How to Choose a New Optical Drive for My Laptop?

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It is really a bad luck that I bought a laptop with a bad optical drive two years ago. And obviously it did not work. I have tried several times to play DVD. The results made me feel frustrated.

I have made my decision to change it to a good one for two reasons. First, I will start using my laptop to enrich my spare time for watching movies and some documentary film. Second,I will start my children education using my laptop. Although it seems impossible now for a peaceful using process with a baby boy tapping here and there with his little fingers.

How to choose a new optical drive for my laptop?

There are internal DVD drives and external DVD drives. However, I don’t have an external DVD drive. So It sounds a good idea for me to choose a internal notebook DVD drive.

There are two flavors: CD Optical Driver and DVD optical drive. I want a DVD. All DVD drives can read CDs, so there’s no point in buying a plain CD drive.

The next is important for me. I want to record DVDs and burn DVDs. Most optical drives that record support all the standards. I do not want to burn CDs, so I don’t need a combo drive. I only need a optical drive that can read and write discs.

How about the interface of optical DVDs?

There are three main types of DVD drive interface: IDE, SATA and ATA. I should know and compare the features to select one.

IDE is the older of these technologies, so any computer built before 2006 will be very likely to have IDE connectors. Any computer built since mid-2007 will be very likely to have SATA connectors. ATA: The daddy of all hard drive and optical drive connectors is the ATA, which stands for AT Attachment. The AT came from the IBM PC AT computer, introduced in the 1980s. Yes, it’s an old standard.

What about Blu-ray DVD?

Blu-ray is the current top-of-the-line optical drive standard developed by Sony. High capacity and with high prices, and much software cannot support blu-ray or do not compatible with blu-ray DVDs. Considering all these limitations, I gave up blu-ray dvd drive.After checking the hardware information and the connections instructions, I decided to buy a SATA interface laptop DVD drive.

Finally I choose this Genuine Lenovo Thinkpad Dvd 8x Sata Burner Ultrabay Slim Drive.And I will start my plan to make home movies with my laptop and burn them to dvds.Stay tuned for my stories.

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Dell’s skinny Latitude Ultrabooks get Haswell boost

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By Kane Fulton

Dell has souped up its Latitude 3000, 5000 and 7000 corporate Ultrabook and laptop ranges to include Intel’s fourth-generation Haswell CPU and optional touchscreens.

Its new flagship 7000 Series models flaunt Ultrabook stylings, available in a 12- and 14-inch model.

The 12-inch edition measures 20mm thick and weighs 1.3kg, coming in at just a smidgeon plumper than Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Air (17mm thick) and weighing the same.

But that beauty isn’t skin deep as the Ultrabooks feature Dell’s Intel vPro capabilities for remote BIOS management, are backwards compatible with previous E-Series Latitude docks and are configured with government-grade system disk encryption.

Dell claims that the high-end models are a solid option for business and home users alike. The laptops run on Intel ultra-low voltage processors in i5 or i7 variations, are housed in brushed aluminium cases reinforced with magnesium alloy and can be quipped with a full-HD display.

If you’re not that enamoured with a touchscreeen, you can pick one up now from £789. Touch screen versions are due to see the light of day on September 12.
Tough laptops

They are joined by new 5000 Series laptops available in 14.1-inch or 15.6-inch sizes. As with the 7000 series models, they are protected by Corning’s Gorilla Glass NBT, which the company claims is 10 times stronger than the soda lime glass that’s standard on today’s industry models.

The laptops come in optional SSD or hybrid SSD configurations and feature mobile broadband, Bluetooth and Wireless LAN connectivity. They are also compatible with Dell’s existing Latitude E-family docking stations.

At the budget end are Dell’s new 3000 Series models, which feature a more traditional laptop design but can be upgraded with discrete graphics packing up to 2GB RAM.

Available at a starting price of £429, you will also be able to pick both the 3000 Series and 5000 Series models from September 12. Read more

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Lenovo Thinkpad Helix Shown in China

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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) starts On January 8th, 2013 in Las Vegas . Lenovo will introduce a new Windows 8 tablet called “Lenovo ThinkPad Helix”. Information on can be found at numerous Chinese websites and also on the website of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) to see the first entries.

The convertible-style IdeaPad Lynx has a detachable keyboard and is the Asus Transformer Book, Samsung ATIV SmartPC Pro 700T, Fujitsu Stylistic Q702 and make Microsoft Surface Pro competition.

The known specifications are:

Lenovo X1 Helix

1. Ivy Bridge Core i3 to i7 ULV CPU

2. Intel HD Graphics 4000

3. 11.6 “1920×1080 IPS touchscreen

4. LTE (AT & T, according to FCC)

For more details, we expect at CES 2013, where the helix is probably officially presented.

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Logitech Z623

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 Logitech Z623

Logitech products appear to fit into two separate categories, especially when it comes to speakers.

We’ve seen – and heard – £200 5.1 setups that have blown everything else clean out of the water, but on the other hand, you can also pick up a set of stereo speakers for £15 that sound like they should have cost no more than a fiver.

At £120 the Z623 certainly doesn’t come cheap, but does it sound like it’s worth all that extra money? The answer is a resounding yes.

The sound is deep and rich, and the most ‘three-dimensional’ we’ve ever heard from a 2.1 system. Even coming from a laptop’s dubious-quality in-built sound card, the sounds of gunfire in our favourite FPS seemed to come from all around us. How soothing.

The bass and treble are perfectly tuned out of the box, but if you want to add more bass there’s a dedicated rotary dial on the right-hand speaker. Despite the slightly ‘Day of the Tentacle’ design of the speakers, they’re well built too.

The subwoofer is one of the smaller ones we’ve seen, but it did just as good a job of bass reproduction as ones the size of a small fridge. The satellites compliment it perfectly, being adequately weighted in terms of both construction and sound.

If there’s a slight niggle, it’s that Logitech has elected to use the same connection system it uses on its lower-end speakers. The right satellite houses the power, volume and bass controls, and it connects to the sub-woofer via a proprietary VGA-style cable. The left speaker simply connects to the sub with a phono plug.

The system evidently works, and having power control on the desktop saves you having to lean over to a hidden sub to turn them on – and it’s exactly the same system you’ll find on Logitech’s £15 speakers.

They have to be heard to be believed though, and despite our reservations about the THX certification, it actually seems to mean something here. These come highly recommended.

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Toshiba Portégé R830-138

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 Toshiba Portégé R830-138

We had to pick up our jaws up from off the floor too. It’s going to take a damn sight more than a sophisticated-sounding French moniker to distract you from this laptop’s gargantuan price. But the Toshiba Portege R830 must be an astonishing piece of kit, right?

Designed for the busy executive who wants a laptop that doesn’t interfere with the shape of a soft Italian leather briefcase, Toshiba’s wafer thin Port

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Acer Aspire 5749

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 Acer Aspire 5749

Keeping up with Acer is some task.

The Taiwanese company has come of age and is now one of the laptop manufacturers to be reckoned with. Its Aspire 5749 is another fine example of advanced features in a budget package.

From the outside, the laptop is uninspiring. Like many Aspires, Acer has concentrated less on the outward design and more on the technology inside. The light grey chassis is covered with a design that looks not unlike a sheet of metal flooring.

It’s a world away from the deep, luxuriant red of the Dell Inspiron 14z, but at 2.3kg, the Aspire 5749 is lighter than your average laptop. We wouldn’t have thought you’d have any problems carrying it around for a day.

There is a slight amount of flex around the edges of the keyboard, but this is minimal. The keyboard itself sticks resolutely to Acer’s previous models – each key is individually raised above the chassis. It makes for comfortable typing, but crumbs and dirt may easily find their way under the keys.

Acer aspire 5749

The touchpad is nicely sized and located slightly further to the left than we’ve seen on other machines. The two click buttons are melded together as two halves of the same button, while a small section on the right of the touchpad will act as a virtual scroll bar. It’s a nice feature that you might find yourself using often after a few experimental flicks.

Vast storage

Acer has seen fit to include 750GB of storage space on the Aspire 5749; a generous amount, considering the average we’d expect to find is 320GB. Even though you can buy external hard drives, it’s always reassuring to have plenty of room to install programs and back up data on your native drive.

Power comes courtesy of an Intel Core i3-2330M processor. It’s pretty standard for this type of laptop, but manages to kick out a decent amount of power without costing the earth.

Graphical ability is mediocre thanks to an integrated Intel card. You shouldn’t have a problem photoshopping your image collection or running high-def movies, but you’ll probably want to hold off on ordering Modern Warfare 3 for now.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 169 minutes
Cinebench: 7847
3DMark 2006: 3120

If you do want to dabble with multimedia then you’ll find this Acer’s 15.6-inch screen is quite accommodating. It’s not as bright as we’ve seen on other laptops, but there’s a Super-TFT coating that is always welcome when watching films. The viewing angles are also pleasingly wide.

Three USB ports, an HDMI and VGA port and Ethernet socket make up the connections on offer here. The Acer Aspire 5749 comes with 802.11n wireless connectivity, but there’s no Bluetooth support for wirelessly connecting peripherals. There’s enough speed here, thanks to 4GB of RAM, which should be the minimum amount you look for when buying a laptop.

On the few occasions that we found the Acer lagged, it was when trying to stream high-definition video from the internet with several programs running in the background. Overall, though, it’s a comfortably reliable and smooth performance.

Judging by the manufacturer’s track record, if you decide to shell out on the Aspire 5749, you can rest assured there’ll be a newer model out next week. But, at the same time, that shouldn’t matter too much. This is a solidly built, value-formoney performer with plenty of storage space, even if its design leaves plenty to be desired.

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Acer Travelmate 8410T

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 Acer Travelmate 8410T

The Acer Travelmate 8410T is a fantastic ultraportable that would have blown us away just a few months ago. However, with the amount of exciting Ultrabooks on the horizon it underwhelmed us too much for a recommendation.

It weighs just 1.8 kg and comes in a fetching black brushed metal finish. Opening the lid reveals a matte 14-inch screen which doesn’t reflect in direct sunlight, making it great for mobile workers.

The immediate reaction is to notice the lack of bezel, and the screen fills the lid space with no room wasted, which accommodates that 14-inch screen, while maintaining a size equivalent to most 13-inch portables.

Inside is a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 2467 processor. While only clocking in at 1.6GHz, it still performs remarkably well, sealing an impressive score in our lab tests. It’s more than capable of photo editing, multitasking demanding programs and watching high-definition videos, making this a great all-rounder.

Great battery life

The great processor performance is thanks to Intel’s TurboBoost technology, which means that the Travelmate 8410T reacts to demanding tasks, and can provide surges of power to get things done. Booting was incredibly fast, with resuming from sleep and starting from cold stunningly responsive.

Battery life was extremely impressive, and our heavy tests achieved nearly five hours, which is equal to more than six hours of light use. This is as close to all-day computing as you’re likely to find and great for working on the move.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 267 minutes
Cinebench: 7210
3DMark 2006: 3336

The rest of the specs are slightly less impressive, and it leaves the Travelmate 8410T slightly lacking in comparison to its competition. There’s a 320GB hard drive, which means you’ll need to invest in a portable drive to back up your pictures and media. What’s more, there’s only 3GB of RAM and, while the system felt responsive at all times, 4GB is merely par for the course these days.

While the brushed-metal finish does make the Acer Travelmate 8410T a real head turner, we did find it attracted marks and dirt very easily, so it’s best to invest in a good case.

We were also disappointed with the keyboard, which had quite a dramatic flex in the middle. It was comfortable to type of for long periods, and accurate, but not the kind of quality we’d expect in this price range.

The Acer Travelmate is a great ultraportable laptop, which can be used all day, without breaking your back. While it’s incredibly light and thin, the Acer is no match for the latest wave of Ultrabooks, including Acer’s own Aspire S3.

The build isn’t as thin, alluring, the processor is outmatched by the Intel Core i7 version found on most Ultrabooks, and the Acer Aspire S3 Core i5 is only £699. This sadly renders the Acer Travelmate 8410T slightly redundant, which is a shame, as three months ago it would have received a hearty recommendation.

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Review: Asus Zenbook UX31

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Review: Asus Zenbook UX31

Overview

The Asus Zenbook UX31 is one of the first laptops to conform to Intel’s Ultrabook specification.

And, right away, we’ll tell you – it stands toe-to-toe with Apple’s MacBook Air in the fight for the title of best luxury ultraportable.

More competition is to come, however, in the form of the Lenovo IdeaPad U300 S, Acer Aspire S3 and, potentially, others from the likes of HP and Dell.

Back to the present though and Asus has done a terrific job with the Zenbook’s design – even if you have to acknowledge that the designer took more than a sneaky glance at Apple’s ultraportable first.

The 13-inch Zenbook is fantastic to look at. When closed, the wedge-shaped laptop measures 17mm at its thickest point and a mere 3mm at its thinnest.

Asus zenbook ux31

The aluminium silver lid boasts a distinctive concentric circle design that catches and reflects the surrounding light. Befitting the name, the Zenbook’s simple, sleek finish gives it a premium look that keeps getting better as soon as you lift the lid.

The design ethic is in evidence earlier than that, though – it’s a lovely experience as you open the box while Asus has also included a mini Display Port to D-Sub adapter and a USB to Ethernet lead as well. Both are housed in their own little pouch. Better still, you even get a bespoke sleeve for your Zenbook in the box.

The same thinking even stretches to the Intel Core and Windows 7 stickers. We wonder who it was that proposed they were silver and black – Intel? Asus? – but whoever did has made a difference.

Specifications

Asus zenbook ux31

The outward elegance of the Zenbook UX31 has certainly been matched by power on the inside. There are currently two different versions available, our test model has the Core i7 2677M Processor while there’s also a Core i5 2467M Processor variant.

Our test version was running Windows 7 Home Premium, though the Asus spec sheet seems to suggest that Professional is also available should that be a requirement for you.

For those looking for a smaller laptop, there’s an 11.6-inch UX21 version that costs £849. We’ll be reviewing that separately as soon as we can get our hands on one.

You’ll get 4GB or RAM with all 13-inch models, as well as a 128 or 256GB solid state drive (SSD). Our review model had a 128GB drive under the hood and, as we were using it a lot, we managed to fill most of that with apps and files in no time. This is a performance machine and you may find yourself wanting the larger capacity.

The isolation-style keyboard is front and centre inside the Zenbook with no additional clutter from the likes of hotkeys, volume controls, numeric keypads or even separate mouse buttons.

As the chassis is so thin, there’s very little depth to each key. It must be said that, at first, this can be of-putting, especially if you’re used to hammering out your emails – but before long typing on the Zenbook becomes second nature.

We did find the directional arrows and the enter key to be a little on the small side, but not enough to interfere with extended typing sessions.

There’s also no backlight to the keyboard – as the MacBook Air and other competitors such as the Samsung 9 Series have this. A shame it’s missing here.

Asus zenbook

Alongside the keyboard, Asus has included a large, central touchpad. We had doubts about the inbuilt buttons and lack of a textured surface at first, but these were soon laid to rest.

The response is swift and because of the larger size, it is possible to use your thumb on the touchpad without moving your hands from the typing position. Occasionally you might brush the touchpad when typing but this is a rare occurrence.

However, we really don’t like the mouse buttons. The touch isn’t very definite, while it can be quite hard to do selections or multiple presses. Things could be a lot better here.

Another noteworthy feature of the Zenbook is the external speaker running across the base of the 13.3-inch, 1,600 x 900 16:9 Super-TFT screen. Developed by Bang & Olufsen and called ICEpower, the speaker is monitored by in-built Asus techcalled SonicMaster to keepthe balance even.

The Zenbook will hit a reassuringly loud volume without disintegrating into either a tinny treble or a fuzzy bass. It sounded impressive both in our expansive office and at home in a fully furnished room.

For the record, there’s also a 0.3 megapixel webcam for video conferencing or Skype.

The Zenbook weighs in at 1.4kg, exactly the same as the 13.1-inch Macbook Air. It’s hardly noticeable when carried around for the day and, because of the svelte design; it won’t take up too much space in your bag.

Thankfully Asus hasn’t filled the Zenbook with too much add-on software, but there is an annoying Live Update engine that keeps on popping up messages from the taskbar, while there’s also a battery life gadget (actually useful but it remains in your taskbar), as well as backup tools and a webcam app.

We’re sure there are some people that think it’s nice to have this kind of stuff, but we’re not among them. Moreover, much of the software is simply unnecessary.

And then there’s the graphics that appear when you turn the volume up, change the brightness or switch the power mode. To be honest, they’re horribly ugly and we’re simply not impressed.

It’s a shame the same attention that was paid to the external design wasn’t paid to the add-ons within the OS.

Performance

Asus zenbook ux31

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Cinebench 10: 8726
3D Mark ’06: 3623
Battery Eater ’05: 253 mins

Both processors in the 13-inch are from Intel’s second-generation Sandy Bridge family and mean the Zenbook can easily handle multi-tasking, varioius demanding apps and multiple displays using the Sandy Bridge chips’ in-built HD 3000 graphics capabilities.

However. the lack of non-dedicated graphics from AMD or Nvidia does hit the Zenbook in the performance pocket – hence our relatively modest 3D Mark score.

We felt the display wasn’t the best – dark colours and especially blacks seem a little washed out – but definition is good. We also found the viewing angle wasn’t great for watching video and working alongside others.

Speed, clearly, is the focus of the ultrabook range and the Zenbook is no slouch. The instant-on feature means you can be up and running in just two seconds from sleep mode and standby time will hit two weeks on a single charge.

The Core i7 unit featured here performs brilliantly and it was able to handle multiple browsers, Outlook and Word 2010, Spotify, FileZilla and image editing apps all concurrently. You really find you can do what you want, when you want.

There were a couple of times when we found this wasn’t the case – several times when switching power states suddenly (like unplugging the charger) meant that the whole system seemed to struggle to adapt – browsing became slow and we had to let the system calm completely down. Also we found that using more intensive apps could make things hang – handling a load of images inside Microsoft Publisher, for example.

Even with heavy use during our testing, the Zenbook’s battery lasted for an impressive 253 minutes. And when the battery does dip below 5 per cent, the Zenbook will automatically save any files in progress to avoid you losing all your work when the machine shuts down.

The battery can seem like it’s draining reasonably quickly when doing any tasks on high performance but on power saving mode this thing is positively frugal, going for around six hours if you’re careful. Asus quotes seven, but you’ll have to barely use it to get that. So we’re not at the all-day battery life scenario yet, but we’re getting closer.

The slim design means physical connectivity isn’t as abundant as regular laptops, but there’s still enough here to satisfy most users.

Asus zenbook ux31

Asus has included two USB ports, one of which is USB 3.0 as well as an SD card slot plus a mini HDMI and mini DislayPort for connecting the ultrabok to an external TV or monitor. The Zenbook also has 802.11n Wi-Fi and cutting edge Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity.

Asus zenbook ux31

Good value?

Although the 13.3-inch Zenbook will set you back from £999, that;s still £100 less than the cheapest 13.3-inch Macbook Air.

Similarly, Asus has matched Apple with pricing for the 11.6-inch model which, like the smaller Macbook Air comes in at £849. Considering the technology and the form factor, a starting price point of under a thousand pounds is good value for money – especially when you consider other such ultraportables have cost as much as £1,500 in the past.

Asus zenbook ux31

Verdict

Asus zenbook ux31

Overall we were very impressed with the Asus Zenbook. Neither power nor portability has been sacrificed in pursuit of the other and features that traditionally suffer, such as audio quality and battery life, have not been neglected.

Battery life, especially, isn’t the worry it usually is with the Zenbook, but you need to make sure it’s in the right power state – running on high performance means that the system flies – but it comes at a cost. For most purposes, running in power saving mode is more than enough.

We liked

There’s so much to like about this laptop. It’s a real PC ultraportable – the design is fantastic and it goes like stink.

Beautiful design can only come into its own when there’s performance to match.And it’s all here in spades.

The instant sleep and resume is exactly what you want in a laptop like this, and you’ll find yourself quickly adapting to never shutting down. Unless, that is. Windows wants to install updates!

We disliked

There’s surprisingly little we disliked about the Zenbook, but it must be said that the trackpad buttons grate especially. They are truly awful and mean that a mouse is recommended for serious work.

The keyboard takes a bit of getting used to and isn’t as good as many – however, you quickly get to know it and it’s not too much of an issue. The lack of a backlight is also a problem.

Graphics performance could be better but we realise that’s slightly unrealistic for a machine of this type – we also weren’t huge fans of the display.

Finally, you could say the design – though fantastic – is rather derivative. Still, unless you’re a real design freak, you’ll almost certainly find that you’re not that fussed.

Verdict

While price may preclude some from purchasing the Zenbook, we have no problem in recommending it as one of the best ultraportables we’ve seen.

It’s certainly a match for the impressive MacBook Air – and a real tonic to those who have wanted a performanceWindowsultraportable at a price point that doesn’t require a remortgage. Yes, it’s expensive. But it’s so worth it.

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Review: Asus Eee Pad Slider

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Review: Asus Eee Pad Slider

Overview and design

We were totally taken by the Eee Pad Transformer when it came out because it did something different to the iPad, and so gave itself room to breathe away from the tablet big guns.

Now its brother, the Asus Eee Pad Slider has arrived, and manages to stand out in much the same way.

The specs are fairly typical for tablets these days. The Eee Pad Slider features a 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 system-on-a-chip, offering dual-core power and good graphics performance, which powers Android 3.1 out of the box (though you can upgrade to 3.2 as soon as you get it connected to the internet, and an Android 4.0 update is on its way).

There’s 1GB of RAM to keep multitasking smooth, along with 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, though a microSD card slot means you can boost this. Wi-Fi is present up to 802.11n, as is Bluetooth.

The screen is a generous 10.1-inch 1280 x 800 IPS affair, so there’s plenty of space for Android 3.2 to show us what it’s got. We’ll go into full details about the screen’s quality on the Performance page.

Asus eee pad slider

Of course, behind the screen is where things get interesting. By grabbing the top of it, you can pull it up, so it slides back and sits up at an angle to reveal the built-in keyboard.

The front of the device is glossy black with a silver rim, like a lot of tablets, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but the keyboard and rear case of the Eee Pad Slider are a kind of chocolate colour, with a matt finish.

Asus eee pad slider

It’s an unusual direction for tablets, but one that we think works for this one. The more we used the Eee Pad Slider, the more we found it to be an office-focussed tablet, and the aesthetic really fits that. Overall, it bears far more of a resemblance to a BlackBerry Boldhandset than the iPhone, and we doubt thats coincidence.

Asus eee pad slider

The build quality of the two halves of the Eee Pad Slider is excellent, feeling totally solid and without any noticeable give. Our only (admittedly very mild) concerns are with the joins between the two.

We don’t expect the hinge to break on anyone for no good reason, but the way the screen just sits loose and wobbly when in the upright position is odd compared how solid the rest of the device is.

There’s also a ribbon connecting the screen to the keyboard. While we’ve no doubt that this offers a huge power consumption advantage over using Bluetooth to connect the two, it’s an obvious weak point if your Slider should take an unexpected trip to the ground.

Around the sides, you’ve not only got your microSD card slot, but also the Lock key, a volume rocker, a reset button that’s far too easy to press, a mini-HDMI port for video output, Asus’s proprietary connection for USB connectivity and charging, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a full-size USB port.

Asus eee pad slider

Having two separate sliding halves in this tablet inevitably means it’s a lot thicker than the competition. At 273 x 180.3 x 17.3mm, it’s around twice as thick as an iPad 2, and at 960g it’s around 50 percent heavier.

The weight difference really does tip it from being comfortable to hold to being just too heavy to keep in one hand for long. Between this and the slide-out function, which puts the screen at a great angle for both desk and lap use, it becomes clear that the Eee Pad Slider is less of a competitor for tablets like the iPad, and is more targeting replacing netbooks and smaller laptops.

The Eee Pad Slider looks set to be available for around £450 in its 32GB version, which isn’t as cheap as the keyboardless half of the Eee Pad Transformer, but is good value compared to most other Android tablets.

Features

Asus eee pc slider

The obvious major feature draw for the Eee Pad Slider is its slide-out keyboard. Offering a wide range of keys, it’s got options for Home, Back and Menu, as well as a few keys to help you quickly conserve power if you’re concerned about your battery life. Specifically, you can turn Bluetooth on and off, turn Wi-Fi on and off, and adjust the brightness.

Asus has taken the same route as other manufacturers when it comes to customising Android on tablets, and has included a carefully picked selection of apps and an original widget to make the Slider stand out.

Asus eee pc slider

The Asus Launcher is a slick widget that displays various bits of information, including the last website you left open, the currently playing music, calendar appontments, the weather, the date, and a slideshow of your photos.

Asus eee pc slider

It’s a lot of stuff to cram into a widget, but it works really well thanks to a simple, no-nonsense design. We certainly prefer it to the utilitarian launcher widget included on the Lenovo IdeaPad K1.

As far as the apps go, the most useful is surely Polaris Office, given the nature of this tablet. It’s a really good inclusion, with a slick, surprisingly powerful interface and options to create text documents, spreadsheets and presentations.

Asus eee pc slider

The word processor is particularly impressive, with tools for indenting, reflowing text, including media, tweaking fonts and loads more. In fact, we used it and the Slider’s keyboard to write this entire review, with no problems in general (though a regular auto-save function would be gratefully received).

Cleverly, Asus is including an impressive cloud deal with the Slider. Asus’ WebStorage offers unlimited online storage free for a year with the Slider. The app for it is easy to use, though it’s a shame that you’re unlikely to see it integrated into apps in the way Dropbox often is.

Asus eee pc slider

Amazon’s Kindle client is included for readers, as is Zinio for buying and reading magazines, along with Press Reader for getting the newspapers right on your device. They’re a killer trio of apps, all offering a great array of content, even if Zinio and Press Reader don’t give you the flexibility in the publications that you get from Apple’s Newsstand on the iPad.

Asus has also beefed up the built-in media options with MyNet, which adds media streaming both to and from the Slider.

The USB port on the side adds a few handy features, too. The first is that, like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, you can plug in a USB mouse and control the tablet that way. If youre doing a lot of word processing/spreadsheet work, you might find this quite useful.

It also works a USB host for mass storage, so you can plug in USB drives or memory cards (with an adapter) and use the included File Manager app to browse and move files.

On top of all this are the usual Google apps, including the Android Market. Nvidia’s Tegra Zone is also bundled, making it easy to find games, if you want. No games are included, which is unsurprising considering how this tablet feels more work-focussed.

Performance

Asus eee pc slider

The Asus Eee Pad Slider earns itself a huge tick in the performance column in one very simply way: this is the smoothest Android tablet we’ve seen yet.

Scrolling between Home screens is as slick as you like, the app list flashes up and away in an instant, apps load quickly, the multitasking list is smooth and stable – this is Android at its very best, for general use, without a doubt.

Asus eee pc slider

It still suffers from Android’s common imperfections, though. When zooming or panning in the browser, it’s fast and responsive, but there can be a stutter, which makes it difficult to be precise. Sometimes, particlarly in the browser, there will be a mysterious lag when typing in the URL bar, which is frustrating.

The browser is fast to load sites, certainly, but consistently lagged just behind an iPad 2 running iOS 5 in head-to-head tests (both with Flash turned on and off). Android 4.0 looks set to boost Android tablets in this area, but that’s the situation as it stands.

Asus eee pc slider

And yes, Flash 11 is available as ever from the Android Market. And yes, browsing a page with Flash content will drastically reduce the responsiveness of the browser. In addition, many iPlayer videos had an odd black mark that appeared occasionally, while going between fullscreen and a smaller window within the browser often caused the audio to go slightly out of sync.

However, the videos did play, and play smoothly, so for those of us who can’t live without Flash, performance is about as good as we can get at the moment.

Asus eee pc slider

Media stored on the device played impeccably. HD video in particular was absolutely brilliant, with both 1080p and 720p files playing back smoothly. The killer is the crisp, clear screen, though. It’s absolutely perfect for video, and the way the screen sits up on the Slider when the screen is out makes this an ideal tablet to keep you entertained on a long journey (well, save for the battery life, as we’ll explain in a moment).

That screen really is the best thing about the Eee Pad Slider. At 1280 x 800, it’s nice and high resolution, with text appearing crisp and easy to read. More than that, though, colours are vibrant and hugely appealing, and the viewing angles are excellent. It’s also brighter than a lot of Android tablets. It’s one of the best tablet screens we’ve seen, to put it simply.

Of course, the keyboard is a big feature for the Eee Pad Slider, since it’s pretty much its reason for existing. And the good news is that is isn’t bad. The keys are fairly small, but a nice gap between them makes them easy to find without concentrating.

Asus eee pc slider

In fact, we found it easy to hit the right key first time over 90 per cent of the keyboard, despite its size. You will inevitably miss more keys than you would on a full-size keyboard, but no more so than other small, portable keyboards.

Most of the 10 per cent where we weren’t hitting the right keys was hunting for things like Control and Alt, which are slightly displaced because of the Home, Back and Menu keys.

The only really annoying aspect was that it’s ludicrously easy to hit the up arrow button instead of the right Shift key. We did it constantly throughout this review, and it gets more annoying every time.

You will, of course, come to accomodate the layout as you get used to it, but even after hours of use, we were still nudging that damn up arrow.

Still, though, we give the keyboard a thumbs up, and the angle of the screen makes the while thing reasonably comfortable to use. Any small mobile keyboard has layout foibles, so we don’t begrudge them too much, even if they can be annoying.

Asus eee pc slider

The last big thing for tablets is battery life, and this is probably the Slider’s weakest area. It’s rated for eight hours, but when we tried streaming video over Wi-Fi with the screen’s brightness turned all the way up, we got just under five hours out of it.

This isn’t terrible, though. You can expect a good deal more battery life than that if you’re just using it type documents, for example. Though it’s certainly well behind what the iPad can give you, let’s remember that this is more focussed on the netbook/small laptop market than the iPad, and compared to most laptops this is great battery life in a far lighter package.

And as is so often the fashion, the Eee Pad Slider features front and rear cameras. The 1.2-megapixel front camera is as good as it needs to be, picking up a decent amount of light. The angle of the screen when slid out will give the person you’re chatting to a lovely view of your nostrils, but it works well enough.

YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4fH8sE-xIRM

Asus eee pad slider

The rear five-megapixel camera turned out to be surprisingly good on a sunny day, though the 720p video footage it takes was rather weak, with a huge amount of artefacting ruining any semblance of detail.

Asus eee pc sliderClick here for full-size image

Verdict

Asus eee pc slider

It became clear to us when using the Eee Pad Slider that Asus isn’t going after quite the same market as the iPad or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It’s too heavy and too thick to be in quite the same bracket, because of its keyboard.

But as an alternative to a small laptop, it really comes into its own. Suddenly it seems small, and light. Fast, too, compared many lower-powered Windows 7 machines. It even comes with a great office suite ready to go. This is a tablet for the office, the desk at home, or the briefcase, and it really works.

We liked:

The screen is absolutely brilliant, which is always the first thing you want to see a tablet get right.

The same goes for the touch control and overall performance. Though smoothness in the browser and some other areas isn’t quite as perfect as the iPad, this is a more than capable machine.

The way the keyboard slides out puts the screen at an ideal angle for on a desk or your lap – something that’s clearly been thought through. And the keyboard itself is pretty good for a small mobile offering; good enough to write this review on.

The included apps are very useful, but quite understated, too. It’s not bloatware – this is a great suite to have available from the off.

We disliked:

The only real disappointment with the Eee Pad Slider is the battery life. It’s well below the likes of the iPad, and we’d hoped for better. As we said before, though, it holds its own against the kind of laptops it’s most likely to replace, so it’s not a deal breaker.

Similarly, it’s chunkier and heavier than other leading tablets, which is a shame, but inevitable when you consider the extra mechanics and casing required for its two halves. And again, it compares favourably to laptops.

Our other gripes are only very minor foibles, really.

The keyboard is still harder to use than a full-size one, even if it’s very good overall. Some people may never find it comfortable, but this is true of all small keyboards.

Android still needs some spit and polish here and there – hopefully Android 4.0 will bring at least some of that, and we’re really looking forward to seeing the Slider with future versions of Android on.

Verdict:

As a tablet, this is a slightly flawed gem with a gimmick that not only makes it stand out, but makes it genuinely useful.

But as a laptop replacement, this is nippy, light, versatle and hugely desirable. As tablets increasingly become work tools, we fully expect the Eee Pad Slider to be right at the forefront of the revolution, thanks to its smooth performance, stunning screen, handy software and more-than-adequate keyboard.

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Review: Dell XPS 14z

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Review: Dell XPS 14z

Overview

We first checked out Dell’s XPS 14z at IFA, a slightly dinkier version of its excellent XPS 15z laptop. The XPS 14z hits stores today and we’ve already spent a few days snuggling up and getting to know it.

While a 14-inch version of a 15-inch laptop might seem a little pointless, we were impressed by how slim and light the XPS 14z turned out. With its 23mm build and 2kg weight, it more closely resembles a 13-inch portable. The XPS 15z wasn’t exactly a chubster, but commuters will want to consider this laptop first.

The slender body may seem less impressive compared to the upcoming slew of ultrabooks, including the ridiculously skinny Asus Zenbook which is just 9mm thick. However, we had no problem slipping the XPS 14z into our backpack and carrying it around all weekend.

In terms of design, almost nothing except the size has been changed from the XPS 15z. You get the same beautiful brushed metal finish, which feels as solid as it looks – we pushed and prodded every inch and found no worrying weak spots. Even the paper-thin aluminium lid is firm enough to take a pounding, so you won’t need to pad your bag with bubblewrap.

An isolation-style keyboard fills the centre of the XPS 14z’s chassis, bordered at both sides by the built-in speakers. We love the curved design of the keys, which gives them a futuristic appearance. They’re firmly set and comfortable to type on, while typos are a rarity thanks to the gaps between each key.

Dell xps 14z

The board is surprisingly well-sized too, despite not stretching the width of the laptop. The tiny arrow keys are the only casualty. As with the XPS 15z, the board is backlit for late-night sessions, and Dell also touts it as ‘spill-resistant’. However, we didn’t have the guts to assault it with a bottle of Evian.

We also liked the spacious touchpad, which thankfully avoids the irritating integrated mouse buttons you find on many compact laptops. Instead, the XPS 14z has two dedicated buttons underneath. The pad also supports multi-touch gesturing, as is the norm.

Our only issues with the design are the stiff lid hinges, which to be fair at least keeps the screen still when you’re on rocky public transport. The screen only tilts 45 degrees back from vertical, so finding a comfortable viewing angle can be tricky when the XPS 14z is resting on your lap.

Specifications

Dell xps 14z

The Dell XPS 15z was a perfect way to enjoy HD movies on the go, thanks to its 1080p screen. The dinkier XPS 14z display isn’t quite as sharp, featuring a standard 1366 x 768-pixel resolution, but video still looks pleasingly crisp.

Images are also colourfully reproduced, but we were disappointed by the brightness levels – even with the settings turned to maximum, the XPS 14z’s screen isn’t as bright as the 15z’s. Viewing angles are also merely acceptable. However, the edge-to-edge glass gives the display a classy appearance which complements the slick design.

The built-in speakers are once again powerful enough to fill a small room. Sound is a little tinny on top volume, so audiophiles will want to hook up an external pair, but if all you need is a little background music you won’t be disappointed.

Regular travelers will want a sizeable hard drive for carrying their entire media collection around, and the XPS 14z doesn’t disappoint, packing in 500GB of storage. The drive spins at 7200rpm, faster than the standard 5400rpm, so software loads quickly and movies stream perfectly.

A 7-in-1 memory card slot can be used to boost storage space further, or access your holiday snaps on the move. The slender body also houses a slot-loading optical drive, so you can watch DVDs and install games from disc. Quite a few compact laptops skip on the DVD drive, so it’s good to see Dell cram one into the XPS 14z.

Other features are limited to a 1.3MP webcam for chatting with friends and family. We were surprised by the lack of ports, with only two USB connections available (one of them USB 3.0). Thankfully you get HDMI and Mini DisplayPort connections for hooking up a television, monitor or projector, but that’s your lot.

Networking is standard, with 802.11n and Gigabit Ethernet available for getting online. You also have Bluetooth 3.0 support for transferring files with mobile phones and hooking up headsets.

Performance

Dell xps 14z

The Dell XPS 14z comes in two Intel Sandy Bridge flavours: Core i5 and Core i7. We tested the Core i5 2430M version which performed typically well in our benchmarking tests. This powerful CPU is backed up by 6GB of memory, and even with bucketloads of programs running at once, we saw no slowdown.

Our model also packed an Nvidia GeForce GT 525M graphics card for gaming and running multimedia applications. This card is getting on a bit and we were disappointed by the stilted performance during testing. Recent games will stutter, unless you turn detail levels down to low or medium – you’re better off sticking with older titles.

If you want to play the latest games, we’d recommend boosting your budget and looking at a gaming machine such as the MSI GT680 or Alienware M11x instead. The Alienware M11x is a similar weight although a lot chunkier, but more than makes up for it with fantastic all-round performance.

Although you can’t smash up terrorists in high detail, you can easily run video-editing software and other multimedia applications. HD movies play perfectly too. And despite featuring some powerful components stuffed into a slender chassis, the XPS 14z remains cool and quiet at almost all times. Only when we inserted a DVD did it make any real noise.

We were also impressed by the excellent battery life, something the XPS 14z has in common with its elder brother. Usually Sandy Bridge laptops are defeated by the ruthless Battery Eater test in under three hours, but this portable played HD video on a loop for 200 minutes before finally submitting. This is almost as good as the XPS 15z’s four hour longevity, and beats most other multimedia laptops we’ve seen lately.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Cinebench 10: 9769
3D Mark ’06: 5345
Battery Eater ’05: 200 mins

Verdict

When we first heard that a 14-inch version of the XPS 15z was in the workings, we were intrigued and excited, but also curious at how much difference an inch would make.

We Liked

As it turned out, that inch makes a considerable difference. The XPS 14z is surprisingly slender compared to its elder sibling, and a good chunk lighter too at just 2kg. The same slick brushed metal design is in place, and is just as drool-worthy, while the edge-to-edge glass of the display is a classy touch.

Build quality is also just as strong. There’s nary a weak spot, from the solid chassis to the ridiculously thin aluminium lid, while the isolation-style keyboard is a pleasure to type on.

Movie and music fans also have plenty to enjoy. The XPS 14z’s 500GB hard drive gives you plenty of space for a large media collection, and spins fast to keep things streaming smoothly. The 14-inch screen is colourful and crisp, while the speakers are better than most we hear.

Performance is good enough to run the latest multimedia software, and the Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor won’t be out of date any time soon. Yet despite these powerful components, we still managed well over three hours of intensive use before the battery died.

We Disliked

Unfortunately, some sacrifices have been made in slimming down the mighty XPS 15z. The screen only tilts back 45 degrees on its stiff hinges, and the Full HD 1080p resolution has been lost. We were also disappointed by how dim it was, even on the highest settings.

There’s obviously less space for ports, especially as Dell has crammed in a slot-loading optical drive, but the two USB ports seem a little stingy. Peripherals fans will want to invest in a USB hub.

The XPS 14z is also less graphically capable than its bigger brother, and we found the latest games were stuttery affairs unless we turned detail settings right down. Gamers should look elsewhere for their fix.

Verdict

The XPS 14z is a more compact ultraportable version of one of the best laptops of 2011. While it isn’t quite as technically impressive, it’s still an excellent machine that can keep you entertained and productive on the move.

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