The first word that comes to mind when you pick up HP’s 2530p is “solid.” From its heft, to its construction, to its scratch-resistant anodized aluminum display enclosure and palm rest, this notebook seems eminently rugged. HP claims that the 2530p has passed a battery of Mil-Spec tests including 26 drops from different angles at a distance of 30 inches, but we didn’t have the stomach to verify that. We will say the notebook seems up to the rigors of heavy use and regular transport. The price of this sturdiness is added weight—at three pounds, 12.7 ounces, the 2530p weighs about a pound more than the other notebooks in this roundup, although it doesn’t feel cumbersome. We’re more bothered that the battery protrudes from the notebook’s 11.1x8.5x1.5-inch body by almost an inch.
The 2530p’s keyboard feels as solid as the body, with a conventional key layout, full-size keys, and both TrackPoint and touchpad options. Small nubbins just above the palm rest ostensibly prevent the keys from abrading the screen when the notebook is shut. Like the X200s, the 2530p sports a keyboard light. An LED-lit touch-sensitive volume slider above the keypad would be handy if it weren’t so twitchy. Teleconferencers will like that the 2530p features a 2MP webcam (vs. the typical 1.3MP) and a dual-array mic. Most everyone will like the notebook’s full complement of ports and slots—our only complaint is that there are just two USB ports.
Lenovo’s X200s has qualities we’ve come to expect from a ThinkPad—and that’s a good thing. Its magnesium alloy chassis is wrapped in the line’s signature matte black finish, making for a notebook that feels sturdy and looks serious. And at 11.2x8.25x1.25 inches and weighing less than three pounds, the X200s is also lightweight and compact. Yet not so compact that the keyboard suffers—it’s full-size and quite comfortable for typing. A handy light positioned above the screen will illuminate the keyboard and there are dedicated buttons for controlling audio volume.
As with all ThinkPads, the X200s also features the TrackPoint navigation system, whereby you control the cursor using an isometric joystick in the middle of the keyboard, with the left- and right-click buttons in close proximity just below the spacebar. For the uninitiated, TrackPoint can be easily mastered and it’s nice that you can perform navigation functions without moving your hands off the keyboard. But unlike larger ThinkPad models, the X200s doesn’t feature a conventional touchpad as well, which will disappoint folks who like that option.
Battery-life claims never seems to line up with reality. You’d think testing battery life would be straightforward, but benchmark results rarely jibe with real-world results—in part, because there are an infinite number of potential workloads (each tapping power differently), and battery life decays over time. Both Intel and AMD make mobile CPU platforms designed for low power consumption, but due to the massive number of variables involved, I’ve found it nearly impossible to determine which architecture sucks the least juice.
Think about it. There’s a lot of hardware in a laptop that can affect battery life besides the CPU and the battery itself: the LCD screen and backlight, the optical and hard drives, the GPU, chipset, and memory config—to name just a few. The upshot is that if you want to fairly compare Intel and AMD hardware, you really need to test what we’ll call core power draw, isolating all the other variables. There are just a handful of ways to do this fairly, and each comes with its own problems.
Asus’s Eee PC kicked off the netbook craze in 2007, and now the grandmaster of small-and-shiny returns with its best Eee ever. The 1000HE combines the 901’s extra-long battery life with the power and capacity of the 1002HA (which we reviewed in March), and throws in a nearly MacBook Pro–style full-size chiclet keyboard.
The 1000HE is the first netbook we’ve reviewed with Intel’s new Atom N280 processor, which kicks up the clocks from 1.6GHz to 1.66GHz, and the front-side bus to 667MHz from 533MHz. Other than that, it’s virtually the same hardware as Asus’s other 10-inch models, like the 1002HA. The 1000HE trades the 1002HA’s brushed-aluminum exterior for glossy fingerprint-prone plastic, with the chiclet keyboard supplanting the 1000HA’s more standard keys.
We’re unabashed fans of HP’s Touch-Smart desktop machines, so we were really looking forward to getting our digits on the new technology in a convertible touch-screen notebook PC. But our eager anticipation only made the reality of the TouchSmart tx2 all that more disappointing.
This is the first convertible touch-screen PC designed for the consumer market, and its underlying hardware—which in our review unit included AMD’s best mobile CPU—delivered enough horsepower for this machine’s touch-screen elements. Benchmark performance, on the other hand, was dismal (more on that later).
You can use the TouchSmart tx2 as a conventional notebook PC or rotate its 12.1-inch screen 180 degrees, lay it flat, and use the machine’s tablet functionality. The 1280x800 touch screen uses active digitizing technology and supports the use of either a fingertip or a digital pen (as opposed to the simple stylus that HP shipped with its first-generation TouchSmart desktops). The digital pen delivers hover feedback (it doesn’t have to touch the screen to activate user-interface elements, such as tooltips) and considerably more precision than a fingertip.
While there are plenty of notebooks that can lay claim to stylishness, whether it’s with a sleek, metallic chassis or a trendy graphic enveloping the chassis, the Lenovo ThinkPad T400s foregoes the fashionable aesthetics in favor of comfort, performance, and reliability.
Though it’s outfitted in simple, unassuming black matte, this lightweight gem sports a 2.53GHz Intel Core 2 Duo SP9400 processor and a 128GB SSD drive with 2GB of memory, along with a mixture of other hardware delights, including a USB/eSata port, a 14.1-inch LED-backlit WXGA display, and an optical drive . The T400s also comes equipped with an ergonomic keyboard that’s extremely comfortable for typing on for extended periods of time and includes the ThinkPad’s standard TrackPoint navigation system, as well as a Multi-touch Touchpad.
Today Toshiba's taking the wraps off its new netbook. That's right, the same people who brought you the original ultra-portable, the Libretto, are rolling out their first sub-$400 netbook! We got our hands on a pre-production sample of the NB200-series netbooks.
Toshiba sat out the first generation of netbooks, so they could address shortcomings with the genre, and at first glance the NB205 seems to make good on that. The main typing keys are full-size and use a chiclet-style design. When paired with Toshiba's standard-sized touchpad (the largest we've seen on a netbook to date), this is an extremely comfortable laptop for typing. Toshiba claims 9.5 hours of battery life (we haven't tested yet, but we'd expect 6ish hours in a real-world scenario).
The Alienware brand conjures images of powerful and elite computing hardware—think of the nearly invincible antagonist from the 1987 action flick, Predator. Alienware’s M17 looks the part, but the unit we received for review was about as dangerous as E.T.
Our zero-point notebook is based on Intel’s Core 2 Duo E6700 and Nvidia’s GeForce Go 8600M, so we’ve grown accustomed to newer challengers gutting it. But for all its bulk and menacing looks, the M17 proved to be only slightly faster than that aging reference rig, and it was considerably slower in our nongaming benchmarks than the HP HDX 18 we reviewed in January.
Despite the presence of two ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3870 GPUs running in CrossFire X, the M17, which came equipped with 64-bit Vista Home Premium, turned in an anemic performance in our gaming benchmarks, with Quake 4 clocking in at 119.2fps and FEAR at just 26fps. Compare that to the Gateway P-7811 FX we examined in our October issue, which pumped out Quake 4 at 133fps and FEAR at 108fps.
Let’s set the scene: It’s a beautiful April day, and you’ve just come home after a trip to your local Best Buy, a spring in your step and a smile on your lips. What’s got you so excited? Why, it’s new laptop day! You’ve scrimped and saved and finally, finally, you’re able to afford that new notebook you’ve been pining after.
Breathless, you tear your new computer out of its packaging, plug it in and turn it on, right there on the kitchen table. Windows loads for a minute, then pops up the first time setup. You make an account, and there you are; gazing at the desktop. You feel a sense of proud ownership: that’s your recycle bin; that’s your browser; those are your network places. That’s your Google desktop search bar, your link to ask.com and your 30 day free trial of America Online.
Wait, what? What is all this crap?
When you buy a brand new laptop from an OEM, they’ve already installed an OS for you. And, while they were at it, they’ve tossed in a few extra “features” that they (have been paid) to think you would like. These range from the useful to the vaguely harmless to the downright obnoxious. In any case, your laptop would be better off without them, and in this article we’re going to show you how to make your new notebook as pristine as freshly driven snow in just two steps. Then, we’ll show you how to back up your disk so that you can restore your notebook to a clean state whenever you want, even if you can’t start Windows.
If it’s odd to see Samsung’s name on a notebook, you’ll likely get used to it. While the company had previously sold its branded notebooks only overseas, it recently entered the U.S. market with no fewer than five notebook lines, ranging from netbooks to the desktop replacement model we review here, the R610.
Actually, desktop replacement is a bit of a stretch, unless your expectations are pretty minimal. Costing little more than a grand, the R610 is better classified as a budget notebook. And on first look, you might be impressed with what can be had for so little cabbage: a 16-inch glossy screen, a large keyboard and numeric pad, three USB ports, HDMI, dedicated graphics, and a relatively sleek and lightweight design.
But just a little time using the R610 is sure to bring out the critic in any power user. Our first disappointment was with the screen’s image quality. There’s a very narrow sweet spot at which the picture looks good. Stray from that spot either vertically or horizontally and the colors fade or reverse and the contrast is diminished—qualities suggesting this is a 6-bit-color panel, and not a good one at that. The keyboard feels similarly low rent.