This is my preview of the Asus UL Series Laptops. This particular model has even been featured as one of many free laptops that are available if you purchase mobile broadband from the likes of Carphone Warehouse. Available from 22nd October 2009 at a range of high street and online retailers, the pricing will be £599 inc VAT (13.3 UL30), £699 inc VAT (15.6 UL50AG) and £799 (15.6 UL50VG with dedicated graphics).
I always like to keep an open mind when it comes to my computing. A few years back, anything outside the Apple platform would not even be allowed in my house or office. I have been tempted on many occasions to take advantage of one of the free laptop offers that are available with mobile broadband contracts. Well, since the Geekanoids website has become so popular, I felt I owed it to my readers to let them know if the grass is greener on the Mac side or not. I didn't go and get one of the freebie offers, instead the guys (and gals) at Toshiba kindly loaned me a Satellite X200 laptop... not for a full on review, rather for a play with for a month and just let your readers know what you think of it, well here goes.
First of all, it is important that I let you know my general thoughts about Vista. It has improved a lot since the release of Service Pack 1. A lot of the previous problems have been fixed and it also seems to run a little smoother. That said, it is still so convoluted to use. So many clicks and confirmations to perform even the simplest task. Add to that the constant updates and start up time long enough to eat a three course meal (OK, probably only a cup of tea) and you can see where my Vista frustration comes from. Now I have vented my thoughts on the OS, I can concentrate on the X200.
When I first opened it, I was very impressed by the screen real estate. A resolution of 1440x900 on the 17-inch display may not sound like much, but it felt like the right combination. You also get a 2.4GHz Core2Duo processor, 4GB RAM (only 3GB accessible), a beefy 256MB NVidia 8700M GT graphics card, 250GB of hard drive space and a nice 1.3MP webcam above the gorgeous screen. The optical drive reads and writes CDs and DVDs and also plays HD-DVD's which is a nice touch. The trackpad also impressed me with its smooth tracking, though the multi-touch areas for scrolling and shortcuts was a bit annoying at times. Sometimes it behaved itself, other times it was a pig to get working.
The X200 is big though. You would not want to carry this overgrown laptop around. It is destined to be used in a home or office and not venture outside. It is even too big to use on your lap, so needs to be situated on a desk really. At the base there are large vented heatsinks and they throw out a lot of heat. The fans seem to be on all the time, so that warm air is pretty annoying. The screen, although impressive, is glossy and in comparison to the new MacBook and MacBook Pro range, it uses a different finish. I found it a lot more difficult to get the right angle to avoid reflections. Battery life was useless too, just over two hours and the unit started chirping at me. Performance was good though, the 2.4GHz processor and graphics card compbination delivered enough power to eat through my Photoshopping and satisfied on the gaming front too. I guess that with that power you should expect the heat issues.
So, I was impressed. The X200 is a nice bit of kit and for someone who is a Windows Vista user, this could be a good desktop replacement choice. It has a nice powerful processor and would serve you well as a work or multimedia machine. For me, I will stick with my MacBook Pro. Better power, nicer styling, not bulky and runs very cool without any annoying fan blurting out warm air all the time.
The Tulip Ego Lifestyle Love Edition laptop will bring back some early iBook memories. Remember the original clamshell iBook? If you do prepare yourself for a reality check. This new laptop has some great design touches, though is really aimed at the female market some guys might take the plunge. It is an AMD based laptop with 12.1-inch screen, 1GB RAM, 80GB hard disk, Bluetooth and Wi-fi. What makes this stand out is the integrated handle and snap on design covers. Pricing starts at around £1,600. Check it out at www.egolifestyle-us.com
I wanted to give you a quick update on my Vista experiences. Today I took delivery of some extra RAM for the Toshiba A100, so it now has a respectable 2GB of memory. With this new upgrade Vista seems to perform a lot happier, with not as much writing to the hard disk.
It is still far from perfect, the OS seems to take for ages to load, and applications take a while to load too, but once everything is running, the whole is experience is a lot snappier.
I also installed Trend Micro's Internet Security 2007, which comes in a Vista Certified version. Although I hate the necessity of installing such an application (being used to not having to on my Mac), I must say that Trend Micro's product installed very smoothly, updated with not a single hitch, and offers some very nice features. I will be publishing a full review of Internet Security 2007 on Geekanoids soon.
Yes, I know I am biased towards the Mac, but as a writer I am confident that I can detach myself for part of the day. So, just yesterday I took delivery of a Toshiba Satellite A100-596 laptop, complete with Vista installed. For those who need to know, it was Vista Home Basic, so the least taxing on a system. The laptop is a CoreDuo, running at something like 1.7GHz. I bought this because I felt that if I was reporting news to you on PC software and what is happening in the Windows world, I felt I should experience it first hand.
Now, I am not going to write this article and slag off the PC (and Vista) at every opportunity I get. What I will do is tell it like it happens. So here goes...
The Toshiba A100 is actually pretty good. The 15.4-inch screen runs at 1200x800, the same as my MacBook. It is nice and evenly lit, and goes up to a nice brightness. The keyboard is a little noisy, but has a good responsive feel to it. The trackpad is tiny and I have a little trouble scrolling with it, but in normal use it is accurate and does the job. In use the fans kick in now and again, but for the past 2 hours it has been a very quiet experience. Battery life is looking good, I have been doing my normal surfing, emails, and this article for around 1 hour in this session and I still have 4 hours left, so I am impressed if it last out this long.
Things I still have to do is install Nero, so I can then test writing a DVD with the dual layer DVD writer. I will report on this at a later stage.
I am so used to opening a new Mac, turning on, and within about 5-10 minutes OS X is ready to go. Turning on the A100 (with Vista) was a different matter. I left the machine for about 30 minutes configuring the software, it then restarted. Thinking this was it, the real deal, was a big mistake. I hovered my pointer with anticipation, but clicking did nothing. The screen went blank, refreshed, and the system was still doing something. Well, I finally got to click on something and whilst Vista was downloading some updates (you even have to do this on a Mac from time to time), I configured my system a little. Then I was prompted to restart so the updates could finish installing, which I did, and waited about another 10 minutes.
Back up and running I wanted to install Quicktime. I downloaded it and clicked to install, well actually I double-clicked ! Now, I had heard about the new security features in Vista and ironically had just finished watching the new 'Security' ad from Apple just before I started this install. Vista asked me to 'cancel or allow' the installation, which I did, then 20 seconds later it asked me again, so I clicked 'allow' yet again. Then QuickTime was trying to install something, did I want to 'allow' it... no of course not, that is why 2 minutes ago I double-clicked the install icon. I am not exagerating this at all, during the Quicktime saga I had to click allow 6 times! I think this is taking things a bit far, there has to be a better way.
Even after the install was complete I found that Firefox worked fine, but Internet Explorer 7 still refused to playback Quicktime content.
So, I will persevere, after all Vista does look prettier, and I am sure when I put 2GB of memory into the A100 laptop it'll work a little smoother. I will keep you posted.
Fujitsu today revealed its new LifeBook P7230, available in black or white, in an all new sleek design. What amazed me is the similarity in styling (apart from the keyboard) between this new offering and the Apple MacBook. It seems like Fujitsu have paid a lot of attention to detail in the design.
"The LifeBook® P7230 notebook offers exceptional performance with its Crystal View display, extended battery life (up to 9.75 hours), and the latest Intel® Centrino™ Mobile Technology. The LifeBook P7230 notebook is the ultimate travel companion weighing as little as 2.63 lbs."
Three models are available, all sporting 10.6-inch screens, Core Solo processors, 40GB - 80GB hard drives, and all running Windows Vista. The battery life claim seems amazing, and although speed performance would not be on par with a MacBook, it all adds up to a pretty nice package. The Fujitsu website allows you to configure various parts of the system, but not the processor, which is a shame. I am not really into PC's, but if this had a Core2Duo chip, I may well have been tempted.