Sony Vaio’s Laptop Hat Trick

Sony, never one for doing things by halves, comes roaring in with a triple set of new releases no less ensuring its position on portable power remains dominant.

Vaio-Pro

Next up is the Vaio Duo 13, a hybrid 13.3” notebook that doubles as a slate for those of you who fancy indulging in some nifty handwriting too. Featuring a Surf Slider design you can toggle between ‘slate’ and ‘keyboard’ styles to suit the way you’re working. Draw, sketch or handwrite memos in slate mode using a digital stylus or switch to keyboard mode for business documents whilst the 8 megapixel ‘Exmor RS for PC’ rear camera can take care of the odd photo or two. The Vaio Duo 13 also makes use of Bravia’s Triluminos screen technology and the mains powered WiFi router, whilst having the longest battery life of all the Ultrabooks at a whopping 15 hours.

Vaio-Fit

Last but certainly not least, the versatile entry level Vaio Fit 15E manages to wear all manner of hats in either black, pink or silver from being a slim but powerful notebook using a range of Intel processors from the Pentium 987 up to the Core i7-3537U, a high capacity hybrid HDD booting up and launching applications in a fraction of the normal time, to a touch screen using NFC (Near Field Communication) for simple and fast communications with other devices. It also comes with Sony Imagination Studio pre-installed which includes Movie Studio Platinum, ACID Music Studio, Sound Forge Audio Studio and DVD Architect Studio.

All three products come with lower spec alternatives to suit whatever budget you have and will be available from the end of June 2013.

Prices to be announced.

http://www.sony-europe.com

ASUS’s slew of Windows 8 gadgets: Intuitive and impressive but what about the price?

VivoTab-TF600T

The run up to Christmas is traditionally a time when the techno manufacturers have a field day in launching and feverishly marketing their latest wares. This year’s pre-festive season gadgetry marketing hype is especially banal as in coinciding with the arrival of the ultra-anticipated Windows 8, means that the gadgets arriving between now and Christmas have been honed to compliment to the widely-hyped Windows 8.

And none so more than ASUS’s latest range of devices, created somewhat predictably with Windows 8 at the core. Here’s a snippet of four of the best from ASUS’s latest range.

VivoTab

ASUSVivoTab RT

ASUS has launched its first Windows RT tablet, which in featuring a mobile dock, transforms the tablet into a notebook, for, ASUS assure us, increased productivity and longer battery life.

A close collaboration between ASUS and Microsoft has resulted in the arrival of one of the first Windows RT tablets on the market. Whilst internally the VivioTab RT is powerful and robust concealing a potent NVIDIA Tegra3 quad-core processor and 63GB of onboard storage, aesthetically the VivioTab RT is sleek, streamlined and lightweight.

Its spec, capabilities and design certainly sound impressive, although ASUS have not yet mentioned any pricings for the VivioTab RT.

Taichi

TAICHI

Bragging a novel back to back design by simply lifting a finger, users can switch, we are assured, ‘seamlessly’, between a multi-touch tablet and a fully featured tablet.

In featuring a powerful Intel Core i7 processor with 4GB of memory, Intel HD 4000 graphics and a choice of 256GB SSD storage, dual-band Wi-Fi with Intel WiDi and Bluetooth 4.0, we can’t deny that the ASUS TAICHI certainly sounds impressive, although ASUS have once again failed to provide us with any hints about the cost of its uniquely fused notebook and tablet creation.

ZENBOOK

Expanding its range of sleek ZENBOOK ultraportables, ASUS has announced the arrival of the expanded ZENBOOK range, which features models with 11.6”, 13.3”, 14” and 15.6” full HD displays. Boasting a choice of 3rd generation Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, ASUS’s latest ZENBOOK range promise outstanding multi-tasking performance, up to 10GB of memory and powerful NVIDIA GT graphics.

PadFone

ASUS PadFone 2

We also can’t deny that ASUS’s original PadFone, which combines an Android smartphone with a dockable tablet was a blinding, award winning success, so why shouldn’t the digital era giants build on the success of its successes?

Doing just this is the PadFone 2 which, ASUS inform, consists of a higher specification quad core, LET equipped smartphone and a completely redesigned tablet. What does sound particularly impressive about the PadFone 2 is its mega long battery life which provides up to 16 hours 3G talk-time and 13 hours Wi-Fi web browsing, a far cry from the iPhone which seems to require charging after spending a few minutes on Facebook.

“It’s beautiful, it’s fast, and, best of all, it’s intuitive,” ASUS’s chairman Jonney Shih brags at an ASUS press conference in Milan, and who are we to argue, but what about the blinkin price!?

See more on the PadFone 2 here.

LE reporter Kingfisher 11″ review

Have a sleek and stylish ultrabook, such as the MacBook Air? It’s predicted to be the growth category for portable computing this year – alongside its svelte companion the tablet and CES is rife with new outings from laptop manufacturers. With mobile computing options becoming more streamlined and design conscious it makes sense for mobile computing accessories to follow suit.

Kingfisher

be.ez – a Parisian manufacturer whose raison d’être seems to be “sleek and stylish” have produced a new range of cases for laptops and tablets – the Kingfisher.

I got to try out a LE reporter Kingfisher for the 11″ MacBook Air and have to confess I felt underdressed every time I put it on. The LE reporter Kingfisher features a water resistant waxed canvas and 210D nylon colour lining. It’s pretty hard to wear it and not feel like a New York academic or character in HBO’s recently cancelled Bored to Death, it’s that snazzy of a bag.

The inner carrying compartment is raised and padded and provides ample protection from bumps and knocks when carrying or if dropped. The front of the LE reporter’s main compartment contains two additional webbings, as well as two slip pockets on the inside for smaller items, such as pens, keys or cables, to ensure belongings are securely organised at all times.

A velcro-secured flap with a stylish yellow zipped pocket on the front allows for fast access to smaller items. The full-size zipped pocket on the back of the bag allows for storage of a mobile phone, mp3 or thin paperback book – I stuggled to get most hardcovers comfortably in there without making horrible bulges.

The be.ez LE reporter Kingfisher for MacBook Pro 13” and 15” retails from £59.99 and the LA robe Club for MacBook Pro 13” and 15” is available from £24.99.

For stockist details, visit http://www.be-ez.com/where.html

STM Velo Laptop Shoulder Bag: The ultimate laptop thief deterrent!

A laptop bag that doesn’t look too much like a laptop bag – now there’s a novelty. Although on second thoughts, being one of the most ‘nickable’ items in existence, perhaps owning a more inconspicuous-looking laptop bag would be a wise move. The Velo is a laptop bag designed by laptop bags, iPad case and laptop sleeve makers STM, with the aim of looking cunningly unlike a bag for a laptop. Although whilst it may not be the conventional rectangular-shaped, unmistakably designed for a laptop, we now take for granted, the stylish, durable and pocket-frivolous Velo is a far cry from being ‘inconspicuous’.

Velo-STM

I suspect that the Velo laptop bag will be a popular choice of laptop carriers among cyclists, as being made from a durable, water-resistant nylon, the bag is ultra-lightweight, will keep its contents dry in a downpour and is unlikely to rip after the first journey to work. Possessing multiple organiser pockets, the Velo enables for quick and easy access for all of life’s essential items, such as an iPhone, keys, coins, credit cards, and, of course, a laptop. Although having said this, I often find that carriers that feature a multitude of pockets can end up leaving you more infuriated than ever. The amount of times that I have cursed my faux Prada handbag for its mass of pockets as I am unable to locate my ringing phone and by the time I have found it, the answering machine has kicked in!

Jibes aside, the Velo laptop bag certainly looks stylish and may prove to be a provident deterrent to any laptop thieves that may be luring. And with the growing number of people trading the Tube or the car for the bike to get to work, the STM Velo could be a common and convenient accessory to carry all those office essentials to work.

STM’s Velo fits most 13” and 15” laptops and will set you back £69.95.

Samsung Series 9: Light, bright and superfast

Samsung has brought two new models to its Series 9 notebooks for business users, promising speedier performance from the new models.

The new pair of models have a speedier core i5 CPU than their predecessors and are made from duralumin – Samsung tells us this is used to make aircraft, is very light and is twice as strong as aluminium. Thanks to their construction, the notebooks weigh 1.31kg and is really slim – measuring 16.3mm.

Samsung-Series-9

But there’s more – the screens are supposed to be 100% brighter than conventional displays – they are Samsung’s SuperBright Plus screens, with 400nit brightness, 16 million colour reproduction and Super Contrast ratio (1,300:1). Graphics performance should be twice as good (says Samsung) thanks to the Intel HD Graphics 3000 onboard.

There’s no doubt there’s plenty on offer – the Intel Core i5 Processor with 4GB memory and a 128GB solid state drive, which provides plenty of storage. Plus Samsung’s Fast Start instant-on feature lets you start working in only 15 seconds, and Fast Start powers on the device in just three seconds from sleep mode. In advanced sleep mode, data is also saved on the SSD as well as the internal memory, so content is ready even if the power is suddenly lost or the battery is removed.

You will be paying for all this loveliness though – prices start at £1,099. It puts it into the realms of the Macbook Air and its ilk, so if you’ve been yearning for one, but haven’t wanted to make the switch from Windows to Mac OS, the Samsung Series 9 notebooks could be a great choice.

HP and Beats by Dre laptops : Straight Outta Comp Sci

Celebrities endorse a lot of products, but so far computers have escaped such vicious marketing attempts. Maybe locking them up in Big Brother stopped their famous-paws from grasping at the computer market. As with the Channel 4 reality show, however, this is all about to end. HP have enlisted the help of Dr. Dre, the legendary artist and music producer. His mission? Turn HP’s ENVY laptop range into mini-boomboxes.

hp-beats-by-dre

The ENVY systems now boasts Beats Audio, a “unique, high-performance technology developed by HP and Beats by Dre to provide the optimal sound experience.” Which sounds good on paper, although the problem is that we’re not entirely sure what Beats Audio is.

It appears to be some kind of advanced driver design, which allows for precise audio clarity. The exact optimisations are unclear however, and a lot of reviewers haven’t heard a difference when listening to playback through the computer’s speakers. The subwoofer included in the ENVY17 model might help, but the ENVY14 lacks the bass booster and reported sounds are average.

The internal audio hardware, however, is top-notch – which means quality external speakers are what make the system an audio giant. The problem is, with average sound coming out of the box, who has a laptop that they frequently plug in to dedicated speakers?

The black and red aluminium’ stylings and slot-loading DVD drive, however, make the laptops a treat for the eyes, even if the ears are left wanting. And they come with a pair of Monster headphones (also with Beats by Dr. Dre technology). These have been famously well received in the past, so there is definitely a headphone incentive to pick one of these systems up.

While the jury is still out on whether HP are giving us powerful beats straight from the laptop, the ENVY range is definitely providing some powerful beasts. The Intel processor, an i5 or i7, coupled with an ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5650 graphics card (1GB dedicated memory) and the LED display make the ENVY14 a hot prospect.

The ENVY17 bumps this up to an ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 5850 graphics card, with a ridiculous maximum hard drive size of two terabytes. It’s also got a 3D display, so when you don the 3D specs you’ll be ready for a new age of interactive video and gaming.

Battery-life should also roll in at about 6.5 hours, with that going up to 13 with the option extended battery-life battery.

The headphones are a definite improvement over any cheap ones you might get out of a Christmas cracker (or bundled with an iPod), but does that warrant a complete laptop rebrand? Users looking for brilliant sound straight out of the laptop may be disappointed.

Currys and PC World Christmas range preview

LatestGadgets were invited to a preview of the new Christmas ranges for Currys and PC World.

3D is very much in demand for TVs, gaming and cameras with an explosion of products set to launch this year and it is expected that 25% of TVs at Currys and PC World will be 3D by December. Sky are launching their 3D channel this year. The PS3 has the capability for 3D now and there are 3D cameras launching this winter.

The most outstanding 3D TV was the Samsung 55C9000. The Samsung UE55C9000 55″ Full HD 3D LED TV has a 3D HyperReal Engine and mega contrast technology and at 7.98mm thin, it is one the slimmest televisions around. However, at £6999.00, it is also one of the most expensive. We also got to see Devil May Cry played in 3D on a laptop. There was real depth to the image and brought a whole new experience to playing Devil May Cry and made me want to play it all over again.

This month, Currys and PC World are introducing a new range of exclusive home electronic brands, which will include basic utility products as well as higher end technology. The brand is designed to combine functionality and aesthetics without the big brand price tag. Think “the IKEA of technology”. For example, the Sandstrom S40LDIB10 is a 40” Full LED TV with High Contrast Dynamic technology, which at £749.99, is pretty decent value.

Advent, the well established range of PCs and laptops at PC World, will be launching a range of personalised laptop covers. Unlike the skins which you can currently get to cover the casing, these replace the casing and look durable. You can select an image from 500 options or upload a photo and have it put on the case, so you can have a picture of your family or holiday on your laptop.

Digital cameras have seen considerable innovation with manufacturers developing features to differentiate from the competition. Here are some the most innovative cameras. The compact Samsung PL100 has not 1 but 2 screens. There is 1.5” LCD display on the front of your camera as well a screen on the back so you can take self-portraits. Casio’s Z335 shoots in High Definition and for the ladies out there, it has a make-up mode, which automatically eliminates blemishes and highlights the face. No bad for £99.99 The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Micro Four Thirds Camera + 14-42mm Zoom Lens SCS also caught my eye. The successor to revolutionary G1, the camera adds an intuitive touch-screen, which allows the photographer to both focus and release the shutter by touching the on-screen subject.

There were some standout audio products on show for music lovers. The Amethyst Superpig iPod Docking Station is a statement piece with a bling look. It has a 4” subwoofer with 25 watts of crystal output so it packs a punch in a small package. For headphones, Monster Cable Lady Gaga Heartbeats Headphones are high-end performance headphones inspired by Lady Gaga’s unique and ultra-fashionable sense that will definitely turn heads. Monster Beats Active Noise-cancelling Headphones by Dr Dre are also available, which hold a noise-cancelling feature to eliminate outside noise and noise from your headphones so no one will hear your music. The sound is of premium grade, enabling you to hear all the bass and detail just as the artist intended. If you like the sound of anything, why not buy yourself a very early present?

Push the button – Packard Bell’s social networking M-series laptops

Every now and then someone advertises a use of social networking that makes you cringe. Usually, it’s politicians trying to “reach the youth”. And usually, you’d expect better from technology firms. Enter Packard Bell, with its new Packard Bell Social Networks key.
The Packard Bell Social Networks key is an extra button beside the keyboard on the company’s EasyNote TM notebooks that, when pressed, opens the Packard Bell Social Networks application. The application is basically a sidebar on the right hand-side of the screen, with Facebook, YouTube and Flickr integration. It lets you post comments, play games, update your profiles, and view and share photos and videos, all without opening a browser.

Packard-Bell-M-Series

Arguably, this is both an over-engineered solution, and a bit of gimmickry from Packard Bell. A sceptic might think that they wanted to use the internet’s current buzzwords, “social networking”, as much as possible to help the product “reach the youth”, through the use of a dedicated button.

There is also a huge question as to why there is such limited social media support, and whether it will be updated or not. Surely Twitter should get a mention (it can’t be that hard to include), and then there is Last.Fm, Google Buzz, Myspace, and, well, there is a world of other social medium that people frequent on a regular basis.

There are also the limitations of such software – almost no dedication application runs the website as well as a normal browser does. Smartphones are constantly compromising the functionality of the original websites, and almost no user would ever substitute the full browser experience for a cut-down version. Surely, if you have a notebook with a browser and WiFi connection then you wouldn’t limit yourself to a sidebar.

And looking at the notebook Packard Bell are putting this button on (the EasyNote TM), it seems to beg for a full web experience. A 15.6” widescreen monitor, Intel Core i3 processor, upto 8GB RAM and ATI or NVIDIA graphics cards are specifications that ensure that this device would browse normal social networks perfectly.
Anyway, to explore this button for yourself, pick up the laptop for £549 in May from all major UK computer stores.