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The 5 best Ultrabooks of 2017: top thin and light laptops reviewed

Best Ultrabooks

If it hasn’t been made abundantly clear to you already, the best Ultrabook is so astounding that everyone from all corners of the computing industry wishes they had made it.

  • Ultrabook not for you? These are the best laptops across every category

All of the top Ultrabooks on this list are justified in their commonly premium price points. What’s more, with the aid of Intel’s 8th-generation Kaby Lake Refresh processors, they’re about to get 40% faster in the months to come.

So, without further ado, here they are:

In terms of looks, specs and pricing, the Dell XPS 13 is nothing short of a miracle. Once again, Dell has done the universe a favor by squeezing a 13.3-inch InfinityEdge display into a measly 11-inch figure, and weighing in at only 2.9 pounds (1.29kg), the XPS 13 is blessed with extravagance. The Dell XPS 13 not only bears a lengthy battery life, but it’s even sold in a variety of different flavors, all the way up to an i7-7700U model.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

When we think of Razer, instantly our heads turn to gaming. But while a case can be made for the Razer Blade Stealth as a gaming notebook, the lack of a discrete GPU suggests otherwise. Instead, it’s a bonafide Ultrabook, here in the flesh. Little over a half-inch thin and less than 3 pounds light, the Razer Blade Stealth is made better by its unique potential for upgradeability via the optional Razer Core external graphics card enclosure.

Read the full review: Razer Blade Stealth

Best Ultrabooks

It’s no secret that Apple has all but neglected the MacBook Air recently, but in some cases a Windows Ultrabook can be just as good, if not better. Take the Asus ZenBook UX310, for example, the long awaited follow-up to the award-winning ZenBook UX305. Donning a 7th generation Intel Kaby Lake processor, a 178-degree rotating QHD+ screen, a USB-C port an and an all-aluminum shell, this truly a candidate for the MacBook Air’s throne.

Read the full review: Asus ZenBook UX310

  • This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Asus ZenBook UX310.

best ultrabook

No, it’s not another Surface Book – this is a full-on traditional laptop (albeit with a touchscreen) designed by Microsoft. From the Italian imported Alcantara fabric material decorating the keyboard to its gorgeous 13.5-inch, 3:2 PixelSense display, there’s no questioning the Surface Laptop’s appeal at face value, but dig even deeper and you’ll find a notebook that’s arguably more competent than Apple’s more expensive 12-inch MacBook.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Laptop

  • This product is only available in the US and UK as of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Microsoft Surface Laptop.

As a follow-up to the Yoga 900, we couldn’t have asked for better than the Yoga 910. Shaking up the style of its predecessor completely in favor of an all-aluminum unibody shell, this is a 2-in-1 laptop that’s as fashionable as it is utilitarian. Though it’s heavier and colder to the touch, the fact that Lenovo decided to keep the Yoga 900’s same frame size and fit a larger 14-inch screen inside it is a design marvel.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga 910

  • This product is only available in the US as of this writing. UK and Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the HP Spectre.

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

      

The Best Laptop 2017: Our pick of the 10 best laptops you can buy this year

Update: It isn’t the thinnest or most stylish laptop you can buy, but the Acer Swift 3 is one of the best laptops today. Offering a whole lot of bang for the buck in terms of performance and inputs, read on to number 11 to find out more about the Acer Swift 3!

If you’re looking to discover what is the best laptop to buy before the end of 2017, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve tested hundreds of the latest laptops, including all of the best models from the most popular and trusted brands, so that you can be sure you’re getting the best laptop for you at a price that makes sense.

So whether you’re after a thin and light laptop to throw in a bag every day, a desktop replacement to stay at home, a gaming laptop to have fun with in the evenings, a 2-in-1 laptop that doubles as a touchscreen tablet or a cheapo Chromebook – we’ve got lots of recommendations for you!

Rest assured, while there are 15 laptops in this list, the order they’re placed in doesn’t particularly matter. We’ve included something for everyone, starting with the Dell XPS 13 which we think is the out-and-out best laptop in the world right now. And underneath that you’ll find a whole range of our top recommendations – so whether the one you like the look of is at number 1 or number 15 – rest assured every laptop in this list is worth buying and gets a solid recommendation from us.

What’s more, our funky price comparison tools will show you where you can buy each one for the absolute cheapest price, so you won’t have to trawl through the web comparing prices. If you want to see a more comprehensive list of prices and retailers, simply click the ‘view all prices’ link on each widget!

The best laptops of 2017:

Slim, light, powerful and majestic – Dell’s 2017 flagship XPS 13 is the best laptop in the world. If you’re after a brilliant all-rounder with powerful performance, a superb screen and extremely slim dimensions it simply cannot be beaten. This laptop squeezes a 13.3-inch ‘Infinity Edge’ screen into an 11-inch frame- that means it’s the smallest/slimmest 13-inch laptop out there, with the screen stretching almost all the way to the edge of the device. Couple that with Intel’s latest Kaby Lake Core i7 and Core i5 processors, plus the availability of a multi-use USB-C port, standard USB 3.0 and SD slots, and what you end up with is the worlds’ most popular Windows laptop. You can buy this one in many flavours too – the most expensive versions have super high-res multi-touch screens plus Core i7 processors and loads of memory and storage, but you can save money in several steps which include opting for a non-touch full HD screen, Core i5 processor and less memory/storage etc. But rest assured, whichever version of the Dell XPS 13 you go for, it’ll be best in class and well worth the money.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

If you love the look of the Dell XPS 13 but you don’t want to pay the steep asking price, the Asus Zenbook UX310UQ is the best alternative. It costs substantially less – in fact it’s usually about half the price – while retaining a fabulous screen, excellent build quality and looks, plus top performance for everyday tasks. Because of this, it’s also a viable alternative to the 2017 Macbook if you want something super slim that’s not a Mac and doesn’t cost as much. Like most laptops of this kind, it comes in various specifications so the cheaper versions have Intel Core i3 CPUs and full HD screens while the most expensive options come with a super high res display and Intel Core i5. Whichever one you go for, though, you’re getting a fantastic laptop. Asus has long been a great brand for offering great value on these kinds of laptops so it’s not much of a surprise that in 2017 we find ourselves recommending another Asus laptop in this price bracket.

Read the full review: Asus Zenbook UX310UA
See more like this: The best Ultrabooks 2017

If you’re after a cheap laptop that offers something a bit special, look no further than the Lenovo Yoga Book 2017. As with all Yoga devices, the screen folds flat so you can use it either as a tablet or a laptop. To add more versatility, Lenovo has now added the option to buy it with either Windows 10 or Android 6.0 onboard – which one you choose will depend how you’re more likely to use the device. The screen on this thing defies the cheap asking price and the keyboard and capacitive touch-keyboard are both fantastic too. This is a great option if you want something cheap for basic computing tasks, for creating art using the built-in Wacom digitizer or a train device for watching movies. But for more heavy lifting you’d be better off choosing one of the options above as the Intel Atom CPU in this thing is great at saving power and making the battery last for ages but not so good at super speedy processing.

Read the full review: Lenovo Yoga Book
See more like this:
The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017

If you’re after the latest and greatest laptop from Apple, welcome to the 13-inch Macbook Pro with touchbar. It’s the best laptop Apple has ever made, and builds new features into the classic design. Of course the headline feature is the touchbar – it’s a thin OLED display at the top of the keyboard which can be used for any number of things, whether that be auto-suggesting words as you type or offering Touch ID so you can log in with just your fingerprint. If you’re a massive fan of the Macbook Pro 2017 you’ll be happy with this model but there are some serious reasons why you should consider one of the Windows alternatives. For a start, this laptop is very expensive for what is is, especially considering the better value alternatives. On top of this, it’s not as powerful, the screen is lower-res versus the competition and isn’t touchscreen friendly, plus the battery is a bit disappointing too. So if you’re open to switching to a PC, definitely consider the XPS 13 as a more modern, cheaper alternative. But if you’re a steadfast Apple die hard, this is definitely the best laptop for you!

Read the full review: Apple Macbook with touchbar (2017)
See more like this: The best Macs and Macbooks 2017

Part of a new generation of Max-Q gaming laptops in 2017, the Asus ROG Zephyrus is both ridiculously powerful and astonishingly thin and light. Make no mistake, this thing is large compared to a Macbook Pro or Dell XPS 13, but compared to gaming laptops of the past this effort from Asus is something of a holy grail achievement. Your expectations of a 15-inch gaming laptop will never be the same after seeing the Zephyrus in action. It’s expensive of course, but with powerful Core i7 CPU and GTX 1080 graphics it’ll be easily powerful enough to play the best games for many years to come on the built-in 1080p screen. It’s an ideal top-end desktop replacement that is, possibly for the first time ever, also extremely portable.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501
See more like this: The best gaming laptops 2017

If you’re after a new gaming laptop and you don’t have the kind of money that you need for the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 above, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming laptop is your best option. It comes in at well under half the price and offers absolutely fantastic value for money. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics chip is easily powerful enough to lubricate the best games on the built-in 1080p display while general performance in Windows is super slick thanks to the Core i5 CPU. If you’re going to be moving around a bit, you’ll be pleased to know that the battery life on this laptop is also superb – we got nearly 8 hours out of it while watching HD video. A gaming session with Tom Clancy’s The Division on medium settings for two hours only dropped the battery to 66%. This is far better than similarly priced rivals. So in the reasonably-priced category, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 is definitely the best laptop around at the moment.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming
See more like this: The best gaming laptops 2017

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is 2017’s best laptop for you if you’re looking for the perfect cross between a nimble Windows tablet and a fully functional laptop. The base version of the Surface Pro 4 is just a tablet – you get the main unit itself with kickstand but if you want the Surface Pen or the fantastic Type Cover keyboard you’ll need to pay extra for a bundle or buy it separately. Often the best value option is a bundle but even the tablet on its own represents pretty good value. The Surface Pro, alongside the also-excellent Surface Book laptop, is to Windows what the Pixel is to Google’s Android. It’s the benchmark Windows device, with software and hardware working together in perfect harmony. So if you need a new laptop and a tablet, the Surface Pro is the best does-it-all 2-in-1 option. If you want this but need something a little cheaper, check out the Acer Switch 3 below!

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4
See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017

If you want the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 but you want to spend a lot less, the Acer Switch Alpha 12 is definitely the your best option. It’s designed around essentially the same concept as the Surface Pro and it’s a less capable thanks to slightly lower power innards, but for most tasks it’s a brilliant little machine. What’s more, to add further value this 2-in-1 laptop/tablet comes with the keyboard upgrade which means no little extras to pay for. As usual it comes in several different versions, with USB Type-C, 8GB RAM, an IPS display and Intel Core i3 7100U CPU coming with the more expensive option.

Read the full review: Acer Switch Alpha 12
See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017

If you love the look of the XPS 13 at the top of this list but need something a little bigger with more graphics power, the Dell XPS 15 2017 could be the best laptop for you. Packing the same InfinityEdge technology, the screen extends right to the edge of the machine which means it’s as small as it’s possible to make a 15-inch laptop in 2017. It’s quite pricey though, depending on which version you get. The very top end version has a 4K colour-accurate display which makes it perfect for graphic design, and gaming performance is decent as long as you play at either a lower resolution or on medium settings.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 15

And finally – HP’s best 2-in-1 laptop is a really stunner. It’s super thin and light while packing in fantastic performance and a fast charging battery. It’s expensive, but for the money what you’re getting is the best ultra portable laptop available in 2017. As with many laptops on the list, this laptop comes in a number of different builds – with the bottom end one starting with a full HD screen while the top end model packs in a 4K one. Whichever one you go for though, you’re getting a fabulous laptop that you’ll love carrying around with you.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360
See more like this: The best 2-in-1 laptops 2017

Which type of laptop is best for you?

General laptops: Where the best cheap laptops are found, devices that focus more on practicality than style, portability or power. That’s not to say they can’t be fast, but you’ll typically find a non-Ultrabook clamshell laptop with an HD screen and spinning drive-based storage for less than $600 or £400.

Ultrabooks: Where you’ll find thin-and-light notebooks sporting SSD storage and display resolutions that exceed 1080p. Paired with powerful, albeit mobile-centric components and especially long battery life, the best Ultrabooks will cost a pretty penny – $700 or £500 to $2,000 or £1,800.

2-in-1 laptops: Where notebooks that double as tablets are located. The Surface Book 2 might be a ways off, but many of the best 2-in-1 laptops are available right now. Outfitted with both detachable and 360-degree rotating hinges, these hybrids are the most versatile way to experience Windows 10 (or Chrome OS) on a touchscreen.

Gaming laptops: Need a laptop to play games (almost) just like a shiny desktop PC can? Then you’ll want one of the best gaming laptops. These machines generally cost from $800 or £600 to upwards of $3,000 or £2,800 and they’ll likely be the ones to take advantage of AMD’s laptop-grade Ryzen processors first.

Laptop-tablet hybrids: Designed from the tablet-first approach to laptop-tablet hybrids, the best Windows tablets pack beyond-HD touchscreens, sometimes with kickstands in their frames or provided via keyboard covers. These generally shine with a stylus, and range from the budget to the premium price ranges.

      

Microsoft defends Edge and looks to make a better browser

Microsoft is looking to improve Windows 10’s dedicated browser by speeding up development on Edge with an Insider testing program, and the firm has also been defending its policy on extensions.

Much like the testing programs which are already in place for Windows 10 itself, Microsoft Office and the Bing search engine (the latter was launched last year), apparently Microsoft is readying an Edge Insider program, at least according to an email sent to Bing testers.

Spotted by MS Power User, the email notes that Microsoft would like folks to complete a survey to “gauge your interest in forming a Microsoft Edge Insiders program to help us improve Edge” (because many of the Bing testers also use Edge).

This could mean that updates for the browser are tested and rolled out separately to operating system updates – because work on Edge is currently hampered by the fact that new features and tweaks are only issued as part of the big OS updates.

At this point, though, Microsoft stresses the fact that it’s just gauging interest in such an Insider program for its browser. But on the other hand, if the testing program is going to happen, it will allegedly happen soon, with grapevine whispers indicating the scheme will kick off in the middle of October – so just a couple of weeks away.

We’ll know whether that’s accurate or not soon enough.

Extension woes

Extensions have always been a controversial area with Edge, initially because they took so long to roll out for the browser – and subsequently Microsoft has come under fire regarding the speed at which new extensions are launched.

There are currently only 70+ Edge extensions available in the Windows Store, with those numbers growing very slowly compared to the thousands of extensions that pour out for Google’s Chrome browser, for example.

In a blog post, Microsoft noted that it sometimes gets users complaining about the slow pace of extensions being released, and the firm’s answer to those voices is that it is taking a “purposefully metered approach” to build a “thoughtfully curated ecosystem”.

In other words, Microsoft only wants to let through extensions which are carefully checked to be of a high quality and trustworthy – quality is the watchword, rather than quantity.

Colleen Williams, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Edge, observes: “Poorly written or even malicious add-ons for browsers remain a potential source of privacy, security, reliability and performance issues, even today. We want users to be confident that they can trust extensions in Microsoft to operate as expected.”

That’s certainly a fair enough point, although doubtless there are Edge users out there who would wish that Microsoft could put its foot down a little more on the pedal.

The fact that Microsoft has acknowledged the issue publicly, however, may mean we witness something of a speed-up from here on out, and Williams stated that Microsoft will continue to work closely with developers to ensure new extensions keep arriving in the Windows Store (soon to become the Microsoft Store).

  • Some of our best laptops of 2017 are powered by Windows 10

      

You could soon be using your face to get back into your Facebook account

Facial recognition is in the news right now thanks to the iPhone X unlock system, but it seems Facebook is also investigating potential uses of the tech – the social media giant is apparently testing a face ID system for getting you back into a locked account.

Originally seen in a tweet showing a screenshot of the feature in action, the trial of facial recognition was later confirmed by Facebook to TechCrunch. As usual with new Facebook features, it’s only available to a limited number of users to begin with, while the company checks how well it’s working.

For now, it’s designed to help you recover an account you’ve lost access to, rather than to log you into Facebook normally – in other words, if someone hacks into your account, you can show your face on a registered phone to help get it back.

Account protection

“We are testing a new feature for people who want to quickly and easily verify account ownership during the account recovery process,” Facebook told TechCrunch. “This optional feature is available only on devices you’ve already used to log in.”

Facebook says its existing account protection features, like two-factor authentication, aren’t going away – this is just another way to prove you are who you say you are. Another recovery method you can use in Facebook right now is specifying some “trusted” friends who can get you back into your account if you’re locked out.

Ultimately the aim is to make it virtually impossible to someone else to take control of your Facebook account, even if they happen across your email address and password. If the test run proves successful, it could appear for everyone in the near future.

      

Noon.com vs Souq.com – who’s got the better prices?

Noon.com launched quietly last night, and with that another aspiring e-commerce platform launches in the region. Noon has certainly got people excited with its supposedly expansive range of products and an ambition to match amazon.com.

But what does this mean for the current leading ecommerce platform Souq.com, that was acquired by amazon.com a few months back.Souq.com has certainly been around a lot longer and has built up an established following of its own, so ultimately consumers will choose between the two based on who’s got the better deal – financially speaking.

We rounded up some of our favorite products to put Noon.com versus Souq.com in a straightforward price battle, to see which site has better bargains (we’ve marked the lower price for each item in bold to make it easier to differentiate). We’ve selected five categories that we’re familiar with and in each category chosen five products that people want to buy.

Nespresso Pixie C60 Coffee Machine

Nothing beats a good hit of coffee in the morning, so the Nespresso Pixie C60 is a perfect morning wakeup call. Pop in a pod, wait a few seconds, and a glorious espresso awaits you – what more could you ask for?

Noon.com price: AED 825

Souq.com price: AED 680

Kenwood KMC01040 Titanium Chef Kitchen Machine

For food lovers, a good stand mixer is a must-have, and the Kenwood KMC01040 Titanium Chef Kitchen Machine packs plenty of punch. It comes with all the necessary mixing attachments, and its powerful motor makes quick work of whatever you throw at it. Forget mixing by hand – this thing would probably mix concrete too if we tried to…

Noon.com price: AED 2,799

Souq.com price: AED 1,499

Bosch KSV36VW30G Fridge

It’s a fridge – what more do you need to know about it? Keeps things cool, has a separate compartment to keep produce fresh, and has easily adjustable shelves to make room for larger items.

Noon.com price: AED 4,119

Souq.com price: AED 4,119

Samsung WW80J4260GS Front Loading Washing Machine

Not a fan of doing laundry? Neither are we, which is why the Samsung WW80J4260GS front loading washing machine makes things so much easier. Throw your washing in, punch a few buttons, and the machine works out the rest. It even has error detection that automatically detects system errors and offers solutions via the dedicated smartphone app.

Noon.com price: AED 1,859

Souq.com: AED 1,699

Dyson V6 ANIMAL Cordless Vacuum Cleaner

Banish dust in your home with the Dyson V6 ANIMAL Cordless Vacuum Cleaner. There’s a reason why Dyson have added ‘animal’ to the product name, and that’s because this thing really can get to dust within minutes. It’s lightweight and cordless, with a continuous runtime of around 20 minutes.

Noon.com price: AED 1,899

Souq.com price: AED 1,850

PlayStation 4 Pro

A significant upgrade to the standard PlayStation 4, the PlayStation 4 Pro features 4K capability, HDR support, a massive 1TB hard drive, and a slightly souped up DualShock 4 controller.

Review link.

Noon: AED 1,329 (17% off at the time of writing)

Souq: AED 1,329 (flat price, Fulfilled by Souq)

MSI GS63VR 7RF Stealth Pro Gaming Laptop

With an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, NVIDIA GeForce 1070, 16GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD, the MSI Stealth Pro is a beast with some serious fire-power under its ultra thin chassis. There is a reason why it has ranked so highly in our 10 Best Gaming Laptops list.

Noon: AED 7,800

Souq: AED 7,349 (on discount, Fulfilled by Souq)

Astro A50 PS4 Wireless Gaming Headset

The Astro A50 is one of the most popular gaming headset available right now, offering a premium build quality, great ergonomics, and Dolby Headphone 7.1 surround sound over a low-latency 5Ghz wireless transmitter.

Noon: AED 1,198 (Fulfilled by Noon)

Souq: AED 1,048 (on discount, Fulfilled by Souq)

FIFA 18 [PS4, Standard Edition]

This is a title that needs no introduction. EA’s football game is massive hit among gamers, especially in this region, and this year’s revision brings in a number of nifty features such as an all-new animation system called Real Play Motion, new Team Styles, authentic atmospheres, all-new crossing controls, and lots more.

Noon: AED 257.44 (Fulfilled by Noon)

Souq: AED 289 (Fulfilled by Souq)

Logitech G900 Gaming Mouse

The Logitech G900 challenges the notion that wireless is bad for gaming by delivering a supremely low-latency performance that makes it nearly distinguishable from a wired mouse. It also packs plenty of features, great ergonomics and a long-lasting battery life, making it one of the best gaming mouse to own.

Noon: AED 550 (on discount)

Souq: AED 579

Samsung 65-Inch Curved 4K Ultra HD Smart QLED TV QA65Q7CAM

Nothing looks better in your living room like a massive TV, and you really can’t get any better than this Samsung 65-Inch Curved 4K Ultra HD Smart QLED TV. It’s got plenty of HDMI ports, a Quantum Dot Display for sharper colors and deeper blacks, as well as a super-slim ‘invisible’ connection cable to bring it all together.

Noon.com price: AED 11,400

Souq.com price: AED 11,399

LG 55 Inch Smart OLED TV 55EG910T

There’s a lot to be said for OLED TVs, and as prices become more and more affordable, people are realizing just how gorgeous they are. This LG 55-inch Smart OLED TV is a prime example, combining form and function into something that’s truly remarkable to look at.

Noon.com price: AED 3,499

Souq.com price: AED 4,799

If you’re on the hunt for an entry-level 4K TV, then this is a good starting point. The BRAVIA 49-Inch 4K HDR LED TV runs Android and features a wider screen for better viewing. Seamlessly connect your phone to your TV via built-in Google Cast, or download a multitude of apps from the Google Play store, directly onto your TV.

Noon.com price: AED 2,499

Souq.com price: AED 2,495

LG 43 Inch Smart LED Full HD TV

Don’t need to watch video in 4K? Then you can happily stick with the LG 43 Inch Smart LED Full HD TV, which provides enough features for a decent viewing experience. It features LG’s WebOS interface, and also allows you to natively watch content thanks to the built in USB port.

Noon.com price: AED 1,150

Souq.com price: AED 1,199

Samsung 40 Inch Full HD LED TV – 40K5100

This is another good TV if you’re just looking at watching Full HD content on it. It features Auto Depth Enhancer technology to deliver images with incredible detail as it automatically optimizes the contrasts for each area. Dolby Digital audio also offers an immersive experience no matter where you’re viewing the TV from.

Noon.com price: AED 990

Souq.com price: AED 999

Dell XPS 13

Sporting Intel’s 7th generation Kaby Lake processor, and a slick carbon-fiber deck, the Dell XPS 13 is a great notebook if you are looking for something light and compact. It also boast superb battery life, loads of ports and excellent Wi-Fi range, making it a perfect work machine.

Read our review of the Dell XPS 13

Noon: AED 6,250

Souq: 7,299 (Fulfilled by Souq)

Microsoft Surface Book (Core i7)

This is the closest a Windows laptop has come to the sophistication and build quality of a MacBook. Microsoft’s home-grown laptop looks stunning and performs even better with its Intel Core i7 processor, NVIDIA graphics card, and upto 16 hours of battery life.

Read our review of the Microsoft Surface Book

Noon: AED 7,720

Souq: AED 7,899 (Fulfilled by Souq)

Apple MacBook Pro (512GB)

The MacBook Pro has become a defacto choice for anyone looking for a stylish notebook that also performs tasks smoothly. The new MacBook Pro adds a little twist to the formula by adding a Touchbar that can be utilized by applications to provide shortcuts or macros for certain tasks.

Read our review of the MacBook Pro

Noon: AED 6,829 (Fulfilled by Noon)

Souq: AED 6,830.89 (on discount, Fulfilled by Souq)

HP Spectre X360

HP Spectre X360’s super slim frame belies the power it holds underneath. Packing a Windows Ink-compatible display, Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and upto 16 hours of uptime, the X360 is a workhorse.

Read our review of the HP Spectre X360

Noon: AED 5,999 (Fulfilled by Noon)

Souq: AED 5,999 (Fulfilled by Souq)

Lenovo YOGA 370

Lenovo’s bendy Yoga series laptops is specially crafted for office use, and the Yoga 370 has just the right tools to get the job done, and quickly.

Noon: AED 5,350

Souq: AED 5,515

Samsung Galaxy S8+ (64GB)

There’s no denying that the Samsung Galaxy S8+ is a gorgeous phone to have. The bigger screen is great for viewing video content on, and the snappy camera and updates under the hood all lead to a snappy phone that’s a dream to use.

Read our review of the Samsung Galaxy S8+

Noon.com price: AED 2,295

Souq.com price: AED 2,298

iPhone 8 (64GB with FaceTime)

Apple’s latest offering features a bevy of tweaks, an all-glass design, wireless charging, and dramatic new camera modes. There’s plenty here to explore for new iPhone users, so if you’re looking to switch the the iPhone, this may be a good time to snatch one up.

Read our review of the iPhone 8

Noon.com price: AED 2,750

Souq.com price: AED 2,749

HTC U11 (128GB)

HTC’s current flagship is a truly impressive phone, in a time where smartphone manufacturers are clamoring to stand out in the market. It’s got a fantastic camera and impressive audio capabilities, and not to mention now features Amazon’s Alexa assistant. It’s a great phone to buy if you’re not one to follow the crowd, especially with its featured super-shiny finishings.

Read our review of the HTC U11

Noon.com price: AED 2,219

Souq.com price: AED 2,229

Sony Xperia XZ Premium (64GB)

There’s no denying that the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is designed to turn heads, certainly thanks to its mirror-like finish. It also features a supremely capable processor as well as the ability to record slow-motion video at a staggering 960fps. The 4K HDR display is also truly stunning, so there’s certainly a lot to enjoy with this Android beauty.

Read our review of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Noon.com price: AED 2,100

Souq.com price: AED 1,929

Huawei P10

The Huawei P10 looks to be a great phone you’ll love if you’re upgrading from a two year old handset, but not much has changed here to keep true Huawei fans thrilled by the flagship line.

Read our review of the Huawei P10

Noon.com price: AED 1,600

Souq.com price: AED 1,645

      

The 5 best laptops for college students in 2017

best laptops for students

Without one of the best laptops for college, you won’t make it far in college or university. Rather, you need a notebook that can roll with the punches just as well as it can keep up with the brisk pace of campus life. At the same time, you need something that’s cheap enough to buy on a college student budget. After all, you’re already working your ass off to afford tuition.

So, with the autumn semester just starting and spring right around the corner, we’ve taken this timely opportunity to put all of the best laptops for college students we could find and put them to the test, guaranteeing recommendations you can trust in the process, accompanied by reviews that aren’t swayed by any outside party. Without further ado, here they are:

Packing a high-resolution screen and serious processing power, there’s more to the Dell XPS 13 than its status as a tightly kept Ultrabook. Now featuring new processors and better integrated graphics, clearly there’s an advantage to the Dell XPS 13 besides the fact that it comes in Rose Gold. The 13-inch display, crammed into an 11-inch body, a worthy rival to a certain other aluminum laptop line. What’s more, the Dell XPS 13’s utility is extensive, spanning everything from writing to video editing to everything in between.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13 review

Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The 2017 Surface Pro is – in every way, shape and form – the Surface Pro 5 we’ve been waiting for. From its rounded edges to its refined selection of accessories, there’s no denying it’s a true Surface Pro 4 successor. There’s also the fact that the Surface Pro draws inspiration from the Surface Studio insofar as it bends back 165 degrees. The only real downside then (besides having to buy the Surface Pen separately this time) is that only the i7 version of the Surface Pro can compete with even the most affordable iPad Pro.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro

Ditching the Alienware moniker for once, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming doesn’t cost all that much considering its rather lofty specs. Even if it can’t max out every game you throw at it, the Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming is both cheaper than a MacBook Air and way more capable. And, if you were worried about the battery life, the Inspiron 15 Gaming lasted a whole 5 hours and 51 minutes in our tests, longer than some Ultrabooks priced significantly higher. Whether for coursework or leisure, this laptop can do it all.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming

The 2017 MacBook Pro doesn’t offer much in the way of distinguishing itself from its predecessor, but it is a testament to just how much you can improve something by simply swapping up internal components and calling it a day. Because it’s finally equipped with the newest generation of Intel Kaby Lake processors and faster-than-ever PCIe 3.0 SSD storage, the MacBook Pro comes easily recommended, undeterred by its reluctance to bring back legacy ports like HDMI and standard USB. This is, through and through, a laptop built for the future.

Read the full review: Apple MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2017)

best laptops for students

The Surface Laptop is Microsoft’s first stab at a “traditional” laptop, if you can even call it that knowing full well that its PixelSense touchscreen and Alcantara keyboard are anything but conventional. Featuring a full stack of U-series 7th generation Intel Core “i” processors, the Surface Laptop beats out Apple’s 12-inch MacBook any day of the week, and for a lower starting price at that. Despite the ports and operating system being limited, the Surface Laptop is appealing for its laudable design, beautifully vivid screen and impressive performance.

Read the full review: Surface Laptop

Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article

      

Google has a plan to make your account even more secure

Right now two-factor authentication is the best way of protecting your Google account, where you need your email address, your password, and a specific code generated by your phone to gain access to your Google stuff on a new computer – if your password leaks out, you should still be covered.

Now Bloomberg is reporting that Google has something even more secure in the pipeline: it’s called the Advanced Protection Program and it uses physical security keys you carry around with you to access your account rather than a code from your mobile.

You can actually already use a USB dongle to prove you are who you say you are and gain access to your Google account on a new computer, but apparently the new Advanced Protection goes even further, and has extra features like limiting the amount of data that third-party plug-ins can get hold of.

Your name’s not down

However, it’s not clear whether everyone will be able to switch to the new program. “The company plans to market the product to corporate executives, politicians and others with heightened security concerns,” says Bloomberg, as per its anonymous sources.

There’s certainly been no slowdown in the number of large-scale hacks and security incidents we’re seeing, covering everything from leaked television shows to interference in elections. Google obviously thinks something needs to be done.

We don’t know exactly when the new features are going to be unveiled but it sounds like this is something Google is getting ready to launch in the near future. We’ll have to wait and see whether carrying around USB keys proves any more secure than current methods.

      

How Facebook responded in the wake of Russia-linked election ads

Facebook has found itself playing a prominent role in the investigation into US 2016 presidential election meddling, a position it may not have expected to be in just a few years ago.

Last week, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch announced the social media giant would release 3,000 Russia-linked political ads to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, after previously refusing to do so due to cited privacy concerns.

This followed the revelation that at least 470 fake Pages and accounts were identified by Facebook to have spent approximately $100,000 on promoted ads from 2015 to 2016. According to The Washington Post, at least some of these accounts were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a so-called “troll farm,” operated out of Russia.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who previously called the notion that fake news on Facebook influenced the election a “pretty crazy idea,” released a video last week outlining “the steps [Facebook is] taking to protect election integrity.”

In this piece, we’ll lay out we know so far, what Facebook has promised to do in the future to ensure the integrity of elections around the world, and what questions we still don’t have the answers to.

Playing the system

On September 6, Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos revealed the company’s findings: 470 Pages and accounts that purchased $100,000-worth of ads were “affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.”

Stamos also noted that another $50,000-worth of ads were purchased by “accounts with US IP addresses but with the language set to Russian,” which “didn’t necessarily violate any policy or law” but raised red flags in hindsight.

The New York Times recently detailed how some fake accounts came to be, and the information – or, misinformation – they spread. One profiled account was for a Melvin Redick, ”of Harrisburg, Pa, a friendly-looking American with a backward baseball cap and a young daughter,” someone it seems doesn’t exist. This account, as with others like it, were used to spread divisive messages and start trending topics through promoted advertisements.

None of these ads received any scrutiny from Facebook

None of these ads received any scrutiny from Facebook. The company uses a self-service advertising interface that lets users promote posts without any employee oversight. Only major ad campaigns from companies receive human attention. “Individual” users working en masse avoid this problem.

“[T]here was nothing necessarily noteworthy at the time about a foreign actor running an ad involving a social issue,” said Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Policy and Communications at Facebook. International NGOs, for example, might run an ad addressing women’s rights or encouraging charity donations. Only after the election, Schrange claims, did Faceook notice some auto-approved ads might be “problematic.”

The “vast majority” of the ads, Stamos’ post stressed, “didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate.” Instead, the ads covered “topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights,” focusing on “divisive social and political messages.”

But the New York Times says that some ads did mention President Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton by name, mostly “attacking” Clinton and “praising” Trump.

While Facebook has released the ads to Congress, it has refused to make the content of the ads public. Stretch says this is due to federal law, which “places strict limitations on the disclosure of account information.”

But Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly taking a “red-hot” interest in this scandal, as he investigates Russia’s election meddling and the Trump campaign’s alleged communication with Russian government agents during the election. This gives some idea as to the content and political bent of the ads.

Targeted ads

Stamos further revealed that a quarter of the ads were “geographically targeted.” Without further information, it’s impossible to know the US regions or communities where the ads were served. Election swing states like Michigan or Pennsylvania would be potential targets, but only if those posting them had inside information on which states, districts, or registered voters could be most susceptible to “divisive social messages.”

Adam Schiff, senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, expressed this same concern. “Left unanswered in what we received from Facebook…is whether there was any coordination between these social media trolls and the [Trump] campaign. We have to get to the bottom of that.” Now that Facebook has released its data to the Committees, Schiff and his colleagues will investigate for any evidence of collusion.

While the ads themselves remain a mystery, journalists have linked some right-wing Facebook events directly to Russian-created accounts.

The Daily Beast discovered that Russian operatives remotely organized an “anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally” in August 2016 in Idaho through a Page called “SecuredBorders.” Business Insider reported that Heart of Texas, a Russia-backed group with about 225,000 followers, sponsored an “anti-Hillary” rally three days before the election. And Politico revealed that Russian operatives have promoted pro-secessionist propaganda in Texas since 2015.

Future elections

What most experts agree on is that just about everyone, from tech companies to the United States intelligence community, was caught completely unaware by a foreign power’s ability to “manipulate and influence elections” through social media.

“The surprise was the integration into a whole campaign,” said former NSA director Richard Ledgett. “It’s the amplification of some stories and the suppression of other stories to bias you. That’s really hard to fight against.”

Ledgett believes it highly unlikely that social media companies like Facebook had the capacity to discover the plot, considering the US government couldn’t.

This makes it harder to track what kind of campaign messages advertisers are sending to voters

Facebook has also come under fire for its so-called dark ads, as The Verge reports. These ads are created without permanent links, and vanish once users scroll by them in their News Feeds. This makes it difficult to track what kind of campaign messages advertisers are sending to voters.

Yet if Facebook was taken by surprise once, it’s now attempting to ensure it doesn’t happen again during future elections.

Earlier this year, Facebook released a fact-check tool to allow users to check if an advertised post came from a reputable source ahead of the German elections, and joined forces with other tech companies like Google to cut down on fake news during the French election. The company reportedly deleted tens of thousands of fake accounts during the French election alone.

Chief Security Officer Stamos outlined other new policies the tech giant is implementing. Facebook uses machine learning to limit posts from low-quality web pages or links that disguise a post’s true destination through rerouting. It’s also using deprioritization to limit the exposure of posts with clickbait headlines or from Pages with news consistently marked as false.

Moving forward, Facebook plans to “make political advertising more transparent,” as detailed by Zuckerberg in a post. While TV ads are required by law to be publicly available and to source whoever footed the bill, internet ads have no such restrictions.

But Zuckerberg said that Facebook will “disclose which Page paid for an ad” and “make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook.”

Beyond providing 3,000 ads to Congress and the special committee, the CEO said Facebook will continue its own investigation “into foreign actors, including additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states.” This includes doubling Facebook’s election integrity team to 250 members.

While TV ads are required by law to be publicly available and to source whoever paid for them, internet ads have no such restrictions

Zuckerberg was somewhat less enthusiastic when discussing censoring posts and reducing automation. “We don’t check what people say before they say it, and frankly, I don’t think our society should want us to,” he said. “Freedom means you don’t have to ask permission first, and that by default you can say what you want.”

So, his solution to reducing false ads may rely more on catching illegal content after the fact, rather than moderating material before publication.

Facebook will work with a number of organizations to bolster the democratic process and counter trolls and bots, from “election commissions around the world” to crowd-sourced security software ThreatExchange.

While Zuckerberg stressed that it isn’t “realistic” to think Facebook will “be able to stop all interference” in the future, he certainly emphasized that it won’t be blind to the problem any longer.

Of course, at the end of the day Facebook makes its money from ad revenue, and as The New York Times points out, tech companies are worried the government will use these revelations as a pretense to add more restrictions to anonymous online advertising.

Thus, Facebook is focused on self-regulation: conducting their own Russia investigation outside of Congress’, policing their own ads while preserving the anonymous ad program, and stressing that the ads weren’t as influential on the election as you might assume. We’ll have to wait and see if Congress and Mueller agree.

      

Google’s Pixelbook is probably not a Chromebook at all

On October 4, we expect Google to unveil all sorts of new devices, namely its Pixel 2 phone, but our interest has gone left field for the Pixelbook.

First leaked earlier this month in what appear to be official press renders, many have assumed the would-be Pixelbook is simply the firm’s next Chromebook designed in-house. But, upon a closer look – and, admittedly, some speculation – I’m wont to think this is something completely different.

The biggest tell that this new 2-in-1 laptop is a far cry from a Chromebook is its proposed name: ‘Pixelbook’. (Though, it should be noted that this device may very well be the previously-rumored ‘Chromebook Eve.’)

Knowing the past two Google laptops have been named ‘Chromebook Pixel,’ why now would the firm step away from the Chromebook moniker? Probably because it’s technically not a Chromebook to begin with.

Chromebooks don’t need that much storage

If you’ve been following along with Chromebooks since their inception more than six years ago, you know that tiny amounts of local storage is almost a hallmark of these devices. The vast majority of Chromebooks ship with no more than 32GB of flash storage space.

Google’s own previous Chromebook Pixel models have capped out at 64GB of space, which is already excessive for a laptop that accomplishes almost all of its functions through the Chrome browser.

What the Pixelbook may look like in full. Image Credit: Droid Life

So, why is it then that the so-called Pixelbook is believed to start with 128GB of storage, twice as much as the most capacious Chromebook Google has ever produced? Further to the point, the Pixelbook is expected to cap out at a whopping 512GB of space.

If this turns out to be true, Google is clearly accounting for something to gobble up plenty of local storage space regardless of the firm’s robust cloud computing platform, Google Drive.

Is this Google Fuchsia’s big debut?

We all know that Google has been toying around bringing Android apps to Chromebooks since before the turn of the year. In fact, the firm worked with Samsung and Asus to release Chromebooks this year specifically designed for this new feature, including the Samsung Chromebook Pro and Asus Chromebook Flip.

However, while both excellent laptops in their own right, that Android app support piece has been slow going and hasn’t seemed to drum up much excitement.

That said, we also know that Google has been working toward bringing Android and Chrome OS together for some time, most recently publicly discussing what’s known as ‘Fuchsia OS,’ based on a brand new operating system kernel that Google calls ‘Magenta’.

This supposed new OS, having already been leaked in screenshots, would unite the key features and functions of Android and Chrome OS, respectively, to deliver a touch-friendly interface that can adapt to the device at hand. You know, similar to a core conceit of Microsoft’s Windows 10.

Google’s work bringing Android app support to Chrome OS could be seen as baby steps towards the hopeful release of this hybrid OS. And, what better way to debut such an advancement than in a flagship device that can transition between laptop and tablet, just like we expect the Pixelbook to do?

The last time we might see a Chromebook from Google indeed

Pixelbook: the future of Google device software?

Now, bringing this all back to that crucial point of local storage, regardless of how strong your internet connection is and how snappy the tech giant’s server technology is, apps work best with the split-second speed of a local flash drive. And, apps require varying amounts of storage space to operate.

So, between reportedly dropping the Chromebook name and cramming gobs of local storage into this 2-in-1 computing device, I’m seriously wondering whether this new gadget will be considered a Chromebook at all. This could very well be the first step toward a serious retort from Google toward Microsoft’s own adaptable OS.

Pixelbook could be the beginning of the end for both Android and Chrome OS as we know them.

Lead Image Credit: Droid Life

      

Future Macs and MacBooks may come with Apple-made ARM processors

Apple is looking at producing its own ARM processors for its notebooks Rather than relying on Intel CPUs for MacBooks. In the same self-reliant way it already makes in-house CPUs for the iPad and iPhone – it seems the company intends to produce all the chips for its devices.

ARM-powered Macs is something we’ve heard chatter about for a long time now, but Apple is getting serious about the move according to this new report in The Nikkei.

It quotes the usual industry sources saying that Apple is ‘interested’ in building its own ‘core processors’ for notebooks – as well as modem chips for iPhones, plus a single chip that takes care of multiple duties: touch, fingerprint and display driver functions.

Modem chips for Apple smartphones are one thing, but building an entirely new processor for MacBooks is another entirely, because macOS is based on x86 architecture – it would require a huge amount of work to switch the operating system over to play nice with ARM CPUs.

Opportunity knocks

That doesn’t mean it can’t happen, though, the sources The Nikkei spoke with believe this is exactly what’s on the horizon.

One anonymous ‘chip industry executive’ commented: “Notebooks are becoming thinner, while consumers are demanding better mobility and longer battery life. That gives ARM’s architecture, which is known for its power efficiency, a very good opportunity.”

Although Intel, too, is driving hard for power efficiency and greater performance in its mobile processors these days – as evidenced by the recent announcement of Kaby Lake Refresh.

But of course this move would also bring about independence for Apple. Also being able to bind hardware and software more tightly together, would help extract the maximum performance and efficiency from the firm’s laptops.

If this is indeed a vision of the Mac’s future, Intel wouldn’t be the only supplier to get the cold shoulder from Apple. Back in the spring, Imagination Technology was told that its GPU tech would no longer be needed, because Apple will be working on its own independent graphics design down the line.

Still, as we mentioned at the outset of this story, this particular ARM-comes-to-Mac rumor has been rattling around the net for a long time now, so forgive us if we don’t get too excited about the specter of big change at this point.

Via iPhone Hacks

  • Will we ever see ARM-driven MacBooks on our best laptops list?