Last month we reviewed Samsung’s Series 9 ultraportable notebook and found that, while it offered an exceedingly svelte and fashionable form factor, there was a performance trade-off to all that stylishness. Lenovo’s 13-inch ThinkPad X1 represents a completely different approach to ultraportability.
Responding to allegations that the new SYSMark2012 benchmark isn’t valid for today’s hardware, BAPCo fired back at AMD and said the chip company voted in favor of 80 percent of the proposals in the benchmark.
Business Applications Performance Corporation or BAPCo officials also denied that they tried to expel AMD from the group after AMD started publically grousing.
What you do alone in your man cave is your business. If you want to put on a pair of 3D glasses and practice the Na’vi language, more power to you. Sony’s F Series Vaio 3D can make that dream a reality in style, but it lacks the graphics power to deliver first-class stereoscopic 3D gaming.
Samsung has only been selling its laptops in North America for the last few years, and while those machines haven’t been bad, they haven’t been remarkable either. But with the Series 9, the company is putting forth a laptop that demands notice. From its sub–three pound, super-slim, and sexy chassis to its spare, sophisticated style, it looks like nothing so much as a MacBook Air. It’s a bold, high-profile move by a company that’s been firmly rooted in the mainstream.
By now, Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs need no introduction. Since their debut late last year, the procs have been on the hot list of every red-blooded power user. But getting at them hasn’t been easy. Particularly the mobile parts, which hadn’t even hit the market in new notebooks before the now-infamous SATA 3Gb/s port issue brought product flow to a grinding halt.
If we hadn’t just spent time ogling HP’s Envy 17, we might have appreciated the Samsung RF710’s aesthetics more. After all, it too sports a sleek, sophisticated design. It’s just that everything about the RF710 looks low-rent compared to the Envy 17. That’s not so surprising, considering that the RF710 costs more than $1,000 less. The two notebooks have nearly the exact same dimensions, but the RF710 is a pound or so lighter. That’s because, rather than sporting an all-metal chassis, as the Envy 17 does, the RF710 is primarily plastic. It’s made to look nice, with a metallic finish offsetting the chiclet keyboard, and a glossy black finish on the lid and screen bezel—which will unfortunately be marred by fingerprints in short order.
The Envy 17 is the biggest and most powerful model in HP’s top-end line of laptops, which are known for their sex appeal and solid build quality. The Envy 17’s 11x16.5x1.5-inch chassis is constructed of magnesium alloy with an aluminum wrapping that’s decoratively etched on the lid and palm rest. The chiclet keyboard is large, with a dedicated number pad, and the keys feel pleasant to type on. The keyboard’s backlight can be turned on and off with a key press. The Envy 17 also features a ClickPad, an enlarged touchpad that incorporates the right and left buttons under the same roof. The pad supports multitouch gestures, which can be a mixed bag—two-finger scrolling just never seems as responsive as one-finger edge motion. Two solid metal hinges connect the body to a 17.3-inch, 1920x1080 screen featuring edge-to-edge glass. It all makes for a handsome package.
We didn’t want to admit it, but it’s true: The Atom netbook market is a snooze. Netbooks based on Intel’s Atom platform (currently in its Pine Trail incarnation) ship with a 10.1-inch screen, 1GB of RAM, a 1.6GHz single-core Atom processor, Windows 7 Starter, blah blah blah. Netbooks with Nvidia’s Ion graphics architecture are more interesting, but they’re few and far between. At night, faint echoes from the ventilation shafts whisper of AMD’s forthcoming Atom smasher, code-named Ontario, which could signal a new dawn for the genre. But for now, the best we can hope for in this thoroughly commoditized market is a netbook that performs as well as its peers but looks good doing so. Samsung’s N210, which we reviewed in July, rocked a gorgeous Space Age aesthetic and a great keyboard but was packed to the exhaust ports with bloatware. The N230 has the same hardware, but in the slimmest, sleekest frame we’ve ever seen on a netbook. Where the N210 was Space Age, the N230 is pure modern.
By eschewing the multilayer clear-on-white plastic shell of the N210 for a single-layer, slim black carapace, Samsung made the N230’s profile sleeker—at its thickest it’s still less than an inch thick, and most parts of it are three-quarters of that. It’s also the lightest netbook we’ve ever tested, at just two pounds, five ounces (tied with the very first Acer Aspire One we tested in December 2008 for lap weight, and even lighter than that netbook when the power brick is included). Skipping the 6-cell battery did wonders for the N230’s weight and lines, but with a 3-cell battery, the N230 doesn’t last as long as its peers: It tapped out of our video rundown test 10 minutes short of the four-hour mark—70 minutes sooner than the N210 and nearly four-and-a-half hours short of the HP Mini 5102 (September 2010). All other benchmark scores were indistinguishable from those of any other Pine Trail netbook.
A 17-inch notebook is going to be big, there’s just no way around it. But after reviewing Malibal’s ginormous X7200 desktop replacement in our Holiday issue, Asus’s eight-pound, 11.8-ounce G73Jw-A1 seems highly portable by comparison. And at $1,800—one-third the price of the X7200—the G73Jw-A1 also seems highly affordable.
You get a lot of notebook for that price. At its center is a Core i7-740 quad-core mobile CPU, with a base clock of 1.73GHz and Turbo Boost potential up to 2.93GHz. Asus kicks that up a notch with a one-button overclock feature called Twin Turbo Mode, which pushes the CPU as much as 100MHz higher. According to Asus, Twin Turbo’s impact is most noticeable in multithreaded apps. And we did see a 6 percent difference when running MainConcept with and without Twin Turbo. But we also observed a similar difference in scores when we ran Photoshop, a mostly single-threaded app, both ways. Hey, we’ll take any extra performance we can get.
3D is everywhere these days. From new TVs to Hollywood blockbusters to gaming consoles, the technology, which has been around for ages, is now poised to give consumers a more immersive, in-your-face form of entertainment in the home. And the PC is no exception. In fact, it’s a natural fit. The PC games we’ve been playing for years are already rendered with a 3D engine—stereoscopic technology and a suitable set of glasses just bring them to life. Newer games will only optimize that potential. Add to this a spate of Blu-ray 3D movies coming down the pike and you can see why the PC is well within the clutches of this latest trend.
Sure enough, a cadre of new 3D laptops and monitors make it possible for you to enjoy stereoscopic content both on your desktop and on the go. The vast majority of these offerings rely on Nvidia’s 3D Vision kit—a set of powered shutter glasses, a USB-connected IR emitter, and the appropriate drivers—which, when paired with the right GPU (a GeForce 8 series or newer) and a 120Hz screen, provide an “active” 3D experience. In other words, as a rapid succession of alternating screens presents slightly different views to each eye, the shutter glasses ensure that the correct view is seen by the correct eye by shuttering the opposite lens accordingly.