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 - 03:03 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: notebook, Ivy Bridge, hp, elitebook, business
HP has updated its EliteBook lineup by adding three new Ivy Bridge powered notebooks. The 14” 8470W, 15.6” 8570W, and 17.3” 8770W notebooks all pack either dual core Core i5 or quad core Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors and discreet graphics cards. They will each be available for purchase in June for prices starting at $1,329, $1,449, and $1,699 USD for the 8470W, 8570W, and 8770W respectively.
HP has announced an update to its business W-series EliteBook lineup that includes Intel’s latest Ivy Bridge processors and recent discreet graphics cards. The new EliteBooks nestle the hardware in a dust resistant magnesium aluminum chassis with other nice features like glass touchpads and aluminum-alloy hinges. The 15.6” and 17.3” models can further be outfitted with an optional IPS “HP DreamColor” display. Other technology supported by the EliteBook W-series includes Intel’s Smart Response Technology, SRS Premium Sound PRO, and HP Performance Advisor.
The HP 8470W notebook features a 14” diagonal HD display (though the press release did not state a specific resolution), an Intel Core i5 Ivy Bridge processor, and AMD FirePro workstation-class graphics. The HP 8570W and HP 8770W are larger versions of the EliteBook line that can be upgraded beyond that of the HP 8470W with SSD options, Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processors, NVIDIA Quadro Kepler-based series graphics, and IPS displays. The new notebooks also support USB 3.0 and up to 32GB of DDR3 1600MHz RAM.
The three notebooks will be available later this month for prices starting at $1,329 for the HP 8470W, $1,449 for the 8570W, and $1,699 USD for the 8770W. Personally, they are bit too “boxy” looking for my liking, but they otherwise look pretty sleek (I am really liking the brushed metal texture and laptop lid design) for business-class machines! More photos of the HP laptops can be found here.
Subject: Mobile | June 4, 2012 - 01:25 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: video, windows 8, tablet, iconia w700, iconia w510, computex, acer
Acer–a computer OEM mostly known in the US for its tablets and notebooks–today announced two new ICONIA W series tablets running Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 OS. Sporting IPS displays and a white chassis finish, they provide plenty of connectiivity options in a sleek package. Unfortunately, the company is not yet talking about specifications, pricing, or availability. Acer is currently showing off the tablets at Computex 2012 in Taipei, Taiwan.
Acer has started off Computex 2012 news week with a bevy of product announcements. The latest products being unveiled at the exhibition are two new ICONIA tablets running Windows 8–the ICONIA W510 and W700. Both tablets feature a white colored chassis with dark bezel around the screen on the front face. The front of the tablets include a Windows (key) button and a front facing camera (at least on the W700). From there, the two tablets differ in physical size and available expansion ports. It is unclear if what exactly the internals are in the two tablets as those specifications have not been announced.
The W510 is the smallest of the two with a 10.1” IPS display. It also comes with a dock that features a chiclet keyboard, trackpad, and extra battery that the company claims can extend the tablet’s battery life to up to 18 hours. The dock has one full size USB 2.0 port and a charging port (dock connector). The tablet itself packs a docking port, SIM card and microSD card slots, micro USB connection, headphone audio output jack, and HDMI video output. Further, the ICONIA W510 has two speakers, volume control buttons, an integrated microphone, and power button.
Engadget takes a tour of the Acer ICONIA W700 Windows 8 tablet.
On the other hand, the Acer ICONIA W700 features a 11.6” IPS display with 1920x1080 resolution, two bottom edge mounted speakers, front facing camera, microphone, and windows key. Acer has packed the tablet with the latest external IO options including three USB 3.0 ports, a Thunderbolt port, micro HDMI port, and a headphone output jack. The tablet also has a DC power jack (it must draw more power than USB can give it) and two vents along the top of the tablet. Interestingly, this does suggest that the W700 tablet has much beefier hardware than the 510, which does not have those vents. It will be interesting to see exactly what Acer has managed to pack into the small metal chassis hardware wise!
Another notable difference between the W510 and W700 is the dock. The W700’s dock does not have an integrated keyboard or tackpad. It only acts as a stand (with two small speakers and a windows key) that can be used to prop up the tablet in either portrait or landscape mode.
Engadget managed to get some hands-on time with the two Acer tablets and accompanying docks. You can see a video of the W700 above and photos and a video walk-through of the W510 can be found here. Despite the keyboard-less dock, I’m interested in the W700, though I’ll be waiting for more detailed information on the specifications before getting too excited. Despite my “meh” feeling towards Windows 8 on a desktop, I did like it when paired with a touchscreen convertible tablet, and the slate looked pretty smooth in the video (so I’m hopeful that this will be a solid device). Stay tuned for more detailed specifications as either Acer releases it or someone manages to snag one to take apart.
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 3, 2012 - 11:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: computex, thunderbolt, Matrox, macbook, dock, apple
Matrox has recently launched a new Thunderbolt dock aimed at adding desktop peripherals to Apple Macbooks and Ultrabooks. The dock connects via a single Thunderbolt cable (it does require a separate power source as well) and provides one USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, a DVI video output, audio in/out jacks, and a Gigabit LAN port. It will be available for purchase in September with an MSRP of $249 USD.
Matrox has released a new laptop dock called the Matrox DS1 that is designed to pair with Thunderbolt-equipped notebooks and provide several additional connectivity options. The aluminum chassis is reminiscent of a slimmer WD My Book drive because of the book like shape. The front of the DS1 dock is a Thunderbolt input and status LED. On the back of the dock is a DVI output, three USB ports (one USB 3.0, two USB 2.0), microphone input, headphone output, and a Gigabit LAN port. To the far right is a DC power input which means that the dock is a bit less portable than I would like but it is not clear how big of a “wall wart” it will come with.
The company has stated that the aluminum case should protect the dock in just about every use case, and the additional IO certainly adds much needed connectivity to Ultrabooks where available ports are at a premium. Senior Director of Sales and Marketing for Matrox, Alberto Cieri, has been quoted by Apple Insider in stating “The new Matrox DS1 docking station easily enables the creation of an ergonomic workspace and brings much-needed expandability for printers, scanners, storage, smartphones, optical drives, cameras, flash drives, and other peripherals.”
The Matrox DS1 will be shown off at Computex 2012 this week in Taipei, Taiwan at Intel’s booth (M0410 in the Nangang Exhibition Hall). After that, it will be shown off at WWDC in San Fransico and Infocomm in Las Vegas on June 12th and June 13th to June 15th respectively. In September of this year it will be available for purchase with an MSRP of $249 USD.
Situations like this are where Thunderbolt really shines, and I would not be surprised to see companies outfitting employees with Ultrabooks for mobile use and a larger monitor and peripherals for in-office use (eschewing a separate desktop machine altogether). The price, especially considering Thunderbolt cables themselves are expensive is going to be the most limiting factor for docks like these despite their usefulness.
Editor's Note: Although Tim didn't mention it, one kind of interesting drawback is that this device does NOT include a Thunderbolt pass through, basically preventing users from taking advantage of the daisy-chain capability TB can offer via a single port / connections on the laptop or computer.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | June 3, 2012 - 03:21 AM | Tim Verry
US-based boutique computer vendor MAINGEAR today announced (no public facing press release was available at time of writing) a new ultraportable notebook that comes packed with hardware to play the latest games on the go. The notebook in question is the Pulse 11, and as the name implies it is an 11” laptop with the latest Intel Ivy Bridge and NVIDIA Kepler hardware. Weighing in at 3.97 lbs (~1.8 kg) and packing a 6-cell lithium ion battery, the custom gaming notebook has a mostly plastic chassis, full keyboard minus the numpad, large trackpad under the space bar, and a 11.6” LED-backlit display with 1366x768 resolution (16:9).
Despite the plastic chassis, it manages to look nice on the inside as well as the laptop lid–which features a textured pattern and centered MAINGEAR logo. The photo below shows the keyboard and trackpad while the photo above shows off the top of the notebook.
External IO includes a Gigabit LAN port, VGA output, HDMI output, mic and headphone out ports, two USB 3.0 ports on the left side of the notebook, an SD card reader on the front, and a DC power jack, one USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington lock on the right side. There are no ports on the rear of the laptop as that area is taken up by the large Li-ion battery.
The internals of the gaming notebook are the most notable features, however. The Pulse 11 features an Intel Core i7 or i5 Ivy Bridge processor up to a Core i7 3612QM (35W TDP) as well as a NVIDIA GT 650M graphics card with 2GB of GDDR3 memory. Even better is that this notebook supports NVIDIA Optimus technology, which means that it can shut down the dedicated GPU while not gaming to save battery power. Other internals include up to 16GB of dual channel DDR3 1600MHz memory, and either one 600GB SSD or 750GB SATA hybrid hard drive (a mechanical hard drive with large flash memory cache).
The Pulse 11 comes further equipped with an 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth card (internal) and a 9-in-1 multimedia card reader. For audio, the notebook features two speakers that are rated for THX TruStudio Pro sound. The gaming notebook runs the Windows 7 Home, Pro, or Ultimate x64 operating system, and can be optionally upgraded to Windows 8 Pro for $15 USD.
The gaming notebook starts at $999 USD for the base model and goes up from there. It should further be available for purchase starting today (or very soon afterward).
MAINGEAR has stated that its Pulse 11 gaming laptop is “made for gamers looking for a powerful ultraportable that delivers the best of mobile entertainment in its size as well as “the MAINGEAR Pulse 11 was designed to meet the needs of gamers, students, on-the-go digital warriors, and anyone looking for power in the smallest package possible.”
More photos of the Pulse 11 are available below:
Subject: Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 08:26 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: retina display, resolution, notebook, macbook, apple
Late last year, we covered rumors releating to Apple’s Macbook Pro notebooks that hinted at future versions with high pixel density retina displays. Recent rumors suggest that DigiTime’s sources were not far from the truth, and retina displays may be coming to both the 15.4” and 13.3” notebooks.
According to Hexus.net, a senior display analyst, has been talking with Cnet on when such high resolution displays will be available. Allegedly, the display panels are already being supplied to Apple at an additional cost to Apple of $100 and $60 for the 15.4” and 13.3” notebooks respectively. The most likely source of these panels is Samsung (and possibly LG), as they have experience producing the retina displays for Apple’s iPad tablets.
Reportedly, the 15.4” Macbook will have a display resolution of 2880x1800, which amounts to 220 pixels per inch. On the other hand, the 13.3” Macbook will have a display resolution of 2560x1600–a resolution normally reserved for ~30” desktop monitors. With 2560x1600 in a 13.3” display, that amounts to just under 227 PPI (268.98). For the 15.4” Macbook, the retina display has a PPI that is twice that of the current model’s display resolution of 1440x900 (110 PPI).
Fortunately for everyone without hawk-vision, Apple’s OS X operating system has been engineered to be resolution independent, and will keep icons and text on screen an appropriate size (rather than it becoming miniscule due to the much higher resolution display).
Lastly, the source indicated that the displays would use more power, which sounds resonable considering the GPU would have to drive more pixels, and the backlight would have more work to do as well. In our previous article, and in internal discussions, we have been eagerly waiting for Apple to come out with these displays. We hope that Apple jumping into it as a premium feature will help to nudge other PC manufacturers in the same direction of higher pixel densities. Its obvious that the technology is there, but I think that it will be up to Apple whether or not it will catch on (as other PC makers do not seem eager to reduce profit margins with higher resolution displays). Sure, we won’t be seeing retina displays in budget laptops running windows, but it would be nice to have the option in ultrabooks and other premium PC laptops running Windows at some point.
Introduction, Design, User Interface
In August of 2011 I reviewed the Acer AC700-1099, one of two Chromebooks available in the North American market. The review was almost entirely negative. The hardware wasn’t great and the operating system was a bit of a mess–capable of only the most basic tasks.
Since then, the small surge of hype that surrounded the Chrome OS release has receded. You could be mistaken for thinking Google has abandoned it, but they haven’t. In typical Google fashion it has been slowly, quietly improved. Performance tweaks have allegedly improved web browsing, a proper file manager has been added and Google has just launched Google Drive, its cloud storage service.
Such enhancements could address a lot of the concerns I had with the Acer rendition. Do they? That’s what we’re here to find out. Let’s start with the basics - what’s inside?
The hardware inside the Samsung Series 5 is nearly identical to what was inside the Acer AC700-1099 that we reviewed late last year. We’re talking an Atom processor that must rely on its own IGP, two gigabytes of RAM and a tiny–but quick–16GB solid state drive.
While the equipment is the same, the pricing has changed. When we reviewed the Acer Chromebook it was $349.99. That has been slashed to $279.99. The Series 5, which used to be priced at $429, is now sold for just $299.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 10:52 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, trinity, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i7-3720QM, diablo iii, APU, amd, a10-4600m
So, apparently PC gamers are big fans of Diablo III, to the tune of 3.5 million copies sold in the first 24 hours. That means there are a lot of people out there looking for information about the performance they can expect on various harware configurations with Diablo III. Since we happened to have the two newest mobile processors and platforms on-hand, and because many people seemed to assume that "just about anything" would be able to play D3, we decided to put it to the test.
In our previous reviews of the AMD Trinity and Intel Ivy Bridge reference systems, the general consensus was that the CPU portion of the chip was better on Intel's side while the GPU portion was still weighted towards the AMD Trinity APU. Both of these CPUs, the A10-4600M and the Core i7-3720QM, are the highest end mobile solutions from both AMD and Intel.
The specifications weren't identical, but again, for a mobile platform, this was the best we could do. With the AMD system only having 4GB of memory compared to the Ivy Bridge system with 8GB, that is one lone "stand out" spec. The Intel HD 4000 graphics offer a noticeable upgrade from the HD 3000 on the Sandy Bridge platform but AMD's new HD 7660G (based on Cayman) also sees performance increase.
We ran our tests at 1366x768 with "high" image quality settings and ran through a section of the early part of the game a few times with FRAPs to get our performance results. We did also run some tests to an external monitor at 1920x1080 with "low" presets and AA disabled - both are reported in the video below. Enjoy!
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?