Review: Asus U36J

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Review: Asus U36J

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

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

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

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

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

Staying power

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

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

tech labs

TechRadar Labs

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: 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: Zoostorm 3390-2012/A

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Review: Zoostorm 3390-2012/A

The Zoostorm 3390-2012/A is a good looking laptop, with a subtly lined black and grey chassis. While it’s certainly not the thinnest laptop we’ve seen – the new MacBook Air can sleep easy in that department – it’s not bulky either, and it’s perfectly easy to carry around.

The laptop’s chassis does feel slightly cheap and brittle, lacking the sturdiness of the Sony VAIO S Series VPCSB1V9E’s build quality.

As we’ve seen with other laptops, the inclusion of Intel’s second-generation Core i3, i5 and i7 processors gives them a big power advantage. The Zoostorm is no exception, and the model we tested comes with an Intel Core i3-2310 2.10GHz processor.

Backed up by 4GB of DDR3 RAM, this makes the Zoostorm 3390-2012/A a fast and responsive laptop that’s excellent at multitasking. Boosting performance even further is the inclusion of a solid state drive that drastically cuts down the time it takes for the laptop to boot into Windows 7.

Microsoft has designed its OS to take advantage of SSD technology, and this is evident in its sheer speed. The technology comes at a premium though, and the model we reviewed – which costs £479 – comes with only 64GB of storage. With Windows 7 Home Premium and the default programs installed there’s only 34GB of hard drive space left. If you need more then you’ll need to either use an external hard drive or opt for the 128GB model, which costs £549.

The only area where the Zoostorm 3390-2012/A is let down by its hardware is in the graphics department. Whilst the onboard graphics that come with second Intel Core processors is perfectly capable, it can’t compete with laptops that have dedicated GPUs. The Zoostorm’s 3DMark score was 7,564, compared with the Sony VAIO S Series’ 12,230.

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Review: Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition

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Review: Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition

Overview

Memory maestro Patriot has launched the Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition DDR3 4GB RAM kit specifically aimed at the AMD crowd. With the launch of AMD’s new Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), Llano, RAM is a vital performance component again.

Since the launch of Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, there has been a whole raft of memory modules launched claiming to be the ideal support for the new chipset. Indeed, Kingston’s HyperX Plug n Play claimed the same thing, but with, it has to said, a lot more justification than most.

Well now it’s the turn of the thorn in Intel’s side, AMD, to get some memory attention. It’s been a long time coming.

OK, compared to some of the blazingly fast modules that have been launched to support the Sandy Bridge platform, Patriot’s Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) PC3-12800 kit may seem, well, a bit conservative to say the least. At just 1600MHz, it’s a little slow.

But even so, it does make a nice change to see a company giving some component love to AMD. Even if – marketing spiel aside – the memory will work in any modern motherboard, be it made by AMD or Intel.

Benchmarks

Patriot gamer 2 amd black edition

We tested all the Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition memory in an Asus F1A75-V Pro motherboard using an AMD A6-3650 APU.

Once we finished testing at stock speeds, we gave it a tweak but just using its stock 1.65V voltage setting. A quick adjustment to the bus speed got us to the next step up – 1866MHz. While the system booted up Windows perfectly and ran SiSoft Sandra’s memory bandwidth benchmark without a problem, when we tried to run World in Conflict there were all sorts of issues with the game freezing.

Eventually we got it to boot and run both benchmarks without any problems at 1840MHz, which is still a pretty impressive boost over the stock speeds, especially without having to tinker with any voltages.

Patriot g2 amd black ed benches

Verdict

Patriot gamer 2 amd black edition

It’s been a long time coming but the Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition and others suggest we should now see AMD platforms getting some dedicated love from memory manufacturers.

That’s mainly thanks to the new Llano platform, with its strong memory performance, and AMD’s 990FX chipset and Bulldozer combo. It’s been a very long time since AMD had a strong enough offering to entice manufacturers into putting its badge on their products.

Hopefully these new platforms will see the end of one of AMD’s annoying platform traits when it comes to overclocking – they used to be quite fussy when it came to memory running at high speeds. So the prospect of getting ultra-fast memory kits designed for AMD platforms is an interesting one.

We liked


You wouldn’t class Patriot’s Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition RAM as a world-beater, especially at its stock 1600MHz speed. That said, it has bags of potential – as we found out during testing.

Thanks to its fairly relaxed 9-9-9-24 latency settings it does overclock very nicely, even at the 1.65V stock voltage. Even though it will reach the next step up from 1600MHz – 1866MHz – we couldn’t get it to run stably while playing the game World in Conflict.

We also liked the fact that the modules are low profile. You may be wondering why that’s of any importance. Well, wait until you get a large third-party CPU cooler, which usually make the first memory slot redundant. Normally it’s impossible to get a stick of memory into the slot because of these coolers, but with the Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition module you stand a fighting chance of actually using the slot.

We disliked


There’s not much to dislike about the Patriot’s Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition. It does what it says on the tin and shows some good overclocking potential. Its stock speed out of the box is a little conservative, however.

Final verdict

It may not be the fastest memory out of the box but it does show plenty of potential for the current Llano platform and the upcoming Bulldozer technology.

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Review: Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition

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Review: Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition

Overview

Memory maestro Patriot has launched the Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition DDR3 4GB RAM kit specifically aimed at the AMD crowd. With the launch of AMD’s new Accelerated Processing Unit (APU), Llano, RAM is a vital performance component again.

Since the launch of Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture, there has been a whole raft of memory modules launched claiming to be the ideal support for the new chipset. Indeed, Kingston’s HyperX Plug n Play claimed the same thing, but with, it has to said, a lot more justification than most.

Well now it’s the turn of the thorn in Intel’s side, AMD, to get some memory attention. It’s been a long time coming.

OK, compared to some of the blazingly fast modules that have been launched to support the Sandy Bridge platform, Patriot’s Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) PC3-12800 kit may seem, well, a bit conservative to say the least. At just 1600MHz, it’s a little slow.

But even so, it does make a nice change to see a company giving some component love to AMD. Even if – marketing spiel aside – the memory will work in any modern motherboard, be it made by AMD or Intel.

Benchmarks

Patriot gamer 2 amd black edition

We tested all the Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition memory in an Asus F1A75-V Pro motherboard using an AMD A6-3650 APU.

Once we finished testing at stock speeds, we gave it a tweak but just using its stock 1.65V voltage setting. A quick adjustment to the bus speed got us to the next step up – 1866MHz. While the system booted up Windows perfectly and ran SiSoft Sandra’s memory bandwidth benchmark without a problem, when we tried to run World in Conflict there were all sorts of issues with the game freezing.

Eventually we got it to boot and run both benchmarks without any problems at 1840MHz, which is still a pretty impressive boost over the stock speeds, especially without having to tinker with any voltages.

Patriot g2 amd black ed benches

Verdict

Patriot gamer 2 amd black edition

It’s been a long time coming but the Patriot Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition and others suggest we should now see AMD platforms getting some dedicated love from memory manufacturers.

That’s mainly thanks to the new Llano platform, with its strong memory performance, and AMD’s 990FX chipset and Bulldozer combo. It’s been a very long time since AMD had a strong enough offering to entice manufacturers into putting its badge on their products.

Hopefully these new platforms will see the end of one of AMD’s annoying platform traits when it comes to overclocking – they used to be quite fussy when it came to memory running at high speeds. So the prospect of getting ultra-fast memory kits designed for AMD platforms is an interesting one.

We liked


You wouldn’t class Patriot’s Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition RAM as a world-beater, especially at its stock 1600MHz speed. That said, it has bags of potential – as we found out during testing.

Thanks to its fairly relaxed 9-9-9-24 latency settings it does overclock very nicely, even at the 1.65V stock voltage. Even though it will reach the next step up from 1600MHz – 1866MHz – we couldn’t get it to run stably while playing the game World in Conflict.

We also liked the fact that the modules are low profile. You may be wondering why that’s of any importance. Well, wait until you get a large third-party CPU cooler, which usually make the first memory slot redundant. Normally it’s impossible to get a stick of memory into the slot because of these coolers, but with the Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition module you stand a fighting chance of actually using the slot.

We disliked


There’s not much to dislike about the Patriot’s Gamer 2 AMD Black Edition. It does what it says on the tin and shows some good overclocking potential. Its stock speed out of the box is a little conservative, however.

Final verdict

It may not be the fastest memory out of the box but it does show plenty of potential for the current Llano platform and the upcoming Bulldozer technology.

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Review: Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7

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Review: Asus Automobili Lamborghini VX7

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

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

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

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

Asus lamborghini vx7

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

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

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

Cool running

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

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

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Asus Eee PC 1008P Karim Rashid

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Review: Asus Eee PC 1008P Karim Rashid

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conventional power

Asus eee pc 1008p karim rashid

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

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

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E520

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Lenovo’s ThinkPad range is traditionally aimed at business users, but has recently taken a more consumer-friendly turn, with less imposing builds and price tags. The ThinkPad Edge E520 is one of the more powerful laptops in the range and can keep you entertained on the move as well as at home.

The excellent performance is down to the latest Intel Sandy Bridge technology. This means you can do almost anything on this laptop, with incredibly fast response rates. Even complex editing software opens in seconds and happily runs alongside web browsers, media players and other applications. You won’t need to replace this laptop for a long time.

This laptop also scored high in our graphical tests, beaten only narrowly by the Acer Aspire 5750G. We tested out some recent games and found they ran smoothly, although we occasionally had to turn down detail levels.

You can also check out and play around with your photos or home movies. Of course, if you’d rather relax with a film, the Lenovo won’t let you down. High-definition (HD) films play perfectly and look good on the 15.6-inch widescreen display.

However, while many other laptops use Super-TFT screens, which use a glossy surface layer to produce richer colours, the Lenovo has a matt TFT display. Images aren’t quite as vibrant as a result but, on the flipside, the screen isn’t reflective, so you can use the laptop outside.

If you do want a portable to keep you entertained out of the home, this laptop has a lot going for it. Firstly, while the Toshiba Satellite L730-10G is a fair bit lighter, the Lenovo’s solid frame weighs just 2.5kg. We comfortably carried it around all day in a backpack.

Even better, we were able to watch an entire three-hour movie before the battery died, and lighter use will prolong the battery life by almost two hours.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 183 minutes
Cinebench: 9431
3DMark 2006: 7167

An isolation-style keyboard is in place. It’s one of our favourites with firmly set keys that are very comfortable to type on. A separate numeric keypad is included, along with various shortcuts – you can lock the laptop, search your files or bring up the calculator with a press of a button.

Our only complaint is that the Left Ctrl and the Function keys have been swapped around. This won’t bother most people, but anyone who uses Windows shortcuts will be constantly frustrated when they hit the Function key by mistake.

Love or hate?

Lenovo thinkpad edge e520 review

The touchpad covers a wide area and you get the trademark nipple in the centre of the keyboard, which can also be used to move the on-screen cursor. We can’t stand the thing, but we’re sure that some people out there might prefer it.

Features are comprehensive, from the 500GB of storage to the eSATA port which can be used to transfer data at high speeds with external hard drives. There’s also an ExpressCard slot for expanding the laptop’s potential, but most people will never use it.

The ThinkPad Edge E520 is a mobile machine that’s as good for work as it is for entertainment. If you need something to keep you busy on the move, this is one of the best laptops here.

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Review: Toshiba Satellite L730

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This 13.3-inch entertainment laptop is perfect for staving off boredom on the move. The Satellite L730-10G lacks graphical punch, but the compact display is a highlight, while the lightweight body and decent battery life ensure you’ll be entertained wherever you roam.

Despite its smaller screen, the Satellite L730-10G still features a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. The result is a much sharper picture, so images look crisp and clean. It’s also a bright and vibrant panel, making this one of the best displays for movie watching.

We enjoyed simply browsing our photo collection and watching films, although the integrated speakers are lacking in power. We recommend you invest in some decent headphones.

Most recent laptops use Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge processing technology, but this portable is powered by one of Intel’s older Core i3 processors. However, the difference in our benchmarking tests was minimal. If you love to multitask, browsing the web at the same time as you watch a film and chat with friends using messenger applications, then the Samsung can handle it.

Even with a paltry 2GB of memory on board, we witnessed little slowdown while running several tasks at once.

Weak graphics

However, the integrated graphics are quite weak. This means that you can only run the most basic multimedia tasks such as viewing and editing photos, and watching high-definition (HD) films. If you want to mess around with your home movies or play games, you should look at the Acer Aspire 5750G and Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E520.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 173 minutes
Cinebench: 7632
3DMark 2006: 1502

The 320GB hard drive provides a standard amount of storage space to carry around your files and media collection. It can hold hundreds of standard-definition films or thousands of albums and photos.

However, some other laptops offer double the space for a similar amount of you hard earned cash. If you need a laptop for the whole family, a larger hard drive is recommended. However, if you need a mobile machine for carrying around all day, the Satellite is a great solution.

With a weight of just 1.9kg, it is technically classed as an ultraportable laptop. Not only is it the lightest machine here, the battery life is also commendable. We watched movies for almost three hours before the laptop shut itself down, and limiting yourself to more basic entertainment such as browsing the web gives you many hours of life.You certainly won’t need to lug the charger around on the daily commute.

Toshiba l730

The more compact body means that features are a little stingy compared to some of the other laptops here. If you want to hook up a television, you’ll have to make do with a VGA connection, as there’s no HDMI port.

There’s also no memory card reader. However, one of the three USB ports supports sleep-and-charge technology, which means you can charge your mobile devices such as MP3 players even when the laptop is in hibernation.

You also get built-in hard drive protection, which pauses the drive if vibrations are detected. This reduces the risk of hard drive failure, which could result in lost files.

While the Toshiba may lack graphical power and lots of storage, it’s still a good entertainment machine for regular travellers. The sharp and colourful screen is a good way of enjoying movies, while the reduced weight and decent battery life make it an excellent travel companion.

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