Tag Archives | Notebooks

Acer's Dual-Screen Notebook vs. Asus's Potent Thin-and-Light: Which Do You Like?

Now that we’ve identified our semi-finalists for the Last Gadget Standing event at next month’s Consumer Electronics Show, we’d like your input on some of the contenders. There aren’t any direct competitors among them–many of the products, in fact, are pretty darn unique.

We do, however, have two Windows portables. There’s Acer’s Iconia, which ditches a physical keyboard in favor of a second screen that can display information or serve as a ten-finger multitouch keyboard. And there’s Asus’s U36Jc, which looks far more conventional than the Iconia but packs components–an Intel i5 CPU and discrete Nvidia graphics–which you might not expect to find in a thin-and-light laptop with a 13″ display.

Two interesting-but-very-different machines. Your take, please:


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Deceptively Thin, Surprisingly Fast

Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Asus U36Jc-A1

Price: $999

Top 25The computing world is awash in powerful laptops. There are also more and more thin-and-light notebooks with 13″ screens. But 13″ thin-and-lights that are truly powerful? They’re still a rare breed. That’s what makes the Asus U36Jc-A1 intriguing: It looks like a typical 13-incher that emphasizes portability over potency, but it packs a standard-voltage Intel Core i5 CPU and Nvidia G310M discrete graphics. It also has Nvidia’s Optimus technology, which lets the system switch between the G310M and integrated graphics on the fly for better battery life–Asus says it can run up to nine hours on a charge.

The U36Jc-A1 has an aluminum-magnesium alloy shell, is .76″ thick, and weighs 3.4 pounds. Asus says it’ll go on sale on January 17th.


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Are Two Screens Better Than One?

Last Gadget Standing Nominee: Acer Iconia

Price: TBD

When I first saw this, I thought I was looking at the world’s biggest Nintendo DS. But Acer’s Iconia a true original.

It’s a notebook computer, based on the Intel Core i5 processor.  It has two LCD screens–one on the bottom and one on the top, offering you a ton of options for usage.

At the launch Acer said the Iconia offers the “versatility of a conventional 14” form factor with a unique dual-screen layout and highly intuitive all-point multi-touch functionality, which means you can use all the fingers of your hands.” You can browse the web or watch a video on the top screen while you’re composing a document or creating a spreadsheet on the bottom screen, for example. Or just browse the Web across two screens by laying the notebook flat.  Reading a large Web page is a total treat.

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Figuring Out Google’s CR-48 Chrome OS Notebook

Cr-48 notebookOn Tuesday, Google announced its CR-48 notebook–the for-testing-purposes-only Chrome OS machine it’s distributing via a pilot program. Yesterday, I received one for review.

My first impressions are–well, I’m still figuring them out. But here are some initial notes.

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Dell Launches XPS Laptops with 3DTV Play and Optimus

Dell is today launching three new laptops which deliver a multifaceted upgrade to its entertainment-oriented XPS series, adding new features that include NVidia 3DTV Play, built-in Optimus switchable graphics, and a Webcam capable of HD video streaming.

With the new 15-, 16-, and 17-inch models, Dell’s XPS family now becomes a trio instead of a duo, replacing the 13- and 16-inch models rolled out in an earlier product line-up refresh in 2009, said Kellie Mater, Dell’s senior laptop merchandiser, at a press briefing I attended in New York City.

At starting prices ranging from $899 for the new 15-inch XPS laptop to $949 for the 17-incher, the upgraded XPSers cost about twice as much as the refreshed Inspiron R models introduced by Dell just a few months ago, which begin at $449.

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Lenovo Celebrates 60 Millionth ThinkPad With Optimus Graphics

Celebrating the sales of sixty million ThinkPads over the past eighteen years, Lenovo on Wednesday announced immediate plans to add Nvidia’s Optimus graphics to T Series models, and talked long-time intentions for innovations in areas such as location awareness and VoIP. I was briefed on the news by Dilip Bhatia, Lenovo’s VP of ThinkPad marketing.

Starting today, Lenovo will outfit three models of T Series laptops with Optimus, a technology aimed at automatically switching between a built-in discrete graphics chipset — for games and other apps that demand high performance graphics — and an integrated graphics chipset, for faster PC performance and longer battery life.

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An Airier MacBook Air?

When Steve Jobs brandished the MacBook Air onstage at MacWorld Expo 2008, it looked amazing (at least I was amazed as I snapped the photo above). After almost three years, though, it’s just another nicely-designed Mac–and a pricey one. (Toshiba’s Portege R700 may not feel as luxe, but its starting price is $600 less and it manages to pack a DVD burner into a case that matches the Air’s three-pound weight.)

But if the rumors are right (NOT A GIVEN! NOT A GIVEN!) Apple is readying an Air that replaces the current model’s 13.3″ display with an 11.6″ one, and shaves about ten percent of the weight off. Normally, I’d be skeptical about rumors of the company making a product cooler through significant downsizing of the display–but given the new iPod Nano, the idea of a sort of MacBook Air Nano is plausible.


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Notebook Growth is Negative, Time to Blame Everything

Blaming the iPad for the greater computer industry’s woes is the new trend, and it just got hotter with a report from Morgan Stanley’s Katy Huberty on the slowing growth of notebooks.

Huberty’s research shows that notebook growth is negative for the first time in recent memory, down 4 percent in August compared to the same period last year. That doesn’t mean notebook sales are down, it just means the year-over-year increase in notebook sales is less in August 2010 than it was in August 2009. Anyway, the report fits nicely with a quote from Best Buy Chief Executive Brian Dunn, who said the iPad is stealing up to half of laptop sales.

It’s entirely realistic that some people end up with an iPad when setting out to buy a new computer. Apple is, after all, selling millions of them. Buying habits are going to change unless the iPad is only being purchased in addition to, not instead of, other computers. (It isn’t). But let’s not blow this out of proportion by pointing a finger only at Apple.

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Toshiba's 25th Anniversary Portables: An Affordable Status Symbol and a Concept Machine

Toshiba is celebrating the 25th anniversary of laptops this year–it counts its own 1985 T1100 as the first one. A pedant might quibble with its definition of “first laptop personal computer,” but it’s announced two celebratory portables–and they’re both noteworthy. I got an in-person look at them during a recent briefing with the company.
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Dell Rolls Out More Usable Inspiron Laptops

Dell today announced U.S. availability of the sleek new Inspiron R laptops first launched a few months ago in parts of the world such as Australia and India.

Like Dell’s existing 14-, 15- and 17-inch Inspirons, the new R models are geared to carrying out multiple roles, ranging from replacing desktop PCs, to serving up multimedia home entertainment, to acting as take-along workstations on visits to Starbuck’s. Yet the Inspirson Rs bring a cooler look and a smoother feel.

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