HP takes on the MacBook Air with the Spectre x360 hybrid laptop

hp-spectre-x360-folded

What do you think of when you hear the name HP? Laser printers maybe? Office desktops, business laptops? All very worthy but generally dull. Well, it’s time to throw away those preconceptions because HP is putting on the style.

Its latest HP Spectre x360 range of hybrid laptops is slim, stylish and set to take on the MacBook Air. With a machined aluminium chassis that’s just under 16mm thick and weighs only 1.49 Kgs (3.3 lbs) the x360 range features full HD touchscreen displays and a choice of Core i5 and Core i7 processors. A flip over screen means you can use it as a conventional laptop, turn it into a tablet or stand it up in ‘tent mode’ for viewing movies or presentations.

The machine has also been designed in close collaboration with Microsoft to provide a pure Windows user experience with fast performance and long battery life. So far, so impressive, but what do the reviewers think of it?

Trusted Reviews starts with some faint praise, describing the design as “inoffensive” but is impressed by the machine’s construction and quality saying it, “…has the feeling of hard density that we like to get in an Ultrabook.” The 12 hour battery life also made an impression, “If you needed any more convincing that this is the HP take on the MacBook Air, this is it.”

PC Advisor describes the Spectre x360 as a rival to the more expensive Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro,

“Not only is it more affordable, it uses a more premium design. While the Lenovo uses a metal lid, the inside is a soft-touch rubber finish. With aluminium all over, the HP Spectre x360 looks and feels more desirable and stylish.”

The 13.3-inch screen they say, “looks crisp” but it gets some criticism for being highly reflective. However, the overall conclusion is positive,

“…the firm looks to have done a great a job of packing good specs in a desirable aluminium chassis at an affordable price point.”

Describing the Spectre x360 as, “…the Surface Laptop that Microsoft refuses to make.” Slashgear says it’s,

“…a beautifully constructed machine. Sure, there are some elements which are a little MacBook Air-like – the bottom panel, for instance, and the front notch in the lid – but overall the combination of brushed and polished aluminum, the consistently-even keyboard, and the excellent IPS display with broad viewing angles give it a distinct look and feel of its own.”

“The Spectre x360 is one of our new favorite laptops,” says Engadget, singling out the hinge design for particular praise, “This allows the machine to be equally thick regardless of whether the screen is in tablet mode or folded shut, like a regular notebook.” Though it does point out that the machine is less successful when used as a tablet, “What you might find, though, is that a relatively large, 13-inch PC like this, particularly one this heavy, isn’t well-suited for tablet mode.” However, the machine’s size is a double-edged sword,

“Because the x360 is slightly bulkier than its rivals, it can accommodate a cushier keyboard and a bigger battery, allowing for nearly best-in-class runtime. It also makes room for a ton of ports.”

The size is a concern for Laptop Mag  too, “At 3.26 pounds, the x360 is heavier than most other 13-inch ultraportables. Among those whose screens can fold back 360 degrees, the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is a full pound lighter, as is the nonfolding Dell XPS 13 (2.5 pounds). The MacBook Air weighs 2.9 pounds.” Despite this it concludes,

“With long battery life, good performance and an attractive design, the HP Spectre x360 is one of the best convertible notebooks you can buy.”

hp-spectre-x360-back

If all this has convinced you that you really need one in your life, the HP Spectre x360 range starts from around £850. But we’ll leave the final word to Notebook Review,

“HP didn’t just make something that ‘looks’ similar to a MacBook … HP made every effort to deliver a product that meets or exceeds what Apple currently offers from the feel of the chassis and performance of the hardware all the way to the intangible elements of the user experience.”

The HP Spectre x360 is available now from $899.99. Visit HP to find out more.

The updated Toshiba Kira series: putting the ‘ultra’ in ultrabook?

toshiba-kira-front

Toshiba has announced it has both expanded and enhanced its premium Ultrabook Kira range. According to Toshiba, with a range of new features, the 13.3 inch Kira takes “performance to an improved level as the ultimate Ultrabook both for personal and business use.”

The Kira range will soon be available for the first time in Europe with a range of configurations. Will it be the “detailed clarity” of a PixelPure touch screen, or the new fully HD non-glare option, that whets the appetite of the Europeans?

So what to the critics think of the new and enhanced Toshiba Kira range?

The Gadget Show is wholly impressed, running its review with a striking opening sentence that states the new Toshiba Kira “Packs more of a punch than ever.”

With a fifth-generation Intel Core i7 processor, according to the Gadget Show, not only is the new Ultrabook more powerful than previous models, but it allows for slicker day-to-day use as well as processor-heavy tasks such as gaming.

The Gadget Show review is particularly awestruck with the 1080p model, in which users can enjoy a “whopping” 13 hours of standard use.

Wooing Apple laptop users?

The Inquirer is equally as rapt by the “beefed up” Toshiba Kira range, believing that the Windows 8.1 Ultrabook will have the ability to “woo Apple laptop users.”

The Inquirer is keen to highlight the fact the full HD model weighs just 1.1 kg and the higher spec model weighs a little more at 1.32kg.

The upgrade comes with 256GB SSD storage and 8GB RAM, as well as the same Haman Kardon stereo speakers with DTS Studio Sound as its predecessor.

Trusted Reviews were also quick to jump of the Kira Ultrabook’s new processor and longer battery life, which, according to the site, jumps from around 10 to 13 hours.

As far as connectivity goes, the upgraded Kira has three USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI, SD card reader and dual-band Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, Trusted Review is quick to point out.

According to the Gadget Show the 2,560 x 1, 440-pixel model will be out before the end of March, but we’ll have to wait for the 1080p model which is likely to be available before the end of June.

toshiba-kira-side

There definitely seems to be a general accord of excitement surrounding the new Toshiba Kira range, and that’s even despite the fact we’re all looking forward to the arrival of Windows 10 but with the Kira update we’ll still have to make to with Windows 8.1.

The prices have yet to be disclosed.

Acer P3 Ultrabook: Uncompromised Computing

Acer-P3

Acer’s newly unveiled P3 Ultrabook looks to deliver the benefits of a full-featured laptop with the portability of a tablet, whilst trying to solve the age-old problem of choosing between a notebook, hybrid-laptop or tablet.

The idea behind the P3 is to combine the portability of a laptop, the easy of use of a tablet and the functionality of a full-featured laptop, in a sleek form factor, without compromising on performance. Weighing in at 1.39kg and measuring a 19.75mm thin, the P3 delivers good performance and a long battery life in a portable for factor. The chiclet keyboard built into the cover is a full-sized QWERTY keyboard, making it comfortable to use for tasks such as writing documents, and creating spreadsheets.

The keyboard cover is a snap-on case. It’s attached fairly elegantly, but it can’t match the simplicity or seamlessness of Microsoft’s Surface keyboard covers, which lock firmly to the bottom edge of the tablet and make use of the Surface’s built in kickstand to provide extra support.

The design of the tablet itself good with matte-silver edges and a white plastic strip on the rear. It’s also quite a hefty beast with the case snapped onto the rear, and when propped up in laptop mode, there’s no way of adjusting the angle of the tablet, which is a bit annoying for finding the optimal viewing angle.

The Acer Aspire P3 also comes with an optional stylus that fits in the case, ideal of for users who want to do some light photoshop work. Packing an 11.6-inch HD display, utilising IPS screen technology, the P3’s screen isn’t going to satisfy everyone – but it does a great job of representing photo, videos and games with accurate colour and clarity. The IPS display, although not Full HD, is perfectly crisp at 1,600×900. Sound is taken care of with Dolby Home Theater, which adds some extra punch to both headphones and built-in speakers. Audio and video on the Acer P3 can be shared with additional displays via its external HDMI port. The built-in Acer Crystal Eye HD front webcam captures video in 720p HD, bringing life to video web chats while the 5MP back camera captures photos in high resolution. Storage-wise the new P3 Ultrabook features a 60GB or 120GB SSD for incredibly fast startup times and swift performance across a range of programs whether it’s gaming or photoshop.

At the heart of the P3 is either an Intel Core i3 or Core i5 processors, which deliver decent levels of performance whilst still managing an impressive battery life of up to six hours. Closing the case puts the Acer Aspire P3 into sleep mode, and opening it wakes the device up in only a few seconds. Since it runs Windows 8, it can handle all Office programs as well as legacy Windows programs, too.
Acer Aspire P3 will be available now starting at €599, which is quite bit cheaper than Microsoft’s own Surface Pro hybrid tablet.

IFA: Toshiba launch Satellite U920t, aka ‘the slide-top’

Judging by the product announcements so far at IFA, it seems to be the year of the laptop-cum-tablet. We’ve got the XPS Duo 12 with a swivelling screen, the XPS 10 and HP ENVY x2 with detachable screens and now the Toshiba Satellite U920t with a slide ‘n fold screen.

The U920t comes with a 12.5” TruBrite IPS HD display with 5-finger support, up to 256GB SSD hard disk and up to 8GB DDR RAM. In terms of connectivity you’re looking at HDMI, SD slot, 2 x USB 3.0 ports as well as Intel’s Wireless Display (WiDi) capability. The device measures 326.5mm x 213mm by 19.9mm thick and weight starts from 1.45kg.

The Satellite U920T also features two integrated cameras: a 1MP front-facing camera with an Ambient Light Sensor, and a 3MP rear-facing camera with Auto Focus. In addition to the scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass, the U920t also includes Intel Sensor Solution, allowing users to take advantage of games and applications by making use of a 3D acceleration sensor, magnetometer, gyroscope and ambient light sensor.

The Satellite U920T will be available in Q4 2012.

Update: Here is a hands-on video of the U920T filmed at IFA:

Toshiba packs a punch with its latest range of PCs

Toshiba has announced the launch of its latest range of PCs, including Ultrabooks, business laptops and an all-in-one desktop PC. Ever forward-thinking, the company’s newest range includes some record breakers in the form of the world’s first 21:9 laptop and the world’s lightest 13.3-inch laptop. Let’s look at each machine individually:

Toshiba-U840W

First up is the Satellite U840W. This is the world’s first laptop featuring a 21:9 display, which eliminates black bars from movie playback. If that wasn’t enough, Toshiba has installed high quality harman/kardon stereo speakers to complete the cinematic experience. Thanks to its Ultrabook-level performance, the laptop packs in all these features, while retaining the slim-line portability and all-day battery life found in previous Ultrabook models.

While computers are traditionally marketed to gamers, designers or businessmen, the Toshiba Satellite U840W is designed for cinema enthusiasts, and its wireless streaming capabilities and stellar battery life make it the perfect companion for long journeys.

Also announced was the Satellite U840 Ultrabook, which comes with a winning combination of performance, design and portability to produce an affordable, light-weight laptop. With a brushed metal design and elegant, embossed pattern the laptop delivers on style, while its third-generation Intel Core processor and 14-inch HD LED screen together provide stunning graphics and performance.

The Portégé Z930 is another first for Toshiba, and currently stands as the world’s lightest Ultrabook. Designed with business in mind, the netbook has ultimate portability, a slim design but is still powered by the latest generation Ultrabook processors. In addition to these features, each Portégé Z930 machine comes with advanced Intel security and remote management features, taking the weight off your shoulders in more ways than one.

Toshiba-Z930

Joining the Portégé Z930 in Toshiba’s business laptop inventory is the R9 range. Designed using input from business users, the R9 Series produces premium machines with industry-leading features that include strong reliability, faster performance and advanced security. Laptop sizes in the R9 Series range from 13.3 inches to 15.6 inches, and each of the three models in the range has a range of customizable specifications.

Toshiba-LX830

The last of Toshiba’s latest offerings, but by no means the least, is the LX830 all-in-one PC. Like the Satellite U840W, this machine is designed with entertainment in mind, and comes with a Freeview-enabled TV and Blu-Ray player, a 23-inch HD screen that is available as a touchscreen or non-touchscreen. Despite these features, the desktop computer retains a slim, space-saving design.

Toshiba unveils world’s lightest laptop; Z830 series Ultrabook

In a bid to stem the current surge in tablet popularity, Toshiba has launched a new series of ultra compact lightweight computers that have the portability of a tablet but the processing power of a laptop.

Toshiba-Ultrabook

Using Intel’s second generation Intel® core processor for Ultrabook and boasting up to six gig of DDR3 RAM, the Portégé Z830 and the Satellite Z830, weigh in at a mere 1.12kg and at only 15.9mm thick, are about twenty percent lighter and forty percent thinner than their previous versions. The 1,366 x 768 high definition display uses non reflective LED backlighting whilst the audio packs a punch via a Dolby advanced audio system.

Toshiba also claims a longer battery life through improved power saving and faster disk performance from the 128gig solid state drive. Perhaps more importantly for the portable traveller, the entire casing has been remodelled around a magnesium alloy casing reinforced with an enhanced “honeycomb rib” design to provide some decent resistance to drops and shocks whilst the fluid resistant keyboard will protect it from some on the go hot coffee spillage. It can absorb something in the region of 30 mls of liquid allowing you up to three minutes to desperately shut down the computer as fast as possible. (phew).

Not to be outdone on connectivity, the Z830 series has a versatile set of interfaces including Bluetooth, WLAN, Mobile Broadband, VGA, HDMI and several USB ports including a 3.0.

The Portégé Z830 and Satellite Z830 will be available in Europe during this autumn.

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.