ASUS NX90 laptop: 18.4-inches of Bang & Olufsen designed awe

Some people might think “a laptop designed by Bang & Olufsen? That sounds like it sounds good!” Which makes sense – B.O. may not smell good, but it certainly produces some fine sounds. Unfortunately, we’re much shallower than that. We like B&O because they make things look cool. And they’ve done it again.

Although created by ASUS, the NX90 laptop owes its beautiful shaped to the Danish audio giant. Crafted by designer David Lewis, it’s got an 18.4-inch screen, two huge speakers and a dual-touchpad encased in polished-aluminium.

Asus-NX90-and-beard

The Laptop: Ridiculous and Insane

Let’s start with the ridiculous, before the insane – the speakers. They’re huge. They actually make the screen-side of the laptop bigger than the base unit. It’s an unheard of design that immediately draws attention to the laptop’s exceptional feature: sound.

The audio output of the ASUS NX90 is actually on-par with full surround sound systems. Because of their size, the speakers can generate a ‘wrap around’ effect – the same technology found on speakerless surround sound solutions for televisions. They’re measured at “108cc”, which essentially means they’re 3-4 times to size of traditional laptop speakers.

The over-sized speakers are part of ASUS’s drive for better audio on laptops – or the SonicMaster programme. For every laptop with SonicMaster accreditation (the NX90 is one), Henry Huang explains: “We apply extra care and planning in the placement of components … to get the best positioning and spacing for speakers. We then choose the best speaker components, audio codecs, amplifiers and circuit designs available to get optimised analogue sound performance. We also fine-tune the entire system using digital signal processing (DSP) to eliminate any flaws in sound reproduction.”

Asus-NX90-on-table

With the NX90, Huang notes that the company “applied a unique speaker design that can extend and sustain low frequencies beyond what its size may suggest.”

While the speakers may be ridiculous, the inclusion of dual touchpads is insane. Two touchpads? Why would you need two touchpads? Well, DJ’s know. Not only are the pads oversized, but they’re also both usable at the same time. ASUS are referring to it as ‘DJ-style’ control: two-handed movement, zooming and scrolling – all at every music maestro’s fingertips.

With such over-the-top (but equally, awesome) features, the system’s innards are a little overshadowed. This is a shame, because on a normal notebook they’d be getting plenty of attention. There’s the Intel Core i7 processors (i7-740QM 1.73GHz), Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit), 6GB DDR3 RAM, a Full HD LED screen, nVidia Geforce 335M with 1GB GDDR3 and 1.2TB of storage spread over two drives. Oh, and the slot-loading Blu-ray combo drive. And the built-in two megapixel camera. Did I mention the two USB 3.0 ports?
The best thing about the NX90 – apart from the hauntingly beautiful adverts – is that it manages to impress on every level. Aesthetically, it’s beautiful. Aurally, it’s class-leading. Functionality? Dual touchpads, Blu-ray and more power than most desktop systems. What’s not to like? Even the price, £2,499, is not prohibitive.

The best comparison would be the top-end £1,899 Macbook Pro, which doesn’t even scratch the achievements of the NX90 (a good thing, too, because any marks would ruin the brushed-aluminium outfit). For an extra £600, you get a better processor, a bigger screen (by 1.4-inches) 700GB more space, 2GB more RAM, Blu-ray, a better graphics card and astounding sound. It seems that high-end notebooks have a new name: NX90.

Get it from a range of high street and online retailers, including Harrods, Micro Anvika, Selfridges, Comet, Scan Computers, Platinum Solutions and www.ebuyer.com.

Edifier Breathe iPod dock review

A quick glance at my inbox will tell you that the iPod dock market is over saturated, with manufacturers pumping out different varieties of iAccessory faster than we can review them. Some choose to differentiate themselves by feature-set, others by design and some compete on price alone.

Edifier-Breathe

At £169 the Edifier Breathe is far from cheap. Weighing in at 5 kg, the unit has a certain amount of heft to it and feels solidly constructed. The sparse play-skip-volume button-set on the front makes it abundantly clear that this is a no-nonsense device, with a limited or focused feature set depending on your point of view.

The unique qualities of the Breathe therefore are its design and sound. Moving away from the classic boom-box style design of most iPod docks, the Breathe has, what pretty much every review I’ve seen, including this one, is calling an eggshell design. It looks a little odd … but strangely seemed to work on one of my living room tables and also in the kitchen. People would comment on this. Depending on your taste this is a good or bad thing.

The supplied remote is an odd puck-shaped device that is a little too basic for my liking. Navigation is done via the a menu button and arrow keys – in a style reminiscent of the iPod classic – but it’s almost impossible to navigate without looking directly at the screen of the iPod. It’s also directly line of sight – which can make it a touch fiddly. It’s also very easy to place your finger over the infra-red sensor, blocking remote signals.

Most importantly of course is the sound quality. Audiophiles will be disappointed, but disappointment is intrinsic to their existence so that’s not a massive criticism. The Breathe promises room-filling sound – and more or less delivers on this. For something that is relatively, small it has a pretty impressive bass punch and would be fine for a small room, student digs or a living room. It is also incredibly straight forward to use, with an almost idiot proof button set.

If the feature-packed trappings of other docks leave you cold – not everyone wishes to use DAB or stream over DLNA – then the Breathe’s combination of simplicity and reasonably impressive sound should be up your alley. Minor quibbles about the remote aside, if you like the look of the Edifier Breathe, then it is definitely worth taking a listen.

HP T2300, T7100 and ePrint & Share large format printers

HP’s pioneering the world of printers once more with the world’s most collaborative web-enabled large-format printers
Hewlett Packard’s dedication to providing a strategic direction for its printers, namely implementing all-in-one printers, scanners and faxes with a unique IP address that links printers and users via email allowing for remote printing, has been accented even further with its latest line of printers.

In pledging to help improve design processes, effectuate a greater understanding of businesses efficiencies and reduce costs, for professionals working in the engineering, architecture and construction industries, HP’s unveiling of three more ‘collaborative’ large-format printers, will be met with a degree of curiosity and excitement.

The HP Designjet T2300 eMultifunction Printer (eMFP)

T2300

Its name might be quite a mouthful yet so are its credentials, as the eMFP is the printer industry’s first internet-ready large-format multifunction printer with copy, scan and print functionality. Flexibility and mobility are becoming an increasingly fundamental component in the workforce and consequently driving technology to streamline processes to make instant global collaboration more achievable. And this is the spirit of the eMFP, as the new multifunctional system has been designed to ensure sharing and managing content around the world is done straightforwardly, effectively and ultimately reduce costs.
The HP Designjet T2300 eMFP is priced at $850,000 and will be available from 1 November 2010

HP ePrint &Share

ePrint-Share

By allowing architect and design professionals to automatically create, manage, share and print projects online using desktop or mobile devices, the ePrint & Share will increase productively by effectively ‘cutting out the middle man’ and create faster more seamless infrastructures within the design industry.
The HP ePrint & Share will be available from 1 November 2010.

HP Designjet T7100 Printer

T7100

The Designjet T7100 is a state-of-the-art monochrome and colour printer, which as its name suggest, affords for a high-speed system allowing users to have greater interaction with their digital content. According to HP, the Designjet T7100 provides a breakthrough total cost of ownership compared to its competitors.
The HP Designjet T7100 Monochrome printer is priced at $8,595 and will be available from 1 December 2010.

Referring to HP’s unveiling of its new line of printers, Christopher Morgan, senior vice president, Graphics Solutions Business, Imaging and Printing Group, HP said:

“Today’s announcement is much more than a printer; it is a tool to transform the design process. With the HP ePrint platform extended to the technical market, design professionals now can focus on building and executing their ideas, rather than on managing cumbersome design and print processes.”

Full internet connectivity for the eMPF is planned for sometime in the spring, 2011.