Notebooks, Tablets, Smartphones, Wearables And Gadgets

In-depth product reviews and news of notebooks, tablets, smartphones, wearable technologies and gadgets. We're now living in a contextually-aware computing world and mobile devices can not only help us enjoy the ride but create and capture new experiences as well.

You don't need a crystal ball to figure out Apple will release a new iPhone handset every year. It's been doing it since the original came out in 2007, and starting with the iPhone 3G, Apple's naming convention has consisted of introducing a new model number every two years, with "s" variants in between. There was the iPhone 3GS in 2009, iPhone 4s in 2011 (the first to use a lowercase "s"), iPhone 5s (and iPhone 5c) in 2013, and now the iPhone 6s/6s Plus. The one thing that's been true of each "s" upgrade is they've all been faster than their predecessors while retaining the same overall exterior design. That's again true of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, though there's quite a bit more here... Read more...
Competing with Apple in the mobile space isn't rocket science, it's just a matter of sticking to a proven formula for success -- build a premium device with superior specs than the one Apple is selling, inject it with Android, and then undercut the iWhatever in price. That's not to say Apple is the only premium slate target of opportunity but we'd surmise Apple would consider it the sincerest for of flattery anyway. Incidentally, we've just described the ASUS ZenPad S 8.0. It's a well designed Android tablet with Intel inside, and it boasts better specs than the iPad mini 3. It's also less expensive -- as configured (see table below), the model we're reviewing runs a penny shy of $300, which... Read more...
Laptops are mostly static devices. What we mean by that is, for the vast majority of laptops, what you get at the time of purchase is what you get, and that's that. Unlike a desktop system, in which each individual component is upgradeable without too much fuss, only certain parts of a laptop are user replaceable, at least without some serious deconstruction and maybe even a bit of modding . Typically, laptop makers provide easy access to the RAM and storage, though everything else is either soldered in place or otherwise proprietary for various reasons (whitebooks not withstanding, of course). Since laptop purchases are largely one-and-done transactions, it's important to buy the highest end... Read more...
Love it or hate it, Apple's MacBook Air and MacBook Pro lines have remained a watermark for which the majority of notebook manufacturers aspire to, whether it's enthusiast gaming companies like Razer with their Blade, or mainstream vendors like Dell via their outstanding XPS 13. Enter Asus. They've utilized their ZenBook line to satisfy a wide range of demographics and price points, but their UX501 -- with its "Pro" designation, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960m GPU, and 4K touchscreen display -- is a Zenbook aspiring to meet and exceed Apple's flagship notebook, and look stunning while doing it.  As you'll see, in many ways, it's mission accomplished...Laptops can be sexy additions to your... Read more...
In November, Amazon announced the latest addition to its hardware line-up, the Amazon Echo. The Echo smart speaker doubles as a digital assistant and home entertainment device. It’s an always-connected, always-available Siri or Cortana-like device designed for your home that can provide answers to common questions, play music, provide traffic updates, control your lights, read audiobooks, and much more. Because it’s tied to your Amazon account, the Echo can also be used to reorder products you’ve previously purchased from Amazon. Although the Echo was announced in November, it was available for purchase on an invite-only basis from Amazon. Seven months after it was announced, Amazon made its... Read more...
We've got a fairly well defined set of expectations with today's current crop of ultrabooks. What you trade away in performance, you usually gain in convenience with these ultra-light, ultra-portable, and easy to carry laptops. We wouldn't make an ultrabook our primary gaming system or video-encoding cruncher, for example, but we would definitely carry one around with us for everyday computing tasks like Web browsing, managing spreadsheets, some Netflix, and maybe a bit of light gaming (sorry, Witcher 3 fans). We were pleasantly surprised to see Acer's Aspire S7-393 perform so well on most of the benchmarks we tossed its way, however, as you'll see on the pages ahead. This ultrabook is not... Read more...
Acer is hoping to attract users who want flexibility with the company’s latest Aspire R 13 convertible notebook. Featuring their semi-unique "Ezel Aero" hinge, the R 13 can convert between various notebook and tablet style modes, giving you six different usage positions in a thin and light design.The Acer Aspire R 13 measures less than an inch thick and weighs just over 3 pounds. You’ll find a 13.3-inch touch screen display with two resolution options depending on model chosen. This display is affixed to a hinge at the sides which enables it to rotate 180-degrees. For greater stability, Acer uses a forged U-frame around the display and encases the touchscreen and lid in a sheet of Corning Gorilla... Read more...
The engineering wizards at Apple have designed a laptop that's lighter than Air...the MacBook Air, that is. It's the new MacBook (early 2015 edition), a forward-thinking laptop that measures just 11.04 inches (W) by 7.74 inches (D) by 0.14-0.52 inches (H), and weighs a mere 2.03 pounds. The super thin and light profile is what prompted Apple's clever tagline, "Light. Years ahead."At 2.38 pounds, the 11.6-inch MacBook Air is slightly heavier than the 12-inch MacBook we'll be showing you here. It's also marginally thicker at its highest point (0.68 inches), though a tad thinner where it tapers off (0.11 inches). Comparing the size and weight of the two really comes down to splitting hairs and isn't... Read more...
The rate at which the industry is pumping out smartphones these days is staggering. Even more impressive is the rate at which truly outstanding phones are shipping, even from names that weren't significant just a few years ago. BLU, Xiaomi, OnePlus, and ASUS (just to name a few) have all produced handsets in recent months that rival the best offerings from Apple, LG, Samsung, and other historical greats. It signals a shift in the industry where we've reached a certain level of market maturity at the hardware, software and ecosystem level. It's just that much easier to launch a smartphone in market than it was a few years ago.The ASUS ZenFone 2 is one of the more interesting devices to hit the... Read more...
Dell’s Alienware gaming team impressed us with its Area 51 desktop earlier this year and we’ve been impatiently awaiting the 2015 version of the Alienware 15 mobile gamer ever since. The laptop is finally here, and there’s a twist: Instead of sending a money-is-no-object configuration (like it did with the Area 51), the company sent us a more budget-friendly Alienware 15 – assuming, that is, that your budget is in the $1,500 range.At $1,499.99, the Alienware 15 we checked out is in the middle of the price range for Dell’s 15-inch Alienware gamer laptop series. Gamers with tighter budgets can pick up an less powerful Alienware 15 for $1,199.99; the high end starts at $2,399.99. With the exception... Read more...
AMD previously only teased bits of detail regarding their forthcoming 6th Generation A-Series APU, code named "Carrizo." We heard from AMD about this next generation, highly integrated mobile architecture as far back as CES 2015 in January and then again in February and more recently with AMD's HSA (Heterogenous System Architecture) 1.0 spec roll-out in March. It's safe to say AMD has been beating the drum on Carrizo with a regular cadence for the better part of 6 months now and today the company is finally going to full kimono on all details of their upcoming processor silicon and its platform. Carrizo takes the fight to AMD's primary competitor in the lucrative premium notebook space, targeting... Read more...
Back in early January, during our coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show, we gave you all a first glimpse of the Asus ZenFone 2. For those unfamiliar with the ZenFone 2, it is an Intel-powered smartphone, rocking Android Lollipop, that’s compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, and other cellular networks that utilize GSM technology, like Straight Talk, MetroPCS, and Cricket Wireless among others.Asus Offers The ZenFone 2 In A Handful Of Different ColorsA couple of days ago, Asus held an event to officially launch the ZenFone 2 and announce availability in the U.S., and we left with one of the flagship versions of the phone in-hand. The ZenFone 2 pictured here is packing a quad-core Intel Atom... Read more...
Asus unveiled its latest addition to the Transformer series at CES in January, the Transformer Book Chi. Available in three sizes, the new Transformer Book Chi Series features a 2-in-1 detachable laptop design. Their flagship Transformer Book T300 Chi offers a 12.5-inch screen, an Intel Core M processor, and a fanless cooling solution. The more compact T100 Chi is a 10.1-inch model that promises all-day battery life. Prices for the Transformer Book Chi Series range from $399 to $899. Today, we’re going to take a hands-on look at the T300 Chi which is offered in two models starting at $699. We have the high-end T300CHI-FH011H model on hand for testing. This model is priced at $899 and features... Read more...
At this point, it is clear that virtually all of the major mobile device manufacturers are laser focused on the wearables market.  While one could argue that the war for the wrist began a couple of years ago, most of the smartwatches that have shipped thus far have served only a small niche. Early adopters have peeked at the Moto 360, Samsung Gear, and Sony SmartWatch, but none have sold at a clip that would make the mainstream really take notice. To date, the smartwatch has been seen as a nifty luxury, but hardly a necessity in the way that a smartphone is viewed. Now that Apple's involved, however, the question looms larger: is the wearable market poised to explode, or will it exist only... Read more...
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