Tablets may be the next big thing in mobile computing, but don’t count out ultrabooks just yet. At least not until you’ve given Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Carbon—a feather-weight, carbon fiber workhorse a closer look. It’s tough, it’s light, and you don’t have to be an office drone to crave it. More
Summary: Canonical’s latest Linux distribution, Ubuntu 12.04, is now available for your home and office and it’s a winner.
The wait is over. The final version of Canonical’s Ubuntu 12.04, Precise Pangolin is out. To download your copy of this popular Linux distribution head to the Ubuntu download page. If you’re already using the last version, Ubuntu 11.10 you can now upgrade automatically upgrade to 12.04 with Update Manager. If you need more help with your upgrade see the Upgrade from Ubuntu 11.10 to 12.04 LTS page.
LTS, you ask? That stands for long term support. This is the Ubuntu version that will be supported for five years, through April 2017. If you have a business, and you’ve been thinking about using Ubuntu on your desktops or servers, this is the version you want.
However, before leaping to the Ubuntu site to download the freshest bytes and bits, you may want to wait for a bit. Canonical tells me that the site is currently getting overwhelmed and some people are not being able to get into it. For me, the site and download links worked, but at speeds of about 100Kbps, they certainly aren’t fast.
If you really can’t stand to wait for a minute, take Jorge Castro, a Canonical staffer’s suggestion, and use one of “mirrors hosted on Amazon’s S3 service, which has a bunch of capacity and should be fast for users where an Amazon region is close:” More
Smartphone cameras have gotten so good—and sharing photos from them has gotten so easy—that in most situations, a simple point-and-shoot camera seems like an unnecessary inconvenience.
But point-and-shoot manufacturers, eager to keep their products relevant, have begun equipping the cameras with built-in Wi-Fi transmitters. These combine a legitimate camera’s lens and sensor with a phone-like ability to quickly share photos without a cumbersome cord. Even with the new feature, a solid camera can come in under $300. Wi-Fi point-and-shoots to the rescue! Right?
For this test, we chose the Canon Elph 320 HS ($280) and the Samsung WB150f ($230). We wanted to know how these cameras stacked up against each other, and also how the features measured up in common tasks—like posting a photo to Facebook—when compared against most folks’ default tool for the job, the iPhone 4. More
We first heard rumors about Google’s augmented reality glasses a few months ago, and now in a post on Google Plus, the company revealed “Project Glass”along with some early concepts and prototype designs. These specs look like the freaky science fiction concept they are. Would you wear them, though?
Watch this video of what the world would look like from behind these glasses. It’s like Iron Man except instead of important world-saving information you’re answering your friend’s text messages and learning about delays on the subway. The Google[x] team that’s working on the project says they’ve opened it up to the public to solicit ideas about what people actually want from a set of augmented reality specs. More
The good: The HP Envy 14 Spectre has a unique glass-covered design and packs a lot of features into a slim 14-inch ultrabook body, plus its multitouch response is great for a Windows laptop.
The bad: It’s expensive, especially considering the standard components, and feels heavier than it should. The glass wrist rest can be awkward.
The bottom line: The first big high-design laptop of 2012, the HP Envy 14 Spectre is a bold experiment that largely succeeds, if you’re willing to pay a premium for it.
There may be a reason most laptops are anonymous-looking gray boxes. When you do see a unique design, such as the Dell Adamo XPS or Acer Iconia, it’s often too quirky to catch on, or else the company behind it doesn’t give it enough time to find an audience before ditching the idea.
The good: Despite a beefed-up battery, the Motorola Droid Razr Maxx has a slim, attractive, and durable design with the same gorgeous display, 1.2GHz dual-core processor, and fast Verizon 4G/LTE data speeds as its predecessor. It retains powerful multimedia chops and tight security features.
The bad: For such an advanced smartphone, the vague promise of a future Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is disappointing. Also, while a stronger battery is great, it’s still not user-removable. People with small hands will find it hard to wrap around the phone’s wide frame, and the 8-megapixel camera is unimpressive.
The bottom line: The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx proves that a powerful Android superphone can remain thin yet still promise marathon-worthy battery life. If you can live without Ice Cream Sandwich and have big hands, the Maxx is extremely compelling.
At CES earlier this year, Motorola dropped a trio of new Verizon handsets offering welcome improvements over the company’s existing device selection. They were the now legendary Droid Razr Maxx, Droid Razr Purple, and Droid 4. Out of that lineup, it was the Droid 4 that initially grabbed my attention.
Why, you ask? The simple answer is that it melds dual-core processing, a quality keyboard, Android, and Verizon LTE in one phone. That’s the holy grail to some, at least for Android addicts who can’t seem to live without a real physical QWERTY keyboard. Motorola seriously disappointed Droid fans with its Droid 3, which lacked the final puzzle piece, LTE data. Enter the Droid 4.
It’s clear to me that the Droid 4 takes its design cues from other devices in Motorola’s current 2012 lineup. The phone sports the black obelisk motif, complete with slightly rounded corners and beveled edges, as do the Droid Razr Maxx and Droid Razr. It’s a classy look sure to fit in equally at the office or out on the town. There’s no getting around, however, the large size of the Motorola Droid 4. I mean its girth stares at you right in the face practically begging for trouble. This bruiser measures 5 inches tall by 2.65 inches wide with a full thickness of half an inch. Weighing 6.31 ounces, the Droid 4 is also hefty. Compared with the wafer-thin trend modern smartphones are taking, this handset stands out.
The trade-off for all that extra mass is just what makes it appeal to a very vocal set of Android users, a superb keyboard. Sliding the phone open reveals a gloriously engineered typing surface. While I admit keys are tightly packed together, travel is deep and buttons provide a deliciously rubberized tactile feel. Consisting of five rows, not merely four like on lesser devices, it has a dedicated number row on top. I also really dig the way the backlighting traces the outline of the Droid 4′s squat rectangular keys. The spacebar goes on for what feels like miles and is easy to hit without looking down. The Droid 4′s directional pad is nice as well and something you don’t see often either.
To be clear, though, some things about the keyboard do bug me. First, there is no special key for “.com” or an emoticon button. Those are just minor quibbles, especially since there are keys for often-used punctuation marks such as comma, period, backslash, and equal sign for all you math nerds out there (just kiddin’, computation is cool). The majority of keys serve as secondary symbols too. One detractor is that to activate secondary functions, you need to hit the Shift key twice. This would be fine except that the button isn’t marked yellow like all the secondary symbols are. At least a light on the left indicates when secondary functions are engaged. More
By the time HP unveiled its first Ultrabook, the Folio 13, other heavyweights like Acer, ASUS, Lenovo and Toshiba had already gotten a head start of up to several months. But being fashionably late to market may have worked in Hewlett-Packard’s favor: the Folio 13 ($900 and up) is temptingly priced for what it is. Even the base model comes stocked with a 128GB SSD, backlit keyboard, HDMI port and Ethernet jack — specs that undercut the ASUS Zenbook UX31 and 13-inch MacBook Air, and render the $900 Acer Aspire S3 nearly irrelevant. Not to mention, it brings business-friendly features such as TPM circuitry that other Ultrabook makers have omitted from their 1.0 products. But surely HP cut some corners to get here, no? Is this really as sweet a deal as it seems? Funnily enough, the answer is “yes,” on both counts.
Look and feel
Considering how aggressively priced this thing is, HP made surprisingly few design compromises. Okay, the bottom is made of plastic, not aluminum, and the display offers narrow viewing angles, but other than that it’s well-made and yes, tasteful, even. We’ll wait a moment for all those folks who hate 1366 x 768 screens and things that aren’t metal to leave the room. Are they gone? Good. We think the rest of you will agree that that tried-and-true brushed metal lid was a safe design choice and also, a perfectly elegant one. Even better, those smooth metal surfaces continue onto the keyboard deck, stretching down to the palm rest. Particularly after reviewing split-personality machines like the Aspire S3, we appreciate that what’s underneath the lid matches the exterior. More
The long-awaited, much-hyped, Android 4.0 flagship is here at last. You already know we like Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), but what about the first phone to bear it? We’ve talked software, it’s time to hit the hardware.
Note: Testing was conducted on the European version of the Galaxy Nexus. When the US/Verizon version becomes available, we will update where necessary.
It matters because it’s a Nexus. Nexuses (Nexii?) are designed by Google (and a manufacturing partner—in this case Samsung) to be the standard-bearers, to show what’s possible from the Android OS. In this case, it was designed specifically to show off Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. Not only is it currently the only phone that has ICS, but it’s probably one of the few phones that will ever have a pristine version of Android the Fourth, unspoiled by manufacturers’ unpleasant skins.
Again, I just want to point out that this is a hardware review, not a software review. You can and should read Mat Honan’s full review of Android 4.0 to hear all about the software. I’ll add a bit here and there, but as much as possible—and it’s not entirely possible—I’m going to be isolating the hardware from the software.
The phone is big, but surprisingly light—without feeling cheap. The iPhone 4S feels tiny in comparison, like your fingers suddenly grew at little bit. But don’t let that big 4.65-inch screen scare you. The phone’s body is almost exactly the same as the HTC Rezound, which has only a 4.3-inch screen. And actually, most of the time, the usable part of the screen is the same as a 4.3-inch screen, with the bottom area being used for a revamped set of navigation buttons that are no longer separate from the screen. But switch on a video or a game, and the nav buttons fade away leaving an awesome full-screen experience in their place. There’s more metal on the phone than there is on a typical Samsung device, which makes it feel more solid than usual. Also, despite its size, it’s actually 5 grams lighter than the iPhone 4S (4.76 ounces vs. 4.94). It’s thinner, too: 0.35 inches vs. 0.37.
The micro USB port is centered on the bottom, right where it should be. But then—what the heck?!—the headphone input is down there too. The bottom of the phone is actually its thickest part, and there’s a glowing LED notification light down south as well (taking a page from the trackball on the Nexus One). It’s almost as if you’re supposed to keep the phone upside down in your pocket. The phone lacks a dedicated camera button, which is profoundly stupid and drives me crazy. More
The good: This latest Falcon Northwest Mach V features Intel’s new six-core CPU, a new motherboard chipset, and the usual assortment of high-end components.
The bad: Gamers won’t see much benefit from Intel’s new chip compared with the old flagship Core i7, and the imposing Mach V case isn’t for everyone.
The bottom line: Well-heeled gamers with professional-level application performance needs should look into this statement-making Falcon Northwest Mach V, but you can spend far less and still enjoy top-notch gaming with an older CPU.