Tag Archives: ELECTRONIC

The best laptops of 2018: top laptops ranked

Best laptops

The PC industry has often argued that notebooks in general are headed towards extinction, but they seem to be holding on with each passing year. In fact, with more powerful laptops being added to the market, it’s likely that these devices are nearing a golden age. Ultrabooks are still popular and mainstream laptops still do draw some interest.

With hybrids, Ultrabooks, traditional clamshells and more portable than ever gaming laptops in tow, these are the best laptops you can buy.

Slim, light, powerful and majestic, Dell’s 2017 flagship XPS 13 is one of the best laptops today. The company introduced a new Alpine White model recently, but the version we’ve reviewed ought to satisfy anyone looking for a top-notch Windows Ultrabook in the meantime. Whether for its powerful Intel Kaby Lake processors or for its bezel-less ‘Infinity Edge’ display, which shoves a 13.3-inch screen into an 11-inch frame, the Dell XPS 13 makes a significant impression. Not only that, the port selection is on point too.

Compared to Apple’s USB-C exclusive approach, Dell’s flagship notebook impresses with – in addition to USB-C – USB 3.0 and an SD card slot. Bearing in mind those facets alone, it’s no wonder the Dell XPS 13 is amongst the most popular WIndows laptops in the world. And it gets better. You also get a choice of a super high-res and multi-touch screens, as well as a breadth of options for storage and memory. Or you can save on cash and opt for more conservative specs.

Read the full review: Dell XPS 13

With Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Carbon 2017 update, the company has redefined the benchmark for business notebooks. This year’s edition of the Thinkpad X1 Carbon compromises nothing, be it portability or performance.

It’s smaller and lighter, has a compact profile reinforced with carbon fibre, which means it is as tough as they come, has all the I/O ports you will need and bits like touchpad improvements backed by Microsoft Precision Touchpad program.

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is the perfect replacement for the more expensive Dell XPS 13 without big compromises. Well, it doesn’t look as nice as the XPS 13, also, the battery isn’t as great too. It’s not that the notebook is ugly, as you get an all aluminium frame, and fast performance using a Intel’s 7th-generation Kaby Lake processor.

Additionally, you can choose between a full HD and an immersive QHD+ screen. No matter what model you go for, this laptop is a solid choice.

Read the full review: Asus Zenbook UX310UA

If you’re after the latest laptop from Apple, we suggest you welcome the 13-inch Macbook Pro with Touch Bar. Microsoft claims the Surface Book 2 is twice as powerful, but it’s not available in India.

Of course, the headline feature is the Touch Bar – a thin OLED display above the keyboard that can be used for various applications. If you’re a 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 too. The Macbook Pro isn’t as powerful, has a lower resolution display and has no touchscreen support. Plus, its battery is a tad disappointing, too. We’d recommend this only to diehard Apple fans and those who are already invested in the ecosystem.

Read the full review: Apple Macbook with Touch Bar (2017)

Apple doesn’t seem very interested in the Macbook Air nowadays, but it’s only the beginning for the new MacBook. Not only is it the slimmest, sleekest and best-looking Macbook Apple ever built, it’s one of the most popular and best-selling laptops on the planet as well.

Yet, it may not serve as a primary productivity machine – it’s a lot less powerful than the Macbook Pro and has only one USB Type-C port for all you IO needs. If those compromises don’t bother you, the Macbook is a super slim and light laptop meant for those who’re looking for portability.

Read the full review: Apple Macbook

Part of Asus’ new generation of Max-Q gaming laptops, 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 is certainly an 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. It’s an ideal top-end desktop replacement for gamers and other heavy users.

Read the full review: Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501

If it’s a new gaming laptop you want, and can’t afford the Asus ROG Zephyrus GX501 above, the Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming is your best option. It costs about half of what the Zephyrus does and offers good value for money. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics chip is reasonably powerful and there’s a 1080p display on this laptop as well. The laptop provides 8 hours of battery life, which means the Inspiron 15 7000 is somewhat portable too. Also, a gaming session playing Tom Clancy’s The Division for two hours on medium settings uses about 66% battery.

Read the full review: Dell Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is the best laptop for those looking for the perfect blend between a nimble Windows tablet and a fully functional laptop. The base version of the Surface Pro 4 is just a tablet and the Surface Pen or Type Cover keyboard are sold separately. And we’d recommend springing for the keyboard case. 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.

Read the full review: Microsoft Surface Pro 4

The 13.3-inch version of the HP Spectre x360 may not have a SD card slot like its 15.6-inch sibling, but it packs the same hardy internal components in a more portable physique. Then there’s the keyboard, which with 1.3mm of travel, feels like a significant improvement. Despite having a dependable 8 hours and 45 minutes long battery life, the HP Spectre x360 weighs just about 1.2 kg. Just when we thought there wasn’t a laptop that’s cutting-edge in every category, the HP Spectre x360 proved us wrong.

Read the full review: HP Spectre x360

Best laptops

If you’ve ever wanted a MacBook Pro without breaking the bank, the Samsung Notebook 7 Spin not only delivers the style and glitz of Apple’s pro laptops, but it adds a touchscreen to the mix at an approachable starting price. For a hefty 2-in-1 with a Core i7 CPU, 12GB of RAM and even a discrete Nvidia GPU, the Samsung Notebook 7 provides top of the line specs. But, as Samsung probably asked while devising this hybrid notebook, why stop there? The company even went put an HDR screen on the Notebook 7 Spin, and although it’s a feature that isn’t widely supported, the deeper blacks and more vibrant colours can never go to waste.

Read the full review: Samsung Notebook 7 Spin

      

Australia’s fastest NBN plans may face the chopping block

The tumultuous saga that is the NBN rollout continues to frustrate customers and provide light entertainment for sadistic onlookers as Australians sour towards the service’s top speed tier.

NBN Co announced wholesale discounts on its higher tier plans late in 2017 in order to convince more customers to take up the 50Mbps option. This resulted in telcos such as TPG and iiNet immediately responding with reduced rates for this speed tier, and now major players Telstra and Optus have followed suit.

Considering this renewed appeal in the 50Mbps option, and that both Optus and Telstra have already been forced to compensate thousands of customers for promising top speeds that most users couldn’t achieve, it’s unsurprising that the 100Mbps plan has not increased in popularity.

Some providers that previously offered this speed, Dodo and iPrimus for example, have already dropped the option, seemingly due to lack of customer uptake. When you couple this with the country’s general stinginess — more than 80% of all NBN customers are on 25Mbps or less — and the increasingly attractive 50Mbps plans, it’s not looking good for the longevity of the top tier.

      

The best file syncing solutions of 2018

Mozy Home

If you’re anything like us, you’re probably using multiple devices every single day, and you’ll need access to the same files on each one.

A few years ago, the obvious solution would be to carry your important work around on a USB stick, but nothing beats having access to fully synced copies of your files online.

Fortunately, given the ubiquity of fast wireless connectivity – which is now almost everywhere thanks to affordable 4G mobile plans – and robust wired broadband connections, file syncing has never been so easy to put in place.

In this article we’ve picked out the five best services for synchronizing, and of course also backing up, your files.

  • We also show you the

    Available on Mac, Windows and mobile platforms, Mozy fits the standard commercial pattern, but can handle unusual synchronization jobs like Exchange, Outlook and SQL databases. Mozy claims to have a user base of six million customers and 100,000 businesses and is owned by a big tech company, Dell EMC, which almost certainly guarantees its longevity.

    Users can opt for a 256-bit AES personal encryption key, a 448-bit managed Blowfish key, or their own corporate key to protect their data. Prices are reasonable for what Mozy offers: 50GB of storage costs £4.99 a month ($5.99 in the US), with discounts for annual subscriptions, but you will have to pay extra for additional computers on your account and extra storage.

    There’s a 125GB tier as well, and those looking for more business features can opt for MozyPro or Mozy Enterprise. The former provides up to 4TB online storage for unlimited servers, desktops and laptops, while the latter adds Active Directory (AD) integration, custom installations and managed services. You can try out Mozy’s service thanks to a free file syncing account that comes with only 2GB of storage, but offers all the features of the paid services.

    Easy to install on Mac or PC (with native clients for Android and iOS as well), Syncplicity – now owned by Axway – backs up folders and files of your choosing to the cloud.

    Working transparently once configured, you get 10GB of storage on an unlimited number of devices for free, with 100GB costing only $60 (£45) per year for a one-user, personal edition. Even this tier is laden with enterprise-grade features like secure mobile editing and PDF annotation – you can also choose your public cloud storage location (EU or US), plus you get real-time document versioning and backup.

    The business edition ($60 per year per user) offers 300GB of pooled storage with 5GB per user, and includes additional goodies like user-based security policies, AD integration and single-sign on, as well as MDM (mobile device management) integration and remote wipe for any user device. File syncing and access functionality is excellent with the ability to sync any folder, and you’re given granular control over what can be excluded.

    Resilio

    Resilio has an interesting background story: it was spun out of BitTorrent Inc, which means that it has peer-to-peer (P2P) technology as part of its DNA. P2P is a tried and trusted protocol that is particularly useful for sending large files swiftly. It is one of the very few services that is compatible with Linux (and FreeBSD) as well as a slew of Network Attached Storage solutions (FreeNAS, Synology etc).

    Unlike most of what we’ve covered here, Resilio is not a cloud-based file syncing solution. Instead, it relies on devices connected in peer-to-peer mode for the syncing process. There’s a free version and a paid offering (costing a one-time fee of $60 – that’s about £45) which links all your devices, has a one-time send feature, a selective sync feature and the ability to add folders to all your devices automatically. You will need to install this on all devices that you want to sync between.

    Businesses will be better served by Sync Business which is a subscription service charging as little as $3 (around £2.20) per month, per user, with unlimited devices per user, file-level deduplication, data reduction, end-to-end encryption, and server support. Resilio Connect, an enterprise-grade version of Sync Business, offers WAN Optimization as well as advanced management capabilities.

    Sync

    One of the more complete file syncing solutions out there, Canada-based Sync offers five plans for personal and (small) business users. The first tier is free and includes 5GB storage with limited data transfer and sharing and collaboration.

    The paid-for versions are far more interesting, with the 500GB tier costing as little as $49 (around £35) per year, one of the cheapest around. Amongst the highlighted features are unlimited version history, advanced share controls, 2048-bit RSA, SSL/TLS encryption and unlimited data transfer.

    Should you need more storage space or business-grade features, then Sync for Business is better suited. Detailed log analysis tools allow for checking that your sync has gone swimmingly and remote share wipe/device lockout means that you can keep your devices (and data) secure. Business Solo costs $96 (£70) per year, while Business Pro, which requires two users, halves the file storage capacity but drops the per user cost to $60 (£45) per year. Another tier, Business Advanced, offers up to 10TB per user with priority email and a $15 (£11) monthly fee.

    The fact that Sync is based in Canada means that your data has US, EU, UK and Canadian compliance built-in, including Canadian data residency.

    Backup and Sync for Google Drive

    It’s hard to beat Google’s backup, syncing and sharing solution if you are a small business or a personal user. Backup and Sync does what it says on the tin. Copy files from your computer, smartphone, or memory cards to the cloud. Find your files on any device or PC using Google Drive and see your photos in Google Photos – which is great as you can upload an unlimited amount of them online.

    All versions of Google Drive, personal, pro, or enterprise, come with support for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, as well as video and voice conferencing.

    The more expensive Google Drive for Work costs £6.60 per month per user (or $10 in the US) with unlimited storage and business Gmail to boot. The personal version cost £1.59 ($1.99) per month for 100GB data and £7.99 ($9.99) per month for 1TB.

    Oddly, those seeking loads of storage space will find it’s far cheaper to get a business account which secures you unlimited storage for under £40 (around $55) per month. In comparison, 10TB on the personal tier costs twice that. Using Backup and Sync is as simple as 1-2-3: sign-in, choose your drive, and backup.

          

Facebook Messenger Kids arrives on Amazon Fire tablets

Facebook Messenger Kids is now available on the US Amazon Appstore for Amazon Fire tablets.

Facebook Messenger Kids is specially designed for children under 13, who are too young to have their own Facebook account.

It lets them send messages and hold video calls with a list of contacts approved by their parents.

Cool for kids

Parents must download the app to their kid’s phone, authenticate the device with their own Facebook account, and set up a profile with the child’s full name. Contacts can only be added to the app via Facebook itself, so it’s up to parents to decide who their kids can speak to.

If a child wants to speak to one of their classmates, for example, their parents have to link the two Messenger Kids accounts on Facebook itself. The connection has to be mutually agreed before the kids can start talking.

Adult friends and family members can use the regular Facebook Messenger to chat with youngsters on Facebook Messenger Kids, provided the link has been approved by the parents.

Facebook Messenger Kids accounts aren’t publicly searchable, and the app doesn’t display ads or gather data for advertisers.

A version of the app for Android devices is expected at the end of January.

Via TechCrunch

      

Best cloud mining providers of 2018

Cloud mining is the process of buying CPU power from dedicated data centers who use their own equipment to mine cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) on your behalf.

The main advantage of this approach is that you don’t need to have in-depth knowledge of mining hardware, nor buy expensive and hard-to-obtain devices. Renting ‘hash power’ (usually measured in Gigahertz per second or GH/s) also means you don’t have to deal with the heat and noise that comes with a DIY mining project.

Many of these companies either source their own equipment or build it cheaply and have placed their data centers in countries like Iceland and China where electricity is cheap, passing the savings on to you.

In this guide, we will explore five of the most reputable cloud mining companies. As there are many scam outfits posing as miners, where possible we’ve chosen cloud miners who can prove that their data centers exist or are endorsed by a reputable firm. Take some time to do your own research before investing at your own risk, of course – ultimately this is your money.

If you are interested in cryptocurrencies but don’t feel happy with the idea of mining, you can also simply purchase Bitcoin as an investment (see our guide on how to buy Bitcoins with Bitstamp). Without further ado, let’s move on to our selections for the best cloud mining providers.

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    As one of the oldest (it dates back to 2013) and largest cloud mining centers, there seems to be no better place to begin than with Genesis.

    Its website offers a live feed of some of the data centers which are based in Iceland, a country where cheap geothermal electricity is readily available.

    Mining contracts are technically available for all major cryptocurrencies and you can visit your online dashboard at any time to reallocate your purchased ‘hash power’ (so, for example, you could go 60% Bitcoin and 40% Litecoin).

    In terms of fees, Genesis currently charges $0.00028 per GH/s for mining Bitcoin. The price of other cryptocurrencies may vary so we encourage you to make your own enquiries. The website has a Payouts section which you can use to monitor how much you’ve mined. Due to high transaction fees on the network, your mined coins may need to meet a minimum threshold before the funds are actually transferred to your wallet.

    The simple interface combined with Genesis Mining’s solid reputation has meant that at times the company cannot keep up with demand for mining contracts (which tells a story of its own). At the time of writing only Monero mining contracts were available for purchase, although this will likely change later in the year.

    Hashnest was launched in 2014 by Bitmain, which is a world-renowned manufacturer of ASIC mining hardware. Bitmain also operates one of the largest mining pools in existence: Antpool. Combined with the photos of a handful of data centers on the Hashnest website, this is persuasive proof that the company is legitimate.

    While Bitmain is based primarily in China, Hashnest has mining farms around the world, which benefit from low cost electricity.

    The website currently offers a Payout Accelerated Cloud Mining Contract or PACMiC for short. The PACMiC is a type of electronic contract structured in such a way that Bitmain pays the maintenance costs of mining rigs (such as electricity), and all the mining revenue will be used to pay back the owner of the PACMiC. When the principal is not fully paid back, it will share profit with buyers.

    This loosely translates as 6.0TH/s of hash power in exchange for 1 BTC. Hashnest claims this results in rolling profit pay-outs for each block found with an annualized ROI of over 14%.

    Alternatively you can purchase hash power directly from Antminer devices such as the S9 which has a rate of around 125TH/s. You then pay a fixed maintenance fee depending on the efficiency of the device – for instance, the fee for the S9 is currently $0.19/TH/day.

    Contracts for the Antminer devices are currently sold out but you can still buy a PACMiC contract if you have the funds.

    Hashflare is a subsidiary of Hashcoins, another manufacturer of Bitcoin mining equipment which has been around since 2013. Its website gives a detailed rundown of the firm’s data center including pictures.

    Hashflare offers you the chance to purchase hashpower for a variety of SHA-256 and Scrypt coins such as Bitcoin and Litecoin as well as Ethereum and ZCash. You’re also free to choose your own mining pool.

    Hashflare is open about its maintenance fees: they are $0.0035 for every 10 GH/s of SHA-256 coins and $0.005 for every 1 MH/s of Scrypt coins a day. Ethereum contracts are not subject to any maintenance fees. Your total pay-out will depend on the mining pool you’ve chosen and how much hash power you’ve allocated to it.

    Currently Hashflare only offers a guaranteed Hashrate for Bitcoin and Litecoin mining for 12 months – previously, mining contracts were unlimited. This may make it harder for you to make a profit on your original investment.

    As of January 2018, Hashflare has also temporarily suspended new Bitcoin withdrawals due to a large number of unconfirmed transactions. The company plans to resume withdrawals once this is resolved.

    The Hashing24 team claims to have been involved in Bitcoin mining since 2012, although the website itself has only been around since 2016. The company appears to have no data centers of its own, rather, it has partnered with big name providers such as BitFury to lease hashpower to customers. Note that Hashing24 is mentioned on Bitfury’s website, which may reassure customers that the operation is real.

    If you’re new to cloud mining, you can also use Hashing24’s demo mode to simulate a Bitcoin mining contract to see how much you might earn. This is a good way to help you understand some of the concepts behind cloud mining, but won’t necessarily let you project future profits, as mining difficulty and BTC price will vary over time (naturally).

    After registering you can currently sign up for Bitcoin mining contracts only, for a period of 36 months. If these are sold out (as they were at the time of writing) you can also try out Hashing24’s auction feature which allows you to bid on hashpower from existing customers.

    Regardless of how you purchase your mining contract, Hashing24 charges a flat fee of $0.00033 per GH/s per day. There’s also a one-time fee for purchasing hashing power with a particular host.

    Eobot has been around since 2013 and is registered in California. Its owners have decided to remain anonymous, so there are no photos or office addresses on the main website.

    Eobot’s site did not play nicely with our ad-blocker on registration, forcing us to use another browser. However, once sign up was complete, we saw that the website notifies users when someone logs into their account from a new IP address. Two-factor authentication is also enabled by default, meaning that in order to access your account, you need to provide a code sent by email as well as your password.

    Eobot offers mining contracts either for 24 hours or five years. The website is neatly laid out and also offers a fee estimator to allow you to calculate daily profits in exchange for the hashpower you purchase. Its main page is very clear that most investments will take around 52 months to break even.

    Maintenance fees are currently set at $0.00021/GH/s/day. Unlike other cloud mining websites we’ve reviewed, Eobot also offers an easy to understand explanation of how maintenance fees work. Contracts are available for a wide range of cryptocurrencies.

    Due to the owner’s desire for anonymity and in order to stay within the law, direct deposit of funds by bank transfer isn’t supported. You can, however, buy contracts with Bitcoin and via a USD credit card using Epay.

    Top image credit: Hashing24

          

Another password flaw hits macOS as Apple breaks a New Year’s resolution already

Another password bug has been uncovered in macOS High Sierra, and while it’s not nearly as serious as the one which cropped up late last year, it’s still highly embarrassing for Apple as the new year kicks off.

As the Register reports, developer Eric Holtam found the flaw which lies in the App Store settings under System Preferences – assuming the owner of the Mac has instigated a password requirement here. If you attempt to make changes here, a password is requested, but the kicker is you can type in any password and it will work.

This is just one corner of the operating system, of course, and more to the point, you need to be logged in with admin rights already (so a would-be abuser of the flaw would need to find a computer that has been logged in by the owner of the account and subsequently left unattended). But if that’s the case, the settings panel password prompt is about as useful as the proverbial chocolate fireguard.

There have also been claims that this particular bug may affect some other settings panels, too.

Shoddy security?

Really, this isn’t a particularly serious bug or anything much to worry about. It’s just that it reflects badly on Apple because it gives the impression – or rather, reinforces the impression, given last year’s fracas – of rather shoddy testing and checking procedures when it comes to pushing out new builds of its desktop operating system.

As we concluded in our 2017 ‘report card’ for Apple, the one thing the company doesn’t need is to make further mistakes on the security front this year. But if one of Apple’s New Year’s resolutions was indeed to avoid silly security slipups like easily bypassed password prompts, the firm appears to have fallen at the first hurdle.

It seems that Apple needs to tighten up some aspects of its operation when it comes to software QA, for sure.

That said, in terms of keeping a balanced perspective, when it comes to the really big threat that has emerged at the beginning of 2018 – Meltdown and Spectre – Apple has been pretty swift to move.

It had already released ‘mitigations’ for Meltdown when news of these two huge bugs broke last week, and this week, the company also patched macOS against Spectre with an update for High Sierra 10.13.2.

  • More than one of Apple’s MacBooks makes our list of best laptops

      

Broadband deal of the week: £18.99 per month and £50 cashback from Plusnet

Cheap broadband is a competitive battlefield. With the likes of Sky, TalkTalk and even John Lewis on the scene, internet providers have to come up with some pretty special rates to lure customers their way.

That’s exactly what BT-owned Plusnet has done. It’s just knocked a pound per month off the bills of its cheapest broadband deal and halved the upfront cost to a fiver. Pretty good in it’s own right, but fantastic when you consider that it will also give you £50 cashback when you sign up.

The internet deal – more on which below – is only available for a week, so you’ve got until the end of next Tuesday January 16 to get sign up. Or to see just how well Plusnet Unlimited Broadband competes against its rivals, you can head to our best cheap broadband only deals guide.

Plusnet’s cheap broadband only deal:

What about if I want fibre broadband?

If you need to crank up the speed of your home internet then you’ll be interested to know that Plusnet has also reduced the price of its entry-level super fast fibre optic broadband. Plusnet Unlimited Fibre Broadband now costs £23.99 per month. It’s another 18 month plan and the activation costs absolutely nothing upfront, but that tidy little cashback perk isn’t available.

But unlike on ADSL, Plusnet isn’t the king when it comes to the best fibre broadband deals. At a mere £20 per month and free activation, Vodafone Unlimited Fibre 38 is unbeatable for price at the moment. And if you really have a taste for cash perks, then take a look at BT Broadband Unlimited Infinity 1 for £29.99 a month – you get a £100 pre-paid Mastercard and up to rapid 52Mb connection speeds.

How do I claim the cashback?

It all sounds pretty simple. Plusnet says that once your broadband and home phone line is activated you will receive an email. Follow the instructions therein and Plusnet will send you a cheque for £50 cashback. Don’t delay though – you have to submit your cashback claim within 2 months of receiving the email, otherwise you’ll lose out.

Existing Plusnet broadband customers

If you’re a current Plusnet customer, unfortunately this offer doesn’t apply to you. Similarly, you’re not permitted to claim this price if you’ve had Plusnet before. This sensational offer is only for customers that are new to the provider.

Best broadband deals

You can’t beat Plusnet purely on price at the moment. But if you want an all-singing, all-dancing package that features broadband and TV, Plusnet can’t help you. It’s only dealing in broadband at the moment.

With TechRadar’s price comparison tool you can compare and contrast all of the best deals available on the market right now. Head to our best broadband deals page, pop in your postcode, filter your requirements and we’ll spit out the best deals on the market specifically for you.

      

Dell’s new spin on XPS 15 is billed as the most powerful 2-in-1 laptop ever

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Dell has produced what it’s billing as the most powerful 2-in-1 laptop ever seen in the form of the new XPS 15 hybrid which has been unveiled over at CES.

The XPS 15 2-in-1 will doubtless be welcomed by those who found the XPS 13 2-in-1 lacking on the performance front, and this new convertible machine is certainly powerful.

It’s built around one of Intel’s 8th-gen quad-core processors: either the Core i5-8305G or Core i7-8705G clocked at up to 3.8GHz or 4.1GHz respectively. Both come with integrated Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics with 4GB of HBM2 memory on tap.

As for system memory, you can specify 8GB to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, with storage running from a 128GB SSD up to a 1TB PCIe SSD.

The display is a 15.6-inch InfinityEdge touchscreen with either a Full HD or 4K resolution with 100% Adobe RGB coverage. Dell Cinema tricks also help the screen show off movies and videos at their best.

Despite the power packed inside, this hybrid stays nice and trim, being 16mm at its thickest point (9mm at the thinnest point), and weighing in at 1.97kg. Gore thermal insulation helps to keep the laptop cool (as also seen in the new Dell XPS 13), and battery life is claimed at up to 15 hours.

Ports include a pair of Thunderbolt 3 connectors and a pair of USB-C 3.1 ports, plus you get a ‘maglev’ keyboard which is supposed to perform just as well as a standard keyboard in terms of its typing action and travel – but is slimmed down into a thinner design.

The XPS 15 also benefits from a Precision Touchpad, and optionally, an active pen (with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity) that magnetically attaches to the chassis. There’s also an optional fingerprint reader which is integrated into the power button for Windows Hello secure login.

Dell’s XPS 15 2-in-1 will go on sale in the spring with the price starting at $1,300 (around £960, AU$1,660).

Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

Dell Mobile Connect

Also at CES, Dell unveiled new software that comes pre-installed on XPS laptops like the aforementioned hybrid (and also Alienware, Inspiron and Vostro machines) and allows the PC to hook up directly with the user’s smartphone (using a companion Android or iOS app).

The idea of Dell Mobile Connect is that it provides a secure point-to-point connection (i.e. not via a router) between PC and mobile handset, allowing you to leave your smartphone in your bag while getting notified of calls, texts and app notifications on your computer.

This means you can respond to texts on your PC with the added benefit of typing on the keyboard, for example. Or indeed you can use your phone apps on the desktop computer using the software’s advanced mirroring ability (this is Android-only, though).

You can even engage in a spot of casual gaming via this mirroring function – although don’t expect to be able to pull this off with CPU-intensive games, or indeed use it to display streamed content from your phone on the computer. It’s not up to that.

This is a pretty cool extra trick for owners of the relevant machines, for sure, and the software along with companion apps are set to go live this month.

  • New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES 2018

      

First look: Project Linda

After Razer brought us the concept of a triple screen gaming laptop last CES, we didn’t think it could top itself, but after seeing its new Project Linda dual-display Android notebook we stand corrected.

Similar to Continuum on Windows 10 Phone, Project Linda essentially turns the Razer Phone into a laptop. While we’ve seen phones power notebooks in the past, they’ve never become an integral part of the experience as Project Linda does.

Design

Project Linda looks like the spitting image of the Razer Blade Stealth we just reviewed. It’s a teensy bit thicker to accommodate having a phone dropped into its chassis, but otherwise it’s identical down to the same width, height, keyboard and ports.

The key difference here is where there would normally be a touchpad, there is a perfectly-sized void for the Razer Phone to drop into. Hitting the dock button on the keyboard engages a mechanical USB-C connector that plugs into the handset’s corresponding charging connector.

From there Project Linda relies on the Razer Phone to not only power the entire experience, but also act as its touchpad, secondary screen and even system speakers. In this way, Project Linda is more of a portable screen accessory with extra batteries, a built-in keyboard and 200GB of expandable storage for the Razer Phone.

That said, Project Linda – when fully realized – won’t just mirror the Android experience on a bigger screen. It’ll show the main interface on the laptop display while the smaller phone screen shows contextual controls similar to the MacBook Pro‘s Touch Bar.

Still, Project Linda is a very pretty shell for the Razer Phone. The concept’s display is as gorgeous as any of Razer’s displays, with vibrant colors and deep blacks – sadly though, it’s only 60Hz so it won’t be able to match the Razer Phone’s 120Hz panel. This device also comes with a fully RGB-lit and customizable keyboard.

Performance

There’s a little gap on the front lip of Project Linda and that’s designed to help you get to the Razer Phone’s fingerprint scanner and unlock the whole device with a simple tap.

With Snapdragon 835-powered laptops entering the market, an Android phone-powered notebook isn’t as odd as it might have once sounded. In fact, performance on Project Linda was surprisingly smooth. Apps launched quickly and we were even able to play a mobile MoBA game without any stutters or dropped frames.

Using the Razer Phone as a touchscreen can take some getting used to – especially as this editor is the type that turns off tap to click – but it feels every bit smooth as any glass-lined trackpad we’ve used on all the best laptops.

Project Linda also intelligently uses the best parts of the Razer Phone to their full potential. Rather than giving the concept laptop another set of speakers, it relies on the Razer Phone to pipe all audio through its capable Dolby Atmos stereo speakers. That might sound ludicrous, but this handset’s two tiny tweeters are much better than most laptop speakers.

This also helped Razer fit an even larger 53.6WHr battery that can recharge the Razer Phone up to three times.

Software squeeze

While it seems like Project Linda works perfectly up to now, there are still some hurdles for it to overcome. For one thing, the Razer Phone was running a Sentio desktop app to make the Android laptop experience work at all.

Razer was also only able to show pre-recorded video demos of a second screen experience on Project Linda and otherwise just acted as a touchscreen with no visuals on all the working samples.

Because Project Linda is one of the first dual-screen Android experiences, no developer has actually designed their apps to work in this way as of yet. Razer has told us it’s working with developers to design compatible applications.

Early verdict

Project Linda shows a marriage between an Android phone and laptop we’ve never seen before and if Razer can keep all of its promises, it’s going to work magically. For now, though, it’s the definition of a tech demo with a lot of promise that we really, really hope becomes true.

  • New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES 2018 straight from Las Vegas, the greatest gadget show on Earth

      

Lenovo’s new ThinkPad X1s include a 3K tablet and the lightest ever 14-inch business laptop

Lenovo has revealed a trio of refreshed ThinkPad X1 notebooks at CES 2018, with new Carbon, Tablet and Yoga variants, along with an updated ThinkVision X1 monitor.

Lenovo has given the third-generation ThinkPad X1 Tablet an all-new 13-inch design, with a 3K display (3,000 x 2,000 pixels) promising vibrant colors and supporting HDR (with the screen being fashioned from Gorilla Glass).

The tablet is powered by Intel’s latest 8th-gen processors, boasts up to 16GB of system RAM, and offers optional LTE-A connectivity for speedy web surfing on the move.

It also incorporates an infrared camera (facilitating secure login via facial recognition) and optionally comes with a stylus, Lenovo’s Pen Pro which supports tilt-to-shade and 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Battery life is a claimed up to 9.5 hours.

Carbon copy

Moving onto the refreshed ThinkPad X1 Carbon (the sixth-generation of this variant), Lenovo claims that this is the world’s lightest 14-inch business laptop. It’s certainly highly portable with its carbon fiber chassis weighing only 1.13kg, and it’s just a shade under 16mm thick.

The 14-inch screen has a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 and is a Dolby Vision-capable HDR display that should deliver some pretty punchy images indeed. Again, this notebook utilizes Intel’s 8th-gen CPUs (up to Core i7), paired with up to 16GB of system RAM.

Battery life is claimed at up to 15 hours, and a quick charge feature means that one hour of charging will give you up to 12 hours of battery life, Lenovo says.

Dolby Premium Audio is on board, plus you also get optional LTE-A connectivity here, too. Furthermore, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon boasts far-field 360-degree microphones to allow for voice control from up to four meters away (Amazon’s Alexa is also supported here).

There’s also a ThinkShutter to slide across the webcam for privacy – no Zuckerberg-style masking tape required – and a fingerprint reader, as well as facial recognition login with Windows Hello.

Note that there is now a touchscreen variant for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which replaces the aforementioned 2,560 x 1,440-resolution screen with a Full HD touch-capable display.

Yoga refresh

Finally, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga has been refreshed in a third-generation model which also runs with Intel’s 8th-gen processors, and the same Dolby Vision HDR display as seen on the X1 Carbon.

It also offers the same far-field 360-degree microphones and Alexa tricks, ThinkShutter feature (and an option on an IR camera, for facial recognition login), fingerprint reader, LTE-A support and up to 15 hours of battery life. All in a convertible format with the Yoga sporting a 360-degree hinge.

Every one of these new ThinkPad X1 spins offers a solid range of connectivity, including a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports (and a pair of USB 3.0 ports on all but the X1 Tablet). They all boast 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2.

The new ThinkPad X1 Tablet will start at $1,599 (around £1,180, AU$2,040), with the X1 Carbon weighing in at $1,709 (around £1,260, AU$2,180), and the X1 Yoga starting at $1,889 (around £1,395, AU$2,410). They will all be available later this month.

Monitor magic

Lenovo also unveiled a refreshed ThinkVision X1 monitor with a 27-inch 4K IPS display. This is an ultra-slim model at 4.7mm thick, with ‘near-borderless’ bezels on all four sides of the screen.

It has a Thunderbolt 3 port, alongside HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 connectors, and boasts 99% coverage of the sRGB color gamut. There’s also an extra nifty touch in the form of a motorized webcam which can pop up out of the chassis at the touch of a button when the user requires it (and be lowered to remain hidden when not needed).

The ThinkVision X1 monitor will set you back $799 (around £590, AU$1,020) and also goes on sale later this month.

  • New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES 2018