Archive for July, 2011

APC News Checks out the Asus UX21 Ultrabook, are excited!

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Calling it out as a challenger to the Apple MacBook  Air, APC Mag seems very happy with the Asus UX21 Ultrabook they’ve recently had hands-on time with.

“Finally. This is the notebook that brings sexy to the non-Apple laptop world. But its beauty is not just skin deep.”

The article doesn’t go into any specifics about the testing done but does quote Q3 availability (Australia) and estimates a price competitive with the MacBook Air. Looks like we will have to wait a while to get specifics on the all-important battery life.

They’ve published a gallery too, you can find the article and images here.

http://apcmag.com/new-macbook-air-meets-its-match-the-ultrabook.htm

Posted, possibly while reclining, with the Galaxy Tab 7

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Apple MacBook Air Update matches Samsung Series 9

Both the Samsung 900X1B and the Apple MacBook Air that was announced today should be available from tomorrow. Both weigh the same. Both use a similar ‘Sandy Bridge’ platform, both offer an 11.6″ screen, both look sleek and both cost about $1000.

One runs Windows 7, the other runs the newly-available Apple OS X Lion operating system.

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Both are, in my eyes, Ultrabooks. Intel may not agree when they finally publish their Ultrabook sepcifications but for the time being, this is about as close as it gets to 1KG, high-capability mobile computing.

For a few dollars and a few ounces more you could go to the 13″ versions of these with even more power and capability but the real fight here is between Windows and IOS, with a touch of fan-leverage too. Early reviews of Lion (there’s a huge one here at ARS Technica) make exciting reading.

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Samsung 900X1B 11.6” Comes to Europe Later This Month

Samsung_Mobile Computing_Serie 9_900X1B_03I reported recently on the US announcement of the updated version of the 11” Samsung Series 9, the 900X1B which would finally bring Sandy Bridge to the Samsung 11” products. For those looking for power and style in the US it’s definitely worth looking at. Luckily, it’s coming to Europe too.

Samsung Germany yesterday announced the 900X1B which is the same model and will be available for 1099 Euro from the 22nd July. That’s next Friday. Expect discounting to bring that to 999 Euros in a very short while making it the first device we’ve seen that fits all the requirements for an Ultrabook.

As with the US model you’ve got the Core i3-2357M CPU but Samsung Germany are paring this with 4GB RAM and the 64GB SSD. The high brightness screen is there along with USB3 and the fast-start software. All in all it’s looking like a great setup for the ultra mobile warrior because the weight is an amazing 1.06KG. That’s 200-300gm lighter than netbooks with the same sort of battery life!

Samsung Germany press release

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720p Video Editing on the Ultrabook Platform

ultrabookvideoeditOne of the key features of an Ultrabook is its ability to be able to handle video in a reliable, efficient way. 1080p playback in hardware is a given but what about video conversion and editing? Conversion, editing and rendering are CPU+GPU heavy tasks but it looks like the Core i5 at 1.4Ghz is going to enable pro-sumer level editing and, in many cases, lightning fast conversion rates.

Over at UMPCPortal I’ve just published part 5 of a series I’ve being doing on Ultra Mobile Video Editing where I try and put together lightweight and relatively low-cost video product equipment and video editing software for a 720p YouTube target. With the Ultrabooks ‘Quick Sync’ video (that’s dedicated video decode and encode hardware) and CPU power that is 5x what you’ll find on a netbook, 720p is no problem. The fast SSD on the Series 9 that was used for testing also helps along with 4GB of memory on a 64-bit windows system. USB3.0 is going to speed-up file transfer in the future too (when cameras support it and when memory cards get too fast for USB2.0.

The detailed article also looks at three video editing software packages too.

You can find the full article at UMPCPortal

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Ultrabooks are not iPads

ipadultrabookI keep reading articles that talk about Ultrabooks being an alternative to tablets and I think some misunderstanding has crept into common thought. Yes, there was a mention of ‘tablets’ when Intel talked about Ultrabooks but they weren’t referring to the tablet marketplace, they were simply referring to features.

Consumer tablets offer some excellent advantages over the laptop. Not only in the mobile form factor but in the software. Features like always-on, touch user interfaces, long battery life, sensors and more. What Ultrabooks are aiming to do is to look at some of these features and implement them in the laptop form factor. A bit like a smartbook.

Mainly we’re talking about always-on or ‘always updated’ as I think Intel call it. Quick-startup is a part of that and it aims to get you working as soon as you lift the lid. Ultrabooks are likely to take some design cues from tablets too. Thin, light and attractive.

Other ‘features’ will take a while to feed in too and they generally hinge on Windows 8.  Sensor support, ‘apps’ and user interface layers will help users fill in some of the other features that tablet users are getting used to.

So you see, the Ultrabook isn’t going to target the same users as the iPad but it’s going to learn some lessons from it. That’s a whole different ball game.

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Samsung 900X3A (Series 9) Review

Let me be up-front about my experience with €1600 laptops – I have none. In fact, I’ve never owned a laptop. Netbooks and ultra-mobile PCs and Tablets, yes. Since 2006 I’ve owned a number of them and tested probably hundreds through my work running UMPCPortal.com. Having ‘just enough’ processing power for my tasks in the smallest, best value package with the longest battery life possible was more important than all-out power. Because of a series of changes in the marketplace and in my own requirements though (think 720p video editing) I’m now extremely interested in something with more power. That’s why Ultrabooks caught my attention, that’s why I sold my last netbook recently and that’s why I started this blog. I also feel that many others are going to end up in the same boat as me. Intel thinks 40% of their laptops will be Ultrabooks before the end of 2012 and I can see why. It’s all about pro-sumer laptopping; Doing what you do on a desktop, in a lightweight, highly portable form factor. I call it high-dynamic-range computing.

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Additional Samsung Series 9 Models Extend Range Up and Down

IMG_7519We’re testing the 13” Samsung 900X3A at the moment (and what a peach it is!) but there’s also an 11” model. Unfortunately it uses the first generation Core i3 processor. We bring good news today though because not only have Samsung announced an updated 11” model but there’s a total of 5 new models coming. Look out for bargains on the existing models, at least in the US where the new devices have been announced.

Via Engadget we’ve got this summary.

11-inch configurations:
• NP900X1B-A01US ($1,249, available in August) Intel Core i3-2357M CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD
• NP900X1B-A02US ($1,049, available in August) Intel Core i3-2357M CPU, 2GB RAM, 64GB SSD

13-inch configurations:
• NP900X3A-A05US ($2,049, available now) Intel Core i7-2617M CPU, 6GB RAM, 256GB SSD
• NP900X3A-B02US ($1,649, available now) Intel Core i5-2467M CPU, 4GB RAM, 256GB SSD
• NP900X3A-B01US ($1,349, available now) Intel Core i5-2467M CPU, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD

13” models are available to order now. 11” models will be available in August and we’re already seeing the low-end model being discounted to $999

There’s no information about other markets yet but we would expect the currently services markets to get an upgrade soon too.

Press release here.

What does it all mean? Well at $999 and 2.44lb the low-end 11” model is definitely in Ultrabook territory but one would hope that Ultrabooks delivery a little more storage than 64GB. After recovery partition and installation there will be around 40GB free. Remember too that the Core i3 doesn’t have Turbo Boost although in those dimensions the thermals will be so tight that Turbo might not get much of a chance anyway. 2GB RAM should be enough for most consumer operations.  At $999 event the low-end model is expensive but this still remains a unique device in the market until cheaper Ultrabooks come along.

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Samsung 900X3A Live Review

series9liveThanks to everyone that turned up to watch me mess about with the Samsung 900X3A yesterday evening. We spent a good 2 hours going over almost everything except Bluetooth 3+HS and USB 3.0 which we couldn’t test.

Were there any surprises? Not really. We had no issues and found no major showstoppers. The battery was hit hard during the tests though and it does highlight how easy it is to be focusing on working while forgetting that the battery might be suffering. In the 2 hours we tested, we saw 32% battery loss which is about 4hrs total battery time. Considering that we were testing gaming, 1080p YouTube videos and doing CPU and GPU tests, it’s not surprising but it goes to show that there’s quite a range of capabilities.

The other point I noted was that 1080p videos from YouTube played full-screen to a 1080p monitor worked smoothly along with 1080 samples (H.264) at 10 and 12mbps average. In fact, h.264 is handled perfectly by the hardware video decoder. The CPU barely moved!

I’m still writing up the full review of the 900X3A but while you’re waiting, here are three recorded sessions (recorded from the live stream so not the best quality) from last night. The first impressions post (with higher-quality overview video) is here.

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