Sure, the M15x might have gone AWOL, but Dell has been kind enough to finally ship the beastly M18x to interested parties. This is not your run of the mill laptop. This is a full scale desktop replacement that weighs in at 16 pounds. The upside of all that mass is the amazing hardware packed into the unit.
Sandy Bridge has been back in the news this week in a very big way, with just about every manufacturer launching all new dual core laptops with Core i3, i5, and i7 branded processors. You might make the argument that Sandy Bridge laptops have been around for ages now, but as Engadget points out, only those on the market for quad cores were finding a match up until this week. Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, and Sony have all hopped on the bandwagon giving you plenty of new machines to pick from.
Hit the jump for a list of this week's notebook releases.
Apple's Macbook Air has been widely praised for its smart, attractive industrial design. Samsung, not to be outdone, showed off their own super lightweight laptop at CES a few months ago. The Series 9 is a great looking laptop with reasonable specs, and it is on sale now.
As technology enthusiasts we sometimes forget that not everyone is caught up in our never ending state of gadget lust, and the law of averages has mainstream consumers driving up the age of most hardware found in the wild. According to industry analysts’ quoted by the New York Times, most people are now upgrading old cellphones every 18 months, a sharp rise from just a year ago when it was only 16.
Filing of claims in the settlement of the class-action lawsuit that was brought against NVIDIA a couple of years ago for shipping defective GPUs inside certain Dell, HP and Apple notebooks is now underway. It was alleged that the faulty NVIDIA parts undermined the performance of the affected notebooks, but the graphics chip maker eventually reached a settlement in the class-action lawsuit in September, 2010. The settlement was approved by the court in December.
Those who bought the affected laptops are eligible to file a claim for replacement or reimbursement or both, according to the website NVIDIA has set up for the settlement. All important information with regards to the settlement and the filing of claims, including lists of affected models and symptoms covered, can be found on the site. Those at the receiving end of the company’s faulty parts have until March 14, 2011 to file their claims.
Some of the problems that users of the affected notebooks had to put up with include: distorted or scrambled video (all), complete loss of video output (all), garbled images (Dell/HP), and failure to detect wireless network (HP).
Most of the recent buzz in the vexatiously noisy tablet market has been about potential iPad killers. Even though most of that much touted tablet revolution seems perennially stuck in upcoming mode, it hasn't deterred many from imagining a tablet-dominated future. A Wall Street Journal article earlier in the week quoted Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn as saying that the iPad was cannibalizing notebook sales by as much as 50%.
The comment attributed to him provided additional fuel for the ongoing tablet-versus-notebook debate, which seemed especially loud this week. But Dunn on Friday retracted that comment. “The reports of the demise of these devices are grossly exaggerated. While they were fueled in part by a comment in The Wall Street Journal they are not an accurate depiction of what we're currently seeing. In fact, we see some shifts in consumption patterns, with tablet sales being an incremental opportunity,” Dunn clarified in a statement.
If you have, for some reason, been hankering for a smartbook, you may be a little disappointed. Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs stated during a company event today that tablets have most likely killed the nascent smartbook market. With Qualcomm being one of the most ardent supporters of the smartbook concept, there's little hope for the category to continue.
The HP Airlife was the only device to be marketed as a smartbook. This Android-based device never really found its audience when it was released earlier this year. Still, Qualcomm will continue to make faster mobile chips, they're just more likely to be seen in tablets and smartphones than in light-weight computers.
If smartbooks had materialized sooner, they may have had a shot. But in the wake of the iPad, it's not hard to see how it ended up this way. Were you interested in the smartbook category? What will you do now?
Toshiba is now recalling thousands of T130 series laptops owing to overheating concerns, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Thursday. The models covered under the voluntary recall program are the Satellite T135, Satellite T135D and Satellite ProT130. The company issued the recall after being inundated with reports of the said “notebook computers overheating and deforming the plastic casing area around the AC adapter plug.” While Toshiba has received 129 complaints in all, there have been only two instances each of minor burns and minor property damage.
“The defective harness may, in some circumstances, overheat to the point of melting the computer's base at the location where the AC adaptor plugs into the unit. To date there have been no reports of serious injury, but the temperature is sufficient to pose a burn hazard if specific parts of the DC-In Jack or plug are touched when they are overheated,” reads a support bulletin on Toshiba's website.
Owners of the affected units (see full list of SKUs) are advised to update to the latest version of the BIOS either through the Toshiba Service Station Application installed on their computers or by downloading the appropriate version from the company's website. “Should the BIOS determine that a harness failure is occurring, external power will immediately be disabled eliminating the possibility of the over heating. You will then need to contact the Toshiba call center to set up a warranty repair.”
Researchers at Georgia Institute of technology have devised a new "bottom-up" self-assembly technique to overcome technical difficulties that had rendered more efficient silicon-based anodes impractical. The current crop of batteries only feature anodes made from graphite.
But the new technique uses “nanotechnology to fine-tune its materials properties,” allowing silicon-based anodes to be more stable inside the battery, and thereby paving the way for “a ten-fold capacity improvement over graphite.” Not only will the new technique improve the storage capacity of Li-ion batteries manifold, but such batteries will also last much longer.
"Development of a novel approach to producing hierarchical anode or cathode particles with controlled properties opens the door to many new directions for lithium-ion battery technology," said Gleb Yushin, an assistant professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "This is a significant step toward commercial production of silicon-based anode materials for lithium-ion batteries."
Nvidia has been talking up their new Optimus system as of late. An Optimus enabled notebook will be able to seamlessly switch between a low power integrated GPU to a higher power dedicated GPU. The power savings are said to be significant, nearly doubling rated battery life. Optimus can do this by completely powering off the GPU when using the on-board. To prove this, Nvidia went ahead a pulled the GPU from a running computer causing no interruption.
The real trick of Optimus is that the switch will happen automatically whenever the GPU is needed. For example, if you use the GPU acceleration in Flash 10.1 and open a Youtube video, the GPU would turn on to render the video. Close the Window, and the GPU powers down. This demo is meant to stress that when an Optimus system turns off the GPU, it is totally electrically off.
We’re excited about the possible energy savings this system could bring. Switchable graphics in notebooks have long been available, but poorly implemented. If Optimus is really as seamless as Nvidia makes it look, count us in.