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  • 1-to-1 Laptop Initiatives Boost Student Scores, Study Finds Published Online: May 17, 2016 Published in Print: May 18, 2016, as 1-to-1 Laptop Initiatives Boost Student Scores, Study Finds First-of-its-kind analysis examines 15 years of data By Leo Doran and Benjamin Herold Efforts by K-12 schools to give every student a laptop computer increased student achievement and gave a modest boost to their "21st-century skills," concludes a first-of-its-kind meta-analysis of 15 years' worth of research studies. "It's not like just providing a laptop to every student will automatically increase student achievement, but we find that it's the first step," said Binbin Zheng 1 , an assistant professor of counseling, educational psychology, and special education at Michigan State University. Using statistical techniques to analyze already-completed studies, Zheng and her colleagues found that 1-to-1 laptop programs, on average, had a statistically significant positive impact on student test scores in English/language arts, writing, math, and science. The limited number of rigorous quantitative studies available to analyze means that further analysis is warranted, but the findings are clearly a good sign for 1-to-1 proponents, Zheng said. A further review of 86 additional papers, meanwhile, found some modest evidence of other positive benefits associated with giving laptops to students, including increased student technology use; more student-centered and project-based instruction; greater student engagement; and better relationships between students and teachers. The analysis focused solely on 1-to-1 laptop efforts. The researchers cautioned that their results are not generalizable to other devices such as tablets, desktop computers, and smartphones. Here is a list of the studies used in a meta-analysis of 1-to-1 computing programs conducted by Michigan State University researchers: Elementary Reading Fluency And Comprehension: Do Laptops Make a Difference? Bryan, A. (2011) (Doctoral dissertation) Ubiquitous Wireless Laptops in Upper Elementary Mathematics Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching Clariana, R. (2009) The Impact of 1:1 Laptop Use On Middle School Math and Science Standardized Test Scores Computers in the Schools Dunleavy, M., & Heinecke, W.F. (2008) Learning With Laptops: A Multi-Method Case Study Journal of Educational Computing Research Grimes, D., & Warschauer, M. (2008) Learning With Technology: The Impact of Laptop Use on Student Achievement Journal of Technology, Learning and Assessment Gulek, J.C., & Demirtas, H. (2005) Laptop Usage Affects Abstract Reasoning of Children in the Developing World Computers & Education Hansen, N.; Koudenburg, N.; Hiersemann, R.; Tellegen, P.J.; Kocsev, M.; & Postmes, T. (2012) Learning, Engagement, and Technology: Middle School Students Three-Year Experience in Pervasive Technology Environments in South Korea Journal of Educational Computing Research Hur, J.W., & Oh, J. (2012) Do One-to-One Initiatives Bridge the Way to 21st Century Knowledge and Skills? Journal of Educational Computing Research Lowther, D.L.; Inan, F.A.; Ross, S.M.; & Strahl, J.D. (2012) Intertwining Digital Content and a One-to-One Laptop Environment in Teaching and Learning: Lessons From the Time to Know Program Journal of Research on Technology in Education Rosen, Y., & Beck-Hill, D. (2012) The Social Promise of the Time to Know Program Journal of Interactive Online Learning Rosen, Y., & Manny-Ikan, E. (2011) The new findings run counter to the skepticism about educational technology expressed by many researchers and practitioners. A raft of prior studies, for example, has shown that even when technology is present in classrooms, teachers are slow to transform their practice 2 , instead using technology primarily to make administrative tasks and existing forms of instruction more efficient. The new analysis has the potential to reshape the debate about ed-tech's impact, said Elliot Soloway, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who has spent decades studying classroom technology. "This is one of those definitive studies that comes along every 20 years," Soloway said. "Schools are going to use the findings to justify the move to one-to-one." Rapid Growth of 1-to-1 One-to-1 student computing was first introduced to K-12 schools in the United States in the late 1990s. In 2002, Maine became the first state to launch a statewide program. The trend has since gathered steam 3 : In 2013 and 2014 alone, schools purchased more than 23 million laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks for use by students and teachers in the classroom (and sometimes at home). Generally, the goal is to enable teachers and software to deliver more personalized content to students, to boost students' technology skills, and to empower children to do more complex and creative work. Several high-profile 1-to-1 disasters resulting from poor purchasing plans, bad planning, and a lack of clear academic vision have raised questions for schools about the wisdom of the approach, however. And some research has been less than encouraging 4 . A 2009 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics, for example, found that classroom technology was used for practice of basic skills far more often than for design and creation. A recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that countries where 15-year-old students use computers most in the classroom scored the worst on international math and reading tests. In an attempt to definitively determine the impact of K-12 1-to-1 initiatives, Zheng and her colleagues reviewed 96 journal articles and doctoral dissertations published between January 2001 and May 2015. Just 10 of those studies met the researchers' criteria for inclusion in the statistical meta-analysis of 1-to-1 laptop initiatives' impact on student achievement, reflecting the still-very-limited research base on student computing initiatives. "A disproportionate amount of the research to date on this topic consists of small case studies in one or a handful of schools," Zheng and her colleagues wrote in their study, titled "Learning in One-to-One Laptop Environments: A Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis 5 ," published online earlier this year 6 in the academic journal Review of Educational Research. Still, there were enough historical findings to conclude that 1-to-1 laptop programs helped improve students' academic achievement at statistically significant levels in English/language arts, writing, math, and science. The impact on reading was not statistically significant. However, the effect of using laptops, overall, was noticeably less than the effect of other established interventions, such as smaller class sizes or individual tutoring. The results are "small but noteworthy," Zheng said. Interpret With Caution The researchers also looked beyond test scores, reviewing 86 additional studies that did include an empirical examination of 1-to-1 laptop initiatives' impact in K-12 schools, but did not include an experimental design and/or quantitative results. Among the findings from that review: A 1-to-1 laptop environment often led to increased frequency and breadth of student technology use, typically for writing, Internet research, note-taking, completing assignments, and reading. Students used laptops extensively throughout the writing process, expanding the genres and formats of their work to include writing for email, chats, blogs, wikis, and the like. Student-centered, individualized, and project-based learning appeared to increase in at least some instances of 1-to-1 laptop rollouts. Student-teacher communications (via email and Google docs, for example) and parental involvement in their children's school work increased in some instances. Students expressed "very positive" attitudes about using laptops in the classroom, as findings consistently showed higher student engagement, motivation, and persistence when laptops were deployed to all students. Students' technology and problem-solving skills improved and their ownership of their own learning increased, according to some evidence. There were mixed findings on whether 1-to-1 laptop programs helped overcome inequities among students and schools. Those results should be interpreted with caution, the researchers said, because they tended to rely on observation, survey, and interview data. Beyond Test Scores "There was a wide consensus in the studies we reviewed that use of laptops promotes 21st-century learning skills," the authors write. "However, studies rarely attempted to operationalize and systematically measure the growth of 21st-century skills in laptop students compared with control students." Leslie Wilson, the CEO of the One-to-One Institute, a nonprofit that consults with schools and districts, said she was "thrilled" to see the new research, though she cautioned that educational leaders shouldn't leap to conclude that going 1-to-1 is enough on its own to increase student achievement. For such a program to be effective, she said, schools must focus on crafting comprehensive plans that cover everything from infrastructure to curriculum to pedagogy to professional development. And the real benefits of giving every student access to a computer, contended Soloway of the University of Michigan, come when schools move from "instructive" to "constructive" learning, or from "teaching kids to remember something to teaching them how to figure something out." To best measure the extent to which that change is taking place, Zheng said, researchers and educators will have to look beyond standardized-test scores. She hopes the new research will prompt further efforts to develop assessments for students' digital literacy skills, as well as their creativity, independence, and leadership. "Many of the benefits of 1-to-1 laptop programs are not detected by standardized tests," Zheng said. "For the many programs whose purpose is to help students be a better 21st-century citizen, we need to develop and use corresponding measurements." Vol. 35, Issue 31, Page 11 Back to Top 7 References ^ Binbin Zheng (education.msu.edu) ^ teachers are slow to transform their practice (www.edweek.org) ^ trend has since gathered steam (marketbrief.edweek.org) ^ some research has been less than encouraging (blogs.edweek.org) ^ "Learning in One-to-One Laptop Environments: A Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis (msutoday.msu.edu) ^ online earlier this year (rer.sagepub.com) ^ Back to Top (www.edweek.org)
  • 10 best 2-in-1 laptops 2015: top hybrid laptops reviewed Hybrid laptops, or 2-in-1s, are devices that are able to serve as both a laptop and a tablet, either in a detachable design that sees the touchscreen doubling as a tablet, or a convertible approach in which the notebook's hinge rotates 360 degrees for a similar effect. Hybrid laptops are generally priced in a range between £700 (about 450, AU£800) and £2,000 (around 1,169, AU£2,131). However, some manufacturers, like Acer 1 , make budget hybrids, and there are even 2-in-1s designed specifically for the business user, like the Dell Venue 7000 2 series. Now that Microsoft has released Windows 10 3 , expect an even greater selection 4 of these devices to pop up, like the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700 5 , which runs on the new operating system. With that, here are the best 2-in-1 laptops that we've reviewed: 1. Microsoft Surface Pro 3 CPU: 1.9GHz Intel Core i5-4300U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400 | RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 | Screen: 12-inch, 2160 x 1440 multi-touch (ClearType, 3:2 aspect ratio) | Storage: 256GB SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: Two 5MP webcams (1080p HD video) | Weight: 1.76 pounds Dimensions: 7.93 x 11.5 x 0.36 inches (W x D x H) Sharp display Perfect as laptop and tablet Mediocre battery life Runs hot at times This is not only Microsoft's most striking and versatile device to date, but the most convincing poster child for the hybrid category yet. And this ringing endorsement comes from a long-time skeptic of such devices. This version of the tablet comes in cheaper than the most affordable iPad Air and 13-inch MacBook Air combined, even with the Type Cover, and that's the point. On paper, this slate is more powerful than either Apple device, not to mention most other comparably priced laptops and tablets. The Surface Pro 3 might not be perfect, but it's far and wide the brightest shining example of a potential tablet takeover. If you're not concerned about a downgraded performance, consider the new Surface 3, which doesn't provide as much kick as the Pro, but is lighter and a lot cheaper. Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 6 2. HP Spectre x360 CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.7GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 (1600Mhz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD Radiance LED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth 4.0 combo | Camera: HP TrueVision Full HD WVA Webcam (front-facing) | Weight: 3.26 pounds | Dimensions: 12.79 x 8.6 x 0.63 inches (W x D x H) Superbly thin Vibrant, bright display Excellent performance and battery life Too heavy to use as a tablet Weird, wide trackpad Buy the HP Spectre x360. It easily comes as one of my most recommended machines, with an excellent 1080p screen, solid performance, good battery life, and sturdy build quality; all for an excellent deal at £999 ( 899, AU£1,899). If it weren't for a few missteps with the trackpad and being too hefty for tablet use, this laptop would have easily stood amongst the most highly rated laptops TechRadar has ever reviewed. Despite its flaws, though, the Spectre x360 is one of the best-looking and powerful devices HP has ever produced and well worth a look over many, many other 2-in-1 laptops. Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 7 3. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 A versatile hybrid ideal for those who work as hard as they play CPU: Intel Core i5-5300U (2C, 2.30/2.90GHz, 3.0MB, 1600Mhz) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 1920x1080 | Storage: 180GB SSD OPAL2 | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless AC 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD 720p | Weight: 3.48 pounds (1.5kg) Dimensions: 12..44" x 8.70" x 0.74" (31 x 22 x 1.8 cm) Solid performance Versatile design Slightly heavy No ethernet port The Yoga 12 is a versatile bulldog of a device. You can use it as your work laptop. You can use it for play. It won't be the best pick for either of these tasks, but it won't stray too far from the upper tier either. At 3.4 pounds and 0.74 inches thick, it's just light and slim enough to claim portability. With more than seven hours of video playback, its battery is good enough to get through a workday, and it's affordably priced starting at just £845. Packing a full HD display that can bend into four different modes, you'll enjoy this device's flexibility, even though it isn't the lightest or sexiest device on the planet. With that being said, it performs on par or better than any of the devices on this list. If you need a larger screen, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15 8 is also a great option. Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 9 4. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 An attractive, versatile package CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1,600MHz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD IPS touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p front-facing webcam; built-in dual digital microphones | Weight: 3.68 pounds (1.67kg) | Dimensions: 12.99 x 8.74 x 0.75 inches (W x D x H; 330 x 222 x 19mm) Attractive design Sturdy construction Lackluster battery life A little hefty This notebook features excellent build quality and overall system performance. It's fast, it's slick, and it is ideal for students who need to bang out papers and general users who want a fast, compact notebook to tote around. Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 13 7000 10 5. Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro Lenovo's former-flagship Ultrabook is a real stunner CPU: 1.6GHz Core i5 4200U | Graphics: Intel HD 4400 | RAM: 4GB of DDR3 | Screen: 3,200 x 1,800 IPS multi-touch display | Storage: 128GB SSD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Intel Wireless-N 7260 Wi-Fi | Camera: 720P front-facing camera | Weight: 3.06 pounds Dimensions: 13 x 8.66 x 0.61 inches Unique flexible design Top-notch QHD IPS display No 802.11ac wireless adapter Keyboard complicates tablet mode With the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro (starting at £1,099, 999, AU£1,599), we can now confirm that 3,200 x 1,800 pixels is delicious indeed. On top of the winning Yoga form factor, we loved the solid performance, backlit keyboard, and the snappy SSD, creating mobile device-like response times. At the £1,000 price point, you could put the Yoga 2 Pro in just about anyone's hands and make them quite pleased. For those of you who crave portability more than anything, Lenovo recently unveiled the new LaVie Z, which the company claims is the lightest convertible on the market. For those who want more power and don't mind a little heft, you could also check out the Lenovo Yoga 3 2014. Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro 11 6. Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S The laptop that will bend over backwards for you CPU: 1.5 GHz Intel Core i7-3689Y | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000 (integrated) | RAM: 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MHz SODIMM | Screen: 11.6" HD LED Multitouch 1366x768 | Storage: 128GB DDR SSD | Optical drive: none | Connectivity: Lenovo 802.11 b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 1.0MP 720p HD integrated webcam | Weight: 3.10 lbs Dimensions: 11.73" x 8.03" x 0.67" Extremely portable Strong hinges USB 2.0 not 3.0 Tablet mode leaves keys exposed Yes, another Lenovo hybrid! The 11.6-inch Lenovo Yoga 11S (starting at around £799, 599, AU£1,299) laptop is a flexible machine that can fold over from a typical laptop stance to a stand position, to a position with the keyboard behind the screen, ready for delivering presentations. It comes with HDMI, SD card and USB ports, and boasts a surprisingly impressive Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for storage. The screen is sharp and bright, though not full HD, and works well with Windows 8. It's also nicely light and small for portability. You can easily use the Yoga 11S as you would any other laptop, replete with a full QWERTY keyboard. Read the full review: Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S 12 7. Toshiba Satellite Click Mini Affordable and attractive CPU: 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735F with Burst Technology 2.0 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2GB DDR3 SDRAM | Screen: 8.9-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD, 16:10 aspect ratio, 10 points multi-touch screen | Storage: 32GB eMMC Flash Memory | Connectivity: Wireless LAN 802.11b/g/n (up to 150 Mbps) | Camera: 5 MP Full HD rear camera with auto focus (back) and 2 MP Full HD web camera (front) | Weight: Tablet 1.04 pounds (472g); Tablet with keyboard 2.16 pounds (978g) | Dimensions: Tablet 9.25 x 0.385 x 6.34-inches (235 x 161 x 9.8mm) (W x D x H); Tablet with keyboard 9.25 x 6.72 x 0.78-inches (235 x 170.6 x 19.9mm) Full HD touchscreen Solid build quality Screen colours a little off Can't charge base separately Toshiba has created an incredible value full HD laptop that doubles as a tablet. It's perfect for frequent travelers, students taking notes in lectures, workers in meetings and people on a budget. This machine is well built and it runs smoothly and fast. Read the full review: Toshiba Satellite Click Mini 13 8. Asus Transformer Book T200 Another excellent transforming tablet-laptop from Asus CPU: 1.46GHz Intel Bay Trail-T Quad Core Z3775 | Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics | RAM: 2 GB LPDDR3 | Screen: 11.-inch 16:9 IPS HD (1366 x 768) with multi-touch screen | Storage: 32GB eMMC With 500 GB HDD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Integrated 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth V4.0 | Camera: Front 2 Mp and rear 5 MP | Weight: 1.71 pounds Dimensions: 12 x 7.6 x 0.47 inches (W x D x H) Great value hybrid Good connectivity Low resolution screen Fairly bulky If you are looking for a combination of Windows laptop and tablet, the Asus Transformer Book T200 is a very appealing option that offers a fair amount for only £539 ( 349, or AU£690). The T200 is quiet, light, well built and feels responsive during normal usage. Battery life is excellent, so you won't find yourself hunting obsessively for charging points throughout the day. Its "smart" hard drive bay adds plenty of storage space alongside the speedy 32GB SSD, and despite having a disappointing resolution, the IPS display is at least vibrant with good viewing angles. Good connectivity in the form of USB 3.0 and RJ45 ports are welcome additions, with a reasonable pre-loaded software set finishing off the package nicely. Read the full review: Asus Transformer Book T200 14 9. Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 A powerful, small tablet that wants to play in the big leagues CPU: Intel Core M-5Y71 vPro | Graphics: Intel Gen7 graphics | RAM: 8 GB | Screen: 10.8-inch FHD 1920 X 1080 IPS display | Storage: 128 GB SSD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Intel 7265 dual-band 2X2 802.11 ac WiFi & Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 2-megapixel webcam; 8-megapixel rear camera | Weight: 1.6 pounds (0.72kg) Dimensions: 11.01 x 6.95 x .42 inches (27.97 X 17.65 X 1.07 cm) Performance Battery life Cramped screen Modest battery gains over i5 model At the £700 ( 437 and AU£800) entry price, the Venue Pro 7000 offers a nice balance of performance and portability in a travel-friendly size. However, unless you find yourself accessing CPU and GPU taxing apps, you might find more value in an Atom-based convertible. Going with Atom will lower your cost and give you better battery life. For those who need power and performance, the confines of a 10.8-inch display may be too rigid to maximize productivity. Opening more than a few tabs or windows on the small display will trigger claustrophobia. If you need to be more productive, there are bigger convertible options, like the Surface Pro 3, to choose from that may fit that need better. Or, if you prefer Android OS, and you don't mind a little less kick, you can go with the Dell Venue 10 7000 15 . Read the full review: Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 16 10. Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi This 2-in-1 laptop takes thinness to a new level CPU: 1.2GHz Intel Core M 5Y71 processor (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with turbo boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1600MHz) | Screen: 12.5-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 (WQHD) capacitive multi-touch IPS display | Storage: 128GB SSD | Optical drive: None | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 LE | Camera: 2MP 720p webcam | Weight: 3.14 pounds Dimensions: 12.5 x 7.5 x 0.65 inches (W x D x H) Vibrant display made for media Flexible use cases Colors a touch too saturated Unimpressive battery life The Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi is one of the first laptops to finally get the hybrid form factor right. Thanks to the use of a magnet latching system and Intel's fanless Core M processor, Asus has been able to produce a lighter tablet-laptop hybrid that's thin to boot. The detachable Bluetooth keyboard also opens up a few alternative ways to use the device. Over the last few weeks, I propped up the screen while I used the keyboard as a remote for Netflix and stood the screen on its side, using it as a makeshift vertical screen. The best thing about all this is it's entirely seamless, letting you easily switch between tablet and laptop modes with ease. Read the full review: Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi 17 Joe Osborne and Kevin Lee contributed to this article References ^ Acer (www.techradar.com) ^ Venue 7000 (www.techradar.com) ^ Windows 10 (www.techradar.com) ^ greater selection (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 700 (www.techradar.com) ^ Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (www.techradar.com) ^ HP Spectre x360 (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15 (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 (www.techradar.com) ^ Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S (www.techradar.com) ^ Toshiba Satellite Click Mini (www.techradar.com) ^ Asus Transformer Book T200 (www.techradar.com) ^ Dell Venue 10 7000 (www.techradar.com) ^ Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 (www.techradar.com) ^ Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi (www.techradar.com)
  • 10 best 2-in-1 laptops 2016: top hybrid laptops reviewed Best 2-in-1 laptops Updated: The HP Spectre x360 15 has joined the ranks of our best 2-in-1 hybrid laptops 2-in-1s laptops, or hybrids, are devices that are able to serve as both a laptop and a tablet, either in a detachable design that sees the touchscreen doubling as a tablet, or a convertible approach in which the notebook's hinge rotates 360 degrees for a similar effect. Hybrid laptops are generally priced in a range between £700 (about 450, AU£800) and £2,000 (around 1,169, AU£2,131). However, some manufacturers, like Acer 1 , make budget hybrids, and there are even 2-in-1s designed specifically for the business user, like the Dell Venue 7000 2 series. Now that Microsoft has released Windows 10 3 , expect an even greater selection 4 of these devices to pop up, like the incredible Microsoft Surface Book 5 , and the stellar Microsoft Surface Pro 4 6 , the Dell XPS 12 7 and the first 4K resolution 2-in-1 the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 8 . With that, here are the best 2-in-1 laptops that we've reviewed: 1. Lenovo Yoga 900 A thoughtfully refined 2-in-1 convertible CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 13.3-inch QHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 IPS display | Storage: 512GB SSD See all prices 9 Gorgeous display Slim design Shallow keyboard Display drivers issues Whereas the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 had a winning design and underwhelming performance, the Yoga 900 is the full package. By integrating more powerful Intel Core I processors and a larger battery, Lenovo's latest flagship convertible can stand toe-to-toe with most Ultrabooks and even Microsoft's latest Surface Book. All this extra power has only made the Yoga 900 slightly thicker and heavier, however, it still largely retains a very thin and flexible frame that folds back into tablet mode. Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 900 10 2. Microsoft Surface Book The ultimate Windows 10 hybrid laptop CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i5-6300U | Graphics: Intel HD graphics 520; Nvidia GeForce graphics | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.5-inch, 3,000 x 2,000 PixelSense Display | Storage: 256GB PCIe3.0 SSD See more Surface Book deals 11 Futuristic design Seamless tablet separation Battery life falls well below promises Major updates are still in tow Microsoft knocked it out of the park with its first ever laptop, the Surface Book. Though it has a peculiar 3:2 aspect ratio and 13.5-inch screen that's outside of the norm for most Ultrabooks, it's one of the best designed convertible laptops ever created. As a standalone tablet, otherwise known as the Clipboard, it's the most powerful and thinnest Windows 10 computers in the world, then docking it into the keyboard base affords it even more performance by way of its discrete GPU. Read the full review: Surface Book 12 3. HP Spectre x360 Sublime. Near-perfect. CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.7GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB DDR3 (1600Mhz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD Radiance LED-backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth 4.0 combo | Camera: HP TrueVision Full HD WVA Webcam (front-facing) | Weight: 3.26 pounds | Dimensions: 12.79 x 8.6 x 0.63 inches (W x D x H) See all prices 13 Superbly thin Vibrant, bright display Excellent performance and battery life Too heavy to use as a tablet Weird, wide trackpad Buy the HP Spectre x360. It easily comes as one of my most recommended machines, with an excellent 1080p screen, solid performance, good battery life, and sturdy build quality; all for an excellent deal at £999 ( 899, AU£1,899). If it weren't for a few missteps with the trackpad and being too hefty for tablet use, this laptop would have easily stood amongst the most highly rated laptops TechRadar has ever reviewed. Despite its flaws, though, the Spectre x360 is one of the best-looking and powerful devices HP has ever produced and well worth a look over many, many other 2-in-1 laptops. Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 14 4. Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 A stylish 4K convertible Ultrabook CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i7-6500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) TruBrite LED backlit touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 7265; Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD webcam | Weight: 2.9 pounds | Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.2 x 0.61 inches See more Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 deals 15 Smart design and ergonomics Incredibly colorful screen Strange keyboard layout Dismal battery life Boasting one of the best looking 4K screens on the market, the Toshiba Radius 12 is a spectacular machine both inside and out. This sharp 2-in-1 laptop was designed to be held as a tablet just as much as it was meant to be used on your lap. Thanks to its lightweight and ergonomically designed chassis, this is one transformable notebook you'll actually want to hold in your hand. Read the full review: Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 16 5. HP Pavilion x2 The most affordable Windows 10 convertible CPU: 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3736F | Graphics: Intel HD graphics | RAM: 2GB| Screen: 10.1-inch, 1,280 x 800 WXGA WLED IPS touchscreen display | Storage: 32GB eMMC | Connectivity: 802.11b WLAN and Bluetooth | Camera: HP TrueVision HD webcam | Weight: 2.61 pounds | Dimensions: 0.39 x 6.81 x 0.78 inches See more HP Pavilion x2 deals 17 Long battery life Absurdly affordable 32-bit Windows 10 Limited storage and memory Getting into the world of Windows 10 convertible's isn't cheap unless we're talking about the Pavilion x2. This 10-inch hybrid comes packing a surprising amount of goods considering its small size. It comes packed with a HD screen and more than enough power to get you through a simple day of web browsing and even image editing. When you're ready kick back with some streaming media, you can pop off the 10-inch works as a great little tablet. And if you're looking for something with a bit more screen real estate there's the 12-inch HP Pavilion x2. Read the full review: HP Pavilion x2 18 6. Dell Inspiron 13 7000 An attractive, versatile package CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500 (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 2.9GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1,600MHz) | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 FHD IPS touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2) and Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p front-facing webcam; built-in dual digital microphones | Weight: 3.68 pounds (1.67kg) | Dimensions: 12.99 x 8.74 x 0.75 inches (W x D x H; 330 x 222 x 19mm) See more Dell Inspiron 13 7000 deals 19 Attractive design Sturdy construction Lackluster battery life A little hefty This notebook features excellent build quality and overall system performance. It's fast, it's slick, and it is ideal for students who need to bang out papers and general users who want a fast, compact notebook to tote around. Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 13 7000 20 7. Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 A sharp 4K laptop CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U (dual-core, 4MB cache up to 3GHz with Turbo Boost) | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 12GB DDR3L (1600MHz) | Screen: 15.6-inch, 4K Ultra HD (3,840 x 2,160) TruBrite, LED backlit, IPS touchscreen | Storage: 512GB mSATA SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless-AC 7265, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p HD webcam | Weight: 4.96 pounds | Dimensions: 14.9 x 9.6 x 0.79 inches (W x D x H) See more Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 deals 21 4K screen 12GB of RAM Heavy Short battery life Thanks to the combination of a great price and stacked hardware, the Radius 15 is one of the few successful UHD laptops. It joins a small pantheon of 4K laptops, with the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 being its closest exemplar. In some ways, the Radius 15 is a better overall system with a more vibrant screen, a sharper design that's also thinner and smaller to boot. The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is still one of the 15-inch best laptops we've ever reviewed and an incredible deal if you're on a budget. But if you're ready to make the resolution jump into 4K, you can't go wrong with the Toshiba Satellite Radius 15. Read the full review: Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 22 8. Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi Asus' thin and gorgeous 2-in-1 laptop CPU: 1.2GHz Intel Core M 5Y71 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.5-inch, 2,560 x 1,440 (WQHD) capacitive multi-touch IPS display | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 LE | Camera: 2MP 720p webcam | Weight: 3.14 pounds | Dimensions: 12.5 x 7.5 x 0.65 inches See more Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi deals 23 Flexible and versatile Thin and light design Micro-sized ports Unimpressive battery life If you're looking for a 2-in-1 machine that's much more portable, there aren't many devices that beat the Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi. This 12.5-inch convertible is among one of the thinnest in its class and taking the screen off the keyboard base turns the T300 Chi into a true Windows tablet. Though this device is powered by a low-wattage processor, it packs enough punch to drive a 4K display and get you through all your daily tasks. Sadly battery life is a little on the short side, but otherwise this is an excellent and affordable hybrid. Read the full review: Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi 24 9. HP Spectre x360 15 This 15-inch hybird is more portable than you think CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 Full HD, WLED-backlit, IPS touchscreen | Storage: 256GB Flash SSD | Connectivity: Intel 802.11ac WLAN and Bluetooth | Camera: HP TrueVision Full HD webcam with dual digital microphones | Weight: 4.02 pounds | Dimensions: 14.8 x 9.75 x 0.63 inches Contrast-rich screen Long battery life for its size Poor ergonomics Weak speakers for their size The Spectre x360 15 is an excellent 2-in-1 laptop that stands out with its thin, all-metal body. It features an excellent 15-inch IPS touch panel and it only gets better if you add on the affordable 4K screen. The biggest characteristics that will help you get through a day is the Spectre x360 15's lightweight body and long battery life. Read the full review: HP Spectre x360 15 25 10. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 A versatile hybrid ideal for those who work as hard as they play CPU: 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-5300U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 12.5" FHD (1,920x1,080) anti-glare multi-touch display | Storage: 128GB SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual-Band Wireless AC 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD webcam | Weight: 3.48 pounds | Dimensions: 12..44 x 8.70 x 0.74 inches See more Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 deals 26 Solid performance Versatile design Slightly heavy No ethernet port The Yoga 12 is a versatile bulldog of a device. You can use it as your work laptop and then you can flip it back into a tablet for play. It won't be the best pick for either of these tasks, but it still a solid solution anyway you spin it. At 3.4 pounds and 0.74 inches thick, it's just light and slim enough to be portable. With more than seven hours of video playback, battery life is long enough to get through a workday, and it's affordable price is just one of its most attractive aspects. Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 27 Juan Martinez and Joe Osborne has also contributed to this article References ^ Acer (www.techradar.com) ^ Venue 7000 (www.techradar.com) ^ Windows 10 (www.techradar.com) ^ greater selection (www.techradar.com) ^ Microsoft Surface Book (www.techradar.com) ^ Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (www.techradar.com) ^ Dell XPS 12 (www.techradar.com) ^ Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 (www.techradar.com) ^ See all prices (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo Yoga 900 (www.techradar.com) ^ See more Surface Book deals (www.techradar.com) ^ Surface Book (www.techradar.com) ^ See all prices (www.techradar.com) ^ HP Spectre x360 (www.techradar.com) ^ See more Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 deals (www.techradar.com) ^ Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 (www.techradar.com) ^ See more HP Pavilion x2 deals (www.techradar.com) ^ HP Pavilion x2 (www.techradar.com) ^ See more Dell Inspiron 13 7000 deals (www.techradar.com) ^ Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (www.techradar.com) ^ See more Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 deals (www.techradar.com) ^ Toshiba Satellite Radius 15 (www.techradar.com) ^ See more Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi deals (www.techradar.com) ^ Asus Transformer Book T300 Chi (www.techradar.com) ^ HP Spectre x360 15 (www.techradar.com) ^ See more Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 deals (www.in.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 12 (www.in.techradar.com)
  • 10 Best Back-to-School Laptop Backpacks Students carry a heavy burden. They need to move their books, their tech and their food from class to class. In many ways, it's their most important organizational tool. However, not all backpacks are equal. The best bags have water-resistant builds, adjustable straps, a ventilated back and plenty of compartments. But it can't be ignored that your backpack is as much a fashion statement as it is practical. It should reflect the tastes and interests of the student. Whether they are athletic, fashionable or intellectual, there is a bag that matches their personality and their needs. If you re looking for the best options on the market, we ve got your back. Case Logic Prevailer Backpack Basic black goes with everything, and this backpack holds almost anything. The dedicated laptop compartment of the Case Logic Prevalier holds a machine with up to a 17-inch display, plus there's a 10-inch tablet pocket. There's also space for water bottles, gym clothes, headphones, books and whatever else you need on campus. From £29.33 Amazon Hex Brigade Origin Backpack The fatigue woven cotton exterior of the Hex Brigade Origin Backpack is treated to be weather resistant. Dedicated pockets for a 10-inch tablet and a 15-inch laptop will protect against scratches and bumps. Plus, the large main compartment will hold all of your files and books, while the front zipper pocket is perfect for smaller gear and cables. From £79.95 Amazon High Sierra Tactic Backpack Add a little color to your student's life with the High Sierra Tactic Backpack -- and not break the bank. It's available in blue, black, brown, gray, green, and pink, and comes with patterned panels. It can also store your 17-inch laptop and tablet. Plus, there are tons of other compartments for books, cords and more. From £44.99 Amazon Eagle Creek XTA Backpack Perfect for the safety-conscious student, the Eagle Creek XTA Backpack features a sternum strap bucket with a built-in safety whistle. It also sports reflective accents and a loop for hooking a light. A dedicated pocket will keep your 16-inch laptop safe. Choose from black, blue or tan waterproof exteriors. From £99.00 Amazon Timbuk2 Sunset Backpack The Timbuk2 Sunset backpack sports a 1920s-esque, retro style, thanks to its top, snapping straps. An internal slip pocket holds a 13-inch laptop. The side pockets offer magnetic closures, for quick grab-and-go access. The main compartment, while not enormous, is just right for a few books and files you'll need for your trip to the quad or library. From £81.75 Amazon Hedgren Breeze Backpack Available in blue, yellow, red, green and brown, the Hedgren Breeze Backpack shows off your colorful side. The lined interior features pockets for both a 16-inch laptop and a 10-inch tablet. Plus, a side slip pocket offers easy access to smaller items. From £51.99 Amazon Thule EnRoute Triumph 2 Daypack The Thule EnRoute Triumph 2 is the way to go for those who want a backpack that can do double-duty as a school bag and as hiking equipment. The laptop compartment fits a 14-inch PC, as well as a tablet. Airflow channels on the back, padded shoulder straps and a sternum strap will make trekking easier. And don't forget your water bottle. From £89.95 Amazon Booq Daypack The sleek lines of the Booq Daypack exhibit true class. The main compartment is a cavernous space designed to carry all of the things you'll need on campus, including your gym clothes. The laptop sleeve fits a 15.6-inch laptop, and the two side pockets snap shut. The contoured shoulder straps make it easy to haul. From £71.85 Amazon Mobile Edge Razer Tactical Gaming Backpack Your gaming-obsessed academic will thank you for the Razer Tactical Gaming Backpack. It's built to safely carry a 17.3-inch laptop in a padded compartment, with a separate space for a tablet. It's made from the same ballistic nylon that is used to make flak jackets, and it s water-resistant. The Razer comes with a lifetime warranty. From £114.00 Amazon Kensington SecureTrek 15-inch The Kensington SecureTrek not only has dedicated pockets for a 15.6-inch laptop and a 10-inch tablet, but it also features a lock loop to make it easy to stop thieves from walking off with your stuff. It also includes anti-puncture zippers with locks that keep sticky fingers out. From £85.99 Amazon Recommended by Anna Attkisson, Laptop Mag & Tom's Guide Managing Editor A lover of lists and deadlines, Anna Attkisson covers apps, social networking, tablets, chromebooks and accessories. She loves each of her devices equally, including the phablet, three tablets, three laptops and desktop. She joined the Laptop Mag staff in 2007, after working at Time Inc. Content Solutions where she created custom publications for companies from American Express to National Parks Foundation. Anna Attkisson, Laptop Mag & Tom's Guide Managing Editor on
  • 10 best budget laptops 2016 UK: Best cheap laptops you can buy 10 best budget laptops 2016 UK: Best cheap laptops you can buy What's the best budget laptop? The 10 best budget laptops available to buy in the UK in 2016. Best budget laptops reviews. Want a cheap laptop? Read our best cheap laptops reviews. The best laptops you can buy in the UK in 2016 for less than 500 - often much less By Marie Brewis 1 | 23 Mar 16 What's the best budget laptop 2 ? The best cheap laptop is the HP 255 G4, but also look out for the Asus X555LA and Toshioba Chromebook 2. Learn more about the top budget laptops in our best budget laptops chart below. The 10 best budget laptops available to buy in the UK in 2016. Best budget laptops reviews. Want a cheap laptop ? Read our best cheap laptops reviews and laptop buying advice . See also: all laptop reviews. 3 4 5 Also see best convertible laptops and tablets 2016 UK 6 . If you're thinking of buying a laptop, be sure to check out our Black Friday deals round-up 7 for bargain laptop sales. Note that all the Windows 8 laptops in our round-up can be upgraded to Windows 10 8 . Best budget laptops 2016 UK: budget laptop buying advice Everyone likes cheap when it comes to spending their own money. After all, who pays more than they need to, to get what they want? Also see: Laptop Advisor 9 Fewer people like cheap in the sense of low quality, but if you can t spend more than 500 on a portable computer and you don t want to play 3D games, read on for a guide to buying a cheap laptop for not much money. When you see laptops and PCs advertised on the telly, there are usually a few specifications called out to help define what s on offer. These typically include the main processor type, the screen size, and how much memory it has installed. And don t forget, memory means random access memory (RAM) and should never be confused with the storage capacity of a hard disk or solid-state drive. Screen size is a good starting point for finding the laptop you need. Most today are sized at either around 13- or 15 inches, the viewable screen area measured diagonally; there are also some 17in models made as gaming machines, professional workstations or all-round family entertainment centres. At the smaller end, you may also find some laptops with 11.6in displays. The screen also gives a guide to the overall weight, helping you make a decision if portability is key to your needs. Most 13in laptops weigh between 1.3- and 1.6kg, while 15in models are usually between around 2- and 3kg. The screen is frequently the poorest-performing component in a low-cost laptop. Alongside its physical size and resolution listed in advertisements, there s rarely any quantitative indication of quality, helping manufacturers to fit the cheapest and lowest-grade screen they can find to pare down costs. Such displays will have very low contrast ratios, and limited colour gamut, while colours will look crude and garish. These crude twisted-nematic (TN) displays also have severely limited viewing angles. Compare these to the better-grade IPS displays now common on your phone or tablet, and you ll notice that it s difficult to view the laptop screen from the side, forcing you to keep your head in certain positions. Look out for the screen finish, too. Shiny screens became popular about five years ago, as they seem to have better colours and contrast, but in use these untreated gloss panels reflect daylight, bulb light and your own image straight back at you. Matt anti-glare screens are more versatile, but also beware of cheap coatings that give a sparkly, fuzzy effect to images. Also see: Best laptops 2016 UK 10 Best budget laptops 2016 UK: Which processor for a cheap laptop? The processor is the heart of the computer, although today it s not so much performance we need laptop chips reached a fast-enough level years ago as good battery economy. Apart from the slowest chips such as the Intel Atom, almost any processor from Intel or AMD is fast enough to smoothly handle the Windows operating system and programs such as Microsoft Office. However, the cheapest chips fitted to low-cost laptops, such as AMD s or Intel s entry-level Celeron, also tend to be less power efficient than Core i3/5/7. This means they burn energy needlessly to do the same work, so they require a larger battery to run the same time; or more often they feature the same size batteries but have shorter usable life before running flat. For better quality laptops fitted with the latest Intel chips and other power-saving measures, you can expect seven- to 12 hours of actual battery life. Budget laptops meanwhile may run for only around two- to five hours. The most efficient and powerful chips are currently Intel Core series, such as the i3, i5 and i7. Recent generations, codenamed Haswell, Broadwell and Skylake can be found even in budget laptops. The mobile chips are mostly dual-core designs, some with Hyper Threading Technology, which makes them perform like even faster quad-core chips with the right programs. Clock speed should not be used as a guide to speed any more. But clock speed of a processor does give you an idea how quickly it will drain the battery the higher the number, the faster it s gone. Modern laptops usually have chips running at around 2GHz or lower, and which perform as fast as the 2.5GHz and over chips of a few years ago. Watch out for laptop manufacturers who only list an inflated overclock ( Turbo ) speed, since most consumers still believe that higher numbers are always better. And so to memory. Historically, RAM was expensive and represented a significant part of the investment in a computer. Today, however, it s so cheap that whether your laptop has 4-, 8-, 12- or 16GB is less important, providing you can still upgrade yourself if required. Windows 7, 8 and 10 will run fine on 4GB, although even sub- 450 laptops often come with 8GB, now that it s such a cheap commodity. To make a computer feel fast and responsive it s as important that it have fast storage. The cheapest laptops do not yet feature the best option of a solid-state drive (SSD) unless you re prepared to accept a pitifully small capacity, so you must make do with a slower hard disk instead. Disks are now so cheap that laptop makers can afford to put in 500GB or 1TB disks; great for hoarding weeks of music and video, but don t forget your backup plan to safeguard your personal files when the disk breaks or your laptop is stolen. As a halfway measure, a small amount of flash and a larger disk are sometimes combined into what s being called an SSHD ( solid-state hard drive ). This is a cost-effective way to get some of the benefits of both technologies. Best budget laptops 2016 UK: Ditching Windows One way to get a cheap laptop is to swap Windows in favour of a free operating system such as Ubuntu or Chrome, or one that runs Windows with Bing (it's the same thing as standard Windows, but Bing is set as the search engine by default). Ubuntu and Windows with Bing are both traditional desktop OSes, but Chrome is an online operating system that requires you to have internet access. For more details on Chromebooks see our best Chromebooks 11 round-up. Best budget laptops 2016 UK: I can't find this laptop At the time of press every one of the laptops listed here was available to buy in the UK. However, the budget laptop market is extremely volatile, and retailers tend to secure limited stock of any model. Laptop makers will make many slight variations of the same laptop, with subtly different product codes. They typically use the same chassis, complete with the same ports, screen, keyboard and touchpad, so you can use our reviews as a basis for some of these models from the same range. 10 best budget laptops 2016 UK 10. Toshiba Satellite C55-C-175 12 The Satellite C55-C includes a recent Haswell processor but elsewhere the budget cuts show, especially the poor screen. Upgrading is not feasible so don t expect to easily fix the limited memory or slow disk storage later. Read our Toshiba Satellite C55-C-175 review 13 . 9. HP Chromebook 14 14 There s a lot to like about the HP Chromebook 14. It s big, nice to use, and offers something a bit different to Chromebook users. We d like to see an improved screen quality to really make it stand out, and maybe a firmer keyboard, but if you want a larger way to enjoy ChromeOS then this is a great place to start. Read our HP Chromebook 14 review 15 . 8. HP Stream 11 16 The HP Stream 11 is using the cheapest Intel chip that can run Windows comfortably, has a very limited eMMC storage card with just 20 GB available space, and includes a free version of Windows given away to PC makers to keep Google Chrome OS at bay. But the result is a surprisingly useful compact laptop, attractively styled for anyone that likes bold bright colours. It runs quick enough to surf and type, and always remains cool and silent. To use HP s own bizarrely chinglish marketing prose, that s got to help you work from happy place . Read our HP Stream 11 review 17 . 7. Dell Chromebook 11 18 Dell s debut offering is pretty much exactly what most people want from a Chromebook. It s fast, easily portable, smart looking, features a great keyboard, and even manages to add in a few bells and whistles like the two USB 3.0 ports. If Google s vision for a laptop fits your needs, then the Chromebook 11 will make you very happy. Read our Dell Chromebook 11 review 19 . 6. Acer Chromebook 13 20 Acer knows how to make good, solid, reliable Chromebooks, and this model is no exception. Performance was always decent, the screen size is a welcome addition, and the long battery life makes it a great option for travelling. It s just a shame that the display panel doesn t quite match up to that of the Toshiba Chromebook 2, which is similarly priced but does offer a richer experience. If you can accept the screen though, the Acer Chromebook 13 is a very nice machine that will get the job done. Read our Acer Chromebook 13 review 21 . 5. Toshiba Satellite CL10-B-100 22 The little Toshiba has the best build and weighs less than half the 2 kg+ of most budget laptops. It may not measure well in benchmarks but the flash drive means the machine feels more responsive in normal use. Add your own SD card and the CL10 becomes viable. Read our Toshiba Satellite CL10-B-100 review 23 . 4. Dell Vostro 15 3000 24 Battery life is disappointing and screen quality is poor. Application performance measures well but it often felt slow to respond in actual use. Corners have been cut but overall the Dell Vostro is a workable machine that leads with the latest Intel silicon. Read our Dell Vostro 15 3000 review 25 . 3. Toshiba Chromebook 2 26 If you're happy to live in the cloud for the majority of your tasks, then Toshiba's Chromebook 2 is currently the best way to do it. The device is light, fast, and that screen is worth the money alone. Chromebooks are quickly coming of age, and this Toshiba model is something that could easily convert a legion of fans to the ever improving ChromeOS universe. Read our Toshiba Chromebook 2 review 27 . 2. Asus X555LA-XX290H 28 Asus has restricted build and component quality to fit the attractive 300 price point, but all the essentials work well together. The Haswell Intel chip means overall performance is better than any Celeron-based competition in the Asus X555LA-XX290H. Read our Asus X555LA-XX290H review 29 . 1. HP 255 G4 30 The HP 255 G4 is a budget 15.6in Windows laptop with budget build and performance. We found no single serious flaw and it should get the job done eventually, making it ideal if you're on a tight budget and don't need lots of speed or a high-quality screen. Read our HP 255 G4 review 31 . References ^ see more by Marie Brewis (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ budget laptop (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ laptop (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ laptop buying advice (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ See also: all laptop reviews. (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ best convertible laptops and tablets 2016 UK (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Black Friday deals round-up (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Windows 10 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Laptop Advisor (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Best laptops 2016 UK (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ best Chromebooks (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for Toshiba Satellite C55-C-175 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Toshiba Satellite C55-C-175 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for HP Chromebook 14 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ HP Chromebook 14 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for HP Stream 11 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ HP Stream 11 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for Dell Chromebook 11 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Dell Chromebook 11 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for Acer Chromebook 13 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Acer Chromebook 13 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for Toshiba Satellite CL10-B-100 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Toshiba Satellite CL10-B-100 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for Dell Vostro 15 3000 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Dell Vostro 15 3000 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for Toshiba Chromebook 2 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Toshiba Chromebook 2 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for Asus X555LA-XX290H (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Asus X555LA-XX290H review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ read full review for HP 255 G4 (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ HP 255 G4 review (www.pcadvisor.co.uk)
  • 10 Best Ultrabooks 2015: top thin and light laptops reviewed ... Ultrabooks have come a long way since they were first introduced to compete with the MacBook Air world. They're thin and light while featuring powerful Intel Core processors, fast SSD storage and superb battery life. But more than anything else they represent the bleeding edge of laptops; case in point the side shrinking Dell XPS 13 1 and the unbelievably light Lenovo LaVie Z 2 . Of course, this all means Ultrabook also come at a premium. Don't be surprised with prices that start at £999 (around 584, AU£1,064) just for the low-end and nearly £2,000 (around 1,169, AU£2,131) at the very high end. It's an arms race in the Ultrabook world and there's no room for losers in this space, as such it's hard not to find a great machine but below you'll find the very best cream of the crop. 1. Dell XPS 13 Possibly the best laptop on the planet, Dell's latest is a masterpiece CPU: 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 3,200 x 1,800 | Storage: 230GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11 AC, Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.8 pounds Gorgeous display Super lightweight No ethernet port Off-centre webcam The new Dell XPS 13 is a 13.3-inch notebook, but it has the small footprint of an 11-inch machine. Fortunately for us, the XPS 13 isn't all beauty and no brains. This laptop features the horsepower to make work and play enjoyable, and it has just enough battery life to never leave you in a lurch. Regardless of whether you choose to upgrade to the touchscreen quad HD+ version, or if you stand pat with the full HD model, the Dell XPS 13 will provide you with a delightful experience for years to come. Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 3 2. Asus ZenBook UX305 A truly excellent ultrabook at a very agreeable price point CPU: 800MHz Intel Core M 5Y10 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 1920x1080 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.6 pounds | Dimensions: 12.8 x 8.9 x 0.5 inches Very thin and light Incredible performance Wonky video driver Tinny speakers The ZenBook UX305 is a superbly-built, fully metal machine that's thin, light and very attractive. This lightweight system can easily take on any task whether its browsing the web, watching video or editing images. What's more, you get excellent battery life out of this machine all while doing. The most striking thing about the UX305 is that it comes at a £699 or 649 (about AU£902) price. While it isn't exactly a shining symbol of innovation in the Ultrabook space, it is the most affordable Ultrabook out today and it won't disappoint you. Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX305 4 3. Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 An attractive alternative to a certain fruit-flavoured laptop CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-4720HQ | Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M | RAM: 16GB | Screen: 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 IPS Display | Storage: 512GB PCIe x4 SSD | Connectivity: Intel PRO Wireless AC 7260 + BT Wireless LAN Combo | Camera: Built-in 720P Video Camera | Weight: 5.0 pounds | Dimensions: 15.08 x 10.04 x 0.84 inches Bright, vibrant screen Excellent performance Feels heavy Mediocre battery life If you're looking for a laptop with a little more meat on its bones but don't want to break the bank, the Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 is a stylish contender. It features a bright, vibrant 4K display and simply flies with the fastest storage drive around. While it's not the lightest Ultrabook around, it comes with a very capable processor and a dedicated graphics card to handle some light gaming too. The UX501's meaty innards and affordability make it an attractive option for content creators and media buffs alike. Read the full review: Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 5 4. Lenovo LaVie Z The lightest Ultrabook in the world CPU: 2.40GHz Intel Core i7-5500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphic 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch WQHD (2560 x 1440) LED anti-glare | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 ac and Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: 720p HD | Weight: 1.87 pounds | Dimensions: 12.56 x 0.67 x 8.35 inches Core i7 processor Excellent WQHD screen Mediocre battery life Astronomical price tag By creating the 1.87-pound LaVie Z, Lenovo has created the lightest laptop in the world. Aside from its lightweight chassis, the Lavie Z offers performance and display are among the best available today. However, the laptop's somewhat questionable build quality, inferior battery life, and inflated price tag are qualities that could turn many off from what is an otherwise splendid device. Read the full review: Lenovo LaVie Z 6 5. HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 A thin, attractive business laptop posing as an Ultrabook CPU: 1.2GHz dual-core Intel Core M-5Y71 | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5300 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: value | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0; dual-band 802.11ac (B/G/N), dual-band Wi-Fi | Camera: 720p webcam | Weight: 2.68-pound | Dimensions: 12.2 x 8.27 x 0.62-inch Sleek design and tough construction Fingerprint scanner, enterprise security Underpowered Intel Core M performance No full-sized SD card reader Although it has the look and body of an Ultrabook, the HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 is very much a business laptop in disguise. Underneath its MacBook Air like exterior, this machine packs plenty of enterprise perks including fingerprint scanner, enterprise security and the durable build quality to meet a Military Specifications certification. At the same time though, the HP Folio 1020 G1 has a gorgeous design that's atypical of business-class notebooks. Cloaked in a unibody aluminum shell, the fanless Folio is one of the lighter, more attractive business portables in the world. Add in a gorgeous QHD screen, comfortably ergonomic keyboard, and this premium business machine is well worth its slightly premium price tag. Read the full review: HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 7 6. Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro A triumph for design, Lenovo's flagship is impressive if a little pricey CPU: Intel Core M | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 530 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13-inch 3200x1800 | Storage: 256GB SSD | Ports: 2 x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p | Weight: 2.62 pounds | Dimensions: 13 x 9 x 0.5 inches Slim and light Attractive hinge Quite pricey Poor battery life If you're all about style and don't need a super powerful machine, things don't get much better than Lenovo's latest flagship Ultrabook. While it may not be as punchy as its predecessor (thanks in part to its low-power, fanless Intel Core M chip), it can still manage all of the usual tasks you would throw at it. And given its new metallic hinge and super thin design, the Yoga 3 Pro makes a better case than ever for its multitudes of usage modes. At any rate, this is one of the thinnest, lightest and sharpest Windows laptops to date. And while you'll certainly pay for it, the price for such panache will be worth it for style nuts. Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro 8 7. Samsung Ativ Book 9 Plus With stunning performance and screen, it doesn't get much better than this CPU: 1.6 GHz Intel Core i5-4200U | Graphics: Intel integrated | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 13.3-inch 3,200 x 1,800 | Storage: 128GB SSD | Ports: 3 x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p | Weight: 3.06 pounds | Dimensions: 12.6 x 9 x 0.5 inches Incredible touchscreen Excellent battery It's expensive Full of bloatware Samsung was one of the very first PC manufacturers to jump on the Ultrabook bandwagon. It's done a fine job of representing Intel's baby ever since, with some stunning offerings. Now Samsung's Ativ Book 9 Plus (starting at £1,399, 1,412, AU£2,259) has kept the company ahead of the game for a while. It's a wonderful-looking unit that's thin and carefully crafted, with shiny, chamfered edges lining its all-aluminium chassis. But its plain black exterior might lend some clues as to its intent: This is premium-priced Ultrabook focused as much on the business user as the coffee shop regular. Read the full review: Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus 9 8. Acer Aspire S7 Acer's luxurious laptop is an ultraportable star CPU: 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7-550U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: value | Camera: value | Weight: value | 12.72 x 8.78 x 0.51 | Dimensions: 12.72 x 8.78 x 0.51 inches Attractive glass design Full-day battery life Screen limited to 1080p Too much bloatware If you have a passion for white electronics, the Aspire S7's looks alone may seal the deal, but the laptop is more than just a pretty face. Acer packs in Intel's Broadwell Core i7 processor, a battery that lasts close to a full work day, plenty of storage and RAM all into a sleek body. The Aspire S7 is an attractive and powerful laptop, but not one without compromises. If you're willing to invest a little time to removing bloatware and can live with a keyboard with the shallow key travel, then the Aspire S7 rewards you with a very capable computing experience that will also look good on your desk. Read the full review: Acer Aspire S7 10 9. Toshiba Kirabook A high-res Ultrabook that's easy on the eyes CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-5500U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 5500 | RAM: 8GB | Screen: 13.3 inch 2560 x 1440 WQHD touchscreen | Storage: 256GB SSD | Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 + Bluetooth 4.0 | Camera: HD webcam | Weight: 2.9 pounds | Dimensions: 12.4 x 8 x 0.37 inches Stylish design Good battery life Expensive Dim, bendy screen The Toshiba Kirabook (otherwise known as the Kira in the UK) sits at the higher end of the Ultrabook spectrum. It offers a high-res screen and a fully metal body that feels so premium, it even gives the MacBook 11 a run for its money. While there were a few missteps with the annoying keyboard and dim screen, you'll be pleased with this long lasting machine that's easy on the eyes. Read the full review: Toshiba Kirabook 12 10. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon An excellent business laptop that (almost) has it all CPU: Intel Core i5-4300U | Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400 | RAM: 4GB | Screen: 14-inch, 2560 x 1440 IPS | Storage: 180GB SSD | Ports: 2x USB 3.0 | Connectivity: 802.11ac | Camera: 720p | Weight: 3.15 pounds | Dimensions: 13.03 x 8.94 x 0.73 inches Clever adaptive keyboard Fantastic design Generally dim screen Average battery life The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (starting at £1,186, 1,198, AU£1,699) is a business laptop that straddles the line between form and function more than ever after this update. For those with a penchant for aesthetics, here's a brand new design with some fantastic new features. And to keep the no-nonsense business user happy, this is a plenty powerful piece of hardware. The connectivity on offer through this Ultrabook's super slim design profile alone is impressive. And the adaptive keys, while divisive, add a ton of function in a limited amount of space and an attractive presentation. Look out, MacBook Pro, you're no longer the only thin and light business option on the block. Read the full review: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 13 References ^ Dell XPS 13 (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo LaVie Z (www.techradar.com) ^ Dell XPS 13 (www.techradar.com) ^ Asus ZenBook UX305 (www.techradar.com) ^ Asus ZenBook Pro UX501 (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo LaVie Z (www.techradar.com) ^ HP EliteBook Folio 1020 G1 (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro (www.techradar.com) ^ Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (www.techradar.com) ^ Acer Aspire S7 (www.techradar.com) ^ MacBook (www.techradar.com) ^ Toshiba Kirabook (www.techradar.com) ^ Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (www.techradar.com)
  • 10 gloriously excessive, wildly exotic PC cooling setups There s a common refrain in some corners 1 of the PC enthusiast community: May our frame rates be high and our temperatures low. More than a mere utterance, it s a simple, straightforward embrace of the very best that the PC has to offer. There s a lot of power in those words and some people truly take them to heart. Don t believe me? Witness these utterly magnificent, borderline crazy creations devoted to sending temperatures plummeting and performance skyrocketing. Are these cooling masterworks practical? Nah. But when someone slaps a custom liquid-cooling loop on a router, modem, or Raspberry Pi just because they can , the least you can do is bask in their glory. References ^ some corners (www.reddit.com)
  • 10 inch tablet review Review tablet pc Google Nexus 9 Tablet 10 inch tablet review Review tablet pc Google Nexus 9 Tablet (8.9-Inch, 16 GB, Black). Designed with you in mind Fit for your hand With a soft grip back and subtle curves, the Nexus 9 tablet strikes a slim profile that s light and comfortable for work or play. High-quality construction Built with a thin bezel, brushed metal sides, clean lines and distinct colors, the Nexus 9 tablet is sleek and strong. View, listen, and play Completely sized display screen The 8.9 screen is big enough to work and enjoy on, however little adequate to carry around in one hand. Crisp, clear noise Sound is more immersive, layered and distortion-free with front-facing HTC BoomSound speakers. Powerful processor With the 64-bit processor, easily move in between tabs to examine email, view videos, and tweak docs simultaneously. From work to play and back again Better multitasking Easily switch between editing documents, browsing the web, enjoying movies, and paying attention to music. Get things done The magnetically connected, fully-responsive keyboard allows you to type at various angles. Offered independently, it helps you get stuff done in your home, at the office, and on the go. Introducing Lollipop, our sweetest release yet Nexus gadgets get the current Android OS updates initially, so you have an exceptional software experience. Your gadget, your guidelines For fewer fears and disturbances, adjust your settings so only certain individuals and notifications make it through. When it is very important, react to messages directly from your lockscreen. Beautiful design Colors are vibrant, animations are fluid and shapes are highly textured. And the Lollipop experience is consistent across all of your Android gadgets. Make Computers an Easy Option Picking a device has actually never been simpler. Go to amazon.com/easychoice to find high quality computer recommendations at a great value. Discover more
  • 10 Reasons Why Consumers Should Buy Business Laptops Laptop makers take great pains to differentiate between their consumer- and professional-oriented product lines. But in many cases, home users would be better off if they ignored the marketing spin and bought business laptops. While consumer portables are usually designed for style, business laptops frequently offer a tougher chassis, more configuration options and better usability. Large corporate customers buy these notebooks by the thousands and expect them to last for several years. So if manufacturers want to keep Fortune 500 clients happy, they need to design their business laptops to a higher standard of quality. Even if you don't "work" in the traditional sense all you do on your laptop is write emails, surf the Web and post to social media you can benefit a great deal from a notebook that's optimized for productivity but is still affordable. Here are 10 reasons to consider a business laptop. Built to Last If you want a notebook that can survive drops and spills, a business system is more likely to take the abuse. Lenovo, for example, equips a number of its ThinkPads, including the T450s, with a roll cage that helps it survive. Matte Displays with Better Viewing Angles Glossy displays have become nearly ubiquitous on consumer notebooks, because vendors believe consumers shopping retail will be swayed by their shininess and slightly more vibrant colors. However, the glossier the display, the worse the viewing angles. (Imagine trying to read a Web page and seeing your reflection more than the text.) If they don't come with touch screens, most business systems have matte displays. For example, in Dell's lineup, the consumer-oriented Dell Inspiron 15 5000 1 comes with a glossy panel, while the Dell Latitude 15 5000, which is marketed to corporate customers, comes standard with an anti-glare display. Unfortunately, if you configure the Latitude, or any other business laptop, with a touch screen you will have to live with a glossy surface because that's necessary for touch. MORE: Best Business Laptops 2 Better Keyboards We're not saying that consumer keyboards and touchpads aren't good, just that their business counterparts have to bring something really tactile and responsive to the table to appeal to enterprises, which are always focused on productivity (aka typing). For example, Lenovo's ThinkPad keyboards are the gold standard for all laptops, with snappy feedback, strong travel and large, curved keys that are easy to feel without looking. However, the same company's consumer laptops often suffer from weak travel and shrunken keys. For example, the £949 Yoga 3 14 has shallow, dull keys, whereas the enterprise-friendly ThinkPad Yoga 14 3 , which goes for £959, has 60 percent more vertical travel and 10 percent more actuation force, giving it a much better typing experience. More and Better Pointing Options We can't name a single consumer notebook with anything other than a touchpad for navigation. However, if you like pointing sticks (and we do), several business systems have them in addition to touchpads. Everyone knows that Lenovo ThinkPads have their famous red TrackPoints, but several HP ProBooks, Dell Latitudes and Toshiba Tecras also have pointing sticks between their G and H keys. Many people love these so-called "nubs" because they're more accurate than touchpads and because touch typists don't have to lift their fingers off the home row to use them. The touchpads on business laptops are usually designed for form over function. In many cases, they have discrete buttons, whereas most consumer models force you to click left or right on the entire pad, which is less accurate and less comfortable. Replaceable, Extended Batteries These days most laptops come with sealed-in batteries that you can't remove without taking them to a service center. However, some business systems still let you swap batteries on your own so you can carry a spare or upgrade to a larger unit. For example, you can buy the Latitude 14 5000 with either a 3-cell or a 4-cell battery, with the latter costing just £20.35 more. Less Crapware A large or mid-size business simply can't afford to pay its IT department to sit there uninstalling crapware from each new notebook it orders. Vendors know this and intentionally avoid overloading their business notebooks with too much unwanted trialware. You still find trial versions of security software, but that's usually about it. Biometric Security You won't see too many consumer laptops with fingerprint readers, but many business systems have them standard or as an inexpensive (£20 to £30) option. With a reader, you can swipe-login to Windows or configure a password manager to use your fingerprint as a credential. Long Life Span, More Serviceable Because corporations hold onto their laptops for years, hardware vendors must keep offering parts and service. For that reason, business models usually stay on the market for a year or longer and components, such as replacement batteries and AC Adapters, are available for many years. Although a lot of ultrathin business notebooks are difficult, if not impossible to service on your own, mainstream and larger sizes usually have RAM and storage that you can upgrade. Reasonably Priced Now you might be asking: What about price? Depending on what you compare it with, a business system may cost £100 to £200 more than a consumer model for the same specs. Other times, the price delta is minimal. For example, the consumer-oriented Toshiba Satellite Radius P55W costs just £70 less than a similarly configured Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15, which is marketed as a business system but provides a much better keyboard, discrete graphics and 3 hours of additional battery life. Bottom Line Many of the major notebook vendors have built their organizations around the idea that businesses and home users have different needs and deserve different products. However, there's no reason to buy into that marketing hype. If you want a laptop as opposed to a tablet or a phone, it's because you have work to do, whether that work is programming a website, composing a newsletter for the PTA, authoring a book report for your third-grade class or keeping up with relatives on Facebook. Many times, a business notebook makes that work a lot easier. Recommended by Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master s degree in English from NYU. Avram Piltch, LAPTOP Online Editorial Director on References ^ Dell Inspiron 15 5000 (www.laptopmag.com) ^ Best Business Laptops (www.laptopmag.com) ^ ThinkPad Yoga 14 (www.laptopmag.com)
  • 10 Tablets with the Longest Battery Life 15 hours: That's the kind of all-day battery life people have been dreaming of since forever. Lenovo's Yoga Tab 3 has it, and as such, might be the best mobile media tablet on the market. Its 8-inch screen is relatively bright, and Lenovo's tablet even comes with a built-in kickstand. The extra-large battery results in a bigger-than-normal design, and the Snapdragon 212 processor can feel a little lethargic at times, but if you're all about watching movies and surfing the Web, the Yoga Tab 3 can go all day.
  • 10 Things You Need to Know: The Apple iPad Pro 9.7-Inch For once, the rumors were uncannily accurate: As we wrote this on March 21, Apple released smaller crab-apple versions of two of its signature mobile products, the iPhone and the iPad Pro. (For our introduction to the Apple iPhone SE, check out our accompanying 10 Things You Need to Know: Apple iPhone SE 1 .) The rumored iPad Air 3 didn't actually emerge, but for the new small stuff, it was still a big news day. The developments surrounding the iPad tablets were technically three-fold: (1) a new, smaller-screened version of the jumbo, pen-enabled Apple 2 iPad Pro 3 tablet; (2) a new, lower entry price £399 on the mainstay model of the iPad line, the Apple iPad Air 2 4 ; and (3) a new top-end capacity for the already released full-size (12.9-inch-screened) iPad Pro. Let's break down the Apple iPad Pro announcement here. 1. The name's the same; the screen is smaller. The new-for-2016 iPad Pro has a 9.7-inch screen, down from the 12.9-inch whopper in the original iPad Pro. In a move to establish a new, discrete multi-member family within the iPad hierarchy, the name is not changing, though. It's still just "iPad Pro," differentiated only by the screen size. (No "iPad Pro Mini" here.) The Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch atop the 12.9-inch version. If you've held an iPad Air or Air 2, you've pretty much held the new iPad Pro. The overall dimensions of the iPad Pro are 0.24 inch thick, with a 9.4x6.6-inch footprint. It weighs exactly the same amount as the Apple iPad Air 2 (0.96 pound, or about 15.3 ounces), with a few feathers of variance depending on whether you're looking at the Wi-Fi-only or the Wi-Fi-plus-cellular version of each. 2. The capacity standards have shifted. As we mentioned above, with the release of the 9.7-inch Apple iPad Pro, Apple also upped the maximum capacity on the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It's now 256GB. (Previously, the big 'Pad Pro topped out at 128GB.) With Apple's iPads lacking the ability to accept an expansion card, the storage capacity at which you buy these tablets matters more than with most tablets. What you buy is what you're stuck with, unless you upload your media or other files to the cloud. Keeping things parallel between the Pros, the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is debuting at the same capacity increments that the bigger Pro now sells at: 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB. The traditional 16GB and 64GB options have been resigned to history, at least for now. The 256GB capacities of both of these tablets are both on the high-priced side (which we'll get to in a moment), but the move to these capacities makes sense. With the addition of the ability to shoot and edit video in 4K resolution directly on the new iPad Pros, those smaller capacities of yesteryear are liable to fill up fast with giant movie files. 3. Pricing moves, up and down the line. The introduction of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro coincided with a price drop on Apple's mainstay 9.7-inch iPad, the iPad Air 2. That tablet now starts at £399 in its 32GB version, the same price that until the March 21 announcement the original iPad Air 5 was still selling for from Apple. Presumably, the iPad Air (the non-"2" version) will be going away; it had been removed from the Apple Store's iPad pages at the time of the 9.7-inch Pro launch. The 32GB iPad Pro 9.7-inch starts at £599, the 128GB model at £749, and the new 256GB capacity at £899. (Adding cellular support, as we'll get to later, adds to the price of each.) That pricing creates a lot of dollar daylight between the 9.7-inch Apple iPad Pro and the 9.7-inch Apple iPad Air 2 a big £200 difference in starting prices especially considering that one of the iPad Pro's main attractions, the Apple Pencil stylus 6 , is still not included in the box with the Pro models, but remains a £99 add-on. The Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch with Apple Pencil. 4. We see tweaks to the screen... The screen on the new, smaller iPad Pro may be the same size as that in the iPad Air 2, with the same native "Retina" resolution of 2,048x1,536 pixels. But Apple is putting a bunch of claims out there comparing the two, all in favor of the Pro's screen. (Gotta justify that price premium somehow , right?) The company claims that the new 9.7-inch screen features the "lowest reflectivity of any tablet," with a 25 percent maximum brightness improvement over the iPad Air 2 screen, as well as a 40 percent reduction in reflectivity. Another claimed improvement is in the color gamut and saturation. The percentage claim in the latter case is a 25 percent improvement in saturation levels, as well as a new bank of light sensors that read incoming light levels and adjust the color levels to look their best under the current ambient lighting where the tablet is. We could see this being a feature to disable for applications in which precision color-matching is critical, but it's an interesting development for casual use, image viewing, and the like. We'll report when we get our hands on the tablet, hopefully in the coming weeks. 5. ...including something called "Night Shift." It's increasingly common these days for makers of computer and mobile display devices to pay some marketing attention to the ostensible problem of blue-light emissions. Some users report difficulty in sleeping when exposed excessively to the glow of backlit device screens in the hours before bed, due to the disruption of the body's circadian rhythms, and research has shown a variety of deleterious medical effects; Harvard Health has a good rundown of the blue-light basics here 7 . The ability to filter out some portion of the blue wavelengths has emerged as a feature in certain laptop screens and tablets, and Apple is working that into the iOS 9.3 software update that will accompany these new devices. Night Shift is the result. It uses geolocation to determine the local time for the tablet where it is and auto-adjusts the screen's light profile to reduce the blues when the time is right. This will work with other devices that get the iOS 9.3 upgrade as well. 6. Smaller size, but still quad-audio. We liked the immersive character of the sound input of the iPad Pro 12.9-incher insofar as open-to-air audio can be "immersive," in a tablet. We're surprised, though, that Apple retained the four-speaker array of the 12.9-inch tablet in the 9.7-inch version, especially considering that the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 is limited to a twin set. The speakers are positioned one at each corner, and while we suspect you'll still get the best results in open-air sound when the tablet is parked up against a hard surface or lying flat, in both cases to reflect the sound back at you (the speakers don't fire forward, alas), the ones in the 12.9-inch tablet were still a marked improvement over those in the iPad Air 2. Also, in an interesting (literal) twist, the iPad Pro auto-adjusts the speaker output according to the tablet's orientation. High frequencies get emphasized in the uppermost two speakers, regardless of whether the tablet is rotated horizontally or vertically. This matters because, in most cases, you'd watch video in landscape mode on this tablet, but many gaming apps are designed for portrait-orientation play. The audio circuitry can compensate for both. 7. The built-in cams get a boost. It's tough to do much more with the cameras in a skinny tablet without making some kind of fundamental hardware change to accommodate the lens. The 8-megapixel shooter in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro got a boost and a bump (literally!) in the 9.7-incher, though. Now, it's a 12-megapixel cam (the rear one that Apple typically calls "iSight") sticking out the back of the chassis. We do indeed mean sticking out . It's not very big, but a ring around the lens protrudes from the upper corner of the iPad Pro 9.7-inch, where previous iPad cams were typically flush. Still, there is some payoff beyond the simpel megapixel boost. The cam and its extra prominence now support up to 63-megapixel panorama shots and the whole panoply of Apple photography jiggery-pokery: Live Photos (which are still pics that move briefly when touched, a bit like a short Vine video), 4K audio capture, and 240fps slow-motion video recording. We also appreciated a clever development with the front FaceTime HD camera, in the form of the Retina Flash feature. This makes use of the screen itself as a source of extra "flash-bulb"-style light when you're taking selfies. It flashes to fill in the shot when you're shooting your own mug in a dim environment. 8. Color schemes: Rose joins the pack. The rear-panel colors on the iPad Pro 9.7-inch comprise the usual suspects: silver, gold, and Apple's Space Grey. A new addition here, though, is a rose-gold hue from the iPhone side of the aisle. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the only one of the iPads to feature the rose-gold option. All of the other current-gen iPads come in just silver, Space Grey, and gold, with the exception of the iPad Mini 2, which is limited to just the silver and grey. The four colors of the new, smaller iPad Pro. 9. The connectivity gets kicked up. At least, that's the case with the cellular versions of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Apple dubs these the "Wi-Fi + Cellular" models, and they cost the usual £130 kick-up at any given storage capacity, in parallel with Apple's other iPads. The cellular-capable iPad Pro, like the cell versions of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 4, includes the Apple SIM, which is a flexible-plan SIM card that works with multiple carriers (at this writing, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint). Humble Wi-Fi is still leading-edge stuff here, in the form of 802.11ac. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro also adds support for LTE Advanced, an enhanced-speed service available under certain plans with specific wireless carriers. LTE support for these devices is region-dependent, as well; see this Apple LTE support guide 8 for details on LTE bands, and regional carriers, specific to the iPads. 10. Same accessories, but different sizes. The big add-on for the Apple iPad Pro of either size is the Apple Pencil, which remains a £99 option but is the main reason that many users would opt for the iPad Pro over the iPad Air 2 in the first place. You'll want to factor it into your shopping considerations with any iPad Pro. The Pencil was fairly big relative to the size of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, so it's positively huge compared to the 9.7-inch version. The other major Apple accessory for the new Pro is scaled to size, though. That's the add-on Smart Keyboard, which now comes in versions right-sized for the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch tablet models. The reduction in size means just a modest drop in price, though. The 12.9-inch-compatible Smart Keyboard was and remains £169 (a bit high, we thought, at its debut), while the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro's version of the Smart Keyboard is £149. Apple's Smart Keyboard accessory attached to the iPad Pro 9.7-inch. Apple has also augmented its Silicone Case and Smart Cover lines to fit the new 9.7-inch Pro. Each is £10 less than its 12.9-inch iPad Pro counterpart: £69 and £49 respectively. Each will come in a choice of a dozen colors. Smart Cover for the Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch. The iPad Pro 9.7-inch begins pre-orders on March 24 and is expected to ship, according to Apple, starting on March 31. Stay tuned for a full review of this new iPad Pro when we get our mitts on one. References ^ 10 Things You Need to Know: Apple iPhone SE (www.computershopper.com) ^ Apple (www.computershopper.com) ^ iPad Pro (www.computershopper.com) ^ Apple iPad Air 2 (www.computershopper.com) ^ the original iPad Air (www.computershopper.com) ^ the Apple Pencil stylus (www.pcmag.com) ^ Harvard Health has a good rundown of the blue-light basics here (www.health.harvard.edu) ^ see this Apple LTE support guide (www.apple.com)
  • 10.5-inch iPad Pro Rumored for Release Next Year Apple is reportedly prepping a new tablet with a screen size between the two current iPad Pro models. This unconfirmed information comes from an industry analyst, who also predicts the second generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro 1 won t be released until 2017. Ming-Chi Kuo from KGI Securities said in a research note We expect three new iPads (12.9 iPad Pro 2, new size 10.5 iPad Pro & low-cost 9.7 iPad) to be launched in 2017. He didn t cite a source for this information. 9.7- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro The display in Apple s 12.9-inch model has 78% more area than the 9.7-inch one, so it s certainly arguable that there s room for a 10.5-inch iPad Pro between those two. Kuo indicated that this version would appeal to business and education buyers. Presumably, the 10.5-inch device s cost would be about £699, halfway between the price of the two current models. A version of the Apple Smart Keyboard 2 is also a strong possibility if this tablet turns out to be real. Other Predictions In addition, the KGI Securities analyst predicted that Apple would introduce model with a display the same size as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, but at a lower price point. This could be the replacement for the £499 iPad Air 2. The only other detail reveled is that this computer will use the Apple A9X processor, the same as in the current iPad Pros, while the other new devices will go to a more powerful A10X chip. Kuo s note made no mention of replacement for the iPad mini 4 3 . It s possible Apple is moving away from this size, as sales of this 7.9-inch model have slowed as people instead purchased larger smartphones, like the iPhone 6s Plus. Kuo also didn t say anything about a second-generation 9.7-inch iPad Pro 4 . Why isn t clear, as one is generally expected to be on store shelves next spring, a year after the debut of the original. Another mystery is why Apple would delay the release of the next-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro to 2017, and not introduce it this fall, a year after the original hit store shelves. Source 5 References ^ 12.9-inch iPad Pro (www.tabletpcreview.com) ^ Apple Smart Keyboard (www.tabletpcreview.com) ^ iPad mini 4 (www.tabletpcreview.com) ^ 9.7-inch iPad Pro (www.tabletpcreview.com) ^ Source (www.macrumors.com)
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  • 11 PC-speakersets review: cacophonous or melodious? Introduction The market for pc-speakers has not been the most lively one, however there are still quite some sets on offer. Although there are the necessary alternatives for listening to music on the computer, there is also something to say for the old-fashioned sets. We tested 11 speakers, all with very different results. The late 90s and the early 2000s were the heydays for the market of pc-speakers. The supply was huge, both in numbers and in differing quality and price levels. Nowadays it is quite different. Leaving out a few exceptions here and there, the supply has been reduced to 2.0 and 2.1 sets with a price below 85 pounds / 100 eurosc:us110 dollars{/c:us. That is actually rather remarkable, because with the upcoming streaming audio and video there are only more reasons for non-gaming users to want decent sound with their computers. The reason for this impoverishment seems to lie mainly in the fact that modern forms of entertainment are not consumed on a computer, but on a smartphone or a tablet, or by means of a media player or game console. For mobile devices a wireless speaker seems more like an obvious solution. The market for the Bluetooth-speakers has been booming, whereas the one for pc speakers has collapsed, luxurious audio streamers have been doing better as well. Besides the old-school Sonos, almost every self-respecting audio brand has an active speaker with a built-in wifi-receiver in its collection. These solutions also often work fine when paired with a laptop or a computer. Adding to that, the number of households with a permanent placement for their computer has not exactly increased the vast majority of the market still buys a laptop, not a desktop and it will be clear that the need for or desirability of a separate set of speakers that you plug in with a wire is decreasing rather than increasing. However, there are still people who do have a permanent place for their computer and who are not particularly charmed by either an affordable, but mono Bluetooth speaker, or a pricey likewise mono audiostreamer. For this target group a pc-speaker set is potentially a not too expensive, yet good solution. Gamers can benefit from it as well, although the surround-experience is naturally not a good as stereo speakers that do not use HRTF, in contrast to headsets. In short: it is time for a new comparison test.
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  • 12 best Google Cardboard apps 2015 UK 12 best Google Cardboard apps 2015 UK Google Cardboard is a wicked toy and a brilliant gift idea, allowing you to turn any Android 4.1+ phone into a virtual-reality headset for a tenner. But the apps found within the Cardboard app are relatively limited and can get boring quick. Here are some of our favourite alternative Google Cardboard apps. We reveal our pick of the best Google Cardboard apps you can download and play with free in the UK in 2015 By Marie Brewis 1 | 36 mins ago Google Cardboard is a wicked toy and a brilliant gift idea, allowing you to turn any Android 4.1+ phone into a virtual-reality headset for a tenner. But the apps found within the Cardboard app are relatively limited and can get boring quick. Also see: How to make a Google Cardboard VR headset 2 3 To find new apps 4 for Cardboard just open Google Play and search for Cardboard. Some apps require a keyboard or joystick; all you need for the apps below is Google Cardboard and your phone. Here are some of our favourite third-party Google Cardboard apps. Learn more about virtual reality: see Oculus Rift 5 , Project Morpheus 6 and Samsung Gear VR 7 . Plus: Samsung Gear VR vs Oculus Rift 8 . 12 best Google Cardboard apps Snow Shaker Maker This one's perfect for the run up to Christmas, and ideal for kids. It lets you, using Google Cardboard, turn your Android phone into a snow shaker and then add a new character each day during Advent. The app is free from Google Play, but as a charity project Brilliant Basics also sells the cardboard viewers on its website for 12, of which 5 will go to the Kid's Co Charity. Alternatively, you can download a free template. Head to Brilliant Basics 9 for further details. Google Cardboard Camera Taking 360-degree panoramas with your phone is nothing new. In fact, the latest version of Google's camera app on Android includes this option: you can then scroll around the photo in the gallery viewer to see the entire room or place where you were. Thanks to the new Cardboard Camera app 10 you can capture something similar - a stereoscopic panorama - that you can view with Google Cardboard. You can also record audio so friends or family with Google Cardboard know what they're looking at Orbulus Orbulus is a must-have VR smartphone app, allowing you to explore everywhere from the Sydney Opera House to Paris at night, San Francisco's Chinatown or even the inside of a washing machine. So, you'll get go to places Christopher Columbus himself would (possibly) be jealous of. Seriously, though, great graphics make this free app well worth the massive 216MB download (make sure you do so only over Wi-Fi unless you have unlimited mobile data). Rollercoaster Rollercoaster is a fantastic VR simulator, putting you in the scariest seat of all at the front of this terrifying ride as it twists and turns up, down, around and around, hurtling past city buildings and skyscrapers. You can look up, you can look side to side; don't look down. Turn around and you're not alone. (And she's screaming, too.) Hang Gliding Hang Gliding comes from the same developer as Rollercoaster, and it's arguably even more sickly. It's difficult to know what's more worrying: that pretty mountain rapidly apporoaching your face or whether that's sky or sea below you. People do this for fun? Dive Deep Dive Deep takes you down to the depths of the ocean where you can swim among fish, sharks and whales, all without donning a wetsuit and goggles or ruining your hair do. The graphics could be better, but Dive Deep is a great concept. VR-JurassicLand If your kids love dinosaurs then they'll love JurrasicLand (for which there is a free trial version or you can pay 1.86 for the full app). You get to sit in a Jurassic Park-style Jeep and, if you dare, go offroad to meet the dinosaurs. And while it might look as though that Giganotosaurus is about to step on your head, he's a big teddy bear really. (Well, he doesn't stand on your head anyway.) There are five dinosaurs to meet and apparently more to come, including T-Rex, Giganotosaurus, Apatosaurus, Euoplocephalus and Triceratops - of which I've heard of two (my nephew would be so disappointed in me), so a tour guide might be a good idea. Seriously, one of the largest carnivores is called a Giganotosaurus - isn't that the same kind of thing as a DoYouThinkHeSaurus? Cartoon Village VR Cartoon Village VR is a cute app that places you in a bright and colourful 3D cartoon environment. You move from scene to scene, taking a good look at every nook and cranny and having a general nose about. You can change the season and time of day, and tweak the camera mode and walking speed. Not a lot happens in this cartoon village, but the graphics are nice - the butterflies, insects and leaves that flutter around you are particularly cool. Tuscany Dive Tuscany Dive is a nice app from Oculus VR that lets you explore beautiful Tuscany. You need a powerful smartphone and it's irritating that you must touch the screen to begin or change the graphics (our phone is in a box), but it's worth the hassle. As with several VR apps we've tried, you must look down at your feet to begin the auto-walk. Obviously. Who needs to see where they're going these days? Well, in Tuscany you just might want to open your eyes. VR Dance Club VR Dance Club is cheesy-cool. It's just a bunch of skeletons dancing to terrible music (neither Daft Punk nor The Chemical Brothers). Some of them have hats. We like that. Let us play our own music and we'd like it even more. VR-GunDefense Many of the games available for Google Cardboard require a keyboard or joystick, but VR-GunDefense is one of the few that doesn't. It feels a bit like zombies shooting zombies, except you're not a zombie. The weird angle at which we had to hold our head to shoot them (the gun was in our right arm rather than shown as crosshairs on the screen) meant we probably looked like one, though. The best thing about VR-GunDefense is you'll die before you run out of bullets, which is handy because your gun is constantly firing. VR Cinema for Cardboard VR Cinema is an app of two halves: one that lets you watch any video stored on your phone on a cinematic screen; and one that does something weird with your camera and basically shows you the view through the lens if that lens was rubbish. You can't take photos, and the view is blurred and dark. We're not sure what to make of the camera functionality, but the video viewer could be pretty neat with the right movie. Also check out Chrome Experiments for Cardboard Visit g.co/chromever 11 using the Chrome browser on your Android phone. From here you can take a virtual helicopter ride over the Great Barrier Reef, watch a three-dimensional musical score, visit some Russian bears and more. Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter 12 . References ^ see more by Marie Brewis (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ phone (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ How to make a Google Cardboard VR headset (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ apps (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Oculus Rift (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Project Morpheus (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Samsung Gear VR (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Samsung Gear VR vs Oculus Rift (www.pcadvisor.co.uk) ^ Brilliant Basics (snowglobe.brilliantbasics.com) ^ new Cardboard Camera app (play.google.com) ^ g.co/chromever (g.co) ^ Twitter (www.twitter.com)
  • 12 Things You Can Replace With a £38 Tablet Click To View Slideshow The Ubislate 7Ci isn't a very good tablet, but as a wall clock, it's fantastic! When Steve Jobs introduced the world to the "magical" world of modern touch-screen tablets 1 in 2010, he surely didn't have Datawind's £38 Ubislate 7Ci 2 in mind. This 7Ci is the inevitable endpoint in the evolution of any gadget: Phase 1) an exciting new gadget is introduced at a premium price; Phase 2) the technology and price are improved upon by competing high-end manufacturers; and finally some years down the road, Phase 3) no-name manufacturers cut every corner there is until they can create a no-frills device affordable to every member of the economic spectrum. If you've ever operated an iPad, you'll be fantastically disappointed by the 7Ci. Its performance is lugubrious; its camera is horrible; the battery life is wanting; and if you view the screen at too sharp an angle, it turns monochrome. The Android tab has just enough oomph to cover the digital basics: Wi-Fi Internet access, lo-fi communication, and a basic app ecosystem. You wouldn't use this to catch up on Girls on HBO GO. But it's also by far the cheapest tablet we've ever come across. However, let us not dwell on what the 7Ci can't do, let's consider what it can do! It's still a flat touch-screen device that can connect to the Internet and run apps which means it's not just a tablet, it's a clock, camera, pedometer, guitar tuner, or just about anything we want it to be. And that's where things get interesting we can use this slate to replace all the things in our lives. While you wouldn't want to waste a £400 iPad as a wall clock, you wouldn't really think about it for a £38 7Ci. Here are 12 things around the house and office we were able to replace with the 7Ci. References ^ modern touch-screen tablets (www.pcmag.com) ^ Datawind's £38 Ubislate 7Ci (www.pcmag.com)
  • 12 Tips to Make You a Chromebook Pro They're inexpensive and easy to use, but these tricks make Chromebooks even more user friendly. Chromebooks are a relatively inexpensive alternative to traditional laptops. While they don't offer the full functionality of a Windows PC or a MacBook, they are great for those who spend most of their screen time online and need some basic productivity programs. There are a lot of nifty features inside. Chrome OS has Google Now integrated into the Launcher, meaning that weather, calendar, and other info is as accessible as it is on an Android device. You can also search your Chromebook with your voice 1 . In general, Chromebooks are pretty intuitive to use right from the start, but there are lots of tips and tricks that are not so apparent and could be a huge help. For one thing, you might have a moment of surprise when you go to express your extreme emotions in caps lock and can't find the button. Find out what we mean, as well as 11 other things you should know, in the slideshow. If you're reading this because you don't yet have a Chromebook but are thinking about getting one, then check out PCMag's roundup of the best Chromebooks 2 . We tested these tips out on a Dell Chromebook 11 3 . References ^ with your voice (www.pcmag.com) ^ roundup of the best Chromebooks (www.pcmag.com) ^ Dell Chromebook 11 (www.pcmag.com)
  • 12-inch Retina MacBook Review: Best MacBook yet if you believe in Apple's vision The newest MacBook is a winner. That is if you agree with Apple's design philosophy. That credo is centered on mobility, which means the design must be as light as possible but also deliver acceptable performance and good battery life. And the 12-inch Retina MacBook (starting at £1,299) delivers on all three. It excels most at being thin and light so much so that it might be mistaken for an iPad. The point: a laptop can be as minimalist as a tablet but also be a full-time productivity (work) computer. Related: Wearables like Fitbit, Apple Watch are popular holiday buys 1 Keyboard: I would argue that the linchpin of the design is the keyboard because, more than anything (with the exception of the battery), it allows Apple to build a 0.52-thick laptop that is only 2 pounds. And based on Apple's copious ad copy 2 about the keyboard, that's probably accurate. The keys are 40 percent thinner than a typical Apple laptop and 17 percent larger. I'm typing on the keyboard now and can see that the keys are larger than the excellent keyboard on the 2.68 pound Hewlett-Packard EliteBook Folio 1020 that I use as my regular laptop. Do I feel the size difference when typing? Yes. Am I a more accurate touch-typist with the keyboard? Yes. Is it a better keyboard than the Folio s? Read on. The most radical difference is the travel (the distance needed to push the key). Again, I'm going to compare the MacBook to the Folio s keyboard because HP s is probably the best keyboard I've used in the last five years (and note that the Folio is only 0.62 inches thick, almost as thin as the MacBook). The upshot is that the MacBook's keys are firm. Not uncomfortably firm but certainly firmer than the ones on HP's keyboard. Some reviews have compared the MacBook's keys to typing on the glass surface of an iPad. I wouldn't go that far but let's just say it's not for everybody. Related: iPad Pro first-take review: Yes, it can be a laptop stand-in 3 That said, it is far and away better than the ultra-thin keyboards of scores of other laptop makers in recent decades. Mitsubishi and HP, for example, tried it in 1998 with the Pedion 4 . The most salient examples are probably the Dell XPS 11 5 and the Microsoft Surface Touch Cover. Dell's 0.6-inch thick design sports flat keys with practically no travel. And it s no different than typing on a tablet's glass surface (I tried it). The Surface's Touch Cover is a little better but not much. The MacBook's keyboard beats both of those. And, as is always the case with MacBooks, the trackpad is outstanding. Would I recommend it? Yes. The larger keys make a difference. And despite the relative lack of travel compared to the Folio s keyboard, the experience beats the Folio. Again, that s saying a lot because the Folio s keyboard is excellent. But if you like "softer" keyboards with travel, it might not be for you. Performance: This is one of those things that you can never ignore. If your ultra-portable laptop is insidiously slow (meaning that the performance seems fine when doing light tasks but slows down under heavier loads), I guarantee that the sluggishness will reveal itself when you least want it to. For example, you're on a deadline and, bam, suddenly you have an unresponsive system. So far, I have not encountered that on the MacBook. That's a pleasant surprise because it uses an Intel Core M processor (as the HP Folio does). The Core M chip is reserved for only the thinnest laptops and 2-in-1s because it's the only Intel Core series processor designed to be fanless. And, by design, it offers less performance than mainstream Intel chips that require fans to keep them cool. For raw benchmarks, I'll defer to others 6 . But, like the HP Folio, it holds up under moderately heavy business application loads. Where the Core M does slow down, however, is on some multimedia-intensive tasks such as video editing (and exporting). Related: Apple's iPad Pro arrives, vies with Microsoft's Surface Book to kill traditional PCs 7 Size/weight: Probably the single best feature. That is, as I said above, if you subscribe to Apple's design ethos. The 12-inch MacBook is probably the closest you can get, with a traditional clamshell laptop, to a tablet. At 2 pounds, it's only a little heavier than the iPad Pro and a shade lighter than Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 tablet and its Type Cover keyboard combined. I feel the lightness every time I pick it up and carry it in my bag. That's important to me: if I can get adequate performance in a 2-pound laptop, it makes a huge difference when traveling or even when taking it to a local Starbucks, then a meeting later in the day. Battery life: Good. The challenge for Apple is that there's only so much battery capacity you can squeeze into a 0.52-inch chassis. But, again, Apple has done its homework. Traditional rectangular batteries leave unused space when seated in a curved enclosure. So, Apple created a new type of terraced battery cell that translates into more capacity than would be possible with a traditional cell design. I've been on battery-only for about 14 hours and am down to about 5 percent of the remaining charge. Let me be clear, this hasn't been unceasing heavy use, where I'm pounding away on the keyboard every hour, watching movies in the evening, and doing video editing on the side. But it has been consistent enough (the equivalent of roughly 8 hours of constant use) and taxing enough that I would rate the battery life slightly better than the HP Folio and better than my 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro (late 2013 model). And I keep the display bright -- between 80 and 90 percent. Display: Speaking of the display, the 12-inch 2,304 x 1,440 resolution Retina screen is up to Apple standards. Display expert Raymond Soneira at DisplayMate Technologies has shown over the years that Apple displays are typically some of the best in the industry. This display meets those high Apple standards. I would ordinarily defer to Soneira's expertise but he hasn't evaluated the 12-inch MacBook's display. (http://www.displaymate.com/about.html). For this review, I will defer to others that have run a battery of tests 8 , citing good brightness, high color accuracy, and a wide color gamut 9 . Ports: I m pretty sure I m in a distinct minority when I say I don t have a major issue with the single connector a USB-C port. This is the one aspect of the laptop that reviewers have almost universally panned. My take is that you have to be bold if you re going to redefine the laptop (which I would argue Apple is trying to do with the 12-inch Retina MacBook). I see the 12-inch MacBook as being more of a mobile device, less a laptop. It s kind of like an iPad Pro Plus because you have the option to hook it up an external display. Down the road, if I need to hook it up to a bigger display, I ll get the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter, which lets you connect to an HDMI monitor, while also connecting a standard USB device and a USB-C charging cable. That s all I ll say on this subject because I currently don t have any of the adapters and have been perfectly satisfied using the built-in, 12-inch display. Verdict: I ve owned both the 13-inch and 11-inch MacBook Air and currently have a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The 12-inch Retina MacBook is a completely different beast and I mean that in a good way. It s the best MacBook that Apple has ever built. Configuration as reviewed: £1,299. Intel Core M processor 1.1GHz, 8GB Memory, 256GB Flash Storage. References ^ Wearables like Fitbit, Apple Watch are popular holiday buys (www.foxnews.com) ^ Apple's copious ad copy (www.apple.com) ^ iPad Pro first-take review: Yes, it can be a laptop stand-in (www.foxnews.com) ^ Pedion (www.wired.com) ^ Dell XPS 11 (www.cnet.com) ^ others (www.mobiletechreview.com) ^ Apple's iPad Pro arrives, vies with Microsoft's Surface Book to kill traditional PCs (www.foxnews.com) ^ others that have run a battery of tests (www.techradar.com) ^ good brightness, high color accuracy, and a wide color gamut (www.mobiletechreview.com)
  • 12″ Apple MacBook Review: Great Laptop Priced Wrong Posted on December 24, 2015 Apple pulled out every bit of magical marketing it could during the announcement of the 12-inch MacBook. The elaborate and beautifully produced videos are like a crack addiction with Jony Ive s British accent luring you in. The new MacBook was touted to be revolutionary no surprise there and groundbreaking. But did Apple hit the mark with the new MacBook, let s find out in our 12 Apple MacBook review. Specifications Design Whether you re a fan of Apple or not, its design is usually one of the best things about buying an Apple product and the 12 MacBook doesn t disappoint. It s super thin and super light, coming in at 2.03lbs, which is amazing and easy to carry around all day. Honestly, the machine feels and looks like an iPad Air 2 with a keyboard cover on it. Speaking of keyboard, the new keyboard design is nice. It will take time to get used to the new, shallower butterfly keys and you may or may not like them. The trackpad design is awesome, as are all MacBook trackpads. This one has the added benefit of Force Touch and that makes it even nicer to use. Two ports, this is all you get with the MacBook. One headphone jack and one USB-C port. This limits the amount of peripherals you can use with this machine to basically almost none. Unless you get dongles and extensions, you re looking at very limited interface options. I also have to say that I miss the mag-safe connector. I have five kids and the mag-safe connector has saved my MacBook Pro Retina more than a few times. With the new connector, you ll have to be more vigilant where you plug-in. Overall, the design, look and feel of the 12 MacBook is one of its strongest selling points and Apple really did an amazing job on this one. Display The MacBook sports a 12 LED IPS display with a 2304-by-1440 resolution and 226PPI and it is the second selling point of this laptop. The display is absolutely mind-blowingly beautiful and working and looking at this display is a great experience. Colors are spot on, not oversaturated but balanced. Blacks and whites are great and watching video on this machine is a joy. Overall the display is a home run, Apple did another great job at making a crisp, balanced and functional display. Software / Ecosystem OS X El Capitan has proven to be a nice improvement over OS X Yosemite. Even on my 15 MacBook Pro Retina it seemingly runs much faster and smoother. If you live in the Apple ecosystem everything will just fall into place nice and smooth. I guess the best way to say this is. Those who hate Apple will hate OS X, simply because they hate Apple. Those who currently use OS X will be happy. Those who ve never used OS X should know that it is very worthwhile considering it as your operating system. Performance The 12 MacBook is running a dual-core Intel Core M processor, which you can configure from 1.1GHz to 1.3GHz. The base MacBook comes with the 1.1GHz and it does a great job at running the basics and then some. Before I go on, let s be clear, this MacBook is not going to be a power user machine. That being said, the 1.1GHz Intel M processor is surprisingly great. You also get two storage options, 256GB or 512GB. My reasons for buying the MacBook were two fold; I wanted something light and easy to carry during CES 2016 and I wanted OS X. Some of the other stuff I need it for is photo and video editing. Before I purchased the MacBook I researched heavily. In my research, I found most of the it pointed at this machine being able to handle light photo and video editing and that is indeed true. I m not running Photoshop on the MacBook, instead I opted for Affinity as it s lighter and it runs great on the MacBook. Word of warning though, as I said before, this is not a power user machine so heavy photo editing is probably going to bog it down. Still, I was able to comfortably have a dozen files open in Affinity and the MacBook never flinched. Running Final Cut Pro also works and rendering 1080p video works pretty well, I wouldn t even attempt 4K video editing here. I would also stay away from heavy video editing, this is a portable and take-on-the-run laptop, the Intel M is not going to handle huge files very well. Overall though, the Intel M in the MacBook does surprisingly well. I m able to run photo and video editing software to do basic, small editing projects. Everything else a computer should do works just fine on the MacBook. Email, browsing, social media etc etc, you ll have no issues running day to day Internet and word processing type tasks. Speakers / Sound In two words holy crap! I wasn t expecting great sound from this little machine but the MacBook delivers. Watching movies on this with those speakers is a very enjoyable experience. Camera In two words total crap! On the reverse side of the speakers I was expecting the FaceTime camera to at least be a 720p (at minimum) shooter. Instead, Apple went to the dumpsters and retrieved their old stock of 2007 white MacBook iSight cameras. Battery Life Apple advertises around nine hours of battery life using the web only. I was able to get around 7-8 hours with my regular use which includes photo editing with Affinity Photo. The battery life is pretty decent and USB-C charges the MacBook fairly fast. Price / Value In two words seriously overpriced! For all the great things the 12 MacBook brings to the table it s price tag is the single biggest reasons NOT to buy this machine. Starting at £1,299 and heading close to the £1,800 territory specced out, Apple really got greedy with this laptop. While there s a lot to love about this laptop, I don t think it s enough to justify that crazy price. You can get a better specced MacBook Air for £999, minus the Retina display, which will run heavier apps and be more of a power machine. The only thing that pushed me to purchase the MacBook was my need for a light laptop for CES 2016 and not wanting to leave the OS X ecosystem to do it. Walking around CES with a full size laptop in a backpack along with other gear for 6-7 days is tiring and that is the only reason I pulled the trigger. Apple got my money but for the price, I wanted more. This would have been a better value priced at £899. Wrap Up A powerful and portable laptop with an amazing screen, great build quality, good battery life and OS X. But Apple priced this way too high. Only buy this if you really are curious, otherwise, buy a MacBook Air or a Windows equivalent. 12 Bottom Line A powerful and portable laptop with an amazing screen, great build quality, good battery life and OS X. But Apple priced this way too high, only buy this if you really are curious, otherwise, buy a MacBook Air or a Windows equivalent. *We reviewed a retail unit of the MacBook purchased by the reviewer.
  • 13 Ways to Make a Slow Laptop Faster Your laptop may be slow, but that doesn't mean you need to replace it. Through heavy use, your notebook will collect a ton of excess files and programs, not to mention some literal dust. The parts will age, and software updates will become more demanding. But before you go computer shopping, there are a few hardware and software fixes you should try. A little time, a screwdriver and a few settings changes can have your laptop running as though it were new. Here are 13 ways to speed up your system. Add an SSD Adding a solid-state drive (SSD) is the single biggest hardware change you can make to speed up a laptop. It makes everything faster; booting up, shutting down and launching apps will all occur in the blink of any eye when compared to traditional hard drives. More and more laptops are coming with built-in SSDs, but not all of them do. And if your old laptop has a traditional hard drive inside, you can crack it open for a significant speed boost at a reasonable price. A 256GB SSD, which is a decent capacity for most users, can cost as little as £75. Upgrade Your RAM You should have at least 8GB of RAM. These days, your best bet is to buy your laptop with that much memory, as more and more manufacturers are soldering it to the motherboard, making it impossible to add more. A number of laptops still let you open them up, and RAM is relatively cheap. If you have 4GB, upgrade to 8GB, as the additional memory will probably cost you less than £25. Few people need 16GB of RAM right now. Update Your Startup Programs Anything running in the background will slow your computer's boot-up time and devote resources to programs you may not even be using. Luckily, it's simple to turn these off. In Windows 10, go to Task Manager > Startup to see the list of programs you have running when you turn on your computer. On a MacBook, go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items to adjust which programs launch when you turn on the computer. Uninstall Unused Apps Unused programs take up storage on your hard drive and can suck resources from the CPU. Delete the junk to free up space and processing power for a faster computer. Be sure to check your library files for any junk that may stick around. Run Regular Malware Scans It's possible that something you didn't install intentionally malicious software could be the reason your laptop is slow. Run regular virus and malware scans 1 to prevent something malicious from slowing down your laptop or worse. Being vigilant can help you avoid and eliminate threats that are hoarding resources or filling your laptop with junk files. Kill Animations The animations in your OS look cool, but they take up resources that could be going elsewhere. In Windows: 1. Search for "View advanced system settings." 2. Choose Settings under Performance. 3. Choose "Adjust for best performance," which will turn off a bunch of special effects and animations. In OS X: 1. Go to System Preferences > Dock. 2. Check the boxes to turn off magnification and stop the animations in opening applications. Speed Up Your Shutdowns When you go to shut down Windows, you often have to wait a long time while the computer attempts to close open programs that won't close gracefully on their own. If you're willing to dig into your registry, you can force the shutdown process to kill these rebel apps right away. Be sure you always save your work when you do this, as it will close open programs without prejudice. Disable Web Results In Windows 10, Cortana searches the web and your local files when you search. This takes time to download and can be a drag on your system. If you use the Cortana box primarily to find files and apps that live on your hard drive, Windows 10 makes it easy to turn off web results. Speed Up Your Downloads Folder The File Explorer, one of the most-used folders in Windows, can take forever to load if it's chock-full of your downloads. If you're seeing a loading bar every time you open the folder, you'll want to optimize it. Keep It Clean Don't let your laptop get too dusty, or you'll risk letting it overheat. When that happens, the processor and graphics card have to work harder to perform well. Get a can of compressed air 2 , and clean out the vents to give your processor and graphics card a breather. Change Your Browser Some browsers are faster than others. If you're a heavy user, Chrome can eventually hog your RAM, especially with a whole bunch of tabs open. Microsoft's Edge isn't as full-featured yet, but it has the benefit of being lighter and faster. On Macs, you can try Safari. Update Your Drivers Some new drivers can breathe new life into your hardware and fix any issues it may be having. Be sure to check your manufacturer's website to make sure your drivers are up-to-date. Top Image: Bastian Weltjen / Shutterstock 3 Laptop Guide Laptop Guide Recommended by Andrew E. Freedman, Andrew joined Laptopmag.com in 2015, reviewing computers and keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter @FreedmanAE. Andrew E. Freedman, on References ^ regular virus and malware scans (www.tomsguide.com) ^ can of compressed air (www.amazon.com) ^ Bastian Weltjen / Shutterstock (www.shutterstock.com)
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  • 17-inch gaming laptops are one big compromise EVGA, a hardware company best known for a successful line of Nvidia graphics cards and my favorite alien mouse 1 this year launched its first foray into designing and building whole computers with its mighty 17-inch SC17 laptop. Needless to say, it s a gaming powerhouse, touting a 4K screen, a 2.7GHz Core i7-6820HK processor, 32GB of RAM, and a GTX 980M graphics card. I ve put it through its paces with demanding games like The Witcher 3 and Battlefield 4 and it s barely broken a sweat, and what s more, EVGA has just introduced a version of this laptop with a GeForce GTX 1070 inside it (not a mobile version, the actual desktop card 2 ). So can you game on this thing? Hell yes. But then for £2,499, it had better be able to run Crysis like Usain Bolt handles sprints. EVGA SC17: Full specs and features 3 The interesting questions about the SC17 relate to its practicality, not its performance. This laptop weighs a full 10lbs (4.5kg), the equivalent of five Asus ZenBook 3s 4 or ten 9.7-inch iPad Pros, and I ve felt the full heft of it every time I ve tried to transport it. Now, that s not for nothing, as the SC17 is encased in a seriously tough aluminum unibody shell that gives it protection, rigidity, and long-term durability. I just can t call this a portable computer in any meaningful sense. It qualifies as transportable , but then so do all-in-one PCs, which have a number of ergonomic advantages and don t come with the same miniaturization premium as a laptop. Vlad Savov To test both my stamina and the SC17 s mobility, I took it on a trip back to Bulgaria at the start of this month. The first issue I encountered was that none of my techie backpacks could accommodate this PC, so I had to use a small suitcase instead (Ed. note: LOL). EVGA is addressing this pain point head-on by now providing a free backpack with purchases of the laptop. And another helpful touch from the company is the design of its 240W power adapter, which is wide and long, but also short so it packs flat rather than fat. All the same, I find these to be only slight mitigations to the pervasive issue of this computer s size and weight. Even moving it between rooms is a complex activity that requires planning and clearing out a big enough landing spot. A big laptop that has all the power you need, but not the ergonomics Once at home in Bulgaria, I realized just how many adaptations I d made while testing the SC17 back in London. The first thing I did was elevate it on a laptop stand, because as nice as the 4K display might look bonus points for being matte! it s anchored to the keyboard and that puts it too low on my desktop for optimal ergonomics. But then when I have the PC on the stand, the keyboard is away from me, so I have to connect an external one. A mouse is another must for any halfway-serious PC gaming, so that figures on the list of necessary accessories, too. And then disaster strikes when I find that just plugging in my basic peripherals occupies the two regular USB ports and if I have something extra like a gaming headset that connects via USB, I d better hope I have a USB-C adapter handy. EVGA provides one but I left it in London, and that s really the crux of the problem: you wind up needing more external accessories with this giant machine than you do with the famously connector-starved 5 Apple MacBook. No SD card slot here either. Two other issues hamper the SC17 s usability, which might be easily predicted given its emphasis on high performance: heat and noise. I had initially hoped to be able to test playing on this PC with its own keyboard, but that dream was dashed when its wrist rest heated up to an uncomfortably high temperature. The fan also grows annoyingly loud during longer gaming sessions, so the only choice is to play with headphones. That s a shame, frankly, because the SC17 s loudspeakers are really quite decent and provide reasonable spatial imaging. Battery life, heat, and noise: the eternal foes of mobile gaming machines In the heat of the Bulgarian summer, I simply couldn t tolerate the SC17 s furnace-like operation to bother with playing any games. This computer has amazing reserves of power and performance, and it boots in an instant, but I m dissuaded from tapping its full potential because of the compromises it demands from me. I restricted my vacation use of the SC17 to watching Valve s Dota 2 tournament on Twitch and YouTube, which I could have done much more comfortably on an iPad. I did try using EVGA s laptop in bed, and I can confirm that it s possible, but I wouldn t advise anyone else to experiment in that way. You don t want to fall asleep and have a 10lb slab of hard metal landing on your nose. I feel torn about the SC17, because I see some very good and clever engineering at work, but for every upside there seems to be a corresponding downside. The keyboard is spacious, has a nicely extended key travel and pleasant tactile feel, but it s matched to a poorly performing Synaptics touchpad that seems unwilling to remember my scrolling preferences. The screen is the undisputed highlight of the SC17, offering rich, slightly boosted saturation and exemplary viewing angles, but then it suffers from lingering scaling issues in Windows that mean some UI elements (such as Steam overlays and Logitech s Gaming Software) appear unusably tiny when operating in full 4K resolution. Need I also relate the fact that all the almighty performance of the SC17 comes at the dire cost of battery life? Even when I m not doing anything more than browsing the web, this machine s battery never threatens to last longer than four hours. Usually you pay a higher price for fewer compromises, not more of them Aside from the SC17, I ve spent time with Alienware s souped-up gaming laptops and have experienced a few of the alternatives from Asus, MSI, and Razer as well. EVGA s first entry into the category is admirably executed, but it clashes against the same limitations that all of its competitors do. There s a basic mismatch between the power and ergonomics that full-fat PC gaming requires and the portability exigencies of a mobile computer. Is the SC17 a bad gaming laptop? Not at all. But that s a meager compliment when you consider the category as a whole, which is populated by machines that promise and cost a lot, but deliver too many compromises. The Breakdown More times than not, the Verge score is based on the average of the subscores below. However, since this is a non-weighted average, we reserve the right to tweak the overall score if we feel it doesn't reflect our overall assessment and price of the product. Read more about how we test and rate products 6 . Design 8 Keyboard 8 Touchpad 5 Display 9 Performance 9 Heat / noise 4 Battery life 4 Software 8 References ^ alien mouse (www.theverge.com) ^ the actual desktop card (www.theverge.com) ^ Full specs and features (www.evga.com) ^ Asus ZenBook 3s (www.theverge.com) ^ connector-starved (www.theverge.com) ^ how we test and rate products (www.theverge.com)
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