Normally, aesthetics are a secondary part of a notebook review, but Toshiba forces the issue with the Qosmio X305’s wild design. Seriously, the lid’s audacious three-tone, metallic-red paint job alone is enough to challenge the interest of a potential buyer, but the X305 also sports an unusual formfactor involving curves and lips that add to both the machine’s footprint and height. And like the majority of notebooks in its class, the 17-inch X305 is heavy—although, with a carry weight of approximately 11 and a half pounds, it’s still more than a pound lighter than the CyberPower Extreme M1 we reviewed last month.
Of course, there’s more to the Toshiba X305 than its physical spectacle. The machine has the distinction of housing a 2GHz Core 2 Quad Mobile Q9000 processor, making it only the second quad notebook we’ve reviewed—the first was Lenovo’s Kick Ass ThinkPad W700 (http://tinyurl.com/al9wjn). Those two extra cores gave the X305 a healthy advantage over its higher-clocked, dual-core competitors in our application benchmarks. In Premiere Pro CS3, ProShow Producer, and MainConcept Reference, which are all heavily multithreaded, the X305 surpassed all the dual-core rigs we’ve reviewed over the last several months—including the 2.8GHz HP HDX 18 we reviewed in January—by greater than 50 percent, in most cases. Interestingly, it also scored much better than those machines in Photoshop, which isn’t heavily multithreaded. We attribute it more to the X305’s hard drive configuration: a speedy Toshiba 64GB SSD is dedicated to the OS, while applications write to a virtually empty 320GB HDD.
Can a PC be scary? Hewlett-Packard’s Firebird is. Why? The Firebird could very well offer a glimpse of where enthusiast computing is headed—and it’s not a future we’re particularly looking forward to.
The Firebird looks like a lap poodle version of HP’s Blackbird 002, but the similarities are only skin deep. While the Blackbird 002 was a traditional meat-and-potatoes performance PC with industry-standard parts, tons of slots, and the power consumption to match, the Firebird is none of those things. It’s silent instead of loud, diminutive instead of imposing, and offers minimal upgrade options.
Now that Core i7 has carved out an enthusiast following and Core i5 just around the corner, it would seem that the days of LGA775-based platforms are numbered. Don't go ringing the death knell just yet.
DFI today adds another LGA775 board under its belt with the release of the LanParty BI G41-T33 motherboard. As the name suggests, the mobo is built around Intel's G41 chipset and offers up support for Intel Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors, dual-channel DDR3-800/1066 memory, and up to a 1333MHz frontside bus. The board also sports DFI's ABS II technology, which the company claims "will automatically detect the CPU installed and upgrade the efficiency of the CPU."
No word yet on price or availability, nor could we spot a product page. However, DFI says it's aiming for "a quite reasonable price." Your guess is as good as ours.
Clickfree’s Transformer may look like an overweight USB key, but it is—forgive us, Optimus Prime—more than meets the eye.
Plug any generic external USB hard drive into the Transformer, then plug the Transformer into a USB port on your PC, and a backup app auto-launches and starts a countdown to begin an automatic file backup of common file extensions. You can interrupt the countdown and add more file extensions that the app doesn’t recognize by default. The document formats it grabs are fairly extensive, but if you want it to also copy that comic book archive in .cbr format, you’ll need to add the extension first.
Logitech this week announced four new multimedia speaker sets, each one touting 360-Degree Sound, otherwise known as omnidirectional acoustics. These include the Logitech Z320, Z323, Z520, and Z523.
Unlike standard speakers with forward-firing drivers, all four sets boast both forward- and backward-firing drivers in each satellite. According to Logitech, this creates a substantially wider sweet spot and comes as a boon to anyone who struts around their office.
"Many PC speakers focus sound in one direction, which is fine if you're always sitting in the same spot," said Mark Schneider, vice president and general manager of Logitech's audio business unit. "But now with 360-Degree Sound, whether you're listening to your favorite song on iTunes, watching a video on YouTube, or playing your favorite game, you can enjoy rich sound and minimal distortion throughout your room."
The Z523 and Z323 are 2.1 speaker sets with a 6.5-inch down-firing subwoofer, with the former pushing 40W of power and the latter pushing 30W. The Z520 and Z320 take it down a notch by discarding the subwoofer and pushing 26W (Z520) and 10W (Z320).
Interestingly, Logitech has priced both the Z320 and Z323 at $70. These will be available starting in August (Z320) and September (Z323). Equally interesting, the Z532 is expected to be available this month for $100, while the sub-less Z520 will be available this month for $130.
MSI has unfurled a couple of AMD-based products. One of those two products is its 760GTM-P33 motherboard based on the AMD 760G chipset. The motherboard features an integrated ATI Radeon HD 3000 graphics core and supports DirectX 10 and Hybrid CrossFireX. To boot, MSI has packed the motherboard with some proprietary technologies: Active Phase Switching (APS) for managing power usage, Easy OC Switch technology for one-click overclocking and TPM for data encryption and storage. The other AMD-based product that MSI introduced is the R4890 Cyclone series graphics card – the fastest clocked HD 4890 hitherto, which was covered in a previous article.
At five inches high, 6.14 inches square at the top, and weighing a few ounces shy of two pounds, the Thermaltake BigTyp 14 Pro is among the biggest and heaviest coolers we’ve tested—although it’s not as big as Cooler Master’s V10, reviewed last month.
The BigTyp 14 Pro contains six heat pipes routed through aluminum fins mounted perpendicular to the motherboard and is topped with a plastic shroud and 14cm variable-speed fan, which blows hot air straight down instead of through the back of the case, like with most performance coolers. Two retention clips screw into the base and are fastened with nuts on the underside of the motherboard, just like with the Cooler Master V10. Installing the BigTyp 14 Pro is easier than the V10—it’s smaller and lighter, it won’t bump up against crucial components like RAM, and the nuts can be screwed in with a Phillips screwdriver as opposed to a hex wrench. But there’s no room for a 12cm rear fan with the BigTyp installed.
MSI this week announced the R4890 Cyclone series graphics card. Like other HD 4890 videocards, the Cyclone comes equipped with 800 stream processors and 1GB of GDDR5 with a 256-bit memory bus, but what separates this card from the pack is its cooling solution.
According to MSI, the Cyclone is the only HD 4890 to sport a 10cm PWM fan. The cooling solution also packs four 8mm heatpipes, which the company says is 60 percent thicker than traditional heatpipes and offers up to 90 percent better cooling efficiency. The end result is a 1GHz core clockspeed, making the Cyclone the fastest clocked HD 4890 yet.
Taking the marketing blitz to another level, MSI boasts "Military Class Components." These include Hi-c capacitors made of Tantalum, an all-in-one solid chock, and all solid caps.
Netbooks might not be getting bigger (or else they'd be called notebooks), but according to Slashgear, the average screen resolution in systems using Intel's Atom N-series chipsets is going up, and with the chip maker's blessing.
"According to HKEPC, Intel has increased the maximum allowed resolution from 1024 x 600 to 1366 x 768, as seen on the recently-announced Sony VAIO W," Slashgear wrote.
As it stands right now, in order to use the higher resolution panels, companies must choose from Intel's Z-series Atom chips, or else forgo the preferential N-series pricing. Intel's reasoning for doing this has been to clearly distinguish between a netbook and notebook, but perhaps the company is now content to let the physical screen size separate the two segments.
According to a report in the Apple Daily, a Chinese newspaper, Acer plans to launch the dual-OS netbook in August. Acer chairman JT Wang believes a dual-OS netbook is a much safer way of throwing Android at the deep end as compared to an Android-only netbook.