Ask the Experts: Can any current-generation laptop have its DVDRW drive removed for a Blu-ray drive in its place?
Our Ask the Experts section has a new question, with Jean-Paul in the US wanting to know if any current-gen notebook can have its stock DVDRW drive replaced with a Blu-ray drive.
Q: Can any current-generation laptop handle switching out the internal optical drive for a blu-ray drive? Is it chipset-dependent, or something else?
A: You can view the answer to Jean-Paul's question right here.
Google and Samsung's $249 Chromebook did well. It sold out of the Play Store quite quickly, so what better way to follow it up than by releasing a cheaper version? Well, that's just what Google has done with the Acer C7 Chromebook that was announced today. Google has said it will go on sale Tuesday for a mere $199.
For that $199, you'll get the option to buy it on either Google Play or Best Buy's website, an 11.6-inch screen capable of 1366 x 768, 100GB of free Google Drive storage, a 320GB internal drive, and 3.5 hours of battery life. The specifications certainly aren't amazing, but the price doesn't allow for them to be.
Now the question remains: will this even cheaper Chromebook see as good as or better success than the Samsung Chromebook that Google released last month? I guess we'll have to wait until later this week to find out.
It looks like Linus Torvalds and I have something in common, we both want to see higher resolution notebook displays. Torvalds has used his Google+ account to post about the subject, asking "can we please just make that [the 2560x1600-pixel] the new standard laptop resolution? Even at 11"? Please."
The problem is, as he says, is that we're seeing so many 1366x768 displays in this Full HD world of displays, and it really is just crap. He does state that "soon even the cellphones will start laughing at the ridiculously bad laptop displays".
I fully, 100% agree with Torvalds, and I think every sector needs a reality check. TVs should have jumped from 1080p ages ago, and so should PC screens. I had 1920x1200 displays when the first Dell FP2405W came out and that cost me $1500+, I upgraded to the HP LP3065 monitor as soon as it came out because I wanted the 2560x1600 res it offered. Now we're going backward with 90% or more of displays only offering 1920x1080.
ASUS Australia invited Aussie journalists to see and *touch* the new range of Windows 8 notebooks & tablets.
Vivian Hung, Regional head of ASUS Australia described the notion of "design thinking" for the new family of devices. Hung introduced the new VivoTab family, which was the "first ASUS Windows 8 tablet" before introducing Anson Zhang, the product manager for tablets in Australia.
Zhang provided some numbers from Telsyte Research about the forecast of tablets in Australia, "11 million Australians will have tablets by the year 2016" he informed the crowd shortly after asking how many people had tablets (about 90% of the attendees raised their hands). In other words, about one in every two people in Australia will have a tablet in 2-3 years; this isn't really surprising due to the influx of affordable tablet devices coming out.
Zhang introduced three new Windows 8 tablets from ASUS: VivoTab, VivoTab RT and VivoTab Smart.
The VivoTab (this is a unit & also the family name) is a 11.6" device preloaded with the full version of Windows 8 and is powered by an Intel Z2760 processor (Turbo boost up to 1.8Ghz). The 10" VivoTab RT as its name suggests, will have Windows RT preloaded (the only one from ASUS). Zhang spoke about its hardware specifications: 8.3mm thin, 525g light and will be utilizing the Tegra3 SoC from NVIDIA (ARM!).
Google's Chromebooks have reportedly sold out at all online retailers who sell the device, with Amazon and Best Buy now out of stock. Not only are the two big retailers out, but Google's own Play Store is out of stock, too.
There's no numbers on just how many were sold, which is unfortunate. The new Chromebook seems to have taken off considerably quicker than its predecessor, which is a great thing for Google. Previous Chromebooks were priced comparable to normal notebooks, even though they were less feature rich.
The new model sports a price tag of just $249, which could be the reason for them selling out, and that would make a hell of a lot of sense. The new Chromebook sports a dual-core A15-based Samsung Exynos Dual SoC, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of built-in flash storage, the usual Wi-Fi a/b/g/n and Bluetooth. The Chromebook features an 11.6-inch 1366x768-pixel display, is 0.8 inches thick, weighs less than 2.5 pounds and sports HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, an SD card slot, and a SIM card slot.
The flow of Windows 8 devices are about to begin. Gigabyte is out of the gate today with a bunch of new devices out that will be running Microsoft's latest operating system that launches today. Offerings range from convertible Ultrabooks to regular Ultrabooks, and gaming notebooks to slates. That's right, Gigabyte has launched a tablet.
Let's say hello to the Convertible U2142 (seen above).
Powered by the latest Intel® dual-core processor, the 10.1-inch S1082 is an exceptional mobile device to enhance and increase mobile productivity. With Windows 8, a large storage HDD (up to 500GB), and multiple connectivity ports, the S1082 is a powerful tool for work and play. With its excellent design and useful accessories, including a keyboard kit and the D1080 multimedia docking station, the S1082 has exceptional versatility and can be used as a slate, a notebook and even an entertainment center.
Phil Schiller introduces a new MacBook Pro to the world. It's a new 13-inch model, which weighs just 3.5 pounds and is just three quarters of an inch thick, making it a "full 1/5th thinner than the old model." The new device is devoid of an optical drive, but instead you get a Retina display.
It has a resolution of 2560 x 1600 and is an IPS screen. 75 percent reduced glare, 29 percent higher contrast ration, and 300 nits brightness. "There's never been a small notebook that gives pro photographers this kind of technology."
Now Phil is stripping the back cover off to provide a look inside. It will come with an i5 or i7, 8GB of RAM and up to 768GB of SSD storage. Apple claims 7 hours of battery life. "This is a great new MacBook Pro. It starts at 8GB of RAM and 128GB of flash storage for $1699."
It is available for purchase today.
Apple's refreshed 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is nearly here, but there are details that elude us at the moment. What ports will it have on offer? What will be the screen resolution on its "Retina" 13-inch display?
The image you see above is the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, with the image below the reported 13-inch MacBook Pro sans speakers next to its keyboard. It should have more in common with its 15-inch bigger brother, such as dual Thunderbolt ports, and a HDMI out, too.
We should expect the screen resolution to hit 2560x1600 which is normally reserved for 30-inch displays, and should look gorgeous on the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro. We should hear more on the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro in a little over 24 hours on Apple's October 23rd event, where we should also see the unveiling of the mid-sized tablet competitor, iPad mini.
We still don't know what Apple is planning on unveiling at the upcoming October 23 press event. What we do know is that there have been a lot of rumors that it will include a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, iPad mini, and an updated Mac mini. There's also been talks of an updated iMac coming out at the event.
Pricing for the new MacBook Pro with Retina Display has also been something to leak out and is being reported to start at a base price of $1699. Rumors place Apple releasing a higher-end version, as well, which will run customers an extra $200-$300. It's a bit expected that the spinning drive in the regular 13-inch MacBook Pro will be ditched for a 128GB+ SSD.
Similar supply constraints, as what happened with the 15-inch model, are expected to occur and the device is expected to go on sale shortly after launch. Display resolution is expected to be 2560x1600, quite the respectable resolution considering the screen is only 13-inches big. We'll be sure to let you know exactly what happens on Tuesday.
Google have just launched their latest Chrome OS-based notebook, which is a Samsung made 11.6-inch Chromebook. The new Chromebook is an ARM-based, 0.8-inch thick, 2.43 pound portable machine with 6.5+ hours of battery, boots in under 10 seconds and supports 1080p video playback - not bad for just $249.
Pre-orders are open right now through Amazon and PC World, with the $249 including Google Now integration through Google Drive and includes 100GB of free storage for two years. The Play Store will also feature this new Chromebook, as well as retailers like Best Buy.
Inside the new Samsung Chromebook, we find a dual-core A15-based Samsung Exynos Dual (5250) SoC, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal flash-based storage, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, an 11.6-inch 1366x768-pixel display, one USB3.0 port, one USB2.0 port, combo headphone/mic jack, an SD card slot and a "full-size Chrome keyboard".
Everyday seems to involve some form of device maker announcing new Windows 8-based devices, and it is all becoming a bit exciting. Today we have industry heavyweight Toshiba chiming in with their announcement of Windows 8 PCs.
This includes the Satellite S, P and L laptops, the U series of Ultrabooks, the Qosmio X875 for gamers, and for the desktop side of things we have the LX815 and LX825 all-in-ones. Toshiba will ship online pre-orders on October 26th.
Retail stores will also be ready to sell Toshiba's Windows 8 PCs on October 26, too, if you don't want to place an order online.
It looks like Apple are going to use their iPad mini event on October 23 to unveil a new member of the MacBook Pro family. We've alreayd got the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, which will be joined by a 13-inch model.
This is according to a report by 9to5Mac who cites a "consistently reliable source at a high-profile U.S. retailer." The new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro would be thinner and lighter, like its bigger brother and will come in two configurations.
These two configurations will consist of two processor and storage options, and should be made available for purchase shortly after they're introduced on October 23. The new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro will be priced higher than the non-Retina model, which was to be expected, but as for exact pricing that is unknown at the moment.
ASUS have one of the most interesting Windows 8-based devices coming out this year, with their Taichi 21 dual-screen notebook. The ASUS Taichi 21 sports two 11.6-inch screens, both featuring 1920x1080-pixel IPS displays.
The first screen is where a notebook screen normally resides, in front of you, the user. The second one is on the rear of the screen, so when the lid on the notebook is closed it turns into an 11.6-inch touchscreen-capable Windows 8 tablet. It truly is a wonderful design. Both screens are IPS-based, meaning we'll see gorgeous color and viewing angles backed up by the Full HD 1080p resolution on each display.
Taichi 21's backside monitor supports 10-finger touch with an included stylus that offers 256 levels of pressure sensitivity. ASUS' Taichi 21 doesn't pack on the pounds, even though it packs dual screens where it measures in at just 0.7-inch thick, and 2.75lb with the included 6-cell battery.
There are two configurations ASUS are putting up on offer for the Taichi 21, the first of which is the Taichi21-HD51 which sports a Core i5-3317U processor clocked at 1.7GHz with 2.6GHz at Turbo peak, Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics, 128GB SSD, and 4GB of RAM which brings us to a total of $1300.
Ultrabooks were meant to be the next big thing, but I really think they were released too early and should've waited for Windows 8. But, the number of Ultrabooks to be shipped by the end of the year is now said to be estimated at just half as previous estimates.
IHS iSuppli's latest report, just 10.3 million Ultrabooks will be shipped by the end of 2012, compared to the previous estimate of 22 million. The report states that "nebulous marketing and unappealing price" are the two biggest factors behind slumping Ultrabook sales. iSuppli specifically points out Intel's constantly changing definition of what is, and what is not an Ultrabook as a perfect example of poor marketing.
As for price, IHS iSuppli says that Ultrabooks are too expensive at the $1,000 price point, and will only see surging numbers if they drop $200-$300 from this price. I think we're going to see a surge when Windows 8 comes out, and instead of just thinner notebooks (because that's mainly what an Ultrabook is), we'll see tablet hybrids, touch-screen Ultrabooks, higher-res displays, and more.
Maingear has just unleashed their Nomad 17 customizable gaming notebook, which offers a choice of six sleek "custom automotice paint jobs", a Full HD 1080p matte display, multi-touch trackpad with gesture support, and dual speakers with a built-in subwoofer.
Getting to the good stuff, we'll find a third-generationg Intel Core i7 processor running at up to 3.8GHz, options for NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 675M or 680M, Blu-ray drive, up to two 512GB SSDs or dual 750GB 7200RPM drives, and up to 32GB of RAM.
Connectivity isn't left out either, with HDMI, DVI-I, Firewire, Ethernet, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports. Maingear's Nomad 17 starts at $1,700 on the base configuration and will begin shipping on October 14.
Acer's Cromia Chromebook is looking to go second-generation, with sources telling DigiTimes that we should expect the new Chromebook line to hit next month to combat Microsoft's Surface tablets. Acer's new Chromebooks will start shipping just as the company phases out their line of netbooks.
Acer hopes to ship 200,000 or so of their 11.6-inch Chromebooks per month once they launch, with reports saying that the units are already in production. Acer's Cromia notebook reportedly only shipped 5,000 units in the five months after its launch, which is quite disastrous in the grand scheme of things.
We could definitely see Acer trying harder this time around, as the company has not been happy with Windows RT in the past, with Acer CEO J.T. Wang saying last month that the company was "waiting for the signal of the consumers' enthusiasm" with regard to Windows 8.
As an avid ultraportable laptop user, I've often wished that I had a way to upgrade my laptop's performance when I was sitting at home at my desk, or in the hotel at one of the many trade shows. Unfortunately, there doesn't currently exist a solution to my problem. But that could all soon change, if Lucid's technology catches on.
Lucid has demoed a technology that utilizes Intel's stupid-fast Thunderbolt port, which is capable of 20Gbps theoretical throughput. The Thunderport connects a laptop, or any Thunderbolt-enabled PC, to an external enclosure that houses a desktop graphics card and its accompanying power supply.
To upgrade your laptop capabilities, just plug the device in. The screen currently flashes black and then the GPU is recognized by Windows. This allowed an Ivy Bridge bridge system, which managed 28 FPS in 3DMark06 on HD4000 graphics, to achieve 89 FPS. The system theoretically can even handle Crossfire and SLI setups.
Lucid doesn't have a hard release date for this technology as it is still in development. However, if and when it comes, it will be something that gamers around the world should come to love. Think about it, if your graphics capabilities start falling behind, all you have to do is drop in a new card!
Intel are really pushing the Ultrabooks all over the world, but we haven't seen anything yet. We're beginning to hear about their 2013 models, which will include some pretty strict specs according to reports from TechEYE.net.
The site has seen some documents, where they cite that there will be some "serious difference in price and performance between the standard products and the top samples". Standard models will have a baseline Bill of Materials that most not exceed $699.
These machines at $699 BoM must contain all-day battery life at nine hours, voice command, HD video chat with a 720p resolution camera, wireless display, robust Wi-Fi, bundled anti-virus protection in the consumer model, and a multi touchpad. Minimum capacity of 16GB NAND for While Using functions, with a storage product capable of scoring more than 16,000 in PCMark Vantage's HDD Sub Score, and capable of receiving more than 80MB/sec on the same benchmark's video editing score.
The original Razer Blade gaming notebook hit the airwaves with some pretty big words behind it, being hailed as the "world's first true gaming laptop". It was impressive in some parts, but quite disappointing in others.
Razer have stepped up though, and introduced the new Blade, faster, better, stronger and best of all, cheaper. Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan has talked of the new Blade, where he said that the new Blade is the result of feedback not only from customers, but reviewers, too.
Razer have baked in some more powerful hardware this time, switching from the underwhelming NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M GPU to the GTX 660M, as well as throwing out the old Core i7-2640M with a new third-generation Core i7. Razer haven't stopped there, they've also changed the original 250GB SSD with a 500GB SATA drive and 64GB SSD, the wireless tech has been updated, fans are quieter, the USB ports are now 3.0, too.
Finally, we're seeing a company branch out from the usual 11- and 13-inch Ultrabooks, and announce a 15-inch Ultrabook. ASUS have announced the Zenbook U500VZ which sports a 1920x1080 15-inch IPS-based panel, drool.
Thanks to its larger design, it has the room for a separate numeric keypad, if that's your thing. The entire keyboard is backlit, and all of this arrives in a package which measures just 19.7mm at its thickest point.
ASUS' Zenbook U500VZ, if you've noticed, has lost the Prime suffix, because the design of the Ultrabook isn't ultra-thin. It does however tag along the Zenbook Prime's upgraded screen and new keyboard. The ASUS Zenbook U500VZ sports Intel's Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor, an optional NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M GPU, and storage-wise you've got some options. The Ultrabook sports two 2.5-inch drive bays, meaning you can scoop up two large SSDs if you really wanted to. ASUS offers a 128GB SSD + 500GB HDD option, if you want the best of both worlds.
If you are shopping for a new laptop, your choices just got a bit harder. With the slew of Windows 8 laptops and tablets starting to be announced, you know have more choices than ever and you have to decide whether or not to wait until the end of October to purchase a new machine, not always something a college student can do.
"With the introduction of our new Slate PCs, we are providing customers with greater choice while maintaining the power of a traditional PC," said Todd Bouman, vice president of marketing at Samsung's Enterprise Business Division. "We created our Slate PCs with a focus on beautiful design, powerful performance and ease of use, attributes that our customers have come to expect in their Samsung computing experience. Our mobile PC business has grown significantly over the past year, which is a testament to our ability to meet customer needs in this space, and we expect strong growth to continue with our new Slate PCs."
The new devices by Samsung weighs in at less than 2 pounds, so it is really pretty portable. The Series 7 slate also features a full Core i5 processor, so it should perform beautifully, if not a bit on the hot side. In the press release, Samsung says, "Samsung's renowned design inspiration is evident through the device's curved edges and smooth lines"--I just hope these lines and curved edges don't get them sued by Apple.
The Series 7 features a 1920x1080 11.6-inch display. The Series 5 both feature a 1366x768 11.6-inch scre