Ainovo Novo7 Basic – Dirt Cheap ICS Tablet

What can you buy these days with a hundred dollars? Not much some people would answer, but you can get the Ainovo Novo7 Basic which is probably the most affordable Android ICS-running tablet on the market today. For the money you’re paying you get support for full HD video playback through HDMI, along with a pretty decent battery life and a bunch of games. However, it’s far from being perfect since in order to keep this price tag the manufacturer had to do a lot of compromising.

When you first look at it you’ll probably say that this is an overweight Samsung Galaxy Tab as it has a boxier look. After just a few minutes of playing around with the tablet you will immediately notice the cheap materials used while manufacturing this device. The front of the tablet is occupied by the seven-inch display which is bordered by a black bezel. As for the rest of the Ainovo Novo7 Basic, we notice a matte white plastic which won’t win any beauty awards. By squeezing it just a little bit around its edges, you’ll see that it flexes and you will also notice creaking noises.

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

The front of the tablet also holds a 0.3 megapixel that is installed to the right of the screen, above the menu, volume, home & back touch capacitive buttons. On the top edge you will have access to the tiny power button and the volume rocker, while on the right spine sit the power jack, headphone jack, microSD card slot, miniHDMI and microUSB port. The back features a two megapixel camera and three speaker slits sitting on the bottom.

The Ainovo Novo7 Basic measures 7.4 x 4.4 x 0.47 inches and weighs 12.2 ounces and comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display that has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, which is lower in comparison to the resolution of the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire, which both have a screen with a native resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels. The colors are quite bright and vivid but we were disappointed when we noticed the lag while performing multitouch gestures like double tapping in order to zoom in or out.

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www4.pcmag.com)

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www4.pcmag.com)

As far as the speakers, the quality is below average but at least there’s enough volume to fill a small room. The bad news is that there’s almost no bass available, a common issue among tablets as well as most of today’s laptops.

For input you get the standard Android keyboard that features large buttons which are a joy to use especially when you are holding the tablet in landscape mode. You will most likely appreciate the haptic feedback which is quite gentle, but there’s a bit of a lag between when you tap on a key and until it appears on the screen.

When this tablet came out it was the first one to actually run on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) as standard. You might want to know that this is the stock Android ICS version so those of you who are Android purists will appreciate that Ainovo hasn’t messed around with Google’s OS. In the system bar you are going to find mini notifications for battery and Wi-Fi status, along with a clock. When you are in the Recent App menu you have the possibility of swiping the applications off the screen in order to close them.

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www6.pcmag.com)

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www6.pcmag.com)

If you do a long press of the lock on the tablet’s lockscreen it will launch a wheel consisting of the applications that you have used recently. From that point on the user is capable of dragging the lock over one of the icons in order to open the application. You get to use up to five homescreens which can all be customized. In the first one you’ll get to see an analog clock along with a bunch of applications. In the top left corner of the screen sits the Google Search icon, while in the top right corner is the apps button.

Even though it runs on Android 4.0, the Ainovo Novo7 Basic does not come pre-loaded with any of the Google-based goodies, which means that you don’t get Gmail, Gtalk, Google Maps or the Play Store. In addition, installing application is a little bit tricky as not all of them work. One of the reasons why some of the apps are not compatible with this tablet is due to the reason that such apps have been originally compiled by using an Android Native Development Kit (NDK) which is a non MIPS architecture.

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

The good news is that the tablet comes with several preloaded applications, such as the People app which will aggregate all of the contacts from your e-mail account as well as Facebook account. It also has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment as it comes bundled with The Last Defense, Ultimate Spider-Man: Total Mayhem, Angry Birds, TurboFly 3D, as well as WowFish. On top of that, there are a bunch of third party applications like Documents To Go, Amazon Kindle, YouTube, ES File Explorer, Pandora and Facebook.

The two megapixel camera sitting at the back of the tablet can provide bold and bright colors which aren’t that sharp but this is understandable given the low price tag of the tablet. The videos recorded are mostly grainy and you will most likely notice some blurriness on just about all of your recordings. As for the front-facing 0.3 megapixel camera, this doesn’t come with video chat tool while its quality is nothing to write home about.

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

Ainovo Novo7 Basic (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

At the heart of the Ainovo Novo7 Basic is an Ingenic JZ4770 X-Burst processor running at 1.0 GHz. It packs 512MB of RAM and offers 8GB of built-in storage which you are able to expand by installing a microSD card which can have a maximum capacity of 16GB. The graphics power is provided by the Vivante GC860 GPU which is underpowered in comparison to the GPUs we find on today’s tablets.

According to the manufacturer, the battery is able to last for about eight hours during continuous video playback. In the LAPTOP Battery Test it can provide enough juice for approximately seven hours, which is a little bit better than most Android tablets.

Pantech Element Review

What can you buy these days for $300? A possible answer to this question would have to be the Pantech Element which is a waterproof eight-inch tablet available at this price tag at AT&T. It is an Android-running tablet that can withstand spills and it offers support for those very fast 4G LTE speeds. For $449 you can buy it without having to sign a two-year contract.

The front of the Pantech Element is dominated by the generous glossy touchscreen display which is surrounded by an overly shiny black bezel, without any capacitive buttons to tap on. On top at opposite corners of the screen are the Pantech and AT&T logos, while in the center of the left bezel is the front-facing 2.0 megapixel camera. The front of the tablet is being framed by the shiny gray plastic band, while the sides are wrapped in a thick strip of matte black plastic.

Pantech Element (Source: ubergizmo.com)

Pantech Element (Source: ubergizmo.com)

Embedded in a hard black plastic panel which has a snakeskin pattern and sits on the tablet’s top are the black matte volume rocker and the chrome power button. At the bottom of the Pantech Element there’s a similar panel, but the later will open into two port covers, with the one on the left for the microSD card and SIM slots while the one on the right reveals the microHDMI and microUSB ports. On the left of the tablet you will have access to the headphone jack which also is protected by a port cover. These port covers can provide the necessary protection from water but you might want to know that accessing the ports underneath these covers is kind of hard.

There’s a smooth glossy plastic which has a herringbone pattern on the back of the tablet that will slightly change its pattern depending on the light that hits it. Since it adopts a glossy finish, this is a real fingerprint magnet. At the back Pantech has installed the five megapixel camera which comes with an LED flash. The tablet measures 8.4 x 6.1 x 0.4 inches and tips the scales at 1.1 pounds, which makes it a bit bigger and heavier than other 8-inch tablets available today.

Pantech Element (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

Pantech Element (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

One of the highlights of the Element would have to be that it is IP57 rated which means that it is protected against water and dust. Pantech says that the tablet can still continue to work after being submerged for half an hour in 3.28 feet (1 meter) of water. As you can imagine, you cannot operate the touchscreen display while the tablet is underwater.

The 8-inch capacitive touchscreen display has a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels and is capable of providing a sharp and clear detail, along with vivid and bright colors. It offers support for multitouch gestures that are fast and responsive at all times. Pantech has installed only one speaker on this tablet but even so it have enough power to fill a large room and it provides a crystal clear sound, while the level of bass is surprisingly high. However, if you turn the volume level all the way up you will notice a lot of distortion and brassiness.

Pantech Element (Source: www2.pcmag.com)

Pantech Element (Source: www2.pcmag.com)

Text input is done by using the regular Android keyboard which features big gray keys that have enough space between one another not only in landscape mode but also when holding the Element in portrait mode. Also on board is the popular Swype keyboard that also has large keys but there isn’t as much as space between them as there is on the Android keyboard.

The tablet runs on Android 3.2 Honeycomb and you can use up to five homescreens, while in the bottom system bar you will find the icons for Back, Home and Recent Activity. Also in this bottom system bar are the mini-notifications for battery, downloads, network and e-mail, along with the clock. In the system bar sitting at the top you’ll have access to the icons for Voice Search, Multitask page, Apps and Search.

Pantech Element (Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com)

Pantech Element (Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com)

The first homescreen is occupied by various widgets like the one from Accuweather.com or the e-mail and AT&T data usage. The right side holds the icons for camera, web, settings and Market, while on one of the other homescreens there’s a calendar widget along with a bunch of icons for Contacts, Google Talk, Qik Lite and AT&T Messages.

Under the hood of the Pantech Element there’s a Qualcomm APQ 8060 processor running at 1.50 GHz with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory. The tablet manages to be quite fast while switching between the homescreens and apps. If the onboard storage is not enough, you’re able to expand it via the microSD card slot which can take cards up to a capacity of 32GB.

Pantech Element (Source: asset2.cbsistatic.com)

Pantech Element (Source: asset2.cbsistatic.com)

When it comes down to the list of preloaded applications on the tablet, we have a lot to talk about as Pantech installed a whole bunch of apps. You get the company’s Net Media software for sharing content across DLNA devices. You will also find the PC Suite Connector application for synchronizing the tablet with a computer via USB or Wi-Fi. For taking a quick note you can use NotePad, while SketchPad is there for when you want to do a little bit of scribbling. Also on board is PhotoFrame for transforming the tablet into a digital photo frame. The game offerings include Enzo’s Pinball Lite and Bug Village, while on the GameWorld hub you will find a wide selection of games, including Fruit Ninja HD ($2.99).

The 5 mpx camera sitting at the back can also record 720p HD videos. This is a fast camera that takes a picture in less than a second while autofocus will need more than one second from time to time to kick in. Both pictures and videos have sharp details and vivid colors, while the photos grabbed with the front-facing 2 mpx camera are a bit grainy but still with a somewhat accurate color reproduction.

The Pantech Element will last for approximately five and a half hours during LAPTOP Battery Test which consist of doing web surfing from a 4G LTE network. This is an average performance coming from a tablet of this type.

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 Review

The first tablet to run on Android Honeycomb was Motorola’s Xoom which although had an attractive user interface, it failed to impress due to its high price tag, bulky design and the choppy performance. A new model coming from the same company is the Droid Xyboard 10.1 which can be considered as a thinner and lighter successor of the Xoom, offering support for Verizon’s 4G LTE, along with universal remote control capabilities and a powerful TI OMAP 4430 dual core processor clocked at 1.20 GHz with 1GB of RAM. However, the price tag remains quite steep as on Verizon’s 4G LTE network it will set you back at least $529 for a two-year contract.

This would have to be one of the thinnest and lightest 10-inch tablets available on the market today as it measures 9.9 x 6.8 x 0.3 inches and weighs just 1.2 pounds. This means that it is 0.1 pounds lighter than the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. It’s a lot thinner and lighter than the Xoom which measured 9.8 x 6.6 x 0.5 inches and had a curb weight of 1.6 pounds.

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

The unique chassis of the Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 adopts angular and square corners, while the bezel is surrounded by the rubber edges, wrapping around the back which makes the tablet quite easy to grip. The back of the device is made from a sturdy piece of aluminum and has a matte gray middle area where you’ll notice the company’s logo while at the sides and the bottom it has rubberized areas. The lens of the rear-facing camera is surrounded by the raised plastic box that holds an HD silver logo which means that this camera is capable of recording 720p videos.

Motorola has fitted this tablet with a 10.1-inch touchscreen display that has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. It has to be one of the most colorful and brightest tablet screens we’ve seen so far, while the images are smooth and crisp. In addition, the viewing angles are impressively wide so two or three people can see perfectly what’s on the screen at the same time.

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

The back-mounted speakers of the Xyboard 10.1 are very good and these have enough oomph to fill even a larger room. The sound coming out of those stereo speakers is clear and crisp, while their placement on the back top of the tablet is very good since there is a low risk of covering them while you are holding the tablet, regardless if in landscape or portrait mode.

The tablet comes with no less than four virtual keyboards to choose from. The first one is the traditional Android 3.2 stock keyboard which is the same one you will find on other tablets that are running this version of Google’s mobile OS. This has a QWERTY layout and consists of dark-gray keys that have a large size.

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

Also on board is Swype which allows you to form the words by tracing the lines between the letters. Another way to go would be by using SwiftKey X which is capable of providing better autocomplete functionality in comparison to other keyboards. It also has a nice split-keyboard mode where the left and right sides are holding the letters while in the middle is the numeric keypad.

Instead of the traditional QWERTY keyboard you get the MyScript Stylus that has a drawing area which can be used for writing letters either with the active stylus that comes with the tablet or by using your finger. MyScript is capable of transforming your handwriting into regular ASCII text and it does this in a pretty accurate way.

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

While Lenovo and HTC are selling stylus separately for more money, Motorola has decided to include the active stylus in the retail package of the Droid Xyboard 10.1 so that you won’t have to pay extra. The bad news is that the quality of this stylus is not that good as it provides an uncomfortable feel and has a weak performance most of the time. In addition, there are only a few pen-friendly applications that come as standard with the tablet. This is a little bit larger than most of the stylus pens we’ve seen from other manufacturers while when you are writing on the screen you will notice a considerable amount of lag.

The five megapixel camera sitting on the back of the tablet has to be one of the best we’ve seen on such a device as the pictures are colorful and sharp, with a great amount of detail and minimal image noise. It can also record 720p HD clips which have a similar quality, with the camera remaining in-focus even if you pan around rapidly. There’s also a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera that has a decent performance even in a low light room.

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

Motorola Droid Xyboard 10.1 (Source: demandware.edgesuite.net)

The only app, aside from the MyScript stylus keyboard, which works natively with the stylus, would have to be Skitch which is a basic drawing app which allows the user to make simple sketches as there are only a few colors, letters and arrows to choose from. Also on board are Evernote and ColorNote for taking notes, but neither of these two offer support for the stylus. Other preloaded applications worth mentioning include Quick Office HD, Citirix Receiver (connecting to virtual machines) and also Polycom RealPresence Mobile. There are also trial versions of Madden NFL 12 and Let’s Golf 2, along with the Blockbuster and Amazon Kindle apps.

When it comes down to charging the battery of the tablet, you might want to know that it takes about five hours for a full 100% charge if you don’t use it during the charging process. A representative from Motorola said that it can take longer if you use the tablet while the battery is charging. With a full charge during the LAPTOP Battery Test it lasts for almost 6 hours which is a lot less than the aforementioned Xoom that can survive during the same test for 8 hours. We remind you that this test consists of doing web surfing over a Wi-Fi network with the brightness of the screen set at 40%.

Analyzing The Acer Iconia Tab A200

This week we reviewed the recently introduced Acer Iconia Tab A700 while today we have a look at another tablet from Acer which came out in the first part of the year. It’s the more affordable Iconia Tab A200 model which comes with a dual core CPU unlike the A700 which packs the quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip. When it came out it had a retail price tag of $349 but now you should be able to get it for less than $300 which is a pretty sweet deal for such a product.

The tablet measures 10.2 x 6.9 x 0.5 inches and it weighs 1.6 pounds so it’s not the lightest or slimmest models on sale today but even so it feels nice when you hold it in your hand.  Thanks to this thicker size, Acer had enough room to install a full-size USB 2.0 port which is sitting on the left spine along with the miniUSB port, power button and the headphone jack. Below this USB 2.0 port are the Reset button and the microSD card slot which are both protected by a plastic cover. On the right side there’s a power jack, while on top you will have access to the rotation lock switch and the chrome volume rocker.

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www2.pcmag.com)

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www2.pcmag.com)

Acer used glossy plastic for the front of the Iconia Tab A200, while the thick black bezel is surrounding the tablet’s 10.1-inch display. Above this screen sitting in the center is a front-facing 2.0 megapixel camera, as opposed to the A500 where the camera sits in the upper-left hand corner, thus making video chatting a little bit odd.

The back of the tablet adopts a titanium-colored finish that is soft upon touch and features a nice dimpled pattern that not only improves grip but at the same time it eliminates the issue with fingerprints and smudges. Along the tablet’s bottom are the two speakers while a rear-facing camera has not been installed on this model.

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

The tablet comes with a 10.1-inch touchscreen display that has a maximum resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. It manages to provide some vivid colors but the viewing angles are quite limited, while when viewing videos you’ll notice a decent amount of pixelation. In addition, the brightness level is not very high as opposed to other tablets, such as the Asus Transformer Prime or the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

As far as those rear speakers are concerned, these will provide mixed results as some songs will sound great while other will be muffled. These speakers barely have enough oomph to fill a room but we’ve seen worst among 10-inch tablets.

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www4.pcmag.com)

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www4.pcmag.com)

The Acer Iconia Tab A200 comes with the traditional Android keyboard that consists of big dark gray virtual keys that have enough space between one another not only in landscape mode, but also when holding the tablet in portrait mode. Also on board is the XT9 Text Input keyboard which also offers enough spacing in both situations. Both of these keyboards will provide the user with a rather mild haptic feedback, while for accessing numbers and punctuation marks you’ll have to make the switch to an alternate keyboard.

Several weeks ago the tablet received the update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich which means that the lock screen now has a big digital clock with the battery status and date as well sitting to the left while to the right is the lock. If you press & hold the latter it will reveal four shortcuts which you can customize by going into Settings. As standard, these four shortcuts are for Gmail, Google Search, Gallery and the Browser.

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www7.pcmag.com)

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www7.pcmag.com)

Just like other Iconia Tab tablets from Acer, the A200 comes with the company’s Ring interface which can be launched by tapping on the circle which you will notice sitting in the system bar. In this menu you’ll be able to open one of the three apps or you can take a screenshot. Sitting to the right of the browser shortcut is the gallery of URL thumbnails which you can thumb through, while in the center there’s a Search icon. On the outer left you will have access to the sliding volume control.

As you would expect from a tablet running on ICS, this one offers five homescreens, with the first one holding the digital clock widget that will also show you the weather and date. On the right side of the screen there are no less than eight apps, including SoundHound, Acer Clear.fi and YouTube.

 Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

Under the hood of this tablet from Acer is a dual core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor running at 1.0 GHz with 1GB of DDR2 RAM which although it might not sound that great it’s actually enough to provide the user with a smooth and silky experience. Menus and applications will open very fast while switching between the running applications is done without any noticeable amount of lag. Also quick are multitouch gestures like pinch-to-zoom.

That 2.0 mpx front-facing camera is capable of taking photos at a maximum resolution of 1,600 x 1,200 pixels while video recording can be done at up to 720p. Most of the photos grabbed with this camera are on the dull side and the sharpness level is also quite low. As far as the video is concerned, most of your recordings will turn out to be grainy so the quality is far from being stellar.

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www6.pcmag.com)

Acer Iconia Tab A200 (Source: www6.pcmag.com)

If you are interested in the performance of the battery, you might want to know that the one in this Acer Iconia Tab A200 can last for about 8 hours and 40 minutes during LAPTOP Battery Test which as we said in previous articles it consists of web surfing over a Wi-Fi network. This performance is pretty good since the average among Android-running tablets is of almost seven hours.

We end our review by mentioning that the tablet is available in 8GB and 16GB versions, as well as with a choice of a metallic red or a titanium gray finish. It might not be the best tablet you’ve seen but it can offer a fair compromise between price and features which certainly some of you will appreciate. 

Ivy Bridge-powered Samsung Series 7 Review

Can this be the first 17-inch ultrabook on sale? Although it isn’t marketed as an ultrabook with a 17-inch, the revised version of the Samsung Series 7 does certainly meet the requirements to fit in this category. It has a starting price of $1,499 and for this money you’ll be getting a quad core Ivy Bridge Intel Core i7 processor and a dedicated GPU from Nvidia, a GeForce 650M, all wrapped in a body which is less than one inch thick. Here are the hardware components that can be found in this model.

To begin with, there’s a third-generation, Ivy Bridge-based Intel Core i7-3615QM quad core processor running at a clock speed of 2.30 GHz. The 17-inch laptop is configured with 8GB of DDR3 memory working at a frequency of 1,600 MHz, while for storage there’s a large 1TB hard drive spinning at 5,400 rpm. The chipset is an Intel HM77 while the GPU is an Nvidia GeForce GT 650M along with the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics chip with shared system memory. The Samsung Series 7 runs on Windows 7 Home Premium, the 64 bit edition.

Samsung Series 7 (Source: hit.ro)

Samsung Series 7 (Source: hit.ro)

This desktop replacement from the Korean company measures 15.9 x 10.3 x 0.98 inches and comes with a large 17.3-inch screen. The laptop weighs 6.5 pounds while its AC adapter adds a pound to the ultrabook’s weight.

Finding a slim 17-inch laptop nowadays is a hard thing to do now since Apple has decided to stop making the 17-inch version of the MacBook Pro. This model from Samsung borrows a few styling cues from other Series 7 and Series 9 laptops launched by the company, which means that we are dealing with a sleek-looking 17-inch system that looks great from all angles. While the Series 9 has a curved silhouette, this Series 7 model has a more flattened look and comes with a sunken keyboard tray which is extended to both edges of the chassis, making it look just about the same as last year’s version of the 15-inch Series 7 model.

Samsung Series 7 (Source: hit.ro)

Samsung Series 7 (Source: hit.ro)

Even though it lacks the unibody construction of a MacBook Pro, nevertheless its big one-piece keyboard tray feels sturdy and solid. You will do notice a small amount of flex on the lid, while the whole lid will wobble a little bit when the elongated center hinge is moved. Since it has a chassis which is less than one inch thick, the Samsung Series 7 looks exceptional, especially when the lid is closed.

As we were saying earlier, the keyboard along with its number pad which sit on the right are spanning on almost the entire width of the laptop. The keyboard consists of island-style keys that have been raised and have rounded corners. These keys are wearing a matte surface and feature translucent white sides which will glow blue-white.

If we take a closer look at the touchpad sitting below, we immediately notice that it looks more like the one on a MacBook. It has a large surface and features integrated mouse buttons, instead of coming with separate left and right buttons. It manages to provide a suitable amount of drag thanks to its matte metallic surface.

Samsung Series 7 (Source: asset2.cbsistatic.com)

Samsung Series 7 (Source: asset2.cbsistatic.com)

Perhaps one of the best features of the laptop would have to be its great 17.3-inch display that benefits from the company’s own Superbright technology which Samsung says that it makes the screen 36-50% brighter in comparison to other laptop screens. This screen has a native resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (full HD) and we appreciate that it has wide viewing angles while the image quality is spectacular. For a 17-inch system, the bezel manages to be very small, while the screen has a matte coating which makes it suitable for a bright room as it doesn’t catch glare.

In the audio department it comes with two JBL speakers as well as a subwoofer. The quality is slightly above average so if you’re interested in watching movies or playing games, we’d recommend using a set of headphones.

The list of ports and connectivity features is quite extensive on this Samsung Series 7 laptop as you get HDMI, VGA and DisplayPort for video connectivity, while for audio there’s a microphone and headphone jack. In the data area it comes with two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card reader, while for networking it packs Bluetooth, Ethernet jack and 802.11n Wi-Fi. There’s also an optical drive in the form of a regular DVD burner.

Samsung Series 7 (Source: laptopnews.ro)

Samsung Series 7 (Source: laptopnews.ro)

We should mention that this is a fixed-configuration notebook, but you can also opt for the Series 7 Gamer which costs $1,899 and comes with a thicker body, but it has 16GB of RAM and a large 1.5TB hard drive. In addition, it also packs a high-end Nvidia GeForce GTX 675 video card. The downside is that the Gamer is two pounds heavier and also almost twice as thick as the regular Series 7 model.

Given the size of the screen, you shouldn’t be expecting a very long battery life but you might be surprised to find out that the laptop is capable of surviving for about 5 hours and 40 minutes during the usual video playback test. This result is achieved thanks to the inclusion of Nvidia’s Optimus GPU switching technology which will use the integrated graphics chip (Intel HD 4000) whenever the dedicated Nvidia video card is not necessary. This performance is way better than the Gamer version of the Series 7 which can last during the same test for just two and a half hours.

Samsung Series 7 (Source: laptopnews.ro)

Samsung Series 7 (Source: laptopnews.ro)

All things considered, there aren’t a lot of 17-inch laptops available on sale today and only a few are as thin as the Samsung Series 7. With great looks and plenty of hardware power within its chassis, this should be a top priority if you are in the market for a desktop replacement. Although it won’t do a lot of travelling due to its respectable size, it’s nice to know that its battery is capable of lasting for almost six hours of use if you tweak with the power settings a little bit.

Google Nexus 7 Review, Best Small-Screen Tablet?

Many people have been eagerly waiting for Google to release its first tablet. Manufactured by Asus, the Nexus 7 has finally arrived and it will go on sale later on this month for just $199 for the 8GB version. This is without any doubt the best 7-inch tablet available right now as it manages to combine great hardware specs with the latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS, all wrapped around in an appealing design.

Google Nexus 7 (Source: uncrate.com)

Google Nexus 7 (Source: uncrate.com)

Although it adopts a similar black design like most tablets on sale nowadays, it does manage to stand up from the rest of the crowd with its leathery and rubbery back texture which offers a great deal of grip, while the left and right bezels are quite thin when you hold the tablet in portrait mode. Compared to one of its main rivals, the Kindle Fire, the new Nexus 7 is considerably lighter and it looks thinner thanks to the painted silver trim and the beveled bottom.

Viewing the tablet from the front while you hold it in portrait mode, you will notice a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera which sits in the top bezel’s middle. The power/lock button sits toward the top of the right edge, right next to the volume rocker. You will also have access to the microUSB port which sits in the middle of the bottom edge, while lower on the right edge is the headphone jack. The back of the Nexus 7 is home for the 2-inch horizontally-aligned speaker slit. The rest of external features end here since the tablet doesn’t have a rear-facing camera, an HDMI port or a microSD card slot.

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www2.pcmag.com)

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www2.pcmag.com)

This is the first device to get the latest iteration of Google’s operating system, Android 4.1 also known as Jelly Bean. Even though the OS offers just about the same level of customization as previous versions of Android, on this tablet is significantly more focused and controlled. We should mention that the homescreen mode will not rotate to landscape mode anymore, but at least it will rotate in applications. Once you press the Home key, the tablet will automatically switch to portrait mode.

On the bottom of the homescreen you will find several docked icons for some of Google’s services such as Play, Books, Music and Magazines. In addition, you will also find a folder which contains Chrome, Google Plus, Google Maps and Gmail. As you would expect, Chrome is the default web browser on the Nexus 7. The apps button is sitting in the middle of the tray, while if you swipe up from the Home key across the applications button it will redirect you to Google Now which is the company’s predictive personalized helper.

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

It can display info like local bus schedules, current weather, as well as a list of the restaurants in the nearby vicinity that you might want to go to. This is only useful when you are within the range of an available Wi-Fi connection because otherwise you will not be able to benefit from Google Now. Although the tablet comes with a front-facing camera, it doesn’t actually have an application for it which means that it will be mostly used for Google Plus hangouts.

In order to make it more competitive with the Kindle Fire, Google Play has been updated as it now offers purchasable movies, TV shows, as well as magazines. The average price tag for a TV show season is just about the same as on iTunes, but the ones on the Kindle Fire are considerably lower but we do have to mention the Amazon Prime membership fee.

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

By default, the TV shows and movies that you buy via Google Play will be streamed on your tablet, but you have the possibility of saving these files on the tablet’s internal memory so that you can view these later on when there won’t be a Wi-Fi connection available.

We should mention that with the launch of Android 4.1, Google has made some improvements as far as the soft keyboard is concerned which means that you should now be able to type faster with fewer mistakes. It still isn’t prefect but compared to previous Android-running tablets it’s a bit better.

Jelly Bean also comes with a new voice recognition application which seems to be inspired from Apple’s Siri. This new feature allows the user to do a web search by using his voice. It’s not as complex as Siri but it’s still able to recognize some phrases and reply with the proper response in a decent amount of time.

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www7.pcmag.com)

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www7.pcmag.com)

Let’s move on to the hardware aspect of the Google Nexus 7 and start by saying that it is powered by the same quad core Tegra 3 chip running at 1.30 GHz which we’ve seen on recent Android-running tablets. It has the same 12-core GPU and comes with 1GB of DDR2 RAM which is a bit of a disappointing since the TF300 from Asus has DDR3 memory. Other goodies include GPS, an accelerometer, gyroscope, Bluetooth, the company’s NFC-based technology Android Beam, and also 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.

The Google Nexus 7 comes with an IPS screen that is capable of providing wider viewing angles in comparison to the Kindle Fire and it’s also better than what other 10-inch tablets can offer. It has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels which makes it one of the best 7-inch displays seen on a tablet. We appreciate that it manages to be very responsive to swipe and touch so you won’t have any issues navigating through the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system. As you would expect given its impressive hardware components, the tablet is more than capable of smoothly running 1080p clips.

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

Google Nexus 7 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

The sound coming out from that speaker is quite full and loud, plus you won’t notice any distortions even if you turn the volume level all the way up. If you plan on listening to a lot of music on the tablet, you might want to pay an extra $50 to get the larger 16GB version.

Google says that the Nexus 7 by Asus can provide enough battery juice for up to nine hours of high definition video, while tests have shown that it lasts just as much as the aforementioned Kindle Fire.

Is The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 An Ipad-killer ?

New tablets are being launched basically each and every week but up until now none of them were able to grab as much attention as the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700. A long name for a tablet, don’t you think? Anyway, this can be a rival for Apple’s iPad as this is the first Android-running tablet to feature a full HD (1,900 x 1,200-pixel resolution) display. The 32GB version will set you back $499 while the 64GB model costs $100 more.

When it comes down to its design, not a lot have changed since the company’s Transformer Prime. The front of the tablet is mostly occupied by the exquisite 10.1-inch screen which is surrounded by a thick black bezel and wears the Corning Gorilla Glass 2. When you hold the tablet in landscape mode you’ll notice that above the screen there’s a front-facing two megapixel camera as well as a faint logo of the company.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

The back of this Android tablet has a brushed aluminum finish that holds a silver ASUS logo which is nicely ringed by several concentric circles. The back panel of this tablet is offered by the manufacturer  in either an Amethyst Gray finish or with a Champagne Gold look. The impressive eight megapixel camera and its LED flash are on the single strip made from plastic. The reason why ASUS decided to use plastic for this area is to improve the performance of the GPS and also to allow a 4G radio on the upcoming versions.

There is a generous array of ports sitting on the thin rounded edges of the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700. On the left spine you will have access to the tablet’s microHDMI port, microSD card slot and also the 3.5mm headphone and microphone jack. The small power button is found on the far left of the top edge, while on the opposite side sits the volume rocker which is a bit too thin in our opinion. The proprietary connector port has been installed on the bottom of the tablet and it sits next to the two docking ports that you can use with the company’s keyboard dock which is available for more money as an accessory.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www9.pcmag.com)

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www9.pcmag.com)

The size and weight of the tablet are virtually the same as its predecessor since it measures 10.4 x 7.1 x 0.33 inches and weighs 1.3 pounds. This means that the tablet has roughly the same dimensions as Toshiba’s Excite 10 tablet, while compared to the third generation of the iPad, the new Transformed Pad is a bit larger yet lighter.

The tablet has the best screen we’ve seen on such a device that runs on Android OS. A lovely 10.1-inch display with a full HD resolution which provides extremely sharp images and vivid colors, making it suitable for watching high definition content. The colors are also brighter and very crisp so you can imagine how great the viewing experience is on this screen. This display is almost as good as the exquisite Retina Display that the new iPad comes with.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

The back side of the tablet holds a single speaker which means that most likely when you hold the tablet in your hand in landscape mode you’ll cover the speaker with your hand. The sound coming out is nothing impressive, but it still sounds clear and crisp, along with a hint of bass.

For typing you get just about the same virtual keyboard as on the previous model so it’s almost the same as the native Android keyboard. We liked the fact that this keyboard is very responsive but we wished that the spacebar was a bit larger for a more comfortable use. We should also mention that this virtual keyboard comes with a trace feature similar to the Swype keyboard which allows the user to trace lines between letters in order to form words. If you are not a big fan of the virtual keyboard then you might be willing to spend an additional $129 for the docking station which brings a physical battery while at the same time it increases the battery life significantly.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www1.pcmag.com)

The Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich which means that you will get to use up to five homescreens. Available on this tablet are various widgets, such as for time & date, e-mail, along with a big AccuWeather.com widget. The icons for Home, Back and Recent Apps have been slightly revised, while the notification bar is heavily modified. If you perform a tap on the digital clock that sits in the screen’s lower right corner, you will open up the blue & black notification box which shows date & time, battery status and settings icon. This notification box also packs several shortcuts for Bluetooth, screen orientation lock, GPS, mute button, auto-sync and Wi-Fi. In addition, the notification box is also loaded  with buttons for changing the tablet’s three power modes, along with the screen’s Standard IPS and Super IPS+ modes.

Not only is this the first Android-running tablet to get a full HD display, but at the same time it is the first of its kind to be powered by a Tegra 3 T33 quad core processor. According to ASUS, the CPU has a maximum clock speed of 1.60 GHz when two of the cores are running and a speed of 1.70 GHz when one core is working. This clock speed is higher than the previous Transformed Pad which ran at 1.30 GHz and 1.40 GHz, respectively. It has 1GB of DDR3 RAM while the older tablet had DDR2 memory.

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www8.pcmag.com)

Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 (Source: www8.pcmag.com)

The eight megapixel camera sitting at the back of the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 features a new F2.2 aperture and manages to take very sharp pictures, with excellent color reproduction and a lot of detail. This camera can take 1080p clips of similar quality. Let’s not forget about the front-facing 2 megapixel camera which can also grab sharp photos, plus you have the possibility of doing video chat in high definition. If there’s enough natural light, the camera performs splendidly.

As far as the battery is concerned, it manages to last for more than seven and a half hours in LAPTOP Battery Test which consists of web surfing over a Wi-Fi network, while the screen’s brightness is set at 40%. This is a great performance for an Android tablet but it still can’t match the 10-hour runtime of the third-gen iPad.

So, is the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 an iPad killer? Probably not, but it’s darn close.

Windows 7 Tablet Ã

Let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of Windows 7-running tablets on the market today as most manufacturers are preparing for the next iteration of the operating system. The Kupa X11 Lux is a rare breed among tablets nowadays as it runs on Windows 7. If you were thinking that this is cheap, you’d be wrong as the tablet costs no less than $1,069 and comes with an Intel Oak Trail CPU and 128GB of SSD. Since it has a fingerprint scanner and TPM, this can be considered as a business-oriented tablet.

The Kupa X11 Lux measures 10.7 x 7.3 x 0.6 inches and weighs 2.2 pounds. This means that we’re dealing with a pretty bulky tablet which has a dark gray plastic finish and comes with squared edges which give it an industrial look. However, it doesn’t look as good as those premium tablets on sale today, such as the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 or the third-gen iPad. The wide bezels give the tablet a rather cheap feel, especially since these are widened by extending the tablet’s chassis below the screen.

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

At the back of the tablet is a big vent which has the shape of a teardrop but there’s no fan inside so you won’t have to worry about the noise. The Kupa X11 Lux has a 10.1-inch touchscreen display with a resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels (720p) that unfortunately is not as bright as we would have hoped. The good thing is that the colors are natural while the level of detail is great. On the flip side, you’ll probably don’t like the glass surface sitting on this screen as quite often you will be bothered by reflections and glare. In addition, another important drawback would have to be the limited viewing angles as the colors start inverting even if you slightly tilt the tablet.

The bottom of the tablet holds two generous speakers which are not that great, despite their big size. The volume is not as high as we expected, while the sound is quite tinny and lacking any hint of bass. In addition, the position of the speakers is not that great because the sound will be muffled when you put the tablet against a pillow.

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

When it comes down to typing, the Kupa X11 Lux features the usual Windows virtual keyboard that is decent but nothing to write home about since the response of the buttons while you are typing is not that great. The tablet’s capacitive touchscreen will let you perform two simultaneous touches so basic multitouch gestures for rotating and zooming photos is supported.  This screen manages to be fairly responsive as the noticeable lag is minimal. We appreciate that the tablet comes bundled with a stylus but the bad news is that there’s no built-in storage available for the pen. The orientation of the screen will change automatically but you need to know that this happens quite slow as it can take up to two seconds, while sometimes it’s also inaccurate.

We should mention that the digital pen is pressure sensitive and manages to be quite useful for taking notes, drawing or filling out forms. It comes together with the ArtRage 2.6 software which gives you the possibility of making thicker or thinner lines, depending on how hard you press down on the screen.

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

Due to the limitations of the CPU, the Kupa X11 Lux can only run on the 32 bit edition of Windows 7 Professional. Compared to other tablets running on Microsoft’s OS which come with a custom interface, Kupa has decided to stick with the stock user interface and make a few tweaks here and there. It is important to mention that the tablet doesn’t have an app store in comparison to Android-running tablets and the iPad. The good news is that it can run software compatible with a Windows PC, as well as web applications and desktop widgets.

The right side of the tablet holds two USB 2.0 ports, a headphone and microphone combo jack, miniHDMI port, along with the power input. There’s a SIM card slot so the tablet offers support for 3G mobile broadband. You will notice that on the tablet’s bottom there are two switches; one for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, while the other toggle is for turning on or off mobile broadband.

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

The back of the Kupa X11 Lux holds a modest three megapixel camera for grabbing still photos or recording videos. For video chat you also get to use a front-facing two megapixel camera. To our surprise the camera on the front grabs better photos with brighter colors, but both photos and videos look a bit grainy. The one at the back is terrible as most of the photos are shadowy and with dull colors. Some users have reported that the included Web Cam application has some software issues which can freeze the tablet from time to time.

At the heart of the Kupa X11 Lux is a rather modest Intel Atom Z690 processor clocked at 1.70 GHz which works combined with 2GB of RAM. That CPU is considerably less powerful than what netbooks have nowadays so don’t expect a great performance.  The tablet will score only about 900 points in PCMark 07. The graphics power is handled by the built-in Intel GMA 600 video chip which is also quite poor in terms of the offered performance.

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

On that 128GB solid state drive there are a few programs installed which luckily are full programs rather than those annoying trials. You get Microsoft OneNote, Microsoft Word 2007, Microsoft Security Essentials and Daum PotPlayer which is a nice media player.

You might want to know that this tablet is available in three flavors. The entry-level model called X11 Classic will set you back $799 and for this money you’ll be getting the Wi-Fi-only version with a 64GB SSD. The mid-range X11 Pro costs $899 and it brings a 3G-ready SIM card slot, while the high-end Kupa X11 Lux is $1,069 and comes with support for 3G and a bigger 128GB solid state drive.

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

Kupa X11 Lux (Source: kupaworld.com)

One of the few areas where the tablet really shines would have to be in the battery department as the Kupa X11 Lux will survive for about seven and a half hours in LAPTOP Battery Test which consists of browsing the Internet by using a Wi-Fi network.

We end by mentioning that all three versions of the tablet will be available starting with this fall with the upcoming Windows 8 operating system which should improve the overall performance but don’t expect any significant changes as the hardware inside can’t match today’s premium tablets or even some of the more affordable ones, despite the rather hefty price tag it carries.

Mini Laptop – Dell Inspiron M101z

Dell hasn’t launched a lot of 11-inch laptops but one of the few models is this M101z part of the company’s Inspiron lineup. When it came out it had a starting price of $449 and improved many of the things that went wrong with previous models. It comes in various bold colors and it has a sleek forward hinge design. Other goodies include a dual core processor from AMD and some impressive stereo speakers.

As far as the design is concerned, this ultraportable looks like a shrunken edition of the company’s 14-inch Inspiron 14R since it borrows the same design of the hinge, while the svelte profile has been maintained, tapering one inch in the front to 1.4 inches at the back. One of the versions of this model wears a Peacock Blue lid that has a Jax pattern (paisley-like). Once you open it you’ll notice that the 11.6-inch display is surrounded by a glossy black bezel, while the laptop’s lower part combines an island-style keyboard that has a black finish with the gunmetal gray plastic deck. Since it weighs only 3.4 pounds, it is quite easy to carry it while you travel so this is truly an ultraportable that you can take just about anywhere.

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: pinoytutorial.com)

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: pinoytutorial.com)

You probably know that Dell’s older 11z model was not very good in terms of ergonomics, but this situation has changed with the M101z as it has been fitted with a chiclet-style keyboard that has consists of nicely separated keys which are capable of providing a springy feedback. The previous 11z model had an extremely cramped keyboard which was quite frustrating to use for an extensive period of time. We do have to mention that the arrow keys on the M101z are a little bit smaller than they should be but this isn’t a major issue. You will certainly appreciate that Dell has decided to invert the function row keys so you have direct access to volume control, display brightness and other similar settings. The user can also toggle Wi-Fi, check the battery life, control music playback and also output the display.

The previous 11z had integrated buttons for the touchpad while the M101z features two separate left and right mouse buttons. The bad news is that these are somewhat small and they feel quite mushy. Even so, this touchpad is way better than the one that the 11z comes with. It measures 3.3 x 1.5 inches and provides just the right amount of finger resistance, while multitouch gestures are performed effortlessly.

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: pclaunches.com)

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: pclaunches.com)

You probably know that the ultraportables which are powered by AMD have the tendency of getting quite hot so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that the Dell Inspiron M101z is not an exception to this rule as the touchpad can reach a temperature of 105 degrees, while near the vent the temperature hits 104 degrees. Even so, it shouldn’t bother you while using the notebook on your lap for several hours.

It has been fitted with an 11.6-inch screen that has a glossy finish and a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels. This offers colorful images and gets quite bright so we consider it to be more than suitable for watching 720p movies. The movie experience is also enhanced by the stereo speakers which have been installed on the laptop’s front lip and benefit from the SRS Premium Sound technology. The volume level is very impressive and the good thing about it is that even at a high volume the sound will not get distorted, managing to remain very clear.

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: notebookreview.ro)

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: notebookreview.ro)

On the left spine of this ultraportable from Dell you will have access to the HDMI port, USB 2.0 port, a 3-in-1 memory card reader and the Ethernet jack, while the right side holds two additional USB ports, power jack and the headphone & microphone jacks. On the back of the M101z sit the Kensington lock slot and the VGA port.

Also on board is a webcam which comes bundled with the Webcam Central software that includes a lot of effects and scenes that you can use, as well as several avatars. With this application you can record videos and after that share them via YouTube, Photobucket or e-mail.

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: tom2network.com)

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: tom2network.com)

At the heart of the Dell Inspiron M101z is an AMD Athlon II Neo K235 processor running at a clock speed of 1.30 GHz, together with 4GB of DDR3 RAM. It offers enough hardware power to handle streaming HD content, as well as word processing and surfing the Internet. For storage it has a regular 320GB SATA HDD that spins at 5,400 rpm and it boots Windows 7 Premium in approximately 60 seconds. The graphics department is handled by the integrated (and modest) ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4425 which can score about 1,300 points in 3DMark06. This integrated GPU can play World of Warcraft at a resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels at 58 fps while at the laptop’s native resolution it runs the game at an unplayable 9 FPS.

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: laptopspec.net)

Dell Inspiron M101z (Source: laptopspec.net)

The laptop comes bundled with a generous list of Dell branded software, including the Dell Dock which will provide the user with shortcuts to music, e-mail, photos, videos and parental controls. Also on board is DataSafe Online as well as the aforementioned Webcam Central software. The list doesn’t end here as you also get the Syncables Desktop software for syncing music, video, photos and other type of data with a computer. On that hard drive you’ll also get to use Skype, Cozi Family Calendar, as well as the well-known Windows Live program suite which includes Movie Make Photo Gallery, Messenger, Mail and others as well. We should also mention that Dell has decided to include the WildTangent Orb hub for your casual gaming needs, but most of these games can be played from Facebook.

Dell has equipped this 11-inch ultraportable with a 6-cell battery that during LAPTOP Battery Test can last for almost five hours. This test as most of you know consists of web surfing over a wireless network. It is a good result but nowadays we have ultraportables which can last for up to 7-8 hours.

Sony VAIO E15, A Stylish Notebook

The very first mainstream notebook from Sony to receive an Ivy Bridge processor is this E15 model which is part of the company’s VAIO lineup. It is a 15-inch laptop that comes with a very nice design and is aimed towards media consumers and creators since it has a wide array of audio & video editing software installed on the hard drive.

Sony used brushed aluminum for the lid of the VAIO E15 which makes the laptop look very elegant and modern at the same time. It benefits from the company’s recently introduced wrap design which in this model refers to the dark gray color which practically wraps around the laptop’s bottom, then up the front and after that over the deck. For those who want a bit more color on their laptops, you might want to know that Sony will soon be offering a Seafoam White and Sharkskin Black versions of the E15.

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www7.pcmag.com)

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www7.pcmag.com)

Open the laptop and you are going to notice the same high level of sophistication, thanks to the fact that the dark grey matte plastic deck is contrasted by the speaker bars sitting at the top which has a glossy finish. Above the keyboard you are going to find the circular dark grey on/off button, as well as several other buttons for VAIO Care, Web and VAIO Assist.

The Sony VAIO E15 measures 14.7 x 10 x 1 – 1.32 inches and weighs 5.4 pounds, which means that it has pretty much an average size and weight for a mainstream notebook. It comes with a 15.5-inch LED-backlit display that has a maximum resolution of 1,366 x 768 pixels and manages to deliver rich colors and surprisingly deep blacks. We were fairly disappointed about the fact that this screen doesn’t get as bright in comparison to other models from this segment.

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www9.pcmag.com)

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www9.pcmag.com)

Those two speakers sitting at the top of the keyboard are powerful enough to fill a small room and are fully capable of providing a crisp and clear sound, but since there’s no subwoofer on board, don’t expect to get a lot of bass from those two stereo speakers.

The Japanese company has fitted this consumer notebook with an island-style keyboard that has a generous size and most importantly is backlit so you’ll see the buttons easier during the evening. Although there is a minimal amount of flex noticeable this shouldn’t bother most users, but we were a bit disappointed to find out that the Caps Lock and the Left Tab keys are not full size as Sony decided to shrink these a little bit in order to make room for the number pad sitting on the right.

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www3.pcmag.com)

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www3.pcmag.com)

Below this roomy keyboard sits the clickpad from Synaptics which measures 3.9 x 2.2 inches. It manages to offer plenty of room to comfortably perform multi-touch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll, along with two-finger rotation. It also offers support for four-finger flick which will display all of the programs that are running either on a horizontal plane or in a clear box, depending if you swipe up or down.

This touchpad doesn’t come with separate left and right mouse buttons but at least the lower part of the clickpad is capable of providing a strong feedback and can perform the left click and right click functions quite accurately when you do a press on the corresponding sides.

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www5.pcmag.com)

Let’s move on with our Sony VAIO E15 review and have a look at the ports that this notebook comes with, starting with the right side where the Japanese company has put the tray-loading DVD burner, three USB 2.0 ports and the usual secure lock slot. Along the left of the laptop’s front lip are the Memory Stick Duo and SD card readers, while the left side holds the microphone and headphone jacks, Ethernet port, VGA out, HDMI out, a USB 3.0 port that has charging capabilities, along with the power jack as well. Sony also installed a 1.3 megapixel camera which is capable of taking still photos up to a maximum resolution of 2,560 x 2,048 pixels while videos are recorded at up to a resolution of 1,280 x 1,024 pixels. We should mention that this webcam comes bundled with the ArcSoft WebCam Companion.

As we mentioned in the first paragraph of our Sony VAIO E15 review, the laptop is motivated by a third-gen Intel Core processor. It is the Intel Core i5-3210M CPU running at 2.50 GHz, together with 6GB of DDR3 RAM and a spacious 750GB hard drive that spins at a speed of 5,400 rpm. In the graphics department we find the built-in Intel HD 4000 with shared system memory. With these hardware components under its hood, the laptop is capable of scoring almost 2,500 points in PCMark07 which is a little bit more than the average in this segment.

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www6.pcmag.com)

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www6.pcmag.com)

As far as the software offerings are concerned, this VAIO model comes bundled with Acid Music Studio 8 for multitrack and MIDI recording, while with Sound Forge Audio Studio 10 you can do some pro editing of your audio files. On that hard drive you are also going to find Vegas Movie Studio HD Platinum 11, as well as DVD Architect Studio 5, two powerful tools for filmmakers.

There are also a bunch of Sony-branded applications available, such as VAIO Control Center, VAIO Care and VAIO Gate. Also available is a comprehensive list of third-party applications, like Microsoft Office Starter, Skype, Adobe Reader X, Reader for PC, Windows Live, a 30-day trial of Kaspersky Internet Security 2012 and also Evernote for VAIO.

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www7.pcmag.com)

Sony VAIO E15 (Source: www7.pcmag.com)

The model that we’ve talked about will set you back about $599, but there’s also a more affordable entry-level variant that costs $449. This version is powered by a Sandy Bridge-based Intel Core i3-2370M processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, Intel HD 3000 and a smaller 320GB Serial Ata hard drive.

If you’re interested in the performance of the battery, you might want to know that the one in this Sony VAIO E15 is able to last for about four and a half hours when tested with LAPTOP Battery Test which consists of doing some web surfing over a wireless network. This isn’t a great performance since the average in this segment is of about five hours or so.


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