Technologizer posts about Notebooks

Are Two Screens Better Than One?

By  |  Posted at 2:37 pm on Monday, December 13, 2010

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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

By  |  Posted at 12:01 pm on Friday, December 10, 2010

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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

By  |  Posted at 10:06 pm on Wednesday, October 20, 2010

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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

By  |  Posted at 9:25 pm on Monday, October 4, 2010

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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?

By  |  Posted at 5:54 pm on Friday, September 24, 2010

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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

By  |  Posted at 8:48 am on Friday, September 17, 2010

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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

By  |  Posted at 1:59 am on Monday, June 21, 2010

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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

By  |  Posted at 9:03 pm on Saturday, June 19, 2010

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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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New Toshiba Satellite Laptops: 3D, Thin-and-Lights, and a $300 Netbook

By  |  Posted at 12:37 pm on Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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Toshiba announced new notebooks today–a bevy of updates to its consumery Satellite line, which encompasses everything from basic low-cost laptops to powerful entertainment machines. Laptopmag.com has a nice summary. Herewith, notes on a few models I found particularly interesting when Toshiba briefed me on them recently.

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A 2.2lb, 13″ Toshiba laptop with USB 3.0, a fast CPU, and a new technology that charges the battery in minutes? Sounds good to me.

Posted by Harry at 6:55 pm

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New HP Notebooks: Envy Updates, Posher Pavilions, AMD (Almost) Everywhere

By  |  Posted at 12:56 pm on Wednesday, May 5, 2010

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HP announced scads of new notebooks today. I’m not going to try and cover every detail on every model. But here are a few notes on items I found interesting. (I was briefed by the company and saw the new systems in person.)

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Please Sir, May I Have More Memory?

By  |  Posted at 6:24 pm on Monday, October 26, 2009

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Oliver TwistGood news, maybe, sort of: Fudzilla is reporting that Intel will allow netbook manufacturers who use an upcoming version of its low-end Atom CPU to sell machines with 2GB of RAM rather than today’s artificial maximum of 1GB. That would allow for nicer, better-performing netbooks that don’t cost a whole lot more. Of course, it also begs the question: Why is Intel involved in deciding how much RAM a netbook can have in the first place? It’s a little as if the company that manufactured my home’s furnace wanted to be involved in deciding the capacity of my washing machine.

The PC industry–even the parts of it who are selling tons of netbooks–have an amazing track record of disparaging the darn things and explaining why consumers don’t really want them. But some of the limitations of netbooks are manufactured: Both Intel and Microsoft impose restrictions on PC manufacturers that ensure that netbooks are less appealing than they might otherwise be, and therefore less imposing competition for more traditional, full-featured, profitable notebooks–ones that typically contain costlier Intel chips and run higher-priced versions of Windows.

Almost everyone in the computer industry would rather that consumers reject netbooks and buy somewhat more expensive, powerful thin-and-light notebooks with ultra-low voltage processors. And in many cases, those machines make a lot of sense. But wouldn’t it be nice if said consumers could choose between the best possible netbook and the best possible thin-and-light?



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Is This Twice the Netbook?

By  |  Posted at 9:30 am on Wednesday, October 7, 2009

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Engadget’s Ross Miller is attending CEATAC in Tokyo–it’s the Consumer Electronics Show of Japan, only far weirder–and among the gizmos he’s encountered is a prototype of a netbook with two screens (photo borrowed from Engadget):

Two-Screen Netbook

My instinctive response to dual-screen laptops of all sorts (which I wrote about here) is that they take the best thing about portable computers–the fact that they’re easy to quickly and efficiently use almost anywhere–and mess it up. If you want more pixels than an ordinary netbook provides, wouldn’t it be more practical to buy a larger, higher-resolution single-screen notebook? Wouldn’t this machine intrude on your seatmate’s real estate if you tried to use it on an airplane? And I like to take laptops literally and use them on my lap…a scenario in which double-screen models seem particularly unwieldy.

Every time I look at a two-screener, including this one, it seems to say “We’re doing this because it’s technically feasible, not because real people would want to use this in the real world.”

Then again, you could argue that real people have never gotten the chance to give two-screen notebooks a yay or a nay–yery few of the dualies that have been invented have ever made it to market. Do you think it’s an idea that’ll ever catch on?



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Are You Done With Desktops?

By  |  Posted at 11:43 am on Wednesday, August 26, 2009

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IBM PCI recently had a minor epiphany: I’m probably never going to buy another desktop PC. It shouldn’t have come as a revelation given that the last one I got (in January of 2007) sits largely unused, except when I need to grab a particular old file off its hard drive. Laptops give me everything I need from a computer, and their downsides–smaller screens, lower-capacity hard drives–are far outweighed by their multiple virtues.

Market share figures show that the world’s made the leap to laptops, too–they’re the planet’s default personal computer, and it’s desktops that are now the variant device.

Which leads to today’s two-part T-Poll..



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The Power Shortage Continues

By  |  Posted at 11:38 pm on Tuesday, August 25, 2009

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No PowerRobert S. Anthony of The Paper PC has a fun post up about a new Wi-Fi reading room at the New York Public Library. It’s an “elegant” venue with seats for up to 128 laptop users–and if you don’t have a netbook, they’ll loan you one. Sounds fabulous–except there are no power outlets at the seats. If you’re using the Wi-Fi you’re draining your battery.

The NYPL is in excellent company. Wi-Fi blankets much of our public spaces these days, but power outlets are still hard to find. Many airline terminals seem to have a total of about three outlets, none of them especially convenient to the seating (which is why you’ll often find me camping out on the carpet while I wait for a plane). Some airports now have Samsung-sponsored power “trees,” which is far better than nothing–but they’re bizarrely configured in a way that makes it difficult to plug in a laptop and use it. (Don’t even get me started on most airplanes–yes, I’m looking at you, United.)

Starbucks? Everybody gets two hours of free Wi-Fi a day, but my local one has two power jacks, both at tables usually occupied by people who don’t need them. Hotels sometimes do a bit better, but the average tech-centric conference here in the Bay Area has maybe one outlet per fifty MacBook Pro-toting attendees. Almost everywhere I go, I’m keenly aware that most of our buildings date from the age before large numbers of people toted portable computers with them. (And even structures built recently usually have a shortage of alternating current.)

I know that installing outlets isn’t always cheap and easy. I still long for the day when they’re everywhere. (Literally, almost–one per seat wouldn’t be baf.) But I kinda wonder whether the point will be made moot by laptops with battery lives so long that plugging in becomes less essential. Me, I want fifty hours on a charge…



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