Subject: Mobile | September 3, 2012 - 03:06 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ultrabook, s405, s400, s300, Lenovo, laptop, Ivy Bridge, core i5, budget, amd, a8
Tablets and ultrabooks have stolen the IFA 2012 show, but the hardware – while nice to look at – is not for everyone, especially for the price. It seems that Lenovo has the budget showings covered by announcing three budget laptops that offer up some decent specifications.
Lenovo has added three new laptops to its Ideapad S series, and the specifications of the new models are vastly improved versus the current netbook-class S-series models. The new additions are the S300, S400, and S405, and all three are packing the latest generation processors from Intel and AMD respectively.
All three of the laptops feature a display resolution of 1366x768, full QWERTY keyboard, trackpad with gesture support, 720p webcam, and a "tactile metal finish" for the laptop lid that comes in silver, pink, or red colors. External ports include an SD card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone jack, and power jack on the right side and a USB 3.0 port, HDMI output, Ethernet jack, and recovery button on the left. They are all expected to provide around four hours of battery life, and the laptops weigh in at 3.97 pounds and are 0.86" thick. All three models will come with Windows 7, but will eligible for the $14.99 upgrade to Windows 8 Pro.
According to the press release, all three models will have cotton candy pink, red, and silver-gray lid color options in a "tactile" metal finish, though only the S300 has been spotted in the wild with the pink lid.
The S300 has a 13.3" screen while the S400 and S405 have 14" screens, but they share the same chassis, which means that the S300 will have a slightly bigger bezel but otherwise will be the same as the higher-end models on the outside.
On the inside, the S300 is powered by an Intel ultra low voltage (ULV) Core i3 or Core i5 "Ivy Bridge" processor, a 500GB mechanical hard drive, up to 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M graphics. Other features include Intel's WiDi (wireless display) technology, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and stereo speakers powered by Dolby Advanced Audio v2.
The S400 follows that exact same pattern: Intel ULV Core i3/i5 Ivy Bridge CPU, up to 500GB spinning platter hard drive, 4GB of RAM, optional AMD Radeon 7450M GPU, WiDi, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, stereo speakers and WiDi support. The differences include a larger 14" LED backlit display (at that same 1366x768 resolution, unfortunately) and an optional 32GB SSD.
The S400 comes in two different lid color options: a black interior and red lid, or a black interior with silver lid.
The S405 breaks the mold by replacing the Intel Ivy Bridge processor for an AMD A8 Trinity APU. It can also have up to 1TB of mechanical hard drive storage, 4GB of RAM, and optional AMD Radeon 7450M. Alternatively, it can be upgraded to a 32GB SSD. It features the same LED backlit 14" display and red/black or silver/black color scheme as the S400. The WiDi option does not appear to be included with the Ideapad S405 (which would make sense), but otherwise it is essentially the S400 without the Intel CPU/iGPU.
All three notebooks will be available later this month in the US, and the starting price is $499. The new Lenovo Ideapads make up a nice middle ground between expensive thin-and-light ultrabooks and low cost tablet+keyboard combinations. The quality of the keyboard and trackpad are really going to make or break the new S-series notebooks, because if they manage to pull off a good typing experience these could be some decent travel companions for people that need a productivity machine with a bit of "oomph" thanks to the Intel i5 or AMD Trinity APU. On the other hand, if the keyboard is crappy, the middle ground budget notebooks will really miss the entire point and road warriors will need to look elsewhere. Be on the lookout for reviews on these S-series Lenovo notebooks, as they look interesting for the money (if you are in the position of looking for a budget workhorse machine/one that would not be as terrible to lose on a trip, et al).
What do you think about the new budget Lenovo laptops?
Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2012 - 09:50 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ultrabook, Series 9, Samsung, retina display, prototype, ifa
The Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) 2012 electronics show in Berlin has seen numerous Windows 8 tablets, but those are not the only mobile devices on the show floor. Samsung is at the event with its lineup of Series 9 Ultrabooks, for example.
The most interesting model is a prototype (engineering sample) Series 9 ultrabook that sports a WQHD display. That’s right, the 11.6” and 13.3” ultrabooks have displays with a resolution of 2560x1440 pixels! The new display has a pixels-per-inch (PPI) rating of 220.84, which is a major improvement over the current 13” Series 9 ultrabook’s 1600x900, 138.03 PPI display. The new prototype Series 9 has a total display resolution lower than the 2880x1800 “Retina” display in the 15” Macbook Pro, but due to its overall smaller size at 13,” the PPI is comparable. In fact, it is ever-so-slightly higher at 220.84 PPI versus 220.53 for the Apple Macbook Pro. In addition, the Series 9 display features a matte finish, which is something road warriors will appreciate.
Image credit: Engadget.
It seems that – except for the new higher resolution display – the prototype spotted by Engadget at IFA is exactly the same as the latest Ivy Bridge-powered Series 9 ultrabook. It features a full QWERTY keyboard and click-able multitouch trackpad. The right side of the Samsung ultrabook includes a microphone, HDMI output, combination headphone/microphone jack, and a USB 2.0 port. There is also a covered slot for a full-size SD card on the underside of the chassis. On the left side of the ultrabook is a power jack, USB 3.0 port, micro-HDMI port, and micro RJ45 Ethernet port.
Powering the Series 9 prototype is likely an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, at least 4GB of RAM and an SSD. Further, the computer comes loaded with Microsoft's latest Windows 8 operating system. Beyond that, it is impossible to know the exact parts being used as Samsung isn’t ready to unleash this notebook yet. Unfortunately, that also means that pricing and availability are also not known.
With rumors that Apple is working on a new 13” Macbook Pro with “retina” display of its own, one possibility is that the prototype Series 9 is just that – a prototype (and proof of concept) – from which the company will sell the panels to Apple for its Macbook while not coming out with its own high resolution ultrabook. On the other hand, Samsung may be pursuing this and trying to beat Apple to market with a smaller notebook packing a comparible display to Apple's current Macbook Pro.
Personally, I’m rooting for the Series 9 with 2560x1440 display to at least come to market even if the panels also end up in Macbooks (though with Samsung’s luck that would just give Apple yet another device to attempt to get an injunction on….).
Either way, the concept is certainly promising, and here’s hoping that it inspires other OEMs to step up their ultrabook designs by using higher resolution displays!
Below is a hands on video by Mat Smith over at Engadget. For more information, you can find our Series 9 review as well as an editorial on the "Retina Macbook Pro from a PC Perspective" (see what we did there?).
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more IFA 2012 coverage!
Subject: Mobile | August 31, 2012 - 04:00 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: xps 12 ultrabook, xps 10 tablet, windows rt, windows 8, ultrabook, tablet, ifa, dell, convertible tablet, all-in-one
The IFA 2012 (Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) electronics show is in full swing today and will be a week-long event where we should see several new product announcements similar in form to CES and Computex. That means photos, videos, and hands-on time with lots of new and shiny hardware. Earlier this week, ASUS announced two new tablets, and now Dell is jumping into the fray with three new XPS computers running Windows 8!
Dell is set up with displays at this years IFA 2012 conference where it is showing off several new systems running Windows 8 and Windows 8 RT. The company is preparing offerings on all fronts with a tablet, ultrabook, and all-in-one desktop running Microsoft's upcoming operating system: the XPS 10 tablet, XPS Duo 12 Ultrabook, and the XPS One 27 All-In-One (AIO) PC respectively.
The Dell XPS 10 is a new tablet that resembles the Asus Transformer due to its dock-able nature. The tablet will be powered by an ARM processor and will run the accompanying Windows RT version of Windows 8. The 10" tablet has rounded corners along with a glossy black front and silver-colored trim around the bezel. The only physical button on the face of the device is the Windows Start button. It can be docked with a keyboard and trackpad combo to turn the tablet into a portable laptop as well.
Alternatively, the XPS Duo 12 steps up the build quality and specifications and packs it into a convertible tablet. While it will need to be tested independently to determine how well it's built, the materials Dell is using are a step up from the XPS 10 as the Duo 12 is constructed using machined aluminum, carbon fiber, and the display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass. Not too shabby for an ultraportable! Unfortunately, there are no specifications on the internal hardware, but you can expect it to be running an AMD or Intel-based x86-64 CPU as this convertible tablet is running Windows 8. On the outside, Dell has stated that the display will have a resolution of 1920x1080.
The company has gone an interesting direction to make the Duo 12 a convertible laptop. Instead of turning the laptop lid around a vertical axis like the Dell Latitude XT (yes, I'm overdue for a laptop upgrade heh), the Duo 12 has a traditional laptop lid and horizontal hinge. Instead of swiveling the entire lid, the Duo 12 only flips around the display itself. It is not a completely new design, but it is relatively rare compared to the much more popular Transformer-style docks. Assuming it's solidly built, I think this design is actually superior than the company's other convertible offerings as the hinge should be much stronger and the display should be less wobbly when typing.
The XPS Duo 12 further features an integrated keyboard and trackpad along with at least two USB ports and an SD card reader. The keys do not look like they have much, if any, travel but otherwise it looks like a really neat machine (I'm also biased in favor of convertible tablets though... yeah I'm one of "those" geeks hehe). The biggest question in my mind about this tablet is pricing, however. If Dell prices it in like with the similarly spec'd Surface, I think it would sell fairly well. On the other hand, if they go the opposite route and price it at a couple thousand as a premium convertible tablet, I do not see it doing well against ultrabooks and Microsoft's upcoming Surface.
Finally, Dell showed off an updated version of its 27" All-In-One desktop PC that will come equipped with a touchscreen. As an update to the currently available XPS 27 AIO, the new model will add a touchscreen panel to the 2560x1440 IPS "Wide Quad HD" (whatever that is heh) panel. You can also expect the computer to be powered by third-generation "Ivy Bridge" Core i5 or Core i7 Intel processors, up to 8GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and up to 2TB of hard drive storage along with a 32GB solid state drive. The system will run the x64 version of Windows 8 and you can expect it to cost around (but a bit more than) the current XPS 27 AIO thanks to the addition of the touchscreen input device. For reference, current (non-touchscreen) XPS 27 models range from $1,399.99 to $1,899.99 USD.
I think that Dell is off to a good start with Windows 8 support. Nothing mind-blowing but they still look like interesting additions and updates to the company's product lineup. The biggest factor in me being personally interested in these machines is the price, and unfortunately Dell has not yet released that bit of information. Dell has stated that they will be available once Windows 8 launches, which is October 26th.
What do you think of Dell's Windows 8 PC offerings?
Dell has made the full press release available on its website, and you can see more photos of the new Windows 8 XPS computers after the break!
Subject: Mobile | August 10, 2012 - 03:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Lenovo, ultrabook, ideapad u410, ideapad u310
Lenovo is offering two levels of their new Ultrabook series, the U410 with a Core i7-3517U, 8 GB DDR3-1333 RAM and a 1GB GeForce 610 while the U310 sports a Core i5 3317U, 4GB DDR3-1600 and relies on the built in HD4000. There is another major difference as well, the U310 may be less powerful but its chassis is more attractive and comes in a variety of colours, making it perfect for those who need a bit of mobile power but not something focused on performance. The lack of a discrete GPU also lowers the price and makes it more affordable for students. Hardware.Info reviewed both of them separately, the U310 here and the more impressive U410 here.
"For the price you get a pretty powerful and well-equipped Ultrabook. Most brands offer a Core i5 at this level, but Lenovo includes an energy-efficient Core i7 and 8 GB memory. And instead of the typical 500 GB hard drive you get a 1 TB version and even a dedicated graphics card by Nvidia. While it's just the GeForce 610, it's still a nice addition."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Acer S5 Ultrabook review: with hidden connectors and Thunderbolt @ Hardware.info
- Sony VAIO Z: 1.15 kg with quad-core and Full HD @ Hardware.info
- HP Envy 4-1030us Review @ TechReviewSource
- Apple MacBook Pro 15-Inch (Mid-2012) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Vizio Thin+Light CT14 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Cooler Master NotePal I100 Laptop Cooler @ Pro-Clockers
- Waterfield Designs Muzetto Leather Notebook Satchel @ PC Stats
- Skifta DLNA Controller Application for Android Devices Review @MissingRemote
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review: high-end tablet without Full HD @ Hardware.info
- ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity (TF700T) Android Tablet Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Google Nexus 7 Tablet Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Acer Iconia Tab A700 @ Techspot
- ASUS Nexus 7 review: the first tablet with Jelly Bean @ Hardware.info
- Nokia 808 Pureview @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2012 - 05:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel, ssd, msata
Many avenues have been explored in an attempt to reduce the price of Ultrabooks, from lower cost CPUs to changes in the materials used in the construction of the chassis and Intel is now attempting to lower the cost of the SSD required to meet Ultrabook standards. DigiTimes reports that Intel is partnering with Micron, Samsung and other flash memory manufacturers to create a new mSATA specification that they are calling the Next Generation Form Factor. Hopefully with a new unified standard, the production costs of these mSATA SSDs will drop in price over time, as standards do tend to lower manufacturing costs. That is not the only reason that they are looking for a new standard, they are also looking towards the future storage needs of users that want more than 512GB of storage space. The current standard can have a maximum of 5 flash chips, which makes scaling to larger sized SSDs very difficult. Keep your eye out for more discussions on this new standard as they finalize the new specifications.
"Intel is looking to unify specifications for mSATA SSDs targeted at ultrabook applications, and is seeking cooperation with PC vendors and NAND flash companies. Details regarding the new SSD specs for ultrabooks will likely be finalized in September, according to sources at memory makers.
The new SSD specification is expected to be fully adopted into ultrabooks in 2013, but whether it will become a standard specification for traditional notebooks will depend on PC brand vendors' attitudes."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nvidia lands orders for at least 3 million Tegra 3 chips for Nexus 7 @ DigiTimes
- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Microsoft unleashes Windows attack tool @ The Register
- Physicists Demonstrate Quantum Router @ Slashdot
- Outlook.com launch a gold rush for jokers, spammers @ The Register
- TRENDnet TPL-402E2K 500Mbps Powerline AV Adapter Kit Review @ NikKTech
- Mountain Lion enters the MacHole @ The Tech Report
Introduction and Design
Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2012 - 02:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, Ivy Bridge, hp, dell
About the only nice thing to be said about the Ultrabook is that it is doing better than the previous CULV form factor Intel tried. While there are a group of consumers who praise the Ultrabook, the machines never actually lived up to the specifications Intel used to define an Ultrabook. Battery life and size have for the most part lived up to the design specifications but boot time and price certainly have not ... at least at the same time. The inclusion of an SSD capable of quickly resuming from sleep tends to move the price north of the $1000 price limit, as do the materials used in the chassis to keep the size and weight down.
Ivy Bridge is helping, as the price of the processor comes down as does the thermals but DigiTimes suggests that this may be overshadowed by a shortage of both thin screens and metal chassis which will offset any reduction in processor expense. That hasn't stopped Dell who have announced two new Ultrabook models, the XPS 14 base model has an i5-3317U, 4GB DDR3-1333 and a 500GB HDD for about $1200 or the larger XPS 16 whose base model has an i5-3210M and a GT 630M as well as a HDD which will go for roughly $750-800USD. Both models are over 2kg and neither truly fits the definition of an Ultrabook nor does The Inquirer find anything more attractive about them than a Macbook. They are better than the HP Envy which was recently released at $600 which is inexpensive but as Matt Smith pointed out, that AMD A-Series in that Envy sleekbook is going to disappoint a lot of buyers when it comes to performance.
"Dell's range of XPS laptops, which are now labeled as ultrabooks in order to keep in step with Intel's latest branding, has been headed by the well received XPS 13, however the company has significantly updated its XPS 14 and introduced the XPS 15. According to the firm the XPS 14 is all about battery life while the XPS 15 is pitched at those who want to do content creation and video playback."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ballmer welcomes Yammer to the Microsoft family @ The Register
- BT Infinity does badly in real world speed test @ Kitguru
- Red Hat certifies AMD's Seamicro SM10000-XE for RHEL @ The Inquirer
Subject: Mobile | June 20, 2012 - 04:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: asus, Zenbook UX31, ultrabook
ASUS has been paying attention to the complaints many people have about the resolution of ultrabooks and with the UX31 have provided an 11.6" 1600 x 900 LCD. The aluminium clad Ultrabook uses the Core i5-2557M and HD3000 graphics, 4GB DDR3 and a 256GB SSD in its thin and lightweight frame. Unfortunately Hardware Canucks ended up less than impressed with the chicklet style keyboard nor the track pad and they found issues with the WiFi as well. On the positive side the battery life was impressive as was the audio so do not dismiss this Ultrabook because of a few small issues.
"Mobile computing is quickly evolving with thinner, more versatile designs and no product better defines this focus than ASUS' new Zenbook series of Ultrabooks. The UX31 has been around for a while but it still represents the pinnacle of industrial design with a sleek body and even better looking specifications. But in an environment that's cluttered with lower priced competitors, this Ultrabook will be fighting an uphill battle for recognition. "
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- ASUS G75VW notebook @ Hardwareoverclock
- Samsung Series 9 15″ NP900X4C Ivy Bridge Ultrabook Overview and SSD Performance Analysis @ SSD Review
- Samsung Series 5 550 Chromebook Review @ TechReviewSource
- Toshiba Portege Z930 @ The Inquirer
- AMD Trinity APU Reference Laptop Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Alienware M17x R4 Review (i7 3610QM/ AMD HD7970M) @ Kitguru
- HuntKey X-MAN 90W Universal Notebook Adapter Review @ NikKTech
- Apple MacBook Pro (15-Inch, Retina Display) Review @ TechReviewSource
- Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display hands-on preview @ Hardware.Info
- MacBook Air (Mid 2012) Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Ultrabooks vs. 13" MacBook Air: Is the Apple Tax Real? @ TechSpot
- Samsung Galaxy S3 Android Smartphone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Huawei Honor U8860 Android SmartPhone Review @ NikKTech
- Samsung Galaxy S III Review - AT&T and T-Mobile USA Variants @ AnandTech
Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2012 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: surface, ultrabook, Pegatron, windows rt, windows 8, tablet, microsoft, arm, tegra 3
You've met Microsoft's two new Surface Tablet by now, either in Scott's write up or elsewhere on the net and are aware that there is a less expensive ARM and Tegra 3 version and a more expensive Ivy Bridge model. What you might not have known is the expected pricing, a lack that DigiTimes remedies this morning with the prediction the WinRT model will cost at least $600 and the Win8 model more than $800. Both are being assembled by Pegatron Technology but the amount being assembled is still unknown. The Surface Tablet is certainly attention grabbing but it costs significantly more than other tablets and many full notebooks, but it likely to be lower priced than either Intel or Apple's ultraportable devices which puts it in an odd spot in the market. How many will be willing to pay that much for a multi-touch tablet with dock?
"Sources from notebook players have revealed that Microsoft's 10.6-inch Surface tablet PCs will be outsourced to Pegatron Technology for assembly; however, there is still not a firm estimate for order volumes.
The sources also estimated the end-market price of the Windows 8 Pro-based Surface tablet PC with Ivy Bridge processor to be at least above US$799, while the Windows RT-based model, featuring Nvidia's Tegra 3, will be priced above US$599."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The obligatory Surface blog post @ The Tech Report
- NVIDIA Responds To Linus Torvalds @ Slashdot
- Getting root on a Sony TV @ Hack a Day
- Fujitsu cracks 278-digit crypto @ The Register
- Mellanox FDR InfiniBand pushes PCI-Express 3.0 to the limits @ The Register
- Nikon D3200 Review @ TechReviewSource
- How to Convert Cassette Tapes to CDs or MP3 Files @ Hardware Secrets
Earlier this year I had the chance to take a look at the first ultrabook with discrete graphics, the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3. My review was not particularly favorable, but the idea of placing discrete graphics in an ultrabook is both compelling and necessary. Intel’s low-voltage processors have difficulty with gaming when paired with the HD 4000 IGP and this flaw is difficult to excuse in products typically priced at $800 or above.
Four new ultrabooks with NVIDIA discrete GPUs have been unveiled to tackle the problem of gaming with a slim laptop. The list includes two laptops from Acer, two laptops from Gigabyte and one from ASUS.
The Gigabyte U2442N, which has a 14” 1600x900 display and a GeForce GT 650M GPU, is obviously the most powerful and the product that offers the most promising gaming experience on paper. Only the ASUS UX32 looks questionable. There’s no way that a GeForce GT 620M is going to handle gaming on a 1080p display.
Unfortunately, a closer look at the announcement suggests these product lines aren’t that exciting. The Gigabyte laptops have received a lot of positive attention, but Gigabyte has no meaningful presence in the North American laptop market and it’s nearly guaranteed the laptop won’t be popular on this side of the pond. The Acer M5-581TG appears to be an Ivy Bridge updated version of the Acer Aspire M3 that we reviwed – and did not like – while the M5-481TG is just a smaller version.
That leaves the ASUS UX32 and its GT 620M which, although likely quicker than Intel HD 4000, isn’t sufficient for serious gaming.
Hopefully NVIDIA will be able to bring discrete graphics to more products from larger manufacturers, but the fact so few companies have gone this route suggests there is some underlying reason. My personal guess? Heat. The Acer Aspire M3 became quite toasty during load. It’ll be interesting to see if the U244N has some design trick that makes the GT 650M manageable – or if Gigabyte, like Acer, doesn’t mind putting out a laptop with high exterior temperatures.