Apple blocks older versions of Adobe Flash on Macs For security

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Apple has blocked older versions of Adobe’s Flash plug-in. Further, the corporate explained that it’s already updated its plugin interference tool engineered into hunting expedition as highlighted in one amongst its support documents on the official web site.

“To facilitate shield users from a recent vulnerability, Apple has updated the online plug-in-blocking mechanism to disable older versions of the online plug-in: Adobe Flash Player.”The update, noted by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop, is probably going in response to recently exposed vulnerabilities in Flash.In order to dam older versions of Flash, Apple has updated its “Xprotect.plist” file that creates previous versions that precede the present one (version eleven.6.602.171), non-usable on a waterproof. those that have older versions of Flash put in are going to be greeted with associate degree alert that claims “Blocked plug-in,” and hunting expedition can prompt the user to update to a more recent version. If users wish to see that version of Flash they presently have put in, they will visit Adobe’s web site to induce the version range associate degreed perform an update if necessary.

Users will browse additional transfer directions here (http://support.apple.com/kb/ht5655).

Last month, Adobe hurried out a fix for Flash Player once security code maker Kaspersky science lab known a crucial bug that enabled hackers to put in “back doors” and take charge of PCs running on Microsoft Corp’s Windows OS or Apple’s waterproof OS X.

In Gregorian calendar month last year, associate degree update for Lion and painter removed Apple’s own Java application plugin from all browsers. so as to access content on such sites, users were directed towards the Oracle web site to manually transfer the plugin.Previously, Apple stopped as well as pre-installed versions of Java with Macs (starting with Lion), and so later discharged associate degree update that disabled Java if it hadn’t been employed in a definite amount of your time. If you select to put in the plugin, you may conjointly ought to install Oracle-provided Java, in parallel with Apple’s own Java (if already installed), however that is one thing you needn’t worry concerning because the user. More recently, Apple blocked Java on Macs owing to vulnerabilities as directed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that suggested disabling Java in internet browsers to avoid potential hacking attacks.

 

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Review for Apple MacBook Pro 13

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 The Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012: very good condition, but the laptop is trying to compete with Ultrabooks and performance machines. The Apple MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is, like its predecessor, a powerful laptop with long battery life and outstanding?

apple macbook pro 13

We believe that Apple has not quite hit the mark here. The MacBook Pro does have a processor enough? Powerful and can save its performance claims with reference results. On the other hand, the included RAM is not really enough, because it is a Pro model. At least for Mac OS, increased RAM should be considered. The same is true for the reader (fairly quiet) drive that Apple uses. An SSD would be a better fit here and increase the overall performance significantly.The display is also random. The TN is very bright, has a small black dot, provides excellent contrast and viewing angles appropriate. But unfortunately, the resolution of 1280 x 800 is a totally outdated. We would like to see a higher resolution here. In addition, the panel will not suffer from reflections (since it is a glare-type). There are rumors of a Retina 13-inch model, however.

 Regarding mobility, the? MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is top-notch. The weight of two kilograms? (4.4 pounds) is OK, given the rather compact dimensions and the fact that the optical drive is included. The exceptional battery allows the user to venture far away from any.?So what’s the final verdict? The? MacBook Pro 13 Mid 2012 is a solid workhorse and compact with impeccable build quality and long battery life. But because of the missing card and dedicated graphics display resolution relatively low, it is not quite at the level longer. The base price of 1249 euros seems a little high. We can only recommend it for users who need a small notebook with an integrated optical drive and good performance. In a use case like that, the laptop offers a good compromise.

 

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Disgo Tablet 7000

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 Disgo Tablet 7000

Catch a glimpse of the Disgo 7000 and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Apple had discovered yet another form-factor and wedged a product into that gap. It looks like a Kindle-esque, novel-sized tab squeezed inbetween the iPhone and iPad.

Given the company’s impeccable sense of style, that a sub-£100 Android tablet could be mentioned in the same breath is quite a compliment to Disgo’s budget gadget.

The resemblance is undeniable, though. Sitting idle it has the same seamless black bevel and glossy, fingerprint-attracting sheen as Apple’s touchscreen devices. It’s only when you flip the 7000 over to reveal the matt plastic reverse side that the disparity in manufacturing cost is revealed.

This is a handsome piece of kit that unashamedly imitates more expensive technology. It’s also a convenient size – at 10.5mm thick it’s slimmer than the majority of budget clunkers we’ve seen so far.

The modest proportions mean it’s more like an e-book reader than an iPad, but that makes it comfortable to hold, convenient for reading and easy to stow in a bag. It’s also flattering to the 800 x 480 pixel screen which is a much lower resolution for a 7″ tablet, as most have a 1024 x 600 panel.

Of course it doesn’t leave a great deal of space for physical buttons. The back button is front and centre below the screen, but the power, home, menu and volume buttons are arranged along the narrow right-hand side of the device as you hold it in portrait, which can lead to the odd accidental press as you’re getting to grips with the device.

Battery life is also unspectacular, though not atrocious, finally giving up the ghost after three hours of video at full brightness.

Making a connection

Connectivity is generous. There’s a MicroSD port to bolster the tiny 4GB of internal storage (a card is all but essential if you want to add music and videos to the device) and mini HDMI to allow you to watch videos on an attached TV.

The most surprising feature is that there is not just one mini USB port but two at the base of the device. The one positioned in the centre is a standard connector, for plugging the tablet into a computer. The second one, offset to the right, is a USB host controller and works with an adaptor included in the box.

The dongle turns it into a USB port like you’d find on a laptop. This means if you have media stored on a standard USB stick you can view it on the tablet and if you tire of typing on a touchscreen, you can plug in a USB keyboard to ease the pain. It’s a thoughtful addition that makes the device far more flexible for the newcomers than tablets in this price range will surely attract.

At what cost?

Disgo tablet 7000 review

At that price there are always going to be sacrifices though, and the two biggest ones are par for the course when it comes to tablets in this class.

The first is a hardware limitation: the Disgo 7000 has a resistive rather than capacitive touchscreen. What this means that you can only press in one place at a time, meaning no multi-touch trickery like pinching to zoom, and it does make typing much more laborious.

As for the 7000’s own performance, it’s relatively accurate, meaning you’ll rarely hit the wrong letter on the on-screen keyboard, but you do have to press quite hard to get a response at all, which is very frustrating. You’ll often see that unnerving LCD discolouration as you push down on the display and typing anything more than quick notes is likely to become pretty tiresome.

The second problem is one of software, as the Disgo 7000 features the ageing Android 2.3 ‘Gingerbread’ OS. While it remains functional for straightforward things like web browsing, email and media (and is an improvement on Android 2.2 which stinks up many of the other budget tabs), it’s still old technology.

More worrying is the lack of the Android Marketplace – owing to licensing costs, you won’t find a sub-£100 Android tab that has Marketplace support and that seriously limits your options.

It’s by no means the end of apps – Disgo attempts to mitigate the loss of Marketplace by including the GetJar downloader which features many of the more popular apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype. But there’s no denying that the vast majority of Android apps, particularly the paid ones, simply can’t be downloaded. This means no Angry Birds, no BBC iPlayer and certainly no Cut The Rope.

If you’re yet to be convinced by the tablet revolution and unsure of whether you need something that sits between a smartphone and a laptop in your life, the Disgo 7000 presents an ideal way to dip your toe in. For around £75 you’re getting a tablet that not only performs the basic functions you’d hope for, but also one that you wouldn’t be ashamed to leave sitting on the coffee table when a friend dropped by.

Admittedly, you’re sacrificing performance and features, but you’re talking about a device that costs around a sixth of the price of the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Don’t expect it to compete with an iPad or the Samsung Galaxy, but if you’re terrified by the price tags attached to bijou technology, the Disgo 7000 is a modest but desirable tablet that punches well above its weight.

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Introduce Laptop Dell XPS 14z

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Introduce Laptop Dell XPS 14z

Not so long ago we looked at the laptop Dell Inspiron 14z. And now we have a model on the operating table with a similar name. Twins? Just relatives? Or is it namesakes and nothing more? Try to understand.

Outwardly, the two “chetarnadtsatzed” resemble each other only vaguely. The same, by and large, only joint cap to the body: in both notebook hinges are “upright” and not on the edge of the shell, and indented. In the case of Dell Inspiron 14z is more pronounced, and in the Dell XPS 14z is noticeable only at certain angles. The most important aspect of mismatched design – the materials used. In the low-cost Inspiron 14z plastic housing, with a decorative ornament from the “shredded” the metal.

In the XPS 14z all noticeably more interesting: the lower half of the body and the outside cover is made of anodized aluminum, like the MacBook. But, unlike the MacBook, “working surface» Dell XPS 14z – that is, the plane on which the keyboard and touchpad – not aluminum and plastic. The plastic is painted in gray color and looks much darker than aluminum.

In general, highly original approach: all the beauty of metal, for which the user actually pays to hide at the bottom and the back of the lid. A user is referred to propose the same realm of synthetic materials, as in the cheaper models. For example, openwork lattice air intake holes on the metal bottom of the XPS 14z looks just wonderful. And the same pattern – speaker grille – on the plastic panels for painting turned out pretty oplyvshim.

Typically, a company copying creatively reinterpreted design Apple, limited to the exterior. But the Dell decided to go one step further: to heighten the resemblance copied More innovative thinking and OSD-will adjust the volume, brightness, and the like. And rethink the most creative – even cleaned. Keyboard Dell XPS 14z looks interesting and somewhat unusual, and has the correct layout is well established.

Perhaps the main advantage of the keyboard XPS 14z – the presence of illumination. It is made less accurately than in Samsung 700Z5A, But its function copes well: in the dark buttons clearly visible. The touchpad is quite large, covering the right, the finger glides on it good and comfortable. Physical buttons that can be called a pleasant surprise, considering that the design of this laptop is innovative thinking you know someone.

In front of the case, obviously, is the battery. Therefore, no Front useful elements at all – there simply is empty. By the same token is not used, and about a third of each side. So the right fit only optical drive, and the left – a memory card reader, audio jacks and one of the two “exhaust” vents. The bulk of the ports are concentrated behind. Use them, of course, inconvenient. Terribly uncomfortable, to be exact to the end.

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Acer Aspire S3

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 Acer Aspire S3

Overview

The first-generation ultrabook war is getting bloody, with the Toshiba Satellite Z830 and Lenovo Ideapad U300S emerging from the pits to take on the Asus Zenbook and this machine, the Acer Aspire S Series. This four-way battle royale should be a fierce contest, but can Acer do enough to beat down the super-thin-yet-powerful laptop competition?

The Taiwanese company certainly has experience producing every variety of laptop, from the ultra-portable Timeline range of models such as the Acer Aspire Timeline X 3820TZ to the mighty Ethos multimedia machines including the Acer Aspire Ethos 5943G.

One of its dinkiest offerings yet, the 13.3-inch Acer Aspire S3-951 is an appealing prospect for regular travellers.

The Intel Core i7 2637M version we tested is priced at £900 in the UK and costs $1300 in the US (where it has the more specific name of Acer Aspire S3-951-6432), which is enticing, considering the impressive specs list.

A less powerful Core i5 model can be bought for £700 in the UK, while in the US there are three cheaper Core i5 machines, two of which cost $900, while one retails at $1199.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

At 1.38kg, the Acer Aspire S3-951 is a similar weight to the other ultrabooks and just slips in under Intel’s specified 1.4kg ultrabook weight. Even a skinny eight-year-old could carry this laptop around all day, although we wouldn’t trust some whippersnapper with a piece of kit like this.

With a thickness of 19mm at its widest point, the Acer Aspire S3-951 may not be as size-zero slender as the Toshiba Satellite Z830 or Asus Zenbook UX21, but it’s certainly thin enough to slide into a backpack, briefcase or even an oversized handbag.

However, even though the lid is impressively slim, it’s also tough enough to take a pounding. There’s almost no flex in the centre, so the display remains protected even when the laptop is bumping around in a bag. The brushed aluminium surface repels fingerprints and other marks, keeping it clean and shiny.

We were also pleased to see sturdy hinges, which hold the screen still even when you’re pounding the keyboard. This solid build quality continues throughout the rest of the chassis. We found no worrying weak spots, although we’re not convinced that the Acer Aspire S3-951 would survive a fall from a desk.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

One potential peril of compact laptops is that usability might suffer – the reduced chassis space means smaller keyboards, the nemesis of anyone with fat sausage fingers. Thankfully the Acer Aspire S3-951 doesn’t suffer too much from its stunted stature.

Shift and Ctrl keys are well-sized, although the Enter key is squashed into a single row and the arrow keys are almost comically tiny. Touch typing was a breeze. We bashed out emails and articles for hours at a time without our hands cramping up, and with minimal errors. While the shallow key travel is unavoidable, it isn’t as bad as the Asus Zenbook‘s (which feels like you’re tapping on a solid piece of plastic).

The Acer Aspire S3-951’s touchpad is also a decent size, but is cursed with integrated mouse buttons. Instead of having separate mouse buttons, you need to push the left and right corners of the pad down to simulate mouse clicks. Frankly, it’s a horrible experience.

Anyone who’s used one of these touchpads will know the deal. Often when you push the corners in to select a menu option, the cursor will skip across the screen, leading to incorrect menu selections. Considering how fiddly Windows menus can be, we came close to busting out the power tools and giving the Acer Aspire S3-951 a few new air vents.

Our advice is, stick to tapping the surface for mouse clicks. It’s a little hit and miss, but might save your blood pressure.

Specifications

Acer aspire s3-951 review

The Acer Aspire S3-951’s compact build means you’re stuck with a small screen, but the 13.3-inch display is perfectly serviceable for both business and pleasure. It isn’t the brightest screen ever, but the 1366 x 768-pixel resolution means images are sharp.

HD movies look crisp, if not particularly vibrant.

Although 13.3 inches doesn’t give you a huge viewing area for the latest blockbuster films, it’s perfectly fine when you’re on the move and sat right in front of your laptop. The sharp resolution is also perfect when you’re working on tables or spreadsheets.

However, the glossy Super-TFT finish is reflective, which is a hindrance if you want to use the Acer Aspire S3-951 outdoors. Anyone who’s regularly out and about will prefer the matt screen of the Toshiba Satellite Z830.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

Business users will be happy to see an HDMI port and two USB ports crammed onto the rear of the slender chassis. Accessing them is a little awkward, and fans of wired networking should check out the Toshiba Satellite Z830, which has a built-in Ethernet port. However, the Acer Aspire S3-951 is pretty much standard when it comes to ultrabooks.

If you have tons of files to lug around, you’ll need to use one of the USB ports to hook up an external hard drive. Despite the specs listing a 240GB solid state drive, the Acer Aspire S3-951 only reported 200GB of storage space available. This fills up far too quickly, especially if you’re hoping to carry some music or movies with you, although at least it gives you super speedy and reliable access to your data.

You also have an SD card reader for extra storage.

Aside from that, the Acer Aspire S3-951 is typically light on features. A 1.3MP webcam positioned just above the screen enables you to video chat with mates or colleagues, and that’s your lot. However, at least the Acer Aspire S3-951 doesn’t come laden with dozens of useless app trials that clog up your hard drive and constantly pester you with annoying pop-ups.

Performance

Acer aspire s3-951 review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Cinebench 10: 8,827
3D Mark ’06: 3,279
Battery Eater ’05: 149 minutes

The real selling point of the Acer Aspire S3-951 is the impressive set of components stuffed in its tiny gullet. Gone are the days of clunky low-voltage CPUs plaguing ultra-portable laptops.

The dual-core Intel Core i7 2637M processor stormed through our Cinebench tests, proving well matched to any task we threw at it.

Backed up by 4GB of memory, we had no problem multitasking with all kinds of software. Applications loaded quickly (helped in part by that speedy solid state drive) and ran smoothly. In fact, the Acer Aspire S3-951 proved to be the most powerful ultrabook we’ve reviewed, narrowly beating the Core i7 Asus Zenbook UX31.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

Graphical performance is dependable, thanks to the flexibility of the Sandy Bridge chipset. Although the GPU is integrated, it’s still capable of running multimedia software such as photo and video editing suites, without suffering from glitches or crashes.

Of course, you aren’t going to get any serious gaming done on an ultrabook. Older games will run as expected, and you won’t have any trouble smashing your mates at a game of online Scrabble. But try testing it with a recent FPS game and you’ll meet a stuttering mess.

Even when we ran fairly demanding software, we were impressed by how cool and quiet the Acer Aspire S3-951 remained. The SSD obviously helps, because there are no spinning discs to contend with. The area around the vents (positioned at the rear of the laptop) remains cool at all times.

Acer aspire s3-951 review

Unfortunately the battery life was a lot less impressive. We ran HD video on loop and were disappointed when the Acer Aspire S3-951 died after just 149 minutes. This isn’t a disastrous performance, but it is below average for a modern laptop – we usually get around three hours of movie action before the screen fades to black.

Considering this is an ultrabook built for portability, the result is even more disappointing. The Asus Zenbook, for example, survived for over four hours with the same test. If you’re looking for a new laptop, you’ll have to seriously consider what’s more important to you – performance or longevity.

Verdict

Acer aspire s3-951 review

We’ve tested the first generation of ultrabooks, and so far we’ve liked what we’ve seen.

This attractive blend of performance and portability might not be new (as Apple fanboys will be quick to point out), and we’re not sure why it’s taken Intel’s intervention to stimulate manufacturers into producing mini laptops such as the Acer Aspire S3-951. However, for anyone who’s a regular road hog, the ultrabook is an enticing prospect.

We liked

The Acer Aspire S3-951’s slender chassis may not be as stupefyingly thin or sleek as the Asus Zenbook, but it’s still compact enough to fit in almost any bag. It’s also impressively tough considering the girth, with a firm lid and tough body.

We were impressed by the excellent Intel Core i7 processor performance, and saw next to no slowdown when running several applications at once. Multimedia software runs fine, and the ultrabook starts up and shuts down in no time at all.

If you need a machine to bash out emails and documents on the move, the Acer Aspire S3-951’s keyboard will do the job. It isn’t too cramped, despite the compact frame, with the exception of the miniscule arrow keys.

We disliked

Unfortunately, for a laptop marketed on its portability, the Acer Aspire S3-951’s battery life is pants. Just two and a half hours of movie playback on a single charge is below average, even for a bog-standard entry-level laptop.

We also had massive issues with the touchpad. Those integrated mouse buttons are a massive pain, and we resorted to tapping the surface to select menu options instead.

Anyone with a huge media collection will need to cart around an external hard drive, because only 200GB of storage space is available on the 240GB SSD.

Final verdict

While the Acer Aspire S3-951 is a well-built and powerful ultrabook, which offers good value for money, we were more drawn to the Toshiba Satellite Z830 and the Asus Zenbook. However, a cut-price Core i5 version of the Acer Aspire S3-951 can be had if your budget is tight, and nobody will be disappointed by the excellent performance of this Core i7 model.

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Lenovo IdeaPad U300S

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 Lenovo IdeaPad U300S

Overview

The wait for the flurry of Intel ultrabooks is over, and the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S is among the latest super thin and light Windows laptops to come to the fore.

It joins the likes of the Toshiba Portege Z830, Toshiba Satellite Z830, Asus Zenbook UX31 and Acer Aspire S3 in the ultrabook range, a new kind of laptop category that is critically important for the future of the entire market.

Ultrabooks are super-thin, light, sleek and powerful laptops that aim to emulate Apple’s recent gains with the Apple MacBook Air, and finally give consumers a reason to invest in PCs again.

Lenovo ideapad u300s review

The Lenovo IdeaPad U300S is the last in the current line of ultrabooks to hit the shelves, and with a host of new models rumoured to be released at CES 2012 in January, it needs to offer a potent mix of power, great looks and competitive price to stand out among the early salvos from Acer, Asus and Toshiba.

However, our first impressions are underwhelming.

Lenovo hasn’t obsessed over aesthetics, and this laptop is no Apple MacBook Air clone. It seems chunky next to the wafer-thin Asus Zenbook, which features a wedge-shaped design that tapers off to a thin, blade-like point.

The Lenovo IdeaPad U300S retains its 16mm thickness across the chassis, giving it the impression of being squat.

The body is aluminium, and weighs 1.4kg, the same as the Acer Aspire S3, but much heavier than the Toshiba Portege Z830 and the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U. If you’re looking for an ultrabook that will turn heads, you will most likely look elsewhere, but can the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S impress with power?

Specifications

Lenovo ideapad u300s review

Under the hood of the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S is an Intel Core i5 processor, which we were slightly disappointed to see, when other manufacturers have managed to add Intel Core i7 processors to a smaller, lighter chassis.

The processor is one of Intel’s low-voltage chips, which balances power with decent battery life and enables system builders to keep their laptops svelte, and achieve the standard required for ultrabook branding.

The low voltage family of processors are part of Intel’s Sandy Bridge range, but don’t expect the same performance as on full laptop systems such as the Dell XPS 15z. These processors are clocked at a meagre 1.6GHz, but have some cunning tech built in to keep the system optimised.

Lenovo ideapad u300s review

There’s Intel’s fast booting technology, which enables the Lenovo to resume from sleep and boot from cold in seconds, and makes a huge difference. It’s one of the best ultrabook features, but it’s not exclusive to the Lenovo.

We have seen better processors elsewhere, such as the Asus Zenbook with its Intel Core i7 processor, and this affects performance.

There’s also 4GB of RAM, which is standard across all ultrabooks and provides enough memory for keeping the system feeling responsive.

Finally, there’s a 128GB SSD drive, which we’re glad to say is becoming standard on ultrabooks, but whether you can live on that is debatable. Yes, you can employ an external HDD, but the question for many is whether an ultrabook can function as a primary machine, or whether it must be complemented by a full-form computer.

Lenovo ideapad u300s review

The lack of connections on the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S means using this as a primary laptop is difficult, which is a bugbear.

While the whole world goes wireless, and we start to store data in the cloud, 128GB of storage seems plenty. Cloud apps and storage are taking the strain off disc drives, but connectivity is the problem. The Lenovo IdeaPad U300S features just two USB ports, one of these being USB 3.0, and an HDMI port but no Ethernet or VGA.

The Lenovo IdeaPad U300S is also the only ultrabook not to feature a media card slot, and with only two USB slots on offer, connectivity is severely limited.

Lenovo ideapad u300s review

The result is that it’s harder to get online, and we found it frustrating when hopping between offices and meeting rooms when wireless signal was poor, or non-existent. That’s not a problem for home users, but with the matt screen and less attractive lines, we feel this ultrabook is aimed at mobile workers.

The Lenovo IdeaPad U300S features a 13.3-inch display, and in a nod to true portability, the screen is matt, with a coating to stop reflections in direct sunlight.

Matt screens tend to polarise opinion, with many complaining that it makes the panel dull and lifeless, versus others who love the ability to work outside and near windows with them.

The truth is that both of these statements are true, and the Lenovo is totally unsuitable for those who want to enjoy movies and pictures, but it’s a great choice for people who want to work on the move.

Performance

Lenovo ideapad u300s review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Benchmarks
Cinebench: 7,244
3D Mark: 3,394
Battery Eater: 232 mins

The Lenovo IdeaPad U300S’s less powerful Intel Core i5 processor showed through in our lab tests, and the 7,244 score in Cinebench is on the low side when compared to the Asus Zenbook UX31 and Acer Aspire S3.

In real-world terms, this is more than enough processing power to run advanced programs such as Photoshop, although rendering will take longer than on full-powered Intel Core processors and ultrabooks with the Core i7 model. You’ll have no problem running multiple applications at the same time, though.

There’s no dedicated graphics card, so 3D effects are left to the GPU found on the Intel Sandy Bridge processor. As you might expect, it produces a poor score, and you won’t be playing any of the latest titles on the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S.

Lenovo ideapad u300s review

There’s enough graphical grunt to deal with HD video, so you can watch a movie on the move, but anything more demanding is out of the question, and the screen won’t make movies look their best anyway.

The battery life was decent, if unspectacular, with 232 minutes of use in our harsh lab tests. This translates to around five hours of web surfing and emailing, which equates to a good day on the move, but nowhere near the seven hours quoted by Lenovo on its marketing literature.

One of the major complaints across many ultrabooks is that they often feature poor, uncomfortable keyboards, and single button trackpads that are frustrating to use, and easy to skip across the page with unintentionally. Unfortunately, the Lenovo suffers here too.

Lenovo ideapad u300s review

On the plus side the keys are as comfortable and natural to use as any ultrabook here, and they’re well cushioned and well spaced, with isolation-style keys jutting through the aluminium chassis.

However, Lenovo has made the Enter and Backspace keys very small, with the Home, End and Delete key to the far right.

This meant mistakes were common, and it took us a while to get used to the keyboard. The trackpad, however, is terrible, and often clicking and navigating led to chaotic moments, where clicks were mis-registered.

Verdict

Lenovo ideapad u300s review

When it comes to weighing up the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S, “average” is a word that crops up too often. It looks average, performance is average despite being thicker and heavier than other ultrabooks, and the keyboard and trackpad are still awkward to use. It doesn’t have the power to turn heads, nor to blow away the likes of the Acer Aspire S3 in terms of performance, and that means it’s hard to recommend, even for particular niches.

The matt screen will make it attractive for business buyers, but the lack of a VGA and Ethernet connection mean that many will overlook this laptop.

We liked

Despite our gripes with the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S, it’s still an excellent ultra-portable laptop. If it had come out before the other ultrabooks, we’d be applauding the excellent design and performance, and the Intel Core i5 is plenty powerful enough for image editing and advanced multitasking.

While we’d never recommend the screen for movies, we applaud Lenovo for offering a matt screen, which is great for people who want to work outside.

The keyboard is comfortable and easy to type on, with good travel between the keys, and good cushioning for long working sessions.

We disliked

Rather than complaining about poor trackpads, we’re going to get down on our knees and beg manufacturers instead. Please believe us that single button trackpads are prone to mistakes and frustrating to use. Stop mimicking Apple and adding them to your laptops.

We also would have liked the Lenovo IdeaPad U300S to be more visually striking. Ultrabooks aren’t just supposed to be thin laptops, they’re supposed to be a new category, where we can get excited about our PCs, take them to Starbucks and sit among our Apple-using friends with our heads held high.

There’s little here to boast about, and that’s a real shame.

Final verdict

The Lenovo IdeaPad U300S is a good ultra-portable laptop, but as an ultrabook, it doesn’t offer any compelling reasons to choose it over the competition.

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Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U

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 Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U

Overview

If you wanted a stylishly light and powerful Toshiba laptop, you would immediately look to the Japanese company’s Portege R830. That is, until you came across the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U, priced at £999 in the UK (the US price isn’t yet available).

Toshiba’s shiny entry into the ultrabook market will go up against the likes of the Acer Aspire S3 and the Asus Zenbook UX21.

These super light and thin laptops are already among us, and are aiming to take some of the limelight away from the Apple MacBook Air. Helped by chip manufacturer Intel, which laid out very specific price and performance requirements for manufacturers, the Ultrabook is set to become a common sight in 2012.

At its thickest point, the Satellite Z830-10U measures only 16mm across, but Toshiba has still packed in Sandy Bridge power and given us one of the best trackpads we’ve yet seen on an ultrabook. It’s not without niggles, however, and we found parts of the chassis to be inferior to stronger machines such as the Asus Zenbook and the MacBook Air.

Toshiba satellite z830-10u review

The 13.3-inch Satellite Z830-10U is truly an ultrabook for the road. Giving us not only the lightest chassis we’ve yet seen, but also an excellent battery life, this could be the answer for frequent travellers who need a long-lasting machine full of performance for under £1,000.

Although this has the same 128GB solid state drive (SSD) that we’ve seen elsewhere, it offers better connectivity than other ultrabooks currently on the market. In what could quickly become its main selling point, the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U gives you three USB ports, of which one is USB 3.0, and an Ethernet connection – the only ultrabook to do so.

We enjoyed our time with the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U and looked past a couple of irritating points to find that it is certainly one of the ultrabooks you should be considering.

It sits alongside cheaper brother the Toshiba Satellite Z830-10T, which costs £899 in the UK or $849 in the US, while Toshiba’s Port

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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

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 Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Overview

The burning question with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer prime release, as with any tablet, is this: is it better than the Apple iPad 2?

The immediate follow-up question is usually a bit less thrilling: can it beat the reigning champion of Android tablets, the super-slim and light Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1?

We’ll explore both questions in depth, but for those whole don’t like to wait around for the punch line, we’ll say that the super-thin and light Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime might just be the best tablet ever made.

But first, the basics – in the UK, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime will go on sale in January 2012. There’s only going to be one version over here, which is a 32GB SKU bundled with the keyboard,a charger, cleaning cloth, USB cable and earbuds.

This bundle will cost you £499, which is £70 more than the 16GB tablet-keyboard bundle that the original Eee Pad Transformer came in when it launched earlier in 2011.

The most important spec on the new Transformer is the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. Everything amazing about the Prime tablet rests on this quad-core, 1.3GHz chip.

HD videos play smoother (and longer, with up to 12 hours of battery use for video) than ever before. Games suddenly look fluid and dynamic, with water ripple effects, smoke, fog and explosions that mimic what you’d normally find in a PC game.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

The super-crisp IPS display, which is similar to the one used on the iPad 2, is refreshingly easy on the eyes even in outdoor locations or with incandescent bulbs blazing around you.

The rear 8MP camera is a wonder of engineering. In several tests, HD videos recorded at 1080p looked smooth and clear, unlike the grainier results from the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Even the 1.2MP front-facing camera worked well for video chats, without the typical fuzziness of other tablets.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime also includes a free intuitive Asus webstorage app for offloading your files, and you can pop in a microSD card in a left-side slot up to 32GB each.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

All of the typical connection options are here: Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 2.1, a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right and a micro HDMI port (also on the left) for connecting to an HD TV.

The 263 x 180.8 x 8.3mm tablet is wider than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, although the screen, at 1280 x 800p resolution and 10.1 inches, is the same size.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

At 586g, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is lighter than the iPad 2 but a touch heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, although nobody will notice a few grams.

It’s also the thinnest tablet on the market today, bar none.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

The 25Wh lithium-polymer battery lasts for about nine hours on a charge for normal use. Asus claims a battery life of 12 hours if you watch mostly videos, because of the way the Tegra 3 manages power.

The tablet comes running Android 3.2 Honeycomb, but Asus says it’s compatible with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, if you wish to upgrade when the update becomes available next year.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Features and interface

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Features

We said up front that we will answer questions about whether the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime beats the Apple iPad 2 and the leading Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Truth be told, some of the factors that will help you decide between the three similar tablets are subtle, yet important.

Let’s start with the hardware design. All three tablets look remarkably similar. An untrained eye wouldn’t know the difference between them.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Turn the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime over on its back, and there’s a silver back cover that looks much more durable than the white plastic back of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and grey back of the iPad 2. The front IPS screen, made with Gorilla Glass, is also durable and sharp.

There’s a proprietary charge port below the main horizontal screen on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. This is the same port you use to pop the device into the laptop dock.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

There are two extra ports that secure the tablet to the dock, and when housed that way, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime works reliably as a touchscreen laptop.

The dock isn’t ideal for long typing sessions, and matches the quality of other lapdocks such as the one for the Motorola Atrix 2. In other words, they are functional and provide a mouse pad, quick access function keys, a USB port and an SD memory card slot. But otherwise it doesn’t match the responsive typing of a regular full notebook computer.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Some of the port covers on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime’s dock are a bit hard to remove. For example, the one that covers the USB port might require some prying loose with a knife.

Overall, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is easy to handle. It’s wider than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, so is easier to grip, with a slightly wider bezel. But it seems a bit less portable for that reason as well.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

The back is metallic and durable, but not exactly scratch or smudge-resistant, as we found out. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a bit more of a pick-up and go feel to it only because the Asus is wider and felt just a hair wider and longer.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Interface

Asus packed some choice extras onto the Eee Pad Transformer Prime, but generally stuck to the basic Android 3.2 Honeycomb user interface. In fact, there are just a few extra widgets for quickly reading your emails, seeing the weather forecast and controlling music tracks.

There’s a goofy app called MyZine that automatically adds your photos into a magazine-like layout, but it has a limited purpose and might be the first one you drag to the trash.

There are no extra app widgets like there are on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet for adding favorites to an app wheel or an app launcher. Frankly, these additions offer a nebulous value beyond the stock operating system.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Asus used a slightly modified treatment for the bottom row of icons. There’s a back button, a home button and a pop-up multitasking button that shows you open apps and enables you to switch between them. Here you can also click a small X that shuts down any open app to save memory.

There’s not too much more to say about the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime’s interface, because Asus kept things simple. There are no extra tools for storing apps like there is on the Toshiba AT100 (known as the Toshiba Thrive in the US), but some of those enhancements don’t really add to the value anyway. The simple core Android OS makes the Prime easy to use.

Market and apps

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Android Market and Apps

The Android Market included on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime has been upgraded with a new interface that is surpassingly easy to use. Following the lead of the well-designed HP TouchPad app store, there are panels with rich photos that draw your eye and make you want to purchase more apps. The new look also mimics the Windows Phone 7 look, in that it is image-centric to draw the eye.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Of course, once you drill into the Market a bit you will realise that this glossy magazine-like front-end interface is just icing on the old cake – the Market works about the same as always. You can rent movies and television shows through the Market as you can on other recent tablets.

Where Asus scores extra points is with the included apps. It has quite outdone itself for this model.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

First, there’s a MyLibrary app for ebooks, magazines and newspapers. Then not quite as extensive as the Amazon Kindle Store (OK, far less extensive), the Asus @Vibe store, which is really just a portal to Versent Books, lets you buy major bestsellers such as John Grisham’s The Litigators.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Pricing is suspiciously the same as most Amazon Kindle store bestsellers. Some books were noticeably missing, including the latest Michael Lewis book called Boomerang, which is featured prominently in the Kindle store.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Asus @Vibe Music is a welcome addition. With functionally similar to the Google Music app, this music app works like Last.fm in that you can search for an artist and play their songs.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Each “station” lets you play random songs by that artist. The @Vibe store also lets you play songs you have purchased from the Asusvibe.com store, as long as you have used a supported Asus laptop or netbook.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Asus MyCloud is a handy cloud storage portal similar to Dropbox. You can use 2GB of storage for free, or pay about US$9 for three months of unlimited storage. Keep in mind, though, that the service limits file size to 500MB per file for the free account.

Also, while the app lets you offload files to the cloud, you can also access files on one computer that is sharing files through the service.

The Asus MyNet app works exactly like the Samsung Allshare service, in that you can set up a connection to and from another computer on the same router network to share music, photos and videos. We tested the app with a Sony all-in-one desktop PC and could easily share files between the tablet and the desktop computer.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime we tested also came pre-loaded with a wide selection of pre-release Tegra 3 games, including BladeSlinger, ShadowGun and Davinci THD. These titles will be available through an app portal called the TegraZone, and generally cost about the same as normal Android games.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

One important point to make about gaming on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is that the games look astounding – the best we have seen on any tablet. ShadowGun in particular uses water effects that look ultra-realistic for a portable device (although nothing like, say, Battlefield 3 on a console).

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

The most interesting comparison we discovered was between the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime playing the same game, Riptide. On the Prime, the water effects were much more convincing, with waves flowing back and forth and whitecaps that change as you drive your jet ski.

At the same time, the Apple iPad 2 may not play games as smoothly, but there is a much wider selection of games, and many are arguably more in-depth. For example, the gameplay for Infinity Blade II on the iPad 2 is far more advanced, with magic ring power-ups, duel-wielding options and collectible gems.

Many of the games on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime are more like visual effects demos, with limited gameplay value.

Office

The Transformer Prime also includes the Polaris Office app for opening and editing word processing and spreadsheet documents. It’s completely compatible with Microsoft Office.

The app does add value, especially since competing office apps like Openoffice cost £9.99 or more.

Screen

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Screen

The 1280 x 800 resolution, 10.1-inch screen on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is sharp and easy to read.

We had no complaints reading an entire ebook on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime and browsing dozens of websites. Finger swipes and presses registered accurately, and typing was fast and responsive.

Asus chose to use a Super IPS display for the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, and there are pros and cons with this.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is not as bright, colourful, or crisp as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, so if you plan to watch movies and view photos routinely, the Samsung is the better tablet.

In comparing the exact same videos and photos on both devices, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime has a slightly dull and washed out look. The Apple iPad 2 looks marginally better than the Prime (they both use IPS displays) but not as vivid as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Clearly, Asus decided to make functionality a higher priority than superior colour reproduction.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime works better than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in a variety of lighting conditions. There’s even a super-bright outdoor mode that makes the display easier to read.

There is much less glare on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which means the screen works better, for reading emails and books and for browsing the web.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Unlike some recent tablets, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime doesn’t use haptic feedback for the keyboard or for any parts of the touchscreen. Presumably this is a trade-off with the IPS screen tech that makes it easier to view the tablet from an angle or to view the screen in bright sunlight or by a lamp.

It didn’t hamper the experience of using the tablet, though some users might find that haptic feedback on other tablets gives you a tactile sense that the tablet has registered your finger press.

One surprise is that the screen uses an oleophobic fingerprint-resistant coating. Even more surprising is that it actually works. The chemical agent reduced grime and finger print build-up. We found that movie-watching was more enjoyable when there wasn’t a thin residue coating parts of the screen.

Usability

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Usability

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is one of the most user-friendly tablets we’ve tested, and matches up easily with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2 in terms of portability, user interface and media playback.

Between the three tablets, the only major difference is that the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is just a little wider and longer, even though the screens are all the same size. That’s not a negative pronouncement, and in fact means the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is a bit easier to grasp for long web browsing sessions or for watching movies.

The original Asus Eee Pad Transformer felt bulky, overly thick and designed from a bygone age of Windows slates.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Asus skipped any dramatic interface enhancements and sticks to the basic Android 3.2.1 Honeycomb user interface. That means three buttons for navigating back, home, and to a pop-up app list on the lower left.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

The newly designed pop-up menu on the lower left (which shows a taskbar for time, app downloads and open apps) is a pleasant departure, though. You can quickly see the Wi-Fi network you are using, your battery level and access settings.

There are three icons you can use to set the power level – eco mode, balanced and performance. You can also enable screen rotation, check Wi-Fi level and enable Bluetooth connections. There’s an option for setting the brightness level, or using auto, and enabling the outdoor brightness.

Otherwise, this pop-up then shows notifications about recent downloads, schedule reminders and email alerts. You can also view Gmail chat messages here. In general, the new design for this pop-up works remarkably well for controlling basic functions on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. The pop-up is well-designed as well.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

One gripe, though, has to do with accessories. Sure, there is a lapdock included as a bundle for the UK version. However, the Apple iPad 2 offers many more choices for docking stations, covers, cases and even microphones you plug into the 30-pin connector.

The original Asus Eee Pad Transformer didn’t become iconic in the sense that hardware accessory companies started making add-on devices for it. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime may catch on, but we doubt it will develop the widespread third-party support that the iPad 2 enjoys, or even come close.

The keyboard dock is helpful for a few purposes, though. For one, it adds another 8 hours to the total battery life (the dock itself can take a charge, and then charge the tablet.) The dock has a USB port and an SD port. Measuring 263 x 180.8 x 8 to 10.4mm, and weighing 537 grams, the dock is small enough to fit into a laptop bag, but is like carrying another tablet around all day.

And then there is the quality of the keyboard. If you’ve used a netbook before, you already know what this dock is like – typing speed suffers from the slightly cramped confines of the lapdock, but you get used to it after a while and it’s still easier than typing on the screen.

There are dedicated keys for changing brightness level, volume, and wireless, which makes it easier to control the tablet. When docked, you can use the mousepad or finger input on the tab. One helpful software change would have been to disable the mousepad when you type because the small size of the keyboard makes it easy to inadvertently brush the mousepad. In a pinch, the keyboard helps you type up longer docs but it in no way competes with a full notebook keyboard.

Battery life

For battery life, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime lasted about nine hours on a charge but of course with the extra 8 hours provided by the keyboard dock, that’s a battery span of 17 hours which is phenomenal.

Media

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Media

Our first experience with media files was a bit of a letdown. We download the movie Conanthrough the Android Market and were greeted by an error message. Asus said it must be a Google problem, but the same file and same Android version on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 worked fine.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Otherwise, all of our media tests were blazingly fast, smooth and played without any problems. One of the most impressive tests was for the Battleship trailer, which used a high frame rate, looked colourful and clear, and played in full 1080p resolution. Every video we tested played smooth and fast.

Music playback on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime also worked reliably and sound quality was excellent.

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Like most tablets, the speaker on the Prime isn’t exactly state-of-the-art quality, and is only serviceable in a pinch when you absolutely can’t use headphones. Yes that is just the one speaker, instead of the two speakers we saw on the side of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

That said, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is just a bit louder than both the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Apple iPad 2 when we cranked up the volume, even if the sound quality wasn’t that great and sounded a bit distorted at times.

No tablet on the market has really exceptional sound, though, and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is in the same league.

We tested both H.264 movie files and those encoded as MPEG as they worked smoothly. This tablet does not support Quicktime, but the Tegra 3 does support H.264 1080p30/60i (HP @ 40Mbps), VC1-AP 1080p30, MPEG2 1080p30/60i, MPEG4 1080p/30, DivX 4/5/6 1080p30, XviD HT 1080p30, H.263 4CIF/30, Theora, and VP8 720p30.

Audio files like MP3 and AAC played without any problems. For audio, the Tegra 3 supports AAC-LC, AAC+, eAAC+, MP3, MP3 VBR, WAV/PCM, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, BSAC, MPEG-2 Audio, Vorbis, WMA 9, WMA, Lossless, WMA Pro, G.729a, G.711, QCELP, EVRC.

Camera

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Camera

Photos we took with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime looked clear and colourful.

In a few cases, the colours weren’t as vivid as those taken with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but they were always sharper than the somewhat blurry images we took with the Apple iPad 2. All three tablets were used for the same photo comparisons below.

Taken with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime…

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Taken with the Apple iPad 2

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Taken with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1…

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus doesn’t offer any extended features for taking photos on the Eee Pad Transformer Prime, but you can change basic settings such as white balance and choose from a few scene modes including Indoors or Night.

None of the settings really add to the value of the camera or compete with a more powerful smartphone or digital camera. Photos, like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime’s screen, tended to look a bit washed out but still useable.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime has a much faster shutter release than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. However, the focus wasn’t always as reliable. The Samsung tablet tends to focus slowly, but the results are sharper Asus.

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Video

YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0bsHgWZQo4

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

One initial complaint when shooting video with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime was that, when we recorded a 1080p video with the tablet, we noticed a few stuttering problems during recording. But playback of this file was smooth and didn’t have any stuttering.

Asus recommended we try again without any apps running in the background, and the test recording didn’t stutter at all when doing this, with smooth-as-butter playback.

Recorded videos also looked super-crisp, which is an important finding compared to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which tends to film grainy and almost unusable videos.

As it stands, no tablet is ideal for shooting photos or recording video, because you can’t hold the device in a way that makes it easy to capture stills or video – there is often a shaky-cam look no matter how you hold them. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is no different, although the somewhat more rigid design and wider bezel makes it a hair easier to grip.

In one case, while shooting a video, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime suddenly went in and out of focus sporadically, trying to focus on the subject. The problem never happened again, though.

Verdict

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Is there any reason not to rush right out and get the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime when it starts shipping in January?

Not really. The Prime is an outstanding Android 3.2 tablet.

It is also the first tablet to use the Nvidia Tegra 3 processor for faster gaming, better movie playback, and long battery life.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is light and thin, with a durable design that will withstand a few spills, and even a drop or two. The device uses an understated slim design with a metallic back cover that seems durable.

The included Asus first-party apps add to the value: they enable you to store files in the cloud, buy music and books, and stream content from a desktop or laptop computer on the same network.

The two major reasons we would avoid this model are relatively minor.

One is that the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 does have a brighter, more colourful screen. Games and movies tend to pop off the screen in a more vivid way than they do on the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. This is a trade-off though, because the Prime is also easier to view in direct light or from a side angle.

The other reason to delay an impulse purchase has to do with apps. Asus does include quite a few compelling first-party apps, and they make the device more enticing.

That’s all well and good, but the Apple iPad 2 is still a better choice if you prefer quality apps that offer unique features. For example, many of the games on the iPad are superior to the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime in terms of gameplay options and variety.

We liked

More than any other spec, we liked the Tegra 3 processor on this tablet. It’s fast and nimble, pumping new life into apps we’ve used for the past nine months and speeding up the operating system overall. HD movies played smooth and fast, without the typical stuttering (for the most part) of other tablets.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is one light and thin tablet. In fact, it’s the thinnest tablet available. Any thinner and we’d start wondering about durability.

Battery life was good, at about nine hours, and video playback lasts up to 12 hours.

Games were visually superior to every other tablet. Smoke and water effects looked convincing, and frame rates were exceptionally high. Most apps ran faster than we’ve seen on any other Android tablet, without any stuttering, memory pauses, or crashes of any kind.

The lapdock, which is included in a bundle for the UK and sold separately in the US, is a smart addition. It turns the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime into a notebook for typing longer documents in a pinch, and has a built-in mouse pad and USB port.

We disliked

We’re fans of the IPS display tech, because it means getting more use out of tablets in a variety of lighting conditions and at a side viewing angle, but the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime’s screen is still just slightly less colourful than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

To test this theory, we asked various people in the office to give us their first response to the same photo on both tablets, and everyone said they preferred the Samsung’s screen.

There’s also still a lingering question about apps compared to those available for the iPad 2. We just can’t get around the fact that the iPad has superior apps – one called Djay that works like a real DJ turntable, the Apple first-party apps such as GarageBand and Keynote, games such as Infinity Blade II that offer deeper gameplay and so on.

Asus can’t do too much about this problem, but if you want to have the best apps for a tablet, the iPad 2 is a better choice.

Of course, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime won’t attract nearly as many third-party hardware companies to make add-ons for the device, even if Asus does offer a handy lapdock accessory. That’s not a ding against the Transformer per se, but a praise for how popular the iPad has become.

Camera and video quality were good, but we ran into a few snags here and there. The resulting photos were usually sharp and focused, but not as colourful as those taken with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Final verdict

There’s a nagging sense with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime that holds us back from declaring a sweeping victory compared to the Apple iPad 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

Overall, when you consider the specs, we know the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is the better tablet. For hardcore tech enthusiasts, this is the tablet you want, because it has the latest next-gen processor and supports true HD movie recording and playback.

For the masses, and just for the overall top spot in the tablet market, the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime can’t compete with the iPad 2 for app selection and quality.

And we have to give the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 the nod for a superior screen. That’s hugely important: the screen is what you look at all day.

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime is faster than any tablet, and matches the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Apple iPad 2 for size and weight.

But we can’t quite declare the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime the winner overall. The iPad 2 still has that honour.

For Android tablets, we’ll say that the faster, lighter Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime ties with the excellent-screened Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

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HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea

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 HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea

Overview

The HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea comes at an interesting time for portable PC laptops. Traditional laptops have had a turbulent ride of late, with a number of threats appearing to erode their market.

The first threat – netbooks – has been seen off pretty comprehensively. The diminutive machines offered a smaller, lighter and cheaper alternative, but at the cost of power and features.

In the end netbooks failed to capture the public’s imagination, despite the efforts of some great products, such as the Toshiba NB520-10U.

Tablets, however – especially the Apple iPad 2 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 – haven’t had this problem, and have surpassed netbooks to become the laptop’s biggest threat. Sales have rocketed so that tablets have succeeded where netbooks failed. Offering slick interfaces, a huge selection of apps and usually attractive and portable designs, tablets are a force to be reckoned with.

Their Achilles’ heel at the moment is price. Top range tablets go for around £300-£400. You can get cheaper models, such as the Binatone HomeSurf 705 and ViewSonic ViewPad 7e, but they’re not very good.

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

A new front has now opened up from the high end of the laptop market, with Intel’s ultrabook format. These new laptops are incredibly thin, light and beautifully designed, as well as being powerful. The standout models of ultrabook is the Asus Zenbook UX31 and the Acer Aspire S3.

So where does this competition leave standard laptops in general, and the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea in particular? Does it do enough to stand out in an already crowded market, and does the audience for that market even exist any more? The HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea starts with a strong foundation, with Hewlett Packard remaining a trusted and respected manufacturer of laptops.

The HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea’s stablemate, the HP Pavilion dm1-3100sa, has impressed as an ultra-portable laptop that doesn’t make too many sacrifices when it comes to performance. But now the spotlight is firmly on the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea.

Specifications

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

The HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea is certainly a small laptop, with dimensions of just 29.2 x 21.5 x 3.2cm, and a weight of only 1.6kg. This makes it almost as small and portable as the much maligned netbooks but, crucially, it also has enough power to handle most tasks.

Packed onto the small chassis of the laptop are VGA, HDMI and Ethernet ports. There’s a combined headphone out/microphone in jack and three USB 2.0 ports. It’s a bit disappointing that there are none of the faster USB 3.0 ports included, since these are becoming increasingly common on new laptops.

To keep the computer small, there’s no optical drive for reading CDs or DVDs, so you’ll have to rip music and video to a USB stick to make the most out of this laptop’s media-playing capabilities.

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

HP bills the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea as an “Entertainment Notebook PC”. This conjures up expectations of a machine that’s capable of handling media with ease, and maybe even a few casual games. Where the HP Pavilion dm1-3100sa was let down with its handling of high-definition content, we expect the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea to have no such trouble.

On paper, things don’t look too bad. The HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea uses an AMD Radeon HD 6320M integrated graphics card. It comes with some automatic overclocking tools to give it a bit of a needed boost, and with DirectX11 support, it can handle low- to mid-range games.

Graphically demanding newer games are definitely a no-no, though. This is because while the AMD Radeon HD 6320M inside the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea can theoretically use up to 1.92GB of memory for graphics, it doesn’t actually have dedicated graphics memory, so it needs to share memory with the rest of the PC.

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

This means if you’re running a few graphic-intensive programs, along with other applications that need memory, the strain is going to show. The 11.6-inch screen has a resolution of 1366 x 768, which is fine for high-definition movies.

Although there’s a lack of dedicated graphics memory, HP has been very generous by including 4GB of DDR3 RAM with the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea. This is more than enough for most applications, and it’s nice to see that HP hasn’t hobbled the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea by cutting the RAM to 2GB to lower costs.

Processor-wise, the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea comes with a 1.65 GHz AMD Dual-Core E-450. This processor has been specially designed by AMD to work in laptops, with lower power consumption that leads to greater battery life and saves the components inside the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea’s small body from overheating.

While it’s no competition for the Intel Core i5 and i7 processors found in higher-end (and much more expensive) laptops, this dual core processor is meaty enough for a lot of tasks, and pleasingly powerful, considering the size of the laptop.

Performance

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

3D Mark: 2,602
Cinebench: 1,433
Battery eater: 2 hours 59 mins 26 seconds

As with many laptops around this price range, the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea’s performance really depends on what you’re using it for. Day-to-day computing on this laptop, such as writing on a word processor or browsing the web, is accomplished with little fuss, although there is a faint lag when starting up programs. We found that a bit of patience is required when selecting options or launching applications, with pauses of a few seconds sometimes.

Even with 4GB of RAM, multitasking can slow down quite a bit, especially if you’re browsing the internet while running a number of graphic-heavy programs at the same time, such as watching a movie or video editing.

The 320GB hard drive offers plenty of space but has a speed of just 5,400rpm (revolutions per minute). The faster a hard drive can spin, the faster the computer can open, move and edit files stored on the disk. With faster drives out there achieving 7,200rpm and even 10,000rpm, it does feel like the drive is a bit of a weak link.

The trade-off with a slower hard drive, however, is lower overall cost and a longer battery life.

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

Graphics performance was OK, but nothing spectacular, with a 3D Mark score of 2,602, which is on the low end even for laptops, and lower than the HP Pavilion dm1-3100sa‘s score. The Cinebench score of 1,433 using multiple cores was better, but still less than the HP Pavilion dm1-3100sa’s score of 1,985.

Despite the lacklustre benchmarks, our real world tests were more positive. Media playback itself was good, with no stuttering on standard-definition movie files.

The 11.6-inch screen displayed colours well and animations in particular looked great. The 1366 x 768 resolution actually benefitted full HD movies files, since the 1080p source was nicely downscaled to run on the smaller resolution, resulting in a sharp image. High-definition movies also play very well, with just a hint of screen tear, but no noticeable stuttering.

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

Much has been made of the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea’s sound capabilities, with the inclusion of Beats Audio technology, exclusive to HP laptops. The built-in speakers sound great – definitely the best we’ve heard in a laptop from this price range. Audio is clear, with plenty of depth and none of the tinny qualities that often plague laptop speakers.

Battery life was a pretty standard three hours of intensive computing. That’s not awful, but we’ve seen laptops – such as the Acer Timeline X – with much longer battery lives.

Verdict

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

The HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea is a strange beast of a laptop indeed. On the one hand it can feel rather lacklustre and underpowered when doing unexceptional tasks. Windows 7 Home Premium can feel sluggish at times, and with a number of windows left open on the desktop, things can get pretty slow.

In this regard, the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea can’t compete with a higher-end, more powerful laptop, or even a tablet that’s less powerful but has an operating system and apps that use the limited resources well enough to ensure a smooth user experience.

However, there’s no denying that when it comes to media playback – an important consideration due to HP’s labelling of the Pavilion dm1-4027ea as an entertainment-focused machine – this laptop actually performs very well. Movie content – both standard and high-definition – plays very well, and the built-in speakers provide audio that is well above average for a laptop.

The lack of an optical drive does limit its media playback options quite a bit, however, but if your media collection has gone fully digital, then this won’t be such a problem.

The small size and light weight is also a big factor, and this is certainly a more portable laptop than most.

If you’re after a light media-playing laptop then this is a good choice. For anything more demanding, look elsewhere.

We liked

Media playback is a big winner with the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea. A lovely screen coupled with enough graphical power to run movies smoothly (bar the odd screen tear) makes this laptop a pleasure to watch movies on.

The battery life will just about make it through an entire film.

Better still is the audio quality of the built-in speakers, which really does sound great, and saves you the extra expense of buying separate laptop speakers such as the Logitech Laptop Speaker Z305.

The small size of the laptop is also a boon, making it easy to carry around wherever you go, with a slim and attractive design.

Even with the smaller keyboard, typing is comfortable.

We disliked

Outside of media playback, performance is pretty mediocre, with relatively impressive stats on paper not making a great impact in use.

The biggest culprit here is the 4GB of DDR3 RAM, which should give the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea some punch, but actually still leaves the laptop struggling when there is too much going on at once.

Final verdict

If you want a light laptop for watching movies on, the HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea does what you want it to do. However, if you want to use it to work on, editing digital photos or anything more strenuous, then you’re going to be disappointed.

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Kensington SecureBack Security Case

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 Kensington SecureBack Security Case

Kensington is well known for creating laptop locks that can anchor your portable PC to something sturdy to keep it from getting lost or nicked. Its locks have been so successful, in fact, that if you own a laptop it’s very likely that it has a small rectangular slot for attaching a Kensington lock to it.

This level of success is certainly impressive – after all not every company has provisions for its products built into most computers. However, this success hasn’t translated to the popular tablet, the Apple iPad 2.

Apple’s uncompromising focus on streamlining features on its flagship tablet has meant there’s no room for a Kensington lock slot. With tablets being just as easy to lose or steal – if not more so – than laptops, Kensington has been keen to come up with a solution. Of course, it also wants to capitalise on the iPad’s popularity.

Its solution, the Kensington SecureBack Security Case, isn’t that great, unfortunately. It involves a rather unattractive case that clips on to your iPad. With it installed, the once sleek and attractive Apple tablet looks bulky and a bit ugly. Who knows, maybe making the iPad a less attractive gadget is part of Kensington’s plan to deter thieves.

But if it keeps your iPad safe, who cares about looks? Well, how well it keeps your iPad protected is a concern. The case itself is rather flimsy and a tiny bit cheap feeling. A determined enough thief wouldn’t have much trouble breaking the iPad free.

Verdict

We wouldn’t feel completely safe leaving an iPad in a busy caf

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