Apple just introduced its second Retina display MacBook: the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which starts at $1,699 and is shipping today. Just months after the 15-incher was gifted with a display that packs more pixels than your existing HDTV, the 13-inch sibling is receiving similar treatment. Unveiled today in San Jose alongside the iPad mini, the intensely dense 13-inch MBP is true to the rumors — there’s a 2,560 x 1,600 panel, a pair of Thunderbolt ports, a full-size HDMI socket and a MagSafe 2 power connector. Unfortunately, those yearning for a Retina-equipped MacBook Air won’t find their dreams fulfilled just yet, but you can bet that holdouts will most certainly give this guy a look.
For starters, it’s wildly thin. No, not manilla envelope thin, but thin enough to slip into most briefcases and backpacks without the consumer even noticing. Outside of that, it’s mostly a shrunken version of the 15-incher let loose over the summer. The unibody design is as tight as ever, with the fit and finish continuing to impress. In my estimation, this is Apple’s most deliberate move yet to differentiate the 13-inch MacBook Pro from the 13-inch MacBook Air. On one hand, power users longing for a highly portable laptop can rejoice; on the other, this could be seen as reason for Apple to restrict the use of Retina displays to its Pro range for the foreseeable future.
Compared to the 1,280 x 800 resolution of the non-Retina 13-inch MBP, the new display is particularly stunning. Text has never looked more crisp, and colors are stupendously vibrant. Of course, apps, websites and graphics that haven’t been optimized for Retina still look like utter rubbish, and as more Apple machines transition to these panels, the outcry is going to get even louder. But, hopefully, it’ll light a fire under developers to get with the program.
13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display reportedly seen with 2,560 x 1,600 LCD, dual Thunderbolt ports
We hope you didn’t want Apple’s little event next week to be a complete surprise. After promises of extra details for a prior leak, a WeiPhone forum goer has returned with photos of what’s supposed to be the active screen and ports of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display that might be on stage come October 23rd. If this is what we get alongside the similarly unofficial miniature iPad, we’ll take it. The possible leak shows a 2,560 x 1,600 LCD (four times higher in resolution than the existing MacBook Pro) and, importantly, no sacrifices in expansion versus the 15-inch Retina model — there’s still the dual Thunderbolt ports and HDMI video that shipped with this system’s bigger brother. Vital details like the performance and price are left out, so there’s a few cards left off Apple’s table, but the images hint at what could be a tempting balance between the 15-inch MacBook Pro’s grunt and the MacBook Air’s grace.
Good things come in pairs, right? Earlier this year Samsung revamped its high-end Series 9 line with two new Ultrabooks: an impressively thin 15-inch model, along with a more portable 13-inch machine. So far this year, we’ve gotten a chance to review the larger version which remains one of our favorite ultraportables ever, thanks to its minimal design, fast performance, lovely display and long battery life.
“So what?” you’re thinking. “Why bother revisiting the miniature version?” For one, friends, Samsung only recently refreshed the Series 9 with third-generation Intel Core processors, and we were eager to make note of any performance gains. More importantly, though, the 13-inch Series 9 faces stiffer competition than its big brother. There truly isn’t another big-screen notebook quite as thin or as light as the 15-inch Series 9; if those are the attributes that matter most, that’s the laptop you’re best off getting. But the smaller Series 9 finds itself fighting for space on retail shelves amidst high-end ultraportables like the MacBook Air, ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A, the HP Envy Spectre XT and, well, you get the idea. So how does this $1,300 system fare against such worthy opponents? Read on to find out.
ASUS Zenbook Primes with 1080p IPS panels and (probably) Ivy Bridge are real, coming to Taiwan in June
We’ve already seen spec sheets suggesting that ASUS’s 11.6-inch and 13.3-inch Zenbooks are being fattened up for a major update, but now Engadget Chinese has glimpsed the new devices in their cold aluminum flesh. Tentatively called Zenbook Primes, or the UX21A and UX31A respectively, they both have 1920 x 1080 IPS panels with a matte finish and excellent viewing angles (please, ignore the dumb 1024 x 768 screen-saver in the pic, it doesn’t do it justice). Judging from the fact that ASUS refused to let us go hands-on in case we identify the internals, we can be pretty confident that these beauties are running on next-gen ULV Ivy Bridge processors, which — unlike their more powerful brethren — have yet to be formally announced. We asked if there’d be room for discrete graphics, such as one of NVIDIA’s new Kepler mobile GPUs for Ultrabooks, and were told that “anything is possible.” Responses were equally vague when it came to global availability, because apparently the devices are awaitng clearance from Intel. All we know is that they should be out in Taiwan in June, likely with similar price tags to their predecessors.
You don’t have to be a marketing skeptic to agree that “Ultrabook” is a somewhat hyperbolic term for a class of devices designed a little thinner, a little lighter and maybe a little quicker than those notebooks that have come before. From a pure hardware standpoint there’s nothing particularly “ultra” about them when compared to a standard Wintel lappytop, but manufacturers are, thankfully, using this as an opportunity to raise their game on another front that’s becoming increasingly important in the world of portable computing: aesthetics.
Compared to clunky laptops of yore, many Ultrabooks mark a truly massive step forward when it comes to purity of design and Dell is showing some impressive chops with the new XPS 13. But, when you’re buckled in to coach class and it’s time to get to work, looks are less important than having a solid laptop that performs. Does the new XPS have the brawn to match its beauty? Let’s find out.
The Samsung Series 9 debuted at an odd time, before “Ultrabook” was a buzz word, and when a 2.8-pound laptop was novel enough to warrant a $1,649 price tag. A year later, it returns at an even more pivotal moment: Ultrabooks are cropping up by the dozens, and while their specs are similar to what the original Series 9 had to offer, they cost hundreds less. So with that as the backdrop, Samsung just announced a pair of slimmed-down, redesigned Series 9 laptops: a 13-inch remake, priced at $1,399 and up, and a new 15-inch form number that will cost $1,499-plus when the two go on sale next month.
Though consumers are likely to draw comparisons between that 2.5-pound 13-incher and the umpteen other ultraportables hitting the market, Samsung isn’t positioning the Series 9 laptops as Ultrabooks, but rather, premium, top-tier machines. Still, for something that’s not an Ultrabook, the brothers Series 9 certainly look the part: both pack Core i5 processors, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSDs, six-hour batteries and backlit keyboards — Ultrabook-like specs if ever we’ve heard them. Even the 15-inch model is missing an optical drive, and isn’t much larger than the last-gen Series 9.
What separates them from your garden-variety $900 box, though, is a solid unibody aluminum design and a heartbreakingly beautiful display: a 1600 x 900 panel with a matte finish (!) and 400 nits of brightness. But is that worth shelling out an extra few Benjamins? We’ve just spent weeks playing with an early, pre-production version of the 13-inch model, and while we’re going to withhold final judgment until we review a production-grade system, we already have quite a bit to say about the design. So grab a warm beverage, settle into your comfiest chair and meet us past the break for an in-depth preview.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Hybrid official: instant-on OS based on Android doubles battery life, arrives in Q2 for $1,599
Well, look at what we have here. Though it didn’t arrive as early as rumored, the ThinkPad X1 Hybrid running Android is, in fact, a real, whirring product. Lenovo just unveiled the laptop, which has a fanless “Instant Media Mode” promising to double the original X1′s (rather skimpy) battery life to as much as ten hours. And while we’ve seen notebooks with instant-on operating systems, Lenovo’s done something unique by installing a dual-core Qualcomm CPU on the motherboard and building a custom OS based on the Android kernel. In fact, that launcher you see up there should look awfully familiar to the customization we’ve seen on the IdeaPad K1 and other Lenovo tablets. Here, too, you can check email, surf the web, organize photos, listen to music, play videos, change the wallpaper and add widgets to the three home screens, though access to Android Market is a no-go.
We got to spend a few minutes with the X1 Hybrid a few weeks ago, and if first impressions are to be believed, the battery-saving prowess works as advertised: immediately after switching modes, the estimated remaining runtime jumped from an hour and 16 minutes to four hours and 19 minutes. The OS also booted in about two seconds, as Lenovo says it should. We were also relieved to learn that there’s no back-door way of accessing the OS: if the laptop goes to sleep while you’re in Instant Media Mode, you’ll have to return to Windows to log in again.
In every other respect, this is the X1 we reviewed last spring: it has a durable, 3.7-pound chassis, integrated Intel graphics and a glossy, 13-inch (1366 x 768) Gorilla Glass display with brightness rated at 350 nits. It’ll be offered with Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, a 3G radio and a slice battery that adds up to five more hours of juice. It’ll be available sometime in the second quarter for $1,599 and up — about a $300 premium over the original. And no, current X1 owners can’t download Instant Media Mode as an update — as you’d imagine, the whole “SoC on a motherboard” requirement makes that impossible. Hey, no one ever said being an early adopter was easy.
Review enough Ultrabooks and you’ll start to wrestle with this idea of value. We’ve seen cheap ones that don’t perform well and expensive ones that do. Things get really dicey when you throw in machines that cost a bit less, look good and perform well, but are nonetheless flawed in some key way — like having a sticky keyboard or a trackpad with a mind of its own.
For more than a week now we’ve been testing the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s and, at the risk of spoiling this review altogether, it’s made it even tougher for us to stack up one imperfect Ultrabook against another. What to do with a well-made, speed demon of a machine that boots in less than 20 seconds but starts at $1,095 without an SD slot, high-res display or backlit keyboard? Are the U300s’ stately looks, brisk performance and sound ergonomics enough to make up for a handful of absent features? Find the answers to that and more in our full review after the break.
Remember that 452 13.3-incher we covered back when it was warm? The one that had everything going for it except precise release info? Well, it’s finally dragged itself out of the factory and onto the shelves of a Korean retailer. Unfortunately, the Core i7 processor has been replaced by an i5-2435M running at 2.4GHz, but that’s hardly a deal breaker — and it’s possible a higher specced variant will eventually see daylight too. The other key credentials are all in tact: an NVIDIA GeForce GT555M taking care of the visuals, a 40GB / 640GB SSD and HDD combo for snappier performance, and an IPS display built into an all-metal 1.7kg (3.6-pound) chassis. The price is listed as ₩1,364,000, which converts to a hefty $1,220 — but we wouldn’t be surprised if LG takes that down to below the MBP thresholdwhen the product comes stateside.
It was just last week that we got to take home the Acer Aspire S3, the first Ultrabook to go on sale here in the States. Unfortunately, it doesn’t live up to the pillars laid out by Intel: its performance trails similar machines, its battery craps out early and the design, while portable, is too chintzy to make it a bellwether for skinny Windows laptops. Our verdict, in a sentence, was that you’d be better off getting a MacBook Air, or at least considering other Ultrabooks — namely, ASUS’ line of Zenbooks.
As it turns out, one showed up on our doorstep just a few days later. In many ways, the UX31 is everything the S3 is not: it has a gorgeous all-metal design and comes standard with an SSD and 1600 x 900 display (not to mention, a case and two bundled adapters). And with a starting price of $1,099, it undercuts the entry-level (and similarly configured) MacBook Air by two hundred bucks. So is this the Ultrabook we’ve all been waiting for? We suggest pouring yourself a large beverage, settling into a comfy chair and meeting us past the break. We’ve got a lot to say on the subject.
There comes a time when that giant, corporate-issued laptop stops fitting into your lifestyle. When dragging around a Kensington roller case just won’t do. When you start to hear the siren lilt of something thinner, lighter, and maybe a bit more alluring. For years the MacBook Air has been that svelte temptress hollering your name, but it’s always been a bit too slow — all show and no go. It didn’t have the power and the longevity to make it a serious contender for your serious affections.
No more. With its latest refresh, Apple has taken what was once a manilla-clad curiosity and turned it into a legitimate machine, not just a sultry looker. Good thing, too, because the death of the plastic-clad MacBook means the Air is now Apple’s entry-level portable. Weary traveler looking for a laptop that will lighten your load and, it must be said, your wallet too? This might just be it.
They say Apple updates its products like clockwork, releasing something new at the same time in the same place every year. Not so with MacBook Airs anyway. The outfit’s gone and freshened up its 13-inch and 11-inch ultraportables — the second such update in nine months. Although the industrial design hasn’t changed much since the last generation, both models step up to Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 processors, Thunderbolt ports, backlit keyboards, and, of course, OS X Lion.
The 11.6-inch flavor starts at $999 with 64GB of solid-state storage, 2GB of memory and a 1.6GHz Core i5 processor. The higher-end of the two configurations costs $1,199, with the extra two hundred dollars doubling your RAM and storage. The 13-inch Air, meanwhile, starts at $1,299, with a 128GB SSD, 4GB of RAM, and a 1.7GHz Core i5 CPU. Step up to the $1,599 model and you’ll get a 256GB SSD instead. Regardless, you’re looking at Intel HD 3000 graphics across the board, along with FaceTime webcams, two USB ports (plus an SD slot on the 13-inch version), 802.11n WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. The two differ when it comes to resolution and battery life: the 11-incher has a 1366 x 768 panel and is rated for up to five hours of battery life, whereas the 13-inch model has a 1440 x 900 screen and promises up to seven hours of juice. As for that 1.8GHz Core i7 CPU, it’ll set you back an extra $100 on the 13-inch version, and $150 for the 11-inch version. Whichever size you choose, it’s only an option for the higher-end configuration. Hit the source link to peep the specs and buy one, if you’re so inclined.
If you’ve somehow not heard of the ThinkPad X1 yet, you join us at a good time. The well leaked laptop has shown up at an X Series comparison site, put together by Lenovo itself, where yet more specs have been made known. The 13.3-inch display is dubbed a SuperBright HD inifinity panel, which to you and us simply means it’s built using IPS technology. There’s also an integrated fingerprint reader, a buttonless touchpad, USB 3.0 connectivity, and a promised 10-hour battery life with a slice battery. Weighing in at 1.36kg (3lbs) and measuring about 16mm (0.625 inches) in thickness, it’s described as Lenovo’s thinnest ThinkPad yet. Last time we heard, we were told to expect it on May 17th, guess those webmasters are getting the show started a little early. One more glamor shot of the X1 can be found after the break.
Man, Lenovo isn’t even trying to keep the ThinkPad X1 under wraps anymore. The slinky new MacBook Air competitor has just slipped out in a video commercial on the company’s own YouTube channel, where it shows off a keyboard that’s both backlit and spill-resistant, and a Gorilla Glass screen that is apparently girlfriend-proof. See the video after the break and circle May 17th as your acquisition date if you’re after one — that’s when Lenovo promises the X1 will be arriving.
If you were expecting your new 13-inch MacBook Pro’s Core i7 CPU to Turbo Boost its way north of that default 2.7GHz clock speed, we ask that you kindly discontinue your anticipation. Two separate reviews of the laptop are reporting the curious case of its Core i7-2620M processor failing to automatically overclock itself the way it should. Intel’s dual-core chip is capable of a maximum speed of 3.4GHz, but reviewers weren’t able to get it any higher than its stock setting while testing Apple’s latest 13-incher. High temperatures were identified (north of 90 C / 194 F) as the likely culprit, with Notebook Journal also finding its machine throttled down to 798MHz due to heat dissipation issues. PC Pro theorizes that Apple intentionally disabled the Turbo Boost functionality on this particular MBP model in order to preserve your lap and your pride from being scalded by melting components. That would make sense to us, and hey, it’s still a fast machine, just not Turbo fast.