Thursday, June 30, 2011

Toshiba Portege R830-110

Low cost expert. Light, long battery life, and well put together. With the low end version of the Portégé R830 from Toshiba premium business is now affordable. The question is whether the claims of an ideal picture quality are also true?

The Portégé subnotebooks with a 13.3 inch form factor (previously 12.1 inch, e.g. R500) make up the premium segment for handy business notebooks from Toshiba. Light weight, a thin case, and good battery life are combined with business features such as a docking port, a UMTS module, and a fingerprint reader.

Since Toshiba has recognized that not every demanding private user or business person wants to spend 2000 Euros for a subnotebook, the Portégé R830 is currently available in three price classes and feature variants. The R830-10V is the fastest of the three with a Core i7-2620M (2x 2.70GHz), and a 256 GB SSD (from 1980 Euros). The R830-112 with a Core i5-2520M 2x 2.50GHz, and a HDD, is the intermediate model (from 1600 Euros). And last but not least the tested R830-110 has a Core i3-2310M (2x 2.30GHz), and a HDD (from 1130 Euros). In comparison to the two others our tested device is the most affordable Portégé R830.

How well does the affordable R830 fair for mobile use? Can Toshiba's claims for an "HD display with ideal picture quality" be proved accurate? All the answers can be found in the following review.


Toshiba's 13.3 inch R830 is equipped with an Intel Core i3-2310M (2 x 2.1 GHz). The dual-core CPU doesn't have Turbo Boost, but does support Hyper-Threading (processes 4 threads). The CPU's power consumption lies at 35 Watts according to TDP. Of this the two cores require 25 Watts. 10 Watts are used by the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics solution, and the internal DDR3 memory controller.

As usual there are 4096 MB of DDR3 RAM on board, whereby only one of the two sockets is in use (1 x 4096 MB RAM). The hard drive is a Hitachi (HTS723232A7A364) with a rotational speed of 7200 rpm and a capacity of 320 GB.

The Sandy Bridge i3 processor manages to score almost as many points in the single-core Cinebench R10 Single 32-bit benchmark (2704) as significantly faster clocked predecessors such as the i3-380M (2x2.5GHz, ~2.800 points) with a 2.1 GHz clock speed. The bigger brother i5-2520M (2.3GHz) CPU manages a faster 3800 points (64-bit) thanks to Turbo Boost.

When it comes to daily use, multi-threading is more relevant than single-core processing though (Cinebench R10 Multi 64-bit). The i3-2310M manages 7237 points in this discipline, which is almost as much as a i3-380M (~7800). In this case the option of a Core i5 version of the R830 can be a definite advantage with respect to speed: The i5-2520M manages about 10500 points thanks to Turbo Boost 2.0.

Specifications Toshiba Portege R830-110 :
  • Processor : Intel Core i3 2310M 2.1 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM65
  • Memory : 4096 MB, 1x4096MB, 1 socket free
  • Graphics adapter : Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • Display : 13.3 inch 19:9, 1366x768 pixel, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : Hitachi HTS723232A7A364, 320GB 7200rpm
  • Soundcard : Realtek ALC269 @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: Line out, microphone, Card Reader: SD, miniSD, microSD (adapter), SDHC 32GB, SDXC 64GB, MMC, 1 Fingerprint Reader, USB Sleep-and-Charge
  • Networking : Intel 82579V Gigabit Network Connection (10/1000MBit), Atheros AR9002WB-1NG Wireless Network Adapter (bgn), 3.0+HS Bluetooth, High-Speed UMTS / 3G (HSDPA 7.2 Mbit/s / HSUPA 2 Mbit/s)
  • Optical drive : MATSHITA DVD-RAM UJ8A2AS
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 18.3 x 316 x 227
  • Weight : 1.468 kg Power Supply: 0.247 kg
  • Battery : 66 Wh Lithium-Ion, 10.8V 5800mAh PABAS249
  • Price : 1199 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: VGA, Nero Multimedia Suite 10 Essential, Nero BackItUp & Burn Autobackup Essentials, many Toshiba Tools, 24 Months Warranty, Intel Wireless Display support for two monitors.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Toshiba Satellite Pro L770-116

Pragmatic. An office machine or a chunk of plastic? The Satellite Pro fuses consumer graphics with Core i5 power and an 8 GB RAM. A matt, manageable WXGA++ screen tops it off. Is it the perfect combination of entertainment and work?

Satellite Pros are Toshiba's office laptops for diligent consumers and company workers. A 17.3 inch Satellite Pro L770-116 lies on the desk, which can take up the fight with powerful consumer units. The Core i5-2410M (2x 2.30GHz), a 8192 MB RAM, a 7200 rpm hard disk and NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M are to ensure that.

The 17.3 incher certainly isn't aiming at demanding business customers with its manageable WXGA++ resolution (1600x900). It lacks the quality workmanship and many interfaces have been omitted in this case. Will the bonus points nevertheless add up to an affordable office companion? What justifies the price of 780 euros? Read about all pros and cons of the Satellite Pro L770-116 in our detailed review.

The Intel Core i5-2410M (2x2.3 GHz) belongs to the Sandy Bridge processor generation (2011 Intel Core) and is on a Cougar Point chipset. Depending on the temperature, the CPU can go beyond its 2.9 GHz turbo rate within the framework of the Turbo 2.0 concept. The 2011 Cores can increase the clock rate beyond the defined maximum with "Dynamic Range @ Turbo Frequency Limits", provided certain temperature limits aren't surpassed.

The NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M (1024 MB) is solely responsible for 3D calculations because the HD Graphics 3000 graphics chip in the processor is disabled (no hybrid graphics, no Optimus). The RAM equipment is stately 8 GB, whereas two 4096 MB modules occupy both RAM slots.

With only 2.3 GHz (Turbo 2.9 GHz), the Sandy Bridge i5 processor achieves more points (3373) than the equally clocked i5-520M (2.4-2.9 GHz, ~3000 points) in single core processing in Cinebench R10 Single 32bit. An i5-480M (2.66-2.93 GHz, 3200 points), however, is almost on a par. The i5-2410M is first inferior to the i5-580M (2.66-3.33 GHz, 3550). The minor difference to the 580M of only 5 percent is remarkable.

Cinebench R10 Multi (64bit) looks at multi-threading. The i5-2410M manages 8758 points in this exercise, which is just as many as an i5-580M (~8744). Consequently, the L770 has the high-end dual core computing power of 2010 available, which was only used in devices with a price tag higher than 1000 euros (e.g. Lenovo ThinkPad T410s).

Specifications Toshiba Satellite Pro L770-116 :
  • Processor : Intel Core i5 2410M 2.3 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM65
  • Memory : 8192 MB, 2x4096MB 1333MHz
  • Graphics adapter : NVIDIA GeForce GT 525M - 1024 MB, Core: 475 MHz, Memory: 900 MHz, ForceWare 266.69
  • Display : 17.3 inch 16:9, 1600x900 pixel, LP173WD1-TLP5, response time (black to white measurement, manufacturer's spec) 8 ms, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : Toshiba MK7575GSX, 750GB 7200rpm
  • Soundcard : Realtek ALC269 @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: line out, microphone, Card Reader: SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro, USB 3.0 supports USB sleep and charge
  • Networking : Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Atheros AR9002WB-1NG Wireless Network Adapter (bgn), 3.0+HS Bluetooth
  • Optical drive : TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-L633F
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 38 x 414 x 270
  • Weight : 2.752 kg Power Supply: 0.306 kg
  • Battery : 48 Wh Lithium-Ion, 10.8V
  • Price : 949 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 0.3MP, Recovery Media Creator, Face Recognition software, Disc Creator, hardware tools, 12 Months Warranty.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Asus G74SX 3D Gaming Notebook

The empire strikes back. Asus' G-series attracted many mobile gamers in recent years. Now, we are reviewing the newest release of the " Republic of Gamers", the G74S with Nvidia Geforce GTX 560M graphics and Intel i7-2630QM CPU. Our first results would like to give you a taste of the detailed review coming soon.

Notebook specifications Asus G74SX-3DE :
  • Processor : Intel Core i7 2630QM 2 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM65
  • Memory : 12288 MB
  • Graphics adapter : NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M - 3072 MB, GDDR5
  • Display : 17.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, 3D-display 120Hz, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : Seagate ST9750420AS, 750GB 7200rpm 2x HDDs
  • Soundcard : Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 3 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: Headphones, Microphone, Card Reader: MMC, SC, MS/PRO,
  • Networking : Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Atheros AR9002WB-1NG Wireless Network Adapter (bgn)
  • Optical drive : Matshita BD-MLT UJ240AS
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 64 x 420 x 325
  • Weight : 4.61 kg Power Supply: 0.89 kg
  • Battery : 74 Wh Lithium-Ion, 8-cells
  • Price : 2000 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
  • Additional features : 3D Vision glasses, 24 Months Warranty.

Acer Aspire One 722

Raindrop. After the smaller One 522, a larger alternative in the Acer Aspire One 722, also equipped with an AMD Radeon HD 6250 graphics, shows up at our office. Is it a sensible range expansion or will the waves that it causes subside quite fast?

The Taiwanese company now also has an updated version of its largest 11.6 inch netbook representative available as the Acer Aspire One 722. Alike the previously reviewed Acer Aspire One 522, the test device comes along with a 1 GHz weak AMD C-50 Dual-Core APU (accelerated processing unit) together with incorporated AMD Radeon HD 6250 graphics unit. Other key data, such as a 2 GB DDR3 main memory, a 250 GB hard disk capacity and the usual interfaces, have been maintained.

The netbook shows modernizations in the area of case and display. The latter now has a resolution of 1280x720 pixels (HD Ready) and a glare type surface at a typical size. The prior model still had the finer resolution of 1366x768 pixels in a 16:9 format.

The device is in the usual price range for such a configuration at a recommended retail price of 349 euros, including added value tax. However, it's tagged with a slightly lower price than its predecessor.

Apart from the fresh design, the real innovation is the updated innards by AMD. The core components are made up of an AMD C-50 accelerated processing unit with a clock rate of 1 GHz and two cores (dual core). This component is an entry level solution from AMD that is currently finding a new home in more and more netbooks and wants to challenge the Intel Atom platform. In contrast to the Intel Atom N550, the APU however lacks the virtual multiplying of cores (Hyper Threading) and consequently multi-tasking power. The Intel CPU also has the lead in the nominal clock rate with a positive difference of 500 MHz (1.5 GHz).

Another major bonus point of the new APU is the incorporated AMD Radeon HD 6250 graphics with a fast core clock of 280 MHz and DirectX 11 support. The fact that Acer currently doesn't have an Aspire One 722 model with the stronger AMD E-350 APU and stronger AMD Radeon HD 6310 graphics in its supply is a pity. For example, Asus offers the Eee PC 1215B netbook with this solution for 499 euros (RRP).

The first tests in our benchmark course deal with the processor's performance. The C-50 APU achieves satisfactory 1264 points in Cinebench R10 Multi-Thread Rendering (32bit) and thus moves in the familiar netbook range. The Intel Atom N550, as the opponent, occasionally scores better averagely and achieves 1415 points in this test (difference +10.7 percent). A further performance gain can be accomplished thanks to the 64 bit operating system. However, the Intel processor is ruled out because these configurations are only equipped with Windows 7 Starter (32 bit). In plain English, there is a difference of 8.8 percent (1264 to 1386 points) between the 32 and 64 bit application in our test device.

The Aspire One 722 only achieves weak 0.38 points in Cinebench R11.5's CPU benchmark (64 bit) and is thus at the lower end of our database. A comparison with the stronger AMD E-350 APU with a clock rate of 1.6 GHz is worth it although there aren't many available. This component achieves 0.6 points in the Acer Aspire 5253 and has a lead of about 33.7 percent on the C-50 APU. Overall, a rather weak processor performance that is also noticed in routine use as slow opening windows and longer boot times.

The AMD Radeon HD 6250 can set itself apart from the Intel counterpart in the synthetic benchmarks' 3D performance. However, real gaming fun doesn't evolve. Subnotebooks with a dedicated graphics card are recommended for ambitions that go in this direction. Futuremark's 3DMark06 confirms this with a score of 1411 points at a resolution of 1280x1024 pixels. The result is in the lower third, as expected. However, the difference to the Intel GMA 3150 in the Atom N550 CPU is striking. This combination accomplishes only 144 points in the Asus Eee PC 1015PEM and has to admit defeat with a difference of 89.8 percent.

Specifications Acer Aspire One 722-C52kk :
  • Processor : AMD C-Series C-50 1 GHz
  • Mainboard : AMD A50M
  • Memory : 2048 MB, manufacturer: Hynix (Hyundai Electronics), HMT325S6BFR8C-H9, DDR3-10600S, 1066 MHz, maximum 4 GBs, 1 slot
  • Graphics adapter : AMD Radeon HD 6250, Core: 280 MHz, DirectX 11, Shader 5.0, 8.802.2.1000
  • Display : 11.6 inch 16:9, 1280x720 pixel, AUO B116XW03 V2, WXGA, LED, diagonal: 29.5 centimeters, glossy: yes
  • Harddisk : Toshiba MK2559GSXP, 250GB 5400rpm
  • Soundcard : HD Audio
  • Connections : 3 USB 2.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: headphone out, microphone in, Card Reader: 5-in-1 (MMC, SD, MS, MS PRO, xD), RJ-45
  • Networking : Atheros AR8152 PCI-E Fast Ethernet Controller (10/100MBit), Broadcom 802.11n (abgn), 3.0 +HS Bluetooth
  • Optical drive
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 25.4 x 285 x 202
  • Weight : 1.358 kg Power Supply: 0.172 kg
  • Battery : 49 Wh Lithium-Ion, 6 cells, 4400 mAh, 11.1 Volt, model: AL10B31
  • Price : 349 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 0.3 Megapixel, netbook, 40 watt adapter with connector (DE), 6 cell battery, warranty card, instructions, Adobe Reader 9, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, Windows Live Essentials, McAfee Internet Security Suite (trial version), newXpresso, Norton Online Backup, Skype, Acer software, 12 Months Warranty, warranty includes pick-up & return service and International Travelers Warranty (ITW), color: black.


Gaming Power. After bringing a multitude of mid-grade graphics cards to the market, Nvidia is finally showcasing its new high-end GeForce 500 series. The MSI GT780R will be one of the first notebooks to boast the GTX 560M. But can the MSI truly set itself apart from other gaming notebooks?

Passionate gamers who want a gaming laptop to call their own are presented with the powerful 17" MSI GT780R, which really scores some points in the hardware and features department. The most appealing of these is the Nvidia's brand new GeForce GTX 560M high-end graphics card, the successor to the GTX 460M legacy. The processor here can be no other than one of Intel's Sandy Bridge CPUs, that is, the Core i7-2630QM.

Two 500-GB hard drives connected via RAID 0 keep the need for an external hard drive far at bay. The Blu-Ray drive makes for some highly enjoyably film watching sessions. The choice of an excessive 16 GB DDR3 RAM only makes us shake our heads since 4 GB is enough for just about anything. Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit is the pre-installed operating system here. It should be stated that MSI offers less extensive configurations at lower prices as well.

Note also that the laptop we review below is only a pre-production model. Many things can still change before the series hits the shelves (like the case craftsmanship, software, cooling system, and accessories).

Update: MSI even sent us a second GT780R on account of various problems we had observed with the first (more on that later). This second model, despite its unfinished status, performed better overall. All data or qualities marked "Update" refer to the second model rather than the first

Processor: Intel Core i7-2630QM
The processor here is the highly decorated quad-core Sandy Bridge CPU from Intel. The Core i7-2630QM is manufactured in the 32nm process and currently finds use in many high-end notebooks. The processor contains 995 million transistors and a 6 MB large L3 cache (Core i5: 3 MB).

The base clock rate of 2.00 GHz can be kicked up to 2.90 GHz via Turbo Boost (depends on CPU stress and temperature). The Hyper Threading function allows the simulation of four additional virtual cores, allowing the CPU to process up to 8 individual threads simultaneously. The on-board HD Graphics 3000 graphics card always remains inactive since MSI has forgone any energy-saving switchable graphics technology.

Specifications MSI GT780R :
  • Processor : Intel Core i7 2630QM 2 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM67
  • Memory : 16384 MB, 4x 4096 MB DDR3-RAM (1333 MHz)
  • Graphics adapter : NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M - 1536 MB, Core: 775 MHz, Memory: 1250 MHz, Shader: 1550 MHz; GDDR5-VRAM, ForceWare 268.12
  • Display : 17.3 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, CMO1720, Full HD, LED Backlight, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : WDC WD5000BEVT-22A0RT0, 500GB 5400rpm Two HDDs—RAID 0 (1000 GB total)
  • Soundcard : Realtek ALC892 @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 3 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, Audio Connections: Headphone jack/SPDIF, microphone input, line out, line in (7.1 out), Card Reader: SD,SDXC,SDHC,MMC,MS,MS PRO,xD,
  • Networking : Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1030 (bgn), 3.0 Bluetooth
  • Optical drive : TSSTcorp DVDWBD TS-LB23A
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 61 x 428 x 288
  • Weight : 3.88 kg Power Supply: 0.78 kg
  • Battery : 87 Wh Lithium-Ion, 7800 mAh, 9 cells
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 720p (1280x720), Power Supply: 150 watts, Drivers and Tools DVD, Corel WinDVD, MAGIX Software Suite, 24 Months Warranty.

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  • Business Edge. First introduced at Computex 2011, ThinkPad E125 Edge is one of the smallest portable sleekest and around edge. Fusion-powered ThinkPad can withstand potential commercial expectations and crafts high. Read More
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  • Lighting unit. Since his little brother a little attention in the test "Intel! 2011" pool test laptop, the laptop HP Pavilion Office of the G-7 was bad for his moment of glory. For 499 euros (MSRP), Hewlett-Packard offers a 17.3 "laptop with an AMD quad-core Radeon HD 6470M graphics card. Read More
  • Toshiba Satellite R830-11C Review
  • Business Notebook. Toshiba has released a satellite phone R830, 13.3-inch subnotebook that may be of particular interest to business customers. Small, lightweight, portable stands a sleek, good battery and equipped with an SSD. Read More

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lenovo IdeaPad Z370

"Top" designer. Lenovo supplies a 13 inch subnotebook with the latest second generation Intel Core processors with the IdeaPad Z370. In addition to the hardware, a lot of effort has especially been invested in looks. For example, the notebook has a display lid with 3D effect. Is it after all only straining after effect?

Lenovo launches a compact 13.3 inch subnotebook onto the market with the IdeaPad Z370. Lenovo has designed the IdeaPad Z370 according to the idea: "superior elegance can be affordable". But the IdeaPad Z370 not only is to score with its looks, but the latest Intel processors with Sandy Bridge architecture are to ensure sufficient computing power. The list ranges up to a new Core i7 and a 1 TB hard disk. We are looking at the model with an Intel Core i5-2410M and 750 GB hard disk in our review. In addition, there are a lot of special functions installed. For example, Lenovo treats the IdeaPad Z370 to OneKey Recovery, OneKey Theater and Rapid Boost Technology, among others. If these programs can provide a real added value for the user will have to be seen.

The IdeaPad Z370 only uses the Intel HD Graphics 3000 incorporated into the processor for the graphics. Thus, the notebook doesn't exactly supply abundant graphics performance. The Intel graphics card should primarily cover basic fields though, and use as little power as possible while doing so. Although modern, incorporated graphic cards are a bit more powerful (compared to their predecessor models), the latest games either can't be played at all, or can only be played smoothly in low details. The main field of application for the graphics card lies in Internet and office tasks anyway.
A Core i5-2410M from Intel does its job inside the Lenovo IdeaPad Z370. It is a midrange dual core processor from the second generation of Core processors. The processor isn’t exactly weak ex-factory with a clock rate of 2.3 GHz. Even more performance reserves can be mobilized in case of situations with a higher power requirement thanks to Turbo Boost 2.0 – providing that the processor is sufficiently cooled. The clock rate can be increased to 2.6 GHz (2 cores loaded), or 2.9 GHz (1 core). The 2410M processor can even compete with the much faster clocked predecessor, Core i5-560M with 2.7-3.2 GHz, due to the optimized architecture. The 2410M is partly even faster than the 560M. Moreover, the 2410M processor incorporates the entry level graphics and memory controller. The graphics card is an Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics card, which has primarily been designed for office applications and light multimedia tasks (media rendering). Basically, the Intel Core i5-2410M processor is a good all-rounder that can cover a wide field of daily applications.

Specifications Lenovo IdeaPad Z370-M5657GE :
  • Processor : Intel Core i5 2410M 2.3 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM65
  • Memory : 4096 MB, Ramaxel, DDR3-1333, 667 MHz, max. 8 GB, 2 slots
  • Graphics adapter : Intel HD Graphics 3000, DDR3,
  • Display : 13.3 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, AUO302C, LED backlight, glossy: yes
  • Harddisk : WDC WD7500BPVT-22HXZT1, 750GB 5400rpm 750 GB, 5400 rpm
  • Soundcard : Realtek ALC269 @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 3 USB 2.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, Audio Connections: microphone & headphone, Card Reader: 5in1 card reader (MMC/SD/Memory Stick (Pro)/xD-Card),
  • Networking : Realtek PCIe FE Family Controller (10/100MBit), Atheros AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter (bgn), 2.1 Bluetooth
  • Optical drive : Optiarc DVD RW AD-7710H
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 20 – 33 x 328 x 222
  • Weight : 2 kg Power Supply: 0.21 kg
  • Battery : 48 Wh Lithium-Ion, 6 cell battery, 10.8 Volt
  • Price : 649.00 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 2.0 Megapixel, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, user's maunual, Lenovo DirectShare, Lenovo EE Boot Optimizer, Lemovo Games Console, Lenovo VeriFace 4.0, Lenovo YouCam, MCAfee AntiVirus Plus (trial version), OneKey Recovery, Cyberlink Power2Go, 24 Months Warranty, Printed documentation, setup poster, colors: brown, pink, light blue.
  • by :

Fujitsu Lifebook LH531

Price breaker. While everyone is into slim line with aluminum looks, Fujitsu brings out a roundly 14 incher with a matt screen for use out in the sun. It is the cheapest Core i5 in 13 and 14 inches for starting at 549 euros. Not everyone who wants to buy a notebook sees dedicated graphics as an indispensable element for their portable computer. The basics such as a matt display, good input devices, long battery runtimes, low waste heat and silent use are of more importance. And of course the price – which is just right in the case of our test device. 550 euros – a brand new Sandy Bridge Core i5 in a 13 and 14 inch device can't be found for less.

To finish off our Fujitsu test series, we got hold of a device for the above mentioned simple needs. The 14 incher Lifebook LH531 relies on the performance midrange, Core i5-2410M, but doesn't use dedicated graphics (Intel HD Graphics 3000). Gamers will stop reading here at latest. Ambitioned office users with need for mobility could however see a handy compromise of a well sized display and good portability in the 14 inch form factor. Find out how the Fujitsu Lifebook LH531 fares in our tests in this comprehensive review.

The Lifebook LH531 is currently available with two CPU alternatives (price difference of about 50 euros). Our test device is the stronger configuration with the latest Sandy Bridge CPU Core, i5-2410M (2x2.3 GHz) and a 500 GB Hitachi hard disk. The other LH531 alternative runs on an i3-2310M and a 320 GB hard disk. Please see the up to 2.9 GHz clocked (one core) Turbo 2.0 CPU's spec sheet for more technical details. The graphics chip, HD Graphics 3000, is incorporated into the processor (650-1100 MHz) and both RAM slots are equipped with 2048 MB each.

Is the i5-2410M (2x 2.3 GHz + Turbo 2.9 GHz) really necessary, or is the i3-2310M version (2x 2.1 GHz, no Turbo) enough? We compared both processors with the single core benchmark, Cinebench R10 Single 64bit first. It's 4564 to 3389 points (i5 vs. i3). The Turbo clearly has an advantage.

The same is true in Cinebench R10 Multi 64bit. The i5-2410M (4 threads) scores 9659 points. The i3 (4 threads) manages 7550 points. If you benefit from multi thread processing (e.g. video rendering, picture editing), you're better served with the i5. Although both CPUs calculate with four threads, the i5 can clock them with 4 x 2.3 GHz.

specifications Fujitsu Lifebook LH531 :
  • Processor : Intel Core i5 2410M 2.3 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM65
  • Memory : 4096 MB, SO DIMM, DDR3, 1333MHz, max 8GB
  • Graphics adapter : Intel HD Graphics 3000
  • Display : 14 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, SAMSUNG 140AT07-501, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : Hitachi HTS545050B9A300, 500GB 5400rpm
  • Soundcard : Realtek ALC269 @ Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 4 USB 2.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: line out, microphone, Card Reader: SD/SDHC/MS/MS Pro, USB 1x Anytime USB charge function
  • Networking : Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (abgn), 2.1 + EDR Bluetooth
  • Optical drive : TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-L633F
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 35.4 x 335 x 240
  • Weight : 2.118 kg Power Supply: 0.235 kg
  • Battery : 48 Wh Lithium-Ion, 4400mAh 10.8V
  • Price : 599 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 1280x1024, Fujitsu Recovery, Nero Essentials, 12 Months Warranty.
by :

Dell Vostro 3350

Mobility. The smallest device of Dell's Vostro refresh, the Dell Vostro 3350, has come in for review. Thanks to a big 8 cell battery, an illuminated keyboard and the latest hardware from Intel and AMD hardware, the mite with a 13.3 inch screen doesn't have any reason to hide.

Introducing the four new Vostro 3000 series laptops, Dell bids current hardware, a new design and practical features. Beside the devices Vostro 3450, Vostro 3550 and the big Vostro 3750 with a 17.3 inch screen, there is also a compact subnotebook with 13.3 inch display (1366x768, matt) in the range. It is especially aimed at small and medium businesses, abbreviated SMBs. However, even private users could find delight in it. The case's design is identical in all device sizes and only the dimensions and weight deviates.

Besides the comprehensive online configurator in direct sale, the Dell Vostro 3350 is also available at select retailers. However, only pre-configured models are offered here. Our test device moves in the upper range in terms of optional equipment with an Intel Core i5-2410M, the dedicated AMD Radeon HD 6470M and a 4 GB DDR3 RAM. There are also less expensive models, as well as more expensive models available depending on taste and application field.

The smallest entry model alternative of the new Vostro notebooks starts at 489 euros, not including added value tax. The laptops with a 15.6 and 17.3 inch screen are a bit cheaper in their base price in comparison. Our test device is available for 789 euro including added value tax and with a 24 month onsite service.

The Dell Vostro 3350's current innards present themselves as small and fast. However, the configuration variety via the online configurator is fairly large. In addition to the Intel Core i5-2410M mainstream solution that we reviewed, there is also the less expensive entry CPU, Intel Core i3-2310M (2.1 GHz -60 euros) and the dual core top model, Intel Core i7-2620M (2.7 – 3.3 GHz) available. With a surcharge of 260 euros, not including added value tax, the upgrade isn't exactly cheap. Back to our sample: The processor works with a base clock rate of 2.3 GHz and a 3 MB L3 cache. The clock rate can achieve 800 to 2900 MHz via the Turbo Boost technology depending on the requirement. In contrast to automatic overclocking, that not all CPUs can serve with, all Sandy Bridge CPUs support the Hyper Threading technology. It accelerates multi-tasking (2 cores, 4 threads or 4 cores, 8 threads in quad core processors).

The portable typewriter turns into a multimedia device with small gaming reserves together with the installed AMD Radeon HD 6470M. Dell specifies this GPU with 512 MB GDDR5 RAM, whereas various tools don't permit a clear conclusion about the memory or the core speed (700 or 750 MHz). It could also probably be a slower DDR3 VRAM, whereas the available memory is addressed via a slower 64 bit memory bus. You shouldn't allow yourself to be deceived by the specification of a built-in AMD Radeon HD 6490M. A new feature that is also used in this device is the automatic graphics switching, Switchable Graphics by AMD, which can be controlled via the Catalyst Control Center (driver: 8.811.1.4000). Only few programs were directly addressed with the according graphics in our test and the settings usually had to be set manually. At the same time, we missed a setting that appoints one of the two graphics for general use, like it's possible via Nvidia Optimus technology's system control.

specifications :
  • Processor : Intel Core i5 2410M 2.3 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM67
  • Memory : 4096 MB, manufacturer: Samsung, DDR3-10600, 1333 MHz, maximum 8 GB, 2 banks
  • Graphics adapter : AMD Radeon HD 6470M - 512 MB, Memory: 800 MHz, Switchable Graphics, DirectX 11, 8.811.1.4000
  • Display : 13.3 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, AUO312C, LED, diagonal: 33 centimeters, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : Seagate ST320LT007-9ZV142, 320GB 7200rpm Momentus Thin, height: 7 millimeters
  • Soundcard : Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, Audio Connections: headphone out, microphone in, Card Reader: 4in1 (SD, MMC, MS, MS PRO), 1 Fingerprint Reader, RJ45
  • Networking : Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1030 (bgn), 3.0 +HS Bluetooth
  • Optical drive : TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-U633J
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 27.3 - 29.8 x 329.2 x 228.5
  • Weight : 2.19 kg Power Supply: 0.325 kg
  • Battery : 80 Wh Lithium-Ion, 8 cell, 14.8 volt, model: GRNX5
  • Price : 789 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 2 Megapixel, subnotebook, 90 watt adapter with power cable, manuals, program DVD, recovery DVD, driver DVD, webcam central DVD, Adobe Reader X, Intel Wireless Display, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, Catalyst Control Center, CyberLink PowerDVD 9.5, Roxio Creator Starter, Skype, Trend Micro Client-Server Security Agent, Windows Live Essentials, Dell software, 12 Months Warranty, colors: Aberdeen Silver, Lucerne Red and Brisbane Bronze, spill-proof keyboard with backlight
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Apple MacBook Air (11.6-inch)

Apple is known for pushing boundaries. Sometimes it's a cutting-edge industrial design, sometimes it's new technology and sometimes a new standard. When the MacBook Air was originally introduced, it was all three. Growing less unique with the netbook craze, Apple was forced to rethink thin. Did they succeed?

  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo SU9400 @ 1.4GHz (3MB cache)
  • Display: 11.6-inch TN panel
  • Resolution: 1366x768
  • Memory: 2GB not accessible
  • Hard drive: 64GB solid state drive
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 320M with 256MB of shared system memory
  • Optical drive: none
  • Networking: none
  • Wireless networking: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Built-in iSight webcam, integrated microphone
  • Dimensions: 11.8 x 7.56 x 0.68-0.11 inches (WxDxH)
  • Weight: 2.3 lbs
  • Warranty: One year limited parts and labor, 90 days free phone support
The manufacturer's suggested retail price of our review unit is $999; a fully-specced 11.6-inch MacBook Air will cost $1,399.

Build and design
The original MacBook Air remains one of the thinnest notebooks ever created; like the current iteration, it was designed along a tapered-wedge form factor. Although it wasn't necessarily the thinnest laptop ever created (hey there, Mitsubishi Pedion!), the first-generation MacBook Air brought a number of new features to the table.

It was the first of Apple's notebooks to be designed using the now-famous unibody engineering technique, which essentially carves the computer's case from a single block of cast aluminum. The CPU was a Core 2 Duo designed to take up only 40% of the room of its more traditional counterparts.

The last couple of years, however, have driven the notebook market into a frenzy. Netbooks, buoyed by consumers' desires to be smaller, lighter and cheaper invaded the industry. The MacBook Air that once stood alone started to get overshadowed. Few of these notebooks were as thin, but they weren't precisely fat. They were also light and affordable.

Apple finally realized that with the latest refresh of the MacBook Air lineup, something had to change. The 11.6-inch MacBook Air is Apple's smallest laptop ever, harking back to the days of their original 12-inch ultraportable offerings. Both the 11.6- and 13-inch Airs share the same design trend and some of the same dimensions. Both are 0.68 inches in the back, tapering down to a scant eleven-hundredths of an inch at the front.

As mentioned in the first look on the device, the thinness of the MacBook Air is a carefully crafted illusion - the reality is that the Air is thicker than it seems. It's definitely light, though - the smaller model tips the scales at just 2.3 pounds - and frankly, who cares if there is trickery involved? The design is smart, and it works.

Much of the notebook's exterior is notable only for its emptiness. The front of the Air has a notch cut out of the bottom lip to provide a spot for opening the screen. Like most modern MacBooks, the screen easily lifts up with a single finger.

The rear and bottom of the machine are largely featureless as well, with the latter hosting four plastic bumpers to lift the machine off of its worksurface. There are also a number of five-lobed Torx screws on the bottom for those so bold as to risk voiding their warranties for a peek at the insides.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dell Vostro 3450

Dell introduces a whole range of new laptops with the new Vostro 3000 series. The assortment ranges from a 13.3 inch model over a 14 inch and a 15.6 inch model up to a big 17 inch model. We will take a closer look at the 14 inch model, the Dell Vostro 3450, in this review. We have recently examined the 14 incher's relatives: the 13.3 inch Vostro 3350, the 15.6 inch Vostro 3550 and the 17 inch Vostro 3750 and now complete the series with the Vostro 3450.

The notebook is available in Dell's online configurator or can be ordered at one of the known, large online retailers as a pre-configured unit. Our test model comes from and currently costs 794.90 euros.

An Intel Core i5-2410M processor with Sandy Bridge architecture is used for the CPU. This dual core processor is a midrange model from Intel's second generation of Core processors. The processor already has a good amount of power with a standard clock rate of 2.3 GHz. However it can be increased even more via Turbo Boost 2.0 and sufficient cooling. Thus, the clock rate can be boosted to 2.6 GHz (2 cores under load) or 2.9 GHz (1 core). This happens absolutely automatically without the user's intervention. The new Core i5-2410M's performance is more or less comparable with the "old" Core i5-560M with 2.7-3.2 GHz. The 2410M even surpasses the 560M in a few benchmarks. In addition to the memory controller, the i5-2410M also has an incorporated graphics card at a TDP (thermal design power) of 35 watts. The HD Graphics 3000 graphics card might not be impressive with its pure performance, but it convinces in basic tasks with its low consumption.

Besides the processor's incorporated Intel HD Graphics 3000 graphics card, the Dell Vostro 3450 also has an additional graphics card, the AMD Radeon HD 6630M graphics card. It is a DirectX 11 capable midrange graphics card for notebooks and the successor of the slower clocked HD 5650. The HD 6630M should be slightly better than the "old" HD 5650 in 3D performance due to a higher shader count. The graphics card can automatically be switched so that the energy saving Intel graphics is used in idle and the stronger AMD graphics is used during load (AMD calls this technology PowerXPress 4.0 or BACON). However, it doesn't seem to work quite as well as the competitor's, Nvidia, in practical use. When an application – still unknown to the Catalyst Control Center – a window is opened and the user is asked if the according application requires high performance or if it should be run on energy saving. This is particularly annoying on a freshly installed system because you have to assign a new program to a profile every few minutes. Nvidia's solution, called Optimus, makes a considerably more developed impression. You can read a detailed first impression in our article: AMD 4.0 aka BACON – The Optimus competition in a practical test.

specifications :
  • Processor : Intel Core i5 2410M 2.3 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM67
  • Memory : 4096 MB, Samsung, DDR3-10600, 1333 MHz, max. 8 GB, 2 slots
  • Graphics adapter : AMD Radeon HD 6630M, 8.802.1.2000
  • Display : 14 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, Chi Mei N140BGE, LED backlight, glossy: no
  • Harddisk : WDC WD3200BEKT-75PVMT0, 320GB 7.200rpm
  • Soundcard : Intel Cougar Point PCH - High Definition Audio Controller
  • Connections : 1 Express Card 34mm, 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 eSata, Audio Connections: Kopfhörer, Mikrofon, Card Reader: 8-in-1 (SD,MMC,MS,MS-Pro,mini SD w/ adapter,MS-Duo,MS-Pro Duo via adapter), 1 Fingerprint Reader,
  • Networking : Realtek PCIe GBE Family Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Centrino Wireless-N 1030 (bgn), 3.0 Bluetooth
  • Optical drive : TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-L633J
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 33 x 343 x 246
  • Weight : 2.3 kg Power Supply: 0.28 kg
  • Battery : 48 Wh Lithium-Ion, 6 cell battery, 11.1 volt
  • Price : 799.00 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 2.0 Megapixel, MS Office Starter 2010, Trend Micro Worry-Free Business Security Services (15 monthes) Skype for Windows, Adobe Reader 9, 24 Months Warranty, notebook, battery, adapter w/ power cable, documentation, DVDs, colors: bronze, silver, red
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Alienware M18x

Superior in every way. Tired of the typical desktop computer sits on the table? Do you want a replacement running? The new Alienware M18x fits the bill. This 18-inch model is not only visually impressive, also packs the latest hardware under the hood. A complete desktop replacement of daily life?

MSI A6400 Ci507 S

An elegant beauty with broad appeal. That’s how MSI sees the A6400. So the notebook should be an all-rounder, a typewriter, number cruncher, and DVD player in one, and able to handle some older games. We find out whether the notebook’s hardware and software are as impressive as its appearance.

These days there’s a very wide choice of well-equipped, reasonably priced notebooks for the ordinary buyer. On paper, the A6400 Ci507 S from MSI looks like another attractive offering.

The laptop is part of the Taiwanese manufacturer’s mainstream C series, and is intended to be an all-rounder with a broad appeal. At first glance, it doesn’t look like MSI has economized on this notebook at all; for only 519 Euros you get a mid-range, second-generation Sandy Bridge processor, all wrapped up in an aluminium-look case. It even comes with two USB 3.0 ports and HDMI.

Why pay more for a new laptop? A 64-bit version of Windows is also included. But do the input devices, screen and keyboard stand up to scrutiny, for this low price? Find the answers to this question and more in our review.


The 15.6-inch MSI notebook is equipped with an Intel Core i5-2410M (2x 2.3 GHz). The dual-core Core i5 CPU supports Turbo Boost up to 2.9 GHz and Hyperthreading (four threads). The chip’s TDP is 35 Watts. 10 Watts of that are used for the integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics and the memory controller. Unlike more expensive Core i5 models such as the i5-2520M, the i5-2410M has had its support for AES New Instructions (encoding and decoding), VT-d, and Trusted Execution deactivated.

specifications :
  • Processor : Intel Core i5 2410M 2.3 GHz
  • Mainboard : Intel HM65
  • Memory : 4096 MB, Manufacturer: Hyundai Electronics, DDR3-10700, 1333 MHz, 2 banks, maximum 8 GB
  • Graphics adapter : Intel HD Graphics 3000, DirectX 10.1, Shader 4.1,
  • Display : 15.6 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, Samsung 156AT05-H01, LED, glossy: yes
  • Harddisk : Hitachi HTS545050B9A300, 500GB 5400rpm
  • Soundcard : Conexant SmartAudio HD
  • Connections : 2 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: microphone input, headphone output, Card Reader: 7 in-1 (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC, MS, MS Pro, HG),
  • Networking : Atheros AR8151 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet Controller (10/100/1000MBit), Atheros AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter (bgn)
  • Optical drive : Pioneer DVD-RW DVRTD10RS
  • Size : height x width x depth (in mm): 26.9 - 34.0 x 380 x 260
  • Weight : 2.5 kg
  • Battery : 47 Wh Lithium-Ion, lithium ion, six cells, 10.8 Volt, type: A32-A15
  • Price : 519 Euro
  • Operating System : Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64 Bit
  • Additional features : Webcam: 1.3 Megapixel, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter, Norton Internet Security, Norton Online Backup, 24 Months Warranty, Pick-up & Return Service

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    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Samsung NC215S

    The Samsung NC215S was unveiled at the Africa Regional Forum in Nairobi, Kenya and will be released in the US on the 3rd of July with a suggested retail price of $399, according to reports. If you are into green living and sunlight, this solar powered notebook will definitely catch your attention.

    The Samsung NC215S looks much like other notebooks in its class but with one notable distinctive feature: It has solar panels that are directly integrated into the unit’s lid. The NC215S will run Windows 7 and Samsung claims that it will be able to offer a battery life of up to 14.5 hours with its 6cell battery and the solar power. The solar panels is said to be able to give you one hour of extra battery life for every 2 hours of sunlight.

    The new notebook offers a conventional notebook configuration with a 10.1in, 1024 x 600-pixel matte display (enabling you to use it even in the sunlight) and a weight of 1.3kg. An Intel Atom N570 (1.66 GHz) dual-core processor, 1GB of Ram and a 250GB or 320GB drive are the device’s main features.

    Now , In November 2009 Samsung launched the Blue earth phone, that also used solar power and gave 10 minutes of use for one hour of sun exposure , the phone , however, turned out not to be too popular as the functions turned out to be very limited. Let hope that the NC215S will prove to be a step in the right direction for this technology.

    * 1.6GHz N570 Intel Atom dual-core processor;
    * 50GB of storage,;
    * and 1GB of RAM ;
    * 2.9 pound weight;
    * Webcam;
    * USB;
    * Wi-Fi connectivity;
    * 10.100 LAN;
    * An SD card slot.

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    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Acer Aspire 1830T Timeline X

    If you want a netbook because of the convenient size and amazing battery life but need better multitasking and video performance than what a cheap netbook offers then the Acer Aspire 1830T might be the perfect notebook for you. Keep reading to see what this $900 ultraportable offers.

    Our Acer Aspire 1830T-68U118 feastures the following specifications:

    Intel Core i7 680UM processor (1.46GHz, 4MB L3 cache)
    11.6-inch 1366x768 HD display with LED backlighting
    Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
    4GB DDR3 memory
    500GB 5400rpm HDD
    Intel HD integrated graphics
    Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n wireless
    Bluetooth 3.0 (Foxconn BCM92046)
    6-cell Li-ion battery
    Dimensions: 11.22 (w) x 8.03 (d) x1.01-1.10 (h) inches
    Weight: 3.09 pounds
    MSRP: $899.99

    Build and Design
    The Acer Aspire Timeline X series is the latest generation of thin and light notebooks from Acer designed to offer solid performance and long battery life in a surprisingly lightweight package. At first glance it's easy to mistake the Aspire 1830T for one of the dozens of Acer netbooks that have shown up over the last few years. Looks, however, can be deceiving.

    Build quality is quite good despite the diminutive size of this laptop. The combination of relatively thick matte plastics and black brushed aluminum palmrests leave the notebook feeling solid and showing almost no signs of flex. The screen stays firmly shut with a good amount of tension from the screen hinges when closed. Protection from the screen cover is only adequate; the cover flexes quite easily and distortions appeared on the display when we applied pressure to the back of the cover. Opening up the screen you can tell the hinges should hold up for a long time with strong tension that prevents the screen from flopping around once opened. The body of the notebook seems to be well designed with minimal chassis flex and no obvious creaks from the plastics.

    One area of the design that impressed me was the bottom of the notebook. The expansion bay provides access to the hard drive, the WLAN and optional WWAN card slots as well as two RAM sockets. The single cover panel is held in place by five screws (my only complaint), so you'll have a spend a minute or two loosing all of those screws before you can swap out the hard drive or add more RAM. That said, I'm always happy to see when manufacturers make it easy for owners to upgrade their notebooks.
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    Samsung R540

    The R540 was tested by us and excelled when placed against similar systems in terms of processor performance, overall system performance, and did reasonably well in our storage tests. To give you an example, the included Core i3 CPU did better than the Dell Inspiron 15R and the system outranked the Lenovo G560 (budget notebook) in terms of overall performance. This system would be good as a general use notebook and will react quickly for every day tasks but should not be considered for modern gaming.

    In our review of the R540 we also liked the full-sized keyboard with a mix between Chiclet-style and traditional keys. We said the keyboard feels solid, did not flex, and works decently well. The touchpad is also good; it features some basic multi-touch features such as pinch-to-zoom.

    Our Samsung R540-JA02 review unit has the following specifications:

    15.6-inch 720p (1366x768) glossy panel with LED backlighting
    Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    Intel Core i3-370M dual-core processor (2.40GHz, 3MB L3, 4.8GT/s QPI, 35W TDP)
    Intel HM55 chipset
    Integrated Intel HD graphics
    4GB DDR3-1066 dual-channel RAM (2x 2GB)
    500GB 5400RPM Western Digital hard drive (WD5000BEVT)
    Atheros AR9285 802.11n wireless LAN
    DVD burner (TSSTcorp CDDVDW TS-L633J)
    1-year limited warranty
    6-cell battery (11.1V, 4000mAh)
    Weight: 5.29 lbs.
    Dimensions: 14.9” x 10.1” x 1.17~1.42”
    MSRP: $699.99

    This R540 model has entry-level specifications; competing notebooks with a similar configuration can be had for $100 - $150 less online. The R540 is also offered in a higher-end configuration featuring a Blu-ray drive, low-end ATI Radeon graphics card and a more powerful Core i5 processor for MSRP $999.99 (a little on the pricey side).

    Build and Design
    The R540 has a generic design with an attractive-looking faux aluminum finish. Design features are minimal; the R540 does not even have volume up/down buttons. The notebook is constructed entirely of plastic; as a result it weighs only 5.29 lbs. The chassis has an average thickness for a 15.6” notebook at about 1.4 inches. The R540 is covered in mostly glossy plastic, which smudges up quickly and is difficult to clean.

    The build quality of the R540 is below average. The chassis of our review notebook was warped; the notebook did not sit evenly on a flat surface. The plastic covering the top of the notebook flexes easily under slightly more than normal pressure. Additionally, the entire chassis seems to cave downward when pressure is applied on the top of the notebook, indicating the internal frame lacks strength. Rounding out the list, the chassis flexes easily when twisted by the corners; flex is bad because it allows the circuit boards inside the notebook to bend. Circuit boards subjected to bending will not last that long.

    The lid shares the lackluster build quality; it flexes easily when gripped by the corners. Ripples appear on the screen when pressure is applied from behind; the screen is not well protected. Overall, even for a budget notebook the R540 falls short of expectations.
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    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    HP Pavilion dv7t

    The 17-inch HP Pavilion dv7t is the new quad-core lineup of multimedia notebooks by HP. In our review of the dv7t series, we will see if HP has improved the known complaints about the prior dv7/dv7t. We will take a look at its build quality, performance, heat and temperature, battery life, and more. We will also test our review notebook for its gaming ability. Keep reading our full review below to find out if this is the right multimedia notebook for you!

    Our HP Pavilion dv7t features the following specifications:

    * Intel Core i7-2630QM quad-core CPU (2.0 GHz, 6MB L3 Cache) w/Turbo Boost up to 2.9 GHz
    * 17.3" diagonal HD+ HP BrightView (glossy) LED Display (1600 x 900)
    * Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    * 8GB DDR3 memory
    * 660GB total, dual hard drive system (160GB SSD + 500GB at 7200RPM)
    * 1GB GDDR5 Radeon HD 6770M graphics
    * Blu-ray player and SuperMulti DVD burner
    * Gigabit Ethernet and Intel 802.11b/g/n wireless
    * TrueVision HD webcam
    * 6-cell Li-ion battery (55 Wh) and 120W power adapter
    * Dimensions: 16.3" x 10.8" x 1.2"
    * Weight: 6.72 with standard battery
    * MSRP as configured: $1,605

    The base MSRP for the HP Pavilion dv7t is $1,099 but that price will vary depending on how you customize the notebook. The bigger choices are the operating system (Windows 7 Home Premium is included; Professional is $99 more; and Ultimate is $139 more), the Intel i7 quad-core processor (Intel Core i7-2630QM is included, i7-2720QM is $150 more, and i7-2820QM is $350 more), and the graphics card (the 1GB GDDR5 Radeon HD 6490M graphics card is included, the Radeon HD 6770M is $25 more, and the Radeon HD 6770M with 2GB of dedicated memory is $75 more). Other features, parts, and accessories can be added for extra.
    Build and Design
    The new HP Pavilion dv7t consists of umber-colored glossy plastic materials with a hard metallic finish. HP has been known to go mostly for style over functionality in its build quality in the 17-inch entertainment notebook realm, but this time around the outer build quality seems to have improved greatly from the last 17-inch dv7t.

    As far as design goes, the notebook has a dark brown color (labeled as "umber") and the all-over brushed metallic gives the notebook a nice textured look. The frame around the display consists of glossy plastics, a stylistic move by HP. The model name is featured in the upper-righthand corner of the display, and "beats audio" is written in the upper lefthand corner (Beats Audio is HP's new audio-enhancing software). The overall finished result of the design strikes me as sophisticated and trendy; it's a design almost anyone would enjoy. It also comes in a "steel gray" color for $25 extra.

    The brushed metallic finish has greatly progressed the build quality from last time; now the exterior frame of the notebook feels stronger and the overall build quality really is excellent. The chassis is made of tough aluminum across the top and plastic underneath, and does not bend inward much when pressure is applied in the center of the keyboard. The palmrests do not flinch at all when pressure is applied and the side follows suit, but the top of the chassis does bend a little. The aluminum finish helps the palmrests and the rest of the chassis stay nice and cool even when the notebook is exerted. The speakers are located across almost the entire top of the chassis and below the touchpad, and also at the bottom of the notebook for a surround sound effect. The touchpad is ringed by a light blue backlight. The only complaint I have is the less-than-sturdy aluminum hinges: they bend when you press down on them. They do, however, seem as though they will be long-lasting and will withstand many years of being used.

    Since the notebook has a monster-sized 17.3-inch diagonal display and a 6.72-pound weight, this is probably not made for weak laps, (or laps in general) or for heavy traveling...but it will do nicely to be placed on a desk or to be carried around the house.
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    HP EliteBook 8560p

    The HP EliteBook 8560p is the latest generation of 15-inch premium business notebooks from Hewlett-Packard. This aluminum-clad workhorse is designed to serve as a mobile desktop replacement for business professionals who need cutting-edge technology wrapped inside a durable shell. Keep reading to find out if the new EliteBook is as "elite" as it looks.

    HP EliteBook 8560p Specifications:

    * Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
    * Intel Core i7-2620M (2.70GHz, 4MB L3 cache)
    * 4GB 1333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
    * 500GB 7200 rpm SATA II Hard Drive
    * DVD+/-RW SuperMulti drive with LightScribe
    * 15.6-inch diagonal LED-backlit HD+ WVA anti-glare (1600 x 900)
    * AMD Radeon HD 6470M with 1 GB dedicated DDR3 video memory
    * 720p HD webcam
    * 10/100/1000 Ethernet
    * Intel Centrino 802.11a/b/g/n wireless
    * Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
    * 90W Smart AC adapter with HP Fast Charge
    * 6-cell (62 WHr) Li-Ion battery
    * Weight: 6.05 lb
    * Dimensions (w x d x h): 14.72 x 9.86 x 1.34 inches
    * MSRP: $1,499.00 (starting price: $1,099.00)

    Build and Design
    In recent years the HP EliteBooks have distinguished themselves in the business world thanks to an exterior design featuring brushed-metal cladding and an interior chassis made of durable magnesium alloy. In short, the EliteBooks look cool and are built tough. The latest generation of HP EliteBooks takes that heritage a few steps further with what HP calls its "FORGE" design philosophy. FORGE is actually an acronym for the words, "Form, Optimization, Richness, Green and Enduring." If you want to overlook that marketing fluff for a moment, what HP is trying to say is that these notebooks are stylish, offer excellent performance, deliver a premium feel, provide efficient power management for long battery life, and are very well built to survive the rigors of business use.

    Those might sound like bold claims but, based on what we've seen from the previous generation of EliteBooks, those marketing claims have a very real basis in fact.

    One of the first things you'll notice when you pick up the new 15-inch EliteBook 8560p is that the notebook feels like it's made of very thick chunks of aluminum. You won't feel the "flex" that you normally see in cheaper plastic laptops. The 8560p notebook features a completely redesigned HP DuraCase that meets the MIL-STD 8710G military-standard testing specifications, meaning these notebooks withstand greater wear and tear than a typical laptop. Despite the rugged build quality this notebook should be easy to carry thanks to a starting weight of just over six pounds.

    Six pounds might sound heavy for a 15-inch notebook when there are many 17-inch consumer laptops that tip the scales at about the same weight. That said, I challenge anyone to build a metal-encased business notebook with high-end CPU, a discrete graphics card, and a built-in optical drive that weighs less than five pounds. The extra pound or so of weight comes from all that metal armor covering the notebook.

    The EliteBook p-series is available with second-generation (Sandy Bridge) Intel Core i7 quad-core processors and Core i7, i5 and i3 dual-core processors, with your choice of integrated graphics or AMD Radeon HD 6470M discrete graphics. The notebook also feature USB 3.0 ports and a USB 2.0 charging port, in addition to a variety of wireless options and either hard disk drive or solid-state disk drives for storage.

    The bottom of the 8560p is quite strong (no flex or creaks under pressure) and features a single massive access panel for making upgrades or replacing components. It should be extremely easy for an IT manager or even a lone small business owner to upgrade the RAM or replace a hard drive. You'll also notice the docking station connector on the bottom of the notebook in case you need to plug the 8560p into multiple external displays or you need additional ports.
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    HP EliteBook 8740w

    The HP EliteBook 8740w has been on the market for a while now, but it is still the largest and most powerful workstation in HP's current lineup of business notebooks. This massive workhorse features Intel processors, your choice of Nvidia or ATI workstation graphics and is available with HP's exclusive 17-inch "DreamColor" display. It's been a long time coming, but we finally took a closer look at this desktop replacement to see if it really is a graphic artist's best friend.

    Our review unit of the EliteBook 8740w features the following configuration:

    * Intel Core i7-820QM Quad-core Processor (1.73GHz, 8MB cache, 3.06GHz Turbo Frequency)
    * Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
    * 17.0-inch WUXGA+ anti-glare DreamColor display (1920 x 1200)
    * 1GB (GDDR5) ATI FirePro M7820 Workstation GPU
    * 8GB DDR3 RAM
    * 320GB 7200RPM HDD
    * DVD+/-RW Optical Drive
    * 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Modem, and Bluetooth Connectivity
    * 8-Cell 73WHr Battery
    * 3-Year on-site Warranty
    * Dimensions: 1.3" x 15.5" x 11.1"
    * Weight: 7.9lbs
    * MSRP: $3,552 as configured (starting price: $1,999)

    Build and Design
    The HP EliteBook 8740w is a "mobile workstation" designed to meet very specific requirements for performance, durability, power consumption and a host of other features. In each case the EliteBook line meets or exceeds those standards, so before you even try to life this almost eight-pound notebook you know it's built to be tough.

    The main body of the laptop is covered in the "HP DuraCase" and "HP DuraFinish" which is essentially a hard plastic and strong magnesium alloy inner shell much like its predecessor strengthened by a brushed aluminum outer shell that is scratch resistant. HP uses a darker color on the outside of the mobile workstations and a lighter silver finish on the standard EliteBook series. The outer shell of the screen casing is made of metal, but the inner screen bezel is plastic. The entire chassis from the base to the screen lid feels exceptionally strong and resistant to flex. The keyboard is the only exception to that rule since it has a tendency to "bounce" under your fingertips when you type with heavy pressure.

    HP says that this mobile workstation "has been tested and meets the military standard MIL-STD 810F tests" and we've seen HP demonstrations where this EliteBook was exposed to excessive heat, vibration and water and kept running. Additionally, the 8740w also features hard drive shock protection in the form of HP 3D DriveGuard which helps protect your hard drive in the event the laptop gets dropped or violently bumped. You can also configure the 8730w with a solid state drive (SSD) if you need extreme speed and resistance to vibration.

    In terms of expansion, the EliteBook 8740w uses two simple plastic covers on the bottom of the notebook (each held in place with standard Phillips head screws) so that you or your IT department can easily access the hard drive, wireless cards or RAM for fast upgrades. The optical drive can also be removed and replaced with a second hard drive or SSD if you need more storage. The bottom of the notebook also features a dedicated docking station port, external battery port, and a convenient place to store your business card.

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    HP Pavilion dm3t

    The HP Pavilion dm3t has been on the market for a while now, but it has quickly become HP's most popular 13-inch laptop competing against more expensive notebooks like the 13-inch Apple MacBook. Is this laptop with a Core i3 processor and Intel integrated graphics a good purchase?

    Our HP Pavilion dm3 (dm3t) features the following specifications:

    * Intel Core i3-380UM Processor (1.33GHz, 3MB L3 Cache) + Intel HD Graphics
    * 13.3-inch diagonal HD HP BrightView (glossy) LED Display (1366 x 768)
    * Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
    * 3GB DDR3 memory
    * 320GB, 7200 rpm HDD
    * Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n wireless
    * Bluetooth 3.0 (Ralink Motorola BC8)
    * 6-cell Li-ion battery (62 Wh) and 65W power adapter
    * Dimensions: 12.83 (L) x 9.15 (W) x 0.88 - 1.26 (H) inches
    * Weight: 4.1 pounds
    * MSRP as configured: $624.99

    Build and Design
    HP updated the Pavilion dm3 series late last year with a new low-voltage Intel Core i3 processor and a fresh design with a new cooling system designed to make the notebook more "lap friendly." Not only is this 13-inch laptop coolerf to the touch, but it looks cooler than the previous generation of the dm3. In short order this notebook became the trend setter for HP's consumer notebook line as the HP Pavilion dm1z and the the HP Mini line of netbooks were designed with a similar external appearance.

    Build quality is on par with what we've seen from the rest of the HP Pavilion notebooks and HP mini netbooks. The plastics used in the chassis are durable and thick enough to prevent flex or cracking under pressure. The plastic screen lid does an okay job protecting the screen but the middle of the lid does bend inward under firm pressure. The lid also features a rubber-like matte black paint job which is great for avoiding those fingerprints that show up on glossy notebooks. The screen hinges offer enough tension to hold the screen in place but are loose enough so you can open the laptop with one hand.

    HP decided to give the new dm3 a clean look with a two screwless access panels located on the bottom of the notebook. Simply remove the battery and slide a release switch to upgrade the RAM or swap out the hard drive. This is actually a great idea not only for making upgrades easier but it has the added safety measure of forcing you to remove the power supply before you can mess with the internal components (something you should do anyway).
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    HP Mini 1103

    The HP Mini 1103 is one of the latest "business class" netbooks on the market to offer extreme portability and battery life for an extremely low price. Is this 10-inch netbook worth $300 from your company's coffers, or should your IT manager spend a little more on a serious laptop?

    Our review unit of the HP Mini 1103 features the following specs:

    * Windows 7 Starter (32-bit)
    * Intel Atom N455 processor (1.66GHz)
    * 1GB DDR3 RAM
    * 250GB hard drive (7200rpm)
    * 10.1-inch diagonal LED-backlit WSVGA anti-glare (1024 x 600)
    * Intel HD integrated graphics
    * Broadcom 802.11a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 3.0
    * 4-in-1 media card slot
    * Dimensions: 10.55 in (L) x 7.52 in (W) x 0.9-1.15 in (H)
    * Weight: 2.78 lb with 3-cell battery (not including weight of AC adapter).
    * Power: 6-cell 55Wh Lithium-Ion battery
    * Warranty: One-year standard warranty
    * Price: $299.00

    Build and Design
    Those familiar with the business-class HP Mini netbooks know that these low-cost ultra-portable laptops have better build quality than what you'll find among the consumer-grade HP Minis. Well, that was the case until the HP Mini 1103 arrived.

    At first glance, there is genuinely little that differentiates the new HP Mini 1103 and the consumer-friendly HP Mini 210 HD. The new design of the 1103 features an exterior shell similar to the HP Pavilion dm1z and Pavilion dm3t, but it looks virtually identical to the rest of the Mini lineup. In fact, the only design element that really stands out as possibly being business oriented is the use of matte black plastics on the lower half of the chassis and the keyboard.

    Despite the consumer appearance, the build quality is good enough for the average road warrior. I wouldn't recommend using the Mini 1103 outdoors in a rainstorm, but I wouldn't hesitate to toss it in a briefcase or purse and run to a client meeting. When the screen lid is closed the HP Mini 1103 feels sturdy and doesn't show much flex under pressure. The palmrest also offers plenty of support while typing, although adult-sized hands will probably find little room for comfort beneath this tiny keyboard.

    One design element that I found particularly interesting (if not particularly useful) is the screen hinge moves all the way back to allow the netbook to open completely flat. I'm just not sure how many people need this feature.

    The HP Mini 1103 has the same upgrade friendly design we've seen on multiple HP netbooks and notebooks. Simply remove the battery from the back of the netbook, slide the orange release switch to one side and you can remove the entire bottom plate of the Mini 1103. You only need to use a screwdriver if you plan to remove the hard drive or wireless cards. Simple RAM upgrades require no additional tools. In short, you don't need to have an IT manager to perform basic upgrades.
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    HP Pavilion dm1z

    The new HP Pavilion dm1 (also called the Pavilion dm1z) is an 11-inch notebook that uses the latest AMD Fusion technology to combine a fast dual-core processor and powerful graphics inside a budget-priced netbook alternative. Is this the best new notebook for 2011? Keep reading to find out.

    Our HP Pavilion dm1 (dm1z) features the following specifications:

    * AMD E-350 with AMD Radeon HD 6310 Graphics (dual-core CPU at 1.6 GHz and dual DX-11 SIMDs at 500 MHz)
    * 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 HD glossy display with LED backlighting
    * Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)
    * 3 GB DDR3 memory
    * 320 GB, 7200 rpm HDD (Hitachi Travelstar 7K500)
    * Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11b/g/n wireless
    * Bluetooth 3.0 (Ralink Motorola BC8)
    * 6-cell Li-ion battery (51Wh)
    * Dimensions: 11.45 (L) x 8.45 (W) x 0.9 - 1.25 (H) inches
    * Weight: 3.53 pounds
    * MSRP: $449.99

    Build and Design
    The new HP Pavilion dm1 is an evolutionary update to last year's Pavilion dm1z and the dv2 from 2009. Stylistically, the dm1 has more in common with the dm3. In fact, if you place the new dm1 side by side with last year's dm3, you'll see that this 11-inch notebook is basically a smaller version of the dm3. At first glance it's easy to mistake the dm1z for one of the dozens of HP netbooks that have shown up over the last few years. Fortunately, the Pavilion dm1 has a lot more to offer than those low-performance netbooks.

    Build quality is on par with what we've seen from the rest of the HP Pavilion Ultraportable notebooks and HP mini netbooks. The plastics used in the chassis are durable and thick enough to prevent flex or cracking under pressure. The plastic screen lid provides adequate protection for the screen but the middle of the lid does bend inward under firm pressure (be careful jamming this into overhead compartments on your next flight). The lid also features an attractive matte black paint job with black pinstriping done in glossy paint. This makes fingerprint smudges far less visible than what we see on laptop lids with glossy paint jobs. Opening up the screen, the hinges have enough tension to hold the screen in place when it's motionless but not enough tension to hold the screen in place when you're carrying it around. The rest of the body of the notebook seems to be well designed with minimal chassis flex and no obvious creaks from the plastics.

    One area of the design that will probably get a mixed reception is the bottom of the notebook. HP decided to give the new dm1 a clean look with a single massive bottom plate secured by screws that are hidden beneath the foot pads. At first glance there is no expansion bay access panel here and no way to quickly upgrade the RAM or replace the hard drive. Granted, the overwhelming majority of people who buy a $450 laptop will never open it up to make upgrades. However, if you remove the battery, slide the battery release switch again and pull forward on the bottom plate, the entire bottom of the notebook will slide forward giving you access to the RAM, hard drive and wireless cards. I just wish this was a little more obvious for owners who want to upgrade the notebook themselves.
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    Lenovo IdeaPad Z560

    The Lenovo Z-series IdeaPad is a budget-friendly multimedia notebook aimed to be a tier lower than the popular Y-series. The Z-series comes in two sizes including a 13.6 and 15.6-inch model, both of which offer unique styling and configurations. In this review, we take a look at the 15.6-inch IdeaPad Z560 and see how it stacks up against the competition.

    Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 Specifications:

    * 15.6-inch 720p (1366 x 768) glossy panel with LED backlighting
    * Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    * Intel Core i3-350M dual-core processor (2.26 Ghz, 3 MB Cache)
    * Integrated Intel HD graphics
    * 3GB DDR3 dual-channel RAM (1GB + 2GB)
    * 500GB 5400RPM Western Digital hard drive (WD5000BEVT)
    * Broadcom 802.11n Wireless LAN, Bluetooth
    * DVD burner combo drive
    * 1-year global limited warranty
    * 6-cell Li-ion battery (48Wh)
    * Weight: 5.7 lbs.
    * Dimensions: 14.8" (L) x 9.8" (D) x 0.70-1.40" (H)
    * MSRP: $850

    Build and Design
    The Lenovo IdeaPad Z560 has a stylish appearance with a piano-black glossy cover with chrome "Lenovo" lettering and a brushed metal bezel for the palmrest and keyboard trim. The exterior look is very nice and could almost pass off for a business notebook in the right setting. Inside the Z560 has a nice metal palmrest, a large textured touchpad, and big contoured touchpad buttons. Even the keyboard looks great, sharing the design from the Edge-series ThinkPads with the hybrid ThinkPad and Island-style keys. One interesting feature about the Z560 is the rescue-and-recover button that is recessed and almost hidden. It is the same size as the numlock and capslock indicator lights next to it, but if you press it with a ball-point pen it activates the mode.

    Build quality is about average for a notebook in this class, offering a relatively sturdy chassis with durable plastic and alloy components. The screen lid offers adequate protection for the screen, only allowing the LCD to show distortions under heavy pressure. The screen is held down by friction of the screen hinges alone and seems to be held firmly shut when the notebook is hanging at your side. The main body of the notebook feels pretty strong, with no flexing or twisting when you hold the system by the edge of the keyboard. The brushed metal palmrest does an excellent job at resisting flex over the width of the palmrest, with that rigidity stretching up to the keyboard tray and speakers. Overall the body is very sturdy and should hold up well to daily abuse.

    Users looking to upgrade the IdeaPad Z560 will find it easy through a single panel on the bottom of the notebook. After removing no less than 10 screws, the plate can comes off to expose the hard drive, wireless card, two pieces of RAM, and heatsink/processor combo. Users looking to pop in their own WWAN device will be disappointed though, as the Z560 has the required connection area, but no soldered on slot.
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    Lenovo IdeaPad U260

    The Lenovo IdeaPad U260 is the first ultraportable laptop to feature a 12.5-inch display and is packed with an Intel Core i5 processor. A durable metal body and leather accents add to the premium feel, but is this notebook worth the $1,000 price tag? Keep reading to find out.

    Specifications for our review unit of the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 are as follows:

    * 12.5-inch HD AntiGlare Display (1366 x 768) with integrated camera
    * Intel Core i5-470UM Processor (1.33GHz 800MHz 3MB)
    * Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64
    * Intel HD Graphics
    * 4GB PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz
    * 320GB 5400rpm hard drive
    * Intel Wireless Wi-Fi Link 1000
    * Bluetooth Version 2.1 + EDR
    * Li-Polymer battery
    * 1-year warranty
    * Weight: 3.05 lbs
    * Dimensions: 12.5 x 8.1 x 0.7 inches
    * MSRP: $1,199 ($999 street price)

    Build and Design
    The team at Lenovo is better known for the all-business ThinkPad line of professional notebooks than for designing attractive laptops for consumers. That said, the U260 might just be the best looking Lenovo notebook we've ever seen.

    Let's get right down to it and say what many people are thinking; the Lenovo IdeaPad U260 is about as close as anyone can get to building a MacBook in PC clothing. The U260 isn't a carbon copy of the MacBook, but Lenovo engineers took some of the key design elements that make the MacBook attractive -- a Chiclet-style keyboard, a clean-looking design, a thin and light metal chassis -- and put them into a Windows-based laptop.

    That said, it's important to give the team at Lenovo credit for a few unique design cues. For starters, the IdeaPad U260 features leather-covered palm rests that are quite possibly the most comfortable palm rests I've ever felt. Typing documents or emails on this laptop feels great simply because your wrists and palms feel like they're floating beneath the keys. Combine the soft-touch palm rests with a durable metal chassis and the attractive "mocha brown" exterior color and you've got one of the best looking Windows-based laptops we've seen in a while. Granted, more consumers would probably like the color of the U260 if it was also offered in more standard colors like black, red and blue, but the available mocha brown or clementine orange exteriors help set this laptop apart from the competition.

    Unfortunately, the simple and clean design of the U260 also means that this laptop lacks a number of features you'll find on bulkier, heavier notebooks. For starters, you only get two USB 2.0 ports and no media card reader or ExpressCard slot on this notebook. Two other potential concerns are the fact that the U260 uses an integrated battery (you can't replace the battery yourself) and no easy access panels for replacing the hard drive or upgrading the RAM.

    In short, the IdeaPad U260 is essentially stuck the way it is at the time you purchase the notebook. Sure, if you own a set of Torx bits and precision screw drivers you can disassemble the entire notebook to swap out the battery or make additional upgrades, but most consumers are unlikely to go through all that trouble.
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    Lenovo IdeaPad V460

    The V460 has mid-range components which are enough to handle just about any modern application (within reason). This is not a gaming machine; the Nvidia G310M graphics will not go far with today's 3D games. However, for general use there is more than ample performance. The Intel Core i5 processor has two cores, enabling users to run several programs at a time without slowing down. The V460's 4GB of RAM is plenty for running modern programs. The included 320GB 5400RPM drive is whisper quiet, but slow.

    Our Lenovo IdeaPad V460 has the following specifications:

    * 14-inch 720p (1366 x 768) glossy display with LED backlighting
    * Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
    * Intel Core i5-430M dual-core processor (2.26GHz up to 2.40GHz Turbo Boost, 3MB L3, 2.5GT/s QPI, 35W TDP)
    * Intel HM55 chipset
    * Switchable graphics:
    * Dedicated Nvidia GeForce G310M 1GB
    * Integrated Intel HD graphics
    * 4GB DDR3-1066 dual-channel RAM (2x 2GB)
    * 320GB 5400RPM Western Digital hard drive (WD3200BEVT)
    * Intel Wireless Wi-Fi Link 1000
    * Integrated biometric fingerprint reader
    * DVD burner (HL-DT-ST DVDRAM GT30N)
    * 1-year limited warranty
    * 6-cell li-ion battery (11.1V, 48Wh)
    * Weight: 4.85 lbs.
    * Dimensions: 13.4” x 9.3” x 0.8~1.3”
    * MSRP: $799

    The specifications are slightly less than expected for this price range, however this review will show whether the promised "good build" quality makes up for the gap.

    Build and Design
    The IdeaPad V460 has a stylish professional look which is at home in nearly any environment. The chassis and lid are covered in finely brushed aluminum, which not only feels great, but adds strength. The V460 weighs in at 4.85 lbs, which is slightly more than usual for a 14-inch notebook. The chassis is relatively thin with an average height of about one inch. The V460's build quality is above average for its price range. Grabbing the two front corners of the chassis and twisting produces minimal flex. The chassis surface is rigid and does not bend under pressure thanks to the aluminum.

    The lid is reasonably strong and does not feel flimsy; however, applying pressure to the back of the display with my fingers produced some ripples on the screen; the aluminum did not help as much here as I thought it would. My main complaint with the V460's design is the use of black glossy plastic for the screen surround; it attracts and shows dust and fingerprints easily and is difficult to keep clean.

    Fit and finish is good; gaps between parts is consistent and there are no sharp or unfinished edges. There are volume up, down, and mute buttons above the keyboard. They are touch-enabled and work well. Unlike most notebooks in its class, the V460 has a biometric fingerprint reader built into the palm rest area. Overall the V460 has good build quality and good looks. The use of aluminum on the exterior makes a big difference.
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    Lenovo ThinkPad X120e

    The ThinkPad X120e is the latest "netbook alternative" for business from the team at Lenovo. This 11-inch laptop is packed with the latest AMD "Fusion" processor technology as well as plenty of RAM and a fast hard drive to keep your business running smooth while on the go. Keep reading to find out more.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X120e Specifications:

    * AMD E-350 with AMD Radeon HD 6310 Graphics (dual-core CPU at 1.6GHz and dual DX-11 SIMDs at 500MHz)
    * 4GB PC3-10600 DDR3 SDRAM (1333MHz, 2 DIMM)
    * Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
    * 11.6" WXGA HD anti-glare LED Backlit display (1366x768)
    * 320GB 7200rpm SATA Hard Drive
    * 802.11b/g/n, Gigabit LAN
    * 4-in-1 card reader and 0.3-megapixel webcam
    * 6-Cell Li-ion battery
    * Dimensions: (W x L x H) 11.1" x 8.2" x 0.6"/1.2"
    * Weight: 3.3 pounds (with 6-cell battery)
    * Price as configured: $579.00 (currently $689 on Lenovo website)

    Build and Design
    The "ThinkPad" brand name is one of the few names that is virtually synonymous with business notebooks. These laptops regularly combine solid build quality, excellent keyboards, precision TrackPoints (that red dot in the middle of the keyboard) and fantastic warranty support. Last year Lenovo responded to customer demands for a "ThinkPad netbook" and delivered the 11-inch X100e. That bargain-priced ultraportable delivered pretty good performance at a low cost, but didn't provide particularly impressive battery life and got pretty hot on your lap thanks to the old AMD processor technology.

    Lenovo promises to make things right in 2011 with the new and improved ThinkPad X120e.

    At first glance, the exterior of the 11-inch ThinkPad X120e is virtually identical to the old X100e. In fact, the only things that have changed on the outside are the location of a few ports on the sides of the notebook and the addition of an HDMI connection for modern external monitors, projectors and HDTVs. The simple plastic rectangular screen lid on our review unit features a "midnight black" color scheme that gives it a more low-cost appearance than the rubber-coated ThinkPads, but it's clear this laptop means business.

    Those customers who are interested in upgrading the RAM or the hard drive by themselves will be happy to know there is a single massive access plate on the bottom of the notebook that gives you full access to the internal components. Yes, chances are that most business buyers will order all their upgrades at the time of purchase, but it's good to know Lenovo keeps it simple for the do-it-yourself crowd.
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    Lenovo ThinkPad X220

    Lenovo's newest 12-inch business notebook, the ThinkPad X220, offers the latest Intel Sandy Bridge processors, a high-quality IPS display, and battery life that is so incredible you've got to see it to believe it. Keep reading to find out more about what is sure to be a very popular business laptop.

    Our review unit of the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 features the following specifications:

    * Intel Core i5-2520M dual-core processor (2.5GHz, 3MB cache, 3.2GHz Turbo frequency)
    * Windows 7 Professional (64-bit)
    * 12.5-inch Premium HD (1366 x 768) LED Backlit Display (IPS)
    * Intel Integrated HD Graphics
    * 4GB DDR3 (1333MHz)
    * 320GB Hitachi Travelstar hard drive (Z7K320)
    * Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (Taylor Peak) 2x2 AGN wireless card
    * Intel 82579LM Gigabit Ethernet
    * 720p High Definition webcam
    * Fingerprint reader
    * 6-cell battery (63Wh) and optional slice battery (65Wh)
    * Dimensions: 12 (L) x 8.2 (W) x 0.5-1.5 (H) inches with 6-cell battery
    * Weight:
    o 3.5 pounds with 6-cell battery
    o 4.875 pounds with 6-cell battery and optional external battery slice
    * Price as configured: $1,299.00 (starting at $979.00)

    Build and Design
    Lenovo recently announced their latest ThinkPad line of business notebooks, but they had one more surprise in store: the ThinkPad X220. If you've never heard of the "ThinkPad" brand name then I'm glad you finally left that cave you've been living in since the mid 1990s. ThinkPads have long been regarded as some of the best business laptops thanks to a trusted combination of cutting-edge performance, solid build quality, excellent keyboards, precision TrackPoints (that red dot in the middle of the keyboard) and fantastic warranty support. The previous generation of 12-inch Thinkpads, the ThinkPad X201, was widely regarded as the best 12-inch business notebook on the market.

    At first glance, the exterior of the ThinkPad X220 has only a few minor changes from the X201. The location of several ports has been shuffled around, but you've still got the same tried and true boxy design combined with durable magnesium alloy and plastic construction covered in matte black rubberized paint. Lenovo continues to provide essentially a full-size keyboard on a 12-inch ultraportable notebook, but that larger keyboard comes at the expense of space for the palm rests. Although typing is very comfortable on the X220, your wrists don't have abundant space with your fingers in the traditional typing position.

    Regardless of the compact design, the X220 continues Lenovo's trend of "business rugged" laptops. This ThinkPad is Milspec tested (physical shock, thermal shock, altitude, dust, vibration, humidity, heat and cold) for proven durability. Translation: mobile professionals don't need to treat this laptop with kid gloves. Toss the X220 in your car or let the flight attendant jam it into an overhead compartment. The X220 will take the beating and keep working.

    The majority of Lenovo's business clients order their notebooks pre-configured exactly the way they want them. However, Lenovo still makes it reasonably easy for those customers who want to upgrade the X220 on their own. The hard drive is easily replaced by removing the single screw on the side access panel. As far as RAM is concerned, there are two slots located under the main access plate on the bottom of the notebook. Our review unit came with a single 4GB memory module installed, so it would be quite easy to upgrade to the maximum 8GB memory capacity by installing a second 4GB stick of RAM.
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