Intel already gave us a heads up that several touch-enabled Ultrabooks were in store for 2012, and here they are, becoming real before our eyes. Here at Computex 2012, Acer just announced the Aspire S7 series, which includes a 13.3-inch model and an 11.6-incher, the first in the company’s Ultrabook lineup. The S7 series will no doubt be the first of many touch-enabled Ultrabooks we see in Taipei this week, and these in particular have screens that fold back 180 degrees, allowing the system to lie flat. Unlike the original S3, which caught flack for its chintzy design, these two are made of 12.5mm-thick unibody aluminum and sport backlit keyboards and “full HD” displays, making these the most premium Ultrabooks Acer has attempted so far. In the case of the 13-inch version, too, you’ll get a glass lid — something previously seen only on the HP Envy 14 Spectre.
It was only a matter of time before ASUS refreshed its line of Ultrabooks with Intel’s new Ivy Bridge chips, but the truth is, the company needed to improve a little more than just the CPU model number. If you recall, the Zenbook UX31 ushered in a modern metal design and unbeatable speed, but our enthusiasm waned after spending a week with the flat keyboard and temperamental touchpad.
Well, friends, it looks like Chairman Jonney Shih and co. were listening: the outfit is about to bring four of its leaked Zenbook Prime laptops to the US. These include the 11-inch UX21A, which you see up there, along with the 13-inch UX31A, UX32A and the UX32VD — essentially, the UX31A with discrete graphics. Though different configurations are bound to vary, they all bring retooled, backlit keyboards, refined trackpads and, of course, Intel’s third-generation Core processors. And while the lower-end UX32A is stuck with 1366 x 768 resolution, every other model — yes, even the tiny UX21A — will be offered with a 1080p IPS display.
First the rumor mill revealed ASUS had plans to refresh Ultrabooks with Ivy Bridge and 1080p IPS displays. Then the company confirmed the news itself when it brought some new Zenbook Prime laptops out for a demo and promised they’d go on sale in ASUS’ native Taiwan. Now we’ve got some splendid news for our readers here in the US: those fresh ultraportables are making their way stateside too… eventually. ASUS just confirmed it’s bringing four models to the states: the 11-inch UX21A, the 13-inch UX31A / UX32A and the UX32VD. What’s the difference between the UX31A and the UX32A, you ask? It all comes down to storage: the UX32A uses hybrid hard drives, while the UX31A packs an SSD. Meanwhile, the UX32VD is nearly identical to the UX31A except that it packs an NVIDIA GT 620M GPU.
As rumored, the lineup includes Core i5 and i7 Ivy Bridge processors, with 1920 x 1080 IPS displays offered even on the 11-incher. (If you don’t need that kind of pixel density, 1366 x 768 displays will be available as well.) Another thing they all have in common: ASUS has tweaked the touchpad and re-tooled the keyboard, making the pitch 12 percent deeper. Also, the keys are now backlit, for what that’s worth.
Just in case you thought NEC was done with its PC updates this week, the Japanese PC builder has thrown its hat into the Ultrabook ring with a unique contribution of its own. The LaVie Z has a 13.3-inch screen like your garden variety ultralight, but it weighs just 2.2 pounds through a new lithium-magnesium alloy shell about half the weight of the aluminum that some companies love to use. Unfortunately, that weight and the slim frame are about all we know so far: NEC isn’t providing any internal specifications, possibly because it’s waiting on Ultrabook-ready Ivy Bridge chips. Even so, if you’re hanging around Japan and want the lightest possible laptop you can get at a 13-inch screen size, the wait until the planned summer release will feel like an eternity.
Lenovo’s IdeaPad U310 and U410 Ultrabooks start at an inexpensive $699, weigh a little more than the competition
If there’s one thing we don’t like about the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, it’s that it’s missing an SD slot, and starts at $1,200 — a steep price when you can find many an Ultrabook for under $1,000. (Okay, that’s two things.) And while the company isn’t ready for a complete do-over just yet, it’s clearly trying to fill some gaps in its lineup: the outfit just introduced the 13-inch IdeaPad U310 and the 14-inch U410, which will start at a relatively inexpensive $699. On paper, the IdeaPad U310 bears a strong resemblance to the U300s we reviewed two months ago, with 4GB of RAM, 1366 x 768 resolution, an eight-hour battery, Intel Wireless Display and a choice of Intel Core processors. But, it adds an extra USB 3.0 port, along with that all-important memory card slot. In exchange, you’ll have to make some tougher choices regarding storage: you can opt for a 500GB hard drive or an SSD that tops out at 64GB of space.
The 14-inch IdeaPad U410 offers more of the same, though instead of Intel’s integrated graphics offering, it packs an NVIDIA GeForce 610M card with 1GB of video memory — unsurprising, given that the new ThinkPad T430u Ultrabook also has discrete graphics at a similar price. All in all, not too shabby for $700, though the trade-off for the extra ports and lower price is some extra padding: the 13-inch version tips the scales at 3.7 pounds, versus 2.95 for the U300s. (The U410 weights 4.2.) Then again, when these go on sale in May, we suspect they’ll be plenty light for students looking to get a jump on back-to-school shopping. For now, we’ve got hands-on shots below and some impressions after the break.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad T430u Ultrabook targets the business set with discrete graphics and 1TB in storage, arrives in Q3 for $849
While plenty of companies will spend CES showing off their first Ultrabooks, Lenovo is already going back for seconds. The outfit just announced the ThinkPad T430u, a more business-focused follow-up to the IdeaPad U300s we reviewed back in November. More than anything, though, what has us intrigued is that it packs optional NVIDIA graphics, making this the first so-called Ultrabook we’ve seen with a dedicated GPU. Add in a 14-inch (1366 x 768) display, up to 1TB of hard drive storage and a modest six hours of rated battery life, and it sounds more like a full-fledged laptop than an Ultrabook. Semantics aside, with a starting price of $849 this could be a tempting deal for businesses looking to outfit their employees with something portable, well-performing and inexpensive. Not to mention, it might just be a worthy competitor to the HP Folio, our favorite business-centric Ultrabook at the moment. Just make sure IT can wait patiently — the T430u isn’t slated to go on sale until Q3 of this year.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s been a while since we last laid eyes on Maingear’s fine looking Clutch-15, and while it’s still rocking that sexy exterior, the latest iteration has a little surprise for you under the hood. With the recent addition of NVIDIA’s graphics switching Optimus technology, this portable’s bringing the juice — battery juice, that is. Aside from that, things look mostly the same, inside and out; you’ve still got your pick of Intel Core i3 or i5 CPUs, a 750GB HDD or 512GB SSD, up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, and the same (still disappointing) WXGA display. This go ’round, however, the dedicated graphics have been bumped up a touch with NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 525M GPU (1GB). If automated graphics switching is your thing, you can get your custom laptop on at the source link starting at $1,030. Full PR after the break.
Turns out those leaked shots we saw of Sony’s new VAIO Z laptop were right on the money as the company showed it off officially today for the European press. The specs reveal a 13.1-inch “ultramobile” notebook that comes in at under 1.2kg with a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7 processor, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 1600×900 screen and sheet battery borrowed from the earlier VAIO S for up to 7 hours of computing. Onboard it features only Intel’s HD Graphics 3000 solution but the VAIO Z beats other ultralights with its Power Media Dock, which contributes the power of an AMD Radeon 6650M GPU with 1GB of dedicated memory connected via “the architecture codenamed Light Peak” — Sony can’t call it Thunderbolt — when more polygons have to be pushed. The dock sports one USB 3.0 hookup plus additional USB, VGA and HDMI ports, and a slot for either a DVD or Blu-ray drive. , but it is promised to ship by the end of July in Europe so if the full specs (included after the break) are appealing then you don’t have much time to save up.
Update: Head over to the Sony UK site to configure one yourself — pricing starts at £1,434 ($2,294) with a Core i5 CPU, 4GB of RAM and no PMD. The dock is a £400 ($640) option with no optical drive included, while upgrading to a 1080p 13.1-inch LCD is a mere £40 extra.
We already took a fresh look at the Vizio Tablet due this summer, but the company’s main business is HDTVs and there it’s on top of US LCD sales again, with more than 20 percent of the market in Q1. Of the top five selling TVs in Q1, four are Vizios priced at $698 or less, while the other is a $1,699 MSRP Samsung LCD. Vizio launched its lower end E3D line earlier this year, the next series on the way are edge-lit M3D models due in August and September that up the refresh rate to 240Hz, come with four pairs of passive 3D glasses instead of two and have a Bluetooth remote. Up next, the 21:9 ultrawidescreen sets we saw at CES are real and will ship in October as the Cinemawide series in 2560×1080 58- and 50-inch models. Finally, the top of of the line XVT 6 series will feature the new VIA Plus Google TV platform and are going to be available in 47- and 55-inch sizes, but won’t ship until December There’s still no prices for any of these yet, but we’re going to guess they’ll go low as they usually do. Check the press release for all the details after the break including a glancing mention of the Vizio Phone.
What would happen if you took a 13.3-inch MacBook Pro and shrunk it down a notch into a 12.1 or 11.6-inch ultraportable but decided to keep the box shape instead of using a MacBook Air-like wedge design? We’re pretty sure you’d end up with something like this sexy LG P220. We saw this light and thin laptop at the Intel booth at Computex and came away rather impressed. While the materials used (plastics) don’t live up to the lofty standards set by Apple’s popular notebooks, the innards appear to pack a serious punch. We don’t have any specs, but the unit we handled was equipped with an Intel Core i7 processor, and LG’s gorgeous super slim bezel-hating Shuriken display. We’ll keep you posted with more info as soon as we dig it up — in the meantime, why not take a look at this hot little number in our gallery and hands-on video after the break?
We’ve already seen Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors and Thunderbolt reinvigorating the MacBook Pro line, so it’s only logical for the MacBook Airs to eventually follow suit — presumably they’ll pick up Sandy Bridge’s 17W mobile processors to match the current 10W and 17W Core 2 Duos. So when can we expect this to happen? Well, according to DigiTimes’ sources within the supply chain, Apple may receive shipment of the refreshed Airs in late May ahead of a June or July launch — this echoes earlier reports from Apple Insider and CNET that cited the same time frame. Additionally, DigiTimes says Quanta will continue to assemble Apple’s ultra-portable laptops, with Simplo Technology and Dynapack supplying the battery packs. As always, we shall remain open-minded about such rumors, but you’ll know the real deal as soon as we do within the next couple of months or so.
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.
We never had much doubt about what Samsung would be showcasing at tonight’s finale event at Google I/O 2011, but now it’s official — the outfit’s first-ever Chrome OS ultraportable is making its debut in San Francisco, and we’ve been fortunate enough to grab a bit of hands-on time. Slated to ship to consumers, businesses and educational institutions on June 15th, the 12.1-inch Series 5 is a strikingly svelte machine, and there’s no doubt that holding a 0.79-inch rig gives us all kinds of chills. The company took a bit of time to play up its “Power Plus” battery technology, lasting up to 8.5 hours with “active use,” or 5 hours of straight video. There’s also a new hitch in the Verizon Wireless data deal — 100MB will be tossed in each month on the 3G model, but contrary to what we’d heard earlier, that ends after two years (rather than lasting for the life of the product).
The hardware feels tremendous — stiff, solid and well appointed, much like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition. It outclasses the other sub-$450 netbooks we’ve seen in both style and rigidity, and while we’ll always have a special place in our heart for the CR-48, it’s pretty clear that this particular unit was in the oven for some while. We’ve hoping to spend some serious time with this guy in the middle of next month, but for now, here’s what we can tell you — the 1280 x 800 display is both crisp and sharp, with shockingly great viewing angles for a machine of this price. The keyboard’s far from cramped, and if you’ve had your doubts on the 12.1-inch form factor, we’re guessing one touch of this would have those running for cover. Oh, and the trackpad? One of the best we’ve felt in the PC universe, and one that we hope crops up elsewhere in the near future. It’s right about on par with the one found on the CR-48 (post update), which is also stellar compared to most netbooks.
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