Design - A Tablet and a Notebook
For the last 30 days or so, I have been using both Microsoft's new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 as every day computing devices. The goal was to review these items from not just a handful of days of testing and benchmarking, but with some lengthy time under my belt utilizing both products in a real-world environment. The following is my review with that premise. Enjoy!
A lot has already been said about the design and style of both the updated Surface Pro 4 and the new Surface Book. Let’s start with the Surface Pro 4 as it sees the least dramatic changes from previous product.
The Surface Pro 4 uses the same kickstand tablet design that made the Surface brand so memorable as well as functional. Many different OEMs are starting to copy the design style because it has a lot of positive merits to it. For instance, it allows viewing angles from nearly 90 degree to flat. The Surface Pro 4 is a tablet in its purest form, though. It doesn’t have a keyboard or trackpad standard – you’ll have purchase the optional Type Cover. It’s only 8.5mm thick and weighs in at 1.73 lbs, without the added keyboard.
The kickstand works exceptionally, with unlimited positions between the starting and stop point of the hinge, and it allows smooth movement between them. It’s strong enough to stand up when being slid around on the tablet or desk. The biggest concern I have with the kickstand is that using it on your lap (or on an airplane tray table) is difficult to impossible, depending on the exact configuration or your legs / tray. Because the hinged kickstand needs a surface to make contact with, pushing the Surface Pro back on your legs where the hinged portion extends past your knees won’t work.
From a design and style perspective, I still think the Surface products are among the best that exist on the market today. The magnesium body is sleek and the angles are both professional and aggressive. Even when coupled with the magnetic Type Cover, it won’t look like a toy at the office or on the road.
The new Surface Book is a completely different beast – a unique design and a new product. I am sure that there are some people that simply won’t like the way the notebook looks, but I am not one of them. Though it is technically a tablet and a keyboard dock, the Surface Book only ships as a complete unit so calling this a notebook or a 2-in-1 convertible feels more accurate than calling it a tablet. It has a larger and more pronounced 13.5-in screen than the Pro, which makes it larger, heavier and bulkier in your bag as well. The magnesium body shares a lot of design cues with the Pro 4, but it’s the hinge on the Book that really makes it different than any notebook I have used.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 22, 2015 - 01:30 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Skylake, PCIe SSD, notebook, N752, N552, laptop, ips, Intel Core i7, GTX 960M, asus, 4k
ASUS has added two new laptops to their N series line up premium, entertainment-focused laptops. The new models offer Intel’s 6th-gen (Skylake) Core i7 processors and high resolution IPS displays, as well as fast PCIe storage and discrete NVIDIA graphics.
The new models are the 15.6-inch N552 and 17.3-inch N752, and both sizes offer wide-gamut IPS display options up to 3840x2160 with 100% sRGB coverage. The displays are powered by graphics up to a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M. Quad-core Intel Core i7 processors power both models, with a generous 16GB of RAM standard. Storage is provided via PCIe x4 storage with speeds of 1500 MB/s with capacities up to 512 MB, and external connectivity includes a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port.
While boasting powerful specs these N-series laptops are also geared toward entertainment, with ASUS drawing attention to the sound from their “SonicMaster” audio system, which boasts powerful B&O ICEpower class-D amplification for the laptop’s front-facing speakers. Other features include backlit keys which offer 1.8 mm travel, and aluminum covering the keyboard area and lid.
The new models haven’t shown up on the U.S. product pages just yet, so pricing and availability are not yet known.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 20, 2015 - 05:55 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Lenovo, yoga 900, convertible, 2-in-1, laptop, notebook, Intel Core i7, QHD+
Lenovo has introduced their latest Yoga convertible notebook, and this one isn’t just thinner and lighter – it’s 14.9 mm thick and weighs just 2.8 lbs – Lenovo claims that it’s the world’s thinnest Intel Core i-series laptop. And the improvements don’t stop with the external design, as Lenovo has upgraded virtually every aspect of the Yoga.
First off, 14.9 mm (0.59 inches) would be slim for a thin-and-light notebook anyway, but the Yoga’s thinness is even more impressive considering its 2-in-1 convertible design. The unique hinge mechanism is part of what allows Lenovo to keep such a slim profile, and this aspect has also been revised with a new version of the “watch band” hinge for the Yoga 900 that Lenovo says offers smoother movement than before.
So what’s new under the hood? The latest Intel 6th generation processors to start with, and here are more of the specs:
- Processor: Up to 6th Generation Intel Core i7
- Display: 13.3" QHD+ (3200 x 1800) IPS, 300 nits
- Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics
- Memory: Up to 16 GB LP-DDR3L
- Storage: Up to 512 GB Samsung SSD
- WLAN: 2x2 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
- Ports: 2x USB Type A 3.0, 1x USB Type C 3.0 with video out, 1x DC-in with USB 2.0 function, Audio Combo Jack
- Card Reader: 4-in-1 (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC)
- Webcam: 1MP 720p HD CMOS Camera
- Audio: JBL Stereo Speakers with Dolby DS 1.0 Home Theater Certification
- Battery: 4 Cell 66 Wh Li-Polymer, up to 9 hours battery life
- Operating System: Windows 10 Home
- Dimensions (W x D x H): 12.75" x 8.86" x 0.59" (324 x 225 x 14.9 mm)
- Weight: Starting at 2.8 lbs (1.3 kg)
In keeping with the Yoga name this laptop features a 360-degree hinge design, allowing virtually limitless possibilities for using the machine. This new Yoga also features a battery with much greater density than before – 50% more, according to Lenovo – and a revised cooling system that provides up to 30% better cooling as well as quieter performance.
The Yoga 900 starts at $1199, but the base models will differ in specs depending on where you look. Best Buy seems to have the better deal as they will offer a unit at the introductory price featuring a Core i7-6500u processor, while Lenovo’s base model has an i5-6200u for the same $1199 price. Both versions feature 8 GB of memory, and a 256 GB SSD.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 13, 2015 - 10:23 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: ROG G752, ROG, Republic of Gamers, notebook, laptop, Intel Core i7, GTX 980M, gaming laptop, asus
ASUS has announced the Republic of Gamers ROG G752, their newest gaming notebook featuring 6th-gen Intel Core i7 mobile processors and graphics cards ranging from the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M to the GTX 980M. The notebook also features NVIDIA's G-SYNC technology for its 17.3-inch matte IPS panel across the three available versions.
ASUS is also advertising the laptop's brand new cooling system, a "3D Vapor Chamber" design:
Temperature uniformity vapor chambers are commonly found alongside high-performance, high-voltage graphics cards to increase cooling efficiency. The ROG-exclusive mobile 3D Vapor Chamber, together with the copper heat pipe, create an effective and efficient cooling system that helps improve GPU performance for smooth and stable gaming. ROG G752 is the world’s first laptop to integrate a vapor chamber into its cooling system.
The ROG G752 offers a new physical design and the new Titanium and Plasma Copper color scheme from ASUS, and in addition to the new cooling system the notebooks are equipped with a new "ergonomically-designed" keyboard that features 2.5mm key-travel distance as well as anti-ghosting with 30-key rollover.
Here are the full specifications:
- Processor: 6th-generation Intel Core i7 (Skylake) processor
- Chipset: Mobile Intel CM236
- Memory: DDR4 2133MHz (upgradable to 64GB)
- Display: ROG G752VL / ROG G752VT / ROG G752VY - 17.3in anti-glare FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS LED backlit with NVIDIA G-SYNC
- Graphics card:
- ROG G752VL - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 965M with 2GB GDDR5 VRAM
- ROG G52VT - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970M with 3GB / 6GB GDDR5 VRAM
- ROG G752VY - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M with 4GB / 8GB GDDR5 VRAM
- ROG G752VL - 2.5in SATA 2TB (5400 rpm); 2.5in SATA 1TB (7200 rpm); M.2 PCIe X4 NVME 256GB/128GB SSD
- ROG G752VT/ ROG G752VY - 2.5in SATA 2TB (5400 rpm); 2.5in SATA 1TB (7200 rpm); M.2 PCIe X4 NVME 512GB/256GB/128GB SSD
- Optical drive: DVD Super-Multi / Blu-ray Combo / Blu-ray writer
- Camera: Built-in HD camera with array mic
- Operating system: Windows 10, Windows 10 Professional
- Size: ROG G752VL / ROG G752VT: 428 x 334 x 23 ~ 43mm; ROG G752VY: 428 x 334 x 23 ~ 53mm
- Weight: ROG G752VL / ROG G752VT: 4.06kg (with a 6-cell battery); ROG G752VY: 4.36kg (with a 8-cell battery)
Pricing and availability were not announced, but expect to see the new ROG G752 laptops in the retail channel soon.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | October 8, 2015 - 10:05 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: dell, XPS 15, InfinityEdge, laptop, notebook, Skylake, i3-6100H, i5-6300HQ, i7-6700HQ, GTX 960M
The redesigned Dell XPS 15 is here, now a larger clone of the popular XPS 13 including the same minuscule “InfinityEdge” display and featuring optional 4K resolution.
Image credit: Engadget
The XPS 13 is among the highest-rated Windows laptops of the past year, and the preferred notebook of our own Ryan Shrout. Dell certainly had a big design win with a 13-inch screen on a laptop that would normally only house an 11.6-inch display, thanks to the razor-thin bezel surrounding the LCD panel. This InfinityEdge display makes a lot of sense for the larger XPS 15, and the newly redesigned notebook now occupies the space of a mere 14-inch notebook, while offering both FHD and UHD/4K screen resolutions.
What good would a beautiful screen be without the horsepower to drive it? For this Dell has implemented the latest 6th Generation Intel Skylake mobile processors, namely the Core i3-6100H, Core i5-6300HQ, and Core i7-6700HQ. Graphics duties are performed either by the integrated Intel HD 530 or an NVIDIA GTX 960M GPU, and 8GB of DDR4 memory comes standard with options up to 32GB available (and this is SoDIMM memory so users can upgrade later as well).
Image credit: Windows Central
- 6th Gen Intel Core i3-6100H (3M Cache, up to 2.7 GHz)
- 6th Gen Intel Core i5-6300HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.2 GHz)
- 6th Gen Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core (6M Cache, up to 3.5 GHz)
- Display: 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) InfinityEdge display or 15.6" UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840x2160) InfinityEdge touch display
- RAM: 8GB, 16GB or 32GB DDR4 at 2133 MHz (32GB post-RTS) (2 x SoDIMMs)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 2GB GDDR5
- Storage: 500GB HDD + 32GB Flash or 1TB HDD + 32GB Flash
- 256GB PCIe SSD, 512GB PCIe SSD, or 1TB PCIe SSD
- Camera: Widescreen HD (720p) webcam
- Ports and Connectors: HDMI, USB 3.0 (x2), Headset Jack, SD card reader, Kensington Lock slot, Thunderbolt 3
- Dimensions: 11-17mm x 357mm x 235mm
- Weight: Non-touch, starting at 3.9 lbs; Touch, starting at 4.4 lbs
The new Dell XPS 15 is available today and prices start at $999.
A Diverse Lineup
ThinkPads have always been one of our favorite notebook brands here at PC Perspective. While there certainly has been some competition from well-designed portables such as the Dell XPS 13 and Microsoft Surface Pro 3, the ThinkPad line remains a solid choice for power users.
We had the chance to look at a lot of Lenovo's ThinkPad lineup for Broadwell, and as this generation comes to a close we decided to give a brief overview of the diversity available. Skylake-powered notebooks may be just on the horizon, but the comparisons of form factor and usability should remain mostly applicable into the next generation.
Within the same $1200-$1300 price range, Lenovo offers a myriad of portable machines with roughly the same hardware in vastly different form factors.
First, let's take a look at the more standard ThinkPads.
Lenovo ThinkPad T450s
The ThinkPad T450s is my default recommendation for anyone looking for a notebook in the $1000+ range. Featuring a 14" 1080p display and an Intel Core i5-5300U processor, it will perform great for the majority of users. While you won't be using this machine for 3D Modeling or CAD/CAM applications, general productivity tasks will feel right at home here.
Technically classified as an Ultrabook, the T450s won't exactly be turning any heads with it's thinness. Lenovo strikes a balance here, making the notebook as thin as possible at 0.83" while retaining features such as a gigabit Ethernet port, 3 USB 3.0 Ports, an SD card reader, and plenty of display connectivity with Mini DisplayPort and VGA.
Subject: Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 07:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ROG, notebook, ifa, gx700, gaming notebook, gaming laptop, asus
IFA is turning out to be an odd place full of weird announcements focused on PC gaming and enthusiasts rather than just mobile phones and electronics. ASUS has gone in the completely opposite direction today, announcing not just a series of gaming notebooks but a new series that is water cooled. I'm not making that up.
That is the new ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers) GX700 series of gaming notebooks, coming in the 4th quarter of 2015. Looking for a price? You won't find it here but you will find a lot of interesting technology. This is what ASUS claims about the GX700:
- All-new flagship gaming laptop
- 4K 17-inch display
- Water-cooling system with pump/radiator
- Mobile K-series CPU with overclocking
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX graphics (TBD)
A 4K screen in a 17-inch form factor is going to...have exceptionally small pixels. Clearly this is going to need quite a bit of Windows-based text and format scaling to make sure the desktop experience is usable. ASUS is using the new K-series Skylake processor that is unlocked and allows for overclocking in the same way you do so in the desktop market.
Oh, and what's this? An unannounced mobile GeForce GTX GPU? I doubt this is anything more than a currently shipping Maxwell GPU with some additional horsepower behind it, possibly more closely matching performance of the desktop GTX 980 Ti.
And of course, let's talk about the water cooling system. I asked for more details but ASUS wasn't budging. Clearly if you market this as a notebook there has to be portability to the device so expect that large portion that is front in center in the above picture to detach with quick connections to the notebook housing. That large external base will likely hold the pump, radiator, reservoir and even some docking functions like display connections, USB, etc. With water cooling and an unlocked Skylake processor you should expect some impressive overclocking capability considering the form factor!
I would assume that if you disconnect the machine to take on the road without the water cooling base the hardware would run at slower speeds with normal in-case fans as we see with other designs on the market today.
This sound amazing, crazy and kind of senseless, but I need to try it right away. Expect to pay top dollar for something like this especially considering the component cost of the screen, CPU, GPU, etc. not to mention the specific engineering for the new housing and design. I'll keep my eyes out for more information on the ASUS ROG GX700!
Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 2, 2015 - 06:00 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: V Nitro, Skylake, NVMe, nvidia, notebook, mu-mimo, laptop, IFA 2015, geforce, aspire V, acer
Acer’s updated V Nitro notebook series has been announced, and the notebooks have received the newest Intel mobile processors and have been fully updated with the latest connectivity some advanced wireless tech.
The Aspire V 13
"The refreshed Aspire V Nitro Series notebooks and Aspire V 13 support the latest USB 3.1 Type-C port, while 'Black Edition' Aspire V Nitro models support Thunderbolt 3, which brings Thunderbolt to USB Type-C at speeds up to 40Gbps. All models include Qualcomm VIVE 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Qualcomm MU | EFX MU-MIMO technology."
MU-MIMO devices are just starting to hit the market and the tech promises to eliminate bottlenecks when multiple devices are in use on the same network – with compatible adapters/routers, that is.
The Aspire V 15 Nitro
What kind of hardware will be offered? Here’s a brief overview:
- 6th Gen Intel Core processors
- Up to 32GB DDR4 system memory
- NVIDIA GeForce graphics
- (SATA) SSD/SSHD/HDD storage options
- Touchscreen option added for the 15-inch model
Additionally, the “Black Edition” models offer a 4K 100% Adobe RGB display option, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M up to 4GB, NVMe SSDs, and something called “AeroBlade” thermal exhaust, which Acer said has “the world’s thinnest metallic blades of just 0.1mm thin, which are stronger and quieter”.
The Aspire V 17 Nitro
Pricing will start at $599 for the V Nitro 13, $999 for the V Nitro 15, and $1099 for the V Nitro 17. All versions will be available in the U.S. in October.
The Dell Venue 10 7000 Series tablet features a stunning 10.5" OLED screen and is designed to mate perfectly with the optional keyboard. So how does it perform as both a laptop and a tablet? Read on for the full review!
To begin with I will simply say the keyboard should not be an optional accessory. There, I've said it. As I used the Venue 10 7000, which arrived bundled with the keyboard, I was instantly excited about this design. The Venue 10 is a device that is as remarkable for its incredible screen as much as any other feature, but once coupled with the magnetically attached keyboard becomes something more - and quite different than existing implementations of the transforming tablet. More than a simple accessory the keyboard felt like it was really a part of the device when connected, and made it feel like a real laptop.
I'm getting way ahead of myself here so let's go back to the beginning, and back to a world where one might consider purchasing this tablet by itself. At $499 for the 16GB model you might reasonably ask how it compares to the identically-priced Apple iPad Air 2. Well, most of the comparison is going to be software/app related as the Venue 10 7000 is running Android 5.1 Lollipop, and of course the iPad runs iOS. The biggest difference between these tablets (besides the keyboard integration) becomes the 10.5-inch, 2560x1600 OLED screen, and oh what a screen it is!
Gaming laptops are something that most people are quick to reject as out of their price range. There is a lot of sense in this train of thought. We know that laptop components are inherently lower performing than their desktop counterparts, and significantly more expensive. So the idea of spending more money for less powerful components seems like a bad trade off for the added gains of portability for many gamers.
However, we also seem to be in a bit of a plateau as far as generation-to-generation performance gain with desktop components. Midrange processors from a few generations ago are still more than capable of playing the vast majority of games, and even lower-end modern GPUs are able to game at 1080p.
So maybe it's time to take another look at the sub-$1000 gaming notebook options, and that's exactly what we are doing today with the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro Black Edition.
The Aspire V Nitro is equipped with fairly modest components when compared to what most people think of gaming laptops as. Where machines such as the MSI GT70 Dominator or ASUS G751 seem to take the kitchen sink approach towards mobile gaming machines, The Aspire V is a more carefully balanced option.
|Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro Black Edition|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-4720HQ 2.6 GHz|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GTX 960M 4GB|
|Storage||1 TB Hard Drive|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||15.34" x 10.14" x 0.86" - 0.94"|
Anchored by an Intel Core i7-4720HQ and a GTX 960M, the Aspire V Nitro isn't trying to reach to the top stack of mobile performance. A 15.6" display along with 8GB of RAM, and a single 1TB spindle drive are all logical choices for a machine aimed towards gaming on a budget.
While it's difficult for us to recommend that you buy any machine without an SSD these days, a 1TB drive is great for game storage on a machine like there. There are also other configurations optiosn which add SATA M.2 SSDs alongside the 1TB drive, and we managed to open up our sample and put an SSD in ourselves with little pain.