Tag Archive | "mobile computing/laptops"

In Depth: Intel Ultrabook: what you need to know

Intel has announced a massive $300m (£185m) fund to help develop Ultrabook hardware and software, and it’s confident that Ultrabooks will make up 40% of the market by 2012.

So what is an Ultrabook and why should you care? Let’s find out.

Ultrabooks are a bit like things you’ve already seen

The best way to think of an Ultrabook is a MacBook Air that isn’t made by Apple, a netbook that isn’t underpowered or a laptop that’s been on a crash diet.

Ultrabook designs we’ve seen so far look awfully Apple-y, with super-thin cases and aeroplane-friendly 11.6-inch displays.

Ultrabook specs will not be low-end

Although Ultrabooks are designed for maximum portability, we’re told that they won’t make the same compromises that netbooks did: the Ultrabook specifications should be akin to mainstream laptops, not cheap netbooks.

The first models will ship with Sandy Bridge Core processors, followed by Ivy Bridge chips in 2012 and Haswell processors in 2013. The first Ultrabook to break cover, the Asus UX21, boasts SSD storage and USB 3.0 connectivity.

There are three Ultrabook manufacturers so far

Lenovo, Asustek and Acer are the first firms to throw their hats into the Ultrabook ring, although we’d expect everybody else to join in if the sector proves popular.

Ultrabook features will become more impressive over time

That’s where Intel’s $300m fund comes in: the firm wants to create “a cycle of innovation and system capabilities”. Whatever that means.

Ultrabook specifications are heavy on battery life and portability

Haswell chips promise to use half the power of current-generation processors, although even today’s Core processors are more efficient than processors of old. Just ask Apple, whose Core-powered MacBook Air runs for ages.

The Ultrabook price should eventually undercut Apple

Intel’s pushing hard for sub-$1,000 price tags, which just happens to be the price of a MacBook Air. However, it seems that Ultrabook manufacturers are finding that hard to achieve: DigiTimes reports that the Bill of Materials, the total cost of building an Ultrabook, will be more than $700 – and there are software licenses on top of that.

Manufacturers are already demanding Intel cuts its prices or subsidises their efforts. Intel points out that as sales go up, prices will drop. We’re taking that to mean that the typical Ultrabook price won’t be sub-$1,000 for a while.

The Ultrabook release date could be before Christmas

Manufacturers are keen to sell some kit before Christmas, so Ultrabooks such as the Asus UX21 should turn up in late 2011 with Core i7 processors. The Asus Ultrabook price hasn’t been announced yet, but we’re expecting a September release date.


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Buying Guide: 10 laptops you can buy for the price of a Chromebook

While Samsung’s Google Chromebook is an interesting piece of tech, it’s not for everyone.

Its heavily-modified Linux-based operating system may run like Usain Bolt on with the wind behind him, but if you find yourself without an internet connection it’s a £350 lump of useless plastic.

And, unless Angry Birds is your cup of tea, you can forget about playing games on it.

So we’ve put on our technological Barbour jacket and used our cyberdog to herd 10 of the best Chromebook alternatives into the digital pen of TechRadar.

They all come in at a similar price, and, as we found, you can get a lot for your money. You can read our Samsung Chromebook review, too.

1. HP Pavilion DM1 – £349

Chromebook alternatives

One of our chief complaints with the Chromebook is its plasticky, Fisher Price-esque feel and finish. If you’re after a laptop that doesn’t look like it was free with a Happy Meal, look no further than HP’s latest Pavilion. This ultraportable sports a brushed-metal finish, as well as an astonishing five hour battery life and a vibrant screen. Trackpad issues aside, it’s a solid and sleek machine which offers exceptional value for money.

Read our HP Pavilion dm1-3100sa review

2. Packard Bell EasyNote TS13 – £480

packard bell easynote

Packard Bell’s laptop comes in at £30 more than the Chromebook, but we’ve included it for a good reason – it packs Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processor, which beats Chromebook’s Atom so far into the ground that it pops up in Australia. This means it’s a cheap-ish laptop that’s actually capable of HD movies, light video editing and even a little gaming. What’s more is that it’s astonishingly well-built, and features a five hour battery life.

Read our Packard Bell EasyNote TS13 review

3. HP Pavilion DV6 – £450

HP pavillion dv6

The 6GB of ram that lurks in HP’s Pavilion is what sets this apart from the crowd – that’s a whopping 4GB more than the Chromebook. This generous amount of memory coupled with a dedicated ATi Mobility Radeon HD 5470 graphics chip means that the laptop is capable of far more than just emails and Angry Birds. In fact, we managed to get Portal 2 running on it. An amazing performer whose only bad point is the slightly tacky build quality.

Read our HP Pavilion DV6-3112sa review

4. Packard Bell EasyNote NS44 – £400

Packard bell easynote

“Easy” being the operative word here. An isolation-style keyboard means that this laptop can be used for long periods of time, and a dedicated social network button ensures you can catch up with all the latest online goss on Facebook or view vids on YouTube. Add in HDMI, USB 3.0 and a 14-inch screen and you’ve got a machine that’s as easy to use – and more powerful – than Google’s ubiquitous new notebook.

Read our Packard Bell EasyNote NS44-HR-033UK review

5. Acer Aspire Timeline X 3820TZ – £380

Acer aspire timeline x

The Chromebook’s epic battery life is a definite plus point for us, so much so that we’re more worried about losing that precious internet signal. As the name suggests, though, the Timeline X’s battery lasts just as long, clocking in a ludicrous nine hours of solid performance. It’s a solidly built machine, with a luxurious brushed-metal finish that puts it in league with lappies that cost twice the price. Our only minor niggle was the lack of an optical drive, but this sacrifice eans it weighs a meagre 1.9kg.

Read our Acer Aspire Timeline X 3820TZ review

6. Sony VAIO VPC-EB3J0E/WI – £449

Sony vaio vpc

A 15.5-inch screen and 2.72kg weight mean that Sony’s machine is more of a semi-portable desktop replacement than true portable PC, but it still costs as much as the Chromebook’s 3G offering. Performance isn’t amazing, but what put this Vaio firmly in the four-star category is its ease of use. The keyboard is extremely comfortable, the screen bright and glossy, and it’s finished with a clean and crisp look. Those extra few inches of screen real estate go a long way, too.

Read our Sony VAIO VPC-EB3J0E/WI review

7. Acer Aspire 5742G – £475

Acer aspire

Again, we’ve gone slightly over budget with this laptop, but for £25 more than a 3G Chromebook you’re getting a dedicated Nvidia GeForce GT 520M graphics card with 1GB of video memory. Which means: GAMES! Proper modern 3D games with guns and explosions and everything. It’s also a great all-rounder, and able to handle photo and HD video editing without breaking a sweat. The keyboard could be a bit better, but that’s the least of your worries when you’ve got so many Nazi zombies to kill.

Read our Acer Aspire 5742G review

8. Toshiba Satellite C670D – £394

Toshiba satellite c670d

The C670D’s cinematic 17.3-inch screen bucks the trend of exceedingly tiny screens, and it dwarfs the Chromebook’s squint-inducing 11.6-inch panel. Of course, it’s never going to be the most portable of laptops, but games and films look absolutely terrific. Unsurprisingly, Toshiba has cut corners on the components to keep the price low, and it’s littered with a surprising number of junk programs. It’s still a competent, capable laptop, and just look at the size of that screen! It’s a whopper!

Read our Toshiba Satellite C670D review

9. Lenovo G560 – £370

Lenovo g560

This Lenovo laptop absolutely gets the basics right, with a Core i3 350M processor and an impressive display adding up to make it feel like a high-quality laptop. It’s capable of HD video playback and editing, and it even includes Lenovo’s VeriFace software, which scans your mug to allow access. The 201-minute battery life, lack of an HDMI port and meagre 250GB hard drive were a bit of a letdown, but overall it’s a fantastic computing experience.

Read our Lenovo G560 review

10. Asus Eee PC 1018P – £350

Asus eee pc 1018p

If it weren’t for Asus’ original Eee in 2007, the Chromebook probably wouldn’t exist. The netbook redefined portable computing, and the Chromebook cribs both its form factor and its original Linux operating system. Asus is still at it, and its latest Eee is a beautiful, powerful netbook packing USB 3.0 and ExpressGate for getting straight on the net. As a netbook should be, it’s light, with a substantial battery life, and proof that Asus’ four years of experience has paid off.

Read our Asus Eee PC 1018P review

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Video: Toshiba Qosmio F750 3D laptop

TechRadar managed to get some hands-on time with the Toshiba Qosmio F750 3D laptop – the first computer in the UK to offer glasses-free 3D.

To make this happen, Toshiba has given the laptop a lenticular screen and uses a special webcam which tracks your eyes – bringing the right 3D image to you wherever you are looking on the screen.

While 3D still hasn’t made the mark manufacturers would have liked, the main problem with the technology seems to be that you have to wear glasses.

Toshiba knows this and that is why it has decided to launch its glasses-free laptop this year.

The Qosmio F750 3D laptop UK release date is August, so you haven’t got too long to decide if it is for you.

Check out our video to see the laptop in action and what are thoughts are on it.

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Toshiba Qosmio F750 3D, glasses-free 3D laptop announced

Toshiba has announced the arrival of the Qosmio F750 3D, the ‘world’s first’ glasses-free 3D laptop.

A prototype of the lappie was shown off at CES 2011, but now the Qosmio F750 3D is coming to the UK sporting an Intel Core i7 processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 540M graphics, 640GB hard disk and 6GB RAM.

The Qosmio F750 3D comes with a 15.6-inch Full HD lenticular screen, which means that you can do away with the glasses.

To make sure that the glasses-free 3D works with your peepers, Toshiba has integrated a HD webcam which comes with eye tracking technology. This means that wherever your eyes go, the webcam will follow and adjust the 3D picture to suit.

Toshiba qosmio f750 3d

Alongside 3D gaming, you will be able to look at 3D pictures and the laptop also has the ability to upscale 2D DVD footage to 3D.

There is also a Blu-ray XL drive on board. This means that you can store more content on a Blu-ray drive and you will also be able to use the laptop as a 3D Blu-ray player – you can plug the laptop into your TV via the HDMI socket.

Other connectivity includes 4x USBs (one of which is USB 3.0), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0 and a multi-card reader.

The Qosmio F750 3D UK release date is August and it will cost from £1,330.

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Hands on: Sony VAIO Y Series review

Decked out here in a rather lurid pink, here’s our hands on: Sony VAIO Y Series review.

The new model replaces last year’s Y Series with a major change, moving on from the low voltage Intel Pentium processor and replacing it with one of AMD’s newish E-Series Fusion chips.

That brings both graphics and processing on the same chip – something AMD calls an APU. It also means HD video playback won’t be a problem through the HDMI port.

Sony vaio y series

The model we looked at here packed the E-350 clocked at 2.6GHz, alongside a decent 4GB blob of memory. That should mean that the performance and graphics concerns of the last generation are eradicated.

AMD’s confused branding is out in force on the Y Series – Fusion is still being marketed under the AMD Vision brand, but because decent graphics are on board yet another sticker is required.

Sony vaio y series

The AMD platform is designed to be low cost and Sony told TechRadar it would be pitching this model at those who want both portability and reasonable power but who don’t want to pay for a high-end power portable.

This type of machine is going to be increasingly where previous netbook purchasers are going to be looking. As Ruth Storey, the category marketing manager for Vaio in the UK said in the presenation of the new models, “the netbook market is declining at an alarming rate”.

Sony vaio y series

Quite how much the Y Series will cost remains to be seen though we’d expect it to slot in where the old model left off at around £600.

Portability is the Y Series’ middle name and it clocks in at just 1.5Kg – a fine achievement for something that seems so capable.

As you’d expect from Sony, build quality is excellent, while the keyboard and trackpad are also to be praised – indeed, we preferred it to the keyboard on the VAIO Z Series we looked at yesterday.

Sony vaio y series

Sony also cites a six-hour battery life for the Y Series, broadly in line with other estimates for the AMD E-Series platform.

Sony vaio y series

The Sony VAIO Y Series UK release date is July 2011 and it’ll be available from Sony direct as well as Currys and PC World.

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