GDesk, iPhone theme for Symbian 5th Edition

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GDesk, iPhone theme for Symbian 5th Edition

Increase the collection of GDesk Themes: Today we announce a theme based on the interface of the iPhone. We can say that the theme is very basic, as happens on the phone to Apple (at least up to firmware 3), but very fast in its use.

Crazy Goblins: World War II, arriving in a beautiful third-person Shooter Game

TouchArcade shows the first images of what will be a new third-person shooter game., Diasponibile soon in the App Store. The game is called Crazy Goblins: World War II. The developers who are creating have indicated that the work is still being improved and that soon it will offer its first video-game.

Even in terms of graphics the game looks well built, although the certainty is given by the video that will follow in the coming days. The game should still be available for next month.

We will keep you informed on this new titoloo, showing the possible future Screenshots and videos will be released. For now, no information on the weapons, missions and purpose of the game. We look forward to.

Poll: Improve Android updates? And if they were paid?

It is useless to deny it, revealing a certain discontent common regardless of whether it is Samsung, HTC, Acer, Sony Ericsson and other manufacturers, with respect to the Android software updates.

On the one hand there are the manufacturers: to develop a product, create the hardware, optimized the Android software, and especially change the interface specific UI is definitely a job for a week. The times are much longer than one interface is more complex and diverse. Continuously updates released by Google certainly does not help to keep up and also all the manufacturers need to think about different phones and not to a single device at the same time.

There are other users: who spends 400/500 € for a phone you expect, with good reason, to receive a long-lasting support, a series of updates that improve the software features and a clear transparent and sincere on the part communications company. In addition, the customer expects to receive updates for distribution terminals that are not too old and can accommodate a “major update” with the hardware Inventory report. The customer expects spending 400/500 € a life cycle of the phone at least 18/24 months.

This unfortunately seems to happen and the reasons are many and as always linked to the economic factor.

But how could we find a meeting point between the interests of the houses and those of users?

Copy the way Apple could be a very clever solution by releasing the “major update” for a fee. This would mean that, if a phone comes out with Android 2.1, and is updated while keeping the same version, the update will be released without charge. If, however, after months, is updated to a higher version, say Android 2.2, this can be paid aggironameto (5 / 10 € for example).

In practice, if we take a Hero released in late September with Cupcake 1.5, this nine months after receiving the update 2.1. This update may be issued to pay, perhaps to 9 €. With this system, the houses could recover the money “spent on” development and might be encouraged to release the first update.

By applying this methodology in a larger scale, an update released Android 2.2 to a Hero maybe in November or December at an extra charge, increase the life of the phone and do not abandon to its fate after a few months.

An optical simplistic and does not take into account other factors, and perhaps more specific regulation, but, assuming remaining generalist.

Steve Jobs WWDC 2010 focused on the iPhone OS

In a little less than a month will see Apple’s most anticipated event: the presentation of new-generation iPhone. Together, the iPhone will be released the final version of the new firmware 4.0. During the WWDC, Apple will be rewarded by the best applications for iPhone and Mac, but this year’s Design Awards, or the award of the Application, will be exclusively dedicated to the iPhone OS, leaving the Mac

Many developers who create their own app for the Mac have felt saddened by this decision, to the point that Gansrigler Matthias, Flickery maker, has decided to send an email to Steve Jobs to know the reasons for this choice.

In the email, Matthias wonders why Apple has put aside the Design Awards for Mac developers and if there are hopes for the future.

Steve’s answer, strangely than usual argued:

We are focusing primarily (but not exclusively) on iPhone OS this year. Maybe next year we will focus mainly on Mac Just as is the normal cycle of things. No hidden meaning in everything.

Coming straight to the point, Steve admits that this year the work dedicated to the iPhone OS are really the most important. With the launch of the iPad and the imminent launch of the new iPhone, even within the resources of Cupertino are working on mainly two mobile devices.

So expect great things from this new OS for the time being only the third beta.

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How To Protect Your Mac Laptop From Heat In Summer

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How To Protect Your Mac Laptop From Heat In Summer

We’re officially in summer, the time that if we continue to use your Mac will have to use the laptop if we go away on vacation away from home or simply the time when our laptops suffer more from high temperatures. This post I will offer some tips to protect your MacBook, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air from heat and keep the laptop has problems with it. To achieve this, we will focus on attacking on two fronts: The accumulation of heat inside the laptop physically with simple cooling tips, and on the other hand, see what we can do from the operating system to minimize the impact on the CPU and prevent processes increase the energy required by the processor (and thus the heat to dissipate). With a little care and with these simple tips, should take care to the best of your little Mac laptop and alargaréis great life. My MacBook Pro is the model in late 2006, so bad I will not be doing to take care. Let’s see how.

Protecting the heat MacBook accessory pathway.
Let’s start from the outside. Use a portable means to move and expose many times in places unsuitable for proper heat dissipation. We can help you improve these situations in the following ways:

Remove the battery (if removable)
If we use the Mac inside a house, and we have no plans to move immediately, a good idea to remove the laptop battery. It is not battery protection issues, but rather of ‘space’: The inside of the notebook over and aerate the free volume of the battery will allow the heat to condense less. Of course, do only those portable Macs … The removable battery with battery soldered into the circuitry, which are better left.

Use a “lift”
If you have a desk similar to the photo, with a laptop connected to an external display, or just you use the laptop as main computer at home is a good idea to purchase an elevator. Is a kind of stand that “lifts” the laptop a few inches from the table. The free space is gained in the bottom makes the air circulate better in the back of the laptop, the area which is heated. Not being in direct contact with any surface (only small boom), the heat will cool more efficiently.
Personally I use the Griffin brand model (it’s coming out in the photo), made from aluminum and easily disassembled for transport. As a downside, the height is fixed and not adjustable. I recommend you dig out the different models and brands that offer elijáis that best fits your needs or tastes.

Take small “caps” to raise the laptop in the backpack
If we take your laptop on vacation, or are constantly moving from one place to another is a good idea to buy small “caps” of silicone that can be put on the back of the laptop and raise a few inches around the perimeter of the table Mac. Especially if the table is wood, it is imperative a solution or so, because the wood retains much heat and cool it takes a long time. You can buy these silicone caps or some similar solution in home plan, the important thing is that the Mac has some space below it.

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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: 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: MSI GT680

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Review: MSI GT680

The MSI GT680 is exactly what you want from a gaming machine. Raw power, great speakers and a chassis that looks like it began life as an X-Files prop.

The limited battery life and flimsy keyboard mean you won’t want to use this as a work machine but it’s excellent value for gaming.

Beginning with the design, the MSI GT680 continues the gaming laptop trend of aggressive styling, plenty of bulk and blinking LEDs. The black plastic chassis isn’t going for subtlety and the large speaker grilles next to the screen hinges are immediately noticeable. As is the chrome border around the touchpad and the banks of orange LEDs edging the screen and palm rest.

Unfortunately, while the LEDs look cool, they aren’t particularly bright and are easily forgotten when using the laptop in any brightly-lit environment.

The build quality doesn’t extend to the keyboard, which flexes horrendously. It looks nice, and there is plenty of space for typing, but it feels flimsy when working for any length of time.

The 15.6-inch screen is smaller than some of the other gaming and multimedia laptops we’ve seen, but this does mean you can fit the MSI into conventional laptop bags for some mobile gaming. At least, this would be the case if it didn’t weigh 3.5kg and have a battery life of 122 minutes.

The screen has a Super-TFT coating that adds plenty of colour and depth to games and movies. However, it isn’t nearly as bright as some machines we’ve reviewed, such as the Dell Latitude XFR.

The sound, meanwhile, took full advantage of the Dynaudio speakers and filled the room with gunshots, screeching tyres and the anguished cries of wounded henchmen.

Top specifications

Inside the MSI GT680 are some very impressive components. The Sandy Bridge Intel CPU is a top-spec Core i7 2630QM and the 8GB of RAM is twice as much as we’re used to.

Unsurprisingly the dedicated graphic card is one of Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 460M models and capable of running the latest games on their highest detail settings without affecting the frame rate.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 122 minutes
Cinebench: 17212
3DMark 2006: 13936

MSI has included plenty of connectivity and the GT680 boasts two USB 3.0 ports for faster connections to external drives and peripherals. Elsewhere there are two regular USB ports, HDMI and VGA slots for external monitors, an eSata port and a Gigabit Ethernet connection if you don’t fancy using the 802.11n Wi-Fi to connect to the internet. We’re also pleased to see a Blu-ray drive included as standard.

In most cases, we can recommend gaming laptops because their superior spec means they are suited to almost any task. Not in this case. If you’re a gamer, we’d suggest the MSI because of the way it looks and the excellent performance from that Intel Core i7 processor. If you’re not a gamer the irritating keyboard and mediocre battery life all count against the MSI as an all-rounder.

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Review: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet

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Review: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet

Overview 

and features

For those with a penchant for tech throwbacks, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is a reminder of past accomplishments. With its all-black design and an optional pen with a large red faux-pa eraser, this tablet looks a bit like one of those original IBM ThinkPad notebooks from years ago. Sadly, its throwback design is still no match for the thin and powerful Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 or Apple iPad 2.

Like the Acer Iconia Tab A500 and Asus Eee Pad Transformer, the ThinkPad Tablet has quite a few extra ports including a camera card slot for loading images from a digital camera straight from the SD memory card, a USB port for connecting peripherals such as a keyboard and mouse and a micro-HDMI port for sending the screen out to your HD TV.

However, at 14.5mm thin and 748g heavy, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is not as sleek or portable as the Apple iPad 2.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, which runs on the Android 3.1 operating system, is loaded with the latest chips, as expected. There’s an Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 1.0GHz processor, 1GB of DDR2 RAM, and – at least on the version we tested – 32GB of storage. Lenovo offers 16GB and 64GB versions as well, costing £683 for a 16GB Wi-Fi-only version, £788 for a 16GB Wi-Fi and 3G version and £885 for a 64GB Wi-Fi and 3G version.

The tablet has a 2MP front-facing camera and a rear 5MP camera for videos and photos. There’s a SIM slot for adding an optional 3G card, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections are both on board.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

The most unique feature is the pen, which is thankfully just an optional add-on that enhances the interface in dramatic ways. For most tasks, you can just use finger presses and swipes. Yet, if you want to jot down notes, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet converts what you write to text quickly and, for the most part, accurately. You can also draw objects in a sketchpad and annotate documents with ease.

From a design standpoint, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet feels a bit chunky and is reminiscent of older slate tabs that ran on Windows Tablet PC. That said, unlike the Toshiba AT100 (known as the Toshiba Thrive in the US), the IPS screen, made of Gorilla Glass and so exceptionally durable, is viewable from a side angle, like the iPad 2’s.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

There are four buttons on the top left-hand side that serve as the screen lock, Web, Back and Home buttons.

The tablet is loaded with extra software. Lenovo includes the Documents To Go app, which normally costs £9.99 to download. Lenovo says its ThinkPad Tablet is the first Android tab to include the Netflix app – the popular US TV and movie streaming site – on its US models. There are two unique interface add-ons – one is an app launcher that sits in the centre of the screen, and the other is an app wheel that functions just like the app pop-up menu that’s standard with Android.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

Lenovo advertises its ThinkPad Tablet as “professional grade”, and we think that means it’s focused less on the consumer side. That’s a good thing, because one of our overall impressions is that the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet runs slowly for video.

The Chinese PC maker might be targeting business people with the higher price as well. At £821 for the 32GB model (although currently offered at the discounted price of £580 on the Lenovo website), the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is one of the most expensive Android tablets around. It may not be worth the high price, but some of the features are definitely business friendly.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

In the box, Lenovo includes a charger and USB cable, but no earbuds, case or stand

.

Taking a tour around the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, the first impression is that the tablet seems big and bulky. At 748g, it’s heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, at 565g, and the Apple iPad 2, at 601g. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is even heavier than the Toshiba AT100, which we described as too bulky.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

There are ports galore, though. We tested the USB port, which is below the screen on the right, and it worked with a USB keyboard called the Luxeed, and even a wireless mouse from Microsoft. However, the tablet didn’t work with one USB flash drive loaded with music and video files. We tested another flash drive, formatted on the same Windows 7 PC as the first one, and it worked fine.

Above the USB slot, on the right-hand side, there’s a three-in-one camera flash card reader that works with SD, SDHC, and MMC cards up to 32GB. A docking port, micro USB port (for charging and swapping files) and a mini-HDMI port are also on the left-hand side. The power button is on the top to the left. On the left-hand side, there are volume control buttons and a slot for storing the pen.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

The 1280 x 800 IPS display, measuring 10.1 inches, like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, looked a bit dull for movie playback and games. At least it is viewable from a side angle, up to 178 degrees, since the technology is the same as the Apple iPad 2. Like almost every tablet we’ve tried, the screen glare on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is obnoxiously bad – the device is barely useable outside.

Other notable hardware features are here to appease the business user. For example, Lenovo includes an app that you can use to encrypt sensitive business documents stored on flash media. There’s also a handy USB file transfer app that works for copying internal files to an external hard drive or USB flash drive.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

Battery life on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is about average for most Android tabs, lasting for around eight hours. In our testing, we experienced all-day usage from sun-up to sun down when we used the device under normal conditions for checking email, browsing the web and playing YouTube clips.

As expected, when we watched several episodes of The Killing one after the other, with the display turned up bright so we could see what was happening, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet only lasted for about four hours of continuous playback.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

One other hardware perk is that the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet comes with a service called PrinterShare. You install a utility on your PC, select your printer and can then print directly from the tablet – although you have to configure the printer under Settings – over a Wi-Fi network. Of course, the printer has to be on the same network as the tablet.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

Interface


Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

Other than the slightly unusual hardware features, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet Tablet is also outfitted with some interesting new user interface enhancements. Some of them work well, but others aren’t as impressive.

The thing first you notice about the main screen is that Lenovo has added a Launcher widget in the centre of the screen where you can quickly start the internet browser, open a book, watch a movie or listen to music. The widget really only sends you to an app – Slacker Radio for music or the mSpot app for movies. For new users, the widget is a smart idea because it calls attention to main features on the device.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

Another addition is the App Wheel. There’s an icon on the lower centre of the screen – press it and you’ll see a circle menu you use to start an app. This is different from the pop-up menu included with Android that shows you open apps – this wheel is for storing favourites. The App Wheel looks a bit clunky though, with an unconvincing drop-shadow. Also, it’s easier to just store apps on the desktop.

Both of these are just extra UI icing on the standard Android 3.1 interface. There are no radical interface overhauls like there will be with the Amazon Kindle Fire. There are also no app categorisation bins like there are with Samsung and Acer tabs, although these bins don’t add a lot of value.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

Many of the other interface features are standard – you can drop widgets onto the main screens. None of these stray too far from the norm – Lenovo hasn’t added any extra widgets. There’s a back button on the lower left-hand side and a Home button in addition to the pop-up app menu.

One oddity, though, is that the hardware buttons on the left of the screen require that you press them close to the screen. If you press near the edge, the button might not work. In daily use, you might just skip these buttons altogether.

Market and apps


Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

Some of the best features on the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet are all behind the scenes. Lenovo includes IT-specific tools such as Computrace for finding a lost device or wiping the data if it’s stolen, LANDesk for pushing apps to the device over a network and requiring that data has to be encrypted when moved to an SD card, and the McAfee Security app, which is designed mostly for backing up and restoring data.

Lenovo went well beyond the norm for bundled apps. In addition to the IT tools, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet includes an app called ArcSync that enables you to synchronise documents, music files, photos and videos to a website, then sync the same media to your phone and computer.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet also includes Angry Birds HD, Documents to Go for viewing and editing Word, PowerPoint, Excel and PDF files, several “virtual” board games such as Backgammon and a few card games including Euchre and Spades.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

As you’d expect, all of the Android apps are here as well, including a light app for editing movies you’ve taken with the built-in camera, the Google Music app for syncing music to the cloud, a built-in Maps app that includes turn-by-turn navigation, and Google email, web browser and calendar apps.

One interesting addition has to do with the Lenovo app store, called App Shop. This cluttered app store pales in comparison to the Android Market. We searched for any pinball game and found none listed. Worse, the screenshots that show up on the main screen were stretched as though the app store was designed for a thinner tablet. When we searched for a PDF reader, the store only had two suggestions – one was the free Adobe reader.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

There’s also an AppVerse feature within Lenovo’s App Shop, which is designed to help you find the best apps. This enables you to browse through the popular apps suggested by other users. The section works like Twitter – you can follow other users and they can follow you. The main problem at the moment, though, is that there just weren’t enough users actively making app suggestions to make this feature useful.

Screen


Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

The summary so far is that the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet does offer some extra IT services, there are some good bundled apps, and the Lenovo app store isn’t really worth the effort. But what about the screen? A tablet lives or dies on the quality, brightness, and touch input of the screen.

Lenovo uses the same IPS technology on the Apple iPad 2 that makes the screen viewable at a sharp angle. That was helpful in a crowded coffee shop when trying to work with a laptop and the tablet at the same time – sitting on a table, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet screen was still viewable.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

The colour quality looked a bit dim, though, and the screen brightness isn’t anywhere near as luminescent as the iPad 2 or Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1’s.

In terms of gesturing, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is just average. We didn’t notice any serious problems – in a session with Angry Birds HD the screen registered our flicks and swipes with ease. Pressing on an app icon registered quickly and accurately.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

However, during several tests with the keyboard, we found the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet would occasionally miss a finger press. There’s no haptic feedback (a slight buzz that tells you your finger registered) but the keyboard does make a chime to register a finger press.

For pen input, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet works wonderfully well if that’s what you need to do. Modern tablets are designed for finger input, but there were times when we used the pen to annotate a document, write down notes and control the interface. The pen proved to be highly responsive.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

Using the Notes Mobile app, we wrote out a grocery list and found that the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet recorded these notes accurately as text.

In the SketchPad app, we drew a complex artistic drawing with the pen and were impressed with how accurate the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet registered every brush stroke and spray paint blob. We liked that Lenovo includes the pen not as a primary input device but as an extra option you can use when you need that functionality. There were no times when we felt dependent on the pen to control the tablet.

Usability

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet seems like a throwback device at times. The all-black design doesn’t help – it reminded us of a ThinkPad with the red mouse control nub from the early noughties. Lenovo meant for that to be a bit nostalgic we think, but the overall impression is that the design looks dated. The tablet felt a bit heavy and bulky, not exactly state-of-the-art thin and light like the Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 models.

We also found the buttons a bit superfluous. The buttons to the right of the screen are all repeated as software buttons, and our focus tended to stay on the screen. So we used the software home button more often, rarely used the hardware button for the web browser and never bothered locking the screen rotation, although that last one’s partly due to the fact that the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet rotates the screen correctly.

The ports tell a different story. We used the USB port with a USB flash drive throughout a day of testing, and snapped in an SD card from a Nikon D7000 camera several times.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

We also tested the mini-HDMI port with a 50-inch Sony HD TV, and were mightily impressed: the screen looked crisp and ran fast on the HD TV, and finger swipes were responsive, even with the mirroring.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

When we watched the movie Fast Five, playback looked a bit dim and had a poor, muddy contrast ratio, but at least the movie looked properly formatted and streamed fluidly from the mSpot app.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet lacks that pick-up-and-go aesthetic of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Apple iPad 2. There’s something about the extra thinness of those devices that makes you think they’re designed to grab quickly to look up a recipe in the kitchen or flick through a website.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet has a business-like aesthetic that’s designed more for a conference room than for quick YouTube sessions. It almost feels and looks like a small LCD from a Lenovo laptop, only at a 10 inch size.

Media


Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

By emphasising the business features on the ThinkPad Tablet, Lenovo has made some of the consumer features a little less compelling. There are no first party apps for renting movies, buying music, or serving up your photos to a secure image library. Instead, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet relies heavily on apps.

For example, the mSpot service is included for renting Hollywood movies. This app is actually quite useful, because it streams movies instead of forcing you to download them first. So, in our test of the movie Fast Five, the first chapter of the movie started playing immediately after we rented it. You can set the app to use a low bandwidth or high bandwidth mode, which determines the quality level.

At the high bandwidth setting, the movie looked similar in quality to a LoveFilm or BBC iPlayer stream. The low bandwidth setting made movies look almost unwatchable, with a soft jagged look to objects.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

For music, there are a few options available, but none of them match the tight infrastructure of iTunes. The main portal is the Amazon MP3 app, but there’s also a music purchase store from mSpot. If you have your own music, you can load files onto the tablet easily using a USB flash drive, connected over Wi-Fi, or from an SD card. When you do, you can use the Google Music app for playback and cloud storage.

From what we hear about the Amazon Kindle Fire, these features might all suddenly seem outdated and even archaic. The Kindle Fire enables you to store all media in the cloud for free, and that feature is baked right into the device – it will be seamless. That means every photo, movie, music file and document will be transferred automatically over to a cloud server from the Kindle Fire.

With the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, and every other Android tablet, cloud integration is app-specific.

We had no problems with media support – the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet worked fine with every music file we loaded, including several WAV and MP3 files. We also loaded several hundred JPG photos. The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet worked well in terms of playing these media files and formatting them for the screen.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet review

The one glitch we noticed appeared when we loaded Windows Media video files for the TV show The Killing. The videos would stutter and pause occasionally. We loaded the exact same files, which weren’t even HD quality, on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, and they played smoothly.

Camera

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

Let’s be clear about camera technology on tablets: it is not what it should be. Shots with the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet tended to look a tad blurry, with a washed-out look and lack of colour variance. In fact, comparing the photos to those taken with a handheld Samsung Galaxy S2 smartphone, there is quite a disparity.

In a pinch, when all you have available is the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet, the camera does work OK. But there were times when it was difficult to hold the tablet steady, and shots looked blurry.

Indoor shots looked less colourful than those taken outside on a bright sunny day. The problem isn’t particular to the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet – no modern tablet is really ideal for taking photos.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

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Lenovo thinkpad tablet

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Lenovo thinkpad tablet

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Lenovo thinkpad tablet

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Lenovo thinkpad tablet

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Lenovo thinkpad tablet

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In terms of videos, colour quality was also an issue, but there wasn’t as much of a problem with blurriness. In a scan of a back garden scene, the video looked clear enough and had some colour variance, but the movie wasn’t nearly as impressive as what you’ll find on any typical handheld pocket camera, and is definitely far worse than a dedicated video camera or the video mode on a DSLR.

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet offers a few extra scene modes than we’re used to on Android tablets. You can quickly press the scene button and select a setting for a beach, sunset, snow or even fireworks. There’s also a solarise setting, which casts your image in a pale silver outline. White balance settings for indoor shots or even on a cloudy day help to improve colour accuracy.

There are no scene settings for the video mode, though, other than using black-and-white, sepia or other colour modes. For video, it would have helped to have scene modes that improve shutter speed for recording at a sporting event or for low light conditions (say, a birthday party).

Verdict

Lenovo thinkpad tablet

We ended up liking what Lenovo has done to make its ThinkPad Tablet a more professional-grade tablet than some of the competition. IT folks can track the device and wipe data if it’s stolen, the back-up app from McAfee means not worrying about lost business documents. Help desk staff can push apps to the device, which isn’t something Samsung or Apple offer out of the box.

Overall, the design is a bit dated, which is odd for an Android tablet. It has a throwback look that seems more like a Lenovo laptop than a sleek, modern tablet. The device is a bit hefty and bulky for daily use, but if you are a mobile professional and need to run a Citrix client all day and tap into your ERP system, then the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet has you covered – and you might be willing to overlook the design issues.

That said, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is also a poor consumer choice. The AVI movies we tested stuttered and looked washed out, like looking through a steam-covered window.

There isn’t the same quick mobile movie session of competing tablets, and that’s a shame, because even for business use there are times when watching a movie on an aeroplane or at the hotel makes sense.

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet beats several other Android tablets, including the Acer Iconia Tab A500, the Toshiba AT100, the Motorola Xoom, and the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Each of those tablets also provide some extra ports, including one for USB connections, that make them more suited for a PC-centric tablet user, but are not exactly thin and light enough for mobile entertainment.

Yet, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet adds some extra business-oriented features. We loved the pen input for jotting down notes and drawing in pen-enabled apps. Other than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the iPad 2 and potentially the Kindle Fire, which is coming to the US soon, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is a good bet.

We liked

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet has extra business features for tracking the device in case it’s stolen or lost, pushing apps for a secure install and backing up your data.

The pen, which slips into a holder below the screen, is useful for making notes that are accurately converted into text, and for making original art sketches.

The eight-hour battery life is about what we’d expect from a 10-inch tablet – the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet lasted all day and them some for typical web browsing and email activities.

We disliked

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet felt bulky and heavy compared to thinner tablets on the market. The all-black design works well at the office, but not so much on a long plane ride or at a sporting event. Other sleeker and more modern-looking tablets point to a future age when most computing takes place on a thin device.

The camera, like the one included with most tablets, is just not that great. It’s hard to take really compelling photos and videos and want to keep them forever (aka, on Facebook). Some AVI videos played with stuttering that made the TV show unwatchable.

It’s unfortunate that not many apps actually support the annotation features – the pen didn’t work with Adobe Reader or Documents To Go. That means the pen is useful but not essential.

Final verdict

The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet is a smart option for those who need to use a tablet at work. It has an understated but somewhat bulky design that fits well with a full-size laptop.

Movies and other media are hit and miss, but mostly miss because of the less than colourful screen and choppy playback.

Our final conclusion is that this tablet is better than many other Android models, mostly because of the extra ports and the business apps, but the larger size and weight make it a runner-up to Apple and Samsung models.

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Review: Samsung RV520

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Review: Samsung RV520

Samsung RV520

The Samsung RV520 is a fantastic budget laptop with power and build quality that belies its meagre price tag. Anyone looking for something that can perform every day tasks with ease would do well to fork out for this portable.

As soon as you unbox the Samsung RV520, you get a feeling for the quality of the build. The silver and black lid is textured, and looks sleek and business-like, without being bland and boring. There’s little flex in the lid, and when you open it up, the smooth silver wrist rests and black isolated keyboard continue this quality look and feel.

Typing on the keyboard is comfortable, and the keys are well spaced, meaning that we were instantly able to start typing long documents without making regular mistakes. The track pad was smooth and precise, and while we’ve used better-quality mouse buttons, these are also well made.

Under the hood is a Sandy Bridge Intel Core i3 processor (clocked at 2.1GHz) that offers more than enough power for watching videos, playing rich web content such as web games, iPlayer and Flash web sites, as well as multitasking multiple applications. We’d recommend anyone to buy a Sandy Bridge machine and the Samsung RV520 shows that this doesn’t have to be expensive.

The reward is performance that will meet most home users’ expectations. In our lab tests of the processor and graphics, the results yielded exactly the performance we’d expect.

This laptop is faster than most budget machines and able to multi-task media, documents and web pages without problems. You won’t find much that will challenge the RV520, until you start editing pictures in Photoshop or editing your home movies, which would be slower than Intel Core i5-based machines.

Battery life was also strong, and the Samsung withstood our rigorous tests for 184 minutes, or around three hours. This is a good result, and if your day consists of just checking emails and surfing the web, you can expect it to last even longer.

Samsung has also included 6GB of RAM in the RV520, which, again, is significantly more than on most budget laptops, and means your applications will load faster, and your whole system will feel more responsive. We noticed fast resuming from sleep and quick loading of large applications, which is all down to that extra memory.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 184 minutes
Cinebench: 7634
3DMark 2007: 4064

Storage has also been given a big boost in the RV520, and there’s a whopping 750GB hard drive with tons of room for movies, music, photos and more. This is a lot more storage than we’d expect to find on a laptop in this price band and is another reason why this Samsung offers great value for money.

On reflection The 15.6-inch screen is one of the most reflective panels that we’ve seen on a laptop, and using the RV520 in our bright office was almost impossible. If you’re a mobile worker, or have your laptop positioned near big windows, it would be advisable to think twice before purchasing.

The Samsung played HD movies without any problems, but it was here that the screen let the side down again. The problem is that, while the picture was clear and pin sharp, the colours were flat and devoid of vibrancy. While playing our HD videos was technically not a problem for the Samsung RV520, we wouldn’t recommend this as a laptop for movie lovers.

Interestingly, the Samsung was equipped with some built-in software, which recognised when a movie was being played and enhanced the display to ‘Movie Colour Mode.’ This didn’t help the problem, though and looks like an admission from Samsung that colour vibrancy is an issue on this model.

The Samsung weighs 2.7kg, which means it’s easily carried in a bag, but people who spend their life flitting from place to place will want something lighter, and the RV520 is definitely not ultra-portable.

The Samsung RV520 is a fantastic budget laptop that can handle home computing and business tasks with ease. The Sandy Bridge processor provides enough power to enjoy media, pictures and music and the keyboard and build quality are good enough to work comfortably on.

It’s not brilliant for movies, and anyone looking to get creative will come up short against the low-end Intel Core i3 processor, but for most consumers, this is a highly recommended purchase.

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Review: Acer Aspire 5742Z

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Review: Acer Aspire 5742Z

Acer is one of the most prolific manufacturers we know, producing everything from huge multimedia powerhouses such as the Aspire Ethos 8951G to stripped-down budget models. The Aspire 5742Z is one of the latter, and another strong entry-level contender.

At this price range, you won’t be getting the latest technology and performance will be limited. However, the 5742Z features an Intel Pentium P6200 processor backed up by a staggering 6GB of memory, much more than we usually see at this price. Only the MSI CR620 and Asus K52F performed better in our tests.

We managed to write this review, stream music over the internet and back up our files all at once, with no slowdown at all. Applications started up quickly and ran smoothly.

However, you only get basic integrated graphics to keep the price low. This means that you’re limited in what you can do with your media. Browsing your photo collection and touching up images with basic editing tools are perfectly possible, and we were impressed that high-definition movies played smoothly. However, don’t expect to be able to edit videos or play anything but basic or elderly games.

Optical drive

Acer aspire 5742z review

You can watch DVDs thanks to the built-in optical drive, although the 5742z’s speakers are far too quiet for enjoying music or movies. We recommend you attach an external pair.

Thankfully, the 15.6-inch screen is fine for enjoying films, with sharp contrast and rich colours. If you want to work on a larger display, VGA and HDMI ports can be used to hook up an external television or monitor.

Of course, you probably want a laptop for work as well as play, right? The Acer is a great option in this respect too, thanks to the firmly constructed keyboard which stretches the full width of the interior. Some may find the perfectly flat keys a little awkward at first if they’re used to bevelled keys, which feature slanted edges.

However, the keys are well sized, with the exception of the arrow keys which are flattened into a single row. You also have a separate numeric keypad to the right. The rest of the laptop is well constructed, although the palmrests do flex when you push on them.

The lid is solid enough to protect the screen against any knocks. We weren’t huge fans of the plain black design, but it doesn’t look particularly bad. The 5742Z simply won’t be winning any beauty awards.

At 2.3kg, it’s a lightweight laptop and would suit the regular commuter. The slim 35mm body slips easily into a bag or rucksack big enough to hold a 15.6-inch laptop, but make sure you pack the charger too.

The battery died before we finished a two-hour film and only lasts half an hour longer if you limit your use to basic office software.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 113 minutes
Cinebench: 5661
3DMark 2006: 1703

Still, at least you can carry your entire media collection if you take to the road, thanks to the generous 640GB hard drive. This is the largest amount of storage offered by any laptop here, and something we would expect from more expensive mid-range models.

The Aspire 5742Z offers strong value for money, although the poor battery life is a shame. If you want a highly portable laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad S205 may be more suitable.

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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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