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.
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 01:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, taichi, tablet, computex, asus, transformer book, Transformer
ASUS has been showing off its new mobile products at Computex, as you can see from Ryan's pictures below this post. You can catch all the PC Perspective coverage by checking this page, as all Computex related content will show up there. With all the fancy new products, the more pictures the better which is why you should also check out the coverage The Tech Report put up. They snapped a few photos of the dual display Taichi which doesn't have a lid, instead there is a second independent touch screen display on the back which takes the idea behind ASUS' Transformer series to a whole new level. That doesn't mean they abandoned the Transformer though as they also showed off three brand new Ivy Bridge powered Transformer Books and two separate tablets, the 600 and the 810 with the Tegra powered 600 running WinRT for ARM and the 810 running Windows 8 thanks to its Atom processor.
"We're rarely surprised at trade shows these days, but Asus CEO Johnny Shih saved something special for the end of his press conference today. After discussing everything from cloud storage to all-in-ones to notebooks and tablets, he pulled out one more thing: the Taichi. It looked like any other notebook, and Shih took great pleasure in showing off the "beautiful black mirror finish" on the top panel. I couldn't help but shake my head and sigh; the glossy finish was covered in fingerprints and smudges."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nvidia reveals driver support for Windows 8 preview release @ The Inquirer
- Gigabyte goes dual-port Thunderbolt at Computex @ Kitguru
- Gigabyte’s first A85X socket FM2 motherboard @ Kitguru
- ARM Expects 20-Nanometer Processors By Late 2013 @ Slashdot
- Fujifilm FinePix T400 Review @ TechReviewSource
- CoolerMaster Joint Contest @ NikKTech
Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 11:13 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, taichi, tablet, computex, asus
ASUS always does a good job of showcasing unique devices at its Computex press conference and apparently this year is really no different. One of the biggest announcements was for the TAICHI device, a dual-display Ultrabook that is actually a convertible notebook and tablet device running Windows 8.
Image source: Engadget.com
Available in both an 11-in and 13.3-in version, the ASUS TAICHI products will both include a 1920x1080 screen resolution (on both back and front displays actually). When open, the TAICHI works like any other notebook with an Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor, 4GB of memory, an SSD, 802.11n and dual cameras. However, when you close the screen and activate the BACK display, you then operating with the Windows 8 operating system in a classic tablet form.
Image source: Engadget.com
Engadget is reporting that both displays can even be used at the same time if you wanted to share the device with a friend across the table. Connectivity is there in abundance with mini-VGA, USB 3.0 and more.
Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 12:49 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ultrabook, computex, touchscreen, s7, aspire, acer
In what will likely be the first of dozens of such exposes this week, Acer has just announced a pair of Ultrabooks that will fall under the new Aspire S7 brand in both 11-in and 13.3-in screen sizes. According to a post at Engadget, the new Ultrabooks are actually touch enabled and will support being laid completely flat with a 180 degree hinge.
While other details on the specifications seem to be missing from the Computex announcement, we can assume these are going to be Intel Ivy Bridge based designs. The screens are being called "full HD" which indicates a 1080p resolution that would really help the S7 stand out from other current Ultrabooks (as well as raise the price).
Battery life is claimed at 9 hours on the 11-in model and 12 hours on the 13.3-in model, though all such claims should be tested before you plop down cash on a preorder.
Can someone please explain how laying down a notebook flat is helpful?
The Ultrabook is less than 13mm thick and the chassis is built with a unibody aluminum design which should immediately draw comparisons to the Apple Macbook Pro. A backlit keyboard and a glass lid on the 13-in model round out our known information on the Aspire S7 but don't expect availability until we see Windows 8 ship sometime this fall.
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 10:24 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: x11, ultrabook, u2442, u2440, notebook, gigabyte
Gigabyte, a company mostly known for its motherboard manufacturing, has announced a new lineup of small and lightweight notebooks. Among the new systems are the X11, U2442, and U2440 notebooks. Running Windows 7 and powered by Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors, the ultra-portables pack plenty of power.
The X11 is an ultra-lightweight 11.6” notebook at 975 grams and .3cm at it’s thinnest point (1.65cm at its thickest point). Constructed of carbon fiber, it was built using a woven diamond technique that resulted in it being lightweight while maintaining rigidity. It is powered by an Intel Ivy Bridge processor and 128GB SSD. It further comes with USB 3.0 and Bluethooth 4.0 connections. A 16:9 LED backlit display connected via an aluminum hinge is another feature of this laptop. Intel’s Rapid Start and Anti-Theft technologies and a Smart Recovery system are also built in.
For those that require dedicated graphics, Gigabyte has also launched a 14” notebook with NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M or GT 640M graphics cards. The U2442 weighs in at 1.57kg and ranges in thickness from 18.5-21mm. The computer also uses Intel’s Ivy Bridge processors, but the larger form factor has allowed Gigabyte to give the notebook a dual vent design for the GPU and CPU respectively. It also comes with a 1600x900 LED backlit display, backlit keyboard, and THX TruStudio Pro audio technology. The U2442 notebook further has a 128GB mSATA SSD paired with a 750GB hard drive as well as WiFi, USB 3.0, Bluetooth 4.0, and HDMI 1.4 connectivity. The “Champagne Gold” colored cover has a brushed aluminum texture that looks nice as well. No carbon fiber here, but it does look to be all aluminum.
Finally, the U2440 is designed to be less powerful–but more portable–than the U2442. This 14” notebook comes with an Intel Ivy Bridge processor, NVIDIA GeForce 630M graphics card, optical disc drive, 1TB mechanical hard drive, and a mSATA slot for SSD upgrades. The system has taken a downgrade on display resolution versus the U2442 with only 1366x768 pixels. It supports up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, 802.11n WiFi, and a 1.3 megapixel webcam. Further, the U2440 has 1 USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, VGA, HDMI, RJ45, microphone input, and headphone output ports. The U2440 comes in a dark gray colored chassis with a brushed aluminum texture on the notebook lid.
As far as pricing and availability, the X11 carbon fiber notebook will be available in July with street prices ranging from $999 to $1299 USD. The U2442 will also retail for between $999 and $1299 USD, but it will be available sooner–towards the middle of June. The U2440 isn’t as light as the X11, or as powerful as the U2442 but it has both of those systems beat on price. The U2440 will have street pricing that starts at $699 USD before tax and will be available for purchase at the end of June.
They seem like interesting systems, and they look nice as well. What do you guys think of the Gigabyte notebooks?
Introduction, Product Specifications And Line-Up
Earlier this year I penned an editorial about ultrabooks. It wasn’t all that nice. I pointed out that they are slow, that they require design sacrifices that not everyone will enjoy and that ultraportables often provide a better experience at the same price or lower.
Since then I’ve also discovered, through various reviews, that ultrabooks so far have not shown any battery life advantage over ultraportables. The advantage of a low-voltage processor is consistently negated by the smaller batteries squeezed into Intel’s thin form-factor.
I’m not on the bandwagon. This, however, should not come as a surprise. It’s exceedingly rare for a company, even of Intel’s size, to knock a new product out of the park on its first try. The models that released so far were decent products in some ways, but they were also the hardware equivalent of a beta. Intel and laptop manufacturers are now responding to what they’ve discovered.
This brings us to Ivy Bridge. As I noted in my Ivy Bridge for mobile review, Intel’s architectural update seems to be more exciting for laptops than for desktops. The Core i7-3720QM we received in our Ivy Bridge reference laptop was a beast, easily defeating all previous processor benchmarks and also posting surprisingly good results in gaming tests. Despite this, battery life seemed to at least remain the same.
Subject: Mobile | May 25, 2012 - 06:16 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: zenbook, ux32vd, ultrabook, optimus, gt 620m, asus
The lucky dogs at The Verge got their hands on a sexy new Ultrabook coming from ASUS very soon while attending the NVIDIA investors day this week. The Zenbook Prime UX32VD will feature a 13-in 1920x1080 resolution IPS display in addition to the discrete NVIDIA GeForce GT 620M Kepler-based GPU. Optimus Technology will obviously be included in order to allow the GPU to completely power off when you aren't gaming or taking advantage of it for the best battery life the platform can muster.
The word is that it will ship with a Core i5 ULV Ivy Bridge processor and be priced somewhere around $1299. The shape of the UX32VD is just slightly different than that of the current wave of Zenbooks, with a "bit of a chin" according to The Verge's Sean Hollister. ASUS' upcoming machine will include three USB 3.0 ports, a memory card reader, HDMI, mini-DisplayPort and an audio jack for a fairly complete connectivity suite.
You can see many more photos of the Zenbook Prime UX32VD at The Verge's gallery.
With discrete GPUs being heavily pushed by NVIDIA, even on Ultrabook designs, we are very eager to see what all the major notebook vendors are able to come up with for Computex next month.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 19, 2012 - 04:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ultrabook, trinity, cloud computing, cloud, amd
Bloomberg Businessweek reports AMD CEO Rory Read claims that his company will produce chips which are suited for consumer needs and not to crunch larger and larger bundles of information. They also like eating Intel’s bacon -- the question: is it from a pig or a turkey?
Read believes there is “enough processing power on every laptop on the planet today”.
The argument revolves around the shift to the cloud, as usual. It is very alluring to shift focus from the instrument to the data itself. More enticing: discussing how the instruments change to suit that need; this is especially true if you develop instruments and yearn to shift anyway.
Don’t question the bacon…
AMD has been trusting that their processors will be good enough and their products will differentiate in other ways such as with graphics capabilities which they claim will be more important for cloud services. AMD hopes that their newer laptops will steal some bacon from Intel and their ultrabook initiative.
The main problem with the cloud is that it is mostly something that people feel that they want rather than actually do. They believe they want their content controlled by a company for them until it becomes inaccessible temporarily or permanently. They believe they want their information accessible in online services but then freak out about the privacy implications of it.
The public appeal of the cloud is that it lets you feel as though you can focus on the content rather than the medium. The problem is that you do not have fewer distractions from your content -- just different ones -- and they rear their head once or twice in isolation of each other. You experience a privacy concern here and an incompatibility or licensing issue there. For some problems and for some people it makes more sense to control your own data. It will continue to be important to serve that market.
And if crunching ends up being necessary for the future it looks like Intel will be a little lonely at the top.
Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2012 - 03:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: celeron 807, celeron 877, celeron, ulv, ultrabook, sleekbook, hp
HP recently announced their plans to begin selling Sleekbooks, a ultraportable modelled after the Ultrabook but using an AMD processor. You might lose a bit of computational power but you won't sacrifice graphical performance and the prices are slated to be noticeably less that what Ultrabooks are currently selling for, as well as the intended sub-$1000 price Intel originally stated. Intel is firing back with the upcoming release of two Celeron processors both priced under $100. DigiTimes also reports on five future dual core i3s which will sell between $100-$150 which will give Intel customers a large feild of models to choose from. The two new Celerons are expected to be 17W 32nm SandyBridge processors, one single core model and one dual core model, both with Intel HD graphics onboard.
"Intel will launch four entry-level Celeron processors including the Celeron ULV 877 and 807 for sale at US$86 and US$70 respectively and targeting ultrabooks in the third quarter of 2012. The CPUs could enable vendors to offer ultrabooks at a price level of US$699 in the third-quarter, and falling to US$599 at the end of the year or beginning of 2013, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel releases third-generation Core vPro Platform @ DigiTimes
- Intel Glamor Acceleration Compared To SNA, UXA @ Phoronix
- Seeing ads on Wikipedia? Then you're infected @ The Register
- GPU Technology Conference 2012 - Day 1 and 2 @ Hi Tech Legion
- How NVIDIA GeForce GRID Changed Video Games @ Benchmark Reviews
- GTC 2012 Part 1: NVIDIA Announces GK104 Based Tesla K10, GK110 Based Tesla K20 @ AnandTech
- NETGEAR N900 Wireless Dual-Band Router and USB Adapter Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Windows 8 frightens me, and here's why @ The Tech Report
- be quiet! Joint Contest @ NikKTech
- Custom modded rig built buy a selection of different modders Auction @ Xtreme Computing
Subject: Mobile | April 5, 2012 - 04:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ultrabook, acer, timeline ultra m3, timeline, aspire
Acer's Aspire series has gained an Ultrabook model, the Timeline Ultra M3. Powered by an i5-2467M and bolstered by an NVIDIA GT 640M, this 15.6" 1366 x 768 ultrabook should be able to boot quickly thanks to the hybrid storage system which includes a 20GB mSATA SSD while the 500GB HDD offers storage at a lower price than a purely SSD solution would offer. While it sounds good on paper, by the end of the review Hardware Canucks were very disappointed with its "ghastly trackpad, an unnecessary space consuming optical drive, testicle-searing exterior temperatures, a poor keyboard layout, a low resolution screen ...".
If you think they were overly harsh, Matt was no kinder to it when he reviewed this Ultrabook.
"Acer's new Timeline Ultra M3 blazes a path that no others have been willing to take. By incorporating one of NVIDIA's new GT 640M Kepler-based graphics processors within their design, they have become the first company to include a gaming-grade GPU into an Ultrabook. It sounds great but does this combination actually work out as planned? We find out."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- HP Folio 13 @ The Inquirer
- Toshiba Satellite P755D-S5172 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Toshiba Portege R835: Less Ultra, More Notebook @ AnandTech
- Samsung Chronos Review @ HardwareLOOK
- Sony VAIO SE: An IPS Laptop for Under a Grand @ AnandTech
- AT&T Pantech Element 8-Inch 4G LTE Tablet Review @ Legit Reviews
- The 2012 iPad Followup: Galaxy Tab 10.1 LTE Comparison @ AnandTech
- The Apple iPad @ AnandTech
- Nextivity Cel-Fi RS2 3G Coverage Booster Review @ eTeknix
- Cooler Master NotePal X3 Silent Laptop Cooling Pad Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- The Nokia Lumia 900 @ Ars Technica
- Samsung Galaxy Nexus Smartphone Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Nokia Lumia 900 @ AnandTech
- HTC One X @ TechSpot