As performance laptops based on the Intel Core i5 processor proliferate, older Core 2 models look, well, old. That means Apple's core silicon is past its prime.
What began as a trickle about a month ago is now a torrent of new Core i-based notebooks. Although lower-end Core i3 processor-based systems are widely available for the more budget-minded, the Core i5 is now powering performance laptops for those willing to pay a little more money.
The mobile i5 and i7 chips are, in a word, fast. Made on Intel's cutting-edge 32-nanometer manufacturing process, they handily outperform the older Core 2 Duo. Tech Web site AnandTech said the i5 processor delivers "the single largest performance improvement we've seen from a new mobile processor in years," and Tom's Hardware said it "boasts the best balance between desktop-class speed and true mobile usability we've ever seen."
Dell: The Dell 15.6-inch Studio (S15Z-3630CPN) offered at Best Buy is a good example. Priced at $1,049, it comes, as many systems do, with the popular Core i5-430M processor (2.53GHz) and an ATI Radeon HD 4570 graphics chip with 512MB dedicated video memory.
Other features for this Dell Studio model include 4GB DDR3 memory, a 500GB Serial ATA hard disk drive (7200 rpm), two built-in 2W speakers, a built-in optical drive, and Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64-bit operating system.
Apple, by comparison, offers a 15-inch aluminum MacBook Pro for a pricey $2,299 that uses the older 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo and comes with specifications that are otherwise pretty similar to the (much) cheaper Dell system.
Hewlett-Packard: A $1,299 15.6-inch HP Envy (considered the company's consumer luxury laptop line) offers similar specifications to the Dell system but with more powerful graphics silicon. In addition to the Core i5-430M, it comes with a more powerful 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5830 graphics chip, a 320GB disk drive (7,200rpm), and 4GB of DDR3 memory. … Read more
Thanks to intensive cost cuts, and buoyed by sales of Vaio PCs and PlayStation 3 game consoles, Sony's quarterly results are back in the black.
After four straight quarterly losses, the company rebounded in the third quarter of its fiscal 2009. Net income jumped 660 percent to 79.2 billion yen ($871 million), compared with 10.4 billion yen in 2008's third quarter, Sony reported Thursday.
Sales for the quarter ended December 31 rose 3.9 percent to 2.24 trillion yen ($24.6 billion) versus 2.15 trillion yen in the year-ago quarter.
Stung by weak consumer … Read more
Sony recently has made some very good HD media-focused laptops sporting big screens, most notably in their F and NW lines. While laptop prices keep dropping, Sony has announced a new line of multimedia laptops that offer new Intel processors and an aggressive price point.
The Sony Vaio E series has a large 15.5-inch screen in resolutions up to 1080p HD, as well as a full keyboard with number pad that runs edge-to-edge across the bottom width of the laptop. With an optional Blu-ray drive, the Vaio E could potentially offer as much as other Blu-ray Vaios do at … Read more
Update:The new Sony Vaio W has been nominated for the Best of CES awards in the Computers and Hardware category.
LAS VEGAS--Making a move on the growing "green" market, one of Sony's new additions is an updated version of the Vaio W Netbook. This time around the upscale 10-inch system is being touted as made from a, "reprocessed plastic chassis comprised of approximately 23 percent recycled CDs. It also comes in a stylish reusable carrying-case made from recycled PET bottles."
Fighting the urge to go bigger with 17- and 18-inch laptops, Sony's latest Blu-ray multimedia machine is a 16-inch system, called the Vaio F.
It features a 16.4-inch 1080p display, and is one of the only laptops to offer an optional Blu-ray recordable drive, as opposed to the usual play-only drives. Graphics come from Nvidia's GeForce GT300M chip, and the CPU on the three preconfigured builds we saw was the very high-end Intel Core i7 720QM.
Sony always trumpets its custom media creation and playback software as an alternative to similar apps such as Windows Media Player … Read more
While Sony's Y series of 13-inch laptops may seem fairly pedestrian, the company's other new thin-and-light is something else entirely. Sony says that by, "melding cutting-edge technologies such as a Blu-ray disc optical drive, HDMI output and a hybrid graphics system into highly-mobile PCs," it has come up with a 13-inch laptop worth a whopping $1,830 -- outmatching even the very pricey HP Envy 13.
The Vaio Z weighs just over 3 pounds, and some configurations include a similar high-end "100 percent color saturation" display as found in the Vaio X. Also available … Read more
Hardly a day goes by that we don't recommend a 13-inch laptop to someone for their specific computing needs. After all, it's the only size that we find big enough for all-day use, but small enough to carry around several times a week (but every day would be pushing it).
While Apple's MacBook may be the archetype 13-inch laptop, almost every other PC maker has one or more models, and many of the current ones use Intel's latest ULV processors (non-ULV options are also available) to keep the systems thin, light, and energy efficient (even if … Read more
How will Apple redesign the ultraslim, seminal MacBook Air that launched dozens of me-too ultraportable laptops? Only Apple knows. But here are some gratuitous musings anyway.
In a previous post, I said I wouldn't hazard any guesses on what Apple may do with the MacBook Air. And I won't. That doesn't stop me from looking at the most recent ultrathin laptop competition to see where Apple might be able to improve the design that turns two years old in January.
Enclosure: This will be a tough act to follow. The original design was good enough that Apple didn't change it for gen 2--aka Rev. B--of the Air. And the aluminum enclosure was a trendsetter, which all MacBook Pros (and other PC makers) eventually copied.
But that doesn't mean the Air is perfect. The razor-thin slab of aluminum provides little room for ports and connectors. (Apple's implementation is a flip-out set of USB, Mini DisplayPort, audio ports that retract back into the body.)
A design modification that the Dell Adamo uses (some say retrogressed to) was putting the ports on the back (behind the screen). This allows Dell to offer a fuller array of connectors.
Hewlett-Packard, for its part, went another route: it just made its Envy 13 slightly thicker (at 0.8 inches) than the Air, allowing a couple more connectors (a second USB port and an SD card slot). HP also molded the base of the Envy in magnesium, which makes it lighter, according to HP.
Then there's just-announced Dell Adamo XPS. This is even thinner than the MacBook Air and puts the CPU-complex-plus-circuit-board (aka motherboard) behind the screen, not underneath the keyboard--standard design practice for all laptops.
Of course, there's the recurring rumor that Apple is looking at different materials to make it even lighter while maintaining its famous sturdiness. This could potentially be a combination of aluminum and something like carbon fiber. (Though, as stated above, HP claims that magnesium is the way to go.)
Other possibilities: make one model bigger (wider), a la the Dell Latitude Z, which offers a 16-inch 1600x900 WLED Display and at its thickest point is only 0.79 inches.
Or make it smaller. The Sony Vaio X is a great example of how light (1.6 pounds) and thin (0.55 inches) a premium laptop (technically it's a Netbook) can be.
Tablet? There is the remote possibility that a version of the Air becomes a tablet. And that would mean potentially a new enclosure and new silicon.
Graphics:. The second feature I'll touch on is graphics. A good graphics chip is tough to squeeze into ultrathin designs and this a major feature that set the Air apart from other slim designs,… Read more
In our current roundup of retail-specific laptops, we've divided our 25-plus systems into four price categories, from sub-$700 budget models to high-end ones that cost more than $1,000.
In the "high-end" category, we looked at four off-the-shelf models that all retail for $999 and above. While there's certainly a lot to like about the $2,000 HP Envy 15 (it sported the highest screen resolution and a new Core i7 processor), we thought the best bang for your buck was to be found in the Sony Vaio FW560, which has a big 500GB hard drive and Blu-ray, all for $999.
Note: For a roundup of retail laptops in all price ranges, check here.
Check out details of each system below:… Read more