Laptop Thoughts: News & Reviews on Laptops, Netbooks, Slates, and More.

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All posts tagged "hardware"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

NEC VersaPro VZ Windows 7 Tablet Announced for B2B Customers

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:00 AM

"Only available for professional via NEC’s B2B solution, the new VersaPro type VZ is the company latest Windows 7 Slate or Tablet."

Information is a bit sketchy, but announced in Japan for B2B customers, this Windows 7 tablet: is powered by a Celeron 857 processor; has 2GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD; a capacitive LCD support touch and stylus input; a 1024x768 screen; full-featured WiFi; and optional DoCoMo LTE. Current price (200,000 yen) is about 2,392 (US) dollars, again, for business customers. Expensive, but NEC does make excellent hardware, in my experience.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Get an UltraBook, Save Your Back!

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 10:00 AM

"The Ultrabook can basically be described as a Mac Book Air for the non-Apple user. However, the form factor does take a bit of getting used to."

Seems like more and more industry pundits are coming around to the UltraBook way of thinking. Rob Enderle often has his own spin on things, but his view here is pretty much spot-on (except, IMHO, his comment about Apple being design over function - my MacBook Air is pretty darned functional!). Anyway, unburdening a typical backpack can be an interesting process, lightening it with an UltraBook is an added plus. Rob does a quick review of three systems, from ASUS, Toshiba and Dell, and, of course has opinions on each one, but prefers the Dell XPS 13 in the final tally, and likes the lessened load on his back. I agree, and I've taken to using an older laptop now as my "desktop" computer, and carrying only a lighter system at other times.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dell Admits That Slim Is In

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 04:00 PM

"The company just announced the XPS 13, which weighs in at a shade less than three pounds (2.99, to be exact) and has a wedge profile that tapers from .71 inches to .24 (18 to 6mm). With a starting price of $1,000, it sports an aluminum lid and carbon fiber chassis -- a material we wish more Ultrabook makers would incorporate. Though it has a 13-inch screen, it's the kind of panel with bezels so narrow that Dell was able to build a chassis small enough for a 12-inch system."

It is hard to believe that the start of the ultra thin laptop rage started way back in 2008. While there certainly excessively thin laptops before the Macbook Air, the Air caught the attention of the consumer market in droves. It is four, yes, four years later, and Dell has put forward their latest competitor. If you are into thin, but not an Apple fan, Engadget's quick overview may give you the information you need. While I personally like the idea of laptops light enough that I can carry, I await the day that they carry more graphics punch. What about you?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

ASUS Transformer Prime: Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) Improvements

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:30 PM

"I've been hanging on to the Asus Transformer Prime for the last month for a reason.

Even though the tablet launched a few weeks ago, the real news was that Asus was going to push out a major update to the new version of Google's Android called Ice Cream Sandwich."

Looks like a very good Android tablet has gotten better with Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) - better performance, better multitasking, and the hardware just feels faster. In fact, the author states that swiping between screens is now faster than on the iPad2. Improved browser performance is another advantage, and there is now a control panel "for controlling stuff." Unfortunately, quality tablet apps are still lacking, according to the author, and there appear to be bugs in the ICS update process, and with the tablet's GPS. Despite these improvements, again according to the author, the iPad2 still is ahead in the overall user experience, but this is the best Android tablet to date.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Has Your iPad Replaced Your Laptop? Yea, Me Either, But Soon Perhaps...

Posted by Jeff Campbell in "Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad" @ 02:00 PM

"More than one in ten iPad owning business professionals have indicated that Apple's touchscreen tablet has become their portable device of choice, completely replacing their laptop."

It's getting closer and closer for me all the time, mostly due to the improvements in the work space where I spend most of my day, but also in the fact that more and more content is available for the iPad (i.e. mobile flash sites switching to HTML5). And in meetings it has pretty much replaced pen and paper for me. It is just so easy to use in my opinion. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

HP Spectre is a Glass Ultrabook

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 04:00 PM

"Metal is so 2011. An Ultrabook that breaks the mold, HP’s new Envy 14 Spectre sports a head-turning glass design at this year’s CES. It’s on the display as well as the lid and palm rest, making the Spectre (available February 8th for $1,399) one of the most unique laptops ever. While it costs $100 more than the 13-inch MacBook Air, HP packs this Ultrabook with lots of premium features, including a higher-resolution display, powerful Beats audio and even NFC capability."

Ultrabooks are going to be hot. That is what the press is saying. All the major PC manufacturers must be rubbing their hands with glee, hoping that the huge glut of ultrabooks coming out this year will spark renewed sales. But aside from thin, how do you stand out? With glass! The HP Spectre's glass finish is supposed to be scratch resistant but what about fingerprints? It seems with all these stylish computing tools from smartphones to tablets to now glass ultrabooks, the must have accessory to buy will be polishing cloths. Excuse me while I go buy some stock in some of those companies.

Time to Get Excited About Toshiba Tablets

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 03:00 PM

"The Excite X10, which boasts a 10.1 inch IPS display, is a mere 7.7 mm thick. The iPad 2 is 8.8 mm thick, in comparison. It sits on the "premium" shelf just above Toshiba's budget Thrive tablets. Perhaps the most killer feature of the X10 (besides its inconceivable waistline) is the fact that it includes a Micro USB port, a Micro HDMI port, and even an SD card slot. There's somehow also room for a dock connector like you might find on the iPad."

Thin tablets are in. Well, they have almost always been in since I cannot imagine anyone enjoying a thick tablet to cart around. The Excite X10 is the latest and thinnest tablet to come out, though it manages to pack some ports while keeping a svelte figure. While I personally like having ports to serve my every desire, I've noticed more friends going the wireless option like DLNA or AirPlay to satisfy most of their needs. When it comes to your electronic devices now, do you find less of a need for ports, or do they still play an important role for you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Intel Nikiski: An Windows 8 Ultrabook with Tablet Features

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 10:00 AM

"During its CES 2012 press conference today, Intel took us on a tour of what might just be the future of the Ultrabook. That future is something the company calls ‘Nikiski’ and it’s a concept that replaces your normal trackpad, with a transparent touchpad, that can double as a gorgeous touchscreen when the Ultrabook is closed."

Pretty cool stuff maybe on the horizon! Operates as a standard notebook (ultrabook class) computer, but the transparent "full-width" touchpad functions as a mini-tablet when the computer is closed and flipped on its back. Email, calendar entries, alerts, etc; can all be handled in the tablet mode, and, when the notebook is opened, whatever is being worked on in "tiles" will be (quickly) active in notebook mode. Of course, this does require Windows 8 and Metro, and the video mentions to audience members to not even think about copying the technology, 'cause it's patented. Seems like an ideal melding of notebook and tablet to me.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Isn't it Time to Recycle Those Old Electronics?

Posted by Jeff Campbell in "Apple News" @ 04:00 PM

"This Christmas, there were reportedly nearly 7 million new Android and iOS activations (between December 24 and December 25), which was largely a result of smartphone gift-giving."

Great article on some resources so you know where to go to recycle, or get some cash for those electronics that you have replaced with newer, faster, better versions. I also find that putting them on craigslist seems to work pretty if they are still functional so someone else can get some use out of your newly replaced items. If they aren't functional, check with your local garbage/recycling company for ideas on where to take your non functioning items.

The Road To Windows 8 Tablets Is Uphill

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 03:00 PM

"Windows-based tablets haven’t been treated kindly by the test of time. Those released in the Windows XP era relied on wonky, stylus-based data entry, and even modern, touch-based tablets running Windows 7 are poor performers. Indeed, Microsoft has a troubled tablet history that the public isn’t soon to forget. This November, Forrester released a study that showed consumer interest in a Windows-based tablet dropped significantly this year. At the start of 2011, 46 percent of potential tablet owners wanted a Windows device. By Q3, that number slipped to 25 percent."

Windows has been losing a lot of ground lately. As technology advances, the need for a desktop computer, or even a laptop has become less and less so for your average consumer. While Microsoft fights in the smartphone market with Windows Phone 7, it hopes to see success in the tablet market with Windows 8. While Windows 7 tablets do exist, they have not been flying off the shelves like iPads. With iOS and Android currently dominating the market, can Microsoft become relevant? If they are willing to stay in it for the long run, I believe so. This is not the first time Microsoft has tried to make a market a three-party system. The original X-box was a gamble, and cost Microsoft a considerable amount of money, but now in its second iteration (and maybe soon to be third), the company has carved itself a sizable chunk of the console market. It might just be able to repeat that success with tablets.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Netbooks and New Intel Atom Processors: Still Here!

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 09:30 AM

"Despite a recurring belief in the press that netbooks are dead, the lilliputian, low-power laptops are still selling in volume. Intel certainly isn’t giving up on the category. Today, the chipmaker announced its next-generation “Cedar Trail” Atom processor for netbooks, which promises even lower power consumption than current models, along with the ability to play 1080p video."

Intel's new Cedar Trail processors will be marketed as Atom N2600 and Atom N2800, using Intel's 32nm process. This should enable better power efficiency and allow thinner, lighter (and I assume faster) netbooks to be built. Intel says that this generation's battery run time should be around 10 hours. The new chipset(s) also enable playback of 1080p video, supports Intel's WiDi (wireless display) technology, and should allow one to stream content to a TV (additional hardware may be needed for this feature). Additional features support faster connectivity and startup. We should see netbooks from the usual suspects (minus Dell) in 2012. I still like this form factor, if the screen resolution is 1366x768 of greater, so it'll be interesting to see how this generation of netbooks is marketed.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Slipping into the LTE Jetstream -- a review of Rogers' HTC Jetstream

Posted by Don Tolson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 08:30 AM

Product Category: Tablet
Manufacturer: HTC
Where to Buy: Rogers or AT&T
Price: USD $499 w/3 year contract, $799 w/o contract from Rogers; $599 with w/2 year contract, $749 w/o contract from AT&T
System Requirements: Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) with HTC Sense
Specifications: 256mm (10.1in diagonal) LCD tablet with 1.5GHz, dual core CPU; 1G RAM; Quad band GPRS, Tri-band HPSA + LTE; 32G internal memory (28G available) + microSD card slot (32G maximum); 250mm (9.87in) x 178mm (7in) x 13mm (0.5in); 750g (26.5oz). Full specifications can be found here.


  • First LTE-capable tablet available in Canada;
  • Very comfortable size and weight;


  • Pricey compared to other tablet offerings available;
  • Yet another non-standard charging/sync port.

Summary: In October 2011, with much fanfare, Rogers announced the availability of the HTC Jetstream (aka the HTC P715a) -- Canada's first LTE-capable tablet. Even though the LTE network is limited to three cities in Canada (Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver) we were able to get one of the preview units and play with it for a week in Victoria and Vancouver! So, does an LTE-equipped tablet run circles around mere 3G/H models? The results were surprising. Read more...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ultrabook Battle: Acer Aspire S3 vs. ASUS UX31E

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 12:00 PM

"When Intel initially put out the idea of the ultrabook as a new type of laptop, I admit harboring plenty of skepticism—isn’t the ultrabook just a gussied up rebranding of an ultraportable? Unfortunately, being a skeptic/cynic has served me well over the years, and so now here I sit in front of two ultrabooks trying to determine a couple of things: which ultrabook is the “best” right now, and are any of them actually worth buying."

A well-done review, that hints that buying a first-generation ultrabook means that some compromises are necessary. For example, both the S3 and the UX31E have decidedly mediocre LCDs, with the ASUS system being brighter, and with better contrast. The SSDs differ greatly in performance. Both have keyboards that are okay, but are not backlit. Performance is best with the ASUS, and it also has better battery life (but also a larger battery). The bottom line is that both of these system are trying to unseat the MacBook Air from the top of the heap, and while neither one really succeeds, the ASUS UX31E comes close. Samsung's S9 also is getting some good reviews, so if it has to be Windows, you'll probably want to look at (and try in-person) all three of these ultrabooks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ARCHOS 70b Internet Tablet for $199 in January 2012

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Archos Tablets" @ 09:30 PM

"DENVER, CO – (December 20, 2011) – ARCHOS, an award-winning innovator in consumer electronics, announced today the upcoming availability of the first android 3.2 ‘’Honeycomb’’ tablet under $200, the ARCHOS 70b internet tablet. The new ARCHOS 70b IT is an enhanced version of the ARCHOS 70 IT Gen 8 that features an upgraded capacitive touch screen and a powerful processor at 1.2 GHz."

With Android 3.2 (Honeycomb), 8GB storage, full access to the Android Market, 1024x600 capacitive LCD, and a fair complement of ports, this may be a good buy for those that don't like (or want) the Kindle Fire's training wheels (UI). With "only" 512MB RAM, I don't expect lightning performance, and the lack of details as to the nature of their "powerful processor" is a bit puzzling. I've seen ARCHOS products in retail stores, but haven't had the desire to test one, but the 70b may change my mind. I had a Kindle Fire, but wasn't impressed, and sold it, maybe this will be a better (or real) introduction to Android. Anyone have experience with ARCHOS products?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

HTC Flyer Gets Android Honeycomb (3.2) Update

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 08:00 PM

"Great news if you’re an HTC Flyer user: the Taiwanese smartphone giant has released the Android 3.2 update for its 7-inch tablet. The update weighs in at 210MB and bumps the version of Android from 2.3 Gingerbread up to the proper 3.2 Honeycomb for tablets."

This has been long-awaited, but it's finally here! The Flyer has been a good performer with Android Gingerbread, and should be quite impressive with a true tablet OS. Aside from the enhanced dedicated stylus button, the other buttons become inactive. It'll be interesting to see if the 7-inch form factor catches on after the success of the Kindle Fire.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Netbooks are not Completely Dead. Behold the HP dm1z!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 01:00 PM

"Netbooks, having enjoyed so much excitement during their early days, have now retreated for the most part from the public eye. Part of the reason is likely the rise in tablets, and now Ultrabooks, but netbooks themselves are also partially responsible. There simply has not been much movement in the market."

It is true that netbooks are no longer the hot buy they once were. Tablets are all the rage, and interest in Ultrabooks is increasing. Still, netbooks are still around, and while there has been very little progress with them, either in horsepower or design, they still provide a very portable choice for someone on the go. The only development I have really seen with netbooks is that they are slowly improving in their graphics capability. With more capable GPUs, things like HD video playback is getting better. Pricing, however, varies. While newer models like the latest dm1z are still a bit high at just shy of $400, you can find older models bumping around at half the price. Does anyone remember when ultra-portable laptops cost thousands of dollars?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Ultrabooks: Meet AMD's Brazos 2.0 (?)

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 09:30 AM

"AMD maybe readying to enter the Ultrabook game in January 2012 with their own Ultrathin devices according to a report from The Australian."

Quite a bit of speculation, but it does appear that AMD wants to tap into the "ultrathin" market, and there are several manufacturers interested, but no concrete details, other than the fact that AMD will call their products something else, since Intel's marketing juggernaut has "Ultrabook" sewn-up. It'll be interesting to have alternatives in the Ultrabook space.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Verizon DROID XYBOARD: 8.2 & 10.1 4G LTE Tablets

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 11:30 AM

"Verizon has made the DROID XYBOARD Android tablets official, the 4G LTE versions of Motorola’s XOOM 2 and XOOM 2 Media Edition slates. The 10.1-inch and 8.2-inch tablets each have a 1280 x 800 IPS display, 5-megapixel main camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, along with WiFi a/b/g/n and that all important EVDO Rev.A/LTE. An upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich is expected in the new year."

A great feature of this tablet is that the 4G LTE network can be shared with up to eight (8) tethered clients, otherwise, not much else is different (that is readily apparent) from Motorola's initial versions. I'm intrigued by the 8.2-inch screen, as I've found that a 7-inch form factor is a bit too small for my old eyes, and the 1280x800 IPS screen should make things crisp and clear! On a two-year conytract, the 8.2 will cost $430 for a 16GB model, and $530 for a 32GB model, while the 10.1 starts at $530 for 16GB, $630 for 32GB, and $730 for 64GB. In addition, data plans start at $30/month. Seems a bit pricey in today's market.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Transforming into a Better Tablet

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 05:00 PM

"It’s thinner, smaller and lighter then its predecessor and its made out of superior materials. The aluminum body has an improved look and feel and the higher integrity of the materials has allowed for an even more sturdy hinge for the keyboard docking station."

The ASUS Transformer got attention for being a tablet with a dockable keyboard. It apparently was an enough of a success to have a sequel which puts the Transformer Prime on par with more recent if not cutting edge hardware. Part tablet, part laptop, I do think that this is largely where mobile computing is headed, and what could ultimately put an end to netbooks, if it were not for the cost. An 18 hour battery life is most impressive, and likely will not be seen by laptops for a very long time. If only productivity apps were more caught up with their "desktop" counterparts it would be a real killer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Another New Ultrabook: LG Xnote Z330

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 07:00 PM

"LG has just announced their entry to the Ultrabook category, the 13.3″ Xnote Z330. While the outside cover has a concentric circle, etched pattern similar to that of the ASUS Zenbooks (although more subtle and originates from the corner instead of from the center of the cover), the overall look of the Xnote Z330 resembles that of a MacBook Pro/Air."

Starting at about $1500 and going to about $2300, LG seems to have aimed high, but missed the mark a bit on price, when $1000 is the holy grail. Specs are, well, like other Ultrabooks: 3-pounds; 4GB RAM; SSD; Intel Core i5 or i7; 1366x768 resolution; etc. LG promises that the X Note will cold boot into Windows 7 in 10 seconds or less. This system looks like the love child of an ASUS Zenbook and a MacBook Air (actually quite attractive). Further details should be forthcoming. With this latest generation of notebooks/ultrabooks, I can carry a MacBook Air and an Ultrabook, and still have my laptop case weigh less than my work laptop of 4-5 years ago. Thank you, manufacturers, from my shoulders and back!

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