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.
A new report (PDF) by market firm DisplaySearch suggests that even though 3D is making a strong push to penetrate the notebook market, consumers are a little reluctant to buy into the hype.
"Is the market ready to accept 3D in a notebook PC? If the sales this year are any indication, then it seems that consumers are, so far, hesitant to embrace 3D notebook PCs," DisplaySearch said in its report. "Since the beginning of the year, less than 100,000 3D-equipped notebook PCs have been sold in a market of more than 100 million notebooks. That is less than one-tenth of one percent of the total notebook PC market."
In another recent study -- this one conducted by Nielsen -- consumers who viewed 3D content became less interested in purchasing a 3D TV. Factor in higher costs and concerns over having to wear 3D glasses, it could be awhile before 3D truly enters the mainstream.
Do you think 3D is here to stay, or just a passing fad?
In last year’s ultraportable notebook roundup (August 2009), HP’s EliteBook 2530p put in a strong showing, wowing us with its good looks, sturdy construction, and strong performance. Its successor, the EliteBook 2540p, is strikingly similar in many regards but has the advantage of new and improved components and a lower price.
At 11.1x9.5x1.5 and a lap weight of three pounds, 16 ounces, the 2540p is not the slimmest or lightest business ultraportable out there, but frequent travelers will no doubt appreciate how solid it feels. The notebook—which is built to military standards for toughness, we’re told—sports a magnesium-alloy casing with a scratch-resistant brushed metal exterior, durable hinges, and a secure clasping mechanism. The keyboard is sizable and easy to type on, and you’re given both a touchpad and TrackPoint for navigation. The notebook also offers a handy, popout keyboard light.
Dell has chosen the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco to give us the first glimpse of their upcoming DUO 10-inch convertible tablet computer. The device itself is expected to be packing a dual core Intel Atom N550. It will at least have Windows 7 Home Premium. The real is the way the screen "converts" into a tablet.
Unlike the last round of convertible tablets, there is no swivel hinge on this device. Instead, the screen itself rotates inside the bezel to flip around. The lid can then be closed, and you have a Windows 7 tablet. Dell plans to push a docking station for the computer to plug into when in tablet mode.
The DUO is expected to launch later this year. In the demo, the touchscreen did not look particularly responsive, but this is still a prototype. The DUO's screen does appear to support multitouch input, though. Still, you have to admire the self-control it must have taken to pretend it was just a slate for 5 minutes of the demo in preparation for the big reveal. No pricing information was available. What do you think would be a reasonable price? The internals appear to essentially be that of a netbook, but it does have a few extra tricks.
Veteran gaming-PC company iBuypower is offering the first multitouch gaming laptop, along with a workaround for the complete dearth of multitouch games.
The 15.6-inch MT20X features a capacitive screen with glass overlay to take full advantage of Win7’s multitouch support. All the neat features we’ve come to associate with multitouch—finger-based dragging, scrolling, zooming, rotating—are performed with smoothness and precision on the MT20X’s screen. But neat as this is, it felt a bit unnatural to use on a conventional laptop. For instance, we resented that the trackpad’s lack of a scroll feature forced us to move our fingers from the keyboard to the screen to scroll through web pages and documents.
Advanced Micro Devices has said that it remains ahead of schedule with its Fusion chips - or APUs (accelerated processing unit) as it likes to call them. The low-power “Ontario” SoC (System-on-Chip), aimed at netbooks and low-end notebooks, will be the first Fusion chip on the market when it makes its debut during the fourth quarter.
AMD has, in fact, pushed in Ontario’s launch, which was previously scheduled for next year, citing accelerated development owing to great interest from consumers. However, the company plans to steer clear of the burgeoning tablet market for now, restricting Ontario to netbooks and low-end notebooks.
Our notebook benchmarks had barely recovered from the wailing they took at the hands of AVADirect’s Core i7/SLI-wielding X8100 (reviewed June) when Eurocom’s D900F arrived to inflict further punishment. At least this time around they suffered a different set of injuries.
Eurocom’s 17-inch desktop replacement flexes its muscle in the form of a 3.33GHz Core i7-980X, making it the first hexa-core notebook we’ve tested. The humble 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo T9900 in our zero-point notebook didn’t stand a chance. We watched in awe as the D900F tore through the applications benchmarks with brute force. From its 450 percent lead in Premiere Pro to its 222 percent lead in ProShow Producer to even its 56 percent lead in the mostly single-threaded Photoshop test, the D900F was merciless. It even walloped the 1.73GHz Core i7-820 quad-core in AVADirect’s X8100, with leads ranging from 29 percent (Photoshop) to 225 percent (Premiere Pro).
It's called the Envy 13 for a reason. From its magnesium alloy frame, to its beautiful display and its laser etched hand-rest, HP's Envy 13 is sure to turn a few of your friends green. The only setback to this ultraportable? It's going to cost you a lot of green, too. The system starts out at $1,450, and as configured here, costs $1725.
The Envy 13 looks a lot like a MacBook Pro. It has a beautiful and large island-style keyboard that was easy to type on almost immediately. Below it is a multitouch trackpad that worked well for zooming in and out of websites and photos. If you've never used a multitouch trackpad, think of it like an iPhone screen: Simply pinch to zoom in and pull your two fingers apart to zoom out.
In September 2009, we saw AVADirect push the boundaries of portable computing with its honkin’ Core i7-975 Extreme Edition–equipped D900F desktop replacement. That behemoth was both a back breaker (at 15 pounds) and a benchmark buster (at least in our applications tests).
This month, we’re presented with AVA-Direct’s X8100—a rig that’s similarly monstrous but boasts a completely different character. The X8100 features a Core i7-820QM, a true mobile quad-core part. Intel’s Clarksfield chips have obvious advantages in a mobile platform, including a lower price and a much lower TDP (thermal design point)—45W max vs. 130W—than the desktop Nehalems. There’s also more emphasis on Turbo Boost. So, although the i7-820QM has a base clock of 1.73GHz, it can theoretically reach 3.06GHz in single-threaded apps. Photoshop is our only mostly single-threaded application benchmark, and you can see from the numbers that the X8100 performed 20 percent better in that test than our 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo zero-point rig did. But in the multithreaded tests, where the X8100 didn’t have the full advantage of Turbo Boost, the applications scores were even more punishing—with the X8100 achieving leads in excess of 50 percent—such is the power of those two extra cores, plus HyperThreading, plus a superior microarchitecture.
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."