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.

Asus announced the super slim Zenbook UX305 during the IFA trade show in Berlin in September. This ultrabook will be available in two models: one with a 1920x1080 IPS display and one with a QHD+ display that boasts a resolution of 3200x1800. Asus claims the latter model is the world’s slimmest 13.3-inch QHD+ laptop. The UX305 is powered by the new Intel Core M processor which was built for ultra-thin, fanless form factors. The Core M offers some significant advances for both power consumption and performance and enables the thin design found on the UX305. This ultrabook features an all-aluminum chassis that measures 12.3mm at its thinnest point and weighs just 2.6 pounds. Like other Zenbooks,... Read more...
Dell took the wraps off a fresh, new revamp of their popular XPS 13 ultrabook line, out at CES in Las Vegas last week. The new machine was widely considered best-of-show for core computing products and racked-up awards left and right from major publications, including accolades from us here. Dell seemingly hit all the high notes with this machine, from its new 14nm Intel Core i5-5200U Broadwell-U processor power plant, to its absolutely stunning 13.3-inch 3200X1800 IPS display that's strapped with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT and nearly completely devoid of bezel on its side and top edges.  Then of course there's Dell's copious use of carbon fiber composite material... Read more...
ASUS is a relative newcomer to the smartphone market in the US, but they have had worldwide presence for quite some time. Overseas customers have long enjoyed access to devices such as a giant 7-inch smartphone that makes American phablets look tiny by comparison. Even though most consumers are no longer put off by holding up 5 - 6 inch phones to their head, 7 inches is stretching it. So, when it came time to make inroads here in the states, ASUS went a slightly different route with the Padfone X Mini. As was the case with the Padfone X, released earlier this year, the Mini is a 2-in-1 device: it's a smartphone and tablet. The two don't work separately, however.... Read more...
We're willing to concede that size matters, but too often in tech manufacturers take advantage of that notion by offering multiple size options of the same product without upping the ante in any other way. Without shaming specific manufacturers by pointing out some examples, let's just say that we've seen both knock-off and name-brand laptop and tablet makers offer bigger size versions of the same product without even bumping up the resolution, let alone upgrading the hardware inside. Bah, humbug!That's not a concern with Amazon has refreshed Fire HDX 8.9 tablet. It's not simply a bigger version of the Fire HD 7, a more affordable and rather underwhelming alternative (see our review), and is... Read more...
When Microsoft first released Windows 8, the company hoped that hardware manufacturers would get creative with form factors and customers would be enticed by the intriguing new PC designs. One of the clear leaders to emerge since Windows 8's launch is the Lenovo Yoga series of laptops, which fold in half to mimic tablets or can be used in tent and stand modes. A similar approach that has also seen some success are 2-in-1s that essentially split in half, so you can use the display as a tablet without dragging around the weight of the keyboard. The Acer Aspire Switch 10 is one of these 2-in-1 detachable systems. The selling point for these tiny, $450-and-under types is versatility:... Read more...
As it does every so often, Amazon recently updated and revamped its line of Fire tablets to include upgraded models and a somewhat simplified naming scheme. The new models abandon the "Kindle" branding and are now simply known as Fire HDX 8.9, Fire HD 7, and Fire HD 6. To flesh out the lineup, Amazon still sells a Fire HDX and a Fire HD Kids Edition, which is really a Fire HD 7 or 6 with a protective case, accidental damage protection, and a collection of pre-loaded apps targeted at a younger audience. It's admittedly a bit confusing at first, but assuming Amazon sticks with its new branding, it will make sense in the long run. Simply put, the number in the model designates the screen size,... Read more...
Most are in agreement that Apple's iPad Air 2 is one of the finest tablets ever produced, if not the best out there, period. Certainly, it's not difficult to make that case -- after all, the latest 9.7-inch iPad is thinner than its predecessor at just 6.1mm thick, wicked fast with its custom A8X System-on-Chip (SoC), and incredibly light at just under a pound. Toss in a gorgeous display and a set of ancillary features that have been upgraded for this latest release, and even the most stringent critics can't help but pile on the praise. That's the easy part. What's a bit more difficult to address is whether or not you should upgrade to the iPad Air 2. Obviously the answer depends in part... Read more...
The PC laptop market is a funny place. Good laptops are fairly easy to find, but great laptops are staggeringly rare. This is true even at the boutique end of the market, where manufacturers have a tendency to choose powerful components, but cram them into a chassis that can't handle the heat without sounding like a jet turbine, or pick great, quiet hardware but opt for a sub-par 1080p screen whose quality leaves something to be desired. The Asus G751 is not a good laptop. The G751 is a great laptop. It is, in fact, the single best gaming laptop I have ever reviewed. If you're in the market for a system of this type, we hope you read on. This machine is powered by the excellent,... Read more...
For the past few years, Intel has promised that its various low-power Atom-based processors would usher in a wave of low-cost Android and Windows mobile products that could compete with ARM-based solutions from its major competitors. And for years, we've seen no more than a trickle of hardware, often with limited availability and/or questionable pricing. Now, that's finally beginning to change. Intel's Bay Trail and Merrifield SoCs are starting to show up in attractive, full-featured, sub-$200 devices, and we've got one of them on the test bench today, the Acer Iconia Tab 8, along with a competing tablet from Dell, that we've shown you previously, the new for 2014 Venue 8. Acer Iconia... Read more...
When introducing the iPhone 6 Plus, Apple described it as the “biggest advancement in iPhone history.” Naturally, the use of “biggest” was quite intentional, a pun almost. Prior to 2014, Apple’s entire iPhone line had only ever had two screen sizes: 3.5-inch and 4-inch. Those sizes were perfectly acceptable in their day, but of late, the market has asked for more. More screen real estate, more pixels, more horsepower and more battery life. While Samsung, LG, HTC, Nokia, Sony, and just about every other smartphone maker on the planet introduced larger and larger smartphones, Apple held steady. Samsung pushed the very limits of what we’d label... Read more...
Today, Apple unveiled the upcoming iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, ending months of speculation over whether or not the company would ever move to larger screens or higher PPI. The answer, it turns out, is yes -- the iPhone 6 will pack a 4.7-inch screen while the iPhone 6 Plus has a 5.5-inch screen. Resolution on the iPhone 6 is 1134x750 (326 PPI) while the iPhone 6 Plus hits 1920x1080 and 401 PPI. These figures aren't as high as some Android phones, but we've already hit the point of diminishing marginal returns since the original iPhone 4 launched the concept of a Retina Display. Unless you have better than 20/20 vision, a display is always Retina at a certain distance -- and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will... Read more...
Bold. That’s the word that comes to mind when we consider Amazon’s Fire Phone. In a world where precious little has happened in the smartphone space over the past few years, at least in terms of groundbreaking innovation, Amazon’s entrance provides all the spark you need to sit up and pay attention. These days, a major OEM doesn’t just enter the smartphone space. Apple and Samsung have dominated market share and profits for years, squeezing BlackBerry out almost entirely and putting HTC on life support. Nokia, meanwhile, is stutter-stepping as Microsoft begins a massive series of layoffs that’ll no doubt impact the future of Lumia going forward. So what’s Amazon,... Read more...
ASUS recently refreshed its 7-inch MeMO Pad 7 tablet with Intel’s new Atom Z3745 Bay Trail-based processor. Having overcome its rocky start, the latest generation of Atom processors is building a reputation for power efficiency and computational chops. Despite its early days in ill-fated netbooks, today's Atom looks to be a good fit for tablets and smartphones and sports new-found graphics horsepower that is up to the task for these types of devices. We checked out the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ME176C, which comes in at a relatively affordable $149.99, in light of competing tablets in this category. ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ME176C Specifications & Features  OS:  Android 4.4.2 (KitKat)  Processor:... Read more...
AMD has had a tough time competing with Intel on the desktop lately, but when it comes to mobile technology, in the notebook arena, performance, value and power efficiency are measured against a very different yardstick.  That's not to say that CPU throughput and IPC isn't important in a notebook, not by a long shot, but multimedia performance in these highly integrated designs can matter much more than desktop designs where discrete graphics engines are easily accommodated. Back in January of this year, we covered AMD's launch of their Kaveri core-based A8-7600 APU.  Targeted for desktops and with integrated AMD GCN graphics on board, Kaveri also had a number of optimizations... Read more...
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