Archive for June, 2012
According to an NPD report, Ultrabooks are selling well in some segments of the US market. In the Jan-May 2012 period they helped push an increase in sales of the $700 + segment and comprised nearly 11% of that part of the market.Month-on-month growth seems to be strong too.
Overall the $700 segment represents 14% of the laptop market but profit per unit and profit margins are generally higher so it’s an important figure.
Intel’s ‘Smart Connect‘ function is an optional Ultrabook feature that allows a computer to wake from sleep to connect to a WiFi network and update application data. Intel has been pushing this as a great ability which will help you to “stay current with automatic, no-wait updates to your e-mail, social networks, news, and more”. While that all sounds great, I can’t think of any scenario where it would actually be useful, especially given today’s landscape of applications that run from the cloud anyway. So we’re putting it to the readers, step inside and give us your thoughts on Smart Connect.
XPS 14 Brings Ivy Bridge and Discrete Graphics to Dell's Ultrabook Lineup, Claims 11 Hour Battery Life
Unlike the “new” XPS 13 which we warned you about the other day, Dell’s XPS 14 Ultrabook actually is new and starts at $1099 for the base model with a 1600×900 display. Dell says it’ll last for 11 hours on a charge. Four configurations are offered, all of which are Ivy Bridge, and range from Core i5 with integrated graphics to Core i7 with discrete graphics. Step inside and we’ll break it down.
Intel have launched the Core i3-3217U. There’s no Turbo Boost but it comes with a handy 1.8Ghz base clockrate.
The Core i3-3217U also comes with all the Intel Quick Sync Video and HD4000 goodness you’d expect from an Ultrabook and together it forms a huge improvement over the 2nd Gen Core i3 option which was only clocking at 1.3 or 1.4Ghz. In fact, in long-term high-power scenarios, there may not be any difference between the Core i3 and Core i5. Take the Samsung Series 9 under battery power for example. The Core i5 CPU is locked at 1.8Ghz max in this mode – exactly what the Core i3 would deliver.
Three new Ultrabooks have appeared at Amazon US in the last week. The Lenovo U310, Lenovo U410 and Acer Aspire S5
Starting with the Acer Aspire S5-391 you can pre-order for $1399.99. [Amazon link] It sounds expensive but as is often the case, the high-end version is being made available first. Core i7-3517U at 1.9-3.0Ghz with 4GB RAM and a healthy 256GB SSD. Be aware though that the screen is 1366×768. At this price it could be a difficult sell don’t you think?
A user in the Notebookreview forums has posted a method to split the SSD from the HDD in the ASUS UX32VD – making it an even more interesting purchase!
ASUS have used a standalone Sandisk i100 SSD soldered on the mainboard as the cache in the ASUS UX32VD rather than an integrated SSD/hard drive and as it appears as a separate disk it’s possible to install Windows onto it.
Part of the SSD upgrade how-to yesterday required buying a new CD/DVD writer. The old LG unit I was using bit the dust during the test so after a quick online check I found a cheap one in-stock at our local electronics Shop. While I was there I spotted the Samsung Slim Portable SE-208. For just 2 Euro more, looking way better than the cheap offering next to it and having a USB HDD mode, how could we ignore it? At just 34.95 Euro (inclusive of 19% sales tax) the Se-208 is working out well. The SE-208 is currently $30.75 at Amazon USA.
The SE-208 weighs 300gm, doesn’t require any device drivers or software with Windows 7 and is powered via USB. On the Toshiba Z830 that means just one USB3.0 connector or one USB2.0 connector. A Y-cable is provided if a single USB port isn’t enough to power the device but in-use we found it to be extremely efficient.
At the beginning of June, Computex revealed to the world a flood of new Ultrabooks based on Intel’s third-generation Ivy Bridge platform. These new Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks, which must meet certain criteria to be called an Ultrabook, represent the second generation of Intel’s Ultrabook specification. Dell’s XPS 13 Ultrabook, while well received, is a first generation Ultrabook based on the previous generation Sandy Bridge platform, but this hasn’t stopped the company from branding it as ‘New’ in online and print advertisements.
We’re happy with the Toshiba Z830 that Intel sent to us for a long-term loan. It’s a fast, lightweight and well-connected Ultrabook. We’ve already dropped in a 4GB RAM module to take it up to 6GB but there’s one more thing we can do to pimp it out – upgrade the SSD.
We contacted MyDigitalSSD with the plan and they kindly sent us a 256GB BulletProof mSATA SSD with SATA III interface. Not only are we going to see over double the usable space on our drive, we’re going to be upgrading to a drive that in theory can push 500GB/s through the bus.
This article will show you how to upgrade an existing SSD but before you start, here’s your checklist.
If you are looking for a primer on Ultrabooks, we’ve got just the thing for you as we’ve just finished updating three of our main reference articles.
What’s an Ultrabook? – An overview of the Ultrabook.
Ultrabook Features Guide – Looking into some of the key features of an Ultrabooks
Ultrabook Buying Tips – Read this before you buy your Ultrabook
Tucked into a report on MSI’s 2012 line-up over at Digitimes today is a mention of the MSI S20 Slider that appeared at Computex earlier this month. MSI are apparently aiming for an October or November release for between $799 and $899
Launch date is obviously going to depend on Windows 8 availability but we’re expecting that to happen without delay in Q4 anyway. As for the price, it seems quite competitive.
The 15” Samsung Series 9 2012 with Ivy Bridge has been a pleasure to test. It’s a stylish Ultrabook with potentially very long battery life and a great 3D performance boost over 1st-generation Ultrabooks. The screen is good and bright and the keyboard a pleasure to use. But all is not perfect. A surprising lack of CPU Turbo under battery load, a strange touchpad action and too many ‘micro’ ports takes some of the shine from the Series 9 but despite that, it sits in a unique position in the market. There are cheaper Ultrabooks in the 15” bracket but you won’t find a 1600×900 screen for this price or weight.
Acer America has just announced two new Ultrabooks as part of a new ‘Timeline Ultra’ series. On offer is a 14″ and 15.6″ display, the latter of which has a full numpad on the keyboard. The bezels appear to be nice and thin but the resolution leaves much to be desired. Discrete graphics from Nvidia are included as well as optical drives. Both come in at rather affordable prices, but we’re unsure that the inclusion of the optical drive is such a great idea.
Intel originally set the target price for Ultrabooks at $1000. As the category developed, they seemed determined to push that target price down even further and, with the Ultrabook-laden news out of Computex earlier in the month, it would seem that they’ve certainly accomplished that. Back to school time is coming and students will be looking for powerful and lightweight laptops which have great battery life — Ultrabooks fit the bill perfectly; even more so now than the first generation thanks to reduced prices!
Back toward the beginning of May, HP revealed a deluge of new Ultrabook products. Despite a rather confusing array of press releases and announcements, we waded through it all and found what many others missed — HP would be offering the Envy 4 and Envy 6 as not just Intel-powered Ultrabooks, but also as AMD-powered ultrathins. After quite a while, HP now has available the AMD Envy 6 Sleekbook for $699; can it compete with low priced Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks, and what about it’s twin, the Envy 6 Ultrabook?