We’ve got the power

Tablets are a chal­lenge but mod­ern PCS of­fer plenty of oomph, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Tech -

DELL XPS 15 Dell, from $ 1499; dell. com. au

Dell’s new pre­mium 15.6- inch lap­top is easy to pick from a line- up – it’s the com­puter with a smooth metal lid, a matte track­pad un­der­neath and a stylised key­board that is in­stantly recog­nis­able as be­long­ing to an XPS ma­chine.

And it’s just as easy to find thought­ful touches in this large lap­top, in­clud­ing a multi- touch track­pad users can press like a but­ton, an SD card slot masked by a metal in­sert and a com­pact eth­er­net port that only re­veals it­self when you lower its bot­tom edge.

The XPS 15 also comes with a DVD drive, in ad­di­tion to three USB ports and a full- size HDMI con­nec­tion for use with larger dis­plays.

Our $ 1999 re­view model sports a third- gen­er­a­tion Core i7 chip, 8GB RAM and one ter­abyte hard drive, though a solid- state ver­sion is also avail­able.

It isn’t the most por­ta­ble lap­top, weigh­ing slightly more than 3kg, but it is one of the slick­est.

SAM­SUNG NOTE­BOOK SE­RIES 9 Sam­sung, $ 1899; sam­sung. com/ au

Boot up this com­puter and a mes­sage will point out it’s the world’s thinnest 15- inch lap­top. The lat­est Sam­sung Se­ries 9 com­puter is al­most un­fath­omably slen­der at 1.49cm.

As a re­sult, this full- sized lap­top feels much more travel- friendly and weighs less than 2kg.

But it doesn’t scrimp on spec­i­fi­ca­tions and ar­rives with a 1.9GHz ver­sion of the lat­est In­tel Ivy Bridge chip, 8GB RAM and a 128GB solid- state drive.

The new lap­top ac­tu­ally makes Win­dows 7 look good – not only in the speed stakes but also with help from a brighter- than- usual screen ( rated at 400 nits) that looks good from most an­gles and, like its ex­te­rior, is fin­ger­print- re­sis­tant.

Its chi­clet key­board is well spaced and easy to use and its multi- touch track­pad can also be pressed for se­lec­tions.

This Se­ries 9 re­lies on an in­te­grated graph­ics pro­ces­sor, which might not suit heavy gamers, and uses an adap­tor for eth­er­net con­nec­tions, but it’s a win­ner in the speed and style stakes.

LEN­OVO THINKPAD X230 Len­ovo, from $ 899; len­ovo.com/au

This lap­top’s ap­pear­ance screams ‘‘ work­horse’’. It’s not thin, it’s lit­tered with open ports and it’s not in the least bit aero­dy­namic.

The Thinkpad is rugged, fin­ished in a sen­si­ble matte coat­ing, er­gonom­i­cally pleas­ing and ready for you to bang out long doc­u­ments on the run and send them wher­ever they need to go, thanks to a built- in 3G con­nec­tion. It’s also sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able to use for a 12.5- inch lap­top, thanks to a well- spaced key­board with uniquely rounded keys and a tex­tured touch­pad that is pleas­ingly sen­si­tive. This ThinkPad ar­rives in many con­fig­u­ra­tions. Our re­view model, cost­ing $ 1974, fea­tures a 2.9GHz In­tel Core i7 chip, 4GB RAM and 500GB hard disk; and plenty of con­nec­tions. They in­clude two USB 3.0 con­nec­tions, an SD card reader and space for an eth­er­net ca­ble.

Though it won’t win any fans based on looks alone, the power un­der the hood of the Thinkpad should im­press.

SONY VAIO T SE­RIES Sony, $ 1399; sony. com. au

Sony’s first Ul­tra­book, the VAIO T Se­ries, cer­tainly looks the part.

It’s a mere 1.7cm thin and weighs only 1.5kg, mak­ing it por­ta­ble enough for most trips and its 13.3- inch screen size makes it com­fort­able for most uses.

Un­der­neath its stylish, brushed- metal lid, this Ul­tra­book looks sim­i­lar to a cer­tain Air- y prod­uct, with square keys in a chi­clet for­ma­tion, a wide touch­pad that can be clicked to make se­lec­tions and a sil­ver metal frame.

It’s not only about good looks, though. This PC of­fers a third- gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core i7 chip with 1.9GHz power, 4GB RAM and a 128GB solid- state drive for speed, whether pulling out files or restart­ing in sec­onds.

It also of­fers USB 2.0 and 3.0 con­nec­tions ( sadly, near one an­other), HDMI and mem­ory card ports. What se­ri­ously lets this PC down is its LED- back­lit screen that lacks con­trast and must be po­si­tioned at just the right an­gle. The keys are also shal­low and may re­quire prac­tice.

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