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

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All posts tagged "review"

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ten iPad Alternatives

Posted by Michael Knutson in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 10:30 PM

"From its slim design and unparalleled ease of use to the bevy of available apps, there’s little doubt that the iPad 2 is great. But Apple’s tablet isn’t the only game in town. There are several Android-powered slates we really like, including the ultra-light Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Lenovo K1, which offers several enhancements to Google’s Honeycomb software. Then there’s truly unique iPad alternatives, such as the Asus Eee Pad Transformer (which has an optional keyboard dock) and the HTC Flyer (which supports pen input)."

If you can get past all the annoying mouse-over advertising, Laptop produces a pretty good list of iPad alternatives: Acer Iconia Tab A500, ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101, Barnes and Noble Nook Color, HTC Flyer, Lenovo IdeaPad K1, Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, Motorola Xoom, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Toshiba Thrive, and the Vizio Tablet. A bit surprising that the Nook is included, but it does have some tablet features, and Android behind the scenes. Each tablet has a link to a full review, so it's well-worth a read. Anyone have a favorite from this group? I like the Transformer and the ThinkPad Tablet (for its business orientation).

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Only Out a Day and Already 5 Stars for the 13-Inch MacBook Air

Posted by Jeff Campbell in "Apple Laptops" @ 06:30 PM

"'It's kind of hard to improve on a 4.5-star rating. And yet Apple's new 13-inch MacBook Air (starting at $1,299, $1,599 as configured) is better than its predecessor in some key ways,' Mark Spoonauer reports for Laptop Magazine."

Well this didn't take long, saying that "when you combine a sleek ultraportable design with a great display and touchpad then nearly double the performance-without sacrificing battery life-you're left with a winner." I really do love these laptops (once they put in the SSD that is), but can't everything be improved at some level? Then again, when this beauty outperforms the MacBook Pro, what other rating can you give it?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Updated Galaxy Tab 10.1 Reviewed; Includes Honeycomb

Posted by Karey Westfall in "Android Slates/Tablets & Accessories" @ 07:00 AM

"When it released the original Galaxy Tab last year, Samsung became one of the first mainstream hardware vendors to deliver an Android tablet. With its new Galaxy Tab 10.1, Samsung kept the Galaxy Tab name and branding, but the new device has little else in common with its predecessor. Don't let the "10.1" fool you-this is all new."

The Galaxy Tab has proven itself to be one heck of a product! But it get's even better with the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 which includes Honeycomb! Check out this comprehensive review of the new Tab and let us know if you will be purchasing it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Blackberry Playbook Review, Joshua Topolsky Style

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Other Slates & Tablets" @ 12:00 PM

"To say that the BlackBerry PlayBook - and a review of the PlayBook - is something of an anticipated event would be an understatement. From the first moment the tech community caught wind (and sight) of Research In Motion's first foray into the tablet world, everyone seems to be on pins and needles. It's not just that another company is making a charge at Apple's iPad - it's also that RIM has been in something of a bind lately. The once-unassailable company has watched marketshare slinking away in the direction of iOS and Android, due at least in part to a current crop of devices and new OS which leave much to be desired. But RIM hasn't been sitting still, either; the Canadian phone-maker has been snapping up software companies like QNX and the impressive UI team of TAT, all in service of supercharging the next lifecycle of BlackBerry products. And the PlayBook is the... ahem, fruits of those labors."

If anyone was wondering if Joshua Topolsky's excellent reviews would still be coming after he left Engadget, wonder no more: his review of the Blackberry Playbook is insightful and very detailed. Reading it, I have to admit that I'm a bit surprised: I frankly didn't hold very high hopes for the Playbook, if only because historically RIM has proven they're reluctant to change and modernize; every time I use a Blackberry, underneath the thin veneer of shiny graphics and icons, I see a UI that looks like it came from a paper in the '90s. RIM has always seem stuck in the past to me, but no more: the Playbook has a lot of impressive UI chops going for it.

Unfortunately, the impressive UI and performance can't make up for the lack of apps - and we're not just talking a lack of third party apps, because the Playbook ships without a calendar, contact, or email app of it's own. You can only get access to your PIM data - including email - by synching it with a Blackberry phone. How insane is that? Very insane. RIM has shipped the Playbook in an even more unfinished state than Motorola did with the XOOM...and that's saying a lot!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Laptop Magazine Reviews the Samsung Series 9

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Samsung Laptops & Netbooks" @ 07:00 AM

"Ever since Steve Jobs pulled the original MacBook Air out of an envelope, Windows laptop makers have been trying to beat the thinnest, lightest notebook in town. We've seen some notable efforts, such as the sexy but underpowered Dell Adamo series and the powerful but unsexy ThinkPad X301. Others have tried, too, but no one has been able to pair an ultra-slim and ergonomically sound design with an uncompromised computing experience. Now Samsung has taken up that challenge with the Series 9, a machine that rivals the latest 13-inch MacBook Air not only on in terms of design but performance. It also has a brighter display than the Air and a backlit keyboard, which you only get on the MacBook Pro. The Series 9 definitely has the air of an Air killer, but is it worth $1,649?"

When I first saw the Samsung Series 9 laptop at CES 2011, I was more than a little excited: only weeks before I'd purchased, then returned, the 13 inch Macbook Air. There was a lot that I liked about the Air, but at heart I'm still a Windows guy. If found it kind of clunky to use Windows 7 on the Air, though I might have gotten used to it after a while. The Series 9, however, represented to me the potential of what a top-tier OEM like Samsung could do when they put some real effort in. The Series 9, while not exactly a home run, delivers a top-notch experience...if you can afford the entry price. I was wondering if this was going to be my next laptop, and while I'm tempted, I'm not so sure. I feel like the Sony Vaio Z might be a better choice for me if they release one with a Sandy Bridge Core i7. Read more...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Xoom Review at Ars Technica

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 11:00 AM

"Although the Xoom has a lot to offer, the product feels very incomplete. A surprising number of promised hardware and software features are not functional at launch and will have to be enabled in future updates. The Xoom's quality is also diminished by some of the early technical issues and limitations that we encountered in Honeycomb. Google's nascent tablet software has a ton of potential, but it also has some feature gaps and rough edges that reflect its lack of maturity."

This is a very in depth review just as you would expect from Ars. If you're considering buying the Xoom you should definitely check out this review first to get a better idea if it really is the tablet for you. While many great features are pointed out there are also a lot of warning signs brought up.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Xoom Review Shows Promise

Posted by Craig Horlacher in "Android News" @ 06:00 AM

"The Android tablets out on the market have been weak in the face of the iPad. But after testing out Motorola's Xoom, it's clear the first Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet has what it takes to compete head to head. Though it's got some growing pains ahead, the young tablet is already a contender. All that's needed before it can really gain momentum is a lineup of killer apps — and a better price."

I think this is a very well rounded and fair review. I still don't understand why a device that doubles, or more, all hardware of the iPad is "over-priced" when it's only $100 more at worst and the OS is much better tailored to a tablet form factor. Anyway, check out this review and give us your thoughts! Did you buy a Xoom? Tell us what you think of it so far. I've seen some reports of it freezing fairly often. If that's the case it will have a hard time catching the iPad.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Engadget Reviews the HP dm1z: Game Changer?

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

"So, what the heck does Fusion and AMD's history of promises about the platform have to do with HP's new Pavilion dm1z? Almost everything. HP's newest 11.6-inch not-quite-a-netbook (or a notbook as we like to call it) is the first Fusion system to hit the market, and with a dual-core 1.6GHz E350 Zacate processor and AMD Radeon HD 6310 GPU on the same chip it promises... well, everything AMD has promised for so long. According to HP and AMD, the system should last for over nine hours on a charge, play full 1080p content, and perhaps more importantly, not fry our laps as some previous AMD Neo-powered systems have done. For $450, it sounds like a true no-sacrifice system, but is it?"

The HP dm1z was one of the laptops that really got my attention at CES - it's one of the first out of the gate that supports the new AMD Fusion chip, and it comes in at a price point and feature set that many will find compelling. I was personally somewhat shocked when I picked it up - for something so small, you don't expect it to weigh so much (3.5 pounds). But comparing it to a 2.5 pound netbook doesn't really do it justice - with a screen almost two inches bigger and much more under the hood, I think the dm1z could be a real contender.

Wednesday, January 12, 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...

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.

Friday, December 24, 2010

In Depth Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab

Posted by Karey Westfall in "Android Slates/Tablets & Accessories" @ 03:00 AM

"The iPad started shipping in April, and since then it has basically had the tablet market to itself. Literally, in the six months after the iPad's release, it didn't have a single direct competitor."

Still not sure if you want to get a Samsung Galaxy Tab? Take a look at this comprehensive review to help you make up your mind! Plus, this review has a comparison of the Tab with the iPad and other Android phones. So read on and save yourself a trip to the store to demo a Tab.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Detailed Look at Google's Cr-48 Chrome OS Notebook

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Other Laptops & Netbooks" @ 05:00 PM

"Last night FedEx dropped off Google's first Chrome OS notebook. The Cr-48 isn't going to be sold to consumers, but the story here is software, not hardware. Manufacturers like Acer will likely mix things up in 2011, but for now we have a pretty straight forward device in terms of hardware and software. This is the first part of a multi-part Cr-48 review series."

My friend Xavier did a great job tackling every part of the Cr-48 - the hardware, the software, the overall experience, and some of the challenges that Google has to overcome with selling a product like this. We'll see if the hardware designs by Google's OEM partners are sexy enough to go up against the Windows netbooks on the market - but the biggest hurdle is the whole "cloud" aspect. I know we're moving in that direction, but is the market ready for a device like this? Would you buy one if it was netbook-priced?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Samsung Galaxy Tab Reviewed

Posted by Karey Westfall in "Android Slates/Tablets & Accessories" @ 06:00 PM

"Samsung's Galaxy Tab is fast becoming the main competitor to the iPad. With its hi-res 7-inch screen, a more travel-friendly design, and access to the Android Market, the Tab strikes a strong balance between a large smart phone and Apple's larger tablet."

Wondering if the Samsung Galaxy Tab is the tablet for you? Take a look at this review to help you make up your mind.

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.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

HP tm2 Laptop Reviewed

Posted by Jason Dunn in "HP Laptops & Netbooks" @ 07:00 AM

This is my review video of the HP tm2 laptop [affiliate] - also known as a tablet PC because of the touch screen, though it's worth pointing out that HP doesn't use that term anymore. My unboxing and first impressions video is here if you haven't already watched it. The exact model I'm reviewing is the 1070ca, on loan to me for a few weeks from HP Canada. The exact model and configuration will change depending on where you are in the world, but the basics are the same. Read more...

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