The days of the boring, stodgy, incrementally upgraded Windows machine has passed. PCs now come in the form of both dependable laptops that follow the steady march of CPU and GPU progress and experimental and forward-thinking designs that reimagine how we work, play, and create. Here at CES 2017, those two worlds collide. In the process, we get a glimpse of where the most simultaneously ubiquitous and enduring consumer electronic device — the personal computer — is headed next, and what it will be like when we all inevitably arrive.
Jan 6, 2017
Wireless charging remains an elusive concept. It pops up here and there, often for mobile devices using special cases, and yet many solutions are painfully incomplete or too cumbersome for consumers to care. The Dell Latitude 7285, a new 2-in-1 business laptop announced yesterday at CES, uses a clever method to bypass wireless charging’s pernicious roadblocks to deliver a true solution. Dell claims it’s the first fully fleshed-out version of the feature for laptops.Read Article >
The trick is in the keyboard. The Latitude 7285 is a 2-in-1 hybrid. That means 100 percent of its components fit inside the tablet display, which can be attached to one of three accompanying keyboards to create a clamshell laptop. One of these keyboards communicates with Dell’s new wireless charging pad. So when you place the 7285 down on the mat with the keyboard attached, the power bypasses the keyboard and goes straight to the computer. It’s wireless charing with a caveat, but wireless charging nonetheless.
Making a distinctive and uniquely appealing desktop PC is a daunting task nowadays, but not an impossible one. Dell’s approach to this challenge, unveiled with the 2017 XPS 27 all-in-one, is to go for audio overkill. This new desktop has six speakers staring down the user — four covering the mid and bass frequencies, plus dedicated tweeters in each corner — along with two more down-firing, full-range speakers and a pair of passive radiators. I say overkill, but audio has been generally a neglected aspect of desktop PCs, with makers expecting people to buy separate speakers or use headphones, so Dell is tapping into an opportunity to deliver a true all-in-one.Read Article >
Dell’s new audio system has been engineered in collaboration with music producer Jack Joseph Puig, and the PC-making company isn’t too shy to claim it has "the best sound for an All-in-one PC." It certainly has more than enough hardware to grab that title. But Dell’s claims don’t end there: the company also says the XPS 27 is two times louder than Apple’s 27-inch iMac and has up to 10 times the bass of HP’s Envy 27.
If CES is a preview of the future, then give me more of this particular flavor. Dell today announces a new 32-inch, 8K desktop monitor with 1.07 billion colors, aluminum construction, 100 percent coverage of the AdobeRGB and sRGB color gamuts, and a monster $4,999 price. The UP3218K has a resolution of 7680 x 4320 (for a pixel density of 280ppi), which is as many pixels as you’d get from four 4K displays or 16 Full HD panels.Read Article >
Speaking to The Verge ahead of Dell’s unveiling at CES, the company’s Frank Azor, general manager for the Alienware and XPS brands, joked that the UP3218K could be considered a reasonable purchase if rationalized as buying four small 4K monitors. This is an almost unprecedented product, matched only by Sharp’s 27-inch IGZO prototype with 8K resolution. But the Sharp monitor that was shown off in October isn’t going on sale anytime soon and happens to be thick enough to accommodate multiple iMacs.
The 2017 edition of the Samsung Notebook 9 comes with the claim of being the world’s lightest 13-inch laptop, and at only 1.8 pounds / 820 grams of weight, it probably merits the title. I tried it out here at CES 2017, and what’s interesting about it to me is how little Samsung has compromised in terms of connectivity with this new laptop, endowing it with full-size HDMI and two USB-A ports along with the new hotness that is the thinner and smaller USB-C.Read Article >
Just look at the side profile of the new Notebook 9: display excepted, the chassis of this laptop is barely any thicker than the ports it provides. There’s a certain sense of efficiency extremism about this look that appeals to me — much in the same fashion that the stripped-down bezels around the display evoke a sense of futuristic minimalism. Those are the parts I like, and I commend Samsung for putting together a laptop that addresses its customers’ needs today rather that pretending we all need to hurry up and move into the future with it, as Apple’s latest MacBook Pro refresh has done.
Gaming laptops are one of the things that every PC maker has prioritized at this year’s CES, with big names like Lenovo, and now Samsung, starting whole new sub-brands of gaming PCs. Samsung’s answer to Lenovo’s Legion is the Notebook Odyssey. The Odyssey begins with a 15-inch laptop in February and a 17-inch behemoth in April, both of which look like rejects from Alienware’s design interns. There’s an upsettingly high degree of unoriginality about these laptops, which could easily bear Acer’s Predator or Asus’ Republic of Gamers branding — they’re both cookie-cutter gaudy monstrosities.Read Article >
Like Lenovo, Samsung is introducing a red-backlit keyboard on its lower-tier model and a multicolored keyboard on its higher-end laptop. Like a neophyte gaming PC maker, Samsung eschews high-end materials for a massive dollop of hollow plastic: I found flex both in the top lid of the Odyssey 17 and in the keyboard itself. A lot of flex. Samsung’s hinges on both Odyssey laptops are flimsy, nothing approaching the hydraulic motion of, say, Lenovo’s ThinkPads.
Gaming laptops are as much a contest of engineering bravado as they are an attempt at portability and practicality. Meet the case in point: Acer’s new Predator 21 X gaming laptop. Its components are excessive, and it is the first ever such machine with a curved display — a 21-inch, 2560 x 1080 resolution IPS display to be exact. We first saw the laptop back at IFA in August, and now we know the whole package will run you an eye-popping $8,999. Acer announced the price at CES 2017 today and says it will be available starting in February.Read Article >
The Predator 21 X is of course hideous, with rough, protruding black and silver edges and a gaudy blue dragon stock graphic slapped above the keyboard. (The graphic is at least customizable.) It looks not too far off from a military laptop you’d see in the background of an action movie’s oversimplified hacking scene. But then again, you’re not buying the Predator 21 X for its looks. You’re buying the device for its sheer and absurd level of power, illogically stuffed into a package that’s only portable if you’re willing to carry around a 17.6-pound clamshell monstrosity.
LG’s latest attempt to blend ultra-thin design with high-end performance may have solved one of the company’s most pernicious problems. The Gram 14, announced today at CES, is similar to its predecessor in many ways. There is now a touchscreen option, but the device is just as thin and weighs the same as the 2015 model, coming in at just 2.16 pounds. That’s still light enough to retain the weight crown for its size class. Yet the real differentiator this go around is battery life. LG claims the Gram 14 tops out at 23 hours on a single charge.Read Article >
It’s a bold claim, especially considering the flaws of the original Gram, itself a pretty brazen MacBook clone. In trying to bring down the laptop’s profile and weight, LG ended up with a overpriced gadget with abysmal battery life. In our review, we found the Gram struggled to last more than just five hours. Whatever LG has achieved between then and now would have to be a remarkable feat of engineering, because 23 hours of battery life is a more than double the claims of Apple other PC competitors. Of course, the Gram 14 will have to be tested when we get our hands on a review unit, and it may fail to achieve that milestone under heavy use. Still, even 15 to 17 hours would be a stunning feat.
Jan 4, 2017
Along with a slew of other PC announcements at CES this year, Asus has unveiled a handsome-looking 14-inch “business notebook” that it claims is the world’s lightest — weighing in at just 2.3 pounds. That’s lighter than even Lenovo’s 2017 ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2.5 pounds) which also has a 14-inch display and is one of our favorite new laptops around.Read Article >
But what makes this AsusPro B9440 a business notebook as opposed to, you know, just an ordinary laptop? Well, nothing really, apart from the fact it has a magnesium-alloy chassis to keep it lightweight as well as durable. (Surely something you’d want in any laptop). Asus points to its spill-resistant keyboard as something that will ensure that “small spills don’t impact on productivity.” This does at least sound like a good idea for business — next time you’re battling your way through high-powered negotiations, simply stare hard at your rivals while pouring coffee directly onto your keyboard as a show of dominance. Honestly, Warren Buffett swears by it.
Jan 4, 2017
USB-C laptops are still largely unexplored territory, and the form factors the docks and dongles we use to connect old gear to these new laptops is still very much in the air. But one idea that seems to be cropping up for the laptops of tomorrow is sticking a huge, bulky attachment to restore some old functionality.Read Article >
OWC is the latest accessory maker to try this strategy, with its DEC USB-C dock for Apple’s new MacBook Pros. And while there’s not a ton of information as to what ports with DEC will offer beyond a USB-C port to connect to a MacBook Pro and an SD slot, AppleInsider is reporting that the Dec will offer legacy USB 3.0 ports, gigabit ethernet, and up to 4TB of SSD-based storage. All that in a form factor that OWC claims is only as thick as the 2012 MacBook Pro. OWC already sells a USB-C dock, but the DEC seems to offer a more portable form factor for avoiding dongles while on the go.
Jan 3, 2017
The race is on to build a really great gaming laptop around Nvidia's new GTX 1050. Nvidia's already greatly improved the headroom of gaming laptops by shipping basically unaltered 1080, 1070, and 1060 cards for laptops, instead of scaled down mobile versions. Now the GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti are continuing that trend more or less, and making more portable designs possible.Read Article >
Dell's new Inspiron 14 and 15 7000 series are just spec bumps of last year's models, but the new 1050 and 1050 Ti cards in them are a huge upgrade for gaming. Each laptop is available with either a seventh-gen Core i5 7300HQ or Core i7 7700HQ quad core processor, but most of the other top-of-the-line specs are exclusive to the 15-inch model, including a 512GB PCIe SSD, the Ti graphics, and a 74 watt-hour battery. The 14-inch model only comes with a 1080p anti-glare LCD, but the 15.6-inch is also available with either a 1080p or 4K IPS screen.
Apple’s steadfast refusal to outfit its MacBook line with a touchscreen option is a well-known industry holdout. We’d much sooner get a massive, 15-inch iPad Pro than the company go back on its years of anti-Microsoft marketing, and the awkward half measure of the new MacBook Pro Touch Bar.Read Article >
So for those eager to swipe their fingers on the display of an Apple notebook, there is one option. AirBar, a magnetic sensor that sits below the bottom edge of a laptop’s display, will grant you all the glory of a touchscreen device for just $99.
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IBM’s ThinkPad has always been my paragon for what a good laptop should be. Never mind the general perception of ThinkPads as boring and frumpy machines for office types; I’ve always loved the reliability and unrivaled durability of those IBM designs. But I’ve spent the past decade happily residing in Mac land, courtesy of some very good MacBooks, which had the added advantages of sleekness and long battery life. So now my ideal laptop is some hybrid of the two: a machine that can do everything, in all circumstances, but which is also effortless to tote around and lasts a very long time. The 2017 ThinkPad X1 Carbon is almost that computer.
Toshiba announced its newest convertible laptop, the Portégé X20W, at CES 2017. And while it may seem like a run-of-the-mill two-in-one computer, Toshiba is claiming an extremely impressive 16 hours of battery life. That distinction obviously will depend on how well it holds up in real-world use, but it’s certainly something that would help Portégé X20W stand out among the crowd. Otherwise, the Portégé X20W tries to offer the best of both worlds when it comes to tablet and laptop PCs, making it like almost every other convertible ever made in that regard.Read Article >
Spec-wise, it’s a fairly standard high-end convertible for 2017: a seventh-generation Intel Core processor, a USB-C port for charging and connectivity (it also includes a legacy USB 3.0 port), and a 360-degree hinge that offers five different viewing angles.
Asus today announced updates to most of its major laptop, 2-in-1, and desktop product lines, incorporating Intel’s latest Kaby Lake processor for better performance, battery life, and efficiency gains. The product refresh, revealed today at CES 2017, includes new Asus ZenBook models, a new Transformer Pro 2-in-1, and three new versions of its Zen AiO all-in-one desktop. Also included in the update is Asus’ GT51CH gaming desktop, which now comes with the seventh-generation Intel chip.Read Article >
Kaby Lake is a second “tock” in Intel’s “tick-tock” chip strategy — it’s essentially a modified version of the Skylake architecture, which itself was an optimization of the 14nm Broadwell design. That means this generation of Intel chip will only offer incremental upgrades and not the kind of sizable leap one might typically associate with a brand-new generation of processor. That doesn’t mean Kaby Lake won’t offer noticeable boosts. Intel says the chip can achieve double-digit percentage point increases in web performance and application speed. Kaby Lake is also 10 times more efficient than the company’s first-generation Core processor, whereas Skylake was about eight times more efficient.
Asus announced the Chromebook Flip C302 at CES today, and like most major laptops this year, it’s going all in on USB-C, completely removing USB 3.0 ports in favor of the newer standard. Asus also is highlighting the Flip C302’s 360-degree hinge, allowing the Chromebook to convert over to a tablet form factor.Read Article >
Hardware wise, the specs more or less match up with the leak from last week. The Chromebook Flip C302 comes with a 12.5-inch 1080p display, a sixth-generation Intel Core m3 processor, 128GB of storage, and 4GB of RAM (upgradable to 8GB). And in addition to the two USB-C ports, there’s also a 3.5mm headphone jack and a microSD card reader.
Jan 3, 2017
Acer is announcing three new Predator gaming monitors at CES 2017. The most interesting is the Z301CT, a curved ultrawide with built-in Tobii eye-tracking that works with games like Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Watch Dogs 2. The monitor works at up to 200Hz and supports Nvidia G-Sync for smooth performance at any frame rate, but the downside is the resolution — it’s 2560 x 1080, which is a little low for a panel of this size. It’ll ship next month for $899.99.Read Article >
Acer is also introducing the XB2 line, which consists of the 24.5-inch XB252Q and the 27-inch XB272. Both are 1080p G-Sync-capable displays, and their main selling point is a blazing fast 240Hz refresh rate, which will test any GPU even at that relatively low resolution. The XB252Q will sell for $549.99 and the XB272 costs $679.99; both ship in February.
Intel’s seventh-generation Core processor, codenamed Kaby Lake, made its laptop debut four months ago, but we’ve had to wait until now to see its most powerful, quad-core variants. Today, Dell updates the spec for the Alienware 13, 15, and 17 with the best chips Intel has to offer.Read Article >
Available from Thursday, January 5th, you’ll be able to purchase the 13-inch Alienware with either a Core i5-7300HQ or a Core i7-7700HQ. Both are quad-core chips with 6MB of onboard cache, with the lower-numbered one achieving a 3.5GHz Turbo Boost speed and the higher spec peaking at 3.8GHz. Memory options top out at 32GB of RAM, and the best graphics card you can cram into the Alienware 13 is an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with 6GB of its own RAM.
This might sound familiar: Dell's newest PC is a tablet with a built-in kickstand, that's meant to be used with a soft keyboard cover, and supports input from a stylus.Read Article >
Yeah, it's the exact formula behind Microsoft's Surface. It even looks just like Microsoft's Surface. But in this case, it's Dell's Latitude 5285.
Computing doesn’t get much more utilitarian than the Chromebook. And Acer’s latest model, geared for a school setting and starting at $229.99, takes that to heart by sprucing up the low-cost laptop in the durability department.Read Article >
The Chromebook 11 N7, announced today at CES, is Acer’s toughest Google-powered notebook. It features a drop tolerant design, spill-resistant keyboard, and reinforced case and hinges. It can withstand falls from up to four feet and downward pressure of 132 pounds on its top cover. The company says these factors mean the device meets the US MIL-STD-810 standard, a specification for military-grade devices. That’s a pretty empty marketing perk that doesn’t mean much to everyday consumers. Just know that the device is sturdier than your average laptop, but it’s certainly not a battle-proof device you’d find on the front lines of a Hollywood film.
When predicting a company's next product, the easy guess is always: it's slightly thinner, and maybe slightly worse off for it, too.Read Article >
Usually that's right, but it's nice to see HP taking a different approach. For one laptop it's unveiling at CES today, a new version of its 15.6-inch Spectre x360, HP is making the machine slightly thicker, and it's doing so in part to add a claimed three hours of additional battery life.
Jan 3, 2017
One of the big drawbacks of VR is having to set up a headset close to a big and powerful gaming PC. Asus is trying to address that with a compact desktop PC that’s designed to be VR ready and can be easily moved around and connected to a monitor or TV. The new VivoPC X is not much bigger than the current gaming consoles on the market, but it includes Intel’s latest Core i5 Kaby Lake processor, an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, 8GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage.Read Article >
All of that power is housed in a compact chassis that weighs under 5 pounds. Nvidia’s GTX 1060 is classified as VR ready, but it’s at the lower end of the scale compared to a GTX 1070 or 1080. Still, basic VR games should run just fine on the VivoPC X, and Asus has included four USB 3.1 ports and two USB 2.0 ports for VR accessories and controllers. There's even two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort that support Nvidia G-Sync displays. The only concern around compact desktop PCs are heat issues, but Asus has included side vents that circulate air inside, alongside a special heat pipe that draws heat away from Intel’s processor. Asus’ VivoPC X will be available in March priced at $799.
Jan 3, 2017
Last week Lenovo said that it was modernizing its heavy-duty ThinkPad laptops in a variety of ways. Turns out some of those improvements are coming to its ThinkPad X1 Carbon, X1 Yoga, and X1 Tablet computers as well, which fall into Lenovo’s "ultraportable" business line.Read Article >
The new, fifth-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop looks a lot like the previous model but is actually smaller, weighing less than 2.5 pounds (compared with the earlier 2.7-pound model) and cramming a full HD, 14-inch diagonal display into a 13-inch carbon fiber body. It runs on a new Kaby Lake processor and has a Qualcomm Snapdragon X7 LTE modem.
Jan 2, 2017
Dell is unveiling a convertible version of its popular XPS 13 laptop today at the Consumer Electronics Show. While the CES surprise leaked out a little early yesterday, the new Dell XPS 2-in-1 still has some surprises in store for fans of the original. Just like the regular XPS 13, Dell’s 2-in-1 version uses an InfinityEdge display with just a 5.2mm border. Dell is claiming this makes its 2-in-1 the smallest 13-inch model in the world, as everything is squeezed into an 11-inch form factor.Read Article >
The real change is the hinge and the ability to rotate this beautiful display into four modes just like Lenovo’s Yoga line. It’s essentially a slightly smaller and lighter XPS 13 that converts into a tablet. Dell is also using Intel’s latest Kaby Lake Core i5 and Core i7 processors on this new 2-in-1, but they’re not the regular Core versions you’d expect.