Laptops & Tablets

ZenBook 13 Ultrabook Gets Discrete Graphics

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ZenBook 13 Ultrabook Gets Discrete Graphics

Asus announces an update of the ZenBook 13 Ultrabook-- the UX331, featuring 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 resolution touchscreen and discrete Nvidia graphics inside a chassis just 14mm thick and weighing 1.12kg.

The graphics card inside the machine is a GeForce MX150 with 2GB GDDR5 RAM, providing plenty of grunt for some graphics and GPU-intensive tasks. Further specifications include an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 8GB LPDDR3 RAM, 256GB SSD and a 50Wh lithium-polymer battery the company says allows for up to 14 hours on a single charge (and charging to 60% capacity in 49 minutes).

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Acer Intros Spin 11 Chromebook

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Acer Intros Spin 11 Chromebook

Acer has a Chromebook addition-- the Chromebook Spin 11, a convertible number with a 360-degree hinge, 11.6-inch touchscreen, x2 USB-C ports and Android app support.

If the Spin 11 looks familiar, that's because it, well, is. The laptop was actually first launched in the education channel last year as a convertible variant of the ruggedised Chromebook 11 N7. As such, the "new" Spin 11 is the same thing, only available via the regular retail channel.

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Razer Phone Powers Linda Laptop

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Razer Phone Powers Linda Laptop

Gaming peripheral maker Razer continues its CES 2018 tradition of showing off interesting prototypes with Project Linda-- a laptop dock for the recently released Razer Phone.

Of course, the concept of using a smartphone as the guts of a laptop is nothing new. After all, Motorola had the Lapdock back at CES 2011, a laptop powered via the Atrix 4G handset. What gives Project Linda at least some potential the Razer Phone carries the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, the powerful processor behind the Microsoft "Always Connected PC" initiative.

Another interesting feature of the Linda is the smartphone slots on the bottom part of the keyboard, taking the role of either the touchpad or a second screen. The dock is based on the Razer Blade Stealth laptop, and includes a 13.3-inch touchscreen, full-size keyboard, 200GB storage and extra batteries.

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No "Major" MacBook Pro Upgrade for 2018?

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No

DigiTimes reports Apple has no plans to release any "major" MacBook Pro upgrades in 2018-- the result of a shift in manufacturer from Quanta Computer to Foxconn (aka Hon Hai Precision Industry).

As the news story puts it, "Foxconn had been aggressively working to land more MacBook orders from Apple during the past few years by offering attractive quotes. Since Apple has not had a major upgrade to its MacBook product line since the releases of its new MacBook Pro devices at the end of 2016 and has no plan for one in 2018, the US-based vendor is planning to shift orders for models that are already in mass production to Foxconn to save costs and reduce risks."

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LG Refreshes Gram Laptops

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LG Refreshes Gram Laptops

LG refreshes the Gram laptop range ahead of CES 2018-- all promising to "push the boundaries of portable computing" with bigger 72Wh batteries allowing a "full day" of use on a single charge.

The 2018 Gram laptop range comes in 13.3-, 14- and 15-inch sizes. Specifications vary, with LG offering 8th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and SSD storage (with the option of a second SSD). The IPS touchscreen handles 1920 x 1080 resolution, while connectivity comes through Thunderbolt 3.

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Microsoft Presents "Always Connected PCs"

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Microsoft Presents

Microsoft takes the stage at the 2nd Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawai, to further detail Windows 10 notebooks running on Qualcomm chipsets-- now referred to as "Always Connected PCs."

As described at previous events, the Always Connected PCs run on an ARM-based Snapdragon 835 chipset, and promise 20+ hour active use battery life together with mobile device-style instant-on functionality from standby mode (or what Microsoft calls "Modern Standby Mode"). Cellular connectivity is integrated, allowing for low-power, always-on connectivity superior to what is currently available on current notebooks.

The companies stress the notebooks can run all Windows 10 apps, through a choice of either Universal Windows Apps (compiled for ARM directly) or x86 apps run via emulation. Microsoft gives no mention on the performance of x86 emulation, instead announcing an "optimised" version of Office 365 for use on the machines.

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DigiTimes: Cheapest 9.7-inch iPad Yet for 2018?

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DigiTimes: Cheapest 9.7-inch iPad Yet for 2018?

DigiTimes reports Apple plans an "inexpensive 9.7-inch iPad" for 2018-- one with a price of around $259, making it attractive to more budget-conscious customers.

According to unnamed sources from the upstream supply cheain, the price point allows Apple to maintain its current quarterly 10 million unit iPad shipments. It also provides a weapon against the price competition from first-tier players such as Samsung, Amazon, Huawei and Lenovo. It should ship from Q2 2017, and will be aimed at the industrial and service sectors and as well as the consumer market.

As for who is making the tablet, DigiTimes suggests production is being outsourced to Compal Electronics, with Compeq and Unitech Printed Circuit Board taking care of PCB orders.

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TrendForce: Apple Beats Asus in Notebook Rankings

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TrendForce: Apple Beats Asus in Notebook Rankings

TrendForce reports global Q3 2017 notebook shipments total 42.69 million units-- an increase of 0.9% Y-o-Y (or 6.8% Q-o-Q), with peak season performance exceeding previous analyst expectations.

As a result, TrendForce now expects 2017 notebook shipments to reach 162.4m units, a forecast changed from decline to a growth rate of 0.7%. Such growth follows a heightened basis period during H1 2017, as well as HP and Lenovo showing "considerable" growth during H2 2017.

In fact, Q3 2017 sees HP shipments reaching 11m units, a quarterly increase of 17.6%. TrendForce expects the company to have another 0.3% Q-o-Q growth in Q4 2017, before achieving the annual goal of 40m units shipped in 2017, putting it on the top of the annual notebook shipment rankings.

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Microsoft Intros Surface Book 2

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Microsoft Intros Surface Book 2

Microsoft cements its hardware ambitions with the announcement of the Surface Book 2-- a sequel to the 2015 notebook featuring 8th generation Intel processors and a 15-inch display option.

The Surface Book 2 looks very similar to the original (not to mention the 2016 update), even if Microsoft insists just about every detail has been tweaked. As the most powerful piece of hardware from the Windows maker yet, it carries 8th gen quad-core Intel Core processors, with the Core i7 models adding GeForce 10-series series graphics.

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Truphone iPad Data Plan Reaches More Countries

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Truphone iPad Data Plan Reaches More Countries

The Truphone Apple SIM-based iPad data plan is available two more European countries-- specifically Ireland and Portugal, allowing customers roam through the carrier on their iPad in 40 countries.

Currently 6 countries offer the Truphone iPad data plan, namely Australia, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the UK. The company plans to expand the number with an additional 31 countries by end 2017, bringing the total to 39. The data plan allows customers to roam in the aforementioned countries without additional charges, without need to change carriers or additional roaming fees.

The backbone of the system is Apple SIM, the technology included in cellular-capable iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 (and newer) and all iPad Pro models. It saves the need to change the physical SIM card and simplifies the sign-up process through the "Set Up Mobile Data" section in the Settings app.

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December Launch for Next-Gen Surface Pro?

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December Launch for Next-Gen Surface Pro?

A Microsoft employee revealed the launch date of the next-generation LTE-enabled Surface Pro tablet at the Ignite 2017 conference, Neowin reports-- 1 December 2017.

At the session, Surface Pro program manager Tim Golik said the Surface Pro carries a Snapdragon X16 LTE modem able to work in any country in the world. This means one can buy the Surface Pro with LTE in any country and expect to use data across the globe. However this was the only detail gleaned at the session, and Golik refused to answer questions about a new Surface Book.

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