposes."

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Mobile

Not quite an ultrabook but more than a tablet, Samsung's ATIV Smart PC

Subject: Mobile | March 7, 2013 - 03:34 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T, win8, digital audio converter, ultrabook

Samsung's ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T is a convertible tablet with aspirations to be an ultrabook, it is 1.97 lbs, with an 11.6" 1080p touchscreen powered by a Core i5-3317U with 4GB of DDR3-1600 in single channel configuration.  For connectivity you get a a MicroSD port, a single USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports on the dock, Micro HDMI and analog audio with Wi-Fi, WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0.  The Tech Report tested its battery life for both surfing and playing 720p video, seeing 6 hours in the first case and 5 hours in the second with very little difference when tested docked.  The final verdict was mixed, while it is almost an ultrabook and almost a convertible tablet in many ways it inherited the worst of both worlds; though if you find yourself needing both devices in your life this ATIV might be a good compromise for you.

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"This Windows 8 convertible has x86 ultrabook guts, an 11.6" 1080p display, and speedy solid-state storage. Attach it to the bundled keyboard dock, and it turns into a quasi-ultrabook. Is this the ultimate Windows 8 mobile machine, and is it worth the nearly $1,200 asking price?"

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Mobile

Squeeze a little more out of your Ultrabook with 1.35V RAM?

Subject: Memory | January 24, 2013 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: patriot, PC3-12800, 8gb, LoVo, sodimm, 1.35V, ultrabook

Over at Tweaktown is a review of an upgrade for Ultrabooks, Patriot's 1.35V, 8GB DDR3-1600MHz at $45 for a single SODIMM.  The idea is that not only do you get a decent sized pool of RAM but because it sips 10% less power than a standard SODIMM you might just get a bit more battery life.  They tested out the memory on a Lenovo ThinkPad W530 with a 6-cell battery, not the longest lasting of setups and saw about a 10% increase in battery life as you might have expected.  That did only translate to an extra 17 minutes but as the laptop in question was only good for 4.5 hours of life, you can expect better return from an Ultrabook with a longer battery life.

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"The big push in 2013 for mobile performance will be fought in battery life. Like every other market, if you want to get the best available you have to go to the aftermarket for premium components. The Patriot Memory for Ultrabooks will increase your notebook or ultrabook battery life, but just like everything premium, you have to pay a bit more."

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Source: Tweaktown

CES 2013: Lenovo ThinkPad Helix Convertible Ultrabook With "Rip and Flip" Design

Subject: Mobile | January 6, 2013 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Thinkpad, tablet, Lenovo, helix, convertible tablet, ces 2013, CES

The ThinkPad line from Lenovo just got a bit more interesting with the announcement of the Helix, a new touch-enabled convertible tablet form factor that includes a new design labeled as "rip and flip." 

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Hardware specifications on the Helix are pretty impressive given the small form factor and include Ivy Bridge-based Core i7 processors, up to 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD, two USB 3.0 ports, RJ45 port, mini-DisplayPort and even mini-HDMI.  The machine will also have optional LTE radios to go along with the 802.11n WiFi and even NFC support. 

The display panel is an IPS 11.6-in 1080p rated at 400 nits - that is very high brightness for a Lenovo machine in my experience.  The screen is rated for 10 point touch capability as well in case you need BOTH HANDS for your project.

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Also new is the Lenovo glass ClickPad which I am very eager to get my hands and try.  That is the one area where MacBooks have continued to dominate in terms of notebook design and if Lenovo's ThinkPads can match or improve then we might have a winner on our hands. 

The machine will weigh in at 3.68 lbs for the tablet and dock, 1.84 lbs for the tablet on its own, for great portability.  Battery life claims are at 5 hours on the tablet alone and 10 hours with the tablet and base combination, but as with all battery life specifications plan on cutting that to 50-60% for real-world usage scenarios. 

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The new form factor of the ThinkPad Helix is being branded as "rip and flip" due to the tablets ability to be pulled off the keyboard / trackpad dock easily with a single release point.  Folding it down into a standard clamshell design results in your standrad laptop configuration, but with only a 20mm z-height.

Lenovo will start shipping the ThinkPad Helix in mid-February with a starting price of $1,499. 

Keep checking our CES 2013 coverage at http://pcper.com/ces and continue on after the break for the full press release!

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

A powerful Ultrabook yes ... powerful gaming machine, not so much

Subject: Mobile | January 4, 2013 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: Cyberpower, Zeus M2, Intel, ultrabook

Cyberpower went all out on the Zeus M2 gaming laptop they sent to Legit Reviews, in order to show off what their most expensive model is capable of.  The quad core i5-3317U is paired with 16GB of dual channel DDR3-1600 and a 120GB Intel 520 SSD handles the storage but there is one subsystem which is a let down to the rest of the components.  The graphics are handled by the HD4000, not a discreet GPU which really shows in the performance testing Legit Reviews conducted.  If you need a very fast and capable laptop for productivity or maybe light gaming then this is a decent laptop but as a gaming laptop it leaves much to be desired.

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"The CyberPower Zeus M2 offers a 14.1" high gloss screen that has a maximum resolution of 1366x768. This is powered by the Intel 'Ivy Bridge' i5-3317U processor's HD 4000 graphics. While the Intel HD 4000 graphics may not be the meanest graphics around, they are fully capable of some great DirectX 11 graphics and will offer reasonable performance for some light gaming. Speed is certainly one of most common things that people will look for in an Ultrabook, by the specifications the Cyberpower Zeus M2 will have plenty. In addition to the Intel Core i5-3317U quad core processor, there is 16GB of DDR3 RAM installed into the machine! Not just any RAM, Corsair Vengeance 1600MHz RAM, some of the best stuff out there today..."

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Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of Lenovo

As one of the newest members of Lenovo's Thinkpad line, the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist attempts to bridge the gap between laptops and tablets in a convertible Ultrabook format. We decided to put the Twist through the normal suite of benchmark and functional tests, along with some tests specifically geared towards laptops, to gage how well it performs. At a starting MSRP of $829.00 for the base model, the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist offers an intriguing price to feature proposition with its ability to convert from a fully functional laptop into a tablet almost seamlessly.

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Courtesy of Lenovo

The Thinkpad Twist offers an innovative take for the user that wants the best of both worlds - the portability and usability of a laptop with the ease of use of a tablet. Featuring the Windows 8 OS, the Twist comes with a 5-point touchscreen usable in all modes of operation. Lenovo designed in support for the following features: USB 2.0 and 3.0 type devices; three networking types including a Realtek-based GigE NIC, a Broadcom-based 802.11n Wi-Fi adapter, and a Broadcom-based Bluetooth adapter; 4-in-1 media card reader port; mini-HDMI and mini-Display Port video output ports; a dual-purpose audio port; and a 720p HD-capable integrated webcam.

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Courtesy of Lenovo

In designing the Twist, Lenovo decided to use a center hinge on which the screen pivots to support its four modes of operation: laptop mode, presentation mode where the screen can be rotated to face the audience, tent mode which allows the system to stand upright for movie or other media viewing, and tablet mode where the screen folds down to cover the keyboard entirely.

Continue reading our review of the Lenovo Thinkpad Twist Convertible Ultrabook!!

NEC Unveils Super-Thin LaVie X Ultrabook in Japan

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 19, 2012 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, nec, lavie x, Japan, Intel

NEC, a Japanese PC vendor has unveiled a new LaVie ultrabook–called the LaVie X–that is one of the thinnest on the market. The LaVie X measures 12.8mm thick and weighs 3.5 lbs. It will come pre-loaded with the full version of Windows 8 x64. On the outside, the LaVie X features an IPS display with a resolution of 1920x1080, a thin island-style keyboard, and a number of IO ports. Around the edges, the LaVie X has two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI video output, and a SD card reader. Above the display is a 2MP camera for video conferencing. Interestingly, while the LaVie Y has a touchscreen, NEC decided to not include a touchscreen on the LaVie X ultrabook in order to maintain its thin form factor. Reportedly, the ultrabook will run for up to 7 hours on battery power.

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Internal specifications include an Intel Core i7 3517U dual core processor running at 1.9GHz with HyperThreading support, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and either a 128GB or 256GB solid state drive (SSD). It further has 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 wireless radios.

While you will not be able to get this ultrabook stateside without importing it, it will be available in Japan on December 27th. The LaVie X with a 128GB SSD will cost 129,780 Yen, and the version with a 256GB SSD will cost 175,000 Yen. Not including any import fees, you are looking at approximately $1539.89 USD and $2076.41 USD respectively.

Read more about ultrabooks running Windows 8 at PC Perspective.

Source: Techspot

Could Dell finally awaken the Penguin with Linux powered XPS machines?

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | December 4, 2012 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: XPS 13, ultrabook, ubuntu 12.04, ubuntu, sputnik, linux, dell

Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition is branded as an Ultrabook but it has two significant differences; a custom built Ubuntu distro and a price $250 higher than Dell's other Ultrabook offering.  Those two points are somewhat interrelated as Dell will be offering support equivalent to Windows powered machines which means new training, procedures and staffing which can be expensive to set up.  There is another reason the price is so high which is the hardware as, even the base model comes with a 256GB SSD; the rest of the hardware is pretty standard, an i7-3517U, 8GB DDR3 and no discrete video card.  It is hard to say if sticking the Developer Edition moniker on the machine will encourage people to purchase this ultrabook, if you are curious check out more at The Inquirer.

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"TIN BOX FLOGGER Dell's decision to put arguably its best laptop on sale preloaded with Ubuntu Linux shows not only how far desktop Linux has come but how far Microsoft has fallen.

Dell announced its Project Sputnik earlier this year to a warm if not ecstatic reception. The firm had preloaded Linux onto its consumer machines before but they were hard to find and on forgettable machines. However with the XPS 13 the firm is not only loading Linux on its most high profile laptop but showing that Microsoft's operating system isn't the only choice in town for OEMs and consumers alike."

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Source: The Inquirer