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All posts tagged "hardware"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dell Streak Priority Pre-Sale Ordering Begins August 12, 2010

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Dell Streak" @ 02:00 PM

"Orders for the Dell Streak Tablet open up for U.S. priority pre-sale registrants at this Thursday, August 12. General availability follows a day later at The Dell Streak is available for $299.99 with new two-year AT&T contract†, and $549.99 without. Customers who purchase the Streak, and signed up during the pre-sale program, will receive a free second-day shipping upgrade. Customers who redeem their pre-sale coupon can purchase a Plantronics Bluetooth earpiece for 99 cents while supplies last."

image credit:

Delayed a couple weeks in the USA, ordering for the Dell Streak opens on August 12, 2010 for priority pre-sale registrants (click here to pre-register), giving you a 24-hour head-start on the general public. Lots of buzz about this 5-inch tablet -- shipping with Android 1.6 but expected to be upgradeable to Android 2.1 -- coming in the near future. Let the competition begin!

Monday, August 9, 2010

iBuypower Offers Multitouch Gaming Laptop

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 03:00 AM

"Veteran gaming-PC company iBuypower is offering the first multitouch gaming laptop, along with a workaround for the complete dearth of multitouch games. The 15.6-inch MT20X features a capacitive screen with glass overlay to take full advantage of Win7’s multitouch support. All the neat features we’ve come to associate with multitouch—finger-based dragging, scrolling, zooming, rotating—are performed with smoothness and precision on the MT20X’s screen. But neat as this is, it felt a bit unnatural to use on a conventional laptop."

I'm just not so sure about the ergonomics of long-term usage of a touchscreen in an upright configuration like this. I can't see this is being comfortable or even practical for any type of long term work on any computer. But kudos for trying something new anyway.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

HP Slate To Morph Into Best Buy Rocketfish Tablet?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 07:30 PM

"Well, look at that. A Rocketfish tablet. Can't say we saw this coming, but Best Buy's CTO and Geek Squad founder, Robert Stephens, just tweeted two pics of the surprisingly polished-looking tablet. We're currently digging for more details but from what we can tell from the pics, the tablet looks remarkable similar to early HP Slate pics. Every seem and port seems to be the same right down to the (docking?) port on the bottom. Even if it's not built on the same platform, the screen sizes look about the same, placing the Rocketfish tablet in the 9-inch range."

Very interesting! Ever wonder what happens to a technology product that doesn't quite make the grade with the original concept/manufacturer? The Rocketfish branding is used by Best Buy for other hardware, so the tablet may be using Windows 7, or even webOS. Speculation is that the HP Slate 500 is destined to be the enterprise offering, so is this the consumer version? Back in early July 2010, Stephens also tweeted that HP was working on an Android tablet, so we'll just have to wait to learn more, if this does indeed turn out to be true. In any case, it appears that Best Buy will be a player in the nascent tablet market. What do you all think, does this sound plausible?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Acer 8943G Aspires To Greatness

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Acer Laptops & Netbooks" @ 11:30 PM

"If you're in the market for a notebook that does double duty as a full-fledged entertainment center, then take a good look at Acer's new Aspire 8943G, but don't buy it just yet."

In the entertainment center class of laptops, the Acer 8943G is rated as a bargain at $1,599, but Laptop warns about serious wifi connectivity problems (Acer says that a fix is forthcoming). With an 1.6-GHz Intel Core i7-720QM, an 18.4-inch screen, weighing-in at 8.4-pounds, Dolby sound, and 8GB of RAM standard, this is a well-equipped laptop. Stylish but with a few quirks, this systems rates a bit above average in performance, a bit below average in file transfer speed, below average in boot time, above average in graphics performance. While this is not a gaming laptop, it did score above average on Far Cry 2 and World of Warcraft. Battery life is slightly under 3 hours, but this isn't a machine that's meant to run off the battery. Aside from the wireless issue, this is a decent performing laptop that compares well to the less-attractive Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q890 ($1899).

MSI P600 and S6000 North American Debut

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 10:30 PM

"Hold onto your hats folks: it's another notebook, from MSI! It's a modern day miracle, we know. All kidding aside, we can't complain with the amount of laptops that keep flowing from MSI. After all, competition's good for us all. The company's newest two machines, the P600 and S6000, are both making their U.S. debut this week, with both of them falling into the popular 15.6" category."

MSI has a reputation for building solid laptops and netbooks that perform well, and are affordable. With the P600 and S6000, their goal is to provide systems offering "multimedia, entertainment and business capabilities" for work and play. The Intel Core i5 equipped P600, at 5.3-pounds and $829.99, contains an optical drive, and an 8-cell battery that MSI claims will last 8 hours, while its sibling, the 5.0-pound and $799.99 S6000 is slimmed-down, still with an Intel Core i5, but with a 4-cell battery and no optical drive. The P600 will be available online, while the S6000 will (also) be sold in stores. Could this be serious competition for the 15.6-inch MacBook Pro at half the cost?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dual-boot Windows 7 / Android AOD255 Netbook from Acer

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Acer Laptops & Netbooks" @ 03:00 PM

"Acer's latest crack at combining Google's Android mobile software and Microsoft's Windows XP OS in the same netbook was unveiled at a computer show in Taipei on Thursday."

Details are a bit sketchy at this point, but Acer has unveiled the AOD255 netbook in Taipei, with their own configuration management software (Acer Configuration Manager for Android) allowing a quick boot into Android, or a 'regular' boot into Windows XP. Interesting that Linux QuickBoot systems are being started to be replaced by Android.

The device sports an Intel Atom N450, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, a 10.1-inch screen, a 160GB hard disk, and a 3-cell battery (a 6-cell upgraded battery will set you back $95). Basic price is expected to be around $375 and availability is yet to be determined.

Review of the HP Mini 5102 "Business Netbook"

Posted by Michael Knutson in "HP Laptops & Netbooks" @ 02:00 PM

"It's business time. Is "business netbook" a misnomer? Aren't business notebooks supposed to be both portable and powerful, while emitting a confident and businesslike aura? Can a netbook ever be enough for a business user? HP is one of the few companies out there betting that a netbook can be appealing to a business audience."

Finally a 10.1-inch "business" netbook that supports higher (1366x768) resolution at only a $25 premium, adds Broadcom Crystal video acceleration for $45 more, 2GB RAM for an additional $25 (also requires an upgrade beyond Windows 7 Starter), and an extended 6-cell battery for $25. The ability to customize is a huge plus, and should resonate well with business users, especially the 8-hour battery life (with the extended battery). Base price is scheduled to be around $400, and even with these options added, the price remains reasonable for a 3.5-pound business netbook. Hopefully the 5102 will be on HP's web site for purchase soon!

Best Netbooks and Laptops for Back to School

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 03:00 AM

"You didn't think we'd let back to school season roll around without rounding up the latest gear, did you? Good, because here at Engadget we understand that not only is heading off to college nerve wracking, but picking out the best gadgets can as equally scary. We couldn't think of kicking off our back to school guide with anything but our top netbook / laptop choices since, you know, a good performing and well-rounded machine is absolutely essential for those hours of Facebook stalking, err of homework and studying. No matter what your budget, we've got you covered with recommendations and loads of mobile computing options."

I usually find that most of these guides recommend more horsepower than is really necessary.  I see too many parents investing in a high-powered machine for their first years student with the plan that it will last them all four years.  I usually recommend a pretty low end laptop for the first two years.  Even a low end netbook can surf the web for research and run your basic office apps.  They can also handle Hulu and Netflix streaming for entertainment needs.  But the laptop is probably the better choice just for the larger screen/keyboard/DVD drive.  They should also invest in an external backup solution and be religious about using it, if not, that first lost paper the night before it is due is going to be a painful lesson.  Next, I recommend taking that big pile of money you saved by going cheap and putting it aside for when you get that call that your child's laptop has been lost/stolen/breaks.  Finally, by the time they've reached their junior year and are in a specific program that might require specialized software and a higher powered computer, hopefully with market price declines you may still have enough left over to buy a more powerful machine than you originally planned to buy when they first started school.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Augen GenTouch78 Disappoints

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 03:30 PM

"When buying discount electronics, there's a delicate balance consumers have to consider between expense and quality. If a device doesn't cost much, some faults can be forgiven. Sometimes, however, it's not worth even the small amount of money you forked over for it. Sadly, Augen's $149 GenTouch78 falls in the latter category. While it may achieve cult status in the Android hacker community, consumers should steer clear of its frustrating resistive touchscreen and poor button placement."

My local Kmart fell through on their promise to have me one of these on Monday, so I haven't had the chance to play with one. Based on this review, they might have just saved me $149. While I was initially excited about this device, that fact that I'm probably going to have to wait a while to get one and still am going to be a bit disappointed with it makes me think I'd be better off being patient until the end of the year and hope that for a bit more cash I can get a much better product.

The iPad Will Rule The US Tablet Market

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"But did Apple just destroy the US tablet market in the same way? Are manufacturers really going to invest millions upon millions of dollars in R&D and marketing when consumers are buying the iPad by the millions? Is the US tablet market dead?"

Tablets, even slate tablets, have been around for a very long time, so I do not think that the iPad has preemptively killed the US market in any fashion. I believe that the iPad will certainly dominate for quite some time, as the tablet market was about as stagnant as the phone market was when the iPhone was introduced, but competition for the iPad already exists in the form of netbooks, and I am fairly sure that other major manufacturers will also look into entering the market with their own slates. The iPad certainly has a lead in the market but just as they drew from the resources and lessons learned with the iPhone, other manufacturers already have numerous tools, largely from the phone market, which can be used to compete.

A Review of Lenovo's Hot IdeaPad U160

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 02:00 PM

"An 11.6-inch laptop with a Core i7 processor. Does the Lenovo IdeaPad U160 really need more of an introduction than that? Believe it or not, the ultrathin laptop you're peering at above isn't much larger than a 10-inch netbook, but instead of packing underpowered parts (ahem, Atom) its got one of Intel's most powerful ultra-low voltage processors."

There are many descriptions of Lenovo's IdeaPad U160: Hot, Scorcher, Burner - and this speedy laptop is all that and more. Sporting an Intel ULV Core i7 processor, it handles HD content with aplomb, but at the expense of battery life (around three hours) and at the risk of roasting your lap. Bottom line is that there are cheaper laptops available that perform as well for less than $1149, have much better battery life, and won't give your lap quite the same roasting. Personally I'd buy the Toshiba Portege R705 at $799, and get a slightly larger screen, similar weight, great performance and better battery life.

Dell Comparing Studio Series Laptops to MacBook Pros

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Dell Laptops & Netbooks" @ 12:00 PM

"It's no secret to those who follow tech that Macs tend to offer lesser specs than its competitors, and for more money. That hasn't slowed Apple's momentum in the laptop market, though, especially among college students. As the back to school season kicks off, Dell has posted a direct comparison between its Studio 15 and 17 laptops and the 15- and 17-inch MacBook Pro."

While the Studio series laptops perform well, and are priced significantly below comparably sized and configured MacBookPros, the intangibles make the big price difference somewhat less of a factor. Dell perhaps should have focused on their strengths in addition to re-hashing the "Apple tax." Stressing some simple things, like a one-year warranty standard vs. Apple's 90 days would perhaps have helped, but then, on the other hand, Dell's support has become somewhat of a liability recently. I personally like the Studio laptops, but would I choose one over a MBP? Probably not, despite the price difference.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Big Competition for the iPad?

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 01:00 PM

"Check out this 14mm-thin contender: built by Pegatron and still at the prototype stage, the MasterPad looks to be the embodiment of Steve Ballmer's incoming armada of desirable Windows 7 tablets."

Tipping the scales at about 990 grams (around 2.2-pounds) in its prototype stage, the MasterPad may sport an 11.6-inch screen, 1366x768 resolution, 3G connectivity, webcam and 32/64GB SSD. Windows 7 (premium, apparently, from the video) and Android appear to be the OS options, and support for Flash and 1080p video is expected. Negatives, at least as described in the prototype are a 2-cell battery providing only 5-hours of use, and an Intel Atom 1.66GHz Atom N450 CPU. Looking at the video showing what I assume is the prototype, it appears reasonably thin, but has a massive onscreen keyboard. Arrival expected "in the coming months," and no pricing information was available.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Engadget Reviews the Gentouch 78

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 07:30 AM

"We'll be spending a bit more time with the Gentouch 78 to make a final call on its functionality, but it's crystal clear that this isn't a high-end device. If you were hoping to find a beautiful iPad substitute for a fraction of the cost, keep on looking. However, considering most Kmarts have been selling out of these within hours of receiving new inventory, this just may be the answer all you cheap tablet seekers have been looking for -- just be prepared to put up with more than a few annoyances along the way."

Engadget has done a quick review. It looks like there are definitely some quirks, but in my opinion most appear to be acceptable for a $150 device. The one thing that may be a deal-breaker is that the advertised market availability does not seem to be realistic. I'll report back on that more as soon as I get my hands on one.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

ASUS U33Jc-A1: Not Bad for Bamboo!

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Asus Laptops & Netbooks" @ 09:30 PM

"Pandas, East Asia, wood. Nope, 'laptop' hasn't ever been on the list of words we typically associate with 'bamboo,' but ASUS sure has us willing to tack it on with the introduction of its U Bamboo Series. The company's newest 13-inch U33Jc is covered in one of the most durable and recyclable materials on earth, and its internals are made of equally strong parts."

When I think of laptop construction material, I generally don't think of bamboo. ASUS has made this strong, performing laptop with the lid and the palm rest made of real bamboo. Take that, competitors, with your all-plastic construction! This strong 4.5-pound performer looks good, and with chrome accents and wood it resembles a fine piece of furniture. Unfortunately, the plastic chiclet (island) keyboard is only an adequate performer. No backlighting.

On the performance side: excellent graphics performance except with 3D games, pretty fast, but reports say that the processor is underclocked, and that slower memory is used than in its predecessor, the U30jc. Battery life, at five hours (6:47 in Laptop's Battery Rundown Test), is very good, and Intel's WiDi (wireless display) technology is onboard, allowing (with the addition of a $99 NetGear Net2TV adapter) content to be beamed to a flat screen TV. WiDi is not recommended for gaming or using as an second monitor, as there is a measurable (3 second) lag as content is moved. ExpressGate Cloud instant-on OS is present, and accessed by a button press, but this version is slower than previous versions. All in all, a top performer for $999.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Short Video Review of the HP Pavilion dv6z

Posted by Michael Knutson in "HP Laptops & Netbooks" @ 06:30 PM

"As part of the most recent refresh to the popular Pavilion line of notebooks, HP has released the HP Pavilion dv6z, an AMD-powered notebook that includes a sleek-looking metal alloy lid. The new HP Pavilion dv6z includes switchable graphics with an island-style keyboard and starts at $579."

A medium-sized laptop, with a robust AMD processor and switchable graphics, the dv6z sports a different keyboard, with a row of function keys added vertically to the left of the standard keys. The processor is robust, but exhibits a few unexplained lags when using multiple Chrome browser windows with multiple tabs. This 15.6-inch glossy-screened laptop is targeted to the back-to-school crowd. A more complete review is expected to be available within the next week or so.

Video Proof that the Augen Tablet Exists

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 02:00 PM

This is the first video I've seen of the tablet. The reviewer is an iPad user and has never touched Android before, and he still thinks it is OK for the cost. Overall, I think it looks like a buy for $150. The local Kmart manager told me I'll have one in my hands this Monday, so I'm hoping to have a quick look done shortly thereafter. If you've got some specific questions you want answered about this device, post them here and I'll do my best to include the answers.

Dell Streak User Interface Caught on Video

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Dell Streak" @ 01:30 PM

This is a nice video demonstrating some of the customizations Dell has done to optimize the Streak to make better use of Android on a larger screen. For the most part it looks pretty good. From the video, they imply that the Streak is landscape-only, which is not something I'd heard before, but maybe I'm just inferring too much from what he said. If true, I think this is a bit limiting, as I'd want to use a lot of apps, like an ebook reader, in portrait mode.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A $99 Android Netbook

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 07:00 PM

"So, is the GenBook worth your $100? Depends on what you need this thing for -- it's alright for looking up a quick Website here and there, and we assume if you can get some light apps running on it, it could be a decent single-function device. However, if you're looking for something that can provide decent video playback and be more of a multitasker, it's probably best to save up an extra $100 and get something a bit more substantial (like a bona fide netbook)."

This is the same company that is bringing you the $150 Android tablet I reported on yesterday. This one fares poorly in the review and I'm hoping it doesn't reflect on the quality of the tablet (although it probably does). I'm still keeping my fingers crossed since the tablet supposedly has Android 2.1 as opposed to 1.6 on this and more horsepower. Otherwise, this really is similar to what Asus first offered in the original Eee at a fantastic price point. With some fine tuning, it could still be a winner. Still, I've got to ask, where the heck did this company come from?

Value-Priced Satellite T235 Launches

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Toshiba Laptops & Netbooks" @ 05:00 PM

"For less than 600 bucks, it doesn't get any better than this. With its lightweight chassis, long battery life, comfy keyboard, and unique style, Toshiba's Satellite T235 is one of the best consumer ultraportables yet."

With great looks, a great keyboard, a great battery, a great price, and a weight under 4-pounds, Laptop rates the Satellite as one of the very best 13-inch consumer laptops. With a 320GB SATA hard drive, 4GB Standard (8GB max), a 6-hour plus battery, and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OS, this laptop is a strong contender for "best ultraportable." Potential netbook buyers may want to consider this a worthy alternative for not much more money.

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