It’s hard to believe that the Chromebook is still with us. If you recall, Chromebooks were birthed in a tumultuous time for the world. The country was in the midst of economic collapse and craptastic netbooks were the cheap hotness.
Note: This review was taken from the January 2012 issue of the magazine.
After reviewing the iBuyPower CZ-17 last month and seeing it look nearly identical to our zero-point MSI GT60, we were hoping our next gaming laptop would be a fresh, new design. Unfortunately Maingear's Nomad 15 apparently uses the same original design manufacturer (ODM) construction as those other two.
Note: This review was taken from the February 2013 issue of the magazine.
Gaming laptops tend to push garish, over-the-top designs these days; the second-generation Razer Blade throws these clichéd conventions out the window. The result is a 16.8x10.9x.88-inch minimalist laptop that resembles a large matte-black MacBook Pro. This doesn't mean the Blade looks plain, however. Its alluring green LEDs coupled with its slick LCD trackpad give this Blade a killer edge.
Note: This review was taken from the Holiday issue of the magazine.
We’ve been so inundated with Ultrabooks these days that we almost forgot how powerful, and hulking, a full-on gaming notebook can be. MSI’s GT60 arrived in our Lab to remind us. At 15.6 inches, the GT60 is not the biggest of the big, but it’s a beast nonetheless with a 15.5x10.5x2-inch body and a 10-pound carry weight.
The keyboard’s multicolored backlighting is customizable via a software control panel.
When Asus’s Zenbook UX31E debuted last year, it seemed to almost single-handedly put Ultrabooks on the map. Its intriguing mix of good looks, performance, and price convinced many a skeptic, us included, that PCs could compete with the likes of Apple’s vaunted MacBook Air—at a price that catered to common folk.
The UX32Vd comes with a protective sleeve, as well as a small pouch for carrying two connector dongles: one USB-to-Ethernet, one Mini-VGA-to-VGA.
Origin PC’s Eon11-S isn’t the first 11.6-inch gaming notebook to come knocking—Alienware kicked off the category in 2010 with its small-but-mighty M11x. But times have changed since the M11x’s debut, hardware and thermals have advanced, and thus Origin’s Eon11-S is no less impressive an accomplishment. Packed into the 11.2x8.1x1.4‑inch chassis are an Ivy Bridge Core i7-3720QM quad-core processor and a GeForce GT 650M GPU. They’re joined by a 256GB SSD in the standard 2.5-inch trim and 8GB of DDR3/1333 RAM across two slot‑driven SO-DIMMs. Incidentally, all the innards are accessible via a bottom panel that pops off with ease, making future upgrades possible.
The Eon11-S comes in either a “Traditional” design, with a simple matte-black textured lid, or this “A-Panel” design, in either matte red or black, for the same price.
WHEN LOOKING FOR a tagline that will easily sell a boatload of Acer Timeline M3 notebooks, it doesn’t take much more than: “an ultrabook that will play Battlefield 3 on Ultra setting.” And it’s true, too.
The Timeline M3 will indeed play BF3 on Ultra, provided you’re comfortable with 30 frames per second. That dips a bit below our thresholds for a shooter. We preferred playing Battlefield 3 on High, which gave us 50–60fps in online play. Granted, we were only playing at the 1366x768 native resolution of the machine’s 15.6-inch panel, but that’s pretty good for a so-called ultrabook.
We say so-called ultrabook because even though it’s within the very loose parameters set by Intel, a lot of people who encounter the Timeline M3 aren’t going to think this widescreen notebook is an ultrabook. Most people equate ultrabooks with PC clones of a MacBook Air. But the definition is broader. Ultrabooks must be within a certain height, run a certain proc, reach a certain battery life rating, and come out of hibernation in a certain amount of time. The Timeline is wide—just shy of 15 inches across—so wide that it has enough space for an optical drive. There’s even room in the Timeline to sport a 7mm, 2.5‑inch drive bay. Acer doesn’t use the bay, though, instead opting for a teeny-but-fast SATA 6Gb/s Lite-On SSD in mSATA trim. Storage hogs hoping to use both bays will be heartbroken—installing a drive in the 2.5-inch bay turned off the mSATA drive.
You’d have to actively be avoiding the tech media over the past several months not to have heard about Ultrabooks. Their coming has garnered a boatload of buzz, fueled in no small part by Intel’s $300 million fund to get hardware and software makers behind the cause.
Ultrabooks are Intel’s answer to the spread of ARM-based tablets—a way to capture the hearts and minds of the masses with an x86-based portable device (of the Intel persuasion, natch). To that end, Ultrabooks are required to meet a few key “desirability” standards. They must be slim, lightweight, have generous battery life, and boot and resume from hibernation in brisk fashion. It’s also understood they should look cool. As Apple products so clearly demonstrate, style sells. And sure enough, Ultrabooks—at least those that have debuted so far—are heartily infused with MacBook Air influence.
So are these new, “cool” devices the next must-have products? Is all the hoopla warranted? We review the first four Ultrabooks to kick off the category. All are 13.3 inch models, but each brings its own brand of hot-newness to the table, with varying degrees of persuasiveness, as you’ll see when you click the jump.
Lenovo also brings its A-game to the Ultrabook party. And well it should, since it’s asking almost $1,500 for the IdeaPad U300s. That’s premium, business-ultraportable price territory. It’s therefore apropos that the U300s has the most businessy aesthetic, although not at the sake of sleek design. Like the Asus UX31E and the MacBook Air, the U300s is crafted from a single-sheet of aluminum. It eschews the wedge form factor established by Apple and instead uniquely mimics the lines of a hardbound book, with the top and bottom edges protruding slightly all the way around the perimeter, the way a book’s covers protrude past the pages. It makes for a distinct and pleasing silhouette.
With the Asus UX31E, all the fuss about Ultrabooks starts to make sense. Its all-metal chassis, cut from a single sheet of aluminum, is undeniably handsome. And while this attractive metal wedge that’s just .71 inches at its thickest brings to mind the fine craftsmanship of a MacBook Air, it’s by no means a knockoff. The UX31E possesses a unique character that’s admirable in its own right. And at $1,050, it’s $250 less than its similarly spec’d Apple counterpart.