NVIDIA Tegra 3 gets boost with LTE Support, 30 Devices this year

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In the middle of 2011, NVIDIA?acquired a small company by the name of Icera, a maker of baseband and RF?technologies that would eventually allow the company to integrate the two into a single chip. ?As LTE-capable devices from Verizon, AT&T?and even Sprint have been announced and ship, no NVIDIA?Tegra-powered phone or tablet has been able to support the feature with the lone exception of the ZTE?Mimosa X in February of this year. ?


Today NVIDIA?officially announced support and validation from AT&T?on their new and growing LTE?network for the Icera 410 LTE?multimode chipset.? This will finally allow Tegra +?LTE?devices to be sold and available in the US and other markets when product manufacturers integrate the two processors in future designs.

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As to when we will see those designs, we aren’t quite sure but nothing was announced during the NVIDIA?investors day today.? All we know now is that they will be coming “through this year and next.”

“Validation with AT&T is an achievement that paves the way for NVIDIA Icera-powered LTE devices on the AT&T network through this year and next,” said Stan Boland, senior vice president of Mobile Communications at NVIDIA.
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The NVIDIA Icera 410 LTE modem delivers lightning-fast web browsing, video streaming and multiplayer gaming to tablets and clamshell devices. It is the first Icera modem to implement 4G LTE in NVIDIA’s software defined radio baseband processor. Together with its multimode radio transceiver, the chipset offers 4G LTE at category 2 data rates (up to 50 Mbps) as well as 4G HSPA+, 3G and 2G compatibility.


What we DID?learn at the NVIDIA?investors meeting is that Mike Rayfield, GM?of Tegra business unit, things we’ll see as many as 30 Tegra 3 based devices for sale this year. ?

NVIDIA has 30 devices planned for the year. So far, we’ve seen just two. Of those 30 devices, some 15 will be planned for sub-$200 pricing. That’s certainly the sweet spot for impulse purchases.


NVIDIA’s also looking to make inroads into the Chinese market, with 18 of those 30 tablets targeted for the Asian nation. By comparison, NVIDIA only released five devices in China in 2011, Rayfield said.


The big name to know for the rest of the year is Kai. That’s the low-cost, high-performance system that NVIDIA is crowing about these days, and it’s what will help bring prices down while keeping prices at a more affordable level. Will there be higher-performing tablets? Sure. But will they be $200?


Producing a number of devices, like 30, is impressive but without context the fact means very little.? How many of these devices are going to tablets and how many are phones???How many will be running the Microsoft Win RT operating system for ARM?due out in fall???


Speaking of Icera though, NVIDIA?also showed the roadmap for LTE?integration including the upcoming Icera i500 LTE?controller for high-end phones and tablets with newly planned integration directly on the Tegra core in a new chip called “Grey”.? This new processor will run parallel with the planned 2013 release of “Wayne” though it will be targeted at smartphones and lower end tablets; Wayne is planned to find its way into higher end tablets and the onslaught of clamshells we’ll see with Windows RT.

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There is a lot more to learn and we expect see more news come our way as we approach Computex in Taipei!

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Windows 8 Metro browser will have some Flash support

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Windows 8 Metro browser will have some Flash support | PC Perspective PC Perspective PCPER WEB HomeReviewsNewsForumsPodcastHW LeaderboardSSD Decoder Graphics CardsMotherboardsCases/CoolingProcessorsChipsetsMemoryDisplaysSystemsStorageMobileShows/Expos Username: * Password: * Register | Password Reminder Home ? News Windows 8 Metro browser will have some Flash support Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | May 23, 2012 – 10:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: WOA, windows 8, flash

Microsoft has backed down, to some extent, from their “plug-in free; web standards only” position for the Metro-half of IE10. Some, but not all, Flash content will be able to play in the Metro browser. This change should be included in the Windows 8 Release Preview expected to be released in early June.


You may turn your back on Adobe but you’ll be back in a Flash.


Rafael Rivera has published a post on his Within Windows blog which he co-authored with Paul Thurrott about Flash integration with the Metro web browser. Until recently Microsoft was passionately against anything other than web standards in their Metro browser. Plugins are still not allowed in the application but that does not exclude Microsoft from embedding Flash into the browser directly.

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I guess Silverlight is not popular enough…

(screenshot credit:?Within Windows)


Adobe actively supports Microsoft’s efforts and has provided the source code to facilitate the integration into Metro Internet Explorer 10.


Security will rest somewhat on Microsoft’s ability to patch their software in time but will also be supported by a whitelist system. Flash for Internet Explorer 10 will only be supported on certain websites in certain ways. Unless your website is listed as requiring Flash for compatibility reasons then your website will not have access to the platform.


I am not really sure whether there is a cut or dry answer to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. The only thing I can say for certain is that Microsoft gives the impression that they had a strong and clear vision for Windows 8 and since completely abandoned their plan.


It follows the rumors of what happened to Vista: a bunch of years working on a secure memory management architecture that was scrapped at the last minute requiring over half of the OS to be rewritten in C++.


We all know how great that turned out.

Source: Within Windows Comments Post a comment May 24, 2012 | 12:45 AM – Posted by Darkwing Duck (not verified)

Microsoft should just buy Adobe – Problem solved and full integration. It would give us a reason to upgrade from windows 7 if paint was replaced by Photoshop lite, whereas windows 7 is on the track to be the next XP. If you want everyone to upgrade, create a crappy version of windows (Vista) and then follow it with something good. Instead of the tick-tock cycle of Intel, it could be the crap-good cycle of Microsoft.

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Acer TravelMate 8481T

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 Acer TravelMate 8481T

When it comes to battery life, Acer’s TravelMate 8481T is the laptop to beat. It’s not all that surprising when you see the battery protruding from the back of the chassis, practically doubling the breadth of the machine.

But, if you need to pack the TravelMate away, simply unclip the battery and it shrinks from 41mm thick to only 24mm. Our battery benchmark test – supplemented with looped high-def video – took 326 minutes to run down the TravelMate, so we’d expect that this machine would get you through a mains-free eight hour day with standard use.

Apart from the battery, there are other features that mark this laptop out as a travel device. Its 14-inch screen dispenses with Super-TFT reflective coating, instead opting for a matt-TFT finish. This means that, while movies and pictures won’t look as colourful or vibrant, the TravelMate can be used in bright environments – like airports or train carriages without annoying glare being reflected on the screen.

Even with the screen brightness set to maximum, the display is noticeably darker than other laptops. This is an extra way to maximise battery performance, as the biggest drain on any laptop’s power supply is keeping the screen bright.

There’s also a fingerprint scanner nestled between the click buttons below the touchpad, lending saved documents an extra layer of security.

Boasting Acer’s favoured raised keyboard, typing is also comfortable, thanks to a decent amount of travel, but not without some serious flex. Because the battery protrudes the way it does, you’re typing at a raised angle, much more comfortable than on a traditional flat laptop.

While we might be tempted to lump the TravelMate in with the Port

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Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U

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 Toshiba Satellite Z830-10U

Overview

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

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

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

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

Toshiba satellite z830-10u review

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

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

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

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

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Corsair Vengeance Racing Red 16GB

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 Corsair Vengeance Racing Red 16GB

Not only is a new extreme/enthusiast Intel platform a boon for motherboard manufacturers, it’s also very good news for the memory manufacturers. It’s been a long time since the memory guys had any good news, so the fact that the X79 platform comes with a special quad-channel memory configuration is great. Isn’t it?

Corsair thinks so, and has released a new lineup of RAM modules set up for the platform. The latest range of quad-channel Vengeance kits are rated at 1,866MHz out of the box, with full XMP 1.3 compliance built in.

Like the G.Skill RipJawsZ kit, the XMP 1.3 makes for a slightly tighter integration of the use of memory profiling to make setting clockspeeds, latencies and voltages correctly for any supporting motherboard.

Memory matters

The difficulty for companies such as Corsair is that these days, memory actually makes little difference at the top end. The performance difference between a decent 1,600MHz kit and a pacier 1,866MHz bumper pack is small, especially at this thick end of the memory capacity wedge.

With 16GB of DDR3 jammed into your machine, whether it’s running at 1,600MHz or 1,866MHz, it’s going to be going like a greased weasel down a slide. The difference in gaming is negligible – for example, there was just one frame in it with our World in Conflict benchmark, which can easily be put down to simple testing variance.

More immediately obvious is the difference in actual memory bandwidth. The Corsair Vengeance Racing Red kit manages a whopping 42GB/s against the 1,600MHz G.Skill kit’s 38GB/s. Even at the lowest ebb, you’re still getting great numbers.

In overclocking terms, the Corsair kit was rock-solid at its rated frequency in our Sandy Bridge E tests, easily getting up to the same 4.8GHz overclock that the G.Skill kit managed. Neither kit will bat above its rated speeds though. As hard as we tried, we couldn’t push the Vengeance Racing Red modules up to the next point, 2,133MHz. But really that’s just willy-waving. Such speeds don’t give you a huge amount of extra real-world performance for your money.

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Video encoding performance
X264 v4.0: FPS: Higher is better
Corsair Vengeance: 55
G.Skill RipJaws-Z: 55

Memory bandwidth
SiSoft Sandra: GB/S: Higher is better
Corsair Vengeance: 42
G.Skill RipJaws-Z: 38

Gaming performance
WiC: FPS: Higher is better
Corsair Vengeance: 112
G.Skill RipJaws-Z: 111

And therein lies the rub. This Corsair kit is on the market for around £133 at the time of writing, whereas the slightly slower G.Skill kit can be picked up for less than a ton. Is the extra performance really going to be worth the cash you’re stumping up for the extra clockspeed?

As a gamer, the answer will most likely be no. Realistically for us PC gaming folk, even the G.Skill kit is probably overkill, and speeding up those modules won’t give you much extra either.

For Photoshop obsessives and video manipulation junkies, £133 for 16GB of superfast DDR3 probably isn’t a bad deal. But that’s a bit of a niche market for such an enthusiast product. None of that can take away from the fact that these Corsair modules run perfectly at their rated specs, happily keeping the system ticking over during all the overclocking.

But as we’ve said, it’s a niche product. Most of us wont need the heights of this kit, though the same could easily be said of the whole Sandy Bridge E platform. So, in for a penny and all that…

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Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

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 Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime

Overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Features and interface

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Features

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Interface

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

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Market and apps

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Android Market and Apps

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

Office

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

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

Screen

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Screen

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

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

Usability

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Usability

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

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

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

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

Battery life

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

Media

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Media

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

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

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

Camera

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

Camera

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

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

Taken with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime…

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Taken with the Apple iPad 2

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Taken with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1…

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

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

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

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Asus eee pad transformer prime reviewSee full-res image

Video

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

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict

Asus eee pad transformer prime review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We liked

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

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

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

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

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

We disliked

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final verdict

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Samsung Series 3

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 Samsung Series 3

Overview

Hot on the heels of Samsung’s Series 7 and Series 9 laptops comes the more budget-friendly Samsung Series 3 NP305V5AI.

This AMD-powered portable PC uses less powerful components than its older siblings, but comes in at half the cost too, making it better suited to families and users with more basic needs.

After reviewing a long line of black and silver laptops, the Samsung Series 3 was immediately refreshing, with its friendly blue design. This colourful metallic finish covers the lid and the keyboard, with a white interior giving it a fresh appearance.

Anyone with small children will be relieved to hear it’s solidly built too, so can withstand a bashing by tiny fists. The Samsung Series 3 laptop’s palm rests are firm, and we only noticed a little flex around the DVD drive. The screen is held firm by some strong hinges, while the lid itself is rigid enough to absorb any bumps, to protect the display.

Samsung series 3 review

As usual, the laptop’s isolation-style keyboard is comfortable for all-day typing. Keys are firmly mounted and spaced apart to prevent typos, and none of them are particularly crushed – even the arrow keys are given generous space, instead of being crammed into a single row.

Spreadsheet lovers rejoice – the Samsung Series 3 laptop also has a numeric keypad for those sweaty number crunching sessions.

We did find the very centre of the board a little spongy, but while this cheapens the feel of the overall quality, it doesn’t impair your typing in any way.

The touchpad is similarly well-endowed, covering the full width of the palm rests. The smooth surface is responsive, and supports multi-touch gesturing for zooming in and out of photos and documents. If you rub your finger up and down the right-hand edge, you can also scroll through files.

At 2.5kg, the Samsung Series 3 is fairly average for a 15.6-inch laptop, proving light enough to throw in a backpack and carry around all day.

Specifications and performance

Specifications

Samsung series 3 review

If you’re constantly on the move and want a portable computer to keep you entertained or productive, the Samsung Series 3 is a great option. One massively useful feature is the matt 15.6-inch screen, which lacks the shiny gloss coating of many modern laptops. This might not seem like a big deal, but the difference when you’re outside is impressive.

While glossy Super-TFT displays are a massive pain to use outside, reflecting light straight back into your eyes, the Samsung Series 3’s screen is almost completely non-reflective. You can work on it even in hideously bright conditions.

This is also helped by the brightness levels of the display. Turned to maximum, the panel is comfortable to use even for extended periods. It’s vibrant enough to bring your photos and movies to life, although viewing angles are a little tight.

Cinephiles can enjoy HD movies on this PC laptop, with 1080p videos playing perfectly. Of course the 1366 x 768p resolution doesn’t produce the sharpest visuals, but we didn’t notice any grainy-looking images.

However, the Samsung Series 3’s built-in speakers are typically rubbish, lacking any real oomph. A gunfight in The Dark Knight sounded more like a barrel of damp firecrackers going off.

We love carrying our entire media collection with us wherever we roam, and the Samsung Series 3’s dual hard drives don’t disappoint. You get 750GB of storage – enough for hundreds of HD movies and hundreds of thousands of music albums. It’s definitely a generous amount, considering the relatively low cost of this laptop.

Features are a little slim on the ground, but you get three USB ports for hooking up your own peripherals, and both VGA and HDMI options for attaching an external monitor. Built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi means you can hook up to the internet.

Performance

Samsung series 3 review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

Cinebench 10: 7,198
3D Mark ’06: 5,330
Battery Eater ’05: 136 mins

The Samsung Series 3 laptop slashes its price by using budget components, compared to the Sandy Bridge-powered Series 7. This laptop features an AMD A6-3410MX quad-core processor, running at 1.6GHz, backed up by 6GB of RAM.

Our Cinebench tests confirmed that the Samsung Series 3 isn’t much of a performance heavyweight. You can happily browse the web, tinker with word processing documents and enjoy your media, all at the same time, but anything more strenuous causes the odd stutter.

This will suit most families fine, but don’t expect a laptop that’ll last you for years to come.

The Samsung Series 3’s AMD chipset also handles graphics, and the integrated AMD Radeon HD 6480G GPU is surprisingly capable. Our 3D Mark score was comparable with many low-end dedicated graphics cards, and the Samsung Series 3 laptop can comfortably run older games.

New releases will struggle, however, so gamers should look to up their budget to find a computer with dedicated graphics.

On the other hand, if all you want to do is edit your photos and movies, and watch the occasional HD film, the Samsung Series 3 is a dependable laptop.

If you’re strapped for cash but want a more powerful machine, we’d recommend the Acer Aspire 5750G, which comes kitted out with Sandy Bridge processors. Not only that, it costs roughly the same as the Samsung Series 3.

Sadly, the battery life is less impressive. We were hoping for over three hours of life from a charge, as we got with the Samsung Series 7, but the Samsung Series 3 died after just 136 minutes of playing HD video on loop. This is below average for budget laptops like this, and means you’ll have to drag the adapter with you on longer journeys.

Limit yourself to less intensive activities, such as office software and web browsing, and you’ll eek out three hours. It’s still unimpressive, and definitely disappointing.

On a more positive note, the Samsung Series 3 is a quiet machine. And we didn’t notice any hotspots during use – keep the vents clear and it stays reassuringly cool.

Verdict

Samsung series 3 review

The Samsung Series 3 is a cut-price laptop that banks on the latest AMD quad-core technology, but does it set itself apart from the budget laptop hordes?

We liked

The Samsung Series 3 NP305V5AI’s design is appealing, considering so many laptops at this price point feature a dull black or silver finish. The metallic blue lid and keyboard stand out among its peers, and the Samsung Series 3 is solid enough to survive a reasonable amount of abuse.

Just as colourful is the 15.6-inch widescreen panel. It’s also comfortably bright and shuns a glossy coating, making it perfect for working outdoors.

The keyboard is comfortable to work on all day, or if you’d rather kick back with a film, the Samsung Series 3 plays HD films smoothly.

The integrated AMD graphics are surprisingly capable, and while you can’t play recent games, you can certainly waste hours on older or more basic titles.

Video editing is also perfectly possible.

Finally, you can carry a sizeable media collection, thanks to the 750GB of internal storage.

We disliked

However, the AMD processor is still highly limiting, and will quickly become out of date. This isn’t uncommon for a budget machine, but the likes of the Acer Aspire 5750G offers Intel Sandy Bridge performance for the same price.

We were also massively disappointed by the Samsung Series 3’s battery life, which barely lasts long enough for a two-hour film. If you suffer a long commute like us, you’ll need to carry your charger and power it up at work.

Final verdict

By cutting down the specs of the Series 7 laptop, Samsung has produced a more pocket-friendly laptop that should appeal to families and anyone looking for dependable budget performance.

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HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea

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 HP Pavilion dm1-4027ea

Overview

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

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

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

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

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

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

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

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

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

Specifications

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

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

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

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

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

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

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

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

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

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

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

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

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

Performance

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

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

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

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

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

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

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

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

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

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

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

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

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

Verdict

HP pavilion dm1-4027ea review

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

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

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

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

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

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

We liked

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

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

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

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

Even with the smaller keyboard, typing is comfortable.

We disliked

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

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

Final verdict

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

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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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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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