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

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All posts tagged "laptop"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Samsung's 9 Series Notebook: Finally, Some REAL Competition to the Macbook Air

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Samsung Laptops & Netbooks" @ 11:24 AM

"If you're thinking about ditching Windows to get a MacBook Air, you might want to think twice. The Samsung 9 Series, which goes on sale next month, is sexy, slim, and oh so fast. Weighing in a 2.89 pounds and measuring just .64 inches thick (versus 2.9 pounds and .68 for Apple's 13-incher), the 9 Series is just as portable. But there's a lot more to this notebook."

When I saw the Samsung 9 Series laptop, it was techno-lust at first sight. Wow, what hardware! This is exactly the kind of thing I've been waiting for someone to do: really try to go after the Macbook Air market with a drop-dead gorgeous design, superior materials, and hopefully a price tag that isn't out to lunch ($1599 for the 13" version is the only price tag mentioned). The units we saw at CES were prototypes, not final hardware, so Samsung was cagey about some of the specs and prices. We know it will come in two screen sizes: 11.6" and 13" (maybe 13.3"?). The 11.6" will come with a Core i3 or a Core i5, and the bigger 13" version will be a Core i5 and possibly a core i3. A 128 GB SSD will be standard on the 13" model, as will USB 3.0, and the screen technology - dubbed "SuperBright" - kicks out 400 nits and looked excellent in person. This is a laptop series I'll have my eye on! Laptop Magazine's video after the break, along with some of my own photos. Read more...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CES 2011: The Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Demo

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 03:30 PM

This is a very brief demo of the Lenovo IdeaPad U1, an interesting tablet/laptop hybrid computer. The screen detaches and you have an Android 2.2-based tablet computer, and when you dock it with the main chassis, you have a full-fleged Windows 7 computer. I think it's great to see companies pushing the envelope of what's possible with computer designs like this - we need more of that in an industry where, all too often, companies are afraid to experiment in case they fail. My hat is off to Lenovo for stepping out with this design.

Engadget has further details on the product that, while originally was announces at CES 2010, seemed to become more official at CES 2011.

Apple's Macbook Air 13 (2010 Model): The Future of Laptops?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Apple Laptops" @ 01:30 PM

This is my review video of the Macbook Air 13 (2010 model). This version has the 2.16 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 4 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce 320M GPU, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g/n WiFi. It has no CD/DVD drive. The unboxing video can be found here; I kept this laptop for the full two weeks before returning it to Apple. Returning it was a hard decision, because there were so many things I liked about the Macbook Air. Read more...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Laptop and Netbook Battery Usage: The Breakdown

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 08:00 AM

For the life of me, I can't find the article that I pulled this graphic from! I seem to recall it was on a Microsoft blog, but every search I use fails to find it. Regardless, it's legitimate and quite enlightening I think. It demonstrates the reality of battery/power usage on current laptops/netbooks, and busts the myths that some people still cling to, such as:

  • "If I switch from a hard drive to an SSD, I'll get better battery life!". Nope, not really - modern hard drives are ultra-power efficient and assuming your system has sufficient RAM, switching to an SSD won't do much for your battery life.
  • "Turning off Wifi and Bluetooth will get me better battery life" Perhaps, but only slightly - at only 4% of power consumption, networking technologies being turned on or off won't make a big dent in power consumption.

The biggest thing that will allow you to eek out maximum battery life on your laptop? Turning down the screen brightness. Nothing else you can do will make as big of a difference as that one change. The good news is that as we see more integration of chipset functions and GPU functions into the CPU, the overall chipset and GPU chips will use less power, and ultimately give us better battery life. That's why the new AMD Fusion APUs (CPU + GPU) and Intel's Sandy Bridge CPU + GPU chips are so interesting...they will bring about a level of chip-level power savings that we haven't seen thus far.

I think 2011 is going to be a great year for laptops and netbook!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Engadget Reviews the Lenovo IdeaPad U260

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts Articles & Resources" @ 04:30 PM

"It's obvious by now that we've got a real crush on the U260's bronzish, mocha exterior (it comes in an orange hue as well), and a glance at a few of the pictures in the gallery above makes it very easy to see why. It isn't as minimalistic as some others out there -- say Google's Cr-48 --but the soft-to-the-touch magnesium-aluminum alloy that envelops the system like a book cover gives the entire system a very clean and simplified look. Believe us, it's more than a welcome change from the glossy lids and rounded edges that we've gotten used to on the ThinkPad Edge family."

My interest was piqued when I saw this product teased a few months ago, but after reading this Engadget review, I'm quite disappointed. Lenovo, why on earth would you release a laptop that only has a 20 watt hour, four cell battery? People buying thin and light laptops value mobility and portability; those two traits mean that excellent battery life is a must. The thinner and lighter Macbook Air 13, in comparison, manages to pack in a 50 watt hour battery - which translates to at least two hours more battery life. Sure, the Macbook Air has a slower CPU, but having a strong CPU doesn't matter much in the end if there isn't some decent endurance to match.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Apple's Macbook Air 13 (2010 Model) Unboxing & First Impressions

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Apple Laptops" @ 07:00 AM

This is an unboxing and first impressions video of the Macbook Air 13. This is the maxed-out model has a 2.16 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 4 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, NVIDIA GeForce 320M GPU, Bluetooth, 802.11b/g/n WiFi. It has no CD/DVD drive, two USB ports, no Ethernet port, a built-in microphone and Webcam, and a headphone jack. The slender (0.11-0.68 inch) profile weighs in at 2.9 pounds. The full specs can be found on the Apple site. Read more...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Welcome to the Chrome Cr-48 Laptop

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 12:00 AM

"We've had plenty of pre-knowledge on this, but surprisingly this is our first actual glimpse of Google's new unbranded "Cr-48," the very first Chrome OS laptop. Google will distribute the laptop through its Chrome OS Pilot Program, in a sort of public beta. You actually have to apply to join the program, and there are going to be a limited number of the laptops available -- retail Chrome OS models from Acer and Samsung will be available in the middle of 2011 for the masses."

With a name and looks resembling a no frills cold war-era laptop knockoff from East Germany, the Cr-48 (named after an isotope of chromium) will be available soon in limited quantities to developers and testers. Pretty generic specifications: 12.1-inch screen; full-sized (slightly odd) keyboard; large clickpad; 3G chip; Dual-band WiFi; Webcam; 8 hours or more of use; 8 days or more standby; and flash storage only (bye bye spinning hard drive). I also read that the plan right now is to give 100MB/month of free Verizon (other carriers elsewhere) data transfer for 24 months as part of the package, to ensure that data in the cloud is always available even when disconnected from WiFi. Why 24 months? Is this the average time that a typical user keeps a computer? I like the concept, and the plan to provide persistent connectivity outside of WiFi is a great idea! Anyone have any predictions of what a device like this will cost, if it arrives as anticipated in mid-2011?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Looking for Black Friday Laptop Deals?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts Events" @ 07:11 PM

"Black Friday is one of the best times to buy a laptop or netbook and Black Friday 2010 is no different. We've rounded up over 100 Black Friday laptop deals that are available at close to 20 retailers including Amazon, MacMall, Best Buy, Dell , Office Max, Office Depot, Walmart and others."

Looking for the best Black Friday deals on a new laptop or netbook? Our friends over at have put together a list of over 100 of the best deals on laptops and netbooks. Check it out!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Lenovo IdeaPad U260 Promo Video

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 12:00 PM

I hadn't heard of this upcoming product until watching this video, but it sure does look quite nice - assuming the price point is right and the battery life is decent, I thin Lenovo could have a real winner on their hands here!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I Don't Particularly Want to Buy a Macbook Air: What Other Options Do I Have?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Laptop Thoughts Talk" @ 08:00 AM

OK readers, here's the deal: I'm on the hunt for a new laptop, and I have certain specs that I want the laptop to have. Shockingly, the new 13.3" Macbook Air seems to come closest to the mark...but, given a choice, I'd prefer to not give Apple more of my money. I have no plans to run OS X regularly on it, so something that's built specifically for Windows 7 is more to my liking (rather than using Boot Camp on the Air). Read more...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dell Simplifies Consumer Product Line-up

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 06:00 PM

"We knew something was going on with Dell's branding with the resurrection of the XPS laptop line, and this morning we caught up with a few of the company's executives to learn all about the entire restructuring. As you can see above, there will now be three core brands -- Inspiron, XPS and Alienware -- all focusing on different "performance seekers."

Dell's product line up has grown bloated and out of control over the years, and this is a much-needed effort to streamline it. Will it help change the perception that people have as being Dell as a "budget" provider of computers? Maybe - but I think Dell also needs to focus more on releasing fewer, but better, products. Releasing a new laptop every month means less engineering and design effort put into each product - and Dell needs to do better in both.

Dell Launches New XPS Notebook Line

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Dell Laptops & Netbooks" @ 09:51 AM

Available in three sizes - I'm really glad to see the 14" in there - the new Dell XPS laptops start at $899 for the 14" model, $849 for the 15" model, and $949 for the 17" model. They're Skype certified, feature JBL speakers, and can be configured with up to a Core i7 CPU. Unfortunately, the 14" model is stuck at a low-res 1280 x 720 screen with no option for a high-res screen. It's extremely frustrating to me trying to find a laptop that has a 14" screen at 1440 x 900 resolution. Dell doesn't seem to offer anything with that resolution any more...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making Your Linux Laptop Sip Power

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 01:30 PM

"Power saving is a hot topic for laptop users who need to get things done when they are on the move and running on limited battery energy. Here is a list of smart Linux tricks to save battery power. According to Less, the leading source for power saving tips on Linux, the following components of our computer consumes most of our battery life and we can lengthen our battery life by tweaking them:"

There are probably about as many guides on how to extend your laptop's battery life as there are atoms in the universe, however most of them tend to be Windows or OSX focused. Some will include tips that apply to all laptops, but very few are targeted towards the Linux crowd. ProductiveGeek has compiled a list of useful tips that will help, though many fall into the "applies to all laptops" category. Still, every watt is sacred and those extra ten minutes you just gained could be the difference between life and death.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Bag For Every Occasion

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Laptop Thoughts News" @ 09:00 AM,281...,2368701,00.asp

"School's back in session, and so you've picked out that great new laptop, got your classroom essentials, and you're pumped to head back to class. You're missing just one thing: a great laptop bag to carry it all in. Whether you're looking for something simple and sleek or roomy and full of handy pockets, we have your top picks for fall."

Everyone I see and their toy dog has a laptop, notebook, netbook or slate these days. They do not schlep them around naked to the world though. The ideal carry case can come from anything like a sleeve to a nearly indestructible Pelican case. From the looks of it, there seems to be two trends. Many bags have a more utilitarian look, or one that is designed to fit everything, or stylish type, of which you will probably need to buy several different bags to match each outfit you have. I am partial to traditional laptop cases myself, especially if they have rollers. I tend to carry a lot of gear with me, from the power brick, power bar, mouse, mouse pad, external hard drive, flash drives, extra batteries, tools such as a screwdriver and canned air, headphones, spare CDs and DVDs along with their cases, an assortment of pens and lest I forget, the laptop, it all adds up to something that weighs enough to lower the height of my car by several inches. What about you?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

August 2010 Top Laptops

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

"This month we reviewed 17 notebooks and netbooks, including the newest edition to HP's Envy line, the second generation VAIO P from Sony, and Lenovo's first foray into 3D. Six of these systems earned 4 star ratings and two even snagged the coveted Editor's Choice."

Laptop reviewed 17 notebooks and netbooks in August 2010, and six (6) of them earned four-star (out of five) ratings, and two (2) received Editor's Choice awards (the ASUS Eee PC 1215N and the Panasonic Toughbook C1). The Asus 1215N appears to be one of the first netbooks to offer laptop-class performance for under $500. On the other end of the spectrum, the sub-$300 HP Mini 100e gets four-stars in the K-6 Student category, offering decent performance and long battery life. August's review offers some excellent choices, regardless of your needs.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Laptop Touchpads: Why Do They Often Suck so Much?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 11:00 AM

"When you think about how much laptops have evolved over the past couple of years, it's staggering. You can now get screaming-fast quad-core power inside a machine that weighs less than 4 pounds. Many notebooks can switch between integrated and discrete graphics on the fly. You'll even find some models with 3D displays or tech that lets you stream video wirelessly to your HDTV. Yet even with all of these advancements, notebooks have taken serious steps back in some ways. The "evolution" of the touchpad seems to have moved from a utilitarian pointing device to a mere decoration."

Mark Spoonauer over at Laptop Magazine has a point: touchpads are still a real hit or miss affair on laptops. I reviewed the dm3 just like Spoonauer did, and both of us had the same conclusion: how could HP release something so shockingly awful? What were the designers thinking, and more so, how did such an obviously awful implementation make it into a shipping product? I've seen some truly awful touchpads, but I've also seen some really great ones. I don't think it's a matter of personal opinion: a touchpad should be responsive, easy to use, not interfere with you when you're typing (even if you brush the touchpad surface), and have buttons that are easily clickable.

I part ways with Spoonauer when it comes to his praising of pointing sticks - I've always found them to be more of a hassle than anything else. Where do you stand on touchpad versus pointing stick? And what's the worse, or best, touchpad you've had on a laptop? I thought that the touchpad on my Dell XPS M1330 was perfect - I had zero complaints with it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

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

Engadget and Laptop Magazine Review the Dell Inspiron M101z

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Dell Laptops & Netbooks" @ 03:30 PM

Laptop: "And the award for most improved ultraportable goes to...Seriously, Dell has done a really nice job revamping the 11-inch member of its Inspiron family, banishing the lackluster touchpad with integrated buttons and slightly cramped keyboard in favor of a design that's much easier to use. And the Inspiron M101z (starting at $449; $579 as configured) is easier on the eyes, too, featuring bold color options and a sleek forward hinge design. When you add in powerful speakers and a dual-core AMD processor with ATI graphics, this 3.4-pound machine runs circles around your typical netbook. But is it the best value in its class?"

Enadget: "...we can't help but think Dell's new Inspiron M101z could be our favorite yet. Yes, unfortunately, our review unit was adorned in that bright pink color above that's most likely causing your eyes to tear, but don't let its sissy exterior fool you -- it's powered by AMD's new dual-core Athlon Neo II processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 320GB 7,200rpm hard drive. Yep, she's a heartbreaker on paper, but hit the break to find out if the $579 M101z is in fact a worthy companion."

Verdict? Engadget gave it a 7/10, and liked it because of the build quality, great keyboard, fast performance, and solid graphics performance. They knocked it for the thicker-than-normal size, and weak battery life (3 hours 35 minutes in their video run-down test). The results from Laptop Magazine were about the same; the less-punishing Web surfing test had the M101z lasting 4 hours 54 minutes, but the category average is 5 hours 33 minutes. Still, it offers decent bang for the buck and is worth considering.

Dell Officially Announces the Inspiron M101z

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Dell Laptops & Netbooks" @ 12:05 PM

"Dell today announced the latest in compact computing - the ultra-portable and ultra-stylish Inspiron M101z laptop. The perfect combination of size, weight, performance and contemporary lux looks, the Inspiron M101z is the ideal on-the-go, easy-to-use laptop PC for today's mobile population. Whether a student running between classes or a mom trying to keep the kids entertained, carrying this ultrathin sub-4-pound[i] laptop that fits easily in a handbag or backpack helps lighten the load. Despite its diminutive size, the Inspiron M101z laptop packs performance punch, nimbly stepping through everyday tasks quickly and delivering impressive playback of streaming movies and HD videos."

I already posted about this last month, but it looks like it's now official: Dell has released the Inspiron M101z. Anything different from the post from last month? Not really - the 6-cell battery is standard, but there's a 9-cell battery coming this fall that should offer a decent boost to the battery life. Pricing in Canada starts at $449 CAD.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

HP's Envy 14 Laptop Put Under the Microscope by Engadget and Laptop Magazine

Posted by Jason Dunn in "HP Laptops & Netbooks" @ 05:00 AM

Engadget: "The HP Envy 14 is like the final revision of a C+ term paper that always had potential, but just needed an bit of extra information and refinement to get an A. In fact, when HP introduced the Envy 14, the company was rather blunt about the fact that many of the issues that plagued the original Envy systems had been addressed, including the lack of an optical drive and backlight keyboard, the frustrating touchpad and the heat caused by the Core i7 processor."

Laptop: "About a year has passed since HP released its Envy 13 and 15, high-style notebooks aimed directly at Apple's MacBook Pros. We generally liked the designs of these metal-bodied machines, but their high prices and mediocre ergonomics dampened our enthusiasm. Now here comes the Envy 14, which starts at $999 ($1,289 as configured)."

I've read both the Engadget and Laptop review, and they've both given the Envy 14 an 80% rating - which is quite good for a Windows laptop. Note I said "for a Windows laptop" - most Mac laptops tend to get rated slightly higher, but that's pretty typical industry-wide. All in all, the Envy 14 looks like a real contender - but it's a shame HP couldn't do more with the battery life. The Envy 14 supports HP's battery slice technology, but the slice costs a staggering $200...that's 20% of the base Envy 14 price. Yeeouch! Still, expensive or not, I'm glad HP offers it - it's my opinion that laptop makers have gotten lazy when it comes to offering innovative extended battery options. Read more...

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