Some Useful Softwares Help You With Your Laptop Battery

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Some Useful Softwares Help You With Your Laptop Battery

The laptop battery is a important part of our laptop. Without it, our laptop can’t work normally. So we should take good care of it. However, there are some factors that could not be avoid and then cause damage to our laptop battery. But don’t worry, there comes the useful softwares to help us. Today I will recommend you some good ones.

LAlarm Systems
LAlarm is a free alarm for laptops. LAlarm emits a loud alarm when a thief tries to steal a laptop and recover and destroy sensitive data if the laptop is stolen. In addition, alarms when the battery voltage is low to preserve battery capacity and prolong battery life. Also, the alarm when the battery level is low to prevent loss of data due to sudden power loss.

Pwqsoft
Battery Alarm is a tool for protecting the laptop battery for Windows, is designed to protect the battery from deep discharge laptop, laptop battery can last 3 years or more after using this software. The alarm configuration default Windows power is not good, can cause deep discharge battery dela. Alarm Battery change the power management scheme to provide that the battery is discharged in profound ways.

Zu-Fi Software
Make the lock and unlock your computer screen using a cell phone or mobile. BT Watcher Pro program in an automated way you can lock your computer whenever you are away from it and also unlocked when you are back and you are close to that computer. The application can also automatically suspend and wake up the computer monitor, thus saving energy and also the case battery life of laptop computers, which can put them into hibernation. BT Watcher Pro The utility will only show a small icon in the notification area, system tray, so it will be almost invisible at the time you are working.

PassMark Software
A Windows program easy to use that allows the monitoring of laptop batteries and power supplies ininterruptible (UPS). Graphically Obseve charge / discharge rate, diagnose problem battery cells and compare the performance of the same to the report provided and wait and see the individual status of each battery (when multiple batteries are used) More than 20 statistics are are supplied including chemical voltage and capacity.

SB Project
“Smart Battery Workshop” is a useful tool for repairing batteries in notebooks. Use the Parallel Port Adapter Philips Standard I2C can be assembled within an hour someone with no knowledge of electronics component and requires no hard to find. The total cost of the components is about $ 1.

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Review: Zotac Zbox Nano AD10 Plus

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Review: Zotac Zbox Nano AD10 Plus

Zotac has been the recent master of the small-form factor motherboard. We’ve seen H67 boards rocking the mini-ITX style, with the top-end Intel Z68 and AMD A75 chipsets getting the same sort of treatment. These boards all had something in common (aside from the scale); a surprising amount of serious functionality in a frankly silly size.

Now Zotac has turned its shrink ray on full devices and has created a PC with what has to be one of the smallest footprints ever. The Zbox Nano AD10 Plus is absolutely tiny. It’s shorter than a Rubik’s cube and smaller than a CD case. Ickle.

But in there you’ve got a full PC. Well, so long as your idea of a ‘full PC’ means something sans optical drive and you have no interest in doing anything beyond multimedia playback and some light web browsing.

The Zbox AD10 is a very basic machine, essentially with all the internal organs of a netbook, but without a screen. The archetypal ‘nettop’ then. But the nettop is largely becoming anachronistic in today’s connected world. With more advanced media streamers hitting the market, capable of letting you browse the web and play online content, and TVs evolving with this functionality too, the low-powered mini PC doesn’t really have a lot of tricks up its sleeve any more.

Granted this AMD Fusion-powered version is more capable than its Intel Atom-based brethren, but still the gulf in performance between the low-end chips and the proper desktop options is huge. And that gap doesn’t shrink much with Fusion in the equation.

But if you’re just talking about a small homework machine then the Zbox isn’t a bad choice. That said a little netbook is going to give you more flexibility than something that has to be anchored to a desk and monitor full time.

Not a tiny price tag

There’s also the fact that the £255 price tag is more like £325 when you factor in a functional OS. A Microsoft Windows installation is really your only option here – we tried getting Ubuntu to play nice but it would take many long, tiring, frustrating hours and a lot of command line tapping to get anywhere near a responsive machine.

When you’re topping £300 you’re straying into proper Windows 7 laptop prices. And if you’re really interested in plugging it into your HDTV you’ll be able to find one with a HDMI port I’m sure.

In short there’s depressingly little to recommend the Zbox AD10 beyond the fact that it is a very, very small PC. It’s not even particularly easy to set up either as the lack of optical drive makes installing Windows a little problematic. Especially seeing as you can’t have anything plugged into the two USB 3.0 ports of the four ports that are available until there are Windows drivers installed.

And as we’ve mentioned, Ubuntu despite coming happily on a USB stick, doesn’t particularly like the hardware inside. So as small as the Zbox undoubtedly is, functionally it’s a little too late to the party.

Your humble media streamer, and soon your TV, is going to be doing everything you’d realistically want this box to do. And will probably do it in a more intuitive way as well.

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Review: Asus N73SV

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Review: Asus N73SV

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

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

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

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

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

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

Powerful sound

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

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

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

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

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

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

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

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

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Review: Toshiba NB520-10U

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Review: Toshiba NB520-10U

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toshiba nb520-10u

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

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

TechRadar Labs

tech labs

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

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

Advanced features

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

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

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

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Review: Lenovo IdeaPad S205

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Review: Lenovo IdeaPad S205

The Lenovo IdeaPad S205 is a small and light laptop, but in order to keep this machine highly portable, some compromises have been made.

At just 1.4kg and with a dinky 11.6-inch screen, the IdeaPad S205 looks more like a netbook than a laptop. It’s designed to be as portable as possible, and you barely even notice it when the compact body is stashed in your bag.

Thankfully, it’s solidly constructed, with only a slight hint of flex. We certainly weren’t worried about it breaking when we threw it into our backpack and wandered around town.

The plain black design of the interior is nothing special, although we liked the unusual and subtle boxy pattern on the lid. Despite the reduced size, the IdeaPad is still surprisingly chunky.

This is due to the battery, which protrudes from the rear of the machine and pushes it upwards. As a result, this laptop is almost as thick as the 17.3-inch Toshiba Satellite C670D. However, that raised rump means the keyboard is tilted at a more comfortable angle for typing.

Lenovo has managed to fit an isolation-style keyboard on to the compact body, which is perfect for touch-typing thanks to the gaps between the keys.

Some sacrifices have been made – such as the squashed Shift, Tab and Return keys – but the best has been made of the tiny space. However, we did get annoyed at the indented Ctrl key, which we constantly miss-hit when using Windows shortcuts.

Lenovo ideapad s205

The palmrests are understandably slim, so your palms dangle off the bottom when you’re typing. It’s a minor quibble, although the slender palmrests also means the touchpad is pretty small. Still, considering the shrunken chassis, the IdeaPad is surprisingly usable.

Basic performance

However, in our benchmarking tests we found the Lenovo was seriously lacking power, like the much bulkier Toshiba. In fact, the IdeaPad uses the same AMD processor as the Toshiba, and matches its 4GB of memory. The result is very basic performance.

Thankfully, we had no problem running office software, browsing the web and so on. The integrated graphics can also cope with standard-definition movies and you can edit your photos with simple design packages.

However, when we tried watching a high-definition film it came out as a slideshow presentation, displaying a frame every few seconds. Only basic web games such as Bejewelled actually ran at an acceptable framerate. That said, if all you need is a laptop for checking emails, enjoying your family photos and running basic software, and you value portability over performance, this laptop may be the one for you.

Not only is it slim and light, the battery lasts for over three hours when watching movies and for over four hours when browsing the web.

We’re also impressed that Lenovo has crammed 500GB of hard drive space into the tiny chassis.

TechRadar Labs

Tech labs

Battery Eater ’05: 182 minutes
Cinebench: 2193
3DMark 2006: 2232

This is enough space to last most users years, and only the Acer here offers more storage. A 5-in-1 memory card reader can be used for extra space.

To sum up, if you need a budget machine for regular travel, the Lenovo is the best options. However, if you’d prefer a laptop with a bit more power, and are willing to carry something a little chunkier and heavier, the Acer Aspire 5742Z will suit you more.

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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: 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: MSI FX720 Review

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So the British summer is having another shocker, and let’s face it, autumn will likely be just as grim. On that merry note, it’s well worth saving up some cash for a new entertainment machine to keep you occupied during those long, dark evenings, so you don’t have to resort to conversations with family members.

We’ve seen some excellent and unique multimedia laptops recently, from the sleek and powerful Dell XPS 15z, to the Acer Aspire Ethos 8951G, with its detachable remote control touchpad. The MSI FX720 certainly has a lot of competition, but it comes with a less eye-watering price tag than many of its peers.

This laptop might be half the cost of its competitors, but it also lacks the slick and attractive design that most multimedia laptops boast. While the XPS 15z sports a beautiful brushed metal finish, the FX720 makes do with a black plastic frame. It isn’t exactly ugly, but it doesn’t give us those ‘must have’ vibes.

The body doesn’t feel too solid either. It won’t break or fall apart in your hands, but some areas, such as the palmrests, do flex under pressure.

With a weight of 3kg it can be carried around when needed, although we wouldn’t drag it out on the daily commute. It’s best used as a home machine that can be shifted between rooms.

Build quality might not be as strong as we’d like, but the FX720 has a firm keyboard that is comfortable to work on for long periods.

Keys are well laid out and a great size, including the arrow keys which are often squashed. The only casualty is the Return key, which is cropped to fit a single row.

The isolation-style layout means each key is separated from its neighbours by a strip of plastic. Touch typing is more accurate, as you’re less likely to hit the wrong key.

You also have a separate numeric keypad, in case you take a break from movies and games to work on your accounts.

Just above the keyboard is a row of shortcut buttons. These allow you to power down the display, start Windows Media Player, eject the DVD drive and change the power settings. You also have a user-defined shortcut key, for loading your favourite application.

MSI fx770

Although size might not matter, it’s hard to enjoy the latest blockbusters on a tiny laptop screen. Thankfully the MSI FX720 comes with a 17.3-inch widescreen display, so you won’t be squinting to make out the action.

Images are impressively sharp, whether you’re browsing your photos or watching a film. Although the 1600 x 900 resolution means you don’t get full 1080p visuals, we’d struggle to tell the difference when kicking back with an HD movie.

However, as with many recent media laptops, the base FX720 model doesn’t come fitted with a Blu-ray drive. You either have to make do with DVDs, or download your HD content from an online provider. Alternatively, you can stump up more cash for the Blu-ray option.

While the screen isn’t the brightest we’ve seen, it’s still vibrant enough to bring photos and films to life. Viewing angles are reasonable, but the glossy Super-TFT coating is highly reflective, so you should stay away from windows.

The in-built speakers are also surprisingly good, with enough volume to fill a small room. Whether we were watching a film or blasting out music, the sound quality was consistently strong, with no distortion. Of course, if you want to enjoy some serious bass, you should invest in an external pair of speakers.

While many multimedia laptops feature at least 620GB of storage, the FX720 settles for a 500GB hard drive. This fills up surprisingly quickly if you download a lot of HD movies and install loads of games, but external drives are cheap these days so it’s not a crucial factor.

Other features are rather slim. Four USB ports can be used to hook up peripherals, with two of them supporting USB 3.0 technology. VGA and HDMI connections allow you to attach monitors and televisions, if the screen isn’t satisfactory.

As expected, you have 802.11n Wi-Fi for connecting to wireless networks, and gigabit Ethernet if you need to hook up to a wired LAN.

MSI fx770

The MSI FX720 uses an Intel Core i5 2410M processor, which is one of the latest Sandy Bridge models. Backed up by 4GB of memory, you get strong mid-range performance. We ran a number of resource-sapping software suites and noticed little slowdown, even when we tried doing several things at once.

One of nVidia’s older GeForce GT 520M graphics cards still holds up well, with HD movies streaming perfectly. Media editing software also runs smoothly, so you can mess around with your home photos and video as much as you like.

When it comes to gaming, the FX720 isn’t quite as strong as we’d hoped. Older titles such as Half Life 2 run perfectly, but more recent, action-heavy games tend to stutter on the highest detail levels. If you want a gaming machine that’ll last you more than a few months, we’d recommend looking elsewhere.

We were also a little disappointed by the overall performance compared to some other machines we’ve seen lately. While we weren’t expecting results comparable to the Dell XPS 15z or Acer Aspire Ethos laptops, which are twice the price of the FX720, there are better-value multimedia laptops available.

For instance, Dell’s Inspiron 15r has very similar specs for more than £100 less, while you can pick up the Lenovo IdeaPad Z570, which comes with a Blu-ray drive as standard, for just under £600. If you’re looking for a 17-inch multimedia laptop, we’d have to recommend HP’s Pavilion dv7 or the Samsung RF711 instead.

We also weren’t blown away by the FX720’s battery life. We know this laptop isn’t made for lugging around, but we barely made it through a two-hour film before the screen went black. Compare this to other multimedia laptops, which often last at least three hours, and it’s just another disappointment.

Benchmarks

CineBench 10: 9746
3D Mark 06: 6221
Battery Eater 05: 120 mins

MSI fx770

We’ve seen plenty of multimedia machines over the summer, and while some of them have been rather pricey, very few have disappointed. MSI’s FX720 has some tough competition but does it offer enough to warrant a purchase?

We liked

If you’re a cinebuff, or simply enjoy relaxing with the latest Michael Bay explode-a-thon, you’ll love the FX720’s excellent screen. It might not be the brightest panel, but it’s impressively sharp and brings images to life with its rich, deep colours.

Performance is strong enough for everyday use, with no irritating long load times or unexpected stuttering. The dedicated nVidia graphics card means you can get stuck into games, although you’ll need to turn down detail levels on more intensive titles.

If you’ve had enough of games and movies, you can stay productive with the firm isolation-style keyboard.

We disliked

Sadly, the FX720 is lacking that sleek, polished design that makes most multimedia laptops so desirable. We’ve seen laptops around this price point with solid, brushed metal bodies, so the lower cost is no real excuse.

Also, while performance is perfectly fine, there are better value laptops with similar specs out there. On the other hand, if you’re a gaming fan you should look to spend a little bit more on a laptop that will last you longer.

The 500GB hard drive is a little stingy, considering how many portables at this price point have 640GB or 750GB of storage. There’s also no Blu-ray drive, which quite a few media laptops have missed out recently.

Also, it might be an obvious point to make, but the FX720 is best left on a desk at home. The 3kg frame and two-hour battery life hamper portability, so look elsewhere if you need a machine for the daily commute.

With a sexy design and slightly better spec, the FX720 could have been a winner. The 17.3-inch screen is excellent, but there are better multimedia machines to be had for this price.

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