Archive for November, 2011

Samsung 900X1B 11.6″ Series 9 Ultralight – Detailed First Impressions. Live Review

The 11.6” Samsung 900X1B, the 1KG sibling to the 13” 900X3A that we tested a while back, arrived today and I’ve had a solid afternoon of testing, and enjoying, this pre-Ultrabook. I won’t call it an Ultrabook alternative because  just like the Apple MacBook Air it pre-dates the Ultrabook launch but uses the same design principles…and it’s just as good. With an 11.6” screen it obviously goes up against the Asus UX21 and Apple MacBook Air. Here are some first impressions, relatively detailed, that might help you raise or lower the 900X1B on your list.

Announcement: I’ll be sitting down in the studio to do some detailed review work on the Samsung 900X1B on Saturday 3rd Dec. You can tune in, ask questions and steer the testing on Saturday 3rd Dec at 2100 MEZ/CET (Your timezone details here.) I’ll be live for about 2 hours so please, drop in and join-in on Ultrabooknews.com/live .  Follow @ultrabooknews on Twitter for reminders.

Samsung 900X1B (14)

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Acer – Ultrabooks On Track, Prices Will Fall

Acer’s Jim Wong has told media in Taiwan that Ultrabooks are on track and prices will fall, potentially to $499 in 2013.

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Acer had planned to ship, that’s ship, 250000 to 300000 units of the Acer Aspire S3 this year and expect to achieve that target. It’s a slightly veiled shout of confidence to the media but even shipping a third of a million devices requires a lot of risk-taking and investment.

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Ultrabook Alternatives Added to the Database

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We love Ultrabooks but we also love the competition from other parts of the notebook industry.  Lower prices, faster processors, bigger batteries, discreet graphics and other features give the consumer a choice and challenge the designers of  future Ultrabooks.  There are some devices that are closer (MacBook Air, Series 9) than others (DM1, SH771) but we can’t ignore them.

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Samsung 900X1B 11.6” Ultrathin – Will it beat the ASUS UX21?

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Available with Core i3 (1.3Ghz non-Turbo) and Core i5 (1.6Ghz, Turbo-enabled) the Samsung 900X1B (Series 9 range) is a stylish alternative to the ASUS UX21. It’s been around for a few months and in theory, it’s not an Intel Ultrabook but apart from slightly slower quick-boot and a missing TPM module (we are told) it’s an Ultrabook! Later this week we’ll be testing it and comparing it to our ASUS UX21 experiences.

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Gigabyte T1132N – A Flexible, Expandable Alternative

I often refer to the Sandy Bridge platform as an HDR Computing platform that can span multiple mobile usage scenarios but how about adding that platform to a product that covers every angle in terms of hardware too? The Gigabyte T1132N might just be that device.

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Forget Ultrabook looks but do think about flexibility and expandability.
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A Common Docking Port for Ultrabooks

Intel Ultrabook Dock ConnectorI think it’s going to take me a while to work out the reason why this rather akward and cumbersome looking docking solution port is being considered for Ultrabooks. A common docking standard could be a good move though.

We know already that the 2012 Ultrabook platform will include support for Thunderbolt and that it is going to make a great single-plug docking system given a Thunderbolt station or hub. Ok, the price of the Thunderbolt hub/station or a Thunderbolt monitor is going to be expensive to start with but that price will come down if it is well adopted which it look like it could be. In the meantime we’ll have HDMI to carry the digital a/v and if you want a mouse, the usb port making a maximum of two connectors.

The new solution shown via VR-Zone is a single package, dual connector solution for Thunderbolt and additional ports.

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Toshiba Z830 With Core i7 Now Available in US.

Along with three other models, the Core i7 variant of the Z830 has surfaced for order in the U.S,  with a fingerprint reader but no 256GB SSD option yet.

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Following previous announcements in Europe that appear to have held back the Core i7 version of the Toshiba Z830 [seen in testing results] from the shelves, it’s good to know it’s actually available in the U.S.with a max 6GB RAM. It’s dissapointing not to see a 256GB SSD storage option as that could have been a way round the relatively slow 128GB drive. Toshiba doesn’t, as far as we know, have a 256GB in their ‘value’ SSD range so it could have come from a faster family of SSDs. We’ll keep an eye out for that.

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ASUS Zenbook UX21E Review

‘HDR mobile computing’ is how I would neatly define the Ultrabook category. These surprisingly powerful laptops can work as efficiently as a netbook and then when you need the power, kick-in cores, turbo and other special features to give you a truly all-round solution that includes video editing, gaming and care-free desktop-style working. The Asus UX21 is one of the lightest, smallest and yet, most powerful of the Ultrabooks, at least in the Core i7 1.8Ghz version we have here. We’re impressed with what’s inside and with its weight and style but there are a couple of potential showstoppers for some people. Read-on to find out more in our detailed multimedia review of the ASUS Zenbook UX21E. Thanks ASUS Germany for the review sample.

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ASUS UX21 Live Review – Videos and Notes (Includes Gaming Test Results)

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Thanks to everyone that joined in the live testing session yesterday evening. It was totally worth the effort because we uncovered a few more nuggets of information and a lot of data on gaming as well as confirming battery life and performance. The videos are embedded at the bottom of this article.

The bad news first. During the evening we experienced two power-downs on removing / inserting the power plug while we were in a game. It was an instant-off situation [see it on the live video here.]. Apparently others have experienced this too. I testing today, I experienced an instant shut-off while World Of Warcraft was loading (on battery mode.)

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ASUS UX21 Live Review and Ultrabook Q&A–Today

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Update: Session is finished now. A report will go up soon. is now available.

I think I’m right in saying that this is the first ever Ultrabook live review and Q&A. It happens tonight, here on Ultrabooknews.com/live

It starts at about 2100 GMT+1 (Berlin time. Your local time here)

We’ll be spending 2 hours (yes, it’s going to get detailed) testing the UX21 and we’ll include battery life testing, video video editing, gaming, web, usability and a whole lot more. There will be a chat session (already open at Ultrabooknews.com/live if you want to log in and start talking) and I’ll take general Ultrabook or UX21 questions and guidance from you. Some of the session (not all of it) will be recorded and posted tomorrow. You’ll need a flash-enabled browser and about 1mbps of bandwidth to join-in.

See you later. In the meantime, here’s a teaser and a bit of World of Warcraft on the UX21…

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Intel Capital Announces $100m AppUp Investment Program – Ultrabooks are “key area.”

appup bestbuyUnderlining Intel’s determination to get into the application store game is an announcement that Intel Capital have prepared a $100 million AppUp Fund that will invest in “software tools and services companies developing innovative applications and digital content for the mobile and PC ecosystem.” That’s mainly netbooks, consumer notebooks and, mentioned specifically, Ultrabooks.

The full press release is here and includes details of two initial investments. Urban Airship, a mobile marketing company, and 4tiitoo who develop an operating system for mobile devices. 4tiitoo also make a tablet, the WeTab.

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HP Folio Ultrabook Revealed

Ritchie’s Room has revealed the new HP Folio Ultrabook (not Foleo!)

Update: The HP Folio aka DM3, is now in the database.

It’s a 13.3” business-focused affair with a similar look to the Toshiba Z835/Z830.

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Available in Core i3 or Core i5 versions it should be available in December. Hop over to Ritchies Room to see the rear side-mounted ports including Ethernet, full-size SD card slot and full-size HDMI along with a nice looking keyboard – and backight. The screen is 1366×768.

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MacBook Air – Leading Class, Leading Light as Sales Reach 28% of All Apple Notebooks

It’s estimated the the MacBook Air now accounts for 28% of all MacBook sales in the US market. Looking at the MBA as a sealed-unit, thin-and-light in a range of traditional notebook solutions, it’s interesting to draw comparisons to the Ultrabook in its larger notebook market.

Specifications and links for the MacBook Air are in the database.

It’s taken the MBA 3 years to reach this penetration, the same could happen in the Windows notebook category and in a shorter timeframe because I believe much of the reason for the accelerated penetration seen by the MBA is because the platform, as used in all Ultrabooks, now meets or exceeds most customer expectations. In previous generations it didn’t.

I’m not going to do any Ultrabook vs MacBook Air technical comparisons here (feel free in the comments section below) but I have taken the chance to drill down into some sales numbers that show some more dominance by the MBA in this thin-and-light market.

I’ve pulled out two sets of figures from reports and estimates and although there is room for a lot of error here, there are indicators that the MBA is selling at a rate of 300000 units per month.

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ASUS UX21-Detailed Overview Video

P1000798Our first ‘retail’ Ultrabook review video is now live. It’s the Asus UX21. Thanks, ASUS Germany, for sending it over.

You can read a few very early first impressions on the previous article. Specifications, as always, in our database.

Our LIVE REVIEW is planned for Thursday 17th November at 2100 GMT+1 (9pm Berlin time- meet everyone here. Your local time here.) so if you have queries and want to see the results live, add it to your calendar. We’ll have a live chat and video going for a few hours. The ASUS UX21 will get a good thrashing with benchmarks, videos, productivity, gaming and much more.

A more detailed first impressions article will go out within the next 48hrs. Check back here or subscribe on Twitter or Facebook.

And now to the video. Don’t forget to support Ultrabooknews by ‘liking’ the YouTube video and please, if you have a positive or negative thought, add it to the comments. It helps us all.

Video below….

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The UX21 is Here. First Impressions Later. Live Review, Q&A on Thursday

P1000770I’m pleased to announce that we have our first Ultrabook here for testing. Thanks to Asus for sending over the ASUS UX21E, the 11.6”, 1160gm (2lb 9oz) Ultrabook in Core i7, 128GB build. (Model details – ASUS Zenbook UX21E-KX008V)

It looks just a awesome as the first time I saw it at IFA in September, boots in an impressively quick time, turns in a 300ms Sunspider score, has good speakers, a very bright (but glossy) screen , is totally silent as I type this and it looks like it will allow you to web-work for about 4.5 hours.

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