laptop notebook battery

Archive for November, 2007

Review: Gateway M-150XL QS —Performance Art Boost

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Review: Gateway M-150XL QS —Performance Art Boost

Laptop buyers looking for solid power at a reasonable price would do well to consider Gateway’s M-150XL, a modest upgrade over the M-150X released only a few months ago, but offering considerably better performance almost exactly the same price. This 15.4-inch widescreen notebook finds upgrades galore by adding a slot-loading DVD writer, 802.11n Wi-Fi, and an HDMI port to the mix. Crucially, integrated graphics have been dropped in favor of an ATI HD2400 graphics card, which provides acceptable, though not outstanding, gaming performance. A fingerprint reader and webcam are now also added to the mix. Despite all the new extras, the M-150XL still weighs the same 6.3 pounds as before and sucked an extra 20 minutes of battery life over the last model (though it’s still under 2 hours). Even better: We got 30 percent better performance on general apps over the 150X.  —Christopher Null

WIRED Available in multiple colors, the garnet red model offers striking, almost festive, good looks. Benchmarks are exceptional at this price level. Useful media control buttons above the keyboard.

TIRED Mouse buttons feel loose, like they’re about to break off. Average screen brightness. On the heavy side for a 15.4-inch machine. All-plastic case has a little too much (troubling) flexibility.


Family’s Laptop Missing From Checked Luggage

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Each day this holiday weekend more than 100,000 people will travel through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and most of them will check baggage.

Most people expect their stuff to make it safely to the destination but for one Minnesota family that didn’t happen. Somewhere between check-in at MSP and luggage pickup on the other end their brand new laptop disappeared.

For the Dillons of Edina, Minn. it was supposed to be the perfect vacation for this family of seven. When you travel with five kids it’s usually easier to check as much luggage as possible.

“My carry on bag wasn’t big enough,” said 14-year-old Samantha Dillon. So she checked her new laptop in her suitcase. When she got to San Diego it was gone.

“I thought someone might have stolen it at the airport maybe,” she said.

In her suitcase was a notice from the Transportation Safety Administration. Agents had opened her bag and searched it so Samantha’s father immediately called them.

“They basically said we’ll send you a claim form and a check for lost and found at the airport,” said Tom Dillon.

The Dillons filed a claim and got a notice back that their claim was denied.

A TSA spokesperson said that MSP International uses surveillance cameras to watch screeners check the checked luggage. After viewing the tape the TSA denied the claim.

“To me it curious that they need to have video camera on their screeners so obviously they’ve had a lot of problems with this type of activity,” said Tom Dillon.

The TSA insists it doesn’t have a problem and that these numbers prove it:

Since 2002, 269 screeners out of 100,000 TSA screeners in the U.S. have been fired for theft.

Tom Dillon interprets those numbers differently. He’s so mad he plans to sue the TSA over the $600 laptop.

The TSA has also suggested the family file a claim with Northwest Airlines, the carrier they were flying.

However, fine print from Northwest Airline’s luggage policy that explains the company’s zero liability policy for computers.


Laptop of the gods

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

LAPTOPS are truly personal computers. Not only are they often used exclusively by one person, but they can represent that person in public.

Your ideal laptop therefore needs to be attractive as well as powerful.

BenQ has released a new notebook computer that might meet this criteria.

The Joybook S41 has a 14.1-inch UltraVivid widescreen colour display which is bright and glossy. This comes in handy when viewing web pages and enjoying other digital content, such as pictures, videos and DVDs.

Powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T7100 processor, the S41 (priced at $1999) comes with 512MB RAM on board, though this can be upgraded to 2GB. Likewise, its 80GB hard drive can be upgraded to twice that capacity.

As for appearance, the S41 scores top marks. It has a coloured metal cover that gives the device some character, thanks to the subtle pattern, but maintains a professional look.

Opening the lid reveals brushed-aluminium palm rests, a full-sized keyboard and a responsive track pad with left and right button controls.

Typing on its keyboard is comfortable because the layout of the keys is designed to put commonly used functions within easy reach. These include cursor controls and Page Up, Page Down and Delete buttons.

Thanks to the nVIDIA GeForce 8600M GS graphics card, the S41 can render sophisticated 3D visual effects from the latest PC games. Also built into the S41 is nVIDIA PureVideo HD technology, which improves picture clarity and enables smoother playback.

Connectivity is one of the S41’s strengths. There are four USB ports, a Firewire (IEEE 1394) port as well as an Ethernet and modem connection.

Along the front edge of the laptop are headphone/microphone sockets and an audio input socket to connect a stereo or portable music player.

A five-in-one memory-card slot makes transferring digital images, videos and other files possible without the need to connect another device with a USB cable.

An external monitor or a projector can also be hooked up to the S41 for presentations or viewing movies using the 15-pin D-sub connector on the left side of the notebook.

There is also a built-in microphone on the edge of the palm rest, next to a bank of LEDs, to indicate wireless and Bluetooth connection.

This computer also features an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) output for a high-quality, single-cable connection between the S41 and other high-definition equipment such as projectors, TVs and monitors at up to 1080p resolution.

Users will also notice a 1.3-megapixel QEye camera above the screen that comes with an internal microphone and noise-suppression technology. Connect tested the camera with Skype video calls and found the quality to be excellent.

Sound quality on the S41 is also boosted with SRS TruSurround XT to make movies and games come alive.

The S41 is wifi compatible all the way up to the latest 802.11n standard, and can also handle wireless file and data exchange with Bluetooth 2.0 on board.

A laptop computer also has to handle the demands of day-to-day usage. The S41 has been put through rigorous durability tests, including a 1m drop to the ground with 50kg of downward pressure put on the top cover.


The holiday shopper’s guide to laptops

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

In fact, though, it’s not that tough to figure out which laptop to buy, and then get a great deal on it. Follow our advice, and you won’t go wrong.

The most basic decision you’ll make, of course, is whether to go with a Mac or a PC. As with religion, this is a personal choice upon which we won’t impinge. So we’ll start off with advice for a PC, then provide information for buying a Mac laptop. We’ll end our guide with tips for finding laptop bargains.

If you buy a Windows laptop

Let’s start with the basics — the processor. It’s this simple: Buy a laptop with dual-core processor, such as Intel’s Core Duo mobile or Core 2 Duo mobile (the Core 2 Duo is faster than the Core Duo), or the AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual Core processor or AMD Turion 64 X2 Dual Core processor (the Turion is faster than the Athlon).

For most users, the speed of the processor itself doesn’t matter too much as long as it’s dual-core. Dual-core processors are faster than single cores — particularly when multitasking — and save power as well, so you’ll get longer battery life with them.

You may also find laptops with the Intel Core 2 Extreme mobile processor, which has four cores instead of two. As a practical matter, four cores won’t make a dramatic difference compared to two cores, considering that applications haven’t yet been written to take advantage of four cores. So if a four-core laptop costs a good deal more than a two-core one, it’s probably not worth the extra money.

For RAM, consider 1GB a minimum, and get more if you can afford it. A 2GB laptop will have sufficient power for just about anything a typical user will do, although you might want to opt for a 4GB laptop for a hardcore gamer.

Most people overlook one of the most important laptop specs — graphics processing. Frequently, laptops use an integrated graphics controller rather than a separate graphics card, which can be problematic not only for gamers, but even for those running Windows Vista Home Premium.

Unless you know the recipient is going to stick to computing basics such as e-mail and word processing, it’s a good idea to get a notebook with a dedicated graphics controller, which can enhance such activities as managing a photo library or watching videos online. Gamers need a higher-end card, such as the Nvidia GeForce 8700M GT. If your recipient doesn’t play games, though, a card such as the Nvidia GeForce 8400M GS will be fine.

As for how much graphics memory you need, you might want 512MB for gamers, while for general computing 256MB or even 128MB will do.

If you expect that your gift recipient’s graphics needs will grow and that he might ultimately want to have more than one graphics processor in his laptop, look for machines that have Scalable Link Interface (SLI), which allows the laptop to use multiple graphics chips.

The rest of the laptop specs are fairly straightforward. You’ll want as big a hard disk as you can reasonably afford (your recipient can always add external storage later), a DVD burner and a minimum one-year warranty. As a general rule, the larger the screen, the heavier the laptop and the shorter the battery life, so keep that in mind when buying. If your laptop recipient is a road warrior who spends a lot of time on long airplane flights, consider upgrading to a longer-lasting battery.