Portable 2-in-1 hybrid ultrabooks provide exceptional flexibility for consumers wanting a thin form factor to easily complete rudimentary tasks while travelling. Even though they’re lacking in the power department, hybrid devices allow you to use touch screen functionality in tablet mode or adopt a normal seating position when typing. I honestly see this as a major development in consumer laptops and believe they might bridge the gap between the mobile and PC market. According to a leak from BenchLife, ASUS will unveil their next line up of ultrabooks sporting various hardware configurations very soon.
The ZenBook Flip features a 13.3-inch display and will be available with either a 1920×1080 panel or whopping 3200×1800 resolution. Furthermore, the range is rumoured to launch on April 7th and despite its name, use Intel’s M series of CPUs. The basic setup includes a Core M3-6Y30 dual core processor with a 900MHz base and Turbo Boost up to 2.2GHz. The mid-range Core M5-6Y54 dual core processor utilizes a base speed of 1.1GHz, and Turbo Boost up to 2.7GHz. Finally, the high-end Core M7-6Y75 processor has a base speed of 1.2 GHz, and Turbo Boost reaching a maximum of 3.1GHz.
Other specifications include the choice between 4GB or 8GB of DDR4 memory and a wide range of SSD capacities. You can select a 128GB, 256GB or 512GB capacity which opts for the M.2 interface. The device will weigh a very respectable 1.3KG, contain two USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 3.1 Type-C, MicroHDMI and an SD card reader. Unfortunately, there’s no current wording regarding the price but at least there’s only a few days until the official launch. Given the upcoming launch of AMD’s Zen architecture and new Intel CPUs on the horizon, I might have expected a staggered release. Nevertheless, I’m interested to see the performance numbers and how well the product line copes with daily tasks.
When you buy a new PC, it’s almost certain that it’ll be running one of two types of operating systems, Microsoft Windows or Mac OSX. Despite this market dominance, Dell plans to get more of their customers using Linux with its series of “Project Sputnik” laptops that hope to secure a following of their own.
The newest Sputnik laptop from Dell is the XPS 13 Developer Edition and it looks far different from the typical view of Linux, sporting a sleek, thin design. This XPS 13 also brings a number of features that users typically expect from Windows and Mac laptops including a 4k screen, Intel Skylake processors and even Thunderbolt 3 support, all of which are firsts for a Linux laptop. Due to the lack of support for Skylake chips in Ubuntu, the Linux version of the laptop was released later than its Windows-running cousin, which is unfortunate.
Sputnik’s main goal is to bring new laptop technologies to Linux, which will allow it to match most equivalent Windows laptops and has already been in the works for four years. Originally, Sputnik planned to focus on Ultrabook-form laptops and touch screens as the main technologies, both of which were new at the time, but the project has come a long way since then. Dell’s next goal is to incorporate docking technology into the XPS 13 DE as well as continuing to develop the software and drivers that may be required to make use of even higher resolution screens that could feature in future Sputnik laptops.
While Dell’s main focus may always be on the more mainstream Windows laptop market, Project Sputnik is totally unique, making Dell the only major PC manufacturer with such a focus on releasing Linux-running products. Dell even reports that they have seen Mac users moving over to their Sputnik laptops, due to both Linux and OSX being Unix-based making the switch easier than from Windows. While Linux diehards may choose to install their operating system of choice regardless of the laptop, it is hard to deny that a trusted name like Dell throwing their support behind Linux and releasing it pre-installed on a number of their laptops is a bad thing. Will it lead to a Linux revolution? Probably not, but Dell may just get a few extra customers from Linux-fans and converts alike.
Selling out quite quickly, the well-received Surface Book from Microsoft has still largely remained a mystery in terms of its tech specifications. Microsoft has still not revealed the major components other than it will run an i5/i7 CPU along with an unnamed Nvidia GeFroce GPU. We’re now hearing reports that the unnamed Nvidia GPU may be some variant of Nvidia’s GeForce 940M.
According to the Nvidia Control Panel, the GPU will feature 384 CUDA cores clocked at 945Mhz. For memory, a relatively meagre 64bit interface connects to 1GB of GDDR5 at 5010Mhz for 40.08 GB/s of bandwidth. For comparison, the 930M has the same number of shaders but with a slightly lower clock rate and DDR3 VRAM that only gives about 16GB/s. The 940M, on the other hand, has higher clock speeds but is sometimes saddled with DDR3 and other times uses GDDR5.
It’s interesting that Microsoft went with a discrete Nvidia GPU of this level given that Intel’s latest Iris Pro iGPUs are quite competitive right now. In fact, the top Intel iGPU will probably beat out the Surface Book dGPU. The current configuration with the GT2 in the tablet side and the 940M does offer some power benefits as the weaker GT2 can sip power in tablet mode and move to the more powerful 940M once the extra battery from the keyboard gets into the fray. On the other hand, Apple does manage to use just the Iris Pro in their slim portables so it remains to be seen which solution is better.
For today’s review I’m venturing a little bit out of my normal area of storage, network, and server components and take a closer look at a very useful gadget for everyone that has a laptop of some sort. Kensington might be most known for their locking system that is present on almost any electronic device, but they do make a lot of different products too. Today I’m taking a closer look at the SD4000 Universal USB Docking Station for laptops.
While a docking station like this would work with any system and as such isn’t limited to portable ones, it will be a rare scenario that someone will connect it to their desktop. That said, it could still provide some beneficial uses there too.
While most laptop manufacturers also provide docking stations for some of their models, they are usually very expensive and only compatible to very few models. The use of a universal docking station like this opens a lot more options and best of all, you can take it with you to any other system that you might upgrade to in the future.
The Kensington SD4000 Universal Docking Station connects to your system via a single USB 3.0 host port and in return it offers you three USB 3.0 connectors, a DVI port, a DisplayPort or HDMI, a Gigabit Ethernet RJ45 port, and headset connections. Those are all useful connections to have, especially on ultrabooks and netbooks that barely have any native connections at all anymore.
The Docking Station doesn’t just serve as USB hub, it also enables 4K Ultra HD resolutions, even when your laptop doesn’t have a graphics card that supports these resolutions. You can connect a single 4K monitor or TV via an HDMI or DisplayPort connection for Ultra HD resolution at 3840 x 2160 pixels.
4K Ultra HD resolution sadly only works with one monitor connected, but you can run up to 2K when using dual monitors. Ideal for users not ready to make the transition to 4K, this option can support the typical two-monitor setup with 1920 x 1200 and 2048 x 1152 resolution for each screen.
Speedy charging for power hungry devices such as tablets is also supported thanks to the 2.1 AMP fast charging USB port labeled with an extra lightning character. The Gigabit Ethernet port is also one that’s often missing on netbooks as they rely solely on wireless.
4K Ultra HD resolution (3840×2160) to one monitor via an HDMI cable or DisplayPort connection
Enables 4K UHD even if laptop does not have 4K graphics card
2K resolution (1920×1200/2048×1152) for two-monitor setup via DisplayPort or HDMI/DVI
3 universal USB 3.0 ports for seamless productivity with your accessories
2.1A fast charging port to power up a tablet or smartphone
Gigabit Ethernet port for wired connectivity to the Internet
Includes speaker port, microphone jack, Kensington Security Slot
Compatible with Windows 8.1/8/7
Best For: Convertible and 2-in-1 Laptops, Laptops, Ultrabooks, Windows Tablets
Compatibility: Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1
Connections: 1 x RJ-45 Ethernet (LAN) Female, Host Interface: USB 3.0, Host upstream link: USB (B Type)
Female, HUB downstream link: USB (A Type) Female
Features: Extended Display, Kensington Security Slot, Mirrored Display, Power Indicator (Blue), USB Hub Link
Dimensions: 7.71” x 3.34” x 1.08” (19.5 cm x 85 cm x 2.75 cm)
Packaging and Accessories
The package of the SD4000 Universal Docking Station comes in s a simple yet elegant wrapping. It shows what it does on the front without much extra.
The rear of the package explains what type of connectors it has, what’s in the box, and what it is compatible with. Everything you’ll want to know before you purchase.
Inside the box, we find a power supply with both an EU and UK replaceable plug, a setup guide, a USB cable to connect it and the docking station itself.
ADATA’s new Premier SP600NS34 M.2 2242 SATA 6Gb/s SSD for Ultrabooks and desktop PCs has officially launched and it is ready to meet the users latest demands. It is a slimmer, faster, and power-saving drive to store all your data.
The Premier SP600NS34 comes in two capacities, either 128GB or 256GB, and adopts the smallest SSD form factor M.2 2242 that only measures 22 x 42 x 3.5 mm. Small size doesn’t mean small performance and this drive shows that. It is based on a JMicron controller and synchronous MLC to perform sequential read operations up to 550MB/s and a random read and write performance of 75K and 77K respectively.
It supports DEVSLP that helps to extend the battery lifetime of your ultrabook and also comes with BCH ECC (Error Correction Code) up to 72bits/1KB. It also supports Intel Smart Response Technology that automatically identifies the most frequently used data and applications and thereby increases the data transfer rate and it has a DDR3 DRAM Cache Buffer that also helps with the transfer rates.
The drive is officially launched, but I couldn’t find it listed at any shop or retailer yet, but that is bound to happen very soon. ADATA didn’t supply an MSRP either, but we shouldn’t expect this to be an incredible expensive drive despite its great feature list.
Computex 2015 – Gigabyte might be mostly known for their great motherboards and graphics cards, but they also build systems from SSF to laptops and we stopped by to check out what they brought along to Computex.
Among the displayed systems were some pretty amazing ones powered by Intel Core i7 processors, Nvidia GTX 980 graphics cards with up to 8GB VRAM, fast storage with RAID options as well as stunning high-density displays. With systems like these, you hardly need a stationary system anymore.
Computex 2015 – I have to be perfectly honest, I did not personally know of Auros before today. But I wished I did as they make some incredible portable systems that don’t leave many wishes open. Behind the name is a more familiar brand that we all know, and that is Gigabyte.
The systems range from 13-inch to 17-inch screen sizes and come with everything from SLI setups, high-pixel count displays, fast storage, and even with live streaming engines.
FSP Group has some great power supplies, although they’re mostly used as OEM models by system builders. But they range from off-size tiny and specialized ones onto full-fledged ATX power supplies for high-end systems. This time around they bring out something a little different that very well could be considered the most powerful USB hub.
Okay, all the power isn’t really used for the USB hub, but it’s rather a universal power supply for notebook and ultrabook users and it has a built-in USB 3.0 hub.
There will be two models of the new NB H series of power supplies, the NB H 110 with 3 USB 3.0 ports and a 110W total output and the smaller version called the NB H 65 with two USB ports and 65W power output.
One could argue that it’s an irrelevant feature as one just could get an over-the-counter random USB hub, but when you’re on the go you want to have as few devices with you as possible. Having the power supply and USB hub in one saves you half the load and space in your backpack or purse.
The NB H 65 and NB H 110 are scheduled to be available in stores this October 2015 for the suggested retail price of €54.99 and €69.99 respectively.
EUROCOM builds some incredible and portable systems that usually are built with one thing in mind, the best efficiency and most power possible.
The new 14″ Armadillo 2 ultrabook is slightly different as it was designed to be a perfect everyday companion. It should be compact and lightweight enough to carry everywhere while still giving you the power you need to perform your tasks.
The Armadillo 2 is built around the Intel Core i5-5200U Broadwell CPU and supports up to 2TB storage, Intel HD Graphics 5500 and up to 32GB RAM, all packed in a beautiful brushed aluminium chassis that only is 2.1 cm thick and weighs 1.8kg.
Armadillo 2 supports Intel’s Platform Trust Technology (Intel PTT), which is a new platform functionality for credential storage and key management. It has a 4 cells Smart Lithium-Ion 44WH battery pack for up to 7 hours of battery life.
Security: Kensington Lock, Intel PTT (Platform Trust Technology)
You can configure your system directly on EUROCOM’s website where the fun begins at £588 and a fully equipped model easily costs you £2386. However, for that price you will get a 1TB HDD and 1TB SSD, 32GB RAM, pre-installed Windows with retail disk and ac/a/b/g/n and Bluetooth Wireless abilities.
Asus has released its new addition to the Zenbook series, the Pro UX501. Compared to the ROG G501 gaming ultrabook, the Zenbook alternative looks to differ only in colour scheme and lacks the red keyboard found on the ROG version.
The specs look pretty much the same as the ROG G501, having the Pro UX501 come with a 15.6-inch IPS 1080p or 4K display, Intel’s Core i7-4720HQ CPU, Nvidia’s GTX 960M, 16GB of RAM and up to 512GB SSD, as well as a 1TB 2.5″ HDD.
It is said that the Pro UX501 comes with two battery capacities, fitting either a 4 cell 60 Wh or a 6 cell 96 Wh battery with a life expectancy of up to 6 hours. The Zenbook is available for purchase at stores with a price tag of €1,824.
Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with his information
Shipment of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones will grow 4.2 percent from 2013, reaching 2.4 billion units this year, according to research group Gartner.
It’s a welcome sign for PC OEMs, trying desperately to get consumers and businesses to upgrade their computers, which have a longer lifespan. For those shopping for new PCs, they will find a number of competitively-priced models that should pique their interest, as the devices should last a minimum of five years.
Even though the PC business is expected to do better than previously, tablets should still outsell PCs in 2015, researchers note.
Here is what Ranjit Atwal, Gartner Research Director, said in a recent statement:
”2014 will be marked by a relative revival of the global PC market. Business upgrades from Windows XP and the general business replacement cycle will lessen the downward trend, especially in western Europe. This year, we anticipate nearly 60 million professional PC replacements in mature markets.”
Meanwhile, the tablet market is expected to slow down in 2014 while reaching 256 million units – but is still estimated to reach 320 million units next year, which will be higher than the traditional PC business unit. However, analysts also believe tablet manufacturers are going to cannibalize their own market, with consumers keeping mobile devices longer – but with growing cost, many owners end up sharing their devices with friends or family.
Thank you to Gartner for providing us with this information
ASUS announced its latest addition to the multiple-award-winning Zenbook Ultrabook series, the NX500, stated to come in a new sleek and elegant all-aluminium chassis and with state-of-the-art components. In addition to the latter, the NX500 is said to pack the new ASUS VisualMaster display technology and the world’s first 15.6-inch 4K UHD touchscreen, using 3M QDEF technology in order to deliver vivid and natural colour.
In terms of performance, the Zenbook NX500 boasts Intel’s Core i7 Quad-Core CPU and NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 850M graphics, featuring 2 GB of GDDR5 video memory. ASUS also provides customers with the ability to choose between one 512 GB PCI Express x4 SSD or up to two SATA 3 SSDs, configurable as a RAID 0 array, when it comes to the NX500’s disk space capabilities. Other aspects of the NX500 include three USB 3.0 ports, next-generation Broadcom dual-band three-stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi and integrated Bluetooth 4.0.
The NX500 also comes with the SonicMaster Premium audio solution, featuring the ICEpower and Bang & Olufsen technology. The sound solution is said to deliver a deep bass, rich and crystal-clear vocals, having a wide frequency range and high volume levels. Together with the MaxxAudio Master by Waves, recipient of a Technical GRAMMY award, it brings professional-level sound processing and an enhanced listening experience to the NX500.
The VisualMaster display technology is said to provide the NX500 with incredible clarity, accuracy and vibrant lifelike colour, delivering stunning detailed images to the 4K UHD 15.6-inch IPS touchscreen display. The 3M QDEF technology is also said to use quantum dots in order to provide an ultra-wide colour gamut of 100% NTSC, 108% Adobe RGB and 146% sRGB, while having a wide viewing angle of 178-degrees.
ASUS’ Zenbook NX500 is said to boast a new refined slim shape, having it carved from a single block of aluminium and featuring tapered slim edges. The keyboard is also said to be a work of art, having it as a one-piece frameless construction, featuring chicklet design and backlighting controlled by an ambient-light sensor.
Notebook coolers are a product that I know end users don’t often get excited about, and that is pretty understandable given that they serve a more practical purpose, rather than a function that you can enjoy. They do however provide a vital role when it comes to mobile computing and with more and more people using an ultra book, gaming notebook or similar style system as their main computer, there are one or two shortfalls that need to be navigated to fully enjoy them.
When you’re out and about, your system is in a low power state and you’re just doing some web browsing, then things are typically nice and cool inside your system, it doesn’t have to work too hard. When you’re at home with your rig, or perhaps you have a high-end laptop instead of a desktop that you only use at home or in the office, then there is a good chance that you’ll be running it from mains power, with all the settings dialled up to 11, playing games and plenty of other high-end tasks, this is when your system starts to break a sweat. Having some extra cooling under your system can have a massive impact on the overall system temperature and lower temps can often translate to better performance, as well as improve the lifespan of various components. Let’s not forget noise, laptop fans are often small with ultra high RPM, so offloading much of the work to a larger and quieter fan in a notebook cooler can bring benefits to your ears too.
The NB04 doesn’t sound especially cheap £28 for the black and £33 for the silver coloured model from Scan.co.uk, and it is about 20% more expensive than many competing products so it will be interesting to see what it has to offer to help justify the extra investment. Taking a look at the specifications below gives me an impression that much of the cost is due to the aluminium construction, as many competing brands often favour a plastic chassis design. The cooler includes a single 200mm fan that can run up to 800 RPM.
It comes nicely packaged in a white box which is nothing too fancy, but it does come with a clear image of both the black and silver models on the front as well as a run down of the major features and specifications.
Around the back you’ll find international translations for the features, as well as a more details specifications list (see above).
Before I even start this review, I’m going to lay down the law so to speak. The term Ultrabook adheres to a device that follows Intel’s strict guidelines and while the device that we’re looking at today may look Ultrabook-esque, it features AMD CPU architecture and therefore cannot be claimed as an Ultrabook, though for the most part (barring the exclusion of an Intel processor) it pretty much is an Ultrabook.
What Samsung have done to create this notebook is to take the fundamental aspects of their Ultrabook range (Ativ Book) and given it the same treatment as its big brother; the Ativ Book 9 Plus, but to keep costs down an AMD quad-core processor has been used as opposed to the more expensive and slightly more powerful Intel equivalent. While Intel fan-boys across the world will be shouting at their screens right now, you have to remember that a device such as this has limited purposes and no matter what CPU the manufacturer favours, it will not see Crysis 3 being run with all the settings turned right up to the max.
The term Ultrabook and the very similar AMD equivalent offer an unrivalled range of features in a convenient, small form factor that allows for superb battery life, fantastic connectivity options and of course the added portability factor due to the size and most importantly, the weight of a lightweight product like this.
As a journalist (as that is effectively what our line of work falls under) you’ll generally have a stereotypical view in your mind of me sitting in Starbucks with a Macbook Air/Pro in front of me and a large Americano steaming away as I ponder the latest happenings in the tech world; but whilst I am a typical journalist and I have coffee running through my veins, I don’t spend all my hours sitting in a coffee shop such as Starbucks or Costa waiting to chase the news. What I do instead is to attend pre-arranged press conferences and launches – typically in London and to get the news out as soon as possible or to make taking note down easier, I prefer to take either a tablet or more ideally a small laptop with me to type my notes on to – I still keep my trusty notebook and pen in the bag though!
This scenario is exactly where the Ativ Book 9 Lite comes into play. With a lightweight design, lightning fast performance and small form factor, on paper it ticks all the right boxes and to top that all off that it features a touchscreen panel. What’s more the Ativ Book 9 Lite retails at just a fraction of the price of an equally spec’d Ultrabook the features an Intel CPU at its heart.
This notebook that I’m having a look at today comes in one of two almost identical specifications, but with one component that is different between the two, but one that also affects the price quite considerably. This sole item that I’m referring to is the screen. Many laptops, notebooks and Ultrabooks that are coming to the market are now featuring touch-screen capabilities and the Ativ Book 9 Lite is yet another system that has this option available, although if you’re not a fond user of this new feature, or you simply don’t need it, then the Book 9 Lite does offer a non touch panel for a slightly lower price point.
In terms of the specifications, Samsung are a bit vague as to the CPU but after some digging we can see that it’s Socket FT3 (BGA769) A4/A6 APU 1.4GHz Quad Core offering which of course supplies the GPU side of the machine too.
The box in typical Samsung stylish is clean, crisp and to the point with a large image of the device and subtle branding. The image on the front showcases the Mineral Ash Black colour, though the model we have today is Marble White.
It’s certainly no secret that Sony have been having a rough time over the last few years, although now that I think about it, there aren’t that many companies in the same industry that haven’t had a tough time. Only last week we reported that Sony had its credit rating downgraded to junk status, and now they’re looking to offload their Vaio PC business.
Sony is far from down and out, its console business is currently booming and its enough to stem the losses of the TV and PC market, which have been struggling against fierce competition from their many rivals. While talking to the team at Pocket-lint, a company spokes person for Sony said “Sony continues to address various options for the PC business”.
The offer looks like the unit may go on sale for around $490 million, and would not only give Sony a big pile of cash that they can better use elsewhere, such as in their smartphone and gaming business to help boost profits, but it’ll also mean they’re no longer having to worry about loosing money on the PC side of their business. The Vaio name is a great one, they’ve got many great systems to their name over the years, but with so many offerings on the market these days aswell as the gains in market share for tablets, it can be easy to see how Sony are having a hard time.
Despite rumours of a joint venture between Sony and Lenovo, which Sony firmly denied, Sony have claimed they’re more likely to sell its Vaio business to a private investment firm.
Thank you Pocket Lint for providing us with this information.
Eurocom is reportedly launching the 14″ Armadillo Ultrabook, a thin, light and multi-touch enabled notebook. The 14″ notebook has a FHD 1920×1080 pixels display with 10 point multi-touch feature, maximizing user interaction with Windows 8 features with the help of multi-touch technology, scroll and select with intuitive gestures.
“The EUROCOM Armadillo is a perfect complement to our line of thin and light notebooks from 11.6″ to 15.6″ as it focuses on the pleasure of computing combined with a beautiful 14″ design. The EUROCOM Armadillo has the power, speed and slim build that can’t help but turn heads, who knew an Armadillo could be so beautiful!” said Mark Bialic, Eurocom President.
The notebook weighs only two kilograms ( 4 lb. ), has a 22 mm thickness and is said to have a battery endurance of 9 hours. It is made with a sleek brushed metal exterior. It has two hard drive bays, supporting a 1.4 TB hard disk space, and can be used by combining a standard SATA-3 storage drive with a mSATA solid state drive. You can choose from an mSATA SSD of 120 GB, up to a 480 GB SSD.
In terms of specs, the Eurocom Armadillo Ultrabook can take up to 16 GB of DDR3 RAM ( 2 x 8 GB modules) boasting a frequency of 1600 MHz, having an Intel low-powered i7-4500U clocked at 1.8 GHz (with up to 3.0 GHz in turbo mode) and Intel HD Graphics 4400. There is also a 6-in-1 card reader present on the side, granting easy access to download your data, photos or videos off your memory card.
The base model for the notebook starts at a price of £624, however you can also choose to further upgrade the Ultrabook to a whooping £1748 notebook. More information about the notebook and customization can be found here.
CES is back for yet another year, but before we start on the meetings and the laborious task of looking around the exhibitions that span thousands of square meters, I want to take a step back and make a few predictions on what will be the biggest technologies to be seen. Last year at CES 2013, talk of the show with out a doubt was 4K. With televisions and home entertainment now one of the key focal points for our digital lives, having a more immersive experience in the home and especially with a picture that has more definition to it, is paramount. At last years show we saw 4K screens all over the show floor and sizes up to a jaw dropping 100″ across.
Since the show last year we have seen 4K screens and monitors appear in greater numbers through the consumer channels from all the big names such as LG, Sony and Samsung to name only a few and the price has considerably dropped down as well.
The other big talk of the show was ultrabooks. Communication and working whilst on the move is one of the biggest focus points that as reviewers we have been seeing change in the last two years and the mobile and smart phone markets have exploded which only proves that we are demanding more and more from the technology that fits in our hands. Whilst tablets are a key item that we all look to have as part of our tech inventory, the creation of smaller, more powerful and most importantly lighter laptops has changed the way in which we think about how we work whilst on the go. Since Intel released their Haswell line of CPUs, the amount of power that can be packed into a small footprint has vastly improved and due to their impeccably low power consumption, the era of the ultrabook has well and truely set in.
Looking forward and on to this years show, I have been thinking long and hard over what could possibly be the must see items at this years show. 4K monitors and ultrabooks are certainly going to be an important aspect, but I’ve got a feeling that there is something even more close to home that changes the way in which we interact with our data.
Over the last few months the need to get access to our data – no matter where we are – has appeared as a growing need. Naturally what I’m referring to here is Cloud storage. Services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud and Skydrive have been around for a good couple of years now, however as we know they can get expensive when the need for large capacities becomes a factor and to top this off, there is the underlying worry that you don’t know exactly where your data is and if the providers are snooping around your data. Consequently we have seen vendors such as Western Digital change the way we think about Cloud storage with the release of the MyCloud and the EX4 cloud storage units which sit in your own home and give to you total control over who has access to your data – and when!
As a result, I’ve got a strong feeling that we are going to be seeing a lot of people advertising and talking about their cloud storage solutions, but moving away from the computer and data side of things we have a feeling that we are going to see more advanced technology in the car being shown off. Hybrid cars are by no means anything new, but what I’m referring to here is the way in which we interact with our cars and the intelligence they have to prevent accidents and help us to navigate our way through the world with a more ‘connected’ feel. At this moment in time we have to set our destinations from the sat nav in the car, but imagine if we could set all this from our phone or desktop before we even set off and by the time we get to the car, it already knows where you want to go etc. – imagine a world where the car can monitor your driving performance and if it senses that you are over intoxicated or tired it will alert you to pull over and take a break? The amount of lives that could be saved would be monumental.
There is only one real way to find out what is going to be this years buzz word and that is to get to the exhibition halls and discover it for real. What are your thoughts? What do you reckon will be this years talking points? Does Cloud storage and a safer driving experience tickle the taste buds, or would you like to see other new technologies making their way though to the rapidly growing digital world? Let us know your thoughts below. For now though we can only but wait until the show doors open in a matter of hours.
Samsung’s highest spec ATIV Book Plus 9 is now available for people to buy in the USA at a pretty hefty cost, Engadget reports. Samsung’s latest notebook the ATIV Book 9 Plus currently only comes with a Core i5 Haswell CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD but the new higher spec model comes with a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. The rest of the notebook remains the same and there is still that beautiful 3200 x 1800 display and the aluminium casing that is both thin and light – weighing in at just 3.06 pounds. You can pre-order the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus for a staggering $1800 in the USA.
As much as I like the Samsung brand the recently announced Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro can offer identical hardware specifications to the new higher spec ATIV Book 9 Plus for a fraction of the cost. I’d choose the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 2 Pro any day as it can be had with a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 3800 x 1800 panel (which are the same specifications) for $1200.
Being mobile is more important for many of us today than ever before, having the right tools for the job where ever you are in the world can make all the difference and the system were looking at today aims to offer high performance and portability that could allow us to be highly mobile and have no concerns about getting our work done.
Ultra books are proving massively popular recently and for good reason too, with many offering high performance solutions that are slim, light and very portable. Given that the high power and highly portable market has been dominated by Apple Mac Books for many years its great to see so many Windows-based solutions on the market, and of course a few Linux, Android and Chrome models too.
The model we are looking at today has been slightly customised and should set you back around £580 from OCUK. It features a 128GB SSD, i5 3210m 2.5GHz processor, 8GB ram and a 1366 x 768 resolution display. While that may not be the most ideal resolution for some people it’s more than enough for web browsing, word processing and maybe even some light gaming.
We often kick things off by benchmarking a system to within an inch of its life, but that isn’t something that is going to show this system in its best light, sure it packs an impressive mobile CPU, some good ram and a decent SSD, but it’s also tailored towards being highly energy-efficient to extend the battery life. So lets take a different look at this system, it’s built to be mobile and that’s exactly what we are going to do, road test it!
The system came in a fairly nondescript box, which contained another fairly bland box, although given this is a custom-made system I was hardly expecting a full finished retail package covered in images.
The system comes with a fairly standard power brick adaptor with a nice long cable.
Alongside MSI’s two Primo tablets it displayed its Core i7 S20 Slider Ultrabook. This device features a multi-angled slide screen with an attached keyboard. This allows you to choose between either a tablet or an ultrabook. The MSI Slidebook S20 has reasonably impressive specifications with an Intel Core i7 mobile, an 128GB mSATA SSD and a full HD display. It also boasts battery life of around 5 hours when being continuously used.
MSI’s choice of operating system is Windows 8 Pro but this will probably be upgraded to Windows 8.1 when that hits the market. Given the flexibility of the integrated Intel GPU this S20 Slidebook can also output at 4K or 2K resolutions. The screen features 10 point multi-touch and the whole product weighs in at just 1.16kg. MSI have provided a decent I/O set with USB, HDMI and a card reader. The MSRP for this unit is around $1200 and it has already been released.
According to what Intel have been telling PC World Australia, their new Haswell mobile based notebooks will offer 50% higher battery life than the Ivy Bridge equivalents. Rani Borkar, corporate vice president and general manager of the Intel Architecture Group, told PC World Australia that Haswell architecture had been design specifically with laptops and tablets in mind and was designed mainly to reduce power consumption. Indeed if you check our news detailing the performance of a Haswell i5 4670K based on a review from China, then you will see Haswell performs only 6% better than Ivy Bridge with the same clock speeds yet has dramatically lowered power consumption of around 17% less under full load and 21% less in a wide range of usage scenarios.
This improved battery life doesn’t come at the expense of performance and most of the gain comes in idle or standby mode where battery life is up to 20 times better than Ivy Bridge thanks to Haswell’s new C6 and C7 sleep states. These new improvements to battery life are going to be vital for Intel to produce better Ultrabooks and gain some traction in the tablet processor market where currently x86 processors are let down by poor power consumption.
What are your thoughts on 50% more battery life with Haswell mobile? Could you be tempted to grab a Haswell mobile based Ultrabook/Notebook/Tablet now?
The release of Haswell is not far away now and while the latest CPU hardware from Intel is expected to bring reduced power consumption and increased processing performance, it is also expect to bring with it some massively improved on board graphics and Intel is finally willing to share just what that part of the new chips will be a capable of.
The new generation of Haswell chips will use a GPU called Iris, and if the numbers are to be believed, they’re a massive improvement over previous integrated Intel solutions.
The Iris 5000 GPU is said to be 1.5x faster than the HD 4000 which we saw in the high end choices of Ivy Bridge, but its still efficient enough to be used in devices such as Ultrabooks given that is can be fitted with 15w parts and that will ensure it has a seriously low thermal output for such a device.
For even more power Intel have the Iris 5100 which will be reserved for 28w chips and this offers a much more impressive 2x performance gain on the HD 4000 chips.
Yet that performance gains don’t end there and for 47w chips the Iris Pro 5200 will offer up an eye watering 2.5x performance gain on HD 4000, while the Iris Pro can see performance increases of around 2.9x and at nearly 3x the performance of the previous generation, while still increasing CPU power and even more so still reducing overall power usage, Intel really could have out done themselves with Haswell.
Of course Iris will support all the major modern features such as DirectX 11.1, OpenGL 4.0, 4Kx2K, OpenCL 1.2 and triple displays, yet I wouldn’t expect it to be ideal for PC gaming, but on a productivity or workplace environment, this is still a massive gain over previous generations.
The decline of the netbook is a well documented one. Since the rise in popularity of the tablet PC, netbook sales have fallen off a cliff. The year 2010 marked a high point for netbooks and ever since then sales have been plummeting at an alarming rate. This hasn’t gone unnoticed as analysts, IHS iSuppli, predict that shipments of netbooks will be zero by 2015. According to their statistics in 2010 netbooks sold an impressive 32 million units yet this year, 2013, we will see 3.97 million – around 15% of 2010’s figure. What’s more, by 2014 shipments will be down to just 250,000 then by 2015 they will have vanished.
This is quite a sad development for the once popular netbook but the way the market is going doesn’t leave much room for them. Mainstream laptops seem to make up the majority of the 13″-17.9″ market, Ultrabooks are rising in the 11″-15.6″ market and everything smaller than that is now more or less exclusively occupied by tablets. It may seem a strange connection but the growing power and functionality of modern smartphones is probably also in part to blame for the decline of the netbook – very often people would get a netbook because they didn’t quite need a laptop but didn’t quite have the power or functionality required on their phone. Now tablets and smartphones fill that in between market.
Even though innovation in the tablet market has stagnated you can still pick up at decent netbook for €200 these days if you do some hunting around. In most cases they provide much better value for money than most tablets, Ultrabooks or laptops. Despite this fact, they still look set to die out so the advice is grab one while you can and expect netbooks to have drawn their last breath by 2015.
What are your thoughts on these gloomy netbook predictions?
At the Intel Solution Summit (ISS) which took place last week Intel told the world that we should expect to see Ultrabooks based on their fourth generation of core processors soon. The fourth generation of core processors are the Haswell micro-architecture. However, we already knew that because the release of Haswell is expected to be around June so that means Haswell releases are around 2 months away. The really juicy information from Intel was that these Haswell based Ultrabooks will start from just $599, a price significantly lower than we are used to seeing from the Ultrabook market segment of products.
Intel’s Kirk Skaugen, Senior Vice President and GM of Intel’s PC Client Group, told the audience at ISS that we will see new parts arriving at cheaper price points and with more compelling features. While this kind of rhetoric isn’t anything out of the ordinary what we are hoping it will mean is that Haswell parts will be more affordable at every performance range and “extra features” will be included with more models than previously done. Touch screen support, faster SSDs, higher resolution displays, voice recognition and facial recognition are all expected to be common-place features from the new range of Ultrabooks.
Skaugen went as far as to say that early Ultrabook designs were “just a retrofit of what was already on the market”. The key point in Skaugen’s talk was that Haswell will bring extended battery life and you will be able to leave your battery pack at home. Such a bold statement would suggest we can expect to see 10+ hours of battery life on most Ultrabook models if Intel’s partners do as they are expected to.
Would you buy a Ultrabook at $599? Are all these new features good inclusions? Or are Intel just playing catch-up? Will $599 Ultrabooks be able to sway consumers away from similarly priced tablets? Let us know what you think.
Google’s Chromebook Pixel that was announced recently has proved that Google’s plans were very much real. Its was reported by The Wall Street Journal that the Chromebook Pixel will be using a touchscreen interface. Yesterday, Google’s Pixel was up for sale via Google Play and being sold in certain countries.
The unit’s price starts with a whopping $1,300 starting with a Wi-Fi only model with plans for having a LTE enabled Chromebook Pixel coming shortly, with rumours stating that it should be released in April with the price tag of $1,450.
Although the price of the Chromebook Pixel is something that many will not be able to afford, considering the older Chromebooks were lot cheaper, the system configuration of the unit is pretty impressive:
12.85-inch, 400 nit display at 2560 x 1700 resolution (239 PPI)
Gorilla Glass multi-touch screen
32 GB storage
Backlit Chrome keyboard
2 x USB 2.0 ports
Mini display port
2-in-1 card reader supporting: SD, MMC
Intel Core i5 Processor (Dual Core 1.8GHz)
Intel HD Graphics 4000
4 GB DDR3 RAM
59 Wh battery
It should also be noted: Even though some may still consider the price to be higher for a notebook powered with Chrome OS, irrespective of the hardware configuration and also its appearance, Bill Richardson, Chrome OS’ software engineer posted a picture on his Google+ page clearly showing the Google Pixel running the Linux Mint OS in the background.
This points out that there is a very good chance that Chromebook can be used to easily install operating system such as Linux Mint and if an end-user wants to jump to another os, this gives a choice to them and provides freedom based on the their preferences and/or requirements.
This should be very tempting for many users as it enables people to have a high-end notebook with a full blown version/compatibility with Linux OS.
As of now, the Chromebooks are being shipped out from today onwards.