Who said Apple’s event was all about the little things? Apple just unveiled its first redesign to its iMac desktop in three years. The new all-in-one makes the widely expected leap to Intel’s Ivy Bridge Core i5 and Core i7 processors, but also represents a much leaner and meaner replacement for the 2009-era template — its edges are just 5mm thick, and it’s constructed with “friction stir welding” as well as a gapless, less reflective display that’s laminated together with the glass. Screen sizes remain the same and include both a 21.5-inch, 1080p model and a 27-inch, 2,560 x 1,400 model — sorry, no Retina displays this year. They share 720p-capable front cameras with dual mics as well as NVIDIA’s GeForce 600-era graphics, up to 32GB of RAM and a panoply of storage options that peak at 3TB of spinning storage, a 768GB SSD or what Apple calls a Fusion Drive that mixes both 128GB of flash with 1TB or 3TB of conventional storage (a hybrid drive, for those of us who’ve seen it before). There’s no optical drive unless you plug in a USB option.
The 21.5-inch model ships in November, and will set you back $1,299 for a 2.7GHz Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive; pony up for the 27-inch model at $1,799 and you’ll get a 2.9GHz Core i5 as well as the same memory and storage. Apple’s larger iMac doesn’t ship until December, however, which will give some impulse buyers at least a brief respite.
The arrival of Windows 8 is a good excuse for the PC industry to flood the market with so much hardware, consumers will be blinded by so much choice. Acer’s jabbing its digits into your eyes with its new lineup of low-end desktops for the casual user. The ME micro towers will take an Intel Core i5 or I7, 2TB HDDs and up to 16GB of RAM. If you don’t have anywhere else to stash your smartphone, the chassis comes with a recess desk on top with a USB port for easy charging. Those looking for something a little less demanding can pick up an XC desktop, a space-saving unit that will take an Intel Core i3, a 1TB HDD and up to 6GB of RAM. Prices for the ME begin at $700, while the cheaper XCs will set you back a much more modest $400.
ASUS TAICHI 21 and VivoBook X202 go up for US pre-orders, spoil the party a bit early (update: VivoTab RT, too)
Just because ASUS has planned a grand October 23rd event to outline its US Windows 8 lineup doesn’t mean we can’t get an advance peek. Pre-orders have officially kicked off for at least two touchscreen PCs that also give us a very good feeling for the hardware we’ll see at our doors. The dual-screened TAICHI 21 is naturally the star of the show, but it will cost you: a base version of the 11.6-inch hybrid with a 1.7GHz Core i5, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD starts at $1,300, while an uprated model with a 1.9GHz Core i7 and a 256GB SSD will set early adopters back by $1,600. We’d say the VivoBook X202 is more likely to get some purchases sight-unseen at $600 for an entry laptop with an 11.6-inch touchscreen, a 1.8GHz Core i3, 4GB of RAM and a conventional 500GB hard drive. Both of the systems should arrive in tandem with Windows 8′s October 26th launch and compound the traffic jams for couriers and retailers on what could be a very busy day.
Samsung didn’t leave its ATIV introductions to just an ARM tablet and a phone. We first saw them as the Series 5 and Series 7 tablets, which will likely be their final US names; to recap, though, the newly branded ATIV Smart PC and ATIV Smart PC Pro both look to capture some of that Transformer-like aura by mating an 11.6-inch tablet with a detachable keyboard dock for a laptop experience. Some of Samsung’s own Galaxy Note vibe rubs off on them, too — both carry an S Pen and a bundled S Note app for some on-the-spot writing. They likewise share support for 3G and 4G as well as micro-HDMI and USB, but there’s a clear difference depending on what you buy. Going for the regular Smart PC loads in a modest Clover Trail-based Intel Atom processor and a 1,366 x 768 display, but offers a lengthy 13.5-hour battery life, 2GB of RAM, up to a 128GB flash drive, a rear 8-megapixel camera and a 2-megapixel front camera. Slap that “Pro” moniker on the front and you have to drop to eight hours of battery life and a 5-megapixel rear camera, but you’ll get a much faster Core i5 processor, a 1080p display, 4GB of RAM and as much as a 256GB SSD. Unlike the ATIV Tab, we do know the Smart PCs will be available in the US on October 26th at $649 for a base Smart PC/Series 5, $749 for a bundle with the keyboard and $1,119 for a Smart PC Pro/Series 7 with a 128GB SSD built-in.
LG has unveiled the V720, a new series of all-in-one PCs, featuring 27-inch IPS HD panels and an Intel Ivy Bridge processor option. The line consists of a high-end model with Intel’s 3rd generation Core i5 and an IPS 1,920 x 1,080 3D panel, and a lesser model with a 2nd generation Core i3 and the same display sans 3D. Other specs include 750GB SATA3 hybrid or standard drives, up to 8GB DDR3 RAM, USB 3.0 and NVIDA’s GT640M 1GB graphics. Photos show a white and silver looker with well concealed computer guts, but don’t count on being able to pick up one of the minimalist units in the US — LG normally keeps its PC offerings exclusively in Asia.
HP has been very eager to take the Envy line in an Ultrabook direction, leaving performance hounds a bit wanting. Much to their (and our) relief, the full-fat Envy 15, Envy 17, and Envy 17 3D have all made the leap to Intel’s latest round of Ivy Bridge processors. Along with the 2.3GHz to 2.7GHz quad Core i7 chips we all know and love, the Envy 15 and regular 17 can get a dual 2.5GHz Core i5 to keep the price slightly closer to Earth. All of them ship with an equally upgraded AMD Radeon HD 7850M to give games that extra jolt of energy, and you won’t find one with less than 6GB of RAM and a 750GB hard drive. Should you like the Envy’s current formula and just wish it had that much more oomph, you can pay a post-discount $1,100, $1,250 or $1,530 to bring one to your door.
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.
We knew CES would bring a slew of Ultrabooks, but who could have predicted 2012 would be the year of the franken-gadget? So far this week, we’ve seen Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga, two hybrids from Gigabyte and a pair of 13- and 5.5-inch tablet prototypes from Toshiba. And that’s saying nothing of Intel’s Nikiski prototype and its promise of accelerometer-based gaming on Ultrabooks. With that as our backdrop, we have the Compal QAV20, a reference design sitting in Intel’s booth, alongside all the plain, months-old laptops we’ve already reviewed. From afar, it looks like the Samsung Series 7 Slate, but up close you’ll see it has a larger, 13.3-inch, 1366 x 768 display, along with a keyboard dock. On the inside, meanwhile, it packs a Core i5 ULV CPU — the same guts you’ll find inside other Ultrabooks.
In our brief hands-on, we were stunned by how light the fiber glass device feels — certainly, it’s much less dense than the similarly sized Yoga. The dock itself is home to various ports, including Ethernet, dual USB 2.0 sockets, HDMI and a headphone jack. And though it’s no Transformer Prime dock, it’s still light enough that you shouldn’t have problem stuffing it in your bag. No word on what, if any, OEMs will re-badge this, but no matter — we’ve gotten video and photos for you to peruse even if this thing never makes it to market. And no, we didn’t film this in the Batcave; Intel just loves it some blue mood lighting.
The recently announced Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook is now available with a solid state drive (SSD) and energy-efficient second-generation Intel Core i7 processor power. This new breed of ultra-light-weight PCs are just half-an-inch thin and weigh about 3 pounds. New technology lets them power on instantly and connect to the Web in seconds. Available this week at several retailers including Amazon, NewEgg, TigerDirect and BestBuy.com, the Core i7 version of the Aspire S3 Ultrabook retails for $1299 (Core i5 versions begin at $899).
And just like that, HP joined the Ultrabook party. After announcing the Folio in Australia yesterday, the company went and made it official here in the states too. And man, do we get the feeling the outfit’s been watching the competition very closely: this guy starts at $900 and comes standard with a 128GB mSATA SSD and a backlit keyboard. Provided it comes close to matching its promise of nine hours of battery life, it could give the identically priced Toshiba Portege Z830 a run for its money. Not to mention, it undercuts the MacBook Air ($1,299 and up), along with the ASUS Zenbook UX31 and Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, both of which start at $1,100 with a 128GB SSD and no backlit keyboard. Good on ya, HP.
What’s that, you say? You want more specs? Rounding out the list, the Folio has a 13.3-inch (1366 x 768) display, optional TPM circuitry and comes standard with a Core i5-2467M processor, 4GB of RAM, a six-cell battery and HP’s CoolSense technology. Additionally, it offers a fairly robust selection of ports, including HDMI, Ethernet, USB 2.0 and 3.0, a memory card reader and a combined headphone / mic socket. The trade-off, though, is a slightly thicker chassis than what other Ultrabooks are offering: 3.3 pounds and 18mm (0.7 inches) thick. It’ll be available in the US starting December 7th, but we’ve already managed to snag a few minutes with it, which means we’ve got photos, video and impressions for you to peek now. So what are you waiting for? Meet us after the break for our hands-on preview.
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.
Until now, Windows fans have had precious few alternatives to the MacBook Air. Sure, there’s Samsung’s Series 9, but just like the original Air, it’s far from cheap. Since then, of course, Apple has cut the Air’s starting price to $999, while the Windows options — now marketed as Ultrabooks — are about to mushroom in number. And so far, they’re all starting in the (more reasonable) neighborhood of a thousand bucks, making these pinch-thin, long-lasting laptops accessible to the budget-conscious masses.
Acer’s Aspire S3 was the first to hit the market here in the States, and with an entry price of $899, it’s currently the least expensive. That it’s skinny (just 13mm thick, to be exact), should be a given, but it also claims to wake from sleep in two seconds flat and reconnect to known networks in two and a half. But, as the least pricey Ultrabook on the shelf, it also forgoes some specs you might have liked to see — namely, all-flash storage and USB 3.0. But does that matter much when you’re potentially saving hundreds of dollars? Let’s find out.
AMD fans have endured a long wait for this, while being reduced to spectators as Intel spews out an ever-increasing horde of Sandy Bridge variants and builds up the hype around its next-gen Ivy Bridge architecture. But the new FX series of processors is finally here and will be available to buy in the next few days, with the top-end FX-8150 priced at $245 in exchange for eight cores, a 3.6GHz base clock speed and easy over-clocking to 4.8GHz using the packaged Overdrive software. Your AM3+ motherboard is crying out for the upgrade, but don’t succumb until you’ve clicked past the break — we’ve got details of the full range and pricing, our initial impressions and an eyes-on video that includes a detailed chat with the guys from AMD.
Of all the “TV-like” all-in-one PCs we’ve seen, this Toshiba is perhaps the most convincing. Something about its glossy black, consumer electronic packaging and Onkyo soundbar just screams (tiny) HDTV. But, behind that 23-inch 1080p, multitouch panel is a Windows 7 PC powered by a Core i5 or i7 and 4GB of RAM. You also get a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, a 1TB hard drive, a DVD drive and a lone USB 3.0 port. There’s also an HDMI in jack for use with a game console or cable box — not bad for the oddly specific starting price of $957. When the DX735 starts shipping exclusively from Best Buy on October 2nd you’ll also have the option of adding on a TV tuner for a truly all-in-one entertainment solution. Check out the gallery below, as well as the PR after the break.
Do you despise thick bezels, yet harbor an unnatural aversion to portables from LG and Samsung? We’re not here to psychoanalyze, but ASUS’ U46SV-DH51 might be more to your liking. The “Brushed Champagne” notebook is notable for its diminutive bezel, which, like Sammy’s smaller Series 7, allows for a 14-inch display to exist in a 13-inch chassis. It’s got some punch too, packing a Core i5-2410M, 4GB of RAM, NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 540M and a DVD burner (remember those?). Not bad for a 4.85-pound laptop that’ll supposedly go 10 hours between charges and set you back $879. You’ll find a pre-order page at the source below, but before you go, why not hop past the break and indulge in a video?
It’s sad to say, but most of you who are going back to school have probably already returned by now — though if you’re in class right this moment you should probably be paying attention. If you managed to get back to campus without bringing a new laptop along, you might just want to keep reading — Sony’s just released a 15.5-inch addition to its VAIO S Series that not only adds a crucial bit of extra display acreage, but also bumps things up to a full 1080p.
Yes, this is a laptop that can not only be configured with a Blu-ray drive but has enough pixels to do the resulting footage justice, meaning it could make a passable player for movie night. But, does it have the chops to do your workload justice? Is it worth the $1,000 minimum asking price, at least a $100 premium over Sony’s 13-inch models? Join us as we find out.
One of Samsung’s Series 7 laptops was outed not long ago, but that PC was made for fragging, while the rest in this line of laptops is meant for more pedestrian purposes. The new members of the family come sheathed in the same silver aluminum skin, but sport a smaller 300-nit, 1600 x 900 matte display in both 15.6-inch and 14-inch versions. Those displays are surrounded by a minimalist bezel, which allowed Samsung to stuff a 14-inch panel into a 13-inch chassis. Around the sides, there are two USB 3.0 ports (and one of the 2.0 variety), Gigabit Ethernet and HDMI and VGA sockets (the latter requires an included dongle a la the Series 9).
On the inside, users can get up to a Core i7-2675QM CPU clocked at 2.2GHz, up to 8GB of RAM, Radeon HD 6750M graphics and a 750GB HDD spinning at 7,200RPM. On all but the base model, there’s an additional 8GB of flash memory mounted on the motherboard that helps shave boot times down to mere seconds using Sammy’s FastStart technology. A lithium polymer battery powers everything, and Samsung claims the 80Wh cell will maintain 80 percent of its original capacity for up to 1,500 charges. Prices start at $1,000, and run all the way up to $1,300 for all the fixins’. Sound good? Head on past the break for some hands-on impressions.
LG has added two new stars to its constellation of Aurora laptops, with the LG S430 and LG S530. Both models are powered by an Intel Core i5 processor, with the S430 boasting a 14-inch, 1366 x 768 HD LCD and the S530 rocking a slightly larger, 15.6-inch display, available in either HD or HD+ (1600 x 900) resolution. Both also feature 8GB of DDR3 memory and up to 750GB of HDD space (5400 RPM), along with your standard WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 and USB 2.0 connectivity. Perhaps most notable, however, is their sleek, metallic veneer and crystalline, scratch-free finish, available in both purple and blue. Pricing remains a mystery, but the pair should be available in Africa, Asia and the Middle East by early next month, before making their way to Europe and the US shortly thereafter.