Thursday, February 4, 2016
Performance: Unlike the Yoga 900, the 700 is a solidly midrange computer. However, in 2016 that means you're getting a pretty decent machine; The Intel 6th generation Skylake Core i5-6200U processor runs at a decent clock speed and handled Chrome, Eclipse, Filezilla and Notepad++ with aplomb. That was likely also helped by the 8GB's of DDR3-1600MHz RAM and ultra fast 256GB SSD. Despite the excellent all around performance, you won't be playing current generation games at high settings - if you want an ultrabook that can handle Fallout 4, Razer's Blade Stealth might be more your style. You'll be paying a lot more money and need an external GPU enclosure, however.
Display, keyboard, trackpad and ports: The centerpiece of any laptop is the display, and while the Yoga 700 may not have a fancy 3- or 4K panel, what it does feature is a 1920x1080p touchscreen at 14". In other words, it has a very nice but not amazing screen, which is just what a midrange laptop should have. I streamed Mark Wahlberg's The Gambler on the 700 and, while the movie was somewhat disappointing, it looked excellent. The trackpad also works quite well, and you get more ports than I typically expect on an ultrabook. I do have some issues with the keyboard; There's an annoying row of keys for home, page down, etc along the right edge that got in the way when speed typing, and the backlight only has one setting.
Software: Windows 10 is an excellent OS in my opinion, especially on a laptop/tablet hybrid like any of the Yoga line. I still prefer mobile operating systems on tablets, but that's inconsequential to this review since the 14" Yoga with its permanently attached keyboard is hardly a traditional tablet. As for customizations, there's the usual Lenovo suite of bloatware apps and the always-annoying McAfee antivirus, but that's all easily fixed by a fresh install of Windows. Normally I would recommend getting the Yoga from a Microsoft Store as they have clean installs, but the Yoga 700 isn't offered, only the 900 and last generation Yoga 3 Pro.
Design: The Yoga 900 is a gorgeous machine, practically a work of art. The Yoga 700 has almost identical specs other than the display for $400 less. What do you think they cut? If you guessed the design, that would be right. I'm not saying the 700 is a bad looking computer, because it isn't. Plus it has that previously-discussed Yoga hinge, which is awesome for movie watching, using the device as a cookbook, and many other reasons. But its also somewhat boring, with a simple black design, relatively thick chassis and plastic(though still solid) build.
Wrapup: The 700 starts at $849 through Lenovo's online store, That comes with either the i5-6200U or a higher end i7 for the same price right now due to a sale. You can also get it for $50 less through Best Buy. That puts it squarely in competition with the HP Envy x360 and excellent Dell XPS 13. With the HP, you get the same 360 degree hinge, a snazzier design and a larger 15" display, but it weighs somewhat more and has a far slower spinning hard drive instead of an SSD. The Dell, meanwhile, is a much smaller laptop despite only giving up an inch of screen real estate due to its thin bezels, and it has an excellent design and build quality. The specs are mostly similar(and can be configured much higher, to compete with the Yoga 900) but it lacks a touchscreen unless you spend much more and can't rotate all the way around.
In other words, if you want a Yoga and don't want to spend $1200, the 700 is an excellent laptop - but I wish they'd reduced the software bloat.
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Saturday, January 16, 2016
The Y700 laptop I recently reviewed is the backbone of Lenovo's gaming efforts, but they're also expanding into the hardcore desktop market, not to mention the profitable gaming peripheral area. Their top of the line Y-series desktop is the subject of today's review, and it's a pretty nice piece of kit, from the aggressive but not totally absurd case to an unlocked Intel Core i7-6700K, one of the best processors available right now. Now, why you would ever buy a pre-built gaming desktop instead of making one yourself I don't know, but if that's where your interests lie, read on for how this one stacks up.
But not everything's perfect: Though the RAM is of the brand new DDR4 variety, there's only 8GB's, which is frankly ridiculous for a high-performance PC these days. There's also no Bluray drive, just a DVD burner.
As for peripherals, they aren't included, but Lenovo shipped me the same gaming mouse and headset as with the Y700 laptop, plus a keyboard. I'm still not a huge fan of either the mouse or the headset, but the keyboard is pretty sweet. It's mechanical, backlit, has a huge number of shortcut keys that are even separate from the Fn keys, and a nice layout. Just be forewarned: It's quite noisy.
Software: I'm developing a rather intense dislike of McAfee's antivirus software suite, which is bundled on most Lenovo's. It's constantly running scans, installing updates, warning about new network connections, prompting a subscription renewal or otherwise distracting me and sapping performance. Other than that inclusion, the Y900 has Windows 10 with a few Lenovo and NVidia tools, which is pretty much what you want on a gaming desktop. I really like Windows 10's game streaming feature, which I used to play a bit of the Xbox One version of Star Wars Battlefront on the Y900.
Wrap up: The Y900 starts at $899, but that's with no dedicated graphics card and 4GB's of RAM - in other words, you aren't getting a competent gaming PC. The configuration I've been reviewing costs $1599, which would of course get you a lot of nice components if you were building your own PC. If you're only looking at off the shelf solutions(with their support,) however, it's not a bad deal. Dell/s XPS 8900 Special Edition is one of the best competitors, with either a slightly lower end CPU and no SSD but twice the RAM and a Bluray drive for $250 less or the same CPU, 3x the RAM and a slightly slower GPU for $200 more. They do offer $200 off the Oculus Rift if you buy an XPS, however. For $20 more with twice the RAM and a Bluray drive plus a larger SSD but more importantly an older, slower CPU, the HP Envy Phoenix is also decent competition.
I don't think you'll be disappointed with a Y900, however.
Monday, January 11, 2016
The interior is almost exactly the same as the Q50 sedan, just shrunken a bit. That means it's a relatively nice place, with active noise cancelling, two touchscreens(instead of one larger unit, for unknown reasons) in the center console, and Infinity's spinal support seats.
Sunday, January 10, 2016
Friday, January 8, 2016
Thursday, January 7, 2016
There isn't a whole lot to say about this other than that there are 108 days left until we can return to Westeros and the nearby realms. The 6th season is also coming before the next book from George R.R. Martin, so I'll no longer be able to smugly laugh at my show-watching-only friends when they freak out over a twist.
Veep and Silicon Valley will also start up again, airing immediately after Game of Thrones on HBO.
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Pure electric vehicles other than the $70000+ Tesla Model S have so far been confined to a range of less than 100 miles, which is just not enough to be your primary car for people who take road trips or have long commutes. That's why the Chevy Bolt is an extremely important product: It's an EV that'll cost roughly $30,000 after tax breaks with a 200 mile range. It also has a new LG-made 10.2" infotainment screen with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support, that early reports suggest is one of the best on any car. There's also a slightly-less-than 7 second 0-60 acceleration time(exact details aren't available) and a practical if not amazing looking compact CUV design.
Update: The base price has been announced as $37,500. That's steep, but it will(barely) meet their :"$30k after rebates" claim.
You can get a 2nd gen Compute stick with a new Atom x5 quad core 2.2GHz processor, 2GB's of RAM and 32GB's of storage, or with a faster Core M3 or M5 processor, 4GB's of RAM and 64GB's of storage. The Atom variant has 2 USB ports on the stick itself, while the Core M versions have one there and two on the separate power module. All versions have 802.11ac 2x2 WiFi antennas, with Windows 10, and the lineup starts at $159.
On the lower end, there's two UltraSharp InfinityEdge monitors, a 23.8" 1080p and 27" Quad HD version for $349 and $719, respectively. More interestingly, the UltraSharp Wireless lineup consists of $429 23" and $469 24" monitors that both support MiraCast for wirelessly connecting your Windows or Android phone, tablet or laptop. The cheaper 23" version also has wireless charging for your phone in the stand, and built in speakers.
The BMW i8 is a gorgeous futuristic electric coupe, but BMW's should always come in a convertible version. That's not quite happening yet for the i8, but the fine folks from Bavaria have a new concept that builds on the previous i8 Spyder concept with some cool tech inside. There's a giant 21" display on the dash that extends from where the normal display would be all the way to the right in front of the passenger. How does the driver control this? With AirTouch, a gesture-based system where you point at the UI element you want to control and push to select. This allows the concept to have exactly zero buttons on the dashboard, which is rather nifty.
But really, just build the i8 Spyder please.
Meanwhile, they also showed trailers for The Crown, a Downton Abbey-like show starring Matt Smith, and Baz Luhrmann's The Get Down.
They also have a Ricky Gervais movie coming later this year. Oh and yeah: Their stock is now up 6.27% from earlier today.
As for specs, you get Intel's Skylake Core M processors, 4GB's of RAM, 10 hours of rated battery life and a 128GB SSD. But the most important aspect is the display. It's a 2160x1440p 12" Super AMOLED panel, and that's why you'd buy this tablet. That said, whether you should buy one or not depends partially on the price, which has yet to be released.
The big news, though, is the price: It'll be much more expensive than the dev kits, at $599, though that's still not unreasonable for what it provides. It'll also come in a seriously nice looking hardshell case, with a bundled Xbox controller and custom Oculus remote control, as well as two games. You provide the gaming PC.
Your move, Sony.
Tuesday, January 5, 2016
\What it is not, at first glance, is a gaming laptop. Sure, it has individually LED backlit keys for cool color-changing lighting effects, but this is an ultrabook through and through. There's an Intel Core i7-6500U processor, up to a 512GB PCI-E SSD, 8GB's of dual channel RAM, and either a 2560x1440 or 4K 12.5" touchscreen. But the secret is in the connectors: Along with the USB 3.0 and HDMI ports, there's what looks like a normal USB 3.1 Type C reversible plug for power, display output and data transfer. However, it's also a Thunderbolt 3 port, meaning it has 40GBps(yes, gigabyte, not bit) symmetrical bandwidth. And that then allows for the Razer Core, a separate device that lets you slot in any desktop graphics card and provides multiple display and I/O connections, which allows the Blade Stealth to play Fallout 4 or other top notch games. Moreover, you'll be able to upgrade your GPU without replacing the entire laptop. It's a concept that Sony pioneered years ago and Alienware offers now, but the Razer looks at first glance like a better all around implementation.
Monday, January 4, 2016
I just finished reviewing the Lenovo Y700 gaming laptop, but it's soon to be complemented by a new Y900 laptop, a bunch of desktops and monitors, and some new peripherals. They're also partnering with gaming industry stalwart Razer, to help design the products and bundle their keyboards and mice.
- IdeaPad Y900 laptop 17 inch gaming laptops are a dying breed, but Lenovo's adding one to their Y gaming subbrand. The Y900 has an Intel Skylake Core i7 K-series processor, NVidia GTX 980M graphics, and a multi-color backlit keyboard. There's also a turbo button that increases performance by overclocking the CPU with one press.
- Y900 RE desktop: Here's the Razer partnership: The Y900 is a gaming desktop with dual GTX 970 GPU's, Intel Coire i7 6700K, a 1000 watt power supply, bundled Razer Chroma peripherals, and a starting price of $2299. Stay tuned for a review of the non-Razer edition Y900, which I'm typing this on right now.
- Y27g RE Curved Gaming monitor: If yesterday's ThinkVision 27 4K monitor/hub is too business oriented for you, the Razer Edition Y27g has programmable color LED lighting, a curved display and a starting price of $399.
- IdeaCentre 610S It's not a gaming device, but rather a home desktop with a built in projector that'll create a 110" image.
Sunday, January 3, 2016
There's also a new 27" 4K monitor called the ThinkVision X1, which connects using a reversible USB 3.1 Type-C port that both charges your laptop, handles the display output and lets the monitor function as a USB hub. It costs $799.
That's all changing though, as Ford has announced that all Sync 3-equipped Ford/Lincoln vehicles will get a software update with the software, while all 2017 models with Sync 3 will have it built in.
The 2017 Ford Escape will be first off the line with the two Silicon Valley titan's software included, and it'll also come with build in LTE mobile internet.
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Gaming PC's went through a long period of near-abandonment by mainstream computer manufacturers, as there simply wasn't a large market for them. Most people's gaming needs were satisfied by a console, while the true hardcore PC gamers would typically build their own machine. That's changing now, lead by a resurgence in the popularit`y of indie games, which are often PC only, and interest in virtual reality devices such as Facebook's Oculus Rift, which requires a PC. Seeing this trend, everyone from Lenovo to Acer and HP to ASUS are launching new gaming lines. Which leads us to today's review, of the Y700 gaming laptop from Lenovo. It's the current mobile flagship of Lenovo's new Y-series gaming line, which also includes desktops, mice, headsets, and even backpacks. But how is it as a laptop?
All of these parts contribute to an extremely fast computer, whether you're playing games or trying to get some work done. Star Conflict, a fast paced starfighter combat game, ran perfectly on maxed-out settings. Meanwhile, with 16GB's of RAM you can actually use Chrome with a decent number of tabs and run the Eclipse Java IDE at the same time, smoothly. Still, as I mentioned at the beginning of this section, gaming laptops should be future proof, and the most important element of that is the GPU; A GTX 960 is a capable graphics card today, but it will become obsolete before the higher end 970 and 980 options in some competitors. They also removed the optical drive, which is not a problem except for the fact that you could previously use that drive bay to install a second graphics card, which would be nice. Ultimately, however, the specs here are excellent.
I hope you like red and black. The Y700 could just as accurately be called Darth Vader's laptop due to its color scheme of alternating matte and glossy black metal, glass and plastic with red accents and lighting. That's not my favorite color scheme, and I typically hue more towards minimalist, sleeker designs, but I still appreciate what Lenovo's going for here. Additionally, besides looking good in a huge, rather Lamborghini-like fashion, the Y700 feels extremely solid. My one main quibble(besides wishing for configurable colors on the keyboard backlight) is the palm rest material, which is a total fingerprint magnet. My roommate has a similar Lenovo Y-series gaming laptop from a few years ago and it shows smudges even more, though, so at least they're making progress.
Display, keyboard, trackpad & miscellaneous:
|The Y700's native habitat: Gaming at Temple Coffee|
As I said earlier, there's a whole ecosystem of peripherals to go with the Y series. My review unit came bundled with some 7.1 channel virtual surround sound headphones with a detachable mic, a rather awesome backpack, and a USB gaming mouse. I frankly didn't care for the mouse next to the Logitech or Razer options, but if you get a Y700, the backpack and headset might be nice additions.
The Y700 is one of my favorite laptops I've tried lately, but it does have some strong competition. For $30 less than the $1329 that my configuration would cost you from Lenovo, the ASUS Republic of Gamers GL552 has the same basic specs, but with a few differences. The ASUS has a USB 3.1 Type C port and in my opinion a better design, but lacks a touchscreen and there's no option to upgrade to a 4K display, a major omission. For $1350 you could get an Alienware 15 with Thunderbolt 3, the option to add two external GPU's, the same RAM/storage/GPU, and a carbon fiber chassis, but a much slower Core i5 processor.
At this price point and target demographic, what computer you buy is something of an emotional decision. Which one do you like best, which brand you've had the best luck with in the past, and similar issues play an important role. But for me, the Y700 hit all the right marks, despite the fact that I'm not typically a fan of gaming laptops at all.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Friday, December 4, 2015
The Chromebook 100S that I'm typing on right now is a full-fledged laptop that can be purchased brand new, with a warranty, for $179. That's a simply amazing price, especially considering that it's a perfectly usable laptop with no glaring deal breakers. It also feels about as well built as you'd expect given the price, and has a rather bad screen, but due to the fact that it runs ChromeOS, it performs excellently.
|You can see the pixels on the display...|
Luckily, Google doesn't really let you skin ChromeOS, so there's no unnecessary software, irritating interface changes, or other similar problems that typically come with low end, 3rd party manufacturer devices. Which just leaves you with stock ChromeOS, which you'll have to form your own opinion of. For those not familiar, ChromeOS is Google's cloud-centric operating system that offers the Chrome web browser, a file manager, a rather hidden command line terminal, and not much else. In other words, if you're an avid user of Photoshop, Pro Tools, Visual Studio, Xcode, iTunes, or a PC gamer, you're out of look. On the other hand, none of those programs are really usable on a $180 PC anyway except maybe the IDE's, and ChromeOS is fast. It's also extremely power-efficient, there's no danger of viruses or malware, and remote configuration for, say, schools is extremely easy.
The C100S is a perfectly fine looking black matte plastic rectangle, but there's absolutely no exciting design elements. Even Lenovo's business-oriented Thinkpads have their trademark red accents to liven up the designs, so it feels like they just didn't try here. As previously mentioned, there's a decent selection of ports, but that's enabled by a chassis that feels thick and heavy in this age of supermodel-thin Lenovo Yoga 900's, Dell XPS 13's and Apple Macbooks.
Here's somewhere where the C100S is actually better than a fair number of other laptops I've tested. The keyboard doesn't live up to the legendary Lenovo Thinkpad or desktop keyboards I've used, but it has Google's custom layout, which I quite like, and the key travel is quite decent for an 11" laptop. It just feels good to type on, though it is annoyingly noisy when typing at speed. The trackpad is similarly usable, accurate, and quite large, with none of the issues I've experienced on basically every low end Windows laptop.
HP's Chromebook 11 has almost the same exact specs for the exact same price, but with a design that's more playful(it comes in turquoise, for example) but less professional, and a slightly inferior keyboard. It's hard to crown a victor there. For $229, the Acer Chromebook 13 has a better design, larger full HD screen and better battery life, but less processor speed.
In other words, if price is your biggest concern by a large margin, the C100S is a pretty good option - just please, Lenovo, make the display a little higher resolution and the keyboard less noisy next time.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
BBC has just announced the first hints at this year's Doctor Who special, and it includes the return of one of my all time favorite characters: River Song is coming back. Actress Alex Kingsley will reprise the role, appearing alongside Peter Capaldi as the Doctor for the first time.
Here's the official plot teaser:
"It’s Christmas Day on a remote human colony and the Doctor is hiding from carols and comedy antlers. But when the Time Lord’s help is requested he finds himself recruited into River Song’s squad and hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy! King Hydroflax (Greg Davies) is furious and his giant robot bodyguard is out-of-control and coming for them all! Will Nardole (Matt Lucas) survive? And when will River work out who the Doctor is?
All will be revealed on a starliner full of galactic super-villains and at a destination the Doctor has been avoiding for a very long time…"
Saturday, November 7, 2015
T-Mobile's getting in on the Black Friday craziness a bit early with their latest deal. If you're thinking of picking up a smartphone from the Magenta carrier, make sure you order it through their website. You'll be able to apply a $100 discount to either an up front or payment plan purchase, which on some devices puts them below their average high quality used Ebay price - but with the option of spreading that payment over 24 months. The Apple iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, 6, 6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S 6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus, Note 5, Note 4, LG V10, and LG G4 are all included in the sale.