Tag: business laptop

Acer answers the business market with Intel Tiger Lake laptops


Acer TravelMate P4 laptop  press image courtesy of Acer

Acer TravelMate P4 business laptop with Intel Tiger Lake silicon

Acer TravelMate Spin P4 hands-on review | Laptop Mag

Acer TravelMate P2, P4, Spin P4 now official | Yugatech.com

From the horse’s mouth


TravelMate P4 clamshell laptop (Product Page)

TravelMate Spin P4 2-in-1 laptop (Product Page)

My Comments

Acer is about to offer 14” laptop computers focused towards the business community that use Intel’s Tiger Lake silicon with Xe graphics. These come primarily in the form of the TravelMate P4 clamshell laptop and the TravelMate Spin P4 convertible laptop. The latter model is intended to snap at the heels of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga convertible business laptop.

Acer TravelMate Spin P4 convertible business laptop press image courtesy of Acer

.. also in a convertible 2-in-1 form as the Acer TravelMate Spin P4

Both these computers have as a baseline option, Thunderbolt 4 connectivity along with other business-grade connectivity requirements. For wireless connectivity, they will have Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 as standard. But there is the ability to have them specified with an LTE mobile broadband modem that uses eSIM service authentication.

As far as graphics go, these computers will use the Intel Xe integrated graphics processors that can do the job for 1080p gaming or for basic content creation tasks. There is the option for users to specify an NVIDIA MX350 mobile discrete graphics processor if they want a bit more graphics “pep”. Of course that will have the NVIDIA Optimus automatic graphics-processor switchover so the Intel Xe integrated GPU can work as a highly-capable “lean-burn” option for battery use. But, as I have mentioned before, these have a Thunderbolt 4 connection which will offer connectivity to external graphics modules as another path to improve your computer’s graphics performance.

Both computers are designed to be highly-durable and comply with MIL-STD-810G durability standards. There is also essential security security features including the TPM 2.0 security processor which works in a discrete form, fingerprint reader and camera fit for Windows Hello facial recognition.  The camera even has a privacy shutter so you aren’t easily spied upon.

The TravelMate P4 will start from USD$899 or EUR€899 while the TravelMate Spin P4 will start from USD$999.99 or EUR€999. But with Acer’s TravelMate business computer range like with the Lenovo ThinkPad / ThinkCentre business computer range, they don’t focus it necessarily towards particular business use cases, be it the small-business operator or freelancer who manages the computer by themselves as their own “axe”, or an enterprise who buys and manages a large fleet of computers for staff to use.

With Acer offering these TravelMate business laptops that run the Intel Tiger Lake silicon with highly-capable Xe graphics processors, it could really define what is expected on the outset for an all-round computer. It means being able to do some advanced graphics tasks like modest gameplay or basic photo and video editing. These business laptops could also be a sign of things to come for mainstream consumer laptop product ranges.

This year’s computing improvements from Dell


Dell XPS 13 Finally Fixes the Nosecam | Tom’s Hardware

Dell G Series Gaming Laptops Get Nvidia RTX Makeover | Tom’s Hardware

From the horse’s mouth


Press Releases

My Comments

Dell has been improving their value-for-money portable computer product line and premiering some of these new products in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show 2019. Here I am calling out a few distinct improvements across the different product lines as supplied through their press material.

Some options that have been cropping up include a 1Tb solid-state disk in most product lines, NVIDIA RTX ray-tracing video chipsets in gamimg models and OLED displays in premium 15” models. But there are some computers out there that have some interesting features like a small built-in Webcam or “walk-up and sign-in” operation.

Improvements to the XPS 13 Ultrabook

Dell XPS 13 9380 Webcam detail press picture courtesy of Dell Corporation

Thin Webcam circuitry atop display

Dell have been incrementally improving on the XPS 13 Ultrabook by releasing the latest iteration known as the 9380 model. But this iteration isn’t just based around its silicon although it implements Intel 8th-Generation Whiskey Lake technology.

One of the main useability improvements is for the Webcam to be located in its proper position above the screen rather than below the screen as with some previous generations. This avoids videocall situations where your correspondent is looking at the ceiling or your nose when you use the Webcam located at the bottom of the screen. The problem was brought about due to Dell’s InfinityEdge “thin-bezel” approach which didn’t allow for room for a standard Webcam circuit. But it had been solved through the use of a 2.5mm Webcam circuit that allowed for a thin top bezel for the screen.

Swll XPS 13 9380 press picture courtesy of Dell Corporation

Now in the “Frost” finish with white keyboard and deck and silver back

It also implements a variable-torque hinge to make it easy to open and close, something that may please older users with hands that may not be all that great thanks to arthritis for example. Another feature that Dell is pushing is to have a fingerprint reader integrated in the power button on the computer.

The latest iteration of the Dell XPS 13 underscores the USB-C connectivity form by having three connections of this kind – two Thunderbolt 2 connections and a USB-C-only connection. This is alongside an audio jack which hasn’t been forgotten about as well as a microSD card reader.

The Dell XPS 13 is available with 8th-generation Intel “Whiskey Lake” Core CPUs (i3, i5 or i7) and Intel UHD 620 integrated graphics. It will have up to 16Gb RAM and 2Tb SSD as non-volatile storage. There will be three display options – a Full HD non-touch screen, a Full-HD touch screen or a 4K UHD touch screen. There is an expected 21-hour battery runtime for an XPS 13 equipped with a Full-HD display which will allow continuous use on one of the new non-stop longhaul flights facilitated by the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

What is being underscored here is the idea of keeping the Dell XPS 13 as the value-for-money Ultrabook that “ticks the boxes” as far as “thin-and-light” clamshell-style portable computers go. Here, it is through implementing the latest technology and answering problems that the user base and computer press have raised about this model.

G-Series gaming-laptop refresh with RTX graphics option

Dell G5 15 gaming laptop press picture courtesy of Dell

The new Dell G Series high-performance gaming-graphics laptops

The CES 2019 exhibition became the time for NVIDIA to premiere their RTX family of ray-tracing-capable graphics processors. Dell was one of the first computer manufacturers to offer a gaming-grade computer as part of their main brand with this silicon as a configuration option.

Here, the G-Series gaming laptop range has effectively been refreshed with new Intel CPUs and the NVIDIA RTX graphics chipsets. The G-series laptops are different from the Alienware gaming brand where they are positioned with a similar approach to the “GT” or “Sport” variants of popular mainstream passenger cars which have the higher-performance powertrains.

But in some ways, these computers can be seen as an entry-level workstation for photo and video hobbyists or students starting on high-end graphics-focused computing like with architecture or statistics.

These systems will be known as the G5 15 with the 15” screen and Core i7 horsepower, the G7 15 with the Core i9 horsepower and 15” screen, and the G5 17 with the same horsepower as the G5 15 but with a 17” screen.

The system RAM can be specced up to 16Gb. This is while the storage options can be specced in the form of a single-device option with a 1Tb 5400rpm hard disk or a dual-device option with up to 1Tb M2 solid-state disk ganged with a choice of 500Gb 7200rpm, 1Tb 5400rpm or 2Tb 5400rpm hard disks.

The economy option for the display subsystem is an NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti GPU but the computer will have the Ethernet port and a USB-C port as its system-specific connections. All of the new G-Series computer can be configured with any of the RTX GPUs which will also have 8Gb of display RAM. They will have the USB-C, Thunderbolt 3 and mini DisplayPort connections as their configuration-specific options.

Dell G5 15 gaming laptop press picture courtesy of Dell CorporationThe common connection options would be 3 USB 3.1 Type-A ports, an SD card reader, an audio jack as well as those extra configuration-specific ports.

The 15” models can have a Full HD IPS screen 220nits brightness and 60Hz refresh rate, a similar screen with similar resolution and refresh rate but 300nits brightness, another similar screen with a similar resolution and brightness but a game-friendly 144Hz refresh rate. There is the full-on option of equipping your 15” Dell G-Series with an 4K UHD OLED screen at a 400nits brightness and 60Hz refresh rate, something that would appeal to photo and video enthusiasts.

The 17” model has fewer screen options in the form of a full HD IPS screen with 300nits brightness but a choice of 60Hz or 144Hz refresh rates.

OLED screens as a configuration option for premium Dell laptops

Speaking of OLED display technology, the XPS 15 thin-and-light, Alienware m15 premium gaming and the Dell G7 15  are able to be equipped with OLED displays rather than LCD displays. These will also be able to support high dynamic-range vision using technologies like Dolby Vision. This will make these computers appeal towards photo and video professionals who look out for increased photo-grade dynamic range,

Dell Latitude 7400 business 14” 2-in-1

Dell Latitude 7400 14" 2-in-1 laptop press picture courtesy of Dell Corporation

Dell Latitude 7400 14″ 2-in-1 laptop with ExpressSignIn

This is a rare sight for the Consumer Electronics Show where a computer manufacturer is premiering a business-grade computer at a consumer-focused technology fair. But small-business owners may find this of value if they buy their technology through an independent computer store or value-added reseller.

Here, Dell are premiering the Latitude 7400 14” business 2-in-1 which has features that make it stand out from other business computers in its class. Here, this computer which has a Titan Grey finish is the smallest business-grade 14” 2-in-1 convertible laptop on the market.

It also has the ExpressSignIn feature that detects user presence near the machine. When the user comes near, it will wake up and activate the Windows Hello facial-recognition routine to verify that the user is authorised to operate the machine. Then, when the user walks away, the Dell Latitude 7400 will lock the user session.

It has 2 Thunderbolt 3 connections as standard and, as specifiable options, Gigabit LTE mobile broadband, 1Tb solid-state drive, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5 connectivity. The 1Tb solid-state drive’s capacity will please those of us who effectively “live out of their briefcase” but want the high performance. As is expected for a premium business laptop, this will have the security and manageability features that would please a corporate IT team or a value-added reseller offering “big-time” IT support to small businesses.

Inspiron 7000 Series 2-in-1s gain significant design improvements

The Dell Inspiron 7000 Series 2-in-1 convertible laptops have undergone some significant revision in their design.

Rather than having an ordinary hinge, these computers have a new hinge design with a place to park the supplied active pen. This means that the pen is presented to the user without it falling out no matter whether the computer is folded over as a tablet, in a partially-folded “tent” or “media-viewer” state or a traditional laptop. It also makes sure that the hinge part looks special, as well as being part of an improved cooling and ventilation approach that understands lifestyle computing needs like bingeing on Netflix in bed or “flipping through” YouTube videos on the couch.

The improved cooling and ventilation approach is also augmented through adaptive thermal-management technology which varies the Inspiron 7000’s performance depending on whether you are moving it around or keeping it still on your desk. This avoids you handling a portable computer that is running uncomfortably hot.

The integrated power switch / fingerprint reader design has opened up a design feasibility for the 15” variant of the Dell Inspiron 7000 Series. Here, it means that the computer can be equipped with a numeric keypad which is a rarity amongst 15” 2-in-1 computers.

Still there is the limitation with this series where the USB-C port on these computers is the standard USB-C port rather than a Thunderbolt 3 port. If the Inspiron 7000 Series came with the Thunderbolt 3 port, it could then mean that these computers could be teamed with an external graphics module for at-home gaming.


Dell is keeping up its name as a value-for-money computer name but is assuring users that they are creating innovative designs rather than copying established ones.

Consumer Electronics Show 2017–Computer Trends

I am writing up a series of articles about the trends that have been put forward at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The first article in this series covers all of the trends affecting personal computers.

1: Computer Trends

2: Accessories And The Home Network


Most manufacturers were exhibiting refreshed versions of their product ranges. This is where the computers were being equipped with up-to-date chipsets and had their RAM, storage and other expectations brought up to date.

  • Key trends affecting mainstream computers included:
  • the use of Intel Kaby Lake processors for the computers’ horsepower
  • solid-state storage capacity in the order of up to 1 Terabyte
  • RAM capacity in the order of up to 16Gb
  • at least one USB Type-C socket on mainstream units with Thunderbolt 3 on premium units and / or ultraportables using just USB-C connections with some having 2 or more of these connectors

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon USB-C Thunderbolt-3 detail image - press picture courtesy of Lenovo USA

    More of this year’s laptop computers will be equipped with these USB Type-C or Thunderbolt 3 sockets

  • Wi-Fi connectivity being 802.11ac multi-band with MU-MIMO operation

Another factor worth noticing is the increase in detachable or convertible “2-in-1” computers being offered by most, if not all, of the manufacturers; along with highly-stylish clamshell ultraportable computers. This class of computer is being brought on thanks to Microsoft’s Surface range of computers with some of of the computers in these classes also being about performance. The manufacturers are even offering a range of these “2-in-1” computers targeted towards business users with the security, manageability, durability and productivity features that this use case demands.

Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 convertible Ultrabook press picture courtesy of Dell USA

More of these convertibles and detachable 2-in-1 computers will appear in manufacturers’ product ranges

Nearly every manufacturer had presented at least one high-performance gaming laptop with the Intel Core i7 processor, at least 16Gb RAM and 128Gb solid-state storage, dedicated graphics chipset. Most of these computers are even equipped with a Thunderbolt 3 connection to allow for use with external graphics docks, considered as a way for core gamers to “soup up” these machines for higher gaming acumen.

Lenovo had refreshed most of their laptop range, especially the ThinkPad business range. Here, this is a product range that makes no distinction between the small-business/SOHO user class where a few of these computers are managed and the large-business/government user class where you are talking of a large fleet of computers handling highly-sensitive data.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon press image courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon has been refreshed to newer expectations

The new ThinkPads come in the form of a newer ThinkPad Yoga business convertible, a refreshed ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook and a refreshed ThinkPad X1 Yoga convertible. For example, the ThinkPad Yoga 370 has the 13.3” Full HD screen, the classic ThinkPad TrackPoint button as a navigation option but is driven by Intel Kaby Lake horsepower. This machine can be specified up to 16Gb RAM and 1Tb solid-state storage and has a Thunderbolt 3 connection along with 2 USB 3.0 ports. Lenovo even designed in protection circuitry for the USB-C / Thunderbolt 3 port to protect the ThinkPad against those dodgy non-compliant USB-C cables and chargers. Like the rest of the new ThinkPad bunch, this computer comes with the Windows 10 Signature Edition software image which is about being free of the bloatware that fills most of today’s laptop computers. The computer will set you back US$1264.

Other ThinkPads will also come with either a USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 connection depending on their position in the model range. For example the T470 family and the T570 family will be equipped with the Thunderbolt 3 connections. Let’s not forget how the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and Yoga have been refreshed. The Carbon implements horsepower in the Intel Kaby Lake Core i family, a 14” Quad HD display, 16Gb RAM and 1Tb SSD storage, and an expected battery runtime of 15 hours along with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity. The X1 Yoga has been given the similar treatment with similar RAM and secondary-storage capacity but can be outfitted with an LTE-A wireless-broadband modem as an option.

Lenovo Legion Y720 gaming laptop - press picture courtesy of Lenovo USA

Lenovo Legion Y720 gaming laptop with Dolby Atmos sound

Gamers can relish in the fact that Lenovo has premiered the Legion range of affordable high-performance gaming laptops. The Legion Y720 is the first of its kind to be equipped with Dolby Atmos sound. The Y520 has a Full HD IPS screen driven by NVIDIA GeForce GTX1050Ti dedicated graphics chipset, the choice of an Intel Core i5 or i7 CPU, 16Gb RAM and hard disk storage between 500Gb and 1Tb or solid-state storage between 128Gb and 512Gb, and network connectivity in the form of 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet. Peripheral connectivity is in the form of 1 x USB-C, 2 x USB 3.0 and 1 x USB 2.0 and an audio jack, with this computer asking for at least US$900. The better Y720, along with Dolby Atmos, has a bright IPS screen either as a Full HD or 4K resolution and driven by NVIDIA GeForce GTX1060 graphics chipset with 6Gb display memory. Lenovo was also offering a MIIX 720 creative-arts mobile workstation that eats at the Apple MacBook Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro lineup.

Dell XPS 15 Notebook press image courtesy of Dell USA

Dell XPS 15 ultraportable in a 15″ size

Dell had refreshed the XPS 13 lineup of Ultrabooks, known for offering the right combination of features, durability, comfort and price. But they also offered a convertible 2-in-1 variant of the XPS 13, again offering that right combination of features, durability, comfort and price. They also released the XPS 15 which is the smallest 15,6” laptop with Intel Kaby Lake processors, NVIDIA GeForce dedicated graphics and a fingerprint reader.

Dell XPS 27 all-in-one computer press image courtesy of Dell USA

Dell XPS 27 all-in-one computer with best bass response in its class

The XPS and Precision all-in-one desktop computers have had their sound quality improved rather than having it as an afterthought. This has led to audio quality from the XPS 27 and the Precision business equivalent being equivalent to that of a soundbar, thanks to the use of 10 speakers working at 50 watts per channel, including two downward-firing speakers to make the work surface augment the bass. Two passive radiators also augment the system’s bass response. Both have a 4K UHD touchscreen  while the Precision certified workstation can work with AMD Radeon graphics and Intel Xeon CPUs.

Like Lenovo, Dell had exhibited their business-grade computers at a trade fair typically associated with goods targeted at the consumer. This could underscore realities like people who use business-tier computers for “work-home” use including those of us who are running a business or practising a profession from our homes. Dell have been on a good wicket here because of themselves selling computers direct to the public and to business users for a long time.

Here, Dell had refreshed their XPS, Inspiron, Optiflex, Latitude and Precision computer lineups with new expectations. They would come with Kaby Lake horsepower under the bonnet, USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 connectivity depending on the unit along with newer dedicated-graphics options from NVIDIA or AMD. The business machines would be equipped with Intel vPro manageability features to work with business-computer management software.

Dell Latitude 5285 business detachable 2-in-1 - press picture courtesy of Dell USA

Dell Latitude 5285 business detachable 2-in-1 – the most secure of its class

In the case of business computers, Dell had underscored a desire to integrate the aesthetics of consumer-tier ultraportable computers with the security, manageability and productivity wishes that the business community crave for. For example, the latest Latitude Ultrabooks and 2-in-1s show the looks but come up with the goods as a business “axe” computer. One of the systems in the Latitude lineup is the Latitude 7285 detachable 2-in-1s which implement WiTricity wireless charging and WiGig docking while the Latitude 5285 detachable 2-in-1 sells on a highly-strong security platform with Dell-developed data-protection / endpoint-protection software and the option for a fingerprint reader or smartcard reader.

Samsung had shown some Windows 10 tablets but they also presented the Notebook Odyssey gaming laptop, available as a 15” variant or a 17” higher-performing variant. Both of these implement “dual-storage” with a solid-state drive in the order of 256Gb for the 15” variant or 512Gb for the 17” variant along with a 1Tb traditional hard disk. RAM is in the order of 32Gb or 64Gb for the 17” variant while these are driven by Intel Core i7 CPUs. Graphics is looked after by NVIDIA GTX dedicated GPU with 2Gb or 4Gb display memory but the 17” variant also has a Thunderbolt 3 connection for external graphics units.

There is also the Notebook 9 which implements a 15” HD display driven by NVIDIA 940MX graphics processor and Core i7 processor. Of note, the Notebook 9 implements a Windows Hello fingerprint reader along with a USB-C port which is its power socket thanks to USB Power Delivery.

HP was not silent but had fielded the Spectre x360 15” convertible Ultrabook, one of the few 15” portable computers that can be a tablet or laptop. It is driven by Intel Core i7 Kaby Lake horsepower and has the quota of 16Gb RAM and either a 256Gb or 512Gb solid-state storage. The 15” 4K IPS screen is driven by an NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics processor with 2Gb display memory, but the sound-reproduction has been tuned by Bang & Olufsen while there is an HP-designed noise-cancelling microphone array. The Webcam is an HP infra-red type which is Windows Hello compatible for facial recognition login. Connectivity is in the form of an HDMI socket, 1 USB-C socket, 1 Thunderbolt 3 socket, 1 traditional USB Type-A socket and an SD-card drive. Expect this convertible’s battery to run for 12 hours and be ready to go after 90 minutes of quick charging. The expected price is US$1299 for the 256Gb variant and US$1499 for the 512Gb variant.

Another interesting trend highlighted at CES 2017 has been an increase in the number of “Next Unit Of Computing” midget computers.  This is thanks to use cases like augmented-reality / virtual-reality gaming and an emphasis on aesthetics for desktop-based computing and has been brought about by the likes of the Intel Skull Canyon NUC. One of these was a range offered by Elitegroup with computers powered by Intel Braswell, Apollo Lake and Kaby Lake processors.

Zotac Mini PC press photo courtesy of Zotac

The latest Zotac Mini PC that is the hub of a “hi-fi” approach to computing

But Zotac approached the NUC trend in a manner not dissimilar to the “micro component” hi-fi systems, especially some of the premium offerings that emerged from Japan through the early 80s. These premium “micro-component” systems offered for their amplification needs a control amplifier and a power amplifier so as to provide more power output, along with their source components being a tuner and a cassette deck. In the case of Zotac, they offered the C-Series NUC midget computer which could be powered through its USB-C port thanks to USB Power Delivery. It came with the Intel Kaby Lake processors, NVIDIA GeForce dedicated graphics, a Thunderbolt 3 connector along with a few other features. The C-Series even has corporate manageability and security abilities such as Intel vPro and AMT system management along with the UNITE secure conferencing feature.

But Zotac offered an external “card-cage” graphics dock with a PCI Express x 16 expansion slot for graphics cards, 3 standard USB 3.0 ports and one USB 3.0 port supporting QuickCharge, but being able to supply power to the host computer via the Thunderbolt 3 port using USB Power Delivery. The graphics module’s power supply has a power budget of 400 watts and the module is known to be compatible with NVIDIA and AMD graphics cards.  They even offered their own NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Mini graphics card as a partner card for this dock.

The goal here was to supply a two-piece high-performance computer setup with a system unit and a module that can serve as its graphics subsystem and power supply. But users still had the ability to install better equipment when they felt like it. Or the graphics module could be purposed to provide extra graphics horsepower to portable, “all-in-one” and other small computers that are Thunderbolt-3-equipped as well as supplying necessary power through this port to host computers that honour USB Power Delivery.

Mobile Devices

Even though Samsung had suffered a deep blow with the exploding Galaxy Note 7 phablets, the mobile-computing platform has not died yet. It is although we may be hanging on to our smartphones for longer than the typical two-year contract period in order to save money.

At the moment, the phones that are being given an airing are the mid-tier Android smartphones like the Huawei Honor 6X with a dual camera and the ASUS Zenfone 3 Zoom which is one of the first to have an optical zoom on the rear camera’s lens.

Samsung launched their Galaxy A3 and A5 Android smartphones which are still positioned in the mid-tier segment. This is while Sony came to the fore with the XPeria X2 premium smartphone which has a 5.5” 4K display and 5Gb RAM, just above the baseline expectations for RAM capacity in a desktop computer.

LG had launched a range of low-tier Android smartphones that are equipped with user-replaceable batteries. The K3 is a compact unit with a 4.5” display while the K4 comes with the standard 5” display. There is the K8 5” selfie smartphone which has a highly-optimised front camera for taking those selfies to appear on Instagram or Facebook. Then LG brought the 13 megapixel camera featured in the G series lineup to the K10 5.3” smartphone. They also offered a Stylus 3 phablet with an integrated fingerprint scanner.

The next in the series will cover high-resolution monitors, computer accessories and the home network including the distributed-WiFi trend.

Product Review–Toshiba Tecra R950 (Part No: PT535A-00M008)


I am reviewing the Toshiba Tecra R950 which is Toshiba’s latest iteration of their work-home business laptops. This has business features like business-grade security and a shock-proof hard disk but is based on the new Intel 3rd-generation hardware platform. It also benefits from expandability options like an ExpressCard slot and plenty of USB 3.0 sockets.

The unit I am reviewing is a mid-tier high-performance variant but this series has cheaper variants that have less RAM and the cheaper i5 processor while there are higher-performance variants with a 256Gb solid-state disk and dedicated graphics processors.

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop

Price – this configuration RRP AUD$1822.70
Processor Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7-3520M cheaper option
Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5-3320M
cheaper option:
4Gb or 6Gb
shared with graphics
Secondary storage 640Gb hard disk
Extra cost:
256Gb solid-state drive
DVD burner, SDXC card reader
Display subsystem Intel HD integrated graphics
Extra cost:
AMD Radeon 7570M
1G dedicated memory (AMD Radeon 7570M)
Screen 15” widescreen (1600×900)
Cheaper option:
15” widescreen (1366×768)
LED-backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem
Audio Improvements
Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready with EDR
Modem Extra cost
Onboard 3G modem
Connectivity USB USB 2.0 (Sleep & Charge) + USB 2.0 with eSATA + 2 x USB 3.0
External Storage eSATA combined with USB 2.0
Video VGA, DisplayPort
Audio 3.5mm audio output
Expansion ExpressCard ExpressCard 34 x 1
Authentication and Security Fingerprint reader
Trusted Platform Module 1.2
Operating System on supplied configuration Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall:5.9 Graphics: 6.6
Advanced Graphics: 6.6


The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

The Toshiba Tecra R950 has that business look about it. It has the dark grey lid and a herringbone ribbed palmrest and is finished in the dark grey colour. Only the hinges are finished in chrome, with the right hinge being used for locking down the computer with a Kensington-compliant cable lock.

It is built well for durability, and does feels heavy. This characteristic is one where you could expect a long lifetime out of this business-class laptop.

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptopWhen I was watching some on-demand video, I had noticed that the Tecra didn’t run hot. This is usually a time that I notice that a laptop can run hot with the cooling fan running at full speed and / or the computer feeling too warm. This is even though the vent is on the left side of the computer and I felt minimal hot air leaving that vent.

User Interface

The Toshiba Tecra R950 has the same roomy keyboard with the hard plastic feel which does lend itself to comfortable accurate typing. There is also the separate numeric keypad which is a boon for entering lots of numbers in to that Excel spreadsheet or accounting program.

The trackpad still works as expected and can be sensitive if you are typing but you can still override it using a hardware button located below the spacebar. At least the thumbstick works properly as an alternative pointing device so you can have the trackpad off if you find its sensitive behaviour annoying.

Audio and Video
Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop left hand side - VGA, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, ExpressCard 34, SD card slot

Left-hand-side connections – VGA, DisplayPort, USB 3.0, ExpressCard 34 slot, SD card slot

I have noticed that the audio and video experience that this Toshiba Tecra R950 has given me is smooth for most tasks including audio and video playback. The video playback was still very smooth even through film scenes which may be dificult to reproduce. As for the sound, it cam through very clearly through headphones but the integrated speakers still leave room for improvement.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

The Toshiba Tecra R950 has many different ways to connect external peripherals to it. For example, there are many ways to connect an external hard drive to this laptop without trading performance – an eSATA / USB 2.0 connector as well as two USB 3.0 connectors.

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop - right hand side connectors - 3.5mm audio jack, USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, USB 2.0 eSATA combo port, DVD burner

Right-hand side connections – 3.5mm audio input-output jack USB 3.0 port, USB 2.0 port, USB 2.0 / eSATA combo port and DVD burner

There is the DisplayPort socket used as the digital video connect and you would need to use an adaptor when connecting to HDMI or DVI displays such as most flatscreen TVs. Of course, there is a VGA socket for use with legacy video equipment like the cheaper projectors.

As for secondary storage, the Tecra business laptop has 640Gb as its primary hard disk capacity although some of the more expensive variants come with a 256Gb solid-state storage option. This is supplemented with a DVD burner and a SDXC card reader, thus having access to cost-effective removable storage without the need to carry extra accessories.

The Tecra is equipped with an ExpressCard 34 slot. This gives it room to expand in functionality because you can plug in wireless-broadband modems, sound modules and the like yet have the high performance. SD card slot being located directly under this can be obstructed by ExpressCard modules that use a large overhang

Battery life

The Toshiba Tecra R950 was able to run for a long time on its own battery for most activities as I have observed. For example, I was able to run it with video-on-demand for an hour and find that there is 75% of power left in the battery. As well, I had the Tecra play a feature-length movie DVD for five hours and 21 minutes before the battery ran out after just charging the battery.

This is something I would expect of a full-size 15” business laptop running newly-issued batteries and would preserve its credentials for long flights or similar activity.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

Toshiba Tecra R950 business laptop lid viewAn option that I would like to see for the Toshiba Tecra R950 and other larger laptops that come with the high-capacity hard disks is a solid-state disk that works as a cache drive to improve performance and battery runtime. Similarly the Tecra lineup could benefit from a Blu-Ray-capable optical drive as an option.

One accessory that this could benefit from is a DisplayPort – HDMI adaptor so that people can be able to use common LCD and plasma flatscreen TVs like those at home or in hotels as external monitors.

This Tecra series has become a chance for Toshiba to make a bridge computer like the Fujitsu LH772. This is where they could use some of the Tecra features like the fingerprint scanner but have different colourings, making it appeal to the student market.


I would position the Toshiba Tecra R950 as an up-to-date work-home laptop for most small businesses. It has the security where-with-all and the extra RAM and hard-disk capacity that the small-business owner would need. The Bluetooth 4.0 interface allows this computer to work with battery-operated Bluetooth devices that can run a long time on cost-effective batteries or work with Bluetooth sensor devices.

II was choosing amongst the packages available, I would prefer this model for most users and the model below (4Gb RAM, i5 CPU) for those on a budget such as students. The Radeon-equipped variants would work well for users with graphics and multimedia creation needs or, perhaps, intense gaming. All along, I would focus on the 640Gb HDD as requirement for capacity.

Product Review–HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook


I am reviewing the HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook which is a laptop computer that is pitched for high-security high-availability environments. Here, there is an abundance of security features like a smart-card reader and a fingerprint reader; as well as a chassis that is much more hardy than most business and consumer laptops.

HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook

– this configuration
Processor Intel Sandy Bridge
Core i7-2620M
cheaper – Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5-2520M
Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5-2520M
RAM 4Gb shared with graphics
Secondary storage 500Gb hard disk
cheaper option: 320Gb hard disk
expensive option: 128Gb solid-state drive
DVD burner, SDHC card reader
Display Subsystem Intel HD graphics
Screen 13” widescreen (1366×768) LED backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem Intel HD Audio
Audio Improvements SRS audio tuning
Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
Modems 56k Dial-up modem, 3G wireless broadband
Connectivity USB 3 x USB 2.0 (1 with Sleep & Charge, 1 eSATA / USB port)
High-speed connections eSATA port shared with USB
Video VGA, DisplayPort
Audio 3.5mm audio input-output jack, digital out via DisplayPort
Expansion ExpressCard 34
Authentication and Security Fingerprint reader
Smart-card drive
Trusted Platform Module 1.2
Operating System on supplied configuration Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall: Graphics:
Advanced Graphics:
Insert variants with relative price shifts

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook closed front view

The Elitebook when closed shows a thick durable machine

Compared to most notebooks of this screen size that i have reviewed, the HP Elitebook 2560p comes in as a thicker unit which also can feel slightly heavier/ This is although it has a strong aluminium chassis and is built for durability.

The lind uses a push-button latch to stay shut and has a large hinge that runs the length of the computer in a similar manner to a piano hinge. This is another factor that underscores the durability aspect of this computer. They may not score well when it comes to looks but the Elitebook is positioned at a totally different market.

I have noticed that the Elitebook isn’t likely to feel hot to use after a long session of use. This is even though there is a vent on the right-hand side of the unit which does a good of keeping it cool.

User Interface

The Elitebook 2560 has a keyboard that has a textured surface which is conducive to touch-typing. But I have noticed a hard but light touch with the spill-resistant keyboard.

Like the Toshiba Tecra R850 that I previously reviewed, this laptop is equipped with a trackpad and a thumbsitck for those of you who are used to either pointing device. Both these devices can be located easily by sight and by feel, which can please those of you who do a lot of touch-typing. I have also noticed that the trackpad is not likely to cause the cursor to jump around as easily under a lot of touch-typing as I have seen before with other laptops. This is even throe when I was using in on the train in to the city, and is able to fit in well with public transport use.

HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook fingerprint reader

The highly-accurate fingerprint reader that is a key security feature in this notebook

The highly-accurate fingerprint reader is located in a distinct part of the palm-rest, compared to between the trackpad buttons as I have seen on other business laptops. It works properly and consistently even under different temperature conditions. The supplied ProtecTools works as it should as a password vauilt but could identify pre-enrolled Websites so you can immediately log in with your fingerprint rather than you having to select “Fill in form data” or double-click the icon on the browser screen.

There is an integrated GPS sensor for use with mapping and other similar applications; and this option could save you the need to buy a GPS Bluetooth “puck” for these applications. There are also one-touch buttons for turning the Wi-Fi on or off, muting the sound and gaining access to the Web.

Audio and Video

The visual ecperience is typical for the Intel Sandy Bridge integrated graphics, including being able to respond well with video content. This is something I have noticed when I watched Spiral (Engrenages) through the SBS video-on-demand service as well as through regular day-to-day activities.

A bonus that is common with most of the business laptops is that the screen doesn’t appear to be glossy in any way. This can be of benefit if you are working under most lighting conditions.

The audio experience is of a grade typical for most consumer laptops where it can function smoothly on most content. But I wouldn’t expect much from the internal speakers that are part of this and other laptops.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook left-hand side connections - power, Ethernet, modem, DVD burner, smart-card reader

Left-hand side – power, Ethernet, modem, DVD burner, smart-card reader

Like a good business laptop, the HP Elitebook 2560p doesn’t skimp on connectivity and expansion options.

There are 3 USB 2.0 ports with one being an eSATA/USB combo port and another being able to charge gadgets when the unit is asleep. External displays can be connected to the DisplayPort socket or a VGA socket, the latter catering for those economy data projectors that I have seen in use. The former socket could be augmented with a supplied DisplayPort-HDMI adaptor to work with the flatscreen TVs.

HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook right-hand-side connections - ExpressCard 34, SD memory card, audio input/output jack, DisplayPort, eSATA / USB, docking station connector, Kensington lock slot

Right-hand-side connections – ExpressCard 34, SD memory card, audio input/output jack, DisplayPort, eSATA / USB, docking station connector, Kensington lock slot

The review unit’s 500Gb hard disk is ample space for a computer that is intended to be taken around many areas. This is augmented with a DVD burner and an SD card reader for your digital camera’s memory card.

The Elitebook can handle most data-networking situations that are thrown at it. This ranges from Wi-Fi wireless networks on both the 3.4GHz and the 5GHz bands, wired Gigabit Ethernet as well as 3G wireless-broadband services.For that matter, the Wi-Fi performed as expected for a current-issue laptop’s Wi-Fi segment. Those of you who are stuck out in the bush with dial-up can use this computer due to an integrated 56k modem. As for Bluetooth, it is only limited to 2.1 with EDR.

There is an integrated ExpressCard slot for use with 4G broadband modems, external sound cards and other devices that can raise the mark for this computer.

HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook rear view - VGA connector and 2 USB connectors

Rear view – VGA display connector and 2 USB connectors

The abovementioned fingerprint reader is part of the Elitebook’s business security abilities which include a smartcard reader and a Trusted Platform Module. This may appeal to government and big business but I would like to see these features work well for “owner-operator” small businesses and freelance workers. For example, the smartcard reader could work with software that authenticates to existing smartcards such as payment cards or SIM cards.

Battery life

HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook smart-card reader

The smart-card reader as part of the Elitebook’s security arsenal

During regular use, the HP Elitebook 2560p isn’t very demanding on the battery even though it is using a larger-capacity battery. Even when I was watching the video-on-demand content, the battery was half-empty at the end of the content.

I ran this laptop through the DVD run-down test and it was able to run this test for 4 hours, 4 minutes. This is something that I see as being on a par with most of the recent Sandy-Bridge-driven laptops where there integrated graphics set is being used to handle the video.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The HP Elitebook 2560p could be supplied with a DisplayPort – HDMI adaptor so they can be connected to flatscreen TVs and LCD monitors that use the common HDMI or DVI video connections. It could also be equipped with Bluetooth that is to version 3.0 or 4.0 to make it useful for more applications that need higher throughput.

HP Elitebook 2560p at Intercontinental at Relto, Melbourne

This computer would certainly look the part in a business hotel

The smart-card reader could work as part of an enhanced ecommerce / Internet-banking platform that allows customers to log in to their online shopping and Internet banking sites by inserting their credit cards in to the computer’s smart-card reader.

HP could provide a “student-edition” variant of this model and others in the Elitebook lineup without the manageability and extra security features like a smart-card reader. but focus on the durability and provide it at an affordable price. Also they could provide a business-class security arrangement for all of their business laptops with a low cost and knowledge entry point for SOHO and small business.


HP Elitebook 2560p business notebook lid viewI would describe the HP Elitebook 2560p as a 13” notebook that is focused on durability, connectivity and security. It would be of importance for anyone who handles “high-stakes” data like lawyers, accountants or valuers; or journalists reporting on police-state nations and similar topics. Similarly, it would work well with people who are likely to take a laptop computer in to environments which would break most 13″ notebooks and laptops such as rough-terrain areas.

The main sticking point with this is the price of the computer and you may have to try your best in hunting down a good deal for this unit.

Product Review–Fujitsu LifeBook SH771 business ultraportable


I am reviewing the Fujitsu Lifebook SH771 business ultraportable computer which is Fujitsu’s answer to the Toshiba Portege R830 that I previously reviewed. Like the Toshiba, this one comes in as a full-function ultraportable notebook rather than a reduced-function Ultrabook.

Fujitsu Lifebook S-Series SH771 ultraportable

– this configuration
Processor Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 extra-cost- Intel Sandy Bridge Core i7
extra cost 8Gb
shared with graphics
Secondary Storage 640Gb hard disk
extra cost – 750Gb hard disk or 128Gb solid-state drive
DVD burner, SDXC card reader
extra-cost – Blu-Ray burner
Display Subsystem Intel HD integrated display
Screen 13” widescreen (1366×768) LED-backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem Intel HD audio with Realtek control
Audio Improvements DTS Boost speakers
Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 3.0
Connectors USB 2 x USB 2.0 (1 with Sleep and Charge), 1 x USB 3.0
Audio 3.5mm audio-in jack, 3.5mm headphone jack, digital output via HDMI
Expansion ExpressCard 34
Operating System on supplied unit Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall Graphics
Advanced Graphics
Insert other variants with price shift, bold or highlight this configuration

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build quality

The Fujitsu SH771 is finished in a rubber-feel housing which provides for a tough easy-to-grip easy-to-handle finish. The main limitation with this finish is that it looks dirty too quickly especially if it is taken out and about and it attracts oily fingerprints too easily, something that is very common if you are “hotspot surfing” and have had some food.

Of course, the dull charcoal-grey colour won’t win awards for “coolness” or aesthetics but this is a computer pitched at the business market.

The Fujitsu business ultraportable doesn’t feel hot underneath when it is in intense operation. This is due to a vent positioned on the left had side that is used for cooling.

User interface

The Fujitsu SH771’s keyboard is easy to touch-type on because it offers the proper feel for locating and operating the keys. They can feel hard at times, but allow for that accurate typing. There hasn’t been much of that spasmodic cursor relocation that I have noticed with other laptops of this size.

Fujitsu Lifebook S-Series SH771 trackpad and fingerprint reader

Trackpad detail showing the trackpad, fingerprint reader and trackwheel on right of trackpad

The trackpad is located in a recessed area, and is easy to find and operate by feel. As I have said before, it is less likely to be affected by typing on the keyboard. There is also a recessed circular touch-wheel that can become the equivalent of a mouse’s thumb-wheel or the volume control if you touch that area quickly.

Like a lot of business laptops that I have reviewed, the Fujitsu comes with a fingerprint reader located between the trackpad buttons. But I have been able to put this to the test by operating the supplied OmniPass software as a simple fingerprint-driven password vault for my Web services such as Facebook, Google services and the admin interface for this site. Here, the fingerprint reader worked properly and accurately even in cold weather or or when subjected to sudden changes in temperature.

Audio and Video

The Fujitsu SH771 laptop is equipped with an Intel HD graphics subsystem which is based on the Sandy Bridge chipset. This yields a graphics and video performance which is power-efficient yet not anemic. This was demonstrated well when I watched some online video of an SBS TV show that I like where the action was rendered smoothly.

But for some of you, the glossy screen can be a letdown especially if you have to run the display at a low level.

The Fujitsu uses a regular Intel HD Audio chipset but has some improvements as far as sound is concerned. This is courtesy of the Realtek audio manager and DTS Boost digital-sound-processing software.This brings the  sound forward, and equips the computer with a tone control. The sound-manager software also has a “loudness switch” like on most amplifiers and receivers where the bass and treble are brought forward to compensate for loss of these frequencies at low sound levels. The sound processing does yield some improvement for the internal speakers but I would reckon that the bass response would benefit through the use of good external speakers or a nice sound system.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

The Fujitsu SH771 excels in the connectivity and expansion stakes, something that would be desired for most business applications..

Left-hand-side connections – Ethernet, VGA, HDMI, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, microphone and headphones

It is equipped with 2 USB 2.0 ports with one having the Sleep & Charge function, as well as 1 USB 3.0 port. This is in addition to VGA and HDMI video outputs and 3.5mm audio input and output jacks.

For network connectivity, this laptop can work with a Gigabit Ethernet wired-network segment or an 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi wireless segment. This is in addition to having Bluetooth 3.0 wireless connectivity for headphones, mice and other peripherals.

This is in addition to an ExpressCard 34 slot for use with swireless-broadband modems, external sound modules and other similar functionality-addon peripherals.

Fujitsu Lifebook S-Series SH771 RHS

Right-hand side – ExpressCard slot, SDXC card slot, DVD burner, USB 2.0 port, and Kensington lock slot

There is a DVD burner available as standard equipment with a Blu-Ray burner available as a more expensive option. These optical disc drives still earn their keep if you need to burn photos or video previews to DVD, or view DVDs and play CDs while you travel. It is in addition to the computer being equipped with an SDXC card slot. The hard disk is delivered as two sectors like some earlier laptops, with the presumption that you could store your data in the D: sector.

Battery life

Fujitsh SH771 business ultraportable at a business hotel

This computer wouldn’t look out of place at a downtown business hotel like Rydges

The Fujitsu SH771 ultraportable laptop had yielded very long run times on mixed activities, including viewing online video in the previous instance. As well it completed 4 hours, 15 minutes on the DVD run-down test where I replayed “Munich” off the DVD. This was all done with the laptop still connected to the wireless network.


Fujitsu Lifebook S-Series SH771 Lid viewI would recommend this Fujitsu SH771, especially the reviewed configuration for people who place importance on a safe durable full-function ultraportable computer. Here, the capacity of the unit’s shock-proof hard disk would come in handy for storing a large collection of high-resolution digital images or many hours of video footage.

The only limitation that I would place on this unit is its cost, but I would suggest to look around online for areas where this unit might be sold at a lesser price.