HP Compaq 2230s Review

HP Compaq 2230s
The HP Compaq 2230s is an ultra-portable consumer notebook that is targeted towards small businesses similar to the Dell Vostro or Lenovo SL series line of machines. This notebook gives consumers a less expensive option than the HP EliteBook series, with a starting price of $999 instead of $1,679. How well does the 2230s hold up against business-grade notebooks? Should you purchase one of these or consider a similarly-priced consumer notebook? Let's take a closer look and find out.

Our review unit of the HP Compaq 2230s came with the following options:

* Windows XP Professional
* Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P8400 (2.26GHz)
* 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM (maximum capacity 8GB)
* 160GB Toshiba HDD (5400rpm)
* 12.1" diagonal widescreen glossy TFT LCD display at 1280x 800 (WXGA, glossy)
* Intel 4500MHD Integrated Graphics
* 8x DVD (+/-R double layer) drive
* Intel Wireless WiFi Link 5100AGN (802.11a/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.0
* Dimensions: 13.3 x 9.7 x 1.21”
* Weight: 3lbs 14.6oz, 4lbs 11.4oz with AC adapter
* 65W 100-240V AC adapter
* 4-cell (37Wh) Lithium Ion battery
* Price as tested: $1,249 (starting price: $999)

Build and Design

The design of the HP Compaq 2230s is somewhat like a black Apple MacBook, with a clean all-black plastic exterior. As far as business notebooks go, it is HP’s attempt to compete with the Dell Vostro line, offering a more consumer look and feel to a business notebook. The all-black color scheme continues into the interior of the notebook, with the palmrest, touchpad, keyboard, and trim all covered in matching black. An interesting design change over a consumer notebook is the touch sensitive controls above the keyboard which normally activate media functions. On the HP 2230s, these control system functions such as external displays, wireless on/off, and volume.

The build quality turned out to be very unappealing and unlike what we've come to expect from a business or even small business grade notebook. The moment you pick up the 2230s you'll notice a great deal of flex in the screen cover from very thin unsupported plastic. Opening up the notebook you find the same thing around the main chassis, with weak plastic surrounding the keyboard. The palmrest has plenty of flex on either side, with the side above the optical drive being the worse of the two. On the optical drive side you have flex on the palmrest as well as the bottom shell when gripping the notebook from the side. The notebook feels more like a budget consumer notebook than a small business notebook with a starting price of $999. The only real advantage of the thin plastic material used is the total notebook weight is kept at a minimum. Unfortunately, the thin plastics don't give this notebook a feeling of durability.

Display

The glossy WXGA display on the HP Compaq 2230s is pretty nice, with vibrant colors and high contrast. Black levels are average with some grey apparent in dark settings depending on the angle you are viewing the panel. Vertical viewing angles are adequate for regular day-to-day use, but colors invert when outside of the 10-15 degree up or down sweet spot. Horizontal viewing angles are better, keeping colors true even to the very edge of being able to still see the screen from the side of the notebook. Brightness levels are above average, enough to comfortably view the screen in a bright office setting. Using the notebook outside would be limited with the glossy display because of reflections, but should be fine as long as you are under shade.





Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard could be considered one of the redeeming factors of this notebook, offering a very comfortable typing surface with very solid support. Unlike the screen cover, palmrest, or case, the keyboard exhibits no flex at all ... even under strong pressure. Individual key action is smooth with a muted click when fully pressed. Key spacing and size is excellent even with the small 12” form factor. The only part I feel could be improved is the size of the function keys, which are almost 1/3 the overall size of a standard key.

The touchpad is a Synaptics model, with a smooth matte texture surface that is seamless with the palmrest. The size is great without feeling cramped, offering plenty of space even with the scroll bar section. The touchpad buttons have a long throw offering soft feedback with no audible clicks.

Performance and Benchmarks

System performance with the Intel P8400 processor and 2GB of memory with Windows XP was great. The notebook had excellent boot and shutdown times, and showed no signs of lag throughout day-to-day applications. Graphics performance was limited with the Intel 4500MHD integrated chipset, but the advantage of the integrated chipset is greater battery life. If you were looking to spice up your day at work with a game or two, older games such as Half-Life would run very well on the slower graphics found inside this notebook.

Another potentially performance-related feature worth mentioning is that HP provides a Windows Vista license and offers business customers the option of keeping Vista installed on the notebook or having a "custom install" of Windows XP direct from the factory. For those businesses that still prefer to run their office network with Windows XP machines, this is an important feature you won't find on consumer notebooks.

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi.

Speakers and Audio

Speaker performance was limited, with poor bass and midrange, and low peak volume levels. For watching the occasional streaming news clip or YouTube video they would work just fine, but for movies and music your best bet is a nice pair of headphones.

Audio output quality was great with my Sennheiser HD80 headphones connected. Peak volume levels were well above anything I would want to listen to.

Ports and Features

The HP Compaq 2230s offers an impressive amount of features for a notebook with integrated Intel graphics. It offers three USB ports, HDMI and VGA out, ExpressCard/34 and multi-card reader, an optical drive, and modem and network connections. Being the small business notebook that it is, the 2230s also has a touch-sensitive panel to quickly access monitor out features, the HP Info Center, wireless on/off, and volume controls.


Front:Mic/Headphone


Rear: Screen hinge


Left: AC Power, LAN, Modem, one USB, Optical drive


Right: ExpressCard/34, Mutli-Card Reader, HDMI, two USB, VGA, Kensington Lock Slot

Heat and Noise

The cooling system on this notebook worked very well, keeping the system cool to the touch even while it was under a stressful load. Under battery power the system fan remained off the majority of the time, only spinning up if you were doing something processor intensive. The moment you plug the machine into AC power the fan turns on at low speed, which could best be described as a quiet drone. While benchmarking the system the fan noise increased quite a bit, but it kept system temperatures in check.



Battery

Battery performance was good considering the stock battery in the HP Compaq 2230s is only a 4-cell 37Wh model. This is probably the smallest battery found in a business notebook, and has no upgrade path to a larger battery. In our testing the average power draw from the notebook settled around 9 watts under a standard load. With the screen brightness set to 60 percent, wireless enabled and active, and the power profile set to "Portable/Laptop" the HP Compaq 2230s managed 3 hours and 30 minutes before it shutdown at 5 percent remaining. For a business notebook of this size we would normally expect a larger battery and battery life exceeding five hours.

Conclusion

The HP Compaq 2230s is a conservative-looking notebook with some features targeted towards small business users. Unlike most business or small business notebooks, this notebook doesn’t offer the rugged feel, only a rugged look. The plastic used throughout the design is weak even when compared to the HP Pavilion lineup. While the keyboard is impressive, it doesn’t outweigh the lackluster build quality. For small businesses my best recommendation would be to look at notebooks such as the HP Pavilion tx2500z or stepping up to the HP EliteBook series.

Pros:

* Solid keyboard
* Nice touchpad and soft touch buttons
* VGA and HDMI output with Intel 4500MHD integrated graphics
* Excellent cooling system
* Availabile with Windows XP for customers who still want it

Cons:

* Flexible chassis
* High price considering configuration and durability
* 4-cell battery option only


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Apple MacBook Pro MB134LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop



Stylishly and intelligently designed for mobile professionals, Apple's MacBook Pro now includes Apple's Multi-Touch technology (which debuted with the MacBook Air), allowing you to pinch, swipe, or rotate to enlarge text, advance through photos, or adjust an image. And it gets a serious speed bump from Intel's latest 2.5 GHz 45-nanometer Penryn series Core 2 Duo processor (with 6 MB L2 cache), which also helps to reduce power requirements and save on battery life. This model (MB134LL/A ) also has a mercury-free, power-efficient LED-backlit display measuring 15.4 inches and a state-of-the art NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT video card with 512 MB of GDDR3 video RAM.



The 15-inch MacBook Pro offers a mercury-free, power-efficient LED-backlit display with an antiglare finish that's perfect for color-minded professionals.
Meticulously designed and encased in sleek and sturdy aluminum, the MacBook Pro measures just 1 inch thin and weighs 5.4 pounds. Your hands have room to spread out on the full-size keyboard with crisp, responsive keys, and the MacBook Pro has a built-in ambient light sensor that adjusts the keyboard and display brightness so it's easy to work in low-light settings. Other standard Apple "extras" includes a built-in iSight video camera and Apple's magnetically connected MagSafe power adapter, which safely disconnects when under strain.

It's pre-loaded with Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system, which enables easy backup of your most important data via Time Machine, a redesigned desktop that helps eliminate clutter. It also comes with the iLife '08 suite of applications--including iPhoto, iMovie, Garageband, and iTunes--and the newest version of the fast-loading Safari web browser. Other hardware features include a 250 GB hard drive, 2 GB of installed RAM (which can be upgraded to 4 GB), an 8x combo Superdrive (for burning dual-layer DVDs as well as CDs), built-in Gigabit Ethernet for high-speed networking, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), FireWire 400 and 800 ports, DVI video output, and an ExpressCard/34 expansion card slot for expansion solutions such as 3G wireless networking.

Apple Innovations
The MacBook Pro is the culmination of years of refining hardware and software design to an integrated art, and Apple's Multi-Touch technology is just the latest innovation to be added to it. The advanced trackpad now allows you to flip through photos, enlarge text, and adjust an image using just your fingers. It also comes with a MagSafe power adapter connector, which offers a magnetic connection instead of a physical one. So, if you happen to trip over a power cord, you won't send MacBook Pro flying off a table or desk--the cord simply disconnects, without damage to either the cord or the system.



The magnetically connected MagSafe power adapter breaks cleanly away, without damage to either the cord or the MacBook Pro.
The MacBook Pro has battery life that rivals most notebooks in its class. If you'd like to make that battery last even longer, Mac OS X has a few tricks up its sleeve. Go to System Preferences, click Energy Saver, and change battery optimization from Normal to Better Battery Life. Or tell MacBook Pro to reduce its screen brightness and give yourself a little more time untethered.

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
Experience improved energy efficiency, expanded wireless connectivity, and amazing battery life with the 45nm Penryn series Intel Core 2 Duo T9300 processor, which has a 2.50 GHz processor speed, super-fast 800 MHz front-side bus (FSB), and a super-sized 6 MB L2 cache. (An L2, or secondary, cache temporarily stores data; and a larger L2 cache can help speed up your system's performance. The FSB carries data between the CPU and RAM, and a faster front-side bus will deliver better overall performance.)

The new hafnium-infused circuitry--which reduces electrical current leakage in transistors--conserves even more energy, giving you more time away from the wall outlet. With a whopping 6 MB of shared L2 cache, data and instructions can be kept close to the two processor cores, greatly increasing performance and allowing the entire system to work more efficiently. And, because the processor cores share the L2 cache, either can use the entire amount if the other happens to be idle.



Your hands have room to spread out on the full-size keyboard with crisp, responsive keys.
Hard Drive and Memory
The 250 GB Serial-ATA (SATA) hard drive (5400 RPM) quickens the pace with a higher speed transfer of data--akin to FireWire and USB 2.0. The 2 GB of PC5300 DDR2 RAM (two SO-DIMMs of 1024 MB) have an industry-leading 667 MHz speed, and the RAM capacity can be increased to 4 GB.

Wireless Connectivity
The built-in 802.11n wireless networking provides up to five times the performance and twice the range of 802.11g, but it's also backward-compatible with 802.11a/b/g routers, enabling you to communicate with the a wide variety of Wi-Fi resources. It works seamlessly with the new AirPort Extreme with 802.11n. Use the built-in Bluetooth wireless technology to connect to your PDA or cell phone, synchronize addresses, or download pictures from your cell phone. You can also use a wireless headset for iChat audio chats and VoIP calls as well as quickly share files with a colleague.

Display and Graphics
The 15.4-inch widescreen TFT display offers a native resolution of 1440 x 900 pixels and an antiglare widescreen display that's perfect for color-minded professionals. The display is backlit by light emitting diodes (LEDs), which gives it a lighter weight and more power efficiency than the cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs) which most notebooks employ. It's also better for the environment, thanks to its new mercury-free display.

Video and graphics are powered by the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT card, which is boosted by 512 MB of GDDR3 SDRAM. GDDR3 (Graphics Double Data Rate, version 3) is a graphics card-specific memory technology that's better able to deliver fluid frame rates for even the most advanced games and applications. The GeForce 8600M GT brings a new level of realism to the MacBook Pro with its 16-lane PCI Express architecture, 16x full screen anti-aliasing, 128-bit High Dynamic Range rendering, and a texture fill rate of up to 8.2 billion per second.

Video Conferencing with Built-in iSight
Artfully placed in the display bezel is an iSight camera, which enables easy video conferencing as well as allows you to snap pictures of yourself and create video podcasts. Using the iChat AV application, video conferencing is integrated into your iChat buddy list, so initiating a video conference is a breeze. iChat also lets you hold audio chats with up to 10 people and provides high-quality audio compression and full-duplex sound so conversation can flow naturally. For video podcasting, you can record a short clip using the iSight camera, then use iWeb to create a video blog entry or post your GarageBand-recorded podcast.



Connect to your network, a desktop monitor and all your peripherals with two USB 2.0, one FireWire 400, one FireWire 800, one DVI video output, and one Gigabit Ethernet.
Other Features
  • Two USB 2.0 ports, one FireWire 400, one FireWire 800, ExpressCard/34 slot
  • DVI output port; VGA output using included DVI to VGA adapter
  • 8x slot-loading SuperDrive with the following write speeds: 8x DVD±R; 4x DVD±R DL (double layer); 4x DVD±RW; 24x CD-R; 10x CD-RW
  • Backlit keyboard with ambient light sensors for automatic adjustment of keyboard illumination and screen brightness
  • Internal omnidirectional microphone and built-in speakers
  • Combined optical digital output/headphone out (minijack)
  • Combined optical digital input/audio line in (minijack)
  • 60-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery (with integrated charge indicator LEDs) providing up to 6 hours of battery life
  • Kensington cable lock slot
  • Measures 14.1 x 9.6 x 1 inches (WxDxH) and weighs 5.4 pounds (including battery)




Preloaded with Leopard, you'll enjoy enhanced productivity and a clutter-free desktop (thanks to the redesigned 3-D Dock with Stacks).
Preloaded with Leopard and iLife '08
The biggest Mac OS X upgrade ever, the Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system features over 300 new features, including:
  • Time Machine, an effortless way to automatically back up everything on a Mac
  • A redesigned Finder that lets users quickly browse and share files between multiple Macs
  • Quick Look, a new way to instantly see files without opening an application
  • Spaces, an intuitive new feature used to create groups of applications and instantly switch between them
  • A brand new desktop with Stacks, a new way to easily access files from the Dock
  • Major enhancements to Mail and iChat
Leopard's new desktop includes the redesigned 3-D Dock with Stacks, a new way to organize files for quick and easy access with just one click. Leopard automatically places web, e-mail and other downloads in a Downloads stack to maintain a clutter-free desktop, and you can instantly fan the contents of this and other Stacks into an elegant arc right from the Dock. The updated Finder includes Cover Flow and a new sidebar with a dramatically simplified way to search for, browse and copy content from any PC or Mac on a local network.

Time Machine lets you easily back up all of the data on your Mac, find lost files and even restore all of the software on their Mac. With just a one-click setup, Time Machine automatically keeps an up-to-date copy of everything on the Mac. In the event a file is lost, you can search back through time to find deleted files, applications, photos and other digital media and then instantly restore the file.

The MacBook also comes with the iLife '08 suite of applications that make it easy to live the digital life. Use iPhoto to share entire high-res photo albums with anyone who's got an e-mail address. Record your own songs and podcasts with GarageBand. Break into indie filmmaking with iMovie and iDVD. Then take all the stuff you made on your MacBook and share it on the web in one click with iWeb.

Included Software
Mac OS X v10.5 Leopard (includes Time Machine, Quick Look, Spaces, Spotlight, Dashboard, Mail, iChat, Safari, Address Book, QuickTime, iCal, DVD Player, Photo Booth, Front Row, Xcode Developer Tools); iLife '08 (includes iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD, iWeb, GarageBand); Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac Test Drive; iWork '08 (30-day trial)

What's in the Box
MacBook Pro, 85W MagSafe Power Adapter, AC wall plug, and power cord, lithium-polymer battery, DVI to VGA adapter, display cleaning cloth, install/restore DVDs, printed and electronic documentation


Continue Read Apple MacBook Pro MB134LL/A 15.4-inch Laptop

Alienware Area-51 m17x Review

Alienware Area-51 m17x
The m17x is Alienware's highest-end gaming notebook. Notable features of this all-black monster include an Intel Core 2 Extreme processor, dual Nvidia GeForce 9800M-GT graphics cards, and a 500GB RAID 0 array. It is one of the most powerful machines we have tested here at NotebookReview.com.

Our review unit has the following specifications:

* 17-inch WUXGA (1920x1200) glossy display
* Intel Core 2 Extreme X9000 (2.8GHz/ 4MB L2/ 800MHz FSB) processor
* Dual Nvidia GeForce 9800M-GT 512MB graphics cards in SLI
* 4GB DDR2-667 RAM
* 500GB RAID 0 (2x 250GB 7200RPM Samsung) hard drive
* Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit
* AlienFX lighting and backlit keyboard
* Internal TV tuner & remote control
* Alienware Orion messenger bag

As of writing, the Area-51 m17x starts at $3,849; our configuration totals $5,899. Note that our test unit includes several costly items such as the Intel Extreme processor and RAID 0 array. The m17x is only available from Alienware directly.

Build and Design

This all-black monster is one of the largest notebooks I have tested. It is 2.1 inches thick and tips the scales at 11 pounds. The physical design of the m17x is traditional – there are no fancy curves or other design elements. It has a box-like design with rounded edges. The rubberized matte black finish of the m17x lends it a high-end feel and look. The only glossy finish to be found on the m17x is on the borders of the LCD.

In addition to being one of the largest, this notebook is also one of the most solidly-build notebooks I have tested. The entire base of the notebook is inflexible. The palmrests do not budge under pressure, and neither do the other surfaces surrounding the keyboard. The base of the notebook does not bend when twisted, and the lid resists twisting better than the majority of 17-inch notebooks. The m17x’s lid is thicker than most. Pushing in on the back of the lid does not yield any ripples on the screen unless extreme pressure is used. The hinge holds the display in place well; there is some display wobble, though it takes effort to induce (such as shaking the table where the notebook is sitting). Given the size and weight of this display, I think the wobble is reasonably kept under control. The display does not have any latches but is instead held closed by a pair of small magnets.

The lighting system, called AlienFX, is what makes the m17x stand out from the crowd. Five areas of the notebook feature LED backlighting:

* Keyboard
* Touchpad
* Touch buttons
* Alienware logo below display
* Alien head power button and emblem on back of display

Each zone can be changed independently to one of 12 colors. In addition, it is easy to completely disable AlienFX by pressing [Fn] + [F11].



Overall, the design of the m17x is traditional yet attractive; it has a quality finish and feel. The machine is solid and well made.

Display

The m17x comes standard with the only display available, a 17-inch glossy widescreen with a WUXGA resolution (1920x1200 pixels). The picture quality of this display is stunning – colors are vibrant and the brightness level is high. This screen is ideal for gaming, high-definition video, and general use. The crisp contrast makes reading text easy. Viewing angles are excellent from above and side-to-side, however like a typical LCD, the picture darkens viewed from below. The backlighting is generally even, with only a hint from the bottom of the screen.




On the whole, the m17x definitely has one of the best displays I have seen on a notebook

Speakers

The m17x has two stereo speakers and a two-inch subwoofer. The sound quality is slightly above average for a notebook, and they get reasonably loud. The subwoofer adds some needed low-end. The sound system on the whole is unremarkable however not disappointing.

Heat and Noise

The cooling system is important on any notebook, but on a notebook packed with high-powered components like the m17x, it is mission critical. Fortunately the m17x’s system is up to the task. The notebook has several rather large fans that draw air in from numerous perforations on the bottom of the notebook and two additional air intakes under the palmrests. The entire back of the notebook is lined with exhaust vents, which throw out extraordinary amounts of hot air. The cooling system does a remarkable job of keeping two video cards, a high-powered processor, and two hard drives under control:

I ran the m17x under continuous full load for in excess of five hours and experienced no issues. The top of the notebook never got warm; the back of the notebook where the vents are got toasty due to all the hot air running above it. The m17x’s cooling system is well-designed; each video card has its own heatsink and fan.

The downside of the m17x’s effective cooling system is the noise it creates. Even at idle, the fans run fast and have a distinct whine. Under full load, the noise increases due to more air moving out the back, however the whine does not intensify. The m17x is not a notebook to be using in areas where quietness is important.



The verdict of the m17x’s cooling system boils down to necessity vs. nicety. It is absolutely necessary that a notebook like the m17x have an effective cooling system; quietness takes a second place to functionality. No doubt, the noise level of this notebook will be a deal-breaker for some.

Keyboard

The m17x has a full size keyboard and separate numpad. The keys feature a rubberized finish and are durable. The keyboard has a soft feel and keypresses are well cushioned. Key travel is normal for a notebook, and the sound is quiet and rubber-like. The keyboard unfortunately suffers from flex that is noticeable even under normal typing pressure; pressing one key down affects all the surrounding keys. The numpad does not have any flex. While I like the feel of the keyboard, I wish it had less flex.

Touchpad

The m17x’s expansive touchpad is flush with the palmrest, and it has the same matte rubberized finish like the rest of the machine. It is easy to track on with moist or dry fingers. The touchpad buttons are made of one piece of plastic; clicks are almost inaudible.

Input and Output Ports

This calls for a picture tour – all descriptions are from left to right.

Left Side:

Power jack, optical audio, S-video out, HD TV tuner, headphones, microphone, audio out, 3x USB, SmartBay modular bay

Right Side:

7-in-1 media card reader, ExpressCard/54 slot, USB, HDMI, FireWire B, FireWire A, Gigabit Ethernet, security lock slot

Front:

Not much here – only the IR receiver

Back:

Vents

The m17x has perhaps the most expansive range of ports I have seen on a notebook, including a rare 6-pin FireWire port.

The SmartBay deserves some extra attention. It is essentially a modular bay that can take a hard drive in place of the optical drive. Alienware included a 500GB version with our m17x. The SmartBay is hot-swappable, meaning the system does not have to be powered off to switch devices. It also features a SATA connection, ensuring the hard drive has an ultra-fast connection. A modular bay is a feature I would like to see on more notebooks since it adds both convenience and functionality.

Wireless

Alienware includes the Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN wireless card supporting 802.11a, g, and draft-n connections as standard along with internal Bluetooth. Range with the wireless Intel card was superb; I was able to pick up networks and connect at the fringe of their transmitting range without problems.
The Bluetooth also worked as expected with the included Bluetooth ExpressCard media remote.

Battery

The m17x has a 12-cell, 6600mAh battery pack. With the screen dimmed down in power-save mode and wireless off, I measured 66 minutes of battery life. The power draw of this system is immense. Needless to say, this is not the notebook for you if you value battery time.

Operating System and Software

Vista Home Premium and Ultimate (32-bit) are the two available operating systems. I did not have any issues with Vista Home Premium on our test unit; all of the supplied software including the Alienware Command Center worked without issues. I had no problems entering/resuming from standby, and hibernation worked fine as well.

Carrying Bag

Part of our review unit’s price tag included Alienware’s new $90 Orion messenger bag. Given the extraordinary size and weight of the m17x, having a bag that fits it well and is comfortable to use is important. The Orion has a main and a secondary inside compartment, and five external pouches. I found the bag to be a great companion for the m17x – the padding on the shoulder strap as well as on the bag itself are welcome while carrying 15 pounds worth of equipment. The nylon material is thick, durable, and well-made, and the notebook compartment is well cushioned. The zippers are of good quality. I highly recommend opting for this bag to those of you purchasing the m17x.




Orion Messenger Bag specs:

* Exterior dimensions: 14” x 20” x 5.5”
* Device compatibility: 19.1” x 13.25” x 3”
* Weight: 2.85 lb

Customer Support

Alienware offers a 1-year warranty with 24/7 tech support and onsite service with the m17x. Two- and three-year warranties are available for $200 and $300 respectively. It is disappointing to see Alienware only offering a one-year warranty as standard equipment on the m17x; for a machine starting at $3,849, I think a three-year warranty should be standard at the very least.

Conclusion

The Alienware Area-51 m17x is a remarkable gaming notebook and a clear step forward for Alienware in terms of design and performance. It is packed to the gills with top-shelf equipment, most notably a pair of Nvidia 9800M-GT video cards. This is one of not even a handful of machines that can comfortably max out Crysis. It has the typical downsides associated with a portable desktop – loud cooling system, dismal battery life, and hefty weight, but it does everything else well. The $3,849 starting price is steep and out of reach for most, though the baseline configuration has the components that make the system worth buying. In this reviewer’s opinion, more could have been thrown in for the money, and for such an expensive system, not having a more comprehensive warranty is disappointing. To those who do have the cash for a system like this, you are getting an awesome machine that will get envious looks anywhere you go, but be prepared to sign a mortgage for it.

Pros:

* Phenomenal gaming performance
* AlienFX LED lighting system
* Solid build quality
* Fantastic screen
* Good keyboard & touchpad
* Input & output port selection
* Modular bay (SmartBay)

Cons:

* Sky-high price
* Loud fans
* Keyboard flex
* Weight (11 pounds)
* Dismal battery life (66 minutes as tested)


Continue Read Alienware Area-51 m17x Review

Lenovo T500 ThinkPad Review

Lenovo T500 ThinkPad
The T500 Thinkpad is the latest 15.4" refresh of the longstanding T-series out of Lenovo. Combining the latest generation of Intel goodies, ATI Hybrid graphics, and DisplayPort connection this notebook has many new things to offer over the previous ThinkPads. With all these changes taking place, is Lenovo keeping the ThinkPad as well built as we have come to expect, or has some quality slipped through the cracks? In this review we cover all aspects of the new ThinkPad T500 and tell you if we think it deserves a spot on your desk.

Our ThinkPad T500 specifications:

* Screen: 15.4" 1680 x 1050 WSXGA+ LCD (Matte finish)
* Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 (2.80GHz, 1066MHz FSB, 6MB Cache)
* Memory: 2GB DDR3 RAM
* Storage: 160GB HDD (7200rpm)
* Optical Drive: DVD+/-RW
* Wireless: 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.0
* Graphics: ATI Mobility Radeon 3650 w/ 256MB or Intel X4500 integrated (hybrid switching)
* Built-in web camera
* Battery: 9-cell (84Wh rated, 81Wh actual)
* Dimensions: 14.1" x 10/10.9" x 1.8"
* Weight: 6lbs 7.2oz (w/ 9 cell battery)
* Retail Price: $2,223

Build and Design

The design of the T500 has changed a bit. The changes are subtle to the untrained eye, but they are there. The right side is now gently sloped similar to what can be found on the older T4x series, where the sides angle inward instead of dropping off flat. First clue about this is the optical drive bezel which sports a nice beveled edge. The rubber feet have also been slightly tweaked, now feeling softer than before, meaning less sliding on your desk surface. Moving past the minor case design changes, the ThinkPad is every bit as conservative (boring) as all of those preceding it. We have the same paint, same durable rubbery texture, and we still have our ThinkPad logo.

Upgrade and expansion is a step harder than most notebooks, but still very simple. To gain access to all user-replaceable parts, you simply remove five screws and carefully remove the palmrest and keybard. Here you gain access to an open WWAN slot, another for Turbo Memory or UWB, two DDR3 memory slots, and your wireless card. At this stage you can also see the processor and heatsink, but a few additional items must be removed before you can lift those items out. Although this setup does seem like Lenovo is trying lock the user away from upgrading parts, they fully allow anyone to handle upgrading or adding components to their notebook without voiding the warranty. Processor swaps or messing with other advanced components might not be as kosher though. The hard drive is the only item accessible from the outside of the case (besides the battery) and is easily removed with a single screw.

Build quality is very similar to the previous generation T61, with all of its strengths and weaknesses. Fit and finish are great with most parts, but you still have a good amount of battery wiggle in the back, as well as the cheaper feeling plastic LCD lid. The molded plastic panels throughout the notebook feel sturdy, overall feeling much like the previous generation of notebooks. Compared to the pre-Lenovo Thinkpads, the T500 feels leaps and bounds better. Now the T500 is not without its flaws, and the new keyboard definitely falls into the flaws category.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard layout has stayed the same, with only very minor changes in the feel of the key presses. Some of this may be attributed to the differences in keyboard suppliers (NMB, ALPS, and Chicony) though, as my T60 came with the "clickier" Chicony keyboard, whereas the T500 is much quieter. The keyboard strength seems to have changed, with more flex present on the right side of the keyboard. To find the culprit of this flex, I took apart the notebook and inspected the keyboard area.

To my great surprise, I found Lenovo had completely redesigned the keyboard, with weight savings as the primary goal. The old design has a much stronger back-plate, which is removed on the new revision. This cuts weight by 25 percent (6oz to 4.5oz) from the old model, but at the huge disadvantage of tarnishing the long-standing ThinkPad keyboard reputation. For now I am leaning towards weight savings, instead of cost savings as the main redesign reason, but I still don't like it. Anyone who knows the ThinkPad name knows at least two things; boring business notebook and great keyboard. If you take away the keyboard and make other weight reducing or durability reducing changes to the notebook design, you will no doubt alienate many of your followers. I really hope Lenovo takes notice at this, cause I would take a brick glued to the bottom of the case before over a keyboard change such as this.

As with older models, the liquid drains are still in place, ready to get your notebook out of harm's way if a stray coffee or soda spills all over it.

The touchpad has grown compared to the T61, expanding to the width of the lower touchpad buttons. With the ThinkPad touchpads always being the runts compared to other notebook designs, this change was very welcomed (even if they did paint scroll arrows on it). The texture is identical to the older touchpad, and sensitivity is just as good. Compared to my T60, the touchpad buttons feel much firmer, and have more support from edge to edge. On the T60's touchpad, the far left and right side tend to sag slightly, whereas the T500's touchpad buttons have equal support from side to side.


My only disappointment with the touchpad was the lack of red strips. After seeing the X300 and X200 that offered "legacy" red strips on the touchpoint buttons, I was upset to see that Lenovo didn't include that finishing touch on the T-series keyboard.

What still works and what doesn't

Those who have older ThinkPad accessories from the T6x/R6x generation will be happy to know all of the older docking stations are still fully compatible with the new notebooks. I can't say for certain that the older equipment won't be replaced with newer revisions that offer different connections, but at least you won't need to upgrade.

The optical bay connections have changed from the previous generation, moving more towards a SATA style connector, rendering older drive incompatible. One change that might anger individuals in an IT position is the removal of the native Serial/Parallel hookup inside the ultrabay for use with the adapter. With many older devices needing native serial connections, these individuals might be wary of upgrading their current notebook.
The power connection appears to have stayed the same for use with the UltraBay battery remained the same.

Display

The CCFL-backlit display on our T500 looked nearly identical to the display currently shipping with the older 15.4" T61 models. Brightness is much less than the LED-backlit panel found in the new T400, but still good when compared to other notebooks on the market. Don't expect to use this notebook outside on a sunny day, since the bright light will wash out anything on the screen. Backlit evenness is very consistent throughout the display, with no excessive bright or dark areas. Contrast appears to be very nice, and the colors are bright and vivid without looking washed out. Viewing angles rate better than average, but not excellent. Vertical viewing has a nice sweet spot before colors start to wash our or invert, and the horizontal range is better still. Compared to the LED backlit T400 display, the vertical viewing range extended further, but still not coming close to the IPS FlexView panel on my T60.

One defect or feature which was thankfully not present in our review model screen panel was a shimmering or dirty white texture. Some of the older matte ThinkPad screens had this problem that annoyed many users, and from what I can tell this screen had none of this in the slightest.

Performance and Benchmarks

Our Lenovo ThinkPad T500 came with the Intel T9600 processor, clocking in at 2.8GHz, and jammed packed with 6MB of cache. For graphics, Lenovo included an ATI Radeon 3650 video card with 256MB of GDDR3 memory. While not the latest SSD, Lenovo did include a 7200rpm hard drive which helped keep access times to a minimum and transfer data at a swift pace. This combination proved to be exceptionally fast in the Windows Vista environment, getting very high synthetic benchmark scores. The T500 also performed remarkably well in games which you generally don't find running on most business notebooks (well non-workstations that is).

Gaming was not a problem with the T500, handling games such as BioShock at native 1680x1050 resolution at 15-20FPS. If you scaled the resolution back to 1280x800, 20-30FPS. Slightly less intensive games like Portal or Half-Life 2 ran even better, consistently averaging framerates above 40 even in high action scenes.

One unique aspect of the T500 is its ability to be able to switch between dedicated and integrated graphics with a simple click of an icon on the task bar. You can switch between the Intel X4500 graphics and the ATI 3650 chipset without rebooting, and doing so lets you conserve quite a bit of power if you don't need to game.

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi.

Heat and Noise

The cooling system worked very well, keeping overall system temperatures down, and doing so without making a ton of noise. At idle and under low activity the T500's fan stayed at a slow speed (nearly inaudible), keeping processor temperatures in the low 40C range, and GPU around 50C. While gaming, greater temperatures made the system fan speed up, but even at its highest speed it still seemed quieter than my T60. The outside temperatures are great in all situations besides gaming. Sitting around surfing the web or typing a document, the notebook is very cool and doesnt build up that much heat. Gaming is different, and the T500 gets much hotter all around the case, and gets some hot points on the bottom of the case.

Heat Under Stress/Gaming (listed in degrees Fahrenheit):

Battery Life

Unlike the T400 which saw a massive jump in battery life over the previous generation 14" notebook as a result of the LED-backlit screen, the T500's battery life was in line with the 15.4" T61. While the 9-cell battery in the T400 gave 7-8 hours of battery life, the same capacity in the T500 barely manages six hours. The key differences between each notebook are the screen size, backlit technology, and graphics card model, as all of the other options are identical.

In dedicated graphics mode, the screen brightness set to 60%, and wireless active the T500 managed 5 hours and 6 minutes before it shut itself down at 5% remaining. Even though it is still way under the T400 by a couple of hours, it is still very impressive for a 15" notebook. In integrated grahics mode with the same settings, the system squeezes out an hour and a half more, bringing the average consumption from about 13 watts down to 11 watts. The 9-cell battery gives you more than enough time to watch a movie or two on a flight, or even get some work done.

Speakers and Audio

The sound system on the T500 is fairly week compared to other mainstream notebooks, but that is fairly common for a business notebook. The speakers lack most all bass and midrange, but are find for watching the occasional movie or YouTube clip. Headphones are a much better option to enjoy music and video. The headphone jack on the T500 put out clean static free audio.

Ports and Features

The port selection on the T500 rates slightly above average, but still shows room for improvement. The DisplayPort is nice, but with current TV's and monitors finally starting to show HDMI, it would have been a better choice as the T500 cant output any resolution higher than the DVI spec. Three USB ports is cutting it close for a highend 15.4" notebook, and with them grouped together, if you have any large devices you will overlap. Moving past those complaints the rest of the port selection is fine. Some may argue that the headphone and microphone located on the front will cause problems, but there was no space what-so-ever left on the sides even if Lenovo wanted to mount them there.

Conclusion

The Lenovo T500 as a whole is a great step up from the T61, with a faster processor lineup, much better graphics card, better cooling, larger touchpad, and even a digital video output from the notebook itself. System performance was phenomenal, coming close to workstation or gaming notebook levels. What is not so great is the famed ThinkPad keyboard going floppy on us where they used to be rock solid. No matter if this change was to cut weight or cut costs, Lenovo should have known better not to mess with the most important part of ANY ThinkPad notebook. Don't get me wrong, the keyboard is still much nicer than a budget notebook keyboard, it just isn't as good as what it used to be.

Overall the Lenovo ThinkPad T500 is a fine notebook worthy of a spot on many office or dormroom tables, but it could have come closer to perfection if Lenovo didn't mess with the keyboard.

Pros

* Very powerful
* Cool and quiet under normal conditions
* Great battery life for a 15.4" notebook (5.25 hrs with dedicated graphics, almost 7 hours with integrated)
* Impressive switchable graphics, would you like gaming or battery life?

Cons

* ThinkPad with keyboard flex
* Screen could be brighter


Continue Read Lenovo T500 ThinkPad Review

Dell Latitude E6400 Review

Dell Latitude E6400
The Dell Latitude E6400 is a 14" laptop targeted towards businesses that need good performance, solid design, and a commonality of parts for an entire workforce. This notebook competes against such notebooks as the HP EliteBook 6930p and Fujitsu LifeBook S7220. The E6400 offers a wide range of hardware configurations, as well as Solid State Drives (SSDs) for the businesses that require extreme ruggedness and extreme performance. Should your company rush out and purchase the latest generation of Dell business notebooks? We took a closer look to find out.

Our review unit of the Dell Latitude E6400 came with the following options:

* Windows Vista Business (32-bit)
* Intel Core 2 Duo Processor P9500 (2.53GHz)
* 2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM (maximum capacity 8GB)
* 160GB Hitachi HDD (7200rpm)
* 14.1" diagonal widescreen matte TFT LCD display at 1440x 900 (WXGA+, matte)
* 256MB nVidia Quadro NVS 160M (256MB dedicated plus shared memory)
* 8x DVD (+/-R double layer) drive
* Intel Wireless WiFi Link 4965AGN (802.11a/g/n)
* Bluetooth 2.1
* Dimensions: 1.1-1.3"(H) x 13.1(W) x 9.37"(D)
* Weight: 5.56 lbs
* 90W 100-240V AC adapter
* 9-cell (85Wh) Lithium Ion battery
* Price as tested: $2,148 (starting price: $1,139 ... $879 after instant savings)

Build and Design

Unlike the previous generation of Dell Latitude noteboks that featured rounded edges and curves, the Dell Latitude E-series features "down to business" industrial design. The chassis is entirely made of magnesium alloy with plenty of 90-degree edges and sharp angles. While the look is reasonably modern, it's also a little "old school" and could be mistaken for a 5-year old laptop from a distance. Still, the build and design speak volumes in terms of the overall durability of this notebook.

During testing no plastic creaks or squeaks could be heard thanks to the magnesium alloy structure. The entire bottom shell is a metal alloy which gives the laptop a strong footprint on your desk, and gives enough strength to resist bending if you hold the laptop by the edge of the palm rest walking around the room. The only downside to the chassis is that the alloy is thinner than expected in a few locations (more on that later). Another minor issue we noticed is that the bottom access panel on the E6400 really needs one extra screw on the bottom right corner next to the hard drive bay. The magnesium allow base plate smacks up against that corner of the notebook and makes an annoying metal tapping noise if you're typing on an uneven surface.

The heavy use of magnesium alloy carries over to the lid of the notebook, which has an attractive "brushed metal" design that isn't actually brushed metal but rather a painted surface. This immitation brushed metal surface is available in black, blue, or red to give businesses (and their employees) a way to customize the look of their business notebook. The finish itself seems quite durable and should survive years of use and abuse.

In addition to the overall design of the notebook itself, it's worth mentioning the new docking station for the E-series Latitude notebooks. Most businesses will likely use the E6400 with a docking station and an external monitor so that employees can have a mobile laptop when traveling and have a "desktop" computer at the office. Dell made a few changes to the Latitude docking station this year. In addition to relocating some ports they also added an extra USB port on the side and provide new DisplayPort connections for the latest external displays.




Screen

The matte WXGA+ (1440x900) screen on the Dell Latitude E6400 is absolutely beautiful. No dead pixels were found during testing, and backlight bleed while noticed on some dark screens was minimal. Colors were vibrant despite the matte screen and the additional benefit of matte screens is the lack of reflection in an office environment. Wide viewing angles made the screen look sharp even at oddly contorted angles. Backlight adjustment was very broad, allowing me to adjust low enough for darker room settings, and bright enough to still be readable in sunlight or a bright office.







One minor negative regarding the screen is that the notebook lid offers less than ideal protection for the screen. Although the allow lid is quite durable and should protect the lid from most impacts, the thin allow does flex and created "ripples" on the screen whenever pressure was allied to the back of the screen The release latch was smooth and unlike most latches on budget notebooks required little effort to release.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard and palm rest structure is solid, but the thin alloy used in the palmrests does flex a little when pressure is applied. Pressing down very firmly, the keyboard suffers from virtually zero flex and is a nice improvement over the older Dell Latitude D630.

The keyboard is very comfortable to type on, and gave just the right amount of response for each key press. Key travel is similar to most business notebooks with just a bit less clicking sound than what we hear on ThinkPads in our office. The keyboard layout was not cramped at all, and the keyboard backlighting allowed for typing in a dark room.

The Alps touchpad has a nice smooth texture and is reasonably responsive, but could be improved. Lag time and accuracy were worse than what we've seen on many competing business notebooks. The size of the touchpad surface was large enough for comfortable control and the two touchpad buttons spanned the full length of the touchpad, and each had a soft click when pressed. The touchpoint/trackpoint located in the center of the keyboard is a nice improvement over the touchpoint on the older D630, but again we found the touchpoints on business notebooks from Lenovo and HP to be more responsive and accurate. On the bright side, the touchpoint includes three mouse buttons for better control with tabbed web browsing.

Next to the touchpad on the right palmrest you'll also notice a SmartCard contact reader ... allowing employees to use their SmartCard security badges with their notebook without having to physically insert the SmartCard inside the notebook.

Performance and Benchmarks

The Dell Latitude E6400 as configured has more than enough speed and storage space to handle most users needs. The high-end Intel Core 2 Duo P9500 and nVidia Quadro NVS 160M combined with a reasonably fast hard drive make this laptop an excellent performer, for both lightweight multimedia uses and number crunching. Below are benchmarks to give you an idea of how this laptop might compare up against other notebooks on the market.

WPrime 32M comparison results

wPrime is a program that forces the processor to do recursive mathematical calculations, the advantage of this program is that it is multi-threaded and can use both processor cores at once, thereby giving more accurate benchmarking measurements than Super Pi.

For those who are interested in replacing the standard hard disk drive in the E6400 with a high performance solid state drive (SSD), the E6400 is available with the following SSD options and prices:

* 64GB Dell Mobility Solid State Drive (add $499)
* 64GB Ultra Performance Solid State Drive (add $649)
* 128GB Dell Mobility Solid State Drive (add $649)

Speakers

The speakers on the E6400 were better than average for most laptops, comparable to speakers found on most small midrange televisions. While lower bass was lacking, volume levels were quite loud, and distortion at peak levels was not present. The speakers also have a great location that directs sound up and toward the user.

Speaking of great locations, it's also worth mentioning that the fingerprint reader is now located beneath the right speaker. This is a much better location than the palmrest or in between the touchpad buttons (where most manufacturers put the fingerprint reader) because it means you're less likely to accidentally trigger the fingerprint reader when you pick up the notebook or use the touchpad buttons.

Input and Output ports

Port selection was not a problem, although I would have enjoyed seeing a HDMI port, but the inclusion of a DisplayPort is a reasonable compromise and probably more useful in a corporate environment. Going around the notebook, we find the following ports

Left: Kensington lock slot, VGA out, powered USB port, combo USB/eSATA port, heat exhaust, SmartCard reader, and hard drive bay.

Front: Screen latch release and SD card reader.

Right: PC card slot (ExpressCard slot optional), Firewire, optical drive, Headphone/Mic, wireless switches, and two USB ports.

Rear: Modem, LAN, battery, DisplayPort, Power connector.



Heat and Noise

The E6400 controls heat extremely well ... even when the dual-core processor and GPU are crunching numbers and the hard drive is actively reading and writing data. Even after running PCMark05, 3DMark06 and wPrime multiple times during a one-hour period the exterior of the E6400 barely reached the triple-digit range in degrees Fahrenheit. More importantly, the hottest parts of the notebook are confined the the areas where you are less likely to touch the notebook. For example, if you're using the E6400 on you lap in an airport the hottest part of the notebook is located between your legs rather than directly where your legs come into contact with the notebook.

Simply put, the E6400 with hard drive stays remarkably cool even when the system is being heavily stressed. If you configure the notebook with a SSD instead of a hard drive you should have a notebook that runs even cooler. The images below show the external temperature readings in degrees Fahrenheit:



The fan noise was rarely loud enough to be heard in a quiet room unless the notebook was under extreme stress such as benchmarking or serious gaming.

Battery

Under normal web browsing use the 9-cell battery performed quite well, pushing out 4 hours and 22 minutes of life before going into hibernation mode at two percent. Screen brightness was at maximum and other items were set to "High Performance" in Dell's ControlPoint Power Manager. I also never let the notebook so to sleep during the battery test, so users should be able to get more than 4 hours and 22 minutes of battery life by selecting the "Dell Recommended" mode or "Power Saver" mode and letting the notebook go into sleep mode when not in use.

Dell's Latitude team takes a great deal of pride in the development of the new ControlPoint software. This one-stop control center for power management, display settings, network connections, and security settings. ControlPoint is indeed a great interface for novice computer users or anyone who wants to control these features in one location. However, if you're used to using the Windows power management interface, you're in for a rude awakening when you change settings for screen brightness, or sleep mode only to have the Dell ControlPoint software override your changes and reset them to what it believes they should be. Of course, if you simply use the ControlPoint software everything is fine, or you can just turn off the ControlPoint application if you prefer to use the Windows interface.

In any case, more than four hours of battery life gives you more than enough time for taking notes, surfing the web, or responding to emails throughout the day away from an outlet. For those road warriors who require "all-day" computing, Dell also offers a 12-Cell High Capacity Battery Slice ($399) that connects to the bottom of the E6400. Dell claims the when the E6400 is running on both the 9-cell battery and the 12-cell battery slice it can provide a full 19 hours of battery life. Unfortunately, we didn't have access to a battery slice for testing, but it's safe to say that such a configuration would easily produce double-digit battery life with the screen brightness turned down.

Conclusion

The Dell Latitude E6400 is a great performer and a solid replacement for the Dell Latitude D630. It seems to be built well enough to be thrown around in day-to-day use, and it's clear that Dell is trying to improve the Latitude line and offer compelling features ... like 19-hour battery life.

We really couldn't find any major reason to dislike the E6400, but there are a number of "minor annoyances" that could make some businesses look elsewhere. As we mentioned, although the E6400 proved to be quite durbale during our tests, the alloy chassis is thin in some locations which makes the notebook "feel" less durable than it actually is. We're certain the thinner alloy sections where used in order to keep weight as low as possible, but flex is something you don't want to see in a business notebook.

Overall, corporate clients who are looking for the next generation of business notebooks from Dell have plenty of reasons to buy the E6400. Dell made every effort to improve the Latitude family, and the E6400 is a great 14-inch business notebook. That said, there is some pretty strong competition such as the Lenovo ThinkPad T400 and HP EliteBook 6930p ... and those notebooks might prove to be better alternatives for some.

Pros:

* Very tough structure and rugged overall chassis design
* Excellent selection of ports and fantastic docking station
* Excellent battery life ... particularly with extra battery slice
* Solid performance
* Remains very cool where your body comes into contact with it

Cons:

* Industrial design (although cool) looks a little "unfinished"
* Build quality is durable, but alloy chassis feels thin in some spots
* ControlPoint software can be frustrating
* Trackpoint/touchpoint is better than the one on the D630, but still not great


Continue Read Dell Latitude E6400 Review

Intel X25-M SSD Review

Intel X25-M SSD
The new 80GB X25-M is the blazing fast SSD just released from Intel that has knocked our socks off in testing. Our first chance to take a look at this drive is inside the HP EliteBook 8530w where it screamed through every single test we threw at it. Not only did this drive increase performance substantially across the board, but we also saw a significant jump in battery life. In this review of the HP EliteBook 8530w we cover the changes before and after the SSD upgrade, and show you just what you’d be missing if you couldn’t scrap together the funds for this drive.

HP EliteBook 8530w Specifications:

* Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 Processor (2.53GHz, 6MB L2 cache, 1066MHz FSB)
* Microsoft Genuine Windows Vista Business
* 15.4-inch WUXGA+ anti-glare (1920 x 1200)
* 512MB NVIDIA Quadro FX 770M Workstation GPU
* 4GB DDR2 800MHz RAM (2 x 2GB Configuration)
* 80GB Intel X25-M SSD (Up to 250MB/s Read, 70MB/s Write)
* Blu-Ray and DVD+/-RW Optical Drive
* WiFi, Ethernet, Modem, and Bluetooth Connectivity
* 8-Cell 73WHr Battery
* 3-Year on-site Warranty
* Dimensions: 1.1" x 14.0" x 10.4"
* Weight: 6.5lbs without power adapter, 8lbs with power adapter

Cost to upgrade

Everyone knows that you have to pay to play and with any upgrade to an SSD you need to pay quite a bit. At the time of this review the going street price of the 80GB Intel X25-M SSD is $660 online. On the HP website it will cost $524 to upgrade from a 160GB 7200RPM drive to the 80GB Intel SSD. You can also add a second hard drive or SSD in the EliteBook 8530w's Upgrade Bay (replaces the optical drive) for additional storage. The Intel SSD will be available for sale on the HP wibsite with the 8530w on October 20th. While the price is steep by itself, it is only about thirty percent of the overall price of the above notebook configuration, and less still when compared to drives currently on the market. This upgrade isn’t for everyone, but I can say if you take a chance on this drive you won’t be disappointed.

Performance boost

Out of all the notebooks I have reviewed, and countless system components, no single item has ever given the overall speed bump that we witnessed from the Intel X25-M SSD. With just a swap of hard drive our HP EliteBook saw a huge bump in system speed from the first boot with a fast initial system load and Vista configuration, as well as a super snappy user interface. Little things such as clearing off system bloatware, which normally takes a bit of time as the system deletes files off the hard drive, happened almost instantly. As soon as we would select an application to uninstall and give the final confirmation the notebook would blip progress window and close it in a fraction of a second. Something was noticeably different with this system configuration, and from the first benchmark we ran we started to see why.

HDTune reported speeds as high as 192MB/s in some benchmark runs, with the average settling in at 182MB/s. Compared to most SSD’s in the 90MB/s range, or even our last SSD review with the 64GB Samsung model with 130MB/s average, this was a huge bump in speed. When you compare it to the fastest notebook drives that barely peak 80MB/s, or even the 10,000RPM Velociraptor desktop drive that peaks at 123MB/s you start to see just how fast this drive is. It should also be mentioned that while smoking other drives, it also runs perfectly silent and consumes less power than most notebook hard drives. Under full load being benchmarked the Intel X25-M SSD puts off barely a hint of heat, feeling cool to the touch at 83 degrees Fahrenheit recorded by our temperature gun.

The next benchmark in our list is PCMark05, which saw an astonishing jump in score from 6,287 in our original review to 9,452 with the Intel SSD. This is over a 3,000 point jump from a drive upgrade and nothing else. Both 3DMark06 and PCMark Vantage saw boosts in performance, but not as big of a jump as PCMark05. 3DMark06 went from 5,230 in the original review to 5,847 with the SSD. PCMark Vantage jumped from 3,944 to 5,516, over a 25% bump.

Battery life boost

To get almost three times speed from a drive, you would expect that system power usage would increase at least a little bit. In the Bizarro world with the Intel X25-M we saw the exact opposite, with power consumption levels dropping by more than 20%. In terms of real life performance under the same testing procedure using the balanced power profile, brightness set to 60%, and wireless enable battery life increased by 1 hour. In the original review we found battery life to top out at 3 hours and 38 minutes, and after the SSD upgrade the system managed 4 hours and 38 minutes before it went into sleep mode at 5% battery life remaining.

Conclusion

Intel really made a winning product with the X25-M 80GB SSD, blowing previous performance SSD models out of the water, while still being light on power consumption and heat output. While still pricy at $660 compared to standard hard drives, it isn’t nearly as bad as what SSDs used to cost even six months ago. For those looking to add this option to your notebook during customization, you are looking at $524 from HP at this time. In my eyes this is the best single upgrade for a notebook on the market, outside of going from an Intel Celeron to Intel Core 2 Duo processor.

Pros:

* Super fast
* Low heat
* Improves battery life
* Single best individual component upgrade!

Cons:

* High price


Continue Read Intel X25-M SSD Review

HP Pavilion dv4t Review

HP Pavilion dv4t
The 14-inch HP Pavilion dv4t is consumer notebook offering a wide range of multimedia features at a modest starting price of $599. With features that span from built-in Verizon or AT&T WWAN, a Blu-ray media drive, and even an internal TV-tuner this notebook has the ability to be the hub of any home or dorm entertainment system. Take a look at this review and find out what all a “budget-priced” notebook can do.

Our HP dv4-1001xx Specifications:

* Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 processor (2.8GHz/ 1066MHz FSB/ 6MB L2)
* 14.1 WXGA Glossy LED-Backlit LCD (1280x800)
* Nvidia GeForce 9200M-GS w/ 256MB DDR2 dedicated video card
* 4GB DDR2-800 RAM (2x 1GB)
* 320GB 5400RPM hard drive (Toshiba)
* Blu-ray ROM with SuperMulti DVDRW
* WiFi, Ethernet, Modem, and Bluetooth Connectivity
* Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit
* 55Wh High Capacity 6-cell Li-ion battery
* Size: 13.15" (W) x 9.45" (D) x 1.34" (H)
* Weight: 5lbs 5.2oz with battery

Since our review unit was a custom-built reviewer's sample from HP our exact configuration isn't available for purchase from HP. However, a similar configuration with an Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 processor costs $1,674.99 ($1,474.99 with instant savings) on the HP website.

Build and Design

The design of the HP dv4 has the same heavily chromed accents just like the dv5 and new HDX models. I think that HP went slightly overboard with the use of shiny surfaces and in some instances you end up being blinded by a number of things. When using the notebook outside on a sunny day, the touchpad, speaker grills, media access keys, or even the palmrest trim could blind you if the sun hits it just right. Another high gloss surface that luckily this model did not include is the Infinity glass panel over the already glossy display. The few models we have had in our offices with that setup make viewing the screen a challenge in all but perfect lighting conditions with the amount of reflections.

Build quality is above average, with durable plastic all around the chassis. The painted surfaces seem to hold up well against minor scratches of day to day use, but they do attract quite a few fingerprints. The plastic that makes up the palmrests is fairly rigid, but will flex under moderately heavy pressure. The display cover is the same way, only flexing a little bit under strong pressure. I don’t think this notebook would have any problem being transported in a backpack with a bundle of heavy textbooks.

Display

The glossy LED-backlit WXGA (1280x800) panel is bright and vibrant, with excellent colors for viewing images or movies. Contrast seems slightly washed out mostly because of blacks showing up as dark grey instead of full black. Viewing angles are average with limited vertical viewing angles that give you a sweet spot of +/- 15 degrees. Horizontal viewing angles are much better with colors staying true even out to very wide angles. Brightness levels are more than adequate for viewing in a bright office setting. Sunlight readability is limited with the glossy surface, but if you find a spot with some shade it should be fine.




With the included Blu-ray drive watching HD is limited to roughly 720P content with the lower 1280x800 screen resolution. On a screen this small you probably wouldn’t even notice the difference. The HDMI output is a better choice for watching movies, capable of outputting the full 1080P resolution of Blu-ray movies, as well as high definition audio.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The full-size keyboard is comfortable to type on, with only light pressure required to fully press each key. The individual key action is smooth with a bit of plastic jiggle as you type. Keyboard spacing is excellent, and no area of the keyboard felt cramped as though HP tried to fit more keys than necessary into the mix. Keyboard support is excellent, with a very rigid surface that doesn’t want to budge even with very heavy pressure. If the keys were painted black you could probably even get away with calling it a business notebook keyboard.

The touchpad is an ALPS made model and feels very responsive with little lag. The entire touchpad surface is made up of a high gloss plastic, and hard to use at first. The surface needs to collect some of your finger's natural oils to allow easy sliding around the surface. If you clean it off with rubbing alcohol every so often, it will be tricky to move your finger around in a smooth motion until more oils collect on the surface. The touchpad buttons are in an easy-to-access spot and are easy to control with your thumb. The buttons provide mild feedback with a short throw that gives an audible click when pressed.

For quick access to movie controls, the dv4 has a touch-sensitive media access panel above the keyboard. It has dedicated buttons for the QuickPlay HP media control area, mute, volume up/down, media controls, and wireless on/off.

Performance and Benchmarks

System performance with the 2.8GHz Intel T9600 Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of system memory, and NVIDIA 9200M GS dedicated graphics is excellent. Day-to-day applications scream, mostly related to the top-of-the-line processor. The NVIDIA 9200M GS graphics card doesn’t help much for playing modern games, but it does help offload processing power when decoding Blu-ray movies. In all but video encoding the processor in our review model would be left unused, and a slower processor could have probably done just fine. To go from the base 2.0GHz T5800 processor to the T9600 is a $550 upgrade that could be better spent on a faster hard drive or even a docking station with money to spare.

Synthetic benchmarks were very good, mostly attributed to the 4GB of RAM and high-end processor.

WPrime is a benchmark similar to Super Pi in that it forces the processor to do intense mathematical calculations, but the difference is this application is multi-threaded and represents dual core processors better. Lower numbers indicate better performance.

All of the 3DMark06 scores for all of the systems listed above were run at 1280 x 800 or 1280 x 768 resolution. We also ran PCMark Vantage on the dv4t and obtained a score of 3,811.

HDTune results:




Speakers and Audio

The onboard speakers leave much to be desired with a tinny sound at moderate volume level. Both bass and midrange were absent, and at high volume levels the speakers distorted quite a bit. Lack of bass and midrange is quite common with many notebooks, leaving headphones as the only good option for enjoying movies or music. If you are close to a home theatre that supports audio out of HDMI you could also route audio through that.

Ports and Features

Port selection on the HP dv4t is excellent, offering a wide range of onboard ports, including VGA, HDMI, eSATA and a connection for external docking station. Audio hookups are great, with two headphone jacks that can easily share a movie with a friend.

* Three USB 2.0 ports
* One eSATA/USB port
* Expansion Port 3 (docking station connector)
* ExpressCard slot
* Gigabit Ethernet
* 5-in-1 multi-card reader
* Two audio out ports
* microphone in
* VGA monitor out
* HDMI out
* Kensington lock slot



Front: IR, two Headphone jacks, and Microphone jack

Rear: Screen hinge

Left: Kensington lock slot, VGA, docking connector, LAN, HDMI, USB/eSATA combo port, Expresscard/54, 5-in-1 multi-card reader

Right: Expansion bay, 2 USB, modem, AC power

The dv4t also offers a media bay that lets the user swap out the optical drive for an additional hard drive. The bay with 250GB drive costs $109.99, and gives much faster transfer rates over a external USB drive since it is connecting through an internal SATA connection.

Heat and Noise

Thermal performance of the HP dv4t’s cooling system was average, with a few hot spots forming even with a cooling fan that was audible from across the room. Upper notebook temperatures were kept in check, leaving the palmrest in the 81-91 degrees Fahrenheit range even under load. Lower temperatures were not as good, with a few parts reaching upwards of 102 degrees Fahrenheit, making for a not-so-comfortable laptop situation if you were using it for any good length of time.



The cooling fan was obnoxiously loud during heavy activity (such as gaming or benchmarking) and easily heard around a small office setting. During normal use the fan didn’t always turn on with such vigor, but it was annoying during the times it tried to really cool itself down.

Battery Life

Battery life is average with the high capacity 6-cell battery. With the “HP Recommended” power profile enabled, wireless on and active, and screen brightness set to 60 percent the system squeaked by with 3 hours and 24 minutes of runtime before it his 5 percent and wanted to shutdown. HP does offer an extended 12-cell battery which should offer even greater battery life, but without any specifications listed that would hint at capacity it is hard to estimate how long that battery would last.

Bloatware

I normally don’t comment much on added manufacturer bloatware on notebooks, but the HP dv4t was an exception. Loaded down with additional IE toolbars, processor intensive antivirus software, and prompts that popped up one after another, it was a pain to use. The first 30 minutes after I opened the box was used uninstalling anything that was not absolutely needed for the system to function correctly.

Conclusion

The HP Pavilion dv4t works well as a media hub for a home theater, as well as a mobile workhorse for lugging to school or traveling. Port selection is fantastic, and with the native docking station connection you can attach even more devices. The “SmartBay” removable storage expansion drive worked well when you wanted more storage instead of an optical drive. While the price on our configuration was quite high because of a few key components like the top-tier processor, a more modest configuration would result in a much more affordable notebook. Overall, you get lots of bang for your buck in a durable chassis that should easily hold up for a number of years.

Pros:

* Expansive port selection
* User-swappable media bay
* Native docking station connection
* LED-backlit screen is quite bright
* Good performance

Cons:

* Very pricey depending on what options you configure the notebook with
* Super reflective notebook that causes lots of glare


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ASUS Eee PC 1000H Review

ASUS Eee PC 1000H
When ASUS announced and launched the Eee PC line of subnotebooks last year, they caught the attention of the world with their inexpensive and light products. Dubbed “netbooks” by the community, the original Eee PCs were good for little more than web browsing and word processing. However, they weighed a mere 2lbs., had a tiny footprint, and perhaps most importantly cost only $200-300.

ASUS has continued expanding on the Eee line with larger and more powerful models, and in June 2008 released the 1000 series, based on a 10” form factor. Many people did not approve of a 10” netbook, arguing that ASUS was crossing into the threshold of mainstream small-and-light notebooks. Moreover, at a launch price of $649, it was creeping into the price range of mainstream notebooks as well. Fortunately, that price has fallen considerably, and I decided to purchase one.

Here are the specifications on the ASUS Eee 1000H.

* Intel Atom N270 (1.6GHz, 512KB cache)
* 1GB DDR2-400 SO-DIMM
* 80GB 5400RPM 2.5” SATA Hard Drive
* Intel GMA950 Integrated Graphics
* 10” WSVGA 1024x600 LED-backlit screen, 1.3MP webcam
* Windows XP Home (comes with ASUS recovery DVD)
* Atheros wireless 802.11b/g/n mini PCI-Express card, integrated Bluetooth 2.0
* 3 USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 ethernet jack, MMC/SD card reader, mic in, headphone out, VGA out, Kensington lock slot
* 6-cell 6600mAh battery (Asus claims 7.5hr. battery life)
* 1-year Global Hardware Warranty
* Dimensions: 10.5”x7.5”x1.5”, 3.2lbs. with battery
* Retail Price: $449 ($649 at launch)

The price of $449 is a steal for a netbook of this functionality. Just a few weeks ago the 1000H was selling for $549, then ASUS announced a $100 price drop. The only comparable netbook, the MSI Wind, is still selling at $549 with the 6-cell battery. One important note – the 1000H ships with a slipcase. I think it’s pretty handy to keep the netbook from scratching and getting dust, but it certainly won’t protect it in a fall. I like to keep the 1000H in the slipcase and then in my backpack.

Reasons for Buying

Around this time last year, I was looking for a full-featured notebook that would not break the bank. Unfortunately, I realized that I could not get the balance of functionality and portability that I wanted in any current notebook, so I abandoned that plan and bought a reasonably powerful desktop. This year I have gotten the itch again, but since I already have a powerful desktop PC, I did not really need another powerful notebook. I just wanted something that I could move around with, and bring to class to take notes. I knew I needed a netbook, and after waiting for a while and doing research on the possibilities, I decided on the 1000H.


Where and How Purchased

I purchased this netbook from Zipzoomfly (www.zipzoomfly.com) because at the time they had the best price. This was a few days after ASUS had announced the $100 price drop, so most resellers were in the $440-450 range. ZZF was listing it at $439, but I could not buy it for a few days. When I went back to check, it had dropped to $409. Not wanting to miss that deal, I immediately pulled the trigger. Not surprisingly, the 1000H went out of stock within a few hours. My order went through, and my final price was $409 shipped. As it turns out, the price drop was to help ASUS sell off their remaining stock so they could introduce a new 1000H model. The new model ships with a 160GB hard drive and retails for $479.

Caveat Emptor: I purchased this netbook from ZZF on Saturday (9/13/08), and as of Thursday (9/18/08) my order had still not been processed. I later found out that I had to call them to verify my address, something that they make no mention of during the checkout process. It's highly unusual and frankly annoying that the customer has to call the retailer, rather than the other way around. If you do buy the 1000H from Zipzoomfly, keep in mind that you may have to call them. From now on I'm just going to avoid the hassle altogether by buying from other retailers that do not require me to jump through hoops to get my package.

Build and Design

I think the 1000H is extremely solid, and that's a testament to its design. At just over 3lbs. with the battery, it is fairly lightweight. Combined with its small footprint (10.5”x7.5”) it is extremely portable and I can easily carry it around without issue. Most of the body is made of ABS plastic, which I find to be quite sturdy. The mouse buttons, though they are likely plastic as well, have a brushed aluminum finish to them. After pushing relatively hard on the back of the screen, I was able to get some rippling along the bottom, but I had to apply a significant amount of force to get those ripples. The screen has a barrel hinge that is extremely solid, and its frame resists flex to a very high degree. In fact, I could only get some flexing by pushing forcefully on the top corners of the lid, and even then it was minimal. The casing seems to be very thick and sturdy, and the all-around construction is quite impressive for a notebook of this size.




The lid and palm rests are covered with a glossy plastic, which naturally is a magnet for fingerprints. Fortunately ASUS throws in a nice microfiber cloth that you can use to wipe the fingerprints off. The rest of the body is a matte plastic that won’t pick up fingerprints as easily.

Screen

The 1000H comes with a 10” screen with a native resolution of 1024x600. This is actually an unusual ratio, not conforming to the standard widescreen 16:10 ratio or even the HDTV 16:9 ratio. It's somewhere in between the two. The screen itself is matte, which I prefer to glossy because it does not pick up glare as easily. The colors are quite vibrant, and the blacks and whites are well defined. It is LED-backlit, like most netbook screens are, and with the matte screen it is bright enough to be readable in direct sunlight.




My unit shipped with zero dead pixels, which I am thankful for. Coming from a 20” desktop display, I figured it would be difficult to acclimate myself to a screen half the size. In reality, though, it is not too difficult. I do find myself scrolling quite a bit, though I suppose that is to be expected on a screen of this size. I won’t be doing post-processing on a screen of this size, but for what I intend to do with it, it is more than enough. Horizontal viewing angles are quite decent, but vertical angles are not as good. The screen does appear washed out from above and over-contrasted from below.

Speakers

The speakers are as good as can be expected from a notebook of this size. They are adequate, but at maximum volume they do become tinny while not producing a whole lot of sound. Sound quality is much better with external speakers or headphones, and I do recommend that if you plan on listening to a lot of music or something that you do invest in headphones or speakers.

Processor and Performance

The 1000H, like nearly every netbook on the market, comes with an Intel Atom N270, clocked at 1.6GHz. It has Speedstep functionality to reduce the clock speed and increase battery life, and can be set to run at half-speed on battery power and full-speed on AC power. It is extremely fast for a mini-notebook, taking 23-25 seconds to get to the logon screen from boot. The hard drive is a standard laptop model; 2.5” and 5400RPM.

The 1000H ships with 1GB of RAM, but can be expanded to 2GB. ASUS does allow modification of the RAM and hard drive under warranty. Actual modification is made quite simple – just remove the back panel and you have instant access to the DIMM slot as well as the hard drive.

If you come in with reasonable expectations, the 1000H will do what you need quite snappily. So far, all I've done with it is web browsing, typing this review, importing a few pictures, and watching some TV shows online at Hulu. It performed all of these tasks very well, and I was especially impressed by the smoothness of the online TV stream. As this only comes with a GMA950, games are pretty much out of the question. You can play flash games and basic emulators, but I would not push it with 3D-accelerated games.

Benchmarks

The Intel Atom is not built for speed, and coupled with a GMA950 and 1GB of RAM this netbook certainly will not be much in terms of power. It still puts up respectable numbers for a notebook of its size and more notably its price.

3DMark05: 264 3DMarks

SuperPI: 3m 9s to calculate 2M

HDTune:

wPrime: 112.343s to calculate 32M

Heat and Noise

Keeping with what seems to be a trend among Atom-equipped netbooks, the 1000H does get a little warm under use. The left palm rest does get warm after prolonged use, and the bottom area just under the hard drive does get noticeably warm as well. Neither of these reach the point of being uncomfortable, but they are noticeable. Fortunately the 1000H comes with rubber “feet” that prop it up about 0.5-1cm off the ground, allowing more air circulation underneath.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keyboard is always an area of uncertainty, and while many notebooks have solidly-built keyboards, just as many have flimsy keyboards that you don’t feel safe typing on. Fortunately, the 1000H’s keyboard is firmly in the first category. The base is solid, owing to the relative lack of empty space underneath it, and the keys don’t suffer from any flex or bouncing. ASUS claims that this keyboard is 95% the size of a normal laptop keyboard; while this may be true, anyone coming from a desktop keyboard to the 1000H’s will encounter some difficulty.

All the keys are smaller, and to maximize the amount of keys they could fit in the 1000H’s small frame, they’ve severely cut the size of some of the extra function keys. The right-shift key, for example, is smaller than any of the letter keys, and is awkwardly placed to the right of the up-arrow key. This makes it tricky to use, and you have to get used to its placement. What many users have done is used a keyboard remapping software to swap the up-arrow and right-shift key functions, and then physically swapped the key tops. If you want to, know that option is available to you. Along the top row, you have four additional keys. From left to right, there is a screen on/off key, a resolution switcher, a performance switch, and a Skype hotkey.

The touchpad is small, but it is relatively large for a notebook of this size. The 1000H uses a Synaptics touchpad, which to my pleasant surprise has multi-touch features built in. You can, for example, scroll by dragging down the touchpad with two fingers. If you tap two fingers, you activate the “mouse wheel”, and can scroll by dragging one finger. Right-click is activated by tapping with three fingers. I thought this was a great feature, and definitely was unexpected. The touchpad functions are remarkably similar to those on Apple notebooks, which leads me to believe they also contract Synaptics for their touchpads.

Input and Output Ports

The 1000H comes reasonably well-equipped in the input/output department, for a netbook. It has three USB 2.0 ports, a VGA-out port, a 10/100 ethernet jack, mic in, headphone out, and a Kensington lock slot. None of the ports are stacked, and all of them are far enough apart from each other that you could have something plugged into each one without issue.


Wireless

The 1000H has an Atheros mini-PCI Express wireless card that works with 802.11b/g/n. The reception itself is solid, and in my house I can get a strong (4-5 bars) signal from the basement when my router is on the second floor. The 1000H also comes with a Bluetooth module, which conforms to the 2.0+EDR standard. Its performance is also good; I was able to easily sync my phone with the 1000H and it transferred pictures from the phone very quickly.

Battery

The 1000H ships with a 6-cell 6600mAh battery that ASUS claims is good for up to 7 hours of computing. The bad news is that you will not see that kind of time unless you dim the screen all the way, turn Bluetooth off, turn wireless off, and take other severe optimizing steps like disabling ports and the webcam. The good news, however, is that the battery can easily go 5 hours under normal use. With wireless and BT on and the screen at half brightness, I was able to browse the web and even type parts of this review for 5hrs 43mins before the battery hit the two percent warning.

Recently, third-party vendors have begun selling extended-capacity batteries for the Eee series. For about $70 you can get an 8800mAh 8-cell battery, which I would project is good for about 7 hours of normal use and potentially over 9 hours in battery-saving mode. There is also a behemoth 11000mAh 10-cell battery on the way, which could net 8.5 hours of normal use or nearly 12 hours in battery-saving mode. Keep in mind that the tradeoff here is weight, and the early word is that a 1000H with the 10-cell battery will be in the 4.5lbs. range. At that point, you are creeping dangerously close to the weight range of mainstream notebooks, though I doubt any of them can do 12 hours of continuous operation.

Operating System and Software

The 1000H comes preloaded from the factory with Windows XP Home Edition, as part of an agreement between Microsoft and the various netbook manufacturers to be able to still ship products with Windows XP. It also comes with a recovery DVD that has a complete Windows XP installation along with all the 1000H drivers. I found this a bit strange, considering that the 1000H has no optical drive. I would have preferred an SD card or USB thumbdrive with the drivers preloaded, but I suppose that would have increased costs.

The 1000H comes preloaded with some basic software. Microsoft Works is included, as is Microsoft Powerpoint Viewer 2007. ASUS also includes their own office suite, named StarOffice 8, which is based on the Openoffice software. In addition, the 1000H comes with Skype and ECAP, ASUS’ webcam capture utility.

There is one gripe I have, however. The 1000H comes with the 80GB hard drive split into two equal partitions. My guess is that Asus assumed people would want one partition for installing programs and the other for storing files. I don’t find that very useful, but fortunately you can format the netbook and resize the partitions how you please.

Customer Support

The 1000H comes with a 1-year warranty Unfortunately the 1000H, along with all other Eee PCs, is not eligible for ASUS’ 1-year accidental damage warranty. They also have a 24/7 support center which you can call to resolve hardware issues, or you can chat with one of their customer service reps online. I’ve not had to call in the warranty, but if their warranty service is anything like their laptop quality, I’m not worried.

Conclusion

I am thrilled by this little netbook, and based on its specs, price, and reading various reviews of other netbooks on the web, I would go as far as saying that the 1000H might be the best netbook on the market. It offers nearly every feature found on similar netbooks, but takes it a step further with a 1” larger screen, as well as Bluetooth and wireless-N. The build quality is also fantastic, and upgradability is made simple with the removable back panel offering easy access.

The Eee PC 1000H is an excellent combination of performance and size, wrapped up in a usable 10” screen and a $450 price tag. I unconditionally recommend it to anyone in the market for a netbook, as I believe it to be the best one available.

Pros:

* 10” Screen affords a little more screen real estate than the other netbooks.
* Comes with an 80GB hard drive rather than a sub-20GB SSD.
* Has Bluetooth and 802.11n built in.
* Stellar build quality, and the added slipcase is a nice touch.
* Excellent battery life, and extended-life batteries available for purchase.
* Very easy to upgrade, and supports 2GB RAM.

Cons:

* At $450, a little more expensive than competitors’ products.
* Glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet.
* Hard drive comes pre-formatted into two 40GB partitions.
* Slightly larger and heavier than other netbooks due to larger frame.


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