MSI Steps Up Multimedia with F Series Notebooks, Now Shipping in N. America

Subject: Mobile | April 6, 2011 - 12:51 PM |
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With Intel’s next generation Sandy Bridge Core processors under the hood, the F Series has plenty of oomph for casual gaming and entertainment. To offer the finest movie viewing experience they each have a built in DVD drive and HDMI-out, as well as MSI Cinema Pro Technology and MSI Premium Sound enhanced with THX TruStudio Pro to provide excellent surround sound effects. All three units have the fastest data transfer technology available via two USB 3.0 ports. Each is eligible for MSI’s one-year extended warranty as part of the “MSI Quality Assurance Program.”

FX420
The smallest form factor of the F Series, the 4.8 pound FX420 notebook has a 14-inch HD 16:9 wide screen display, and is powered by the Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, and delivers exceptional graphics via its AMD Radeon HD6470 discrete graphics card. (MSRP starts at $749.99).

FR720/FX720
The FX720 and FR720 are 17-inch members of MSI’s F Series of stylish notebooks, with strong mainstream performance and 16:9 wide screen display for multimedia enjoyment. Both come with a 720P HD Webcam.

Additional FR720 specs include:

  • Processing horsepower from the Intel HRV Core i3-2310M (MSRP $709.99) or Intel HRV Core i7-2630QM (MSRP $899.99)
  • Intel HD 3000 Graphics

Additional FX720 specs include:

  • Intel Core i5-2410M (MSRP $849.99)
  • Nvidia GeForce GT520M discrete graphic
Source: MSI

ASUS K53E, dual core SandyBridge mobility

Subject: Mobile | April 5, 2011 - 01:12 PM |
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With a 2.1GHz dual core Core i3-2310M processor, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB hard drive and a 15.6" TFT with 1366x768 and a price tag under $650 the slightly bulky but also powerful ASUS K53E is an interesting notebook.  The Tech Report started the review hoping that the dual core processor would translate into longer battery life but instead ASUS opted for a less powerful battery, which does help the price.  Still, six hours of web browsing and 4.5 hours of perfect HD video playback is nothing to sneer at.  Check out the full review to see how well it handled other tasks.

"We've already put a quad-core Sandy Bridge notebook through the paces, but how does a system with a dual-core CPU based on the same architecture perform? Does it give previous-gen Core 2010 chips a run for their money, and perhaps more importantly, does it offer better battery life?"

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Looking to grab an new mobile PC before summer?

Subject: Mobile | March 30, 2011 - 01:40 PM |
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TechSpot have put in a lot of effort to their recent guide to mobile systems new for this first half of 2011.  They've broken the models down into six different areas, covering Ultraportables, Business, Desktop Replacements, Gaming, Value and lastly Netbooks.  Each of these areas represents a different segment of the market, now that consumers have a choice in size and performance, the needs of various users can be met specifically by the model they choose.  Head on over for an overview of the current market.

 

"The year kicked off to a good start in the laptop sector with AMD finally delivering its promised Fusion chips -- five years in the making -- and Intel launching its Huron River platform powered by Sandy Bridge processors. Fusion is doing well at the entry level market with limited competition from the Atom, but things haven't been going so smoothly for Intel. The company discovered a design flaw in its 6 Series chipset, which resulted in product launch delays across the board for new Sandy Bridge-based notebooks."

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Source: Tech Spot
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Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Asus
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Enter Sandy Bridge

In desktops, concerns such as power efficiency are important, but usually aren’t potential deal-breakers. In laptops, the processor has a significant impact on the design of the laptop. There is a broad spectrum of performance, power efficiency and thermal efficiency, and these variables make the difference between a 1” thick ultraportable and a bulky 1.5” thick desktop replacement.

Desktop processors tend to catch the majority of the glory when new processor architectures debut. AMD’s recent decision to release Bobcat as its first APU was quite unusual; in most cases, laptops have to wait for new processor technology to filter down.  As a result, the performance story of laptop parts is often second-fiddle to that of its desktop cousins.

That’s a shame, really, because laptop processors are in many ways more interesting to examine. The variety of product on the laptop market is staggering. The performance gap between an Intel Atom and an Intel Core i7-QM quad-core is staggering – it’s hard to believe that they’re both the same type of product and are capable of running the same basic programs. 

The laptop space is also more rigorous than that of desktops. In desktops, concerns such as power efficiency are important, but usually aren’t potential deal-breakers. In laptops, the processor has a significant impact on the design of the laptop. There is a broad spectrum of performance, power efficiency and thermal efficiency, and these variables make the difference between a 1” thick ultraportable and a bulky 1.5” thick desktop replacement.

We already know from the desktop parts that Sandy Bridge is kind of a big deal. The new Intel processors absolutely destroyed their former cohorts and all competition from AMD in our earlier Sandy Bridge review.

ASUS Introduces the Eee Pad Transformer

Subject: Mobile | March 25, 2011 - 11:12 AM |
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Fremont, CA (March 25, 2011) - ASUS is excited to announce the launch of the Eee Pad Transformer, the best tablet choice for users looking for media consumption and mobile productivity in an elegant yet versatile design. The ASUS Eee Pad Transformer features the powerful and responsive Android 3.0 operating system, an optional expandable keyboard docking station, and ASUS’ intuitive Waveshare user interface that results in an exciting portable tablet for content creation, social communication, high-definition media playback and smooth realistic game play.

Exciting mini-cinema entertainment on-the-go
Powered by the NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor, the Transformer browses the web at blazing speeds, providing snappier response times and excellent multi-tasking performance. An IPS (in-plane switching) Panel made from durable and scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass is viewable at angles up to 178°, perfect for sharing your favorite photos, web pages, work documents and more with co-workers, friends or family next you or across the room. The 10.1” IPS panel features LED backlighting that provides brilliant and vivid colors at a 1280x800 resolution, perfect for viewing high-definition movies and other media content.

Built-in SRS Sound technology provides a dynamic 3D stereo audio experience, with maximum bass response and a wide sound field from the discrete speakers housed in a thin 0.51” thick chassis that only weighs 1.49lbs. A 1.2MP front-facing camera is perfect for video conferencing while the rear-facing 5MP camera can shoot and record HD video, which can be played back on HDTVs via the mini HDMI output port, making the Eee Pad Transformer a true mobile entertainment device.

Transform from pad to notebook mode with optional keyboard docking station
The Transformer sets itself apart from other tablets on the market by featuring an optional docking station. This unique docking station provides access to a full QWERTY keyboard along with unique Android Function keys, instantly turning the Transformer into a mobile content creation device.

A touchpad, 3.5mm audio jack, two USB ports as well as a built-in SD Card reader for easy file sharing and storage expandability makes the Transformer a versatile media hub. The docking station also extends the Transformer’s 9.5 hours of battery life up to 16 hours, so users can use it all day for work or play. In addition, the ultra-convenient ASUS WebStorage with one year of unlimited storage space provides worry-free cloud computing.

Android 3.0 OS melds with ASUS’ Waveshare UI for a unique user experience
Google’s Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) is a revolutionary operating system specially designed and optimized for tablets, which enables users a rich web experience for on-the-go web browsing, social media activities, video playback and casual gaming. Supporting Adobe Flash 10.2 and the ever growing Android Market, media entertainment is just a finger swipe away. The convenient ASUS Launcher also allows users to easily launch software, manage content and access online services and connect devices with a few simple taps, while ASUS’ Waveshare Interface hosts a variety of unique applications such as MyNet, MyLibrary, MyCloud and more.

MyNet easily streams digital media wirelessly within home network devices so HD videos or music can be played on devices such as an HDTV or desktop PCs for an even better experience from the Transformer. MyLibrary consolidates downloaded books, magazines and newspapers in to one easy to browse profile while MyCloud is a total cloud solution, providing access to digital content such as music, videos and files from the cloud anywhere, anytime. Users can even use MyCloud to remotely access and control any PC or Mac system and access applications or files to extend the versatility of the Eee Pad Transformer experience.

Source: ASUS

Playing with RIM's Book

Subject: Mobile | March 24, 2011 - 02:33 PM |
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The Inquirer had a chance to check out the new RIM Blackberry Playbook and a customized version of Need for Speed that can use the tablet as controller and display.  A 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex A9-based processor resides in the 7" tablet and there are dual cameras, a 3MP front facing and 5MP back facing which can be handy in numerous situations ... as is support for Flash.  We still don't have an exact availability date though.

****Update***

Not long after this post appeared RIM announced the availability of the Playbook in both the US and Canada on April 19th.

"THE PLAYBOOK TABLET from Research in Motion (RIM) is a neat and stylish bit of kit and its entertainment potential delighted us.

Though we don't know yet when the Playbook will be available, The INQUIRER was impressed with its first proper go with the device. The tablet is still in development and was running an older version of the Blackberry tablet operating system than will be preloaded at launch."

 

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Source: The Inquirer

A cloud with Chrome lining; the Google Cr-48 Notebook

Subject: Mobile | March 22, 2011 - 12:34 PM |
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Google's Cr-48 Chrome notebook does not come with crapware preinstalled, technically it has hardly anything installed as it is a cloud based laptop.  In this particular case this means it has an App store with a variety of 'programs' ranging from what are in truth simply bookmarks to actual extensions similar to those found on the browser.  Physically it is powered by an Atom 455 @ 1.66GHz, 2GB of DDR3-1333, a 1280x800 LCD powered by Intel's GMA 315a and a 16GB Integrated SSD for local storage. 

See it at Benchmark Reviews.

"Cloud computing has been the big word for the last two years, and has quickly become a part of everyone's daily lives. Photos going up on the web to be edited, music and video being streamed, and documents stored online are becoming the norm. Google's CR-48 Chrome Notebook running the Chrome OS is a culmination of all of these. It provides no local services and allows users to only use internet accessible services. Benchmark Reviews will investigate to see if the CR-48 is really the future of computing or if it just is an interesting idea that will fade away like many other products that have been touted as "the future of computing."

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Slim Core i7 Gigabyte Laptop, with a subwoofer too

Subject: Mobile | March 17, 2011 - 06:40 PM |
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Tweaktown has a look at a Core i7 powered GIGABYTE P2532, a 15.6" laptop with a 1920×1080 backlight screen, a 500GB 7200rpm HDD, 4GB of RAM and NVIDIA's GeForce GT550M with Optimus technology if for some reason you wanted to pretend this beast could enter a 'power saving mode'.  Also included is a DVD burner, two USB 3.0 ports, and HDMI but the real kicker is the 4.1 sound system; yes there is a subwoofer inside. 

"With all the notebooks flooding the market it's nice to find one with a grand claim to fame. "The thinnest 2nd Generation Core i7 Notebook", as with all tech titles like that are fleeting, but they are good while they last. The GIGABYTE P2532 multimedia laptop offers a stylish design with a powerful quad-core 2nd generation Intel Core i7 processor.

In its 15.6" chassis it sports a full HD display with 1920×1080 resolution and a LED backlight screen. Under the hood we've got a 500GB 7200rpm HDD, 4GB of RAM and NVIDIA GeForce GT550M/ 2GB VRAM with Optimus technology. Taking a look around the unit, you'll find a DVD burner, two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, and THX Tru Studio Pro technology in its 4 speakers and 1 subwoofer."

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Source: TweakTown

Fusion powered 15.6" notebook joins Toshiba's Satellite lineup

Subject: Mobile | March 14, 2011 - 02:25 PM |
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The Toshiba Satellite C655D is an AMD E-240 Fusion powered notebook that you can pick up for under $450.  Unfortunately the MSRP is $349, so you might want to wait for the price to come down somewhat before picking up this notebook.  AMD's choice to offer a relatively low powered CPU on such a large notebook has resulted in some interesting sacrifices.  The extra size is nice but Matt discovered that it meant 720p playback on YouTube was not smooth and gaming at the native resolution also suffered.   Check out his full review to see if you feel the positive outweighs the negative.

"This makes for a complex verdict. Yes, the AMD E-240 is slow. But this laptop, the Toshiba Satellite C655, is a nice laptop for the price - and this laptop only exists because AMD has finally produced a competent Atom competitor. The 15.6” display, with its correspondingly large keyboard, is more pleasant to use than your typical 10.1” or 11.6” netbook. If you’re looking for a laptop, but your budget is slim, the Toshiba Satellite C655 should be on your short list."

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Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Toshiba
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Introduction and Specifications

The processor inside the Toshiba Satellite C655 is just one reason why this laptop is interesting. The other is the laptop’s size. Yes, laptops with 15.6” displays are the most common sold today, but Intel has made sure to keep Atom processors out of them. The company has been understandably guarded about the idea of placing such an inexpensive part into the most popular category of laptops.

Netbooks have been solid Intel territory since their rise to popularity in 2008. Intel won the category virtually by default; AMD had no alternative to offer. Even AMD’s most power efficient models have never been capable of providing battery life comparable to Atom. The debut of the Nile platform late last year finally gave AMD the ability to compete in the ultraportable market, but that was a long way from the power efficiency Atom could provide. AMD needed a new architecture, one made with power efficiency as a primary goal.

Now, after much anticipation and some delays, AMD has delivered. The new Fusion processors, which combine the CPU and GPU into a single processor architecture known as an APU, are filtering into production laptops. With them comes opportunity. AMD is rolling out low-end, power efficient components first, which means Atom finally has a competitor. Intel has done very little to update the performance and functionality of Atom since its introduction because there was no reason to make changes. With no competition from AMD, and the margins on Atom products small, Intel has had little incentive to substantially revise or improve the processor. AMD’s E-240 APU may finally spark a battle that has been absent for far too long.

The processor inside the Toshiba Satellite C655 is just one reason why this laptop is interesting. The other is the laptop’s size. Yes, laptops with 15.6” displays are the most common sold today, but Intel has made sure to keep Atom processors out of them. The company has been understandably guarded about the idea of placing such an inexpensive part into the most popular category of laptops. If consumers suddenly decided that an Atom was really all they needed (which I think is unlikely, but a possibility) Intel’s entire mobile processor business could be throw into a blender.

The Satellite 655 is simultaneously one of the least and most unique laptops on the market. Let’s see what (besides the APU) makes it tick.

Nothing here is surprising besides the processor and the price. While it is not unusual for 15.6” laptops to sell for $349, laptops that sell below $450 are usually stripped models, clearance products, or loss-leaders that stores hope can be attached to profit-fat extended warranties and peripherals. The Satellite C655 has an MSRP of $349, however – it would not be surprising to see this laptop sell for $325 or even $300 after a few months on the market.

Inexpensive pricing doesn’t excuse poor quality, however; the Toshiba Satellite C655 needs to be pleasant to use even if it is inexpensive. This is a place where many netbooks stumble, and even 15.6” bargain laptops sometimes have hidden flaws. Can the Satellite C655 cut costs without cutting into your experience?