Introduction, Design, User Interface
As you may already know from my ultrabook editorial, I’m not entirely sold on them. There are disadvantages to being thin.
And as if to remind me of it, a Lenovo ThinkPad T420 suddenly appeared at my doorstep. Okay, that’s exaggerating a bit - I did know it was coming - but the timing of receiving an old-school laptop couldn't have been better. Not only because I wanted to take a closer look at a laptop purposely designed to not be thin, but also because we haven’t had a ThinkPad T series for review in, well, forever.
This is a return to form for me. I owned several ThinkPads during my late teens, my college days, and the years just after college. My favorite was a T42 with a 14-inch display.
Of course, laptops have come a long way since then. The ThinkPad T420 we received for review is a good example of a mid-range model. Let’s look at the hardware specifications.
According to Lenovo’s website, this configuration is the second pre-configured option available. It can be had for about $1000 after an eCoupon provided by Lenovo. All of the features above are standard, even the 1600x900 display and Nvidia graphics. They are standard only for this model, however - some less powerful versions are available at lower prices.
The only option that came with our review unit was a 9-cell battery, which will set you back $50. We received both the 6-cell and the 9-cell batteries, so we will be testing the laptop’s battery life with both.
Introduction, Design, User Interface, Display And Audio Quality
We have a lot of laptop reviews here at PC Perspective. As you’d expect, we generally use the same benchmarks and use the same principles whenever reviewing a laptop.
Yet we’ve never before put all of this down in writing so that our readers could understand exactly what we’re doing. Since this is a new year with new laptops to review, now is a good time introduce new benchmarks and get rid of old ones - which also makes this a good time to share information with our readers.
The first page of any laptop review here at PC Perspective is dominated by some very subjective criteria.
Design comes first, and is also the most subjective. It refers to a laptop’s build quality, general layout and attractiveness. This is where we comment on a laptop’s aesthetics, and it’s also where we comment on a laptop’s perceived durability. We look at details like the display hinges, the chassis, the display lid and overall material quality. An ideal laptop design is attractive to the eye, pleasurable to touch, and feels sturdy in normal use.
Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 06:21 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, ultrathin, trinity, piledriver, PC, notebook, low power, amd, 17 watt
Intel is the driving force behind the Ultrabook platform, a category of thin and light notebooks that are ideally less than $1,000 USD and deliver solid mobile performance and battery life. AMD is still playing catch up in CPU performance; however, they have been moderately successful with their Llano APU parts due to the better integrated GPU versus Intel's graphics processor. With Trinity, the successor to Llano, AMD is claiming up to 25% faster CPU performance and a 50% increase in graphics processor performance, and all while sipping half the power of current Llano chips.
The 17 watt TDP Trinity die.
It seems that AMD has seen the Ultrabook boom that Intel is experiencing and wants a piece of the action. Thanks to the Trinity performance improvements and power sipping TDPs, AMD is confident that it can design and market thin and light notebooks of their own. They plan to market their notebooks as "Ultrathins." Exact hardware specifications of the Ultrathins are not known. We do know that they will be powered by dual and quad core 17 watt TDP versions of the AMD Trinity APU, which you can read more about here. The company is planning for its Ultrathins to start at $500 USD, a few hundred less than the lowest cost Ultrabooks from Intel. Beyond that, we can only speculate. Fortunately, we may not have to wait long for more information as AMD plans to reveal more information about their Ultrathin strategy next month at their financial analyst meeting, according to Ars.
A Trinity powered laptop at CES
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Editorial | December 8, 2011 - 05:44 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: revodrive hybrid, podcast, nvidia, notebook, Intel, hybrid, asus, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #181 - 12/08/2011
Join us this week as we talk about our Hybrid Storage Roundup, the ASUS US36SD-XA1 notebook, News of the week and more!
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Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano
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MSI has announced two notebook computers with optional Intel Core i7 quad core processors and supporting a slew of fast data transfer standards including Intel’s Wireless Display technology, HDMI, Bluetooth 3.0, and USB 3.0. The Intel Wireless Display technology is capable of transmitting 1080p in addition to 5.1 audio to HDTVs without wires, and is available on both new models. The X460 and X460DX chassis is constructed of a metal alloy with feather patterns and an aluminum palm rest as well as room for a second internal hard drive. The models comes equipped with batteries that MSI claims are capable of up to 8 hours of power. Both models also come equipped with either Windows 7 Home or Windows 7 Professional.
Dubbed the X460 and X460DX, the X-Slim series of notebook computers has received a fresh update. The X460 weighs in at 1.98 kg (~4.36 lbs), is less than 1” thick and bears a 14” form factor. MSI claims the notebook is the lightest Core i7 quad core packing computer currently out. Further the X460 is able to use Intel’s second gen “Sandy Bridge” Core i7 2630QM or the Core i5 2410M processors. The X460 sticks with the Intel processor graphics (HD 3000). The X460DX on the other hand comes with an Intel Core i5 2410M processor and a discrete NVIDIA GT540M with MSI’s GPU Boost graphics switching technology. To be more specific, the new models come with the following specifications.
Core i7 2630QM
Core i5 2410M
|Core i5 2410M|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 3000||
HD Graphics 3000
|RAM||DDR3 up to 8GB||DDR3 up to 8GB|
|Display||14" HD LED Backlit (1366 x 768)||14" HD LED Backlit (1366 x 768)|
|I/O and Ports||
|Dimensions||23.91 (W) x 33.9 (D) x 2.23 (H) cm||23.91 (W) x 33.9 (D) x 2.23 (H) cm|
|Weight||1.98 kg with 6 cell battery||2.00 kg with 6 cell battery|
No word yet on prices or availability; however, the brushed aluminum look never seems to get old and the specifications seem decent. What are your thoughts on the new models?
Subject: Mobile | July 8, 2011 - 03:15 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sandy bridge, notebook, mobile, gateway, AMD A series
Gateway recently unveiled two new updated notebooks from their ID and NV series. Featuring HDMI, USB 3.0, LED backlit displays, and powered by Intel Sandy Bridge (2nd generation Core) processors, the ID47 and NV57 (and NV55) notebooks bring a welcome refresh to their lineup. The updated notebooks further feature 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, a 1.3MP webcam, and battery lives of 8 hours for the ID series and 4 hours for the NV notebooks.
An interesting addition to the traditional laptop layout of speakers, keyboard, and touchpad is a number of hot keys that launch social widgets to access the various social networks including Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr. Users are then able to post updates and upload images and videos in addition to viewing the social network’s feeds.
The ID47 notebook with brushed metal design
The Gateway ID47 is a traditional 13” chassis that holds a 14” LED backlit HD display with full edge to edge glass. The chassis itself comes into two designs, either an “Infinity Blue” or a “Brushed Platinum” look that Gateway claims resembles tranquil water and an industrial look respectively. Regardless of which design one chooses, the top right of the aluminum notebook lid features a stainless steel laser-engraved logo.
Further, a revamped keyboard, 20% larger trackpad, integrated DVD drive, and a mesh speaker bar. The notebook’s full dimensions are 12.97 (width) x 8.95 (depth) x .85 to 1.13 (height) inches. Gateway claims that the notebook is comfortable to carry and easily portable.
In Canada, certain ID series notebook models will be available with a 15.6 in HD widescreen LED backlit displays, and will be further powered by NVIDIA GeForce GT graphics and will use NVIDIA Optimus switchable graphics technology.
On the other hand, the NV series is a 15.6” form factor, and has a 15.6” HD LED backlit display. The new notebooks also come in two design flavors, including a geometric pattern or a digital wave pattern on the matte chassis lid. The chassis further features a chiclet keyboard and geometric or digital wave pattern on the palm rest. The NV series is then further broken up, into the NV57 and NV55 series. The NV57 notebooks are powered by Intel Sandy Bridge processors and Intel HD Graphics 3000 with 128 MB of dedicated system memory for the processor-integrated GPU. In contrast, the NV55 laptops are powered by AMD A series processors.
The ID and NV series are available for purchase now at retailers around the US and Canada with a MSRP starting at $699.99 US and $799.00 CAD for the ID series and $529.99 US and $499.00 CAD. On the bundled software side of things, the notebooks come with Windows 7 Home Premium, a backup program called MyBackup, in addition to “useful extras including Nook for PC, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Reader, WildTangent Demo Games, Skype, Norton Online Backup, and Microsoft® Office 2010 (preloaded for online purchase).”
Subject: Mobile | June 29, 2011 - 09:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: notebook, gtx 580m, gaming, AVADirect
Hot on the trail of NVIDIA's latest 580M mobile graphics release, AVADirect has just announced that it will be incorporating the new graphics chip into their gaming focused Clevo notebook lineup. The 15.6" P150HM, 17.3" P170HM and 17.3" X7200 gaming notebooks will be the first to receive the upgrade, and will be made configurable with the new mobile graphics chip today. Further, the new notebooks with the GTX 580M will be shipping out to customers according to their advertised time frame starting today.
Because the GTX 580M uses the same MXM module as the preceeding 400M graphics cards, laptops with the older chip will be able to be upgraded to the GTX 580M easily, according to AVADirect who further stated that the chip uses less power and has a smaller footprint than the 485M.
In addition to recieving the updated graphics card, the three Clevo gaming notebooks all feature HDMI, USB 3.0, SATA III 6 Gbps, Intel Sandy Bridge processors, DDR3 SODIMMS at 1600 MHz, and the option of a SSD (Solid State Drive). The three notebooks further feature a Full HD 1080P 16:9 display, that the GTX 580M should easily power with cranked up visuals on today's latest games.
Acer recently announced two new additions to its Ethos notebook lineup, which specialize in HD media and gaming. The Acer Aspire Ethos AS59516 and Ethos AS89516 specifically, feature all black, brushed aluminum chassis with a magnesium alloy cover. A 1.3 megapixel webcam, back-lit keyboard, and a scratch resistant Gorilla Glass LCD display are features of both models. External Ports include HDMI, USB 3.0, a combination USB/eSATA port. Further, internal hardware includes Intel’s 2nd generation Core i5 or Core i7 processors, up to 16 GB of RAM, between 500GB and 1.5TB of hard drive storage, a NVIDIA GT550M, and a WiFi radio, and Blu-Ray (or DVD) optical drive are all available options.
The removable touchpad/remote.
With the general hardware out of the way, the most interesting feature that the two models share is a new touchpad that is able to detach from the laptop and act as a media remote control. Upon removal, the touchpad can be oriented horizontally or vertically and presents LED buttons to start, pause, and play music “from across the room.” While the idea of a removable remote has been done before, on HP notebooks especially, the integration into the touchpad will certainly encourage me to not misplace the remote lest I be forced to memorize keyboard shortcuts to use the computer. Further, the remote control does provide controls for easy music playback; therefore, this seems like a good evolution of the idea that Acer has on their hands.
The AS59516 is the smaller of the two new notebooks, and features a 15.6” display at 1366x768 resolution. On the audio side of things, it features 5.1 surround sound output in addition to two built-in speakers and “TubaBooster” technology which seeks to enhance the bass of the sound. The laptop has a starting MSRP of $1399.99 USD, and will be available this week at numerous retailers.
On the other hand, the AS89516 is a much larger affair, which sports a 18.4” display and HD 1920x1080 resolution. It further includes five dolby-tuned built-in speakers in addition to a subwoofer using Acer CineSurround and CineBass technology. The notebook carries a MSRP of $1599.99 USD and will also be available for purchase starting this week. You can check out more images of the new notebooks over at cnet.
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 5, 2011 - 12:19 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: x101, ux01, notebook, laptop, computex, asus
ASUS had a lot of new and innovative products on display at Computex, but maybe none as interesting as these two notebooks. The UX21 was the flagship product for Intel's new "Ultrabook" category and while we have already posted about it earlier, I thought these new photos would be worth sharing.
The UX21 is an ultra-thin 1.7cm at its widest and weighs only 1.1 Kg fully loaded. It will include the ASUS "Instant On" technology, resuming the system in just 5 seconds and is claimed as the first notebooks with a SATA 6G SSD.
Sporting a new ULV Sandy Bridge Core i7 processor, this system won't skimp on performance either if it lives up to its claims.
More photos and information after the break!!
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 12, 2011 - 05:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, notebook, msi, computex
VR-Zone reports that MSI is gearing up for a large Computex showing, and will unveil 5 new mobile products to it's existing platforms.
Among the rumored launches are two tablets and three notebooks. On the tablet side of things, both a Tegra 2 and AMD Brazos powered tablet are in the works. The WindPad 100A will be powered by a Tegra 2 SoC and will run Android 2.3 in lieu of Honeycomb due to rumored hardware compatibilities. The AMD Brazos platform brings AMD's fusion processor and graphics to the mobile space. The WindPad 110W, the follow up to the Intel Atom powered 100W, will utilize the Brazos SoC running Windows 7.
As far as notebooks, the gaming lineup, C series, and X series will all see a refresh. The GT683 will be a 15" gaming notebook. The CX480 will update the C series with a rumored 14" form factor. Finally, MSI's thin and light notebook lineup will receive the X460.
VR-Zone further states that "MSI is also said to be losing interest in netbooks due to declining demand and is refocusing on its notebook products as the company is expecting a 10 to 15 percent growth in notebook shipments this year, not taking tablets into account."