How to Clean Your Laptop Keyboard effectively

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Laptop computer is becoming more and more popular in our daily life and work. Notebook keyboard is usually indispensable and it is necessary to have a flexible keyboard for the laptop battery. Though you have lots of institute ones, to clean the keyboard is significant.

Here, I will show you the best tips to clean the keyboard and extend the laptop life.

For this measures, you will need three things, dry cloth or duster, acceptable cleaning fluid, cleaner and a small brush.

1. Shutdown your laptop and remove the plugs, unplug the laptop keyboard.  Should you have a can of compressed air then use it to blow any debris from approximately and underneath the keys, otherwise then use the hose of the vacuum cleaner to remove it. spoil the fluid of cleaner to the cloth, and wipe on the top of the keyboards. Remember not to stain too much cleaner to avoid dirt the gaps between the keyboards. Then rise the laptop and brush the gaps between keys. Shake the keyboard a little to move the little rubbish to the garbage can.

2. use your  compressed vacuum air to blow the hard area. This needs your patience. never plug the plugs before the keyboard cleaned. Just cleaning the laptop keyboards? After all this work you can buy an plastic keyboads layer on the keyboard.  The layer can save your work for cleaning the keyboard effectively. If you endure sacrificing any touch experience.The notebook keyboard cleansing method is simple, is not it? But it is essential, it can prevent numerous funds.

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Asus N55SF

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 Asus N55SF

At first glance, it’s difficult to get a handle on exactly what type of laptop the Asus N55SF is.

The powerful Core i7-2570QM processor, huge keyboard with numeric keypad and slab of speaker atop the keyboard suggest that it may be intended as a desktop replacement. But the weight and general lack of bulk suggest otherwise.

When all’s said and done, this is a out-and-out powerhouse of an entertainment laptop. There’s Bang and Olufsen ICEPower audio, 6GB of memory and a Blu-ray drive hidden inside that hefty case.

Indeed, this is a high performance family laptop with a gaming bent – the high end Nvidia GeForce GT 555M has a whopping 2GB of memory on board just for graphics, providing some of the best 3D performance you’ll find in a laptop.

While the chassis is big, it’s not as bulky as you’d think and is easily to move around the living room. Sadly the power brick isn’t so portable and is a bit of a lump. The chassis is a little plasticky, but is topped off by a lovely curved, glossy piano black lid with a smart looking chrome finish around the edge.

Unfortunately the lid does pick up fingerprints quickly, but that’s an issue with all such glossy laptop lids – particularly when they’re being used by kids. As a whole, the laptop looks very classy and we certainly wouldn’t be ashamed to leave it on the coffee table – the aluminium panel below the screen adds to this.

The chassis has been put together well and is strong – you can’t push down on the palm rest, although there is a little flex in the base of the keyboard and the main laptop chassis itself. There is more flex in the screen, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary.

Key concern

We’re unsure about the keyboard though. It looks horrid compared to those of many comparable laptops, for a start. The letter keys seem a little compressed for such a large machine, and although they have a lovely spring to them when you’re typing, it’s easy to accidentally hit the wrong key.

This problem is exacerbated by the location of the volume control keys on the left-hand side. It’s very easy to hit one of them when going for Tab or holding down shift – largely because we’re so used to these keys being at the edge of the keyboard. A bad usability flaw there; suddenly you see a volume control graphic pop up in front of you as you type.

Sound, which has traditionally been a weakness for laptops, certainly isn’t neglected here. The B&O audio is nothing short of astounding. It was too loud for our living room, so we really gave it a challenge by bringing it into the office. Even on the other side of our large open plan office we could clearly make out the music. It’s great for watching Blu-ray movies as a result, and HDMI means you can output your display to a larger screen.

If you prefer to use the laptop’s built-in display, images are clear and crisp, and there’s an anti-glare coating to reduce refl ections when you’re watching video or working. The screen has great contrast and colours are also reproduced well.

Asus n55sf rear

Photo, video and music addicts will be pleased with the 640GB of storage, and USB 3.0 connectivity means that, even if you decide to add external storage, transfer speeds would be extremely snappy with a USB 3.0 drive. Ports are plentiful, while there’s a SD card slot underneath the front lip.

The trackpad is responsive, but we found the mouse buttons tended to click too easily and it can be difficult when doing more precise tasks such as highlighting text or files in a folder.

Powerful performer

The N55SF put in a really strong performance in our benchmarks – the gaming graphics put it right up alongside entertainment-orientated notebooks like the Toshiba Qosmio X770, as well as high-end gaming laptops such as the Alienware M14X and M18X. With the quad-core processor, advanced graphics and 6GB of memory, you’ll have no trouble running most games or performing demanding tasks like video editing.

The laptop uses Nvidia’s Optimus graphics switching technology, so you get great graphics performance when it’s plugged into the mains and decent battery life when it’s not. This is reflected in our battery benchmark score, which is great compared to many of its peers – the Toshiba’s Qosmio X770 only lasted 44 minutes by contrast.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 132 minutes
Cinebench: 18,323
3DMark 2009: 12,711

As with some other recent Asus laptops like the UX31 Zenbook, we found some of the software annoying. A reminder to register our details constantly popped up, and an update wizard kept appearing. Such add-on software seems to be a way of life now, but it detracts from the out-of-box experience.

That said, for extra unwanted software, the N55SF is better than most, with only the Bing toolbar really grating. And the benefit of the super-fast processor is that such additions don’t slow Windows 7 down.

The N55SF is a superb home entertainment laptop with only a couple of weak points in the odd keyboard, mouse controls and some irritating software alerts. Performance is excellent and the spec sheet as a whole is impressive.

Of course, all this doesn’t come cheap, but this machine compares extremely favourably to more stylised and costly entertainment laptops from the likes of Toshiba and Alienware. We’d definitely recommend it – if you can put up with the strange keyboard.

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Acer Aspire 7750

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 Acer Aspire 7750

At first glance, the Acer Aspire 7750 seems like a good choice for a 17-inch multimedia laptop. It has a simple, clean design with plenty of storage space and powerful speakers. Unfortunately, a couple of underlying issues pull the overall experience down somewhat.

Firstly, the grey and silver plastic design is nondescript. It looks much nicer on the inside of the laptop, though, offset against the black keyboard and screen bezel.

As this is a 17-inch laptop, there’s lots of space to go around, and Acer accentuates this by putting a regular keyboard square in the middle of the chassis, adding a touchpad and leaving it at that.

There are no hotkeys, no flashing lights and although it’s difficult to tell from the picture, the chassis feels expansive and spacious. All well and good, until you realise that the build quality (of the keyboard in particular) is pretty shabby. We felt quite a bit of flex around the edges of the chassis and the keyboard was practically bouncing up and down as we typed.

The machine isn’t particularly heavy at 2.9kg, but since most people buying a 17-inch laptop aren’t looking for portability we’d be happy with a few extra grammes in exchange for a more solid build.

While we’re on the subject, we’re going to assume most people buy a 17-inch laptop for the screen – be it to browse the web or watch a movie. The screen here is decent, complete with Super-TFT reflective coating, but the 1366 x 766 pixel resolution limits you to 720p HD content when, really, we’d quite fancy the full-blown effect of a 1920 x 1080 resolution.

Similarly, the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics card means the latest games and editing suite will have trouble running here.

Huge hard drive

If you want to put your media on the Aspire 7750 – high-definition or otherwise – you have a huge 720GB hard drive to fill up. If music is your thing, then the Dolby Advanced Audio speakers will go some way to convincing you this is the laptop to buy. You can get plenty of volume, but at no point does the audio become fuzzy or distorted – no mean feat for a laptop.

General performance is no slouch either. The Aspire rocks an Intel Core i5-2410M CPU that coped admirably with both our benchmark tests and general usage. We should probably attribute some of that to the generous 6GB of RAM Acer has stashed away inside. It’s more than the average 4GB and while it won’t make much of a performance difference for the average user, it will help your laptop last that little bit longer into the future.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 135 minutes
Cinebench: 9652
3DMark 2006: 4646

Yet, in spite of the positives, we have difficulty recommending the Aspire because it doesn’t specifically do what we want a 17-inch laptop to do – which is provide an awesome visual experience.

We understand Acer wanting to keep the price down, but a better choice would be the Dell Inspiron 17R or the Lenovo G770.

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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 N73SV

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Review: Asus N73SV

Asus has built a great reputation over the years, offering laptops that pack style and power at competitive prices. Few multimedia machines can match the value offered by the N73SV but its flawed usability unfortunately lets the side down early on.

Finished with a brushed aluminium lid and contrasting gunmetal and black interior, the chassis feels suitably well put together and looks every bit the high-end media centre, despite its surprisingly low price.

Sadly, this quality does not extend to the keyboard. While the large keys are responsive and easy to type on, the board is poorly mounted and bounces a great deal during use. The touchpad fares little better, proving sluggish and slow to respond.

A vertical panel of multimedia keys sits to the left of the keyboard, providing a fast way to control your music and movies. The six backlit buttons can be easily seen in the dark, but we found no easy way to disable the backlighting, so they can prove a little distracting at times.

At 3.5kg this is not a laptop for frequent travellers and its bulky dimensions make it far better suited to life at home on your desk. This is reflected in the limited 193-minute battery life, although this still managed to beat the sub-standard results of the other machines.

The most obvious strength of this laptop is its stunning 17.3-inch screen. The exceptionally bright and colourful panel shows images and videos to glorious effect, while the Full HD resolution makes the most of the built-in Blu-ray drive. Even the glossy coating is not overly reflective.

Powerful sound

Sound quality also impresses. Using technology co-developed with audio specialist, Bang & Olufsen ICEpower, the audio from the speakers is loud, clear and detailed. We noticed some slight treble distortion at higher volumes, but bass and mid frequencies were always clear.

Despite using the same dedicated Nvidia graphics card as the, the Asus almost doubles its power. Bettered by only the Acer Aspire 8951G and Toshiba Qosmio X770-107, there is plenty of power for light gaming and running high-definition video – a great result at this low price.

Office performance is no slouch either, despite falling some behind the powerful Intel Core i7 laptops. The Core i5 processor is backed by a healthy 6GB of memory and software opens and runs swiftly, with plenty of power for multi-tasking.

You also get a healthy amount of storage, thanks to the Asus’ 640GB hard drive. While it falls far behind the vast disks of the more expensive Acer and Toshiba, there is still ample room for storing large multimedia collections.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 193 minutes
Cinebench: 9798
3DMark 2006: 7905

A final unique feature of this laptop is its ExpressGate Cloud operating system. Installed along with Windows 7 it enables you to boot into a basic, panel-based OS in nine seconds, to access your photos, music, a calendar and a web browser faster than you can with Windows. We found the software needless, however, and find it unlikely anyone would use it on a regular basis.

If you can overlook the flawed user interface, the N73SV has a lot to offer at this price. Offering power, Blu-ray compatibility, an excellent screen and surprisingly strong audio, it makes a very good entry-level media centre. If you tend to work more than you play, though, the bouncy keyboard could be a deal breaker.

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Review: Toshiba NB520-10U

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Review: Toshiba NB520-10U

From the lime-green rubberised lid to the integrated Harmon/Kardon speakers, the Toshiba NB520-10U is a netbook that demands attention.

Not content to be a standard black business appliance, the Toshiba NB520-10U wants to be the life and soul of the party. It’s cooler and louder than the Asus Eee PC and one of the best netbooks worth owning.

The Toshiba comes in a choice of colours; green, blue or brown. Your chosen hue extends to the lid, mouse buttons and speaker edging while the rest of the chassis is solid black. The textured rubber of the lid is pleasant to touch and won’t get covered in grubby fingerprints.

There’s no flex to be found around the chassis and the netbook is easily light enough to carry around without a problem. There’s also a little extra bulk given to the battery compartment so, when open, the netbook is slightly raised at the back giving you a nice typing angle to work with.

The only minor gripes we had with the design was a particularly thick bezel and an awkwardly placed power button that’s nestled in the hinge below the centre of the screen. These are some tiny niggles but overall the design of the Toshiba is catching and stylish with a Converse-cool kind of appeal.

Of course, most noticeable are the twin speakers built into the palm rest. They’ve been developed with Harman/Kardon technology and will reach a genuinely impressive volume for a netbook. We were also impressed with the bass we could get out of it.

The 120GB disk space will likely preclude you from loading your entire music collection onto the hard drive, but if you subscribe to a streaming service like Spotify, the Toshiba would be a great addition to any house party.

If you want to work with this netbook then using the keyboard isn’t immediately intuitive as it’s packed pretty tightly into the chassis. Frankly, we preferred typing on the Acer Aspire One or Asus Eee PC, but anyone using this netbook regularly will adapt to the feeling of the keys quickly.

Toshiba nb520-10u

The touchpad is neither too responsive nor sluggish and is positioned well – you can use your thumb without your fingers leaving the keyboard. Although, being a netbook, it’s a little on the small side.

The standard Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM and Windows 7 Starter OS means this won’t rival a laptop for performance. But if you want to browse the web and type out an email while streaming some music, you won’t have any problems here.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 220 minutes
Cinebench: 521
3DMark 2006: 151

On top of that, the battery life is exemplary. By far and away the most important feature for a netbook, Toshiba has ensured you won’t need to regularly charge and the NB520 lasted for 220 minutes under our barrage of tests.

Advanced features

Toshiba has thrown some nice features into the NB520 to make it an even better choice for a netbook purchase. Plug an MP3 player into the USB port and you can use the Toshiba’s speakers to play your music, even when the machine is in standby or switched off.

It also has built in sleep-and-charge facility, so you can charge up a USB device while the laptop is powered down and idle.

This is a netbook a little different from others available and Toshiba has put together a great product – highly recommended for anyone who wants to enjoy their collection of music when they are on the move.

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Review: Dell Latitude XFR E6420

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Review: Dell Latitude XFR E6420

The market for rugged laptops is select and Dell has done an impressive job with the Latitude XFR 6420 by focusing on what’s important.

Build quality is excellent and extra features show real attention to detail. The XFR looks ready for anything. The tough, plastic composite chassis is together with plenty of screws and any point of the laptop likely to come into contact with the ground is shrouded in tough rubber. There’s even a built-in handle that enables you to carry the entire 4.5kg machine like a briefcase.

There was no flex around the chassis at all. The entire machine is harder than a coffin nail and all the ports are hidden by dust covers that mean mud, dirt, water, sand or any other muck won’t get inside and play havoc with the connections.

Dell hasn’t put a Super-TFT coating over the 14.1-inch screen, meaning you’ll be able to see what you’re doing when using the XFR outside. There are no reflections and the display itself is very bright. However, colours look whitened and washed out, which is noticeable when you’re watching videos or looking at pictures.

The XFR is not intended as a multimedia machine, though, so the lack of a rich colour palette is forgivable.

Limited keyboard

Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about the keyboard. Any laptop needs to have a decent keyboard and the compact, moulded keys on the Dell are miss-hit all too easily. There’s no numeric keypad or backlight so using the keyboard for numbers and spreadsheets will be difficult and using it in the dark is nearly impossible.

There are only three hotkeys, one for raising volume, one for lowering it and one for muting altogether. This might be irritating for people used to plenty of shortcuts and quick navigation, but the XFR has retained the touchscreen functionality of earlier models.

Because the machine is so sturdy, using the touchscreen is easy because the lid doesn’t wobble on its hinges when you touch it. Windows 7 is still too fiddly and small to navigate through folders, but for simple tasks it works very well.

On the inside, the Latitude is just as tough. An Intel Core i7 processor runs at 2.7GHz, which is faster than some gaming laptops. The 4GB RAM is easily capable of multitasking between several programs without faltering and only the 120GB hard drive feels below par.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 145 minutes
Cinebench: 11478
3DMark 2007: 5939

Like the screen, there are limitations when it comes to graphics. A paltry Intel integrated graphics chip means demanding visual applications like video editing, gaming or graphical programming and designing will stretch this laptop further than it can reach.

Again, this is a case of Dell focusing on what’s necessary and stripping back the rest. This is one of the most impressive rugged laptops we’ve seen and if you can get past the keyboard, it’ll stick with you through thick and thin.

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Review: Sony VAIO VPCCA2Z0E

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Review: Sony VAIO VPCCA2Z0E

If the powerful Z-series is the big brother of the Sony VAIO family, then the updated Sony VAIO C-series is definitely the attractive cousin.

We originally reviewed the VAIO C Series at the start of this month, but that iteration was packing a Core i5 processor and dedicated graphics. Now we have our hands on the more affordable VAIO-VPC-CA2Z0E Core i3 version.

Available in a choice of five different colours, this mid-level lifestyle laptop has a number of features that make it worth a look if you’re tired of the same old black or silver design of other machines.

Our review unit was a bright and attractive red, but the C-Series also comes in lime green, orange, pink, navy blue, white or black. Sony has given the laptop a material finish with a transparent effect – complimented by backlighting around the body of the laptop, such as the VAIO logo on the lid and around the touchpad.

Needless to say, whichever colour you choose, a range of similarly coloured peripherals is available, allowing you to accessorise your new rig.

Sony hasn’t stopped at the chassis when it comes to the light show. The isolation-style keyboard is backlit with a sensor called Auto Luminance Control which measures the ambient light surrounding you and adjusts the backlight accordingly. On a practical level, this is excellent for times when you’re working late into the night, but it also adds nicely to the overall design.

We ran several high-definition (HD) videos to test out the screen and were impressed with the bright, glossy screen that runs with a native pixel resolution of 1366 x 768. Understandably, it won’t match a dedicated games machine like the Asus’ Lamborghini VX7, but this is easily good enough for enjoying your pictures and videos.

Just beware the Super-TFT coating does give irritating reflections when you’re watching in a brightly lit environment.

Integrated graphics

Should you wish to play games on the C-Series, you will be limited to some of the older titles as the laptop only has an integrated graphics card. But, being that the CPU is a second-generation Intel chip – the Core i3 2310M – performance isn’t really a problem.We found web pages and HD videos on YouTube loaded very quickly.

The 4GB of RAM helps a lot and is the benchmark amount for a laptop at this level. A healthy 320GB hard drive means you can store plenty of HD video content here and still have space for office programs.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 251 minutes
Cinebench: 7529
3DMark 2006: 3440

What particularly impressed us, along with the great design, was the strength of the C-Series’ battery life. Sony has put the Auto Luminance Display from the keyboard into the screen as well, adjusting brightness depending on your surroundings to maximise performance. We’re always happy to see over 200 minutes on a battery life and the 251 we got from the Sony is a very respectable score.

Sony wants you to take this laptop out and about with you, and it has provided the battery life to make that possible.

Sony detail

The only real drawbacks we could find with this machine are a tendency for the keyboard to flex during typing and a pretty flimsy DVD drive. We would also have liked one of the four USB ports to have been upgraded to USB 3.0, but you can’t have everything sadly.

Sony has a great line-up when it comes to laptops. While we expect the business users to go for the ultraportable Z-Series and those on a budget to opt for the E-Series, we think anyone who wants a bit more flair will be happy with the funky C-Series as their next laptop.

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Review: Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad

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There’s no shortage of reasons to be writing on Apple’s iPad: emails, memos, office suites with word processors and spreadsheets, angry internet comments…

Apple’s tablet can do it all, but a lot of people aren’t so keen on the on-screen keyboard. This is partly why Apple included Bluetooth keyboard integration into the iPad, and why other tablet makers, including Asus with the Eee Pad Transformer and Lenovo with its U1 Hybrid saw fit to create tablet-cum-laptop devices.

The Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad is probably the best iPad keyboard we’ve seen, though. It’s a standalone Bluetooth keyboard that’s been customised with iOS control keys, and a case for the keyboard that doubles as an iPad stand.

logitech tablet keyboardSee full-res image

The extra functions added to the keyboard are a Home button key, a lock/unlock key to wake the iPad, media controls, a key to bring up the on-screen keyboard if you so wish, and even a key to put the iPad into Photo Viewer mode. There’s also a Search key, which takes you to the Spotlight screen (although you can’t use Spotlight with key commands alone, which is a bit of a shame).

The keyboard is right up there with the best we’ve used. The keys aren’t too small, but the unit is still compact. Pressing keys has a nice responsiveness to it – they aren’t too resistive or too soft.

The keyboard is powered by AAA batteries, which lasted plenty during our testing. There’s a battery indicator light on the keyboard, though, so you’ll know when it’s getting low.

Now, even if this were just a keyboard, we’d be totally recommending it for iPad owners. But it’s also got the case.

logitech tablet keyboard

The slip case for the keyboard doubles as a stand for the iPad, opening up once you’ve removed the keyboard to reveal a panel that fits across the bottom to hold it in a triangle.

logitech tablet keyboard

The iPad then sits in a little holder, which is on a slider, so you can adjust the angle of the iPad so it’s at a comfortable viewing angle. The case feels really well-made (as does the keyboard), and is what puts this setup over the top, since it’s not even that expensive in the grand scheme of things.

iPad owner? Want a keyboard? Get this one.

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Review: Toshiba Tecra R840-11E

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Toshiba’s Tecra range strikes a fine balance between consumer and business laptops. The Tecra R840-11E offers tons of business features and great performance in a light and slim body, but at a price that isn’t out of grasp for the average consumer.

The first of the business features is a built-in fingerprint scanner wedged between the mouse buttons. You can use this to log on to your laptop, which saves the hassle of remembering complex passwords.

An ExpressCard slot allows you to add peripherals, such as graphics cards, TV Tuner cards and extra storage, while an eSATA port can be used to back up your files to an external hard drive.

DisplayPort and VGA ports mean you can hook up an external monitor or projector. You can even connect wirelessly with compatible televisions.

Your data will be protected from theft by the aforementioned fingerprint scanner, but it’s also protected against accidental damage by the hard drive. If the drive detects an unexpected motion (for example, the laptop plummeting off a desk), it will reset itself. This lowers the risk of failure on impact.

While 320GB of storage space isn’t a lot, it should still suit most users who simply want to carry their important files around, as well as a modest collection of songs and photos.

More impressive is the fact that Toshiba has squeezed in a DVD drive. Not a bad effort, considering the slender body measures just 31mm at its thickest point and weighs a modest 2.1kg. With its compact chassis, it fits with ease into most bags.

You can find more portable business machines out there, such as the Samsung 9000 Series and Sony’s VAIO Z-Series, but they tend to cost more than the Tecra R840’s price tag.

However, while the Tecra may be slim and light, we weren’t exactly excited by the plain black design. The frame and lid have a bevelled plastic texture, which does a great job of hiding fingerprints and scuff marks, but isn’t visually appealing. Thankfully there isn’t much flex, and the lid is particularly solid.

One of Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge Core i5 2520M 2.5GHz processors is the brains behind this laptop. Combined with 4GB of memory, performance is even better than we expected. Not only can you run all of your business software, you can often run them together at the same time, with no kind of slowdown evident.

Basic integrated graphics mean you can’t run the latest games, but then you would rather be working on a spreadsheet, right? We still found some down-time to watch a high-definition (HD) movie, which played perfectly, and you can even edit photos from your collection and movies.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 239 minutes
Cinebench: 10,650
3DMark 2006: 3741

Of course, with its matt TFT finish, the 14-inch screen was not designed for enjoying films. Images are crisp, but the best part of this display is the lack of reflections when used outside or in bright offices. If you’re constantly on the move and need a machine for staying productive, then consider this laptop.

Portability is further improved by the excellent battery life. We watched movies for four hours before the Tecra died, while less power-sapping activities such as browsing the web stretches battery life out to five or six hours.

Sleep-and-charge technology means you can connect your portable devices via USB, such as smartphones and MP3 players, and charge them even when the laptop is hibernating.

Usability is another important consideration and while the keyboard looks and feels rather plasticky, it’s well-sized with covered gaps between the keys. The keys have a shallow travel when you hit them, which we weren’t huge fans of, but it didn’t stop us touch-typing at our usual pace. You also have an ‘eco mode’ shortcut key which lets you fiddle with power settings.

The touchpad is a generous size and perfectly smooth. The mouse buttons are firmly mounted, but are strangely sunken into the palmrest, which makes them awkward to push at times. Toshiba has included a pointing stick alternative to using the touchpad, which is a tiny nubbin mounted in the middle of the keyboard. Pushing it around moves the on-screen cursor, but we personally prefer the touchpad.

Managing to cram impressive performance and a mass of excellent business features into a slim and light body, Toshiba has impressed with the Tecra R840. The design is basic and there are some slight usability issues, but if you need a portable business solution on a limited budget, you could do a lot worse.

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