Tag Archive | "Reviews"

Battery Life and Efficiency Review – Lenovo U300S

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It’s time for some extreme testing. Seriously, skip to the summary if you just want to know if the Lenovo U300s has good, average or poor battery life. Stay with us if you want to learn more about how efficient this neat little Ultrabook is. We’ve completed a suite of tests here that we hope gives you an idea of how the battery life would work out for your use case.

Lenovo U300s by Chippy (18) (1024x757)

In summary we were a little disappointed in the Lenovo U300s we have here. Background power usage is much higher than many other Ultrabooks and the screen requires a lot of power to make it bright enough to use. The U300S has a relatively large battery which helps to provide good battery life figures despite the so-so efficiency.  Turbo seems to work well and cooling performance is good. The fan is there when needed but doesn’t give us any nasty surprises.

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Free Taxis and New Reviews

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UltrabookNewsAs I work through the days Ultrabook news there are a few articles here that I want to highlight. Feel free to contact us if you spot anything else you think we need to take a closer look at or add to the product databases.

Free HP Ultrabook Taxis in London

It looks like HP are doing exactly what I’d love to be doing; driving around in a 3G/WiFi equipped mini van with an Ultrabook. Londoners can take advantage of the free taxi service put on by HP as part of their HP Envy 14 Spectre marketing campaign. The Drum reports that the Mercedes shuttles are available for the next two weeks from “Golden Square outside 37-38; at Hills Place outside 41 Berkeley square; at Eccleston Place opposite the taxi rank; and at Cavendish square, opposite John Lewis.” If you’re in London, climb aboard and send us details of your experience! Update: The London Evening Standard has a longer report now.

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Lenovo U300S Hits Stores, Reviewers Hands

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The Lenovo Ideapad U300s matches the ASUS UX31 almost spec-for-spec and both appear to be ready to go. Pre-order pages are up (see our information page for the Amazon affiliate links that are available) and at least one website has one for testing. The first statement from James Kendrick, the reviewer for ZDNet was that the Lenovo U300s is “already the best Windows laptop I have ever tested.” Let’s hope there’s no showstoppers as the testing progresses.

While the U300s only has a 1366×768 resolution screen against the UX31’s 1600×900 screen, there are other differences deeper in the specifications. Customers are going to have a hard time deciding between the two…

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Toshiba Thrive Review Round-Up

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Remember that commentary we posted on Liliputing’s initial hands-on impressions with the Toshiba Thrive? Well now the device reviews are starting to roll in and we though it was a good time to let you know what the world thinks about the device so far (or at least the part of the world that got their hands on the device early).

First off the bat, you have to keep in mind that Toshiba is a television company, and that culture, along with a few others, plays into the product positioning of the Thrive in its competitive market. With that culture comes the baggage of marketing words applied to product packaging and websites that do not necessarily translate to enhanced capabilities. I mention this because, while a lot of the media reviews are generally warm on the Thrive, I noted a recurring trend of enhancements that the Thrive claims to have, but do not really result in anything “better”. Features like “Resolution+” do not appear to add much to the Thrive’s value, for instance.

One feature that is advertised and does result in real world results is the full-size USB port combined with Toshiba’s custom file-manager program. Laptop Magazine’s Avram Piltch found that both the port and the app functioned as advertised with USB thumb drives and external USB hard drives. SD memory cards worked well with the file manager app when the cards were inserted. Remember that this is a full-sized SD card port. I can hear the sounds of photogs all over rejoicing at the concept of carrying the tablet around and immediately seeing their photos “developed” on a larger screen. I can not speak for all photo buffs, but I know that looking at my shots on my Sony Alpha a350’s LCD does not tell me enough about how the shots look on a big screen. Toshiba’s implementation and the decent reviews so far lead me to feel that the tablet is a shoe-in as a rambling shutterbug’s companion.

Video performance-wise, the Thrive scored better than the category average in the An3Dbench. It also bested the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, regarded by many as the genre-leader in Android Honeycomb Tablets. It is outpaced by the Asus Eee Pad Transformer however. Laptop Magazine’s benchmarks can be seen here.

As I mentioned at the outset, Toshiba is a company driven by a few paramount sub-cultures, and their background as a consumer, and especially budget, PC company definitely influenced the Thrive’s design as well as the TV culture I mentioned earlier. Therefore, the Thrive comes pre-loaded with a dozen or more apps of Toshi’s choosing. User value with these will vary, as many are limited trial versions. Among the apps included are QuickOffice HD, LogMeIn Ignition, PrinterShare, and Kaspersky Tablet Security. I have personally found Documents-to-Go and Lookout security to be preferable alternatives to the former and latter apps mentioned, so definitely consider whether or not you want to jettison some of the Toshi apps when you are doing initial setup. Of course, I did not see mention in the reviews if some of these apps are locked and cannot be uninstalled. I have found this to be the case with several Android devices that I have owned.

Model pricing is $430 for 8GB, $480 for 16GB, and $580 for 32GB, which stacks up well against iPad 2 pricing. The full size ports offer multiple options for expanding that storage capacity. Not all files work well, however, especially HD video files, if users try to play or edit them from non-organic storage.

The downsides to the Thrive are primarily size and weight. Users will have to decide if the trade-off are worth it for all of the expansion and utility options the Thrive offers. Also keep in mind that with heft comes durability. I feel fairly comfortable with my Motorola Xoom’s soft-touch, textured back, and durable feel, and while my iPad is lighter, its smooth back and light weight always make me nervous when I do not have it in a case. Similar thoughts should be considered by potential Thrive buyers if they are comparing that choice to other, lighter weight Android tablets.

There is a known issue where the Thrive will sometimes not wake from sleep. Because most buyer’s typically fall in love or out of love with a device in the first 3 to 5 days of use, it might be worth giving it some time for Toshiba to roll out a firmware fix before consumer’s get onboard the Thrive train. Toshiba indicates that they are aware of the problem, and a fix is being investigated. No word on when it will arrive.

Check out some of the reviews at the outlets below. These are just a few of the ones we checked out, and we are sure there are more out there. We had one commenter on the initial hands on report. How about now? Have the reviews brought any more readers into the potential buyer fold? Or do you feel that the word on the street encourages you to continue looking at other alternatives? Sound off in the comments below!

Sources:

Geek.com – Toshiba Thrive Review

CNET – Toshiba Thrive Review

Laptop Magazine – Toshiba Thrive Review

Toshiba Thrive – Official Site

iPad: What’s Bubbling To The Top?

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Baby makes a good tablet holder.When you’ve got a new born baby and an Archos Android Tablet at hand (see image) you have a lot of time to read and that’s what I’ve been doing non-stop this weekend as I check-out all the news about the iPad. 24hrs into the game we’re starting to see some well-balance posts about usage models of all types and even though I don’t have an iPad myself (Ben has just started his coverage. His iPad turned up today.), I’m starting to get a feel for how it’s going for people and what usage scenarios are bubbling up as the most important and most interesting.

First off, there don’t seem to be any major surprises or let-downs and you really have to pay the Apple marketing teams some respect for working within sensible bounds and not going crazy with their marketing. Battery life is as good as expected (more on that below,) the screen is crisp with a wide viewing angle, the web experience is very fast and UI is as smooth as you’d expect it to be. Apart from some quibbles about USB charging I haven’t seen anyone that has hit any sort of roadblock. On the other side of the coin however, we’re not seeing any killer usage models rising the surface. Yet.

Tablets have always been a difficult product to position. In the 4 years that I’ve been covering the smaller tabletPCs, the Origami and ultra mobile PC area I have learned a lot about target audiences, usage models and niches. The iPad isn’t any different although it definitely plays to a more lounge-focused audience rather than to the portable PC fans of the ultra mobile PC world.  The issues are the same though so here’s a list of the key ones from the tablet world. How is the iPad shaping up?

Related: Thing to Consider when Buying or Designing a Tablet-Style Device.

Note: We’re tracking and updating iPad news links, videos and info in the iPad information page.

Web experience.

There’s the full internet experience and then there’s the consumer internet experience. One needs to be 100% accurate, extendable and tailorable through plugins, multitasking and extensions and the other simply needs to be good enough to serve customers with 95% of their pages in a slick fasion. In the laid-back world of sofa-surfing the iPad seems to really hit the mark. Reports are coming in that Safari is fast and fun. Faster than the fastest phone (widely agreed to be the Google Nexus One at the time of writing) and without any worries of zooming or panning. Easy-to-read and fun to use and for some people, worth the $500 just for this!

Battery life.

Top marks to Apple here. They’ve produced a device that runs over 10 hours. It’s a full day and enough for nearly everyone. There are some interesting stats that can be gleaned from the battery size though because the 24wh battery means it’s running in a 2.5w profile – About 3 times what a smartphone would take under load and it’s all to do with backlight. In fact, I estimate 80% of the battery drain to be coming from screen backlight, Wifi and components other than the CPU.

Keyboard.

I’m not hearing anyone calling the keyboard total rubbish but we’re hearing a lot of ‘you won’t want to write a book on it’ type comments which is exactly what people say when they know it’s not going to cover every usage model.  Flat-usage on a table in landscape mode is sub-optimal (neck pain) and resting the device on bent knees is also uncomfortable over time. The device is too heavy for extended one-handed use and trust me, carrying a bluetooth keyboard and batteries around ends up being akward. Let’s wait for a while on this because I’m guessing the excitement over blogging and emailing using the iPad will wear off after a while. As always, the phone is always close-by and the laptop is always more productive.

Size/Weight.

I’m seeing a lot of people talking about the hefty weight of the iPad and I think this is going to be a problem. Apple have chosen to use an aluminum body for strength but it’s added a lot to the weight. The 120gm battery pack is also adding a huge amount of weight. It’s a difficult design decision that plagues tablets all the time and Apple have probably made the right choices but it still doesn’t make it right. For the ultimate in usage flexibility and to cover mobile usage scenarios better, a few hundred grams needs to be taken off the weight.

Frame controls.

If you’ve never spent a lot of time with a device that has frame controls for things like scrolling, selecting, backlight adjustment and radio, you’ll never notice that these are missing from the iPad and as one would expect, this shortfall isn’t getting much coverage. We’re talking form over function here but surely there’s something that could have been done with all the frame space?

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Applications.

It’s here where the big discussion takes place and although I’m personally not a long-term iPod Touch or iPhone user, I can see that users are enjoying the large-scale applications. iPhone apps using pixel doubling (4 ipad pixels for each iPhone aplication pixel) are a different matter though and I’m seeing an almost universal disappointment with this. The landscape will change quickly though and you’ll see iPad apps flowing through very quickly now. Games are bubbling up as an exciting feature although I doubt anyone was expecting the best gaming experience; the device just isn’t built for it. You’re unlikely too see too many iPad owners being disappointed with the gaming. Finally, the iWork apps seem to be impressing most people although as with the keyboard issue above, many are also saying that it won’t quite replace a laptop which also means it probably won’t ever replace the laptop.

Price.

No-one is moaning about the price. What owner would! For comments on pricing you need to ask people that didn’t buy the iPad. Is it too expensive?

Also-mentioned.

USB charging problems, no GPS on Wifi models, no memory card slot or USB host port.

Not mentioned.

It doesn’t surprise me that the lack of Flash isn’t mentioned much in reports. Of course it’s mentioned but there aren’t many users getting upset about it. Flash is a serious component of the serious web but when you’re lying in bed, it’s not such a showstopper. Also not mentioned with significant weight is multitasking. I wonder if the iPad is so fun and intriguing that switching between apps is actually fun!

Summary.

In summary I’m seeing a ‘reader’ and an entertainment device bubbling up as the key usage models right now but you have to look between the lines to find it out because as most of the bloggers out there are scrambling to make money out of it first! As many of them invested $500 in it, there’s also a level of vested interest too!

It seems that Apple hasn’t solved the basic physical issues with large-format tablet devices and if you really were expecting them to, you probably need to spend some time with a tablet device to find out that it’s almost impossible. What Apple appear to have done is created a huge wave of interest and sales that will ensure enough momentum to make this iPad a success. Customers are happy and are likely to stay that way and that’s enough for a few million sales. If Apple don’t reach their targets or the momentum runs out, they’ll will still have learned enough and made enough cash to try again and make a better product next time. The iPad is a great device but you really need to be aware that it’s not going to solve any major issues for you; it’s simply a well-designed luxury viewing frame.

Recommended reading / Sources.

At the time of writing we have a list of about 16 ‘latest newslinks’ to important articles about the iPad from across the net. Stay tuned to it as we continue to update it. Information in this article was gleaned from the articles in the list.

You’ll see that we’ve turned off the normal comments on this post. Instead we’ve embedded the comments from the product page which you are invited to add to so that others can benefit on the future. Anything you add here, will appear on the iPad product page and will serve as a long-term reference.

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Vye S41 Full Review

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Meet the Vye S41 (Portal page for full specs). This is a mini-tablet / ultra mobile PC touting a 7” screen. Some of you may notice that it looks an awful lot like the Kohjinsha SR8. You would be correct in that observation; the S41 and SR8 are actually the same computer, Vye has adapted the S41 to be sold outside of Japan. The S41’s most unique feature is its built in DVD burner. It is very surprising to see the drive in such a small computer. Though the question has to be asked: Do you really need a DVD drive in a computer that is designed to be highly mobile? Find the answer to that and a whole lot more in the full S41 review below. (continue reading…)

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