The Prizefight scoring system is as follows: Each judge rates on a zero to five scale. At the end of each round, we will take an average of the three judges' scores. The final score for each laptop will be an average of all five rounds. … Read more
While last week's MacBook Pro upgrades were mostly minor, and entirely under the hood, I felt it was worth getting my hands on one of the new systems to benchmark and compare with the models we saw earlier in 2011 (read the full review of the fall 2011 15-inch MacBook Pro).
Almost as soon as these system refreshes were announced, I started receiving inquiries via Twitter, e-mail, and other forms of electronic communication (sorry, no telegrams) asking if it was worth upgrading to the new MacBook Pro. Some of these questions were about upgrading from the most recent Pro, others asked about pre-2011 models, and one was from a reader who was considering a MacBook Pro, but wanted to know if a further refresh was coming sometime in the next six months.
To best answer these, it's easiest to start by looking at exactly what's new.… Read more
Recently a family member asked me to help her buy a new laptop. She'd budgeted $500 for the purchase and sent me off to the local big-box store to pick one out. (Now that's trust!)
I came back with a shiny new Samsung and an apology: "Sorry, I couldn't stick to your budget. Here's your change." The machine had cost only $349.
These days, for users with modest needs, that's all you need to spend on a nicely equipped laptop. In fact, you might not even need to spend that much: Newegg has … Read more
Within the space of a few short weeks, we've seen the first wave of Ultrabook laptops come to life, making good on Intel's promise to create an entirely new laptop category with the unstated, but unmistakable goal of unseating Apple's MacBook Air as the king of ultrathin laptops.
We've taken plenty of shots over the past several months at the entire Ultrabook concept, calling it an Intel marketing push, rather than an organic new product category; joking about the $300 million investment Intel is said to be making with hardware partners to develop systems; and even making fun of the name (why not "superbook" or "skinnytop"?)
But then a funny thing happened. We got our hands on the first three Ultrabooks across the finish line, from Acer, Lenovo, and Asus, and they were all more than pretty good. In fact, we were downright impressed. None was a perfect product, and there needs to be some more-aggressive pricing (the Acer gets it right, coming in at $899, admittedly with some corners cut), but there's a good chance that the next year or two will see a wholesale change in what consumers expect from laptops, with sub-1-inch systems becoming the norm, and anything larger looking terribly old and clunky.
We've rounded up the first wave of Ultrabooks, as well as the MacBook Air, for you to peruse below. As of right now, the general office consensus is that among the Ultrabooks, the Lenovo wins for design, the Acer for price, and the Asus for overall value. But none outclasses the MacBook Air, and our advice to Ultrabook makers is simple. You can't create a laptop that's just about as good as a MacBook Air and just about as expensive. You need to either make something that's significantly better, or significantly less expensive. … Read more
Whether you're throwing a big Halloween party or just planning a simple night in pretending you're not home and hiding from trick-or-treaters, you'll need a little cinematic entertainment, even if it's just as background noise.
My go-to used to be the nonstop scary movies on AMC, but in recent years the quality has taken a steep dive, abandoning true genre classics such as "Night of the Demon" for pointless schlock (to wit, endless repeats of "Halloween 4-6").
Fortunately, a high-quality alternative has presented itself in the form of the Netflix streaming service, which continues to add great atmospheric fright films on a regular basis.… Read more
The latest generation of Dell XPS laptops, with the "z" designation, kicked off with the 15-inch XPS 15z. Dell claimed that laptop was the world's thinnest 15-inch laptop (Windows laptop, that is), and the new 14-inch XPS 14z makes a similar claim, again with a few asterisks to keep in mind. With the XPS 14z, Dell says that this is the "thinnest fully featured laptop on the planet." What does that mean?
According to Dell, it's a laptop with an internal optical drive and discrete graphics. More impressively, this is a 14-inch laptop screen in a body with the smaller footprint of a 13-inch laptop. We like more screen in less body, but it also has one unfortunate side effect. … Read more
Ever since getting some hands-on time with my buddy Doug's MacBook Air, I've been itching to ditch my clunky, heavy, slowpoke laptop in favor of a super-thin, super-light ultraportable.
Why not just buy an Air, you ask? As a card-carrying cheapskate, I just can't justify the "Apple tax"--no matter how cool the product may be. (The Air series starts at $999, and that's for the rather cramped 11-inch model.) And with all due respect to Mac fans, I don't care for the Mac OS.
Thankfully, I think I've found my ultraportable: … Read more
When the history of laptops in 2011 is written, it will be said that this was the year of the ultraportable (not to be confused with the Ultrabook). We've seen more 11.6-inch laptops than ever before, along with a handful of 12.1-inch and 12.5-inch alternatives.
Below you'll find a quick roundup of some of the best ultraportables of this year, along with a few high-profile near-misses. In the coming months, keep an eye out for more high-end models, such as the 11-inch Asus Zenbook UX21, which will start at $999. … Read more
Apple MacBook Pro shipments might be hobbled by the unexpected closure of some of Catcher Technology's manufacturing plant facilities in Suzhou, China, according to a new report.
According to a Catcher filing with the Taiwan Stock Exchange yesterday, local authorities in Suzhou over the weekend closed some of Catcher's computer chassis production facilities after local residents complained of "odors" emanating from factories. In the note to investors, Catcher said yesterday that it plans to fix the machines causing the problem, and expects them to be back up and running by the end of this month.
However, … Read more
While many of our most-read laptop reviews are of household name systems such as Apple's MacBook or HP's Envy, the single most-read laptop review on CNET right now is the Toshiba Portege R835. It may not be as popular on college campuses or coffee shops, but we absolutely loved this 13-inch laptop's near-perfect mix of design, components, and most importantly, price.
Even better, retailer Best Buy has an exclusive configuration that includes an Intel Core i5 CPU, 640GB HDD, 4GB of RAM, Intel Wireless Display, and even a WiMax antenna, all for $729. That version, the Toshiba Portege R835-P70, was easy to recommend as a great budget alternative to Apple's 13-inch MacBook Pro, or any number of other more expensive 13-inch laptops. … Read more