When Acer unveiled its first Timeline laptops in 2009, these slim numbers felt like a revelation. Imagine: thin notebooks rated to last hours and hours on a charge and priced well under a grand! Fast-forward two years and that proposition seems a bit quaint, doesn’t it? Pretty much every PC maker has been working on slimming down their wares and extending battery life with — shall we say? – mixed results. Still, Acer has kept on keeping, and its latest TimelineX laptops carry the torch as thin, long-lasting and inexpensive. As always, the company released Timelines in assorted screen sizes, ranging from 13.3 to 15.6 inches. We took a look at the 15-incher, the $800 AS5830, which promises to last up to nine hours unplugged and also packs a discrete graphics card – a feature many of its competitors have been skipping. But are impressive battery life and a relatively trim physique enough to make this notebook stand out in a crowded field of inexpensive, good-enough laptops? Let’s see.
We hate to break it to you, dear readers, but we’re in the throes of back to school season. In a few short weeks, lots of wide-eyed freshmen will be setting up their dorm rooms and begging off name games during orientation, which means they (and their generous parents) are stocking up on gear now. We’ve been testing a bunch of budget and mid-range laptops aimed at young folk and pretty much any other mainstream consumer who’d happily forgo some bells and whistles in exchange for a lower price. So why not start with a review of one of the best? Sony’s VAIO SB series is the 13-inch laptop for the kindele who can’t afford the VAIO Z, or even the slimmed-down SA series. It offers good specs for the money, a bright, matte display, a solid keyboard, long battery life and a (mostly) well-built design. And while we try not to spoil our reviews, we’ll say this: it’s one of our favorite mid-range Windows laptops, period. How much do we like the SB? Join us as we count the ways.
The XPS 15z, true to Michael Dell’s word, is now with us. Provided “now” is May the 24th in whatever part of the world you happen to live in. Laptop shoppers in Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan — a group of nations already enjoying the glories of Tuesday — can now buy the 0.97 inches-thick 15z for prices starting at just under A$1,400. That buys you a Core i5-2410M from Intel (2.3GHz default speed, 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost), a generous 6GB of DDR3 RAM, backlit keyboard, GeForce GT 525M graphics with 2GB of dedicated memory, a 750GB hard drive, and a 64WHr battery. The screen spans 15.6 inches diagonally and offers 1920 x 1080 resolution. Stepping up to A$1,700 gets you a Core i7-2620M (2.7GHz default, 3.4GHz TB) and 8GB of RAM. Juicy specs, we must admit. Now when’s midnight coming?
Don’t tell us you’ve forgotten about Lenovo’s pair of new Edge machines! Sure, they’ve taken a while to get to market, perhaps having been inconvenienced by a little hiccup with Intel’s Core 2011 chipsets, but the first of them is now well and truly on sale and the other is looking eager and ready to go too. The 14-inch E420s is up on Lenovo’s web store, starting at $699 with a 2.1GHz Core i3-2310M CPU, while its 12.5-inch sibling, the E220s, is expected on the 8th of April, judging by the roadmap doc we’ve uncovered below. The E420s touts what Lenovo calls an Infinity Glass display, meaning simply edge-to-edge glass, alongside a fingerprint reader, a fetching new matte black lid, a HD webcam, 4GB of RAM and 250GB of HDD storage at a minimum, and a 48.8Wh battery. A 1366 x 768 resolution is your only option, unfortunately, though you can spruce up performance by quite a bit if you opt for the i5-2410M, which does 2.3GHz at default speeds or 2.9GHz when only one of its two cores is pushed to the limit … or should that be to the Edge?