Review: HP DV7-6103ea

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Review: HP DV7-6103ea

HP’s surprising partnership with hip-hop producer Dr Dre has bumped it up in the cool stakes, and brought some much-needed quality to the beleaguered world of laptop speakers. While HP’s mid-range multimedia DV7-6103ea isn’t quite as sleek as the company’s Envy range, it has pilfered the same design finesse and also comes with the superior Beats Audio experience.

Taking a leaf from the Envy range, this laptop is solidly built and looks great. The burnished gunmetal finish gives a great streaky effect, adorning the top of the lid and surrounding the chiclet keyboard. Shame it’s only plastic but, at 3kg, it feels sturdy enough.

In terms of portability, it’s never gong to be light on a 17.3-inch chassis, but at 416 x 275 x 36mm, the DV7-6103ea is svelte.

The keyboard is a mixed blessing. Typing for long periods is fine, thanks to the sturdy travel on the keys, while number-crunchers will appreciate the full numeric keypad. However, the arrow keys are crushed into a single row and are difficult to find.

We were also disappointed with the multi-touch pad, which is a little compact.

Audio goodness

Opening up the DV7-6103ea reveals the enormous sub-woofer. This sits above the board to deliver sound out and up rather than underneath, where it would be more muffled.

As we expected, the laptop produces more powerful sound than most other laptops, though it’s never going to beat the throw of external speakers. Of course, most laptop users sit near their hardware and will enjoy listening to music as they work, while movies played with a rich sonic feed.

The Blu-ray player sits on the right hand side and ports are standard fare, with two fast USB 3.0 ports, two standard USB 2.0s, a VGA out and a HDMI out so you can connect to other HD devices. There’s even a multi-card reader and internal USB remote.

While HP provides too much bloatware pre-installed on the hard drive, you do get an finger print reader for added security. The 1600 x 900-pixel LED HP BrightView display is impressively vibrant, although the gloss sheen does make it harder to view in strong natural light.

The low lighting in The Dark Knight meant we lost a lot of detail in natural light, but the stunning details with the lights off impressed – even though it’s not full HD.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 181 minutes
Cinebench: 6480
3DMark 2006: 1533

The DV7-6103ea has AMD’s Quad-Core A6-3410MX fusion GPU and CPU, which is great mobile tech for enhancing battery life. With a generous 6GB of memory, we had no lag or stutter on video playback or when multi-tasking. The latest games will struggle, however.

There’s an enormous 1.5TB of storage for all of your applications and media.

If you’re looking for a smart new multimedia machine for movies and music, the DV7-6103ea is a great choice that won’t break the bank.

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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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Review: Rock Xtreme 768

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Review: Rock Xtreme 768

To consider the Rock Xtreme 786 a routinely luggable laptop would be to would risk months in traction. It weighs in at nearly four kilos and offers a 17.3-inch LCD display which is great for gamers and movie lovers.

Better, therefore, to think of the Xtreme 786 as transportable rather than portable. The sort of one-piece rig that’s perfect to take to university at the beginning of term or to haul to a friend’s house for a special occasion. Just don’t imagine you’ll be whipping it out for five minutes fragging on the tube.

Of course, Rock isn’t entirely responsible for the Xtreme 786’s gargantuanism. The chassis hails from a maker of white label laptops, which have been re-branded by Rock, and packed with some seriously powerful components.

As tested, the headline specification is very impressive. Intel’s Core i7 2630QM CPU is responsible for general computing duties. And very fit for purpose it is, thanks to four cores, and an appetite to tear holes in computational conundrums. This will handle anything you can throw at it, multitasking with ease.

Next up is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 485M mobile GPU, complete with 2GB of memory. It’s pretty much the same chip as the supposedly new GeForce GTX 580M, so in raw performance terms it’s about as good as it currently gets in laptop graphics.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 62 minutes
Cinebench: 16495
3DMark 2006: 17946

Rounding out the digital paraphernalia is a pair of conventional 500GB hard disks, 6GB of system memory which results in an extremely responsive system. There’s also a pair of USB 3.0 ports and a Blu-ray drive, which really help to future proof this machine.

Active 3D

What really marks the Xtreme 786 from other gaming getups is support for Nvidia’s stereoscopic 3D Vision gubbins. That includes an IR emitter built into the chassis and a pair of 3D Vision active-shutter goggles in USB, rather than wireless trim. Combined with the large, 1080p LCD panel, the result is a gaming spectacle that pretty much defines what is currently possible with a mobile(ish) machine.

OK, the big LCD screen relies on older ‘TN’ technology, which in real terms means that it’s miles behind the Sony F Series in terms of colour saturation and contrast. It’s still a nice panel, which looks pin sharp, and serves the stereoscopic 3D remit with fast response times.

How much of an attraction 3D Vision is, on the other hand, is down to personal preference. We’re not convinced by any stereoscopic tech that requires the wearing of glasses. The Nvidia 3D Vision itself works well enough, even with the most demanding games thanks to the ample performance of the GTX 485M graphics card.

The Rock Xtreme 786 is a powerful gaming machine, and a good buy for all gamers who are interested in 3D fragging. However, we still feel that the excellent Sony VAIO F Series is a better bet for everyday users.

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Review: Acer Aspire 5830T

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Review: Acer Aspire 5830T

Although billed as a business laptop, Acer’s Aspire 5830T also suits as a family laptop, or simply an entertainment machine.

One of Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processors runs the show, and is comfortably powerful enough to handle various applications at the same time. We played with complex editing software, surfed the web and enjoyed some 1980s pop music, all at once, with no slowdown.

The lack of a dedicated GPU means you won’t be able to play the latest games but you can play around with photos and even our home movies using software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements and Corel VideoStudio Pro, while high-definition movies play smoothly and look fantastic. The built-in speakers do a surprisingly decent job, too.

The 15.6-inch widescreen display is great for both work and play. It’s reasonably bright and pleasingly vibrant, which brings your photos and videos to life. The only downside is the glossy Super-TFT finish, which is highly reflective.

Still, if you plan on taking this laptop out and about, you won’t have too much trouble packing its slender chassis into a bag. At 2.5kg, it’s also light enough to carry around without cracking your spine.

We did notice some flex around the edges, but the lid is solid enough to protect the laptop on the move. You can work on battery power for four to five hours if you limit yourself to basic office tasks, but battery life drops to just under three hours when watching a movie.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 165 minutes
Cinebench: 7464
3DMark 2006: 4176

Comfortable keyboard

Typists are well served by the isolation-style keyboard, with keys poking out through individual holes to separate them out. This is great news for touch-typists, as you’re less likely to hit the wrong key by mistake. With the exception of the dinky arrow keys, the board is well sized and even finds room for a separate numeric keypad.

The touchpad is a little too compact, but is smooth, responsive and the touch-sensitive scrollbar is useful for jumping through documents and web pages.

A generous 640GB hard drive gives you plenty of space for carrying your files and software, as well as a huge media collection. You can store hundreds of thousands of songs and photos, or hundreds of full-length movies.

For a business laptop there are surprisingly few other features. Four USB ports can be used to connect peripherals, including a speedy USB 3.0 port that can charge portable devices even when the laptop is hibernating. You also have VGA and HDMI ports for attaching a monitor or projector, for presentations or showing off your pics and movies.

While the Aspire 5830T offers nothing remarkable compared to other mid-price professional laptops, it also has very few flaws to speak of. If you need a machine to keep you productive and entertained on the go, there are much worse options.

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Review: Asus U36J

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Review: Asus U36J

Asus’ attempt at an ultraportable laptop might not have made the same splash in the technology world as Apple, Sony or Dell, but the U36J has a couple of good features that make it a likeable alternative, and the perfect accompaniment to the daily commute or a weekend away.

Outwardly, the U36J is an unassuming, black rectangle. In fact, the chassis is similar to that of the Sony VAIO C Series. We don’t mind the matt-black executive look, but it will put off anyone who likes a bit more colour sitting on their desk.

The 13.3-inch screen is bright and crisp, although the thick black bezel and ugly protruding hinges are slightly distracting.

Fortunately, Asus has become quite adept at giving their laptops great usability and the U36J is no exception. The isolation-style keyboard is superb, with plenty of space between keys, meaning we rarely hit the wrong keys when touch-typing. Because this is such a slim laptop, the keys are tucked in close to the chassis and there’s little travel when typing.

The touchpad has the same smooth plastic surface as the palmrests and works well. Asus has included a fingerprint scanner between the mouse buttons.

Staying power

Performance-wise, the U36J gave us some impressive results that make its low price tag even more appealing. The Intel Core i5 M460 CPU delivers 2.53GHz of speed bolstered by the 4GB of memory.

This kind of spec is great for general performance, but the integrated GPU means no heavy gaming on this laptop. But you should be able to run some older titles and do light photo editing.

tech labs

TechRadar Labs

Battery Eater ’05: 226 minutes
Cinebench: 8611
3DMark 2006: 3516

In terms of software, the U36J comes pre-loaded with around 15 native Asus applications. Although there is no optical drive, there are three USB ports, one of which is the faster USB 3.0 connection. Both an HDMI and VGA port mean you can attach a second monitor or HDTV to the U36J and an Ethernet port means you don’t have to settle for the 802.11n Wi-Fi connection. There is also an SD/MS Card slot for expanding the memory.

Two of the biggest positives we drew from the U36J though are the battery life and the price. During our intensive tests, the Asus recorded a strong score of 226 minutes, but we think that with sensible everyday usage you should easily be able to get over four hours out of this laptop and probably more if you use the included battery management software.

We’d expect to pay around £800–£900 for this type of machine, seeing as the Sony C Series and MacBook Air are both nudging a thousand pounds. Instead, you can get it for only £700.

Overall then, while this is certainly not the best ultraportable you can buy, it is the best value for money. So if your cash is tight this month, we’d recommend giving the U36J the once over at your local computer store before buying something pricier.

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Review: Lenovo G770

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Review: Lenovo G770

The Lenovo G770 packs fantastic power and good graphical performance into a solid big-screen laptop which is great for the home. We’d recommend it to anyone looking for a desktop replacement, but movie buffs will be disappointed about the lack of a 1080p screen.

The first thing that strikes you when opening the G770 is the fantastic build quality. There’s an expanse of brushed metal, in which sits a generous isolation-style keyboard with well-cushioned keys. It took us a while to get used to the travel between the keys, but it was comfortable to use for long periods.

Under the hood is a generous amount of power, and enough for anyone who’s looking for a few years of good use. The processor is a Sandy Bridge Intel Core i7 2620M 2.7GHz, which is the same found in the MacBook Pro, which costs £1000 more.

Elsewhere, the AMD Radeon HD 6650M is nearly identical to the MacBook Pro, and there’s more RAM with 6GB packed in. This simply shows that the Lenovo is able to handle anything that’s thrown at it for a few years to come. Editing photos using Photoshop, creating home videos, and dealing with demanding video content are all easily within the G770s capabilities.

If you’re looking to play games, the G770 won’t disappoint either. It’s no true gaming machine, like the Alienware M18x, but it will play most of the latest games. We played Battlefield 2 with no real problems, and it looked great on the 17.3-inch screen, although we did have to turn down the graphics to avoid the frame rate dropping.

Powerful processor

In our tests the Lenovo fell short of the dizzying heights of the Acer Aspire 5750G, but still out-performed the more expensive HP Envy 14. There was a strong score from the processor, which trounced the likes of the Dell Inspiron 17r and the Samsung R720.

Again there was no 1080p panel provided, which will disappoint movie buffs looking for the best possible picture, but if you already own an HD display such as a TV, then you can connect the G770 via HDMI. We’ve seen better, sharper screens, but it’s adequate for working and enjoying media and photos.

Lenovo g770

Again, there’s a lack of Blu-ray, but we honestly feel that a future-proof system can do without this as more media moves to the cloud. At 2.9kg, the Lenovo G770 is a true desktop replacement system, and it’s really too large and heavy to consider taking around with you on a daily basis. However, the large screen more than makes up for it and, unlike the HP Envy 14, its weight pays off with a much more comfortable experience.

The Lenovo G770 is a fantastic purchase for anyone looking for a future-proof desktop replacement. It’s packed with power and matches many of its more expensive competitors for speed and performance, without breaking the bank.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 158 minutes
Cinebench: 11524
3DMark 2006: 7667

We’d like to have seen a Full HD screen in a laptop of this type, and if you’re looking for a future-proof media centre for watching movies, then you might want to look at more expensive alternatives like the Dell XPS 15Z.

However, if you just want to ensure you can carry on using your favourite programs and surfing the web for a few years to come, then this machine will certainly offer a great return on your investment.

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Review: Alienware M14X

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Review: Alienware M14X

The Alienware M18x may be a humongous beast with a huge price tag, but those who prefer a more portable gaming machine or are on a tighter budget should consider the M14x instead.

At first glance, the M14x looks like a shrunken version of the M18x. The design is very similar, from the curved lip of the chassis to the glowing headlights. You’ll either love it or hate it, and we definitely love it.

The reduced body size means the keyboard has been cropped, but the bevelled keys are still perfectly sized for playing your favourite games. The numeric keypad has been ditched, as have the media controls that sat over the M18x’s keyboard.

However, this board is firmer than the M18x’s and is just as great for typing out essays as it is for blasting your way through an action game. We also like the subtle blue glow that lights the keys at night.

Despite being a lot slimmer than the M18x, this laptop still packs in plenty of power. One of Intel’s latest and most powerful Core i7 processors scored one of our best benchmark results, while the dedicated Nvidia graphics card will keep you gaming for the foreseeable future. Even the latest shooters played smoothly and looked incredible.

If money is tight, you can downgrade to a Core i5 processor, which should still handle the latest games with ease. However, if you have money to burn, then you can upgrade the specs to get even longer life from your laptop.

Unfortunately, the slot-loading DVD drive can’t be upgraded to a Blu-ray.

Staying power

If you need a gaming laptop to keep you entertained on the move, the M14x is a great option. At 3kg it isn’t exactly light, but it won’t break your back either.

We were especially impressed by the battery, which survived for almost three hours on a single charge when we decided to watch a movie. Playing games does drain the battery more quickly, and the M14x’s internal fans spin loudly during intensive gaming sessions.

Thankfully, it’s hard to notice if you turn the sound up, as the built-in speakers are surprisingly powerful. The back of the laptop gets warm around the air vents, but not to a worrying degree.

The smaller 14-inch screen is still fine for gaming, thanks to its sharp 1600 x 900 resolution. It’s bright enough to work on comfortably for extended periods without straining your eyes, which is great news for anyone who likes all-night gaming sessions.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 165 minutes
Cinebench: 17090
3DMark 2006: 12259

While 500GB of hard drive space is a lot for the average laptop, gaming machines tend to fill up fast when you install all of your favourite titles. You’ll have to choose carefully to avoid running out of space.

We fell in love with the M14x’s compact and portable chassis, which still finds room for some impressive technology. Based on price and portability alone, we’d pick this slim gamer over its big brother.

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Review: Alienware M18X

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Review: Alienware M18X

The latest release from Dell-owned Alienware, the M18X, is a behemoth with enough power to run any game under the sun without so much as a flicker. But you’ll have to have deep pockets to get your hands on one.

Even getting the M18X out of the box is a challenge, thanks to its 438 x 311 x 52mm dimensions and a back-breaking weight of 5.7kg. This machine was designed to dominate your desk. As expected, it sticks to the Alienware design, which we love, but probably won’t be to everyone’s taste.

The entire machine is a slab of moulded rubber and brushed metal, and that ever-present Tron-style neon backlight.

Unsurprisingly, the focus of the Alienware is gaming. Our review sample came with an AMD Radeon HD 6900M and scored a mind-blowing 19,056 during our intensive gaming benchmark test.

While the sheer power of the machine keeps games running perfectly, it is the 18.4-inch screen that made playing on the M18X a truly immersive experience. The Super-TFT screen is like a window into your games. It’s extremely bright and the 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution keeps the most complex graphics razor sharp.

But it’s the sheer size that is the winner here and you really notice the difference between this and a standard 15.6-inch machine.

Mixed keyboard

Alienware m18x

Although we like the keyboard on the M18x, there is a degree of flexing towards the centre and some might not appreciate the tightly packed keys, but the customisable backlight looks great.

As any gamer knows, you’re going to want a mouse, game controller, joystick, or any number of other peripherals to get the best from your laptop. So Alienware has gone big on connectivity. There are five USB ports, upgradable to USB 3.0 if you want, along with an Ethernet port, eSata port, VGA Out and audio jacks for your headset and microphone. On top of that, you get two HDMI ports for connecting extra monitors or an HDTV.

Despite our praise, the M18x is not without its faults. At 87 minutes, the battery life is woeful. The charger, like the laptop itself, is huge, and you certainly won’t be leaving the house without it.

The other problem with the M18x is that to play big, you have to spend big and, being custom-built, it costs a small fortune to get the best spec. Every model runs on a Sandy Bridge Core i7 processor, but there are different variants available.

Alienware

Our review sample was powerful, but other laptop components such as RAM and storage space were poor. This was disappointing and, although you can customise the amount of storage, we would expect more than 250GB and 4GB of RAM for £1699.

TechRadar Labs

Benchmarks

Battery Eater ’05: 87 minutes
Cinebench: 16967
3DMark 2006: 19056

Essentially, if you’re not a hardcore gamer, there is no reason to spend this kind of money. But if you want the best mobile gaming experience around, this is what you should be looking at.

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Review: Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7

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Review: Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7

There was a genuine air of excitement when the Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7 rolled into the office.

A Lamborghini Gallardo boasts a 552bhp V10 engine and its namesake is running the laptop equivalent – an Intel Core i7-2630QM CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 460QM GPU and 8GB of RAM.

The lid is sculpted to resemble the front of a Lamborghini, complete with the famous badge on the front. The base of the laptop protrudes out behind the screen hinge and sports mock Lamborghini rear lights and two gigantic vents.

Although our review unit was black, this laptop is also available in a striking orange finish that we think looks even better. The inside of the laptop is also designed to mimic its four-wheel counterpart with a black and chrome finish – and the power button even reads ‘start engine’.

Asus lamborghini vx7

Better yet, the palmrests either side of the matt-black touchpad are stitched leather, just like the upholstery of a proper super-car.

Not everyone will be a fan of the chunky design and, if you like your laptops slim and svelte, this isn’t the machine for you. The design also means that it’s incredibly heavy at 3.9kg and even if you wanted to carry it round, the dimensions make it hard to fit comfortably into a bag.

Even though you’re consigned to a desk, usability is fantastic. The 15.6-inch Super-TFT screen is bright and it runs at a native pixel resolution of 1920 x 1080, so even the most complex websites and dense pictures are rendered in extremely sharp detail.

Cool running

Aside from looking the part, the two large vents at the rear of the VX7 keep it cool during prolonged gaming sessions and we had no problems with excessive heat during our tests.

If you want to up your usage from pictures and web browsing to editing video and playing games, then the Asus really comes into its own. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 460QM is one of Nvidia’s top GPUs and when we tested Need for Speed: Shift and Tom Clancy’s HAWX, each on the highest detail settings, the VX7 showed no signs of lag.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 119 minutes
Cinebench: 16,760
3DMark 2006: 7653

The VX7 also boasts a Blu-ray drive and dual 750GB hard drives, adding up to well over a terabyte of storage space.

Asus is keen to label the VX7 as a high-performance laptop rather than simply a gamer’s machine, and both the usability and range of features reflect this. The isolation-style keyboard is very comfortable to use and backlit for when you end up working late.

The VX7 also features four USB ports for transferring data and documents, one of which uses USB 3.0 technology for twice the speed. Elsewhere, HDMI and VGA-Out ports let you connect to another monitor for presentations or even an HDTV.

As is always the case with high-performance machines, the battery life suffers badly. The VX7 managed only 119 minutes on battery, giving enough time for one high-definition (HD) movie. This fact, as well as the aforementioned weight and dimensions, means you won’t be taking this away from the mains for any great length of time.

Understandably, cost is a factor and, although it’s not quite the £160,000 needed for a real Lamborghini, the asking price of the VX7 is pretty steep. But if you can afford it, this is a fantastically designed piece of kit that will easily satisfy all your computing needs.

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Review: Asus Eee PC 1008P Karim Rashid

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Review: Asus Eee PC 1008P Karim Rashid

Nothing polarises opinion like a pink design, and the Asus Eee PC 1008P Karim Rashid is very, very pink.

At the risk of stereotyping, we’ll assume this design will find more traction on the female side of the market, but it’s great to see Asus reaching out beyond the technology industry to renowned designer Karim Rashid to spice things up a little.

The interesting design covers the lid with an uneven, undulating surface and overlays this with hundreds of tiny rectangles. Running your hand over it is akin to touching a bag made from alligator hide.

Lift the lid and you see that the pink outer design is complimented with solid black on the rest of the laptop – the exception being the single clickbar beneath the touchpad that is chrome silver. If pink isn’t your ideal choice, then don’t worry as the laptop also comes in a dark brown colour.

The keys use the isolation-style design, which looks nicer than a standard keyboard and also works better for typing. The extra space between the keys means there’s less chance of hitting the wrong key by accident.

The touchpad is also easy to use. It’s responsive and the textured surface feels better than any kind of regular smooth touchpad.

Conventional power

Asus eee pc 1008p karim rashid

Even though it looks great on the outside, the workings of the Eee PC are much the same as any conventional netbook. Power comes courtesy of an Intel Atom N450 processor and the 1GB of RAM is basic, even in the netbook market.

The benchmark tests we ran returned average results, although we would have liked to see a little more staying power from the battery.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 158 minutes
Cinebench: 565
3DMark 2006: 100

The 250GB hard drive is perfectly suitable for a netbook and, in fact, the Eee PC beats the Dell Adamo XPS when it comes to storage, even though it’s less than half the price.

Graphical performance on any netbook will be severely limited, as it is the first thing manufacturers cut back on to keep battery life up and weight down.

The Eee PC has a standard integrated Intel chip that is enough to keep a couple of browser windows open and play video at the same time, but don’t expect it to do much more than that.

When playing video, you will most likely want to invest in some external speakers. As expected on a portable machine, the built-in speakers lack punch and are on the tinny side.

The Eee PC does feature Asus’ Express Gate fast boot-up software, which is now being packaged with Asus’ newer models.

Outward connectivity is also par for the course, with two USB slots, an Ethernet slot and a space for a MicroSD card to boost the storage space. All the ports are covered to continue the unbroken alligator-skin design which runs over the base of the netbook as well as the lid.

Obviously, being a netbook means the Eee PC is exceptionally light and, as well as looking good, the outward design makes it easier to grip the device. Both of these features add to its portability and the Eee PC is perfect for slipping into a bag and takiing out an about with you.

We’re big fans of the Eee PC range. Asus was the first to market with the netbook format and it continues to produce some of the best machines.

The Eee PC 1018P would be a better choice if you value power and features on your netbook but, in terms of style, the Karim Rashid Eee PC is the most striking we’ve seen.

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