We’ve got the power
Tablets are a challenge but modern PCS offer plenty of oomph, writes Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson
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.