Introduction and Design
In the realm of hulking, powerful gaming laptops, Alienware remains king by popular vote. Whatever you think of their laptops (as always, popularity attracts criticism) there is no denying that the Alienware name stands for something among gamers. And to most, they're a dream machine, the laptop equivilent of a Ferrari 458 Italia.
The purpose of a review, of course, is to move past reputation and judge the true capabilities of a product. And in the case of the Alienware M17x, there's a lot to judge. We’ll talk about its bulk later, but I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that this laptop has big bones as well as serious hardware.
One paper, the stars seem to align. But this market remains competitive, thanks to not only to boutique outfits like Origin and Maingear but also to ASUS, which is still on its gaming laptop war-path, producing affordable rigs that can be had for surprisingly little dough. With competition on all sides, can the Alienware justify its $2500 price of entry? Let’s find out.
Subject: Mobile | November 12, 2011 - 04:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: iphone, iOS 5, battery issue, apple
Owners of Apples’ latest iOS devices (especially 3GS, 4, and 4S iphones) have recently run into some battery life issues. Allyn did some testing and found that the latest iOS 5 operating system has a bug (among others) the phone is not able to enter standby mode thanks to a rogue process keeping the phone awake and wasting battery life. Apple was slated to put out the iOS 5.0.1 update, which was supposed to fix the battery life issues.
Well, the update has been released and many users are still experiencing battery life issues. Apple gave a statement to AllThingsD where it stated that although the recent iOS update addressed many of the battery issues, “we continue to investigate a few remaining issues.” According to this poll, approximately 35% (1,822 participants) are having the same battery issues after the update and nearly 14% are experiencing even worse battery issues than before the update. Conversely, almost 18% (910 participants) of people are getting improved battery life from the update. Lastly, a bit over 33% have not reported not experiencing any battery issues. The poll is currently based on a total of 5,145 respondents.
According to Apple, the battery issues are software related, so here’s hoping that they will get their iphones in a row and release an update to fix the issues. More information on Apple’s statement can be found here. Did the update fix your iphone’s battery woes?
Subject: Mobile | November 9, 2011 - 07:08 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: just delivered, Samsung, Infuse 4g, froyo, AT%26T, Android
Just Delivered is a new section of PC Perspective where we share some of the goodies that pass through our labs that may or may not see a review, but are pretty cool none the less.
I've been rocking an aging Nokia N900 smart phone for quite some time now. It was a good phone but I felt that it was time to take advantage of the upgrade pricing, and pick up a new phone with better support and hardware. Fed Ex today dropped off a smart phone in this ever unassuming box. Let's hope the phone is shinier than the box!
After opening the box and taking out all of the components, I was left with quite a bit of kit. The phone in question is a Samsung Infuse 4G (for AT&T), and the box includes all the various retail odds and endsa that go with it. The Android smart phone is fairly thin, and although made of plastic it feels sturdy. Weighting in at 4.9 ounces, the phone resembles a small tablet with a massive 4.5" Super AMOLED+ capacitive multi-touch display with a resolution of 480 by 800 pixels. Powering the display is a single core Hummingbird processor running at 1.2 GHz, 512 MB of RAM, and 16 GB of internal storage via an internal microSD card. Unfortunately, the phone is only running Android 2.2 and Samsung is using their own TouchWiz UI on top of the OS. Despite that, the phone does still feel very snappy in terms of scrolling, bringing up menus, and transitioning between applications. I'll have to play around with it some more though.
Notable accessories Included in the box are a 1750 mAh battery, 2 GB MicroSD card (and SD card adapter), and wired headset as shown in the image below. Also a nice touch is a combination USB/AC charger and USB cable, which will be easier to manage than carrying around two chargers for my old phone (the AC charger and separate USB cable). The phone is capable of supporting up to a 32 GB microSDHC card for maximum storage.
As far as very first impressions go, I'm really liking the Samsung Infuse. Although the display is one of the largest on a phone I've ever used, the phone is surprisingly light. It doesn't hurt that the display is very sharp and the colors are great, either. Now excuse me while I run out and get a screen protector before I scratch this thing!
Subject: Mobile | November 9, 2011 - 01:00 AM | Matt Smith
Tagged: tegra 3, tegra, tablet, quad-core, kal-el, eee pad, asus, Android
ASUS Eee Pad Prime
Rumors have been swirling around the ASUS Prime tablet and dock, successors to the popular ASUS Eee Pad Transformer, for months. Today, many of those rumors can rest, as ASUS has taken the wraps off the tablet's official specifications.
The big story for enthusiasts is the tablet’s NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor. Provided that the product makes its anticipated December release (the exact date has yet to be announced), this will be the first tablet to hit the market with Tegra 3 as well as the first Android tablet to sport a quad-core. You can read some more details that Ryan discussed about Tegra 3 and its five (5?!?) cores, by checking out this post from September.
NVIDIA Kal-El / Tegra 3 Processor
As the follow-up to the Transformer, the Prime offers many of the same features including the keyboard dock. However, the Prime is improved across the board. The tablet is just 8.3 millimeters thin, making it the thinnest tablet on the market (the next thinnest is the 8.6mm Galaxy Tab 10.1, while the iPad 2 is 8.8mm). Weight has been reduced to 586 grams (1.29 lbs), down from 680. The rear-facing camera now sports an 8MP sensor, the battery in both the tablet and the optional dock is slightly larger, and base storage is now 32GB, with a 64GB model available as an optional upgrade. Even the display has been improved via a new brightness enhancement function that promises to make the tablet easier to use in sunlight.
Even the design has been upgraded. Unlike the Transformer, which has a plastic back, the Prime has a “spun metallic” finish. It will be available in amethyst gray and champagne gold.
The battery tests from ASUS put the Prime at 12 hours of life on its own and 18 hours with the keyboard dock while playing back 720p video with all ports enabled and the screen brightness at 60 nits.
Despite all of these improvements, the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer will not be going away. In fact, it will be remaining at its current price. Instead, the Prime is entering the market as a “premium” product built to compete directly with the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1. The base Prime model with 32GBs of storage is $499, while the 64GB model is $599. As with the original, purchasing the optional keyboard dock will set you back another $149.
ASUS claims that the Prime will in fact ship with Android 3.2 in its initial release with an over-the-air updated to 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) as soon as it has been "optimized, tested and approved". They weren't willing to put a date or time frame on that release but they are planning on using the 4.0 OS revision at the launch event coming in December; that seems to indicate to us we may have it in time for CES in January 2012.
When PC Perspective reviewed the Transformer, I called it “the best Android tablet on the market today.” The thinner, lighter, more powerful Prime should be a significant improvement to an already excellent product. My only concerns were with the dock itself, which was sometimes finicky and added a fair amount of bulk. It’ll be interesting to see if the Prime can address those concerns.
Subject: Mobile | November 8, 2011 - 02:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: msi, gaming laptop, GT683R
MSI's new gaming notebook has a 2.6GHz i5-2410M, a GTX560M 1.5GB and a strangely unbalanced RAM setup with a single 4GB and a single 2GB stick of DDR3. Externally, two USB 3.0 and two USB2.0 are available, a single eSATA port, four audio jacks, a card reader and HDMI and VGA will give you external video. The external video may be quite important to you if you plan on gaming as the default 1366x768 resolution will not stress the GTX560M. Drop by Madshrimps for a complete look at MSI's competitively priced GT683R gaming laptop.
"After testing MSI's GT780 gaming notebook I must admit I was pretty impressed by it's allround and gaming performance. Of course, a high end gaming notebook also carries a pretty beefy price tag. big screen , decent powerful GPU and CPU, 8Gb of ram, dual harddrives. Well the price tag for the included components was fair, but what happens if you want a gaming notebook and don't have 1500 euros to cash out? Todays reviewed MSI GT683R laptop might have you covered for a fraction of the price. The specifications of the GT683 don't seem that impressive at first glance, but maybe it can still pack some serious punch. Let's open the box and see what's inside."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Asus Zenbook UX31E @ The Inquirer
- Dell Vostro V131 Review @ Tech-Reviews
- Asus U46SV-DH51 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Acer Aspire 5755-6482 Review @ TechReviewSource
- HP EliteBook 8560w Review @ TechReviewSource
- HTC Titan video review @ The Inquirer
- HP TouchSmart 610: For Business or Pleasure @ AnandTech
- Samsung Galaxy Ace Review @ Tech-Reviews
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Review @ Tech-Reviews
- Storage Options 7" Scroll Capacitive Multi-Touch Screen Tablet Review @ eTeknix
- AViiQ Smart Case for iPad 2 @ kitguru
- Cygnett Imperial iPhone 4 Case Review @ ThinkComputers
- Samsung’s Bada 2.0 on the Wave III @ The Inquirer
- Motorola Droid 3 Cell Phone Review @ Hardware Secrets
- Apple iPhone 4S: Thoroughly Reviewed @ AnandTech
- Apple iPhone 4S Review: iOS 5 + Siri @ Techspot
Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | November 7, 2011 - 01:16 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: m18x, m17x, hd 6990m, gtx 580m, alienware
If you read our recent mobility GPU comparison using the Alienware M17x, you might have wondered why the price on the GTX 580M was $300 more than that of the Radeon HD 6990M when performance was so close. Well, I guess you can no longer say we didn't do anything to help the consumers (you wouldn't say that, would you?) because today Alienware has dropped the price of the GTX 580M by $225!!
It looks like Alienware and NVIDIA have listened to our feedback and decided to drop the price on the GeForce GTX 580M on the M17x, M18x and others - and by quite a bit! As of this writing you can go to the Alienware.com website and now upgrade from the HD 6990M to the GTX 580M for only $75 - that is a $225 price drop compared to last week.
What does this do for our opinions and thoughts on the battle between the HD 6990M and the GTX 580M? I think it makes the added benefits of the NVIDIA ecosystem (Optimus, 3D, Verde driver updates, PhysX) much more attainable and in my book well worth the additional cost. With this price change, Alienware has really shifted my view on the mobile GPU of choice.
I am going to update my award from the Gold to the Editor's Choice for NVIDIA's GTX 580M for this specific reason - be sure to read the full review if you haven't already! Happy gaming!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 6, 2011 - 08:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, slate 2, psg, hp, business, atom
Not long after HP reconsidered spinning off the PC manufacturing arm of the company, it has begun prepping two new business computers. The new PCs are aimed at business, education, healthcare, and government users and include a tablet and notebook. Specifically, HP is releasing the HP Slate 2 tablet computer and a lightweight notebook dubbed the HP 3115m.
The HP Slate 2 is a dark gray and silver accented slate style tablet computer weighing in at 1.5 lbs and a 8.9” (diagonal) screen. Running Windows 7, the computer offers both pen and touch input using its capacitive multi-touch display. To make up for the absence of a hardware keyboard, HP is including a new Swype keyboard application which will likely be well received as a notable improvement over the default Windows 7 on screen keyboard. As it is aimed at business users, several security enhancements are baked in, including a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip, HP ProtectTools, and Computrace Pro BIOS level security software.
On the hardware side of things, the HP tablet is powered by an Intel Atom Z670 processor and a mSATA compatible SSD. A front facing VGA camera is available for video conferencing, and a second 3 MP (megapixel) camera is located on the back providing photo and video capture. Further, the tablet features SRS Premium Sound, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, optional 3G mobile broadband, an SD card slot, and USB 2.0 ports. HP is further designing a docking station, integrated Bluetooth keyboard tablet case, and a Point of Sale (POS) attachment that adds a magnetic card reader to the tablet for processing credit card payments.
For those that would prefer a hardware keyboard instead of a tablet PC, HP is also releasing a lightweight notebook. The company claims that the new HP 3115m laptop will offer up to 11.5 hours of battery life. The PC features a 11.6” LED-backlit HD display, an HP webcam, and Beats Audio. Powering the laptop is a AMD E450 dual core Fusion APU. The APU features AMD Radeon HD 6320 graphics hardware, which should easily meet the needs of road warriors and business professionals.
Both the HP Slate 2 and 3115m will be available later this month. The HP Slate 2 will be available worldwide towards the end of the month while the 3115m will be available November 11th in North and South America only. More photos can be found here.
The Alienware M17x Giveth
Mobile graphics cards are really a different beast than the desktop variants. Despite have similar names and model numbers, the specifications vary greatly as the GTX 580M isn't equivalent to the GTX 580 and the HD 6990M isn't even a dual-GPU product. Also, getting the capability to do a direct head-to-head is almost always a tougher task thanks to the notebook market's penchant for single-vendor SKUs.
Over the past week or two, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a pair of Alienware M17x notebooks, one sporting the new AMD Radeon HD 6990M discrete graphics solution and the other with the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M.
AMD Radeon HD 6990M on the left; NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580M on the right
Also unlike the desktop market - the time from announcement of a new mobile GPU product to when you can actually BUY a system including it tends to be pretty long. Take the two GPUs we are looking at today for example: the HD 6990M launched in July and we are only just now finally seeing machines ship in volume; the GTX 580M in June.
Well, problems be damned, we had the pair in our hands for a few short days and I decided to put them through the ringer in our GPU testing suite and added Battlefield 3 in for good measure as well. The goal was to determine which GPU was actually the "world's fastest" as both companies claimed to be.
Introduction, Design and Display Quality
I’m a multi-monitor addict.
My addiction started many years ago. I had a rather lame customer service job, and as part of my job I needed to manage spreadsheets with customer interactions while also filling in data on a separate, large window. To accomplish this, two monitors were required. I was amazed at the efficiency of the setup, and I bought a second monitor for home use within a few months. Now, I can’t imagine using my desktop with a single display.
Laptops, however, are a different story. Multiple displays can actually be even more useful for road warriors because of the limited resolution of many laptops, yet there are issues with using multiple monitors on the road. Carrying around even a relatively small desktop monitor is out of the question, leaving few options.
Enter the Lenovo LT1421. This unique mobile monitor has a 14” panel and, according to Lenovo, it’s portable enough to be carried about with minimal hassle. Has the company managed to create a unique, must-have product for mobile productivity, or is multi-monitor use with a laptop still a concept that’s better on paper than in reality?
Down to Business
While I'm mostly a PC guy, I favor iPhones. My friends always jab at me because I'm a fairly die-hard techie, and they expect me to be sporting the latest overclocked super-smartphone with eleventy-thousand gigs and a built-in dishwasher. While my phone used to be included in the list of things I tinker with endlessly, I eventually came to the point where I just wanted my smallest mobile device to 'Just Work' for those tasks I needed it to. I just didn't have the time to tinker endlessly with the thing that handled more and more of my work-related duties, yet as a techie, I still enjoyed the ability to cram a bunch of functionality into my pocket. That led me to the iPhone, which I've used since 2008.
Like many iPhone users, I've upgraded through the various iterations over the years. The original, 3G, 3GS, 4, and most recently the 4S. I've also witnessed nearly every iteration of Apple's iOS (including many of the betas). Throughout all of these, I feel Apple did their best to prevent new versions from breaking application functionality, and while they did their best to keep bugs under control, every so often a few would creep in - typically with cross-compatibility of new features that could only be tested in a limited capacity before being released into the wild.
Apple's iPhone 4S introduced some added features to their line-up - enough to get me to bite the bullet earlier than I typically do. I was a bit of an iOS 5 veteran by then, as I'd been using it to test applications for a developer friend of mine. While some of the iOS 5 betas were a bit unruly in the battery life category, those problems appeared to be sorted out by the last and final beta prior to release. With my reservations against the new OS put to rest, the only thing holding me back was the possibility of the new dual core CPU drawing more power than the iPhone 4. The iFixit teardown (which revealed a higher capacity battery - presumably to counter power draw of the additional CPU), coupled with the improved camera and witnessing the endless toying around with Siri finally got me to bite the bullet.
I picked up a 4S from my local Apple Store, restored from the backup of my 4, and off I went. I enjoyed the phone for a few days, but quickly realized there was some sort of issue with battery life. The most glaring indicator was one night where I forgot to plug the 4S in before bed. The next morning I was surprised to find that nearly 40% of the charge was lost while I slept - almost enough to completely shut down the phone (and failing to wake me with the alarm I'd gleefully set via Siri the night before).