Seagate’s Momentus XT: Giving laptops a longer ultra-fast lifeline

“Turbo-charge your laptop PC with the second-generation of Momentus XT”, Seagate, the global leader in hard disk drives and storage solutions, claims.

When you first buy a laptop, notebook or PC, it is great how fast they run and how instantaneous they seem to perform. Six months, thousands of pages browsed on the internet and hundreds of files, photos and songs uploaded down the line, your superfast, ultra-responsive beloved laptop is beginning to slow down.

Seagate-Momentus

Sounds familiar? This is where Seagate’s new Momentus XT may step in, the second generation of the company’s solid state hybrid drives, which, according to Seagate, will be the fastest drive the company has ever produced for personal computers.

With a simple drive upgrade, users can almost immediately boost the boot-up speed and over-all performance of their PC. In fact, so effective is the Momentus XT promising to be, that seven original equipment manufacturers are allegedly gearing up to ship laptops powered by Momentus XT, although which seven manufacturers remain undisclosed.

Not only is this second-gen of Seagate’s solid state hybrid drives almost 70 percent faster than previous Momentus drive versions and up to three times faster than a traditional hard disk, but it also provides 750GB of storage capacity.

For anyone reading this who likes to understand the reasons to why a simple drive upgrade can make their laptop run significantly more efficient before you commit to ‘upgrading’, then I will endeavour to enlighten you.

Basically – no there’s nothing basic about this technology – the Momentus XT is powered by Seagate’s Adaptive Memory and FAST Factor technologies. Whilst FAST Factor technology blends the strengths of SSDs and hard disk drives for a faster running computer, Adaptive Memory Technology effectively identifies data usage patterns and subsequently moves the most frequently retrieved information to solid state access for faster access – I warned you there is nothing basic about this technology.

A fast running laptop that has exceeded its six-month ultra-fast and responsive time span! Sounds too good to be true? Well things that sound too good to be true usually are too good to be true and the major drawback of the Momentus XT it seems is its price – $245, pretty hefty hey?

Dell’s XPS 14z laptop: Professionally snazzy

Dell recently unveiled its XPS 14z laptop, and it is one of the thinnest in the brand’s history. This delightful model features a 14-inch display in a 13-inch body, an internal optical drive and comforting, discrete graphics option. This is the latest move from Dell made to create a series of powerful solutions that include a snazzy range of thin laptops, desktops and accessories.

Dell-14z

The XPS 14z delivers a strong performance, and it’s design is pretty darn hot as well. Despite it’s sleek and intelligent looks, passionate professionals need not worry because the model still packs in all of the energy one would need for a busy and hectic office day before time spent chillaxing (yeah, we think it’s a good word) in the evenin’ with this system’s HD screen to watch movies or video. Style as well as substance, good eh? It’s got pretty much everything you could possible want; we think. And erm, we should know.

This one is also available with second-generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, an HD WLED display for entertainment purposes, a slot-load optical drive and NVIDIA graphics option along with all the usual suspects ready to rock your tech-starved existence: the backlit, spill-resistant Chiclet keyboard and built-in 1.3MP HD webcam with dual array digital microphones and stereo speakers – ever handy!

“The XPS 14z delivers what professionals want – raw power paired with a stunning, sophisticated design that signals ‘I’ve arrived’,” says Steve Felice, president of Dell’s Consumer and Small/Medium Business group. “The XPS 14z is specifically engineered to help our customers do more in their personal and professional lives – and it advances our industry-leading vision for thin-and-powerful solutions that deliver performance without compromise.”

The 14-inch HD display easily fits into a 13-inch laptop form factor – while offering 10 per cent more viewing area than a 13.3-inch display. It will be easy to manage for most people, weighing in at 4.36 pounds, sliding through at less than an inch thin with an anodised-aluminium finish, this thing is about as sophisticated as it’s marketed to be, and with up to six hours, 49 minutes of battery life, it will see that you stay safely “in the loop” with your commitments at work, home and abroad from wherever you are without causing stress.

Sam Burd, vice president of Dell’s Consumer and Small/Medium Business product group says: “With the XPS 14z, our challenge was to build a laptop that provided customers the performance and portability that they need, with the design and finish they desire.”

This light beast also comes with the Dell Stage user interface, which offers one-click access to content including music, photos and video – swish! Meanwhile, SyncUP powered by Nero can keep content and personal information synced with other Stage-enabled Dell PCs and mobile devices within a home wi-fi network.

The XPS 14z laptop will be available November 15 in the United Kingdom priced from £799 through www.dell.co.uk.

STM Switch and Stash tablet bags

STM are an Australian bag manufacturing company that we have come to know and love over the years – their range of iPad and Laptop bags have been mostly excellent and, whilst they do produce some standard designs, they are also keen to experiment with both form and function, which is something we are keen on. So we were quite pleased to have a little hands-on time with two of their newest bags – the Skinny and the Switch.

stm-switch

The Switch is a classic “best of both worlds” proposition for those of you who can’t decide between a back pack or a shoulder bag. I solved this dilemma by having one of each but the Switch offers a less profligate solution – a laptop bag that can be a backpack or shoulder bag. Like all STM bags, the Switch has a high density padded laptop compartment to keep all your electronic valuables safe and snug. Fitted with both shoulder and backpack straps, there are pockets that allow you to conceal the transition.

Stash

Of course laptops are an old man’s game and all the cool young kids are carting around tablets (or so I’m told). One of the many benefits of tablet computing is the reduced bulk it offers over a traditional laptop and the STM Stash emboides this with it’s snug form and grab-bag-esque qualities. Aside from the main compartment it features a front zippered organiser panel for pens, keys, headphones and such and then a back slip pocket that’s ideal for notes.

For more info on either bag head to stmbags.com.au/

Dell Inspiron 14x: The perfect companion for the lecture theatre?

When I was at college and university all note taking was achieved religiously with a pen and piece of paper. Although now, apparently, those antiquated days of scribbling a lecturer’s words in a notebook – a non-technological one that is – have been replaced by fervently tying those all-important words on a laptop. A laptop’s ‘note taking’ capabilities is a strategy taken by Dell as it markets its latest ‘thin and powerful computing – the Inspiron 14z, which, according to Dell is perfect for ‘taking notes in class’.

Dell-Inspiron

We assume that it is its ultra-thin and lightweight design and excellent battery life that makes it the perfect lecture theatre companion. It certainly promises to look the part in any style-conscious student’s study attire, as being available in standard Diamond Black or optical Fire Red LCD back and matching palm rest with a full-size Chiclet-style keyboard, certainly won’t evolve students’ reputations as being pitifully poor and living on pot noodles and pasta – Although with the obscenely high tuition fees soon to be enforced, we very much doubt that the Inspiron 14z will be a regular feature of the lecture theatre.

Internally, the Dell Inspiron 14x comes equipped with Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, high-performance on-processor graphics enabling for long battery life, and is available with ultra-fast Intel Core i processors.

Whether watching a movie or playing your favourite tunes, with an internal tray-load DVD combo for playing and recording DVDs and CDs, Dell’s latest Inspiron laptop promises to deliver quality and solid family entertainment.

Like all Dell Inspiron laptops, the 14x possesses the Dell Stage user interface, meaning users can access their favourite content, including video, music and photo libraries, in just one click, and with SyncUP powered by Nerco, you can keep content and personal information synched with other Stage-enabled Dell PCs and mobile devices within your home Wi-Fi network.

No details about the price of the Inspiron 14x have yet to be released, although being this ‘sleek, stylish and powerful’, we reckon Dell’s strategy on appealing as a great note taker in class will be falling upon deaf ears.

The Acer Aspire S3 – Move over Notebooks, the Ultrabook generation has arrived!

What do you get if you combine the design of a notebook with the mobility of a Smartphone? Acer’s first Ultrabook, the Aspire S3 of course. With the benefit of hindsight we should have seen this one coming – a manoeuvre that conveniently blends the unique advantages of notebooks, tablet PCs and smartphones, into one smart-looking device. Although we have to admire Acer, which, without the benefit of hindsight, apart from exceptional technological  retrospection, have introduced a new generation of notebooks, designed to satisfy user’s needs from these multiple devices in one convenient package – no wonder it’s been referred to as being an “ultrabook”.

Acer-Aspire-S3

The Acer Aspire S3 wants its users to be able to maximise their time and effort, after all this is the most desirable constituent on a modern technology user’s wish list. Does it deliver? Well in being equipped with Acer’s innovative Green Instant On Technology, we are told that the Aspire S3 resumes in a mega-quick 1.5 seconds, connects to the Internet in a barely able to blink 2.5 seconds, and delivers a remarkably long  battery life – we’d say that the Aspire S3 is likely to ‘aspire’ to expectations.

Aesthetically the Aspire S3 is equally unlikely to disappoint. Encased in an aerodynamic ‘fingerprint-free’ metal frame, measuring just 1.3cm in depth and weighing less than 3lbs, the Aspire S3 promises to be both ultra-portable and pleasing to the eye. With a full-size Acer FineTip Chiclet keyboard, it is also designed for maximum productivity and supreme ease of use.

In featuring the latest second generation Intel Core i3/i5/i9 processors, the Aspire S3 full computing and digital creation capability and with a choice of 240 GB SSD or 320/500 GB HDD with embedded SSD [7], mega-rapid access is obtainable as well as ample media and data storage.

Looking this stylish and providing such quick and simple access, we are probably right to assume this machine’s listening experiences will be equally as impressive. And in featuring professionally-tuned Dolby Home Theatre v4, who are we to argue that the Aspire S3 won’t deliver enhanced dialogue quality for an ‘optimum listening experience’.

Other noteworthy features? Its integrated Acer Crystal Eye 1.3 megapixel camera and microphone, with superior Wi-Fi connections guaranteed by Acer InviLink Nplify 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Technology, shouldn’t miss out on having a mention, which, in simpler terms, means ‘on-the-go’ users can keep in touch with family, friends and colleagues with high-clarity video conferences.

Well the Aspire S3 certainly sounds impressive and it is hardly surprising that it has been predicted to become Acer’s star product during the last quarter of this year.

The financial damage? Between $799 and $1199 and in combining the very best of Smartphones and Notebooks, we can definitely live with those prices.

The Acer Aspire 5755 notebook – Anything new to aspire to?

Acer have come up with yet another new notebook, which, like its every successor to date, claims to adapt to users’ evolving needs. The Acer Aspire 5755 is, according to the company, the model of perfection being “perfect for unforgettable entertainment, perfect for everyday computing, perfect for smooth multitasking.”

Acer-5755

Although I have to admit, I am a fan of Acer Aspire notebooks, with my Acer Aspire One being my faithful companion since 2008, so perhaps I should be a little less sceptical about the ‘perfection’ claims of Acer Aspire’s latest family member.

With Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, the Aspire 5755 apparently provides advanced graphic capabilities for ‘smoother’ content creation. Being part of the second generation Intel Core processor family, Aspire’s latest model provides ‘dynamic’ processing power for the run-of-the-mill but high in demand applications, such as social networking, videos, movies, gaming, music and photos.

Possessing high-definition CineCrystal LED backlit displays the Aspire 5755 promises to present striking 720p visuals in 16:9 aspect ratio. Whilst, by featuring an HDMI port, users can take the HD experience of their new notebook and put it on a larger screen, to enjoy the crystal clear visuals on a larger screen. Not only this, but users can take advantage of the notebook’s optional Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) and view their favourite movies, photos, online TV and video on their own TV with superior sound and image clarity.

And sound quality and superiority has seemingly not been sufficed by an emphasis on creating stunning visuals and image quality, as in featuring Dolby Advanced Audio v2 and professionally tuned surround sound via PC speakers, headphones or home theatre system, users can watch movies, play games and listen to music with a superior sound quality.

Memory is one of the primary concerns of laptop and notebook consumers and therefore needs to be touched upon in a review. The Aspire 5755 seems to tick all the boxes in the memory stakes, offering up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, a large capacity of hard disks with up to 1TB of capacity and a multi-in-1 card reader that supports the latest high-capacity storage media for easy transfer, sharing and storage of files.

The LG verdict? Promising, although retailing at £899, perhaps I will have to scuffle along with my Acer Aspire One a little longer whilst I save up.

Asus appeals to wannabe supercar owners with its latest ‘lap’ top

If you like high performance from your cars, chances are you’d be pretty keen to get it from your laptop to. We guess that’s the thinking that goes on at Asus, as it has brought out a high-performance laptop inspired by an Italian supercar – this time it’s the ASUS-Automobili Lamborghini VX7.

Asus-Automobile

Looks-wise, it had been designed to catch the eye, with its orange and black carbon fibre coat – designed to echo the colours of the legendary Italian powerhouse. Each curve, edge and design feature has been carefully thought out to be reminiscent of the sleek designs of high-end cars – the power button looks like an engine start key, while the cooling vents on the rear of the machine are designed to be reminiscent of the supercar’s taillights.

Palm rests are trimmed in leather and the whole thing is made is light yet sturdy aluminium. It all sounds like it just exudes the word ‘quality’. But looks and design are one thing – can it step up to the starting grid when it comes to what’s underneath the hood?

Naturally, Asus has packed it full of horsepower, to provide turbo-charged performance for hardcore gaming and multimedia. Under the bonnet is a quad-core 2nd generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor, and it is the first notebook to use the NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTX 460M GPU, offering native DirectX® 11 – plus there’s 3GB of video memory to get the best out of any action-packed games and movies.

The ASUS-Automobili Lamborghini VX7 also has dual 7,200rpm 750GB hard drives providing a total of 1.5TB or storage. And the price for all this? £1,999 – pretty pricey, but considerably less than an Italian supercar.

Review round-up: MacBook Air (mid 2011) models

MacBook-Air

The 11 and 13 inch MacBook Air were released last week to much fanfare, and had us Apple addicts trampling over our Grandmas graves in an attempt to get all the gossip on whether we should be upgrading and/or switching from the Pro. Reviews of the new release are spread across the internet like an oddly pleasant rash, and rather than making you wade through them all, we’ve collected the best bits from the best ones here:

Regarding the Air’s specifications…

Cnet says:

“The cheapest model offers 64GB of flash storage, a dual-core 1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo CPU, 2GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics card. If you’re willing to stump up £1,020, you can get a version with 128GB of flash storage.”

The 13 inch version, reviewed on the same website is a slight step up in terms of performance with:

“1.7GHz Intel Core i5 chip and 256GB of flash storage… You can add a 1.8GHz Core i7 chip for an extra £100. You can also get the 13-inch model with a 1.7GHz Intel Core i5 chip and 128GB of flash storage for £1,100.”

Regarding Thunderbolt…

Much has been made of the new Intel Thunderbolt port added to these updates, a major factor in increased performance , with T3 saying that it can

“Carry video as well as being a super-fast data channel. Capable of handling up to 10Gbps in both directions, it’s around 12 times as fast as a FireWire 800 port and over 20 times quicker than USB 2.0. Mini DisplayPort screens can be plugged straight into a Thunderbolt port, and using adapters, you can also connect DVI, VGA and HDMI screens.”

The speed of the Thunderbolt port is clearly a huge bonus for the 11 inch version with its low levels of storage, enabling swiftly transfer of data to external hard drives as and when (almost certainly) necessary.

On the display…

The 11 inch version has a 1366x 768 pixel resolution. Of this model, The Telegraph says:

“The screen is great: high quality, bright and sharp. It’s better than anything you’d find on a netbook and easily bears comparison with Apple’s larger laptops.”  They also go on to say how well the 11inch syncs up with Lion, the latest version of OS X, with “the new Air really highlights some of Lion’s features. Full-screen apps, for example, were surely designed with the 11” Air in mind.”

Of the 13 inch screen Cnet was overwhelmingly positive:

“The 13-inch screen is as gorgeous as the rest of the Air. It has an impressive 1,440×900-pixel native resolution and is almost as bright as the sun. Reading small text on Web pages is perfectly pleasant and sitting back in a comfortable armchair to watch high-definition video is a total joy.” It also lauds the return of the backlit keyboard, as do other reviews, and its “ambient light sensor [that] detects visibility is poor, and lights up the keyboard for easy typing.”

On the performance…

Pocket-Lint, reviewing a 13 inch 1.8 GHz model says:

“Unless you’ve bought a brand new MacBook Pro in the last couple of months, chances are this will be faster than older models and that’s an impressive feat given the MacBook Air 2010 model which many felt made you give up performance for that thin design.”

Cnet, looking at the 11 inch wasn’t quite so effusive in its praise:

“When we ran the Xbench benchmark test, the Air scored 123.50, which is pretty average… [and] despite having a dedicated GPU, the Air’s graphics performance isn’t up to much… Don’t expect this machine to handle games well.”  It did, however, add this caveat: of “On paper, then, the Air’s performance isn’t great. Anecdotally, however, we never found the Air to be sluggish. Swooping around OS X and opening software all proved reasonably swift and, most importantly, high-definition video played really smoothly, with only very occasional stutter.”

In conclusion…

As with any Apple, gadget or sexual persuasion, whether or not you’re going to get on with an Air comes down to a matter of preference.  Their weight is a winner (1.06kg for 11inch, 1.35kg for 13),  the thinness (0.68 inches) mind-boggling to those of us that can remember our Dad’s Acer 10 years ago and reception across all reviews was positive (at least 4/5 for each model).

It seems that if you want to be using a lot of Final Cut and similarly demanding programs you might still want to stick with the Pro but, according to pocket-lint, “rather than the Pro being the only option for those that want speed, the MacBook Air is now a laptop that gives you speed, style, and slinkiness in one package. The days of having to be penalised for wanting something ultra portable are over.”   Similarly, T3 vaunted its ability to not just be a supplementary machine, adding “over the years it has grown in power until today, it’s more than powerful enough to use as your main machine. It’s not cheap, but Apple computers never are, and given the quality it’s far from overpriced.”