notebooksreview

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Toshiba Satellite M35X

As a budget laptop, the Toshiba Satellite M35X-S163 tries to give you the most bang for your buck. The bang ends up sounding more like a whimper; the processor and the 4,200-rpm 60GB hard drive aren’t particularly fast. This notebook meets its goal of offering decent productivity performance, a good-looking widescreen display, and all of the ports you’ll need for less than a grand. Its oversized body and inexplicably short battery life won’t cut it for users looking for practical portability. Without question, the best feature of the Toshiba Satellite M35X-S163 is the cost. Every component from the processor to the hard drive has been scaled down a notch to shave a little something extra off the sticker price. Despite the scrimping, the M35X covers all of the basic functions: a bright 15.4-inch display, integrated 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, a DVD/CD-RW drive, three USB 2.0 ports, and FireWire-everything you need to cover most everyday functions.Officially, the Satellite series is marketed for mobile multimedia, and it’s almost as if the M35X was once a more powerful rig that’s been hollowed out in order to knock down the price. It’s big, weighing nearly seven pounds and measuring 14.4 inches across, and the beefy body makes it slightly larger than what you would cart on airplanes or back and forth between meetings. The black-and-silver color scheme imparts a professional, futuristic appearance complemented by its curvy corners. The notebook quietly establishes a presence that says it’s serious.The 15.4-inch WXGA display looks sharp. The maximum 1280 x 800-resolution is low by today’s standards, but it’s more than enough pixels for most applications. DVDs run smoothly, with little or no choppiness, and two well-placed speakers help fill the room with sound. For pure multimedia purposes, like listening to music or watching movies, the M35X performs admirably, but you’ll be lucky to get through the credits if the system is unplugged.The function keys on the keyboard have been rearranged and the Windows button has been eliminated altogether. Probably a space-saving measure, but the disappearance will disorient keyboard shortcut lovers who rely on the Windows key to switch back and forth to the desktop and between applications.A 1.4-GHz Celeron M powers this configuration of the Satellite M35X, which is in the featherweight division of Intel’s processors. (The M35X-S1631 uses an even slower 1.3-GHz Celeron M, but it costs $80 more because it uses Windows XP Professional instead of Home Edition.) Its MobileMark score of 179 is about what you would expect from a value-priced portable, and we had no problem with basic productivity tasks, including word processing, e-mail, and Web surfing.Where the M35X stumbled was in the endurance department. It ran out of juice after 1 hour and 43 minutes. With that kind of battery life, you’re essentially sentencing your notebook to only occasional mobility within the home or office, or maybe one class before you have to head back to the dorm.One especially bright spot is that the Wi-Fi isn’t your ordinary 802.11b/g; it’s Atheros SuperG enhanced Wi-Fi. In our tests, the Toshiba M35X rated 42.2 Mbps, an astonishingly high score. You won’t notice much of a difference when surfing the Web, but you will get better performance if you’re into streaming music or video files.Toshiba throws in a copy of Microsoft Works, as well as a three-month subscription to Norton AntiVirus 2004 and Intuit Quicken New User Edition 2004. For multimedia there’s Sonic Solutions RecordNow Basic, and ArcSoft Showbiz for playing DVDs, but not much else.The M35X is a reasonable choice for $999, but we would recommend a $100 upgrade for the S311 configuration of this notebook. You’ll get all of the same widescreen goodness, plus a faster and more efficient 1.5-GHz Pentium M processor and a 5-in-1 memory card reader.

CPU
1.4-GHz Intel Celeron M
Operating System
Windows XP Home Edition
RAM/Expandable to
512MB/2GB
Hard Drive
4,200-rpm 60GB
Optical Drive
8X DVD-ROM/24X CD-R/24X CD-RW/24X CD-ROM
Display/Resolution
15.4-inch/WXGA (1,280 x 800)
Graphics/Video Memory
Intel Extreme Graphics DVMA/64MB
Wireless Networking
802.11b/g
Ports
Three USB 2.0, FireWire, S-Video, RGB, Ethernet, mic
PC Card Slots
One Type II
Memory Card Slots
None
Weight
6.8 pounds
Dimensions
14.4 x 10.8 x 1.5 inches
Service and Support
One-year standard limited
MobileMark
179
3DMark2001
2,228
3DMark03
Couldn't Run
Battery Life (Wi-Fi On/Off)
1:39/1:43
Wireless Performance (5/50 feet)
42.2 Mbps/41.3 Mbps


LG LW70

submitted by ennoia Tuesday, April 19, 2005


by Jerrett Taylor, British Columbia - Canada
LG LW70 17.1-inch screen notebook (view larger image)
Intel Pentium M Dothan 1.86GHz(730) ~, 533MHz FSB, 2M L2 Intel 915PM Chipset
Windows(r) XP Professional with SP2
1024MB DDR2 RAM
80G 4200rpm Hard drive
DVD Super-Multi(DVD-R/RW, +R/RW, RAM)
Ports and Output: Stereo Speakers(0.8W), Woofer, High Definition Audio(Azalia, 24bit), Internal MIC 4 USB(2.0), VGA, S-Video, PIO, IEEE1394, MIC-IN, RJ11, RJ45, IrDA Headphone Out, S/PDIF(sharing with Line-In), IR Receiver
Dimensions : 392 x 275 x 30.6mm
Weight : 3.1 kgs
Screen: 17.1" Glare WSXGA+(1680 x 1050, Wide View, 200nit)
Graphics Card: ATI M24(RADEON X600, 128MB)
Connectivity: Intel(r) Pro/Wireless 2200BG(802.11b/g), Hexa-band Antenna 10/100 Ethernet, 56Kbps MDC Modem(Azalia Interface)
4-in-1 Memory Card (SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro)
Expansion Slots: ExpressCard/54, PCMCIA Card Type II
Overview
The LG LW70 is the biggest of the new LG lineup of notebooks. It features a bright 17.1-inch "glossy" widescreen. Glare meaning it's reflective, and widescreen meaning you should watch lots of movies on it. The design of the new LGs carry on the same style that they started with, very simple. Like the previous LGs, they use heat piping to help keep the notebooks cool and reduce the need to use loud fans. While they do have fans, and they do come on when the notebook is under a lot of load, they generally come on at a low speed keeping the notebooks very quiet. LG seems to be taking aim at the part of the market that wants it all - long lasting battery life, nice bright screens, high performance machines, and all in a thin & light package without any noise. They seem to be doing a pretty good job at pulling it off, although the battery life on the LW70 isn't nearly as good as on their smaller notebooks - for obvious enough reasons. Still, on the 6 cell it nudges 4 hours.
I recently read a review touting the Dell Inspiron 9300 as being the longest running, lightest, thinest 17" PC notebook available - I'd say it's safe to say that if that was true, the Dell has been dethroned. The LG LW70 is faster, lighter, thinner, runs longer, and has a 17.1" widescreen - with wide angle viewing (courtesy of IPS) to boot. Presented inside a sleek designed case with a very quiet cooling system, the LW70 shines as a strong example of what a 17" notebook should be.
Design
The design is nice and simple not straying far from their previous designs, except there is a big "mobile intelligence" indent/bevel thing above top right of the keyboard. I'm not a fan of that, and don't really see why they put it there. The power/volume buttons are centered above they keyboard now, and there is the addition of two "instant on" buttons, "DVD" and "Music" . More on these later. The top has two latches which lock it closed, and they are placed near the sides so it's easy enough to open - however you need both hands to do it. It sure would be nice if they used some kind of magnetic system instead! The overall fit and finish of the LW70 was what you would expect from a premium notebook, I was not able to find any problems with it, and the notebook is very rigid and sturdy.
The front of the notebook has 2 decently sized speakers (woofer on the bottom) and a remote-control sensor, the left side has the 2 PCMCIA slots with a 4-in-1 memory card under it (SD/MMC/MS/MS Pro), a parallel printer port (with a cover, so you don't have to look at it!), and a standard video out. The back has power, 2 USB plugs, network, modem, audio-in, and S-Video out. The right side has 2 more USB plugs, DVD Multidrive, 1394 'firewire', IrDA, audio out, and microphone in. The top has nothing except for the LG logo in the center. They got rid of the strange black line on top, which I think was wise. It was after all, a strange black line. The bottom is fairly standard, with access to RAM, HDD and a little vent for a fan. Two things to take note of on the bottom are the woofer and a plug for a docking bay. I'm not sure what docking bay this docks too, but there is definitely a plug for a docking bay here. The LW70 is about 34mm (1.33-inches) thick with the lid closed, so it's not remarkably thin, but it's not very thick either... especially for a 17.1-inch screen. The indicator LED's are small and to the point, which is nice to see. There is a blue LED integrated into the power button, and the rest are green (num-lock, scroll lock, wireless activity, battery light that blinks when low and is solid when charging, AC power, and HDD activity).
Right side of LG LW70 (view larger image)
Left side of LG LW70 next to Sony Ericsson T-610 phone for thickness comparison (view larger image)
Top view of LG LW70 (view larger image)
The dimensions of the notebook are impressive for such a big screen, 3cm thick (1.18-inches) with the lid up and it weighs in at 6.8lbs. This is definitly not a heavy or bulky notebook by any stretch, if it wasn't so wide it wouldn't be very far off from 'thin & light'
The keyboard is a joy to use, and because there is plenty of room, the touch pad stays out of the way when typing. There is a hot key to toggle the touch pad if needed, which is always nice to have.
Speaking of hot keys, the special function keys are: 3 User functions, sleep, standby, touch pad toggle, wifi toggle, video mode (laptop, external, laptop and external), hibernate, screen brightness up/down, and two buttons to modify battery miser settings. These are all accessed holding down the function button and hitting the appropriate key, which are clearly marked in a blue color.
LG Notebook lineup (LG LW70 review unit far left) (view larger image)Sound and Display
Well the display is fantastic. The 17.1" WSXGA has a resolution of 1680x1050. For those who are keeping track, it's a 200nit screen - for those who are not, it's nice and bright, and razor sharp. The IPS (In Plane Switching) is apparently responsible for the wide view angles, but whatever the case is, it works. To test it I fired up a DVD, and spun the laptop away from me, I was able to watch it from any angle side-to side. Viewing from above does wash out colors towards white, and from below they get darker.. but both top/bottom only happens at extreme angles. What this means is that it's not a problem to watch DVD's on the laptop with several people on a couch, all viewing at different angles. I tried using it outside and had no problem viewing the screen, however it was overcast. I haven't had a sunny day to test, but I imagine it would hold up as well as any other 'glare' type notebook on the market. The screen has 8 brightness settings, all of which are very usable, even at the lowest setting.
The glare screen really works with DVD's, it kind of makes me want to replace my TV with an LW70. The sound is good too, it's 5.1 channel audio, and it's quite clear and full, which is a nice change coming from a notebook. There is some nifty mixing software that comes with it, with a full on equalizer for all audio output. An internal mic is built into the left corner.
Drives
The HD on the unit I got is an 80GB 4200rpm drive. There is a very small (204mb) partition for the instant-on stuff. The instant-on stuff is really cool but It's too bad it's on the HD, this can cause complications with people who want to install alternative operating systems, or just rebuild their system from scratch. A better option would be to have the instant on stuff moved off somewhere else, I know other laptop manufacturers have done this, but it seems most common with instant-on type things to just use a partition on the HD.
The CD drive is a combo drive, reading and writing both CD's and DVD's For DVD writing it does +/-. I wish my current LG LM50 had that!Software
I'm not a windows user, but there did seem to be a nice little suite of software. The battery miser software really lets you adjust how your laptops battery management works, and it seems very intuitive. One thing that really impressed me was a link on the desktop called "LG Intelligent Update" - running this opened a window with three options: Update Drivers, Update Software, and Windows Update. There were not updates available when I got the notebook, however it's easy to see what it does - essentially checks for any updates to the drivers and software that comes with the notebook. Very nice. It also checks for updates and notifies you when there are updates (for drivers and software), in the same manner windows updates does it, with a little notification icon. Bundled software included PowerDVD and Nero Express. Also included is a rescue CD and a "Instant-on Installation" CD. I'm assuming this sets up the partition for instant-on stuff in the event of it being destroyed. This could be very handy if you get a new hardrive. It might also let you put it back on after wiping the partition table and installing linux... I will play with that later.
Another interesting piece of software is the IP Operator software, which is a profile manager for roaming. From poking at it, it looks like you setup different profiles with wifi keys and whatnot, making it easier to take your laptop from home to work and so on. We don't have wifi at work, so I don't really have much opportunity to play with this - but hey, it looks neat! They also give you a copy of Norton Antivirus, which for windows users I would assume is somewhat essential these days.
The Instant-On stuff deserves a separate little mention here. It seems to be a very small (and fast booting) Linux system on a 200mb partition of the HD. When you push the DVD or Music instant-on buttons when the notebook is turned off, you get quickly into either a DVD player or a music player, depending which you pressed. For the music system, it lets you locate music on the CD drive as well as on the Hard drive, which means you can play all your favorite MP3s off your HD without having to boot windows. Both the DVD player and Music Player work very well with nice clean interfaces. I would imagine the battery lasts longer too, since you don't have the overhead of Windows. A bunch of buttons on the bottom part of the keyboard have light grey imprints on the front of them. They are not all that noticeable but easy enough to read, which act as special functions while in these modes... things like play, pause, stop, next, menu, setup,ff, rewind,etc.. standard multimedia stuff. They are logically laid out in a way that would become familiar very quickly. This is a very nice feature if you are going to be watching lots of movies or listening to lots of music. When you are in windows the buttons launch appropriate programs within the OS to do the same tasks.
Keyboard / Touchpad
Keyboard view of LG LW70 (view larger image)
The keyboard is a full size 99 key keyboard with a dedicated number pad. The keys have a really nice feel to them, and no longer have the clicking sound that my LM50 does - they are now nice and quiet. While I don't have any problems typing on my LM50, there is a very noticable improvement on the LW70. Not just because it's a bigger deck with more room for slightly more spacing, but the new feel of the keys is much more pleasant. The trackpad is the same, standard Synaptics trackpad. It now features the dedicated scroll area. The left/right buttons are much nicer now, they are more subtle and blend in with the deck very nicely. They also lay flush with the deck of the notebook, so they don't get in the way unless you are pressing them.
Heat / Cooling
The LW70 has several variable speed fans and internal heat piping. After using it for awhile the fans did come on but they are not very loud. One of the fans on the notebook I was testing had a very faint whine to it, but otherwise the fan noise wouldn't have been noticable without listening for it - and even the faint whine was not really noticable unless I listened for it. (I discovered it by going into a quiet room and specificly listening for fan noise so that I could write this paragraph, I hadn't noticed it before). The laptop stayed fairly cool under use. When playing Far Cry for awhile it heated up, but not enough to be uncomfortable sitting on my lap. It stayed cooler than my LM50.
Wireless
The wireless card is an Intel 2200BG (b/g) internal PC card. The unit has a hex-band antenna, which let me wander around my yard without losing connectivity. There is no built in bluetooth, but it has IrDA Infrared and a remote controll sensor.
Performance, Benchmarks & Battery Life
The battery that came with this was the standard 6 cell battery. After using it for awhile, the number windows gave me seemed about right, 3 hours 50 minutes on a full charge with wifi on and the screen brightness at about half - which is surprisingly bright - doing things like browsing, word processing, etc.
Using the windows Power Meter It returned the follow times:
Min Brightness (1/8) : 4 hours
Medium (4/8) : 3 hours, 50 minutes
Full Brightness (8/8): 3 hours, 15 minutes
While watching a DVD the battery life decreases a bit, watching a fullscreen DVD at 4/8 brightness the battery dropped to 2 and a half hours. This still gives you enough time to watch a full DVD. Lowest brightness (which is not bad at all) 2:45, and full brightness dropped it to 2:20, which still makes it feasible to watch a DVD on battery at full brightness!
If you need more battery life you can always get the high capacity 9 cell battery.
The performance of this notebook is very snappy, I haven't had any problems with speed - although with the modern processors I think this is becoming less of an issue, So I will simply post the benchmarks. I installed Far Cry, and cranked all the detail settings, including "Ultra High" on the water. At 1400x1050 it was playable, but fairly choppy. I changed all the settings to "High" and it seemed much better, however dropping it to 1024x768 smoothed it right out, without any real noticable stretching. I'm not much of a gamer, so this is the extent of my testing for games :)
Comparison of notebooks using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits (plugged in):
Notebook
Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
LG LW70 (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M)
1m 41s
Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Alviso Pentium M)
1m 48s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Alviso Pentium M)
1m 45s
Compaq R3000T (Celeron 2.8GHz)
3m 3s
Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Dothan Pentium M)
2m 10s
Dell Inspiron 8600 (1.7GHz Banias Pentium M)
2m 28s
Futuremark PCMark04 Scores

IBM T43 (1.86GHz)
LG LW70 (1.86 GHz)
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Compression
3.33 MB/s
3.35 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption
27.19 MB/s
27.14 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression
23.4 MB/s
23.4 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing
10.88 MPixels/s
10.69 MPixels/s
Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning
1914.17 MB/s
1936.64 MB/s
Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check
2.82 KB/s
2.84 KB/s
File Decryption
54.11 MB/s
55.02 MB/s
Audio Conversion
2496.87 KB/s
2513.71 KB/s
Web Page Rendering
5.27 Pages/s
4.70 Pages/s
DivX Video Compression
51.71 FPS
46.46 FPS
Physics Calculation and 3D
159.19 FPS
179.01 FPS
Graphics Memory - 64 Lines
868.44 FPS
1616.85 FPS
Futuremark 3DMark05 Scores
3DMark Score
727 3DMarks
908 3D Marks
CPU Score
3414 CPUMarks
3508 CPUMarks
Gaming Tests
GT1 - Return To Proxycon
3.3 FPS
4.2 FPS
GT2 - Firefly Forest
2.2 FPS
2.7 FPS
GT3 - Canyon Flight
3.4 FPS
4.3 FPS
CPU Tests
CPU Test 1
1.18 FPS
1.8 FPS
CPU Test 2
2.9 FPS
3.1 FPS
The Good
There is lots of good stuff about this, but here are some of the things I thought were highlights
Very nice, simple, design.
The screen. Oh my, the screen.
Great keyboard, only made better by the full number pad
Instant On - this is a good and a bad. A good, because it's really well done, and really handy. The bad because of it being on the HD.
The notebook stays quiet
Good battery life keeping in mind the screen size
For it's size it's very light, and pretty thin. It's width robs it of any hopes of being categorized as "thin & light", but it wouldn't be far off if you discounted that.
The Bad
This is a great piece of hardware, I had to dig to find up with some bad points, but I did find a few:
The instant-on stuff would be nicer if it was not on the HD
Although it comes with a 1 year warranty, it would be nice if it was a 3 year warranty like the LM series notebooks.
In summary I think this is a great laptop. it's too big to be taken seriously as a real portable notebook, but in reality it's not really that big. It's fairly thin and light, even compared to a lot of 15" notebooks. The screen is fantastic, and having nice audio really helps fill out the role of being a multimedia notebook. The keyboard is really nice as well, and it boasts some good performance and a strong video card. From the looks of things LG is getting ready (or already) to sell notebooks in the US, they now have a service center in the USA and are listing the notebooks on the www.lge.com site. If this is the case, I'd say the notebook market is in for a shake-down with the new LG lineup

ThinkPad X41 Tablet

When the Chinese company Lenovo Ltd. acquired IBM's fabled personal-computer unit earlier this year, one question towered above all others for tech consumers: Would IBM PCs — and, in particular, the ThinkPad — maintain their tradition of quality and usability?
After spending several days acquainting myself with the ThinkPad X41 Tablet, an ultraportable that turns the ThinkPad notebook into a convertible tablet PC, I can offer a resounding, if preliminary, answer: Yes — with a few caveats.
Out of the box, the first ThinkPad born of the IBM-Lenovo cross-breeding (starting at $1,899) is a thing of 21st-century beauty, a compact, sleek little black slablet that's a worthy addition to the ThinkPad line of portables.
(Full disclosure: I've always preferred slate tablets to convertible laptops; though arguably less versatile, they typically feel more portable and work more intuitively in more places. That said, I understand that economics dictate such a hybrid, and the X41 pulls the blend off with style.)
The first thing you notice about the X41 is its handy weight. At 3 1/2 pounds and 1.14 inches thick, the Thinkpad family's first tablet PC is quite manageable for a train ride, a room-to-room research mission or (sorry) playing with Google Maps while watching TV in bed.
The specs say battery life is normally 2.6 hours, but power management can push that somewhat further.
Upon first boot, the secret agent in me was thrilled to calibrate the X41's fingerprint-identification system, in which the digit of your choosing (or several digits, if you prefer) is scanned over a little embedded roller and encoded into the Windows boot so you don't have to type in a password. Calibration worked every time, even when I tried to fool it by swapping fingers; future security sweeps were equally accurate.
The screen? The 12-inch XGA display is bright and crisp. Speed? I'm a normal user, and the Intel Pentium M low-voltage microprocessor suited me just fine and didn't burn too hot. Peripherals? The tablet lacks a built-in optical drive; external drives cost extra. A docking station is also optional. External memory? The standard PC-card slot is augmented by a nice little dedicated slot for SD cards. Standard? 512 megabytes of RAM and a 40-gigabyte hard drive.
A beautiful little array of softkeys that line the side of the screen, including a carriage return, are invaluable for heavy tablet users who want to avoid the virtual keyboard. Also worth noting: The well-designed laptop keyboard that ThinkPad users are accustomed to has migrated to Lenovoland marvelously. And the physical conversion from laptop to tablet is smooth and seamless, with nary a feel that the screen might come off its hinge — an alarming problem with some convertibles.
As someone who has experienced Chinese personal computers firsthand (I lived there for three years before moving back last year), I can attest that some are downright problematic — to the point of pure frustration. Then again, China has a well-deserved reputation of making better products for export than it does for its own people. So it goes with this one.
That said, there were some minor but niggling problems with the test machine — though, in fairness, each was offset by something good:
_The unit's screen feels wonderful, and its build approximates pen to paper better than any tablet PC I've used. Too bad that the pen calibration took three tries to get right, and even then the pointer occasionally wandered away from precision.
_The charging pack featured a three-prong plug, which will make it difficult for some overseas travelers with plug adapters to get power. However, the recharging process — even while the system is up and running — felt quite brisk.
In the end, my main problem with the X41 tablet was ergonomics.
As attractive and durable as the system is in tablet mode, it doesn't have a great hand feel. The battery pack sticks out to the right, which is fine in laptop mode when it's behind the screen but, as a tablet, makes the unit list in that direction if you're righthanded and lack really strong wrists.
When I tried the computer sans battery — plugged in — it felt far more balanced. To be fair, my wife, who is much smaller than I am, used the ridged, rubberized battery area as a handle and said she liked the balance. Her verdict: "I want one."
I think I'd have to agree.

Fujitsu N3510

N3510 open and ready for work
There was a collective sigh of relief when Fujitsu finally announced the N3510, a 15.4" widescreen with Sonoma and an enhanced CrystalView display. It's one of the first out of the Sonoma gate to even include DDR RAM, several hard drive options and...get this...respectable battery life. The only thing that hampers this notebook in the least is the video card. Don't get me wrong, the 64MB dedicated X300 isn't terrible, but with a 128MB X600, this machine would absolutely hum.
N3510 Closed
N3510 Left
N3510 Right
N3510 Back
First things first. The N3510 is nice to look at. The case is mostly black with a few Fujitsu logos on the magnesium alloy lid. Around the back of the unit are the phone and Ethernet jacks, fan exhaust, monitor and full size S-video out, three USB ports that are widely spaced and the AC input plug. Down the left side are firewire, microphone, speaker and a fourth USB port along with the Secure Digital/Memory Stick reader and the PCMCIA slot. I thought the N3510 was supposed to include support for Express Cards, and I see a plastic cover for where that could have happened, but it didn't for whatever reason. The right side of the unit houses the CDRW/DVD drive.
N3510 keyboard and interior
Display in the dark
Notice how much brighter and more white the N3510 is compared to the P7010
The best part comes when opening the N3510. The display is absolutely phenomenal. It's even throughout, with bright vibrant colors on even the middle settings. The display offers 8 brightness settings, at 6 you're happy; at 8 you know why you bought Fujitsu. I ran a dead pixel test and found none, which is always a great start. The inside of the unit is silver, with the purple-ish translucent keyboard. The keyboard is very good, with great feedback, little flex and reasonably sized and placed keys. It makes me wish my P7000 which I use day-to-day was a little larger. Other goodies on the inside of the machine include a WiFi on/off switch, power button, LCD panel showing battery status, etc., volume up/down button and a set of four buttons that are used for multimedia in one mode or programmable hot buttons in the other. I found the touchpad to be responsive, but would appreciate a little larger click buttons. Flanked by the left and right buttons is an up/down toggle that is useful for web browsing and the like.
I had to beg the N3510 to not eat my tiny P7010
Beyond nice styling, Fujitsu is respectful of the user; they don't load up their machines with a bunch of garbage software. The first boot is easy and aside from a few trials of things like Quicken, there's not much too immediately remove.
We'll be back in a few weeks with a full review. But let me leave you with a few benchmarks.
Super-Pi 2mm Calculations 1 minute 48 seconds
PCMark04 Free VersionMultithreaded Test 1 / File Compression 3.24 MB/s Multithreaded Test 1 / File Encryption 25.58 MB/s Multithreaded Test 2 / File Decompression 22.72 MB/s Multithreaded Test 2 / Image Processing 10.03 MPixels/s Multithreaded Test 3 / Virus Scanning 1752.97 MB/s Multithreaded Test 3 / Grammar Check 2.8 KB/s File Decryption 51.45 MB/s Audio Conversion 2346.96 KB/s Web Page Rendering 5.25 Pages/s WMV Video Compression Test failed (test had trouble with WMP 10)DivX Video Compression 46.08 FPS Physics Calculation and 3D 168.02 FPSGraphics Memory - 64 Lines 1486.18 FPS
3DMark05 Free EditionMain Test Results3DMark Score 721 3DMarks PU Score 3242 CPUMarks
Detailed Test ResultsGame Tests GT1 - Return To Proxycon 3.7 fps GT2 - Firefly Forest 1.8 fps GT3 - Canyon Flight 3.5 fps CPU Tests CPU Test 1 1.6 fpsCPU Test 2 2.9 fps
Battery Eater Pro v2.5All tests were run at a screen brightness of 5/8 with wireless on but not active. The time, in minutes, reflects how long it will take for the machine to shut off with 4% battery remaining.
Idle test -- 172 minutesClassic test (minimum battery life) -- 89 minutesCharge time (from 4% to 100%) -- 173 minutes

Dell 6000

Dell's Inspiron 6000 is one of the first notebooks to take advantage of Intel's new Sonoma Platform and Alviso chipset, the 915GM/PM. This next-generation of Centrino technology represents a big step forward in performance and battery life. And Dell wraps these improvements in a slightly heavy but sleek-looking 7.5-pound widescreen notebook with all sorts of multimedia amenities, including stereo speakers, a full set of multimedia controls, and a DVD burner.
The first major improvement is the PCI Express bus, which not only allows for a higher data throughput, but is also bidirectional, meaning it can transfer data both to and from a PCIe card at the same time. The Inspiron 6000's 533-MHz front side bus (FSB) is 33 percent faster than previous Pentium M systems.
Another big advantage of the Alviso chipset is DDR2 memory, which doubles the clock speeds of DDR SDRAM. A stick of 400-MHz in DDR2 runs at 800 MHz, which helps satisfy in the inner speed demon in us. Combined with a 1.6-GHz Intel Pentium M 730, the Inspiron 6000 is significantly faster than older Centrino notebooks with higher clock speeds, as it posted an outstanding MobileMark score of 210.
Possibly the best feature on this notebook is its spectacularly long battery lifeׁclocking in at just over 6 hours. We've tested two other notebooks that had similar runtimes, and neither offered the same performance. With a wireless Internet connection, the battery life dropped only by 10 minutes. Nothing is worse than lugging a laptop onto an airplane to watch some DVDs, only to run out of juice halfway through; this kind of battery life can get you from New York to Los Angeles.
For the 6000, the Inspiron chassis has been redesigned, with its silver exterior and a white border, which for some will be a welcome change from the gray and black color schemes that dominate most notebooks. A set of multimedia buttons along the front panel lets you control volume and playback functions, an increasingly standard feature as the growth of DVDs continues to skyrocket.
Other features include four USB 2.0 ports, an SD slot for swapping files with your camera or PDA, and FireWire for those looking to hook up a camcorder. When it's time to output your footage to a DVD, you'll appreciate the 8X DVD burner that also handles high-capacity dual-layer discs.
The Inspiron's DVD playback was smooth and reliable in our tests. The maximum resolution on our model was 1280 x 800, but optional UltraSharp models can reach 1920 x 1200. The stereo sound from the speakers is clear, but about what you'd expect from a two-speaker notebook. An S-Video port is there for outputting the signal to a TV.
This Inspiron features an 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connection and optional Bluetooth 2.0 technology, so you can connect to the Web wirelessly and communicate with all sort of Bluetooth-enabled devices. Finding a nearby network is easy with the provided Intel PROSet wireless software, which shows the network name, whether security is enabled, the signal strength, and the type of connection.
Intel's Media Accelerator 900 graphics processor won't confuse gamers with chipsets from Nvidia or ATI, but in our tests the Inspiron did an adequate job running Doom 3 at 640 x 480 and low quality, producing minimal choppiness and frame stuttering. We could not, however, successfully load Half Life 2, although it's unclear whether that was due to performance issues or Valve's overly aggressive copy protection. Regardless, the Inspiron 6000 should allow you to you to squeak by in the latest high-end games.
The software bundle and warranty are about average for this type of system. Dell includes a copy of WordPerfect 12 and McAfee Security Center, and you get a year of coverage on the warranty.
There are only a couple of things that rubbed us the wrong way on the 6000. One is a power-saving feature that drastically dims the display while the system is running on battery, but that can be altered in the power manager settings to a more reasonable brightness. Our other pet peeve is the noisy optical drive, which you'll just have to live with.
Overall, the Inspiron 6000 is a shining example of what the next generation of Centrino technology can do. It's very fast, lasts a very long time between charges, and is very reasonably priced, especially considering all of the high-end features Dell includes.

CPU
1.6-GHz Intel Pentium M 730, 533-MHz FSB
Operating System
Windows XP Pro
RAM/Expandable to
512MB DDR2 400-MHz SDRAM/1GB
Hard Drive
60GB/5,400 rpm
Optical Drive
8X DVD-ROM/24X CD-RW/DVD Combo/8X DVD±RW
Display/Resolution
15.4-inch/XGA
Graphics/Video Memory
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900/128MB (shared)
Wireless Networking
802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0
Ports
Four USB 2.0, FireWire, VGA, S-Video, headphone,modem, mic, Ethernet
PC Card Slots
One Type I or one Type II
Memory Card Slots
Secure Digital
Weight
7.5 lbs
Dimensions
10.5 x 14 x 1.5
Service and Support
1 year, limited; 1 year mail-in support
MobileMark
210
3DMark2001
4700
Battery Life (Wi-Fi On/Off)
5:58/6:08
Wireless Performance (5/50 feet)
14.1 Mbps/5.9 Mbps

ASUS Z71v

The Asus Z71v is the latest in Asus' line of customizable notebook computers. The one I bought has the following specifications:
Pentium M 750 Processor (1.86 Ghz, 533 Mhz FSB)
1 Gigabyte RAM (2x512 MB DDR2-4200@533 Mhz)
15.4" WSXGA (1680x1050) widescreen display
80 GB hard drive, spinning at 5400 RPM
Nvidia GeForce Go 6600 graphics card with 128 MB VRAM
Removable DVD+/-RW drive
Intel 2915 802.11a/b/g wireless card
PCMCIA, Multi-Card Reader (multimedia card, secure digital, memory stick), 4-pin firewire, Audio In, Audio Out/SPDIF, phone jack, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA-out, and 5 USB ports
Windows XP Home
While you may not have heard as much about Asus as you have heard about Dell, HP, Gateway, and Apple, they have been around for a while earning the reputation as the best motherboard maker in the world. In addition to this, as an original design manufacturer, they have made the chassis and motherboards for several computers that were later sold under more recognizable names. As one of their more recent ventures, Asus released a line of customizable notebooks, and the Z71v is the most recent of these.Based on Intel's latest Centrino technology, the Asus Z71v has the power to do whatever you want it to, at home or on the road, gaming, surfing the internet, preparing presentations, taking notes, or writing reports.
I had been researching a notebook purchase for over a year before I found the Z71v. I wanted something that had a fairly large screen, preferably widescreen, had good graphics and sound, and would be able to play games as well as be used to write papers and do schoolwork. It also had to be fairly portable and had at least 3.5 hours of battery life. It was a hard combination to find! Until January, the prime contender was the Sager 3790, which has a 15.4" widescreen, an ATI Mobility Radeon 9700 graphics card, and still managed to get up to five hours of battery life. Then Intel came out with Sonoma, the next-generation Centrino platform, and I discovered the Acer Travelmate 8104, which had a video card roughly twice as good as the Sager's, looked better, and had all the next-generation upgrades. Unfortunately, the Acer would only get 3.5 hours battery life if the screen was dimmed down almost to opacity and just about everything was turned off. This simply would not do. However, after looking at the next generation, I really wanted a computer that could keep up with the Acer, and the Sager 3790 paled in comparison. Enter the Asus Z71v. The graphics card on the Z71v (Nvidia 6600) rivals the one on the Acer (ATI x700), it had all the new technology, and Asus advertised that it would get up to SIX hours of battery life. I pre-ordered it, and after an agonizing month of waiting for it to be released, one fine day it arrived. Here are my thoughts:
Build The machine seems to be built very well. There is very little flex in the case or keyboard. The LCD is adequately shielded and does not blur or spot when I push on the back. The hinges are good, and the LCD will stay open in any position without wobble. The laptop closes with a latch, which clicks in place.
Asus Z71V Back Side (view larger image)
Asus Z71V Right Side (view larger image)
Asus Z71V Front Side (view larger image)
Asus Z71V Left Side (view larger image)
Asus Z71V Above view closed (view larger image)
Weight & Mobility The notebook weighs 6.5 pounds. It's a little bit heavier than I'm used to, but still definitely portable. I like the included carrying case, and it's easy to carry the computer and adapter along with various books, especially when using the included shoulder strap.
Screen The screen looks good. The high resolution gives me the impression that I have a lot more room to work with, which is nice. The viewing angles are very acceptable, and the screen does not wash out when viewed from even extreme angles. Having a widescreen is also nice, as I am able to look at several open windows at the same time. Colors are vibrant, and pictures and video both appear sharp and clear. The screen does have one oddity: on solid colors, especially bright green and white, I can observe a slight sheen or sparkle. I do not notice this at all when looking at pictures, watching movies, or playing games, but it is noticeable when word processing, due to the solid white background. It does not bother me, and I stop noticing it fairly quickly, but for those who are more sensitive to this kind of thing, it might be an issue. As an addition, this notebook comes with an Ambient Light Sensor (ALS). This adjusts the screen brightness to the room brightness, so in a bright room, the screen will be bright, and in a darker room, the screen will automatically dim until it reaches optimal brightness. I find this feature extremely useful because it means I never have to adjust the screen's brightness manually (although I could turn off ALS and do that instead if I wanted to). I can just adjust the range of ALS brightness and I never have to think about it again. This feature also extends battery life.
Asus Z71V Screen (view larger image)
Asus Z71V Screen Vertical Viewing Angle Example (view larger image)
Asus Z71V Screen Horizontal Viewing Angle (view larger image)
Sound The sound is provided by two speakers in the front of the laptop, and it is some of the finest sound that I have ever heard come from laptop speakers. DVD audio comes across clear and sufficiently loud to be heard in the next room. It still has volume limits, and playing classical music that has a wide range of volume is not recommended, but the sound is rich, and there is a built-in audio mixing console where you can adjust the different frequencies and add effects.
Keyboard The keyboard feels great. The keys are nearly silent, and have adequate bounce.
Asus Z71V Keyboard (view larger image)
Touchpad The touchpad works well in general. It is somewhat sensitive, so I had to get used to typing so I did not accidentally brush past it, and click on something inadvertently. The 2 buttons work well, although they are distinctly louder than the keyboard buttons. The scrollbar is useful, also.
Asus Z71V Touchpad (view larger image)
Performance and Benchmarks Here are some general system benchmarks that will give an idea of the overall power and speed of the notebook.
Time to boot up: 30 seconds PCMark04: 3594 Time to calculate Pi to 2 million digits in Super Pi: 1 minute, 38 seconds
We use the program Super Pi to get a benchmark of processor speed. The Super Pi program simply forces the processor to calculate Pi to a selected number of digits of accuracy. Calculating to 2 million digits is our benchmark. Below is a comparison chart of how the Asus Z71V with it's 1.86GHz processor stacked up to other similar notebooks when running this calculation:
Pentium M 750 Processor (1.86 Ghz Pentium M)
Notebook
Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
Asus Z71V (1.86 GHz Pentium M)
1m 38s
IBM ThinkPad T43 (1.86GHz Pentium M)
1m 45s
Fujitsu LifeBook N3510 (1.73 GHz Pentium M)
1m 48s
IBM ThinkPad T41 (1.6GHz Pentium M)
2m 23s
Compaq R3000T (Celeron 2.8GHz)
3m 3s
Dell Inspiron 600m (1.6 GHz Pentium M)
2m 10s
Dell Inspiron 8600 (1.7GHz Pentium M)
2m 28s
Stock benchmarks on AC Power using Nvidia 71.13 driver, 250/400 clock:
3DMark01 SE: 12904
3DMark03: 4358
3DMark05: 1706
Aquamark3: 29822
The 3DMarks listed above were somewhat below those achieved by the Acer 8104 (approx. 2300 in 3DMark05), but considerably higher than those for the Sager 3790 (approx. 1000 in 3DMark05). Still, I updated the drivers for my graphics card and overclocked it a bit to see if I could get higher scores. Geared2Play, one of the websites selling the computer, suggested that the ideal overclock speed was 290 core & 573 memory, so those are the speeds at which I set it.
Overclocked benchmarks on AC power using Nvidia 76.50 driver, 290/571 clock:
3DMark01 SE: 13569
3DMark03: 5310
3DMark05: 2126
Aquamark3: 36455
These benchmarks are much closer to the Acer's scores, and I am happy with them. Before I switch to the next area, though, here's a warning about overclocking: if you overclock the graphics card too much, it will overheat and will cease to work correctly. Since it is a $200.00 replacement part, please be careful if you choose to overclock.
Battery Life The battery lasted 2.25 hours playing a DVD. Doing basic applications (word processing, surfing the internet, etc.), it lasts between 3.5 and 4 hours. Not nearly the 6.5 hours that Asus claimed is the ceiling, but still enough to easily get through my 3.5 hour long classes. If you're going to be on a long flight or need more than 4 hours of battery life, I'd suggest getting the modular battery option that swaps for the optical drive.
Heat & Fan NoiseThe laptop stays wonderfully cool most of the time. According to Mobile Meter, the CPU has a temperature range of 37-66 degrees Celsius, averaging 40 degrees Celsius on battery and 58 degrees on AC power. And the only place it gets noticeably warm is on the bottom in the back. It's not uncomfortably hot even after over 6 hours of use.
The laptop has 2 fans: the chipset fan and the CPU fan. The chipset fan is on all the time, but is virtually soundless. When I first powered up my computer, I literally could not hear any noise whatsoever. The CPU fan comes on when the CPU gets to 55 degrees Celsius and is audible, but stays fairly quiet most of the time. The only time it speeds up is when doing heavy gaming and during very CPU intensive applications, like running Super Pi.
Audio DJ CD player: There are some buttons on the front of the laptop which are used to play CDs without booting into the computer's operating system. In my opinion, this feature would have been much more effective if it played DVDs. CD playback is only so-so. Music seems to play well, but vocal can easily be drowned out by instruments, and it's sometimes hard to hear what the singers are singing. It varies from CD to CD, in my experience.
DVD+/-RW drive: The drive works well for me. Burn time for a 60-minute CD was 6 minutes. Read/load time takes a bit longer than I'm used to from my roommate's desktop, but it is still acceptable. Time to completely install Myst 3: Exile (4 CDs): 30-40 minutes The only thing about the drive that I don't like is that it's the loudest part of the computer when it spins.
Pricing and reseller experience: I bought mine for $1940.33 US dollars from Integrated System Technologies. I would highly recommend them to anyone who is planning to buy a new computer. Rick, the owner, answered a string of questions that I had about the notebook when I first placed my order, and Gwen, the co-owner, sent me e-mails detailing the Z71v's process through pre-order, build, and shipping. It was discovered that the Intel 2200 wireless card (that I ordered) had an issue with the chipset of the Z71v, so IST upgraded it to the Intel 2915 for free. They even set my name up in Windows! You can't do any better than that!
OverallPros:
solid build
low heat & quiet fans
high resolution screen
good video power/performance
good quiet keyboard
adequate battery life
Cons:
screen sparkle exists
Audio DJ does not play DVDs
DVD+/-RW drive can get loud when it spins up
touchpad sensitivity takes a little getting used to
Overall Rating: 4.5/5, highly recommended

Acer Travelmate 8100

And so it has happened. The new mobile platform from Intel, the successor to the just cause of the first Centrino generation has been officially announced. Thanks to the Moscow representative office of Acer, we had an opportunity to lay our hands on the new platform, so we run some express tests on Sonoma-based TravelMate 8100 notebook. If you are interested in technical details, I recommend to take a look at the test results obtained in RightMark Memory Analyzer (link). In this article I'll try to show you what the notebook based on Intel Sonoma is like. Unfortunately I had little precious time to examine the notebook completely, that's why some aspects will not get the coverage they deserve. But later on, we shall certainly review the new Intel product in more detail.
There were no official specifications available at the time this article was finished, so the technical characteristics were estimated by eye. So, what do we see when we turn on the notebook?
And more details are below.
Technical characteristics of TravelMate 8100
Processor: Intel® Pentium® M Dothan 2 GHz (2Mb/FSB 533)
Chipset: Intel® 915PM
Memory: 1 GB DDR2 400 (our sample is equipped with 2x512 DDR2 533 SDRAM)
Display: 15.4" TFT LCD, 1680 x 1050
Graphics: ATI MOBILITY™ RADEON™ X700 with 128 MB of video memory; ATI POWERPLAY™ support
Audio: Realtec High Definition Audio
HDD: Toshiba MK8026GAX 80 GB
Drive: detachable DVD-Super Multi HL-DT-ST DVD-RW GWA-4080N
Additional devices:
card reader SD MMC MS MS Pro xD
Smart Card Reader
Communications:
Gigabit Ethernet
Modem: 56K ITU V.92
Built-in Intel® PRO/Wireless 2915ABG 802.11a/b/g wireless adapter
Bluetooth (optional, not installed in our sample)
I/O ports
4 x USB 2.0
1x Infrared port (FIR)
1x VGA for an external monitor
1x DVI for an external monitor
1x TV Out
1x 32bit type II PCMCIA CardBus slot
1x IEEE 1394 port
1x RJ-11
1x RJ-45
1 x SPDIF/headphone
1x microphone
1x DC-in (power supply)
1x 100-pin docking connector for Port Replicator
Power supply
4.4 Ah Li-ion battery block
65 W AC adapter
So, let's try to interpret what we have seen. The processor looks the same – 2 GHz Dothan, but that's a wrong impression – FSB frequency is raised from 400 to 533 MHz. The notebook uses a new memory type – DDR2 400 instead of DDR333. PCI Express support is available – the notebook is equipped with ATI X700. But the hard disk is with parallel interface here, Serial ATA support is not yet employed. A pleasant addon: High Definition Audio codec and a card reader for practically all modern card types, including xD Card. On the whole, practically everything is implemented as expected. Almost all possible interfaces are available.
Now, let's digress from the technology and have a look at the case that envelopes all this excellence of technical genius.
First Impressions

The notebook is designed in the same new Acer style, which we have already seen in TravelMate 3200. TravelMate 8100 has a traditional display latch, and the case bears even a stronger resemblance to a stylish folio. Larger part of the rear side is occupied by a battery. DVI and TV outs are to the left, docking connector for Port Replicator is to the right.

The front panel is traditional for Acer notebooks – the speakers are located on the front panel, buttons-indicators for 802.11b/g and Bluetooth as well as the power and battery charge indicators are located between them. Infrared port and a card reader are also placed here. Compare it to TravelMate 8000. The block of audio jacks in TravelMate 8100 is also located on the front panel. All would be well, but I personally don't like the front location of S/PDIF.

Left flank (left to right):
VGA port
Air vents
LAN port
Phone line connector
USB port
IEEE1394 port
PC Card slot
Smart Card slot (below).

Right flank (in the same order):
3 x USB
Optical drive
Power cable connector
Kensington lock hole
.
This model has a flat bottom.
.
On the bottom there are battery and modular bay latches as well as hatches to mini-PCI, HDD and memory bays.
Impressions and Ergonomics

Inside the notebook you will see a combination of classics and modernity. Classics – curved keyboard, typical of TravelMate models. Both the form and the layout of the keyboard are modified. The form has become stricter, and the layout – more convenient. At last there appeared a traditional right button column with PgUp, PgDn, Home and End. The vacant room in the cursor block is originally occupied by dollar and euro signs. Modernity – general design of the "work surface" and touch pad, similar to those used in TravelMate 3200. As I have already written, the new touch pad form has not degraded ergonomics.
The power button, Lock indicators and drive activity lights are located over the keyboard on the left,

application buttons are on the right (by default – email client, browser, Acer eManager, and Launch Manager).

Unlike TravelMate 3200, the buttons are silvery instead of being in the same style with indicators. Their dimensions haven't grown though – the buttons are still too small. But the small power button is surprisingly easy to use. Besides, it looks spectacular, especially highlighted with green, when the notebook is powered.
We haven't carried out a thorough test of the matrix because we had little time. At the first sight, nothing is wrong with it. The same concerns audio. Built-in speakers will hardly let you feel the difference even between a High-End device and a cheap player, and we had neither time, nor good ear or expertise to test the codec using external devices and S/PDIF Out.
The software bundle includes (it's probably the standard set now) a proprietary power management utility – Acer ePowerManagement. It completely replaces the standard Microsoft utility – when you try to run Power Management from Control Panel, the system informs you that "you have a much better tool" and loads the utility from Acer.

This utility has a nice and intuitive design, all necessary features are available, you can even disable LAN, CardBus, and IEEE1394. This model can correctly change the CPU speed. In Maximum mode, CPU frequency reduction has been really disabled, and in Low mode the CPU frequency is reduced to 600 MHz by decreasing the FSB frequency.
What concerns heating – the air vents on the self side expel rather hot air, and the hard disk under your right palm is warm.
On the whole – a very showy and stylish model, practically without ergonomic flaws.
And now, several words about the service.
Service and Tech Support
As we have already written, Acer has a representative office in Moscow – Acer CIS Inc., which must guarantee the high level of service.
Warranty. Warranty for Acer notebooks lasts 2 years.
Service. Acer notebooks are attended in the service center of the Acer CIS Inc representative office in Moscow. Any of the authorized service centers (the list is published on the official site) can diagnose a notebook and repair it in some cases. Though in most cases notebooks got sent to the central service-center. Of course if the warranty for your notebook hasn't yet expired. If the warranty is expired, authorized service centers will repair it in situ.
Web site. Web site in Russian. Intuitive web site, it contains descriptions, specifications, and recommended prices. There is a database of drivers and BIOS updates, though it provides links to the original sources. Which is no problem, though.
We tested hot-line support, when we reviewed TravelMate350. In short – it works.
Upgrading
When the warranty is not yet expired, any upgrades should be done in authorized service centers. After the warranty is over, you can increase the memory capacity and replace a hard disk on your own.
Testing the notebook
It would have been logical to take a representative of the previous generation Centrino with Dothan 2 GHz CPU and ATI M11 video card for comparison purposes. We tested such a model – ASUS M6Ne, it also has 1 GB of RAM, the matrix has the same properties, but the trouble is that it has only 64 MB of video memory. That's why we have taken iRU Brava 4717, a desktop replacement class representative, as a third contender.

TravelMate 8100
ASUS M6Ne
iRU Brava 4717
CPU
Intel P-M Dothan (Sonoma) 2 GHz
Intel P-M Dothan 2 GHz
Intel P4 3.0 GHz
Chipset
Intel 915PM+ICH6 (?)
Intel 855PM+ICH4M
SiS 648+SiS963UA
Matrix
15.4" 1680 x 1050
17" 1440x900
Graphics
ATI X700, 128MB
ATI M11, 64 MB
ATI M11, 128 MB
RAM
1 GB DDR2 400 SDRAM
1 GB DDR333 SDRAM
512MB DDR400 SDRAM
HDD
80 GB 5400 rpm
Battery capacity
4.4 Ah
n/a
We shall certainly compare only Centrino notebooks by their battery life, that's why the battery capacity in Brava 4717 does not matter. Unfortunately, battery voltage in TravelMate 8100 is not specified (ASUS M6Ne – 14.8V).
So, battery life. Proprietary power management utilities are disabled, Portable/Laptop power consumption mode, ATI POWERPLAY™ is enabled, default settings.

It's not a joke, I swear it. The results are really the same. The reasons why the faster memory does not contribute to these results are explained in the review devoted to system tests in RightMark Memory Analiser (link) – DDR2 usage is conditioned by lesser power consumption. Higher FSB frequency has no effect on the test results either.
Let's see the situation with power consumption. But I shall note right away that it's not clear what contribution is made by video controllers, so this comparison is not quite correct.

A little advantage of TravelMate 8100. If take the results of this model separately, three hours and a half of battery life for such a powerful notebook are an excellent result.
Now, line supply.

The desktop processor still outscores mobile systems in the Internet Content Creation test. The new model demonstrated approximately the same result as ASUS M6Ne, and slightly outscored it in the Office Productivity test.
Now – graphics. Default Direct3D and OpenGL settings.

Wow! Practically two-fold advantage of TravelMate 8100!

The same picture here. By readers' requests I shall publish fps values in games with different Anti Aliasing settings.

And finally – OpenGL gaming tests. The sound card is disabled.


TravelMate 8100 advantage is noticeable in this test as well. The higher resolution and quality are, the more prominent it is.
So, performance of the new platform differs little from its predecessor in standard tests at first glance, but the new PCI Express controller allows considerably increased performance in 3D graphics – the bottleneck of modern notebooks. Though one should note that this is the first sample, so the results may change noticeably in the course of driver development.
Conclusions
As I have already written – it's the first short contact with the new platform. Ahead lie detailed tests, including tests of the new integrated video from Intel. But now I can say that the new video controller from ATI has allowed considerable performance gains in games. What concerns Acer TravelMate 8100 – its design matches its innards. This is a stylish and convenient notebook. It's a pity the new platform will come with the same Centrino logo – no chances of boasting

Friday, August 05, 2005




Acer Ferrari 4000

Acer goes from the brilliant red design of the Acer Ferrari 3000 to a more conservative—but just as sleek—black checkered design. It retains some of the cool-looking red streaks along the side and front edge of the notebook, and yes, the yellow prancing horse emblem still graces the center of the notebook. The cover is made from carbon fiber, which is stronger and lighter than aluminum. (Acer uses it only in its Ferrari line.) The interior of the Ferrari 4000 has a rubberized coating, perhaps emulating the look of Formula One tires. The keyboard has an ergonomic smile contour to it, which is okay for typing but takes a few minutes to get used to. The only real design complaint we have is that the mouse buttons are a bit noisy when pressed.
Though not as eye-popping as many of today's specially treated screens, such as the Editors' Choice-winning HP Pavilion dv4000's ($1429) BrightView screen, the Ferrari's 15.4-inch LCD is vivid enough for movie watching, even with the matte finish, thanks to its high resolution (1,680-by-1,050).
The 6.6-pound Ferrari 4000 comes with a good feature set, including four USB ports, a FireWire port, and a 5-in-1 card reader (MMC, MS, MS Pro, SD, XD). Video connections include both VGA and DVI-D ports. Built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi 802.11g are included, as is a dual-layer DVD±RW drive. The Toshiba Qosmio F25 ($1, 999) has a greater range of AV ports, including a TV tuner. The Ferrari 4000 also comes with an impressively large and fast 100GB hard drive (5,400 rpm). Many of today's notebook hard drives, like the 80GB drive (4,200 rpm) found in the HP dv4000, are smaller and slower.
With hardware like the 1.8-GHz Turion 64 ML-34 processor, double the memory (1GB DDR RAM), and a faster hard drive, the Ferrari 4000 edged out the HP dv4000 on our SYSmark 2004 tests. The Ferrari 4000's terrific graphics chipset trounced the dv4000's integrated Intel chipset and helped the system achieve impressive gaming results. Battery life reached 3 hours 43 minutes, thanks mostly to the 71-Wh battery.
The Acer Ferrari 4000 has a great new look, and new hardware under the hood makes it purr.