Thursday, January 25, 2007

Dual Core Notebooks Under $1,000

If you held off buying a new notebook because you were waiting for prices of dual-core chips to drop, and then waited again until Vista arrived, your patience has paid off. We set out to find leading-edge laptops on a $1,000 budget, and came up with these six choices. Each has a dual-core processor and is Vista-ready. Depending on when you buy one, you'll either get a coupon for a free copy of the new operating system (for systems shipped before January 30th, if Microsoft indeed ships the new OS on that day as expected), or you'll get Vista preloaded (for systems built after January 30th).

We recommend dual-core processors even for cash-strapped buyers. Time and again, our tests showed dual core's performance advantage, which translates into real-world productivity gains. And a dual-core processor helps future-proof your investment, as many mainstream apps and games are in development that will take advantage of two processing cores.

A dual-core processor, coupled with 1GB of memory (which all of these systems have), will provide more than enough horsepower to run Windows Vista Home Premium, which contains the slick new Aero interface, parental controls, better security than in Windows XP, and a ton of usability improvements when it comes to search and managing digital media.

The following six options differ in size and features, but each delivers the dual-core Vista experience at a good price. Pick the one that best matches your mobile lifestyle.

Toshiba U205-S5057

If the Toshiba U205-S5057 didn't pack much of a punch in your eyes then you should take a look at the Toshiba Satellite U205-S5067 which is an upgraded version of the U205-S5057.

The Toshiba Satellite U205-S5067 notebook draws it juice from the dual-execution core T7200 Core 2 Duo processor with 2.0 GHz speed, 667 MHz system bus, and massive 4 MB L2 cache. This one comes equipped with 2GB of RAM, so multi-tasking is a breeze. Other features include; 160 GB hard drive, 2 GB of installed RAM (4 GB maximum), tri-mode 802.11a/b/g wireless connectivity, Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 with up to 196 MB of shared video RAM, and 5-in-1 memory card reader.

The Satellite U205-S5067 weighs over 4 pounds and has a 12.1-inch widescreen display with TruBrite technology for enhanced performance and a resolution of 1280 x 800. One also comes across the Toshiba LifeSmart Technology which includes shock-absorbing technologies to protect the hard drive, a spill-resistant keyboard, fingerprint security, and a magnesium alloy case.

The notebook comes bundled with the Windows Vista Home Premium OS and includes all of the Windows Media Center capabilities for turning your PC into an all-in-one home entertainment center. Other software applications include; Disc Creator, Recovery Disc Creator, and Speech System. Third-party software titles include Microsoft Works 8.5, Microsoft Office OneNote 2007, InterVideo WinDVD 8 SD and Creator 2 Platinum, Google Desktop and Toolbar, McAfee Internet Security Suite (with 30-day trial), and Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student Edition (60-day trial).

The Satellite U205-S5067 double-layer DVD drive plays formats like DVD+RW and DVD-RW discs, CD-RW discs, and dual-layer (DL) DVD+/-R discs and one also comes across USB 2.0 ports, FireWire (also known as IEEE 1394 or i.Link) ,VGA monitor port, PCMCIA (or PC Card) slot (Type II, PCMCIA R2.01, PC Card16, CardBus, headphone jack and a microphone jack. It shall retail for $1,599 in around February.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A Laptop Designed to Take a Licking and Keep on Ticking

“All terrain” is not usually a designation associated with things as delicate as hard drives and high-speed memory chips. Dell, however, is betting that its Latitude ATG D620 — the ATG stands for All-Terrain Grade — can change that.

The ATG D620, which Dell says is designed to military specifications, includes a spill-resistant keyboard, heavy-duty case and 14-inch screen, which is visible in direct sunlight. It weighs about 6 pounds with the optical disk drive and battery installed, and is about 2 inches thick.

The laptop comes in a metal-and-black finish with protective coverings on its serial, video out, modem, Ethernet and four U.S.B. ports.

Inside the hard shell is an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, running at up to 2 gigahertz, and up to 4 gigabytes of memory. The least expensive model ($2,499) runs at 1.6 gigahertz and includes an 80-gigabyte drive and 512 megabytes of memory.

Dell includes a fingerprint scanner for security, while military and other security-conscious users can enable the laptop’s built-in Smart Card reader and other data encryption technology.

While it won’t survive a dunk in the deep, the ATG D620 can survive a splash of mud or a good, hard drop