It's the kind of announcement one expects to hear at CES, not a week or two after. Sony has updated part of its Vaio laptop line with new CPUs and new colors. But don't get too excited, these minor upgrades say nothing about any possible future systems meeting Intel's ultrabook spec, or using the next generation of Core i-series CPUs, expected around midyear.
With a radical redesign, HP's latest Envy system looks a lot different from previous models, but the most important change is one you might not even notice at first.
The big news in the new Envy 15 is the inclusion of a physical volume-control wheel. Physical volume controls are very rare. Occasionally, you'll get a couple of tiny volume-up and volume-down buttons above the keyboard, and a few years ago capacitive touch strips were popular (but never responsive enough to use). Most of the time, you're stuck fumbling with alternative functions of the Fn keys for volume and muting.… Read more
LAS VEGAS--The biggest surprise of CES 2012 is not what we've seen here at the show, but what we haven't. In a radical departure from previous years, several major laptop makers are missing in action, while others are showing off only a single major new product, if anything.
Instead of hosting its usual giant press conference and hotel suites full of products to demo, Dell instead introduced a single laptop, the XPS 13 ultrabook. If it was going to highlight just one laptop, Dell certainly picked the most relevant one, but last year's CES saw several systems across different categories.
Dell's sister brand, Alienware, had nothing new to show, despite scoring big at past CES events with systems such as the M11X.
HP likewise stuck to a single major new laptop, the Envy 14 Spectre. It's an innovative system with a cool design (and our Best of CES winner in the computers and hardware category), but HP's other new laptops, the revamped Envy 15 and Envy 17, and the Folio 13 ultrabook, had already been released last month.
Toshiba typically has new models spilling from its various Satellite, Qosmio, and Portege laptop lines. But at CES 2012, it only had a single product to show off, an unnamed 14-inch ultrabook prototype. … Read more
LAS VEGAS--It's a rare CES for which most of the digital ink spilled is about computers and hardware, rather than giant televisions. But 2012 was just such a year, thanks to the never-ending drumbeat of Intel's ultrabook platform.
Yes, ultrabooks again It seems like you couldn't walk more than a hundred steps across the velvety carpet of the CES show floor without running into a giant ULTRABOOK or WINDOWS 8 sign. The first official ultrabook-designated laptops (it's an Intel marketing term) arrived during the 2011 holiday season, but CES 2012 was a coming-out party for a host of new designs from nearly all manufacturers.
The laptops ranged from the diminutive (the Acer Aspire S5) to the large and bold (the HP Envy 14 Spectre), and to the copycat (the MacBook-Air-alike Dell XPS 13). And 14- and 15-inch models, some with optical drives, dedicated graphics, and hybrid solid-state/hard drives, have begun to blur a category only in its nascency, leading us to ask if the category will suffer from unnecessary mission creep.
Will that mean that consumers will have a hard time identifying what an ultrabook is, or even feel the category has become overhyped and overexposed by the end of this year? Ultrabooks may be the industry's next great hope, judging by Intel's ultrabook-obsessed keynote presentation, but that doesn't mean consumers are never going to want anything different.
But not just ultrabooks Only a handful of other, non-ultrabook laptops really stood out.… Read more
LAS VEGAS--No matter how much you prepare for a trade show like CES, what you see on the floor never quite matches what news you get beforehand.
In the case of Samsung, we had a chance to look at the new Samsung Series 9 and Series 5 Ultra ultrabook, but were surprised by quite a few intriguing laptops at Samsung's booth, which we should expect to see later this year.… Read more
LAS VEGAS--If there's one category we don't see much of at CES every year, it's high-end gaming PCs.
This year is even sparser, with no new Alienware or Asus high-end gaming rigs on display. Fortunately, boutique builder Origin is on point with new versions of its two gaming laptops, the Eon 17s and 15s.
While we really liked the overclocked Eon 17s laptop we reviewed last year, the look and feel of the hardware left something to be desired. It was built into a generic-looking shell from Clevo (a Taiwanese manufacturer that makes generic laptops other computer … Read more
LAS VEGAS--For all the attention ultrabook laptops have gotten over the past several months, a few big players have been conspicuously absent from the party.
Dell stood on the sidelines during the holiday 2011 ultrabook rush, but is now jumping in with the new XPS 13.
Using Dell's high-end XPS brand, the XPS 13 is an impressive entry in the ultrabook race, at least from our brief hands-on time with it. The system goes from 6mm-18mm thick and weighs under 3 pounds (but just a hair under, at 2.99 pounds, according to Dell). It has a backlit keyboard, and an Intel Core i7 CPU, but only integrated Intel HD3000 graphics. Storage options are 128GB or 256GB SSD drives.
At first glance, the XPS 13 isn't as flashy as some of Dell's other consumer laptops, but not without reason. Dell's pitch is that the XPS 13 is part of the Consumerization Ecosystem, which means that the lines between a company's consumer and professional laptop lines are blurring, a point we largely agree with. The XPS 13 is meant to be the kind of consumer laptop that business users ask their IT departments for, and Dell is eager to accommodate, with a nearly identical IT version offering TPM and other IT-friendly technology.
After playing briefly with a sample system, we liked the overall design. Its footprint is smaller than most 13-inch laptops', leading Dell to claim it's a 13-inch laptop in a 12-inch body (that's a bit of a trend these days: X-inch laptop in a Y-inch body, but being as laptop sizes aren't set in stone, it's also a hard claim to disprove). The look reminds us more of Dell's corporate Latitude line than anything else from the outside, but inside it has edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass over the screen and a large clickpad. … Read more
LAS VEGAS--At Intel's CES 2012 press conference, the emphasis wasn't on specific chips and their benchmark scores, as it has been in previous years. Instead, Intel was a cheerleader for a very specific type of new consumer product--the ultrabook.
By now, everyone should be at least somewhat familiar with the pitch. Ultrabook is an Intel marketing term (much like Centrino was), encompassing a growing category of Windows laptops that are thin and reasonably powerful, with good battery life and at least some solid-state drive (SSD) storage.
I was justifiably skeptical of the whole idea at first--it seemed to be a blatant play for Apple's growing MacBook Air audience, and the earliest ultrabook examples were nearly the same price as an Air, but without offering any notable advantages (besides running Windows, of course).… Read more
Despite its reputation as a maker of buttoned-down business laptops, Lenovo can always be counted on to produce a couple of intriguing concept pieces at CES every year, such as the IdeaPad Yoga.
This Windows 8 prototype laptop is described as "the industry's first multimode notebook with a 360-degree flip-and-fold design." A 13.3-inch touch-screen laptop, the Yoga is a thin, light laptop, but perhaps not quite an ultrabook. It's 16.9mm thick and weighs 3.1 pounds.
The name Yoga in part gives away the system's big selling point, that the display flips fully over to become a tablet. In fact, it has four usable positions, which Lenovo calls notebook, tablet, stand, and tent.
Lenovo says the combination of a traditional laptop design and a tablet makes the Yoga ideal for both content creation and consumption. The 13-inch display has a 1,600x900-pixel native resolution, and 10-point capacitive touch.
We've seen similar ideas for years in what are called convertible laptops, which have a rotating center hinge to swivel into both laptop and tablet forms. The problem with those, traditionally, has been that the single center rotating hinge was a potential weak point in the design. Lenovo says the Yoga's full-length hinge has been rigorously tested and is stronger than the older rotating convertible design. … Read more
One of last year's most head-turning laptops, the Samsung Series 9, is back, with an even slimmer, sleeker look.
Just one year ago, at CES 2011, the term "ultrabook" was never uttered. Instead, we saw a handful of very thin Windows laptops looking to duplicate the aesthetic and commercial appeal of Apple's MacBook Air, but without the help of a new category name (or R&D fund) from Intel. Of those, the most eye-catching was the Samsung Series 9, a 13-inch thin laptop that had a lightweight duralumin case. At the time, we said it … Read more