Hitting the right note
Jennifer Dudley- Nicholson takes some of the latest notebooks for a test drive
Razer, from $ 2699
THE Blade certainly looks like a gaming computer. The glowing green keyboard and Razer insignia give its intentions away, but it’s far from a typical model.
While you might expect giant cooling fans and a hefty base, this sleek system features discreet vents, a mere 1.6cm profile and weighs just 1.8kg, making it one of the most subtle gaming rigs around.
The 14- inch PC is powered by a fourthgeneration 2.2GHz Intel Core i7 chip, has 8GB RAM, Windows 8 and uses a 256GB solid- state hard drive for faster boot speeds.
Three USB 3.0 ports also feature, along with an HDMI connection, 1.3- megapixel webcam and crisp LED- backlit screen with anti- reflective coating.
Games must be streamed or downloaded ( there’s no optical drive) and internet connections must be wireless ( no Ethernet port) but this Blade is a sharp choice. razerzone.com
ASUS, from $ 1799
LIKE fictional international male model Derek Zoolander, the latest Zenbook is ridiculously good- looking.
It makes an immediate impact with a deep blue, brushed metal top covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and a slimmed- down, 1.5cm profile that belies its power.
That power includes a new Intel Core i5 or i7 chip ( our review model was rated at 2.8GHz), and 4GB or 8GB RAM running Windows 8.
Its 13.3- inch screen is also impressive, with 10- finger touch sensitivity, In- Plane Switching for wide viewing, a full high- definition resolution or the option of a jump up to 2560x1440.
Naturally, all of these upgrades come at a price, tempering its attractiveness.
Users should also be aware there is no optical drive or Ethernet port, just two USB 3.0 connections – and they will need a cloth on hand, as its glass top doesn’t easily scratch but it shows fingerprints. asus. com. au
Toshiba, $ 1399
THIS notebook is proof you can get a lot of computer for $ 1400.
The Windows 8 machine offers a bright, 15.6inch screen that is also sensitive to the touch, immediately eliminating some operating system frustrations.
It also features enough ports that you could call the u50t a desktop replacement. They include two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 connection, space for an HDMI cable and an SD memory card, plus an Ethernet port.
The PC offers reasonable though not cuttingedge power with a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5 chip, 4GB RAM, 2GB video card and 750GB storage, but its appearance is worthy of note.
The u50t offers a brushed metal exterior, is just 2.1cm thin and weighs 2.3kg, though users must provide their own DVD drive. mytoshiba.com. au
HP, from $ 1299
RUMOURS of a 13- inch Apple iPad may be incorrect, but HP offers its own take in this hybrid Windows 8 computer.
The Split x2 is so named for the screen’s ability to separate from the keyboard in an instant for tablet use. A step up from the similar but smaller Envy x2, this model offers a 13.3- inch screen, a third- generation, 1.5GHz Intel Core i5 chip and 4GB RAM, plus added storage.
The base features a 500GB hard drive, complemented by 128GB solid- state storage in the screen/ tablet above, as well as two USB ports and an HDMI connection.
The Split x2 is no lightweight, at 2.2kg, and its screen resolution hasn’t increased from 1366x768 in the last model.
However, it is a competent, well- constructed hybrid computer that would serve those looking for a Windows 8 tablet and notebook well. hp. com. au
Acer, $ 399
PROVING Google’s discount, internet- reliant notebooks weren’t just a fad is this machine, the second Chromebook from Acer.
The new edition is 30 per cent thinner than the last model, more powerful, and offers a bigger screen and a faster drive and connections.
Its diet clearly pays dividends for users as it has delivered a 1.47kg laptop that is just 1.9cm but, arguably, the main improvement has been to its battery life and power, with up to 8.5 hours possible out of a single charge and grunt from Intel’s new Haswell Celeron 2955U chip, 4GB RAM and a 16GB solid- state drive ( though you’ll now have to store more in the cloud).
Sadly, its screen is still dull and poor from an angle, its touchpad tricky, its offline usefulness limited, and it doesn’t come with a mobile internet option.acerstore.com.au