HP’s Spectre Laptops Might Just Be the Prettiest You Can Buy

About a month ago, Intel announced its new 8th-gen CPUs, so we put together a little roundup of all the coolest notebooks getting new Core i silicon. But one company was notably left off the list, because it didn’t have anything to share at that time. Now, HP is finally ready to show off its new Spectre and Spectre x360, and even though the saying goes beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I think its HP—not Apple, Dell or Microsoft—that’s now making the best looking laptops on the market.

From almost every angle, the Spectre grabs your attention, partly because it measures just 10.4mm thick, but also thanks to its new ceramic white paint job. Paired with those pale gold accents, the Spectre doesn’t look like any other notebook out right now. And not only is that ceramic white paint pretty, the special process used to give it that look also lends it an enameled coating that HP claims increases its scratch-resistance.

A closer look at the Spectre also reveals the new model has much smaller bezels around the screen (down from 15mm to almost 5mm), slightly smaller overall dimensions (12.13 x 8.86 x 0.41-inches), and the option to upgrade to a touchscreen with 4K resolution. And unlike a lot of other super slim laptops, HP has kept the Spectre’s web cam in the right spot (above the display), while also adding in Windows Hello support—which means you can log in with your face.

The Spectre’s new speakers are much louder and richer than last year’s model.

On the performance side, despite the Spectre’s extra svelte profile, you still get an 8th-gen quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU that HP claims offers almost 50 percent better performance compared to last year’s model. And in back, you get three USB-C ports (two of which support Thunderbolt 3) along with a standard headphone jack. However, people looking for USB Type-A slots will have to opt for a dongle. The Spectre is so thin, those boxy old school ports don’t fit.

My one concern is Spectre’s battery life, as longevity on the previous model was mediocre at best. And even though HP says the new Spectre could last up to an hour and half longer than before, I won’t be convinced until I can test it out for myself. Oh, and if you aren’t as taken with the new white and gold color scheme as I am, the Spectre will still be available in copper and charcoal (or Ash Silver if you buy into HP’s incomprehensible color naming scheme).

As for the new Spectre x360, changes aren’t as extreme, though HP smartly didn’t mess with its flagship 2-in-1’s design. As before, it’ll come in your choice of silver or copper and black color, with new Intel 8th-gen CPUs, 1080p or 4K touchscreens and built-in stylus support; all held together by a sharper, more aggressive 360-degree hinge. New additions include a webcam with Windows Hello support, a side-mounted fingerprint sensor and for the first time on one of HP’s non-business oriented machines, an optional built-in privacy screen.

The image on the left is the normal view you see when looking straight on, while the image on the right is what HP’s privacy screen looks like the further you move away from the center of the screen.

Unlike the privacy screens on older HP laptops that blacked out the display when viewed from more than 35 degrees to the sides, the HP’s new technique involves boosting white backlight so that unless you’re in the screens sweet spot, all you see is white. It’s a nice cross-over from HP’s enterprise machines, and while it might be a little overkill for most, it could make keeping up with the latest memes in public a little less embarrassing.

Either way, I think both of these laptops look fantastic, and in some ways, the Spectre is the MacBook Air replacement that many people have been searching for, since apparently Apple can’t be bothered. Its appears to be a traditional laptop with tiny dimensions and good design, but I’m going to have to wait for a full review to make a final judgement.

Both systems will be available on October 29 with the the Spectre x360 starting at $1,150 and the super thin Spectre starting at 1,300 (the white and gold model will cost you extra since it also includes that 4K display). Do the laptops perform as good as they look? We’ll have to wait and see.

Lenovo buys a controlling stake in Fujitsu’s PC business

Lenovo has posted the biggest quarterly rise in revenue since 2015, and it has marked the occasion with the revelation that it’s buying 51 percent of Fujitsu’s PC biz. Fujitsu spun out its laptop and desktop division two years ago to get rid of parts of the company that weren’t making money. Now, the Chinese PC-maker is snapping up over half that division for $157 million in cash. It will add between $22 million and $112 million based on performance until 2020 on top of that.

Lenovo likely saw buying the 51 percent stake as a chance to grow its own PC division. According to Bloomberg, Lenovo Chief Executive Yang Yuanqing is taking costs out of the company’s mobile business, which still hasn’t gone anywhere despite acquiring Motorola from Google in 2014. The Chinese tech titan is more known for its computers than its phones, after all. And even though PC shipments have grown by 17 percent from the past quarter, the market is still struggling in the era of smartphones.

Earlier this year, HP overtook the Beijing-based corporation to become the biggest PC maker in the world, thanks to its excellent performance in North America. Depending on how Lenovo plays its cards, this purchase could help it retake the throne it sat on for years.

Lenovo’s Yoga 920 Is Proof: The Boring Old Clamshell Must Die

People have been forecasting the death of the PC for years, and while all that noise is clearly overblown, there is one segment of the computing world that should probably go away: the traditional clamshell laptop. Now I’m not saying we should do away with notebooks PCs as we know them or more specialized notebooks like mobile workstations or gaming laptops, I just think it’s past time we replaced all the boring old notebooks with 2-in-1s.

There’s not a single thing a normal clamshell can do that a 2-in-1 can’t, and it’s been 15 years since the first convertible came out, so it’s not like you have to shell out a big premium for that added flexibility either. And for years, Lenovo’s line of Yoga 2-in-1s have been among the best thanks to flexible hybrids with solid (and pretty sleek) builds and top-notch specs that were held together by the best hinge in the business.

On the new Yoga 920, that package is getting even better thanks to the addition of full Windows Pen and Ink support and new far-field microphones that in a number of ways have turned the Lenovo’s new high-end Yoga into the computer the Surface Laptop wishes it could be. Starting at $1,300, the Yoga 920 costs $300 less than a comparable Surface Laptop despite having the same 8GB of RAM and 256GB SSD. And for all that extra money, the Surface Laptop’s biggest advantage is really just its 13.5-inch screen which has a slightly higher 2256 x 1504
resolution when compared to the Yoga 920’s slightly larger 13.9-inch touchscreen at 1920 x 1080.

A quick flip and the Yoga 920 turns into a great web browsing device.

Meanwhile, the Yoga 920 has a screen that bends back all the way, transforming it into a presentation device or a big ‘ole tablet depending on your needs, more ports thanks to a healthy mix of two USB-C ports with support for Thunderbolt 3 and a USB 3.0 Type-A port, and even a built-in fingerprint reader with support for Windows Hello as part of its standard kit. But more importantly, the Yoga 920 also comes equipped with one of Intel’s latest 8th-gen CPUs, which offers a pretty meaningful improvement in performance over systems still saddled with last year’s processors.

On our photo editing test, the Yoga 920’s Core i7-8550U CPU resized 22 20-megapixel photos in just 50 seconds, which is 25 percent faster than laptops with 7th-gen Core i7 CPUs including Dell’s XPS 13 (69.6 seconds), HP’s Spectre x360(67.9 seconds) and the LG Gram 14 (69.1 seconds). Results from Geekbench 4 back up our real-world tests too, as the Yoga 920 posted noticeably higher CPU benchmarks for both single and multi-core performance, especially on the latter which scored almost twice as high thanks to the 8th-gen chip’s higher core count (four cores for 8th-gen, two cores for 7th-gen).

I would have liked to see Lenovo also offer a model with an 8th-gen Core i5 CPU, in hopes of knocking down the system’s starting price to something closer to $1,000, however it seems that’s not the cards. What’s even more important though, is that all this speed doesn’t really affect the Yoga 920’s endurance.

Sure, if you feel like editing videos all day, you can still kill this system pretty fast. But on our battery rundown test, the Yoga 920 lasted 9 hours and 42 minutes, which is about the same as its competitors which posted an average battery life of 9:51.

Then there are other nice little touches such as Lenovo’s decision to include a USB-C charging brick, which means the same cord used to charge the Yoga 920 can also be used to refill other devices like a smartphone or a Nintendo Switch. That means you’ll have less cables to carry around. There are also new far-field mics so Cortana can understand you better even when you’re standing on the other side of the room, and while there’s not much to say about the Yoga 920’s touchpad and keyboard besides that they work, having multiple levels of backlighting can be helpful at times.

Really, my biggest gripes with the Yoga 920 are that it doesn’t come with an on board microSD or SD card reader, which is the one thing that might stop me from bringing it around to meetings or conventions where I’m constantly transferring photos from my camera to my laptop. It also seems a little strange that Lenovo included a fingerprint sensor that works with Windows Hello, but didn’t give its 720p webcam the same treatment. On top of that, the Yoga 920’s webcam is in the wrong damn place (below the screen), which means anyone on the other side of video call is going to get a great look at the bottom of your chin. I’m also a little annoyed Lenovo got rid of its signature orange color option, because our chocolatey bronze review unit feels like Lenovo is playing it safe. People who want boring can always opt for the silver one.

Lenovo even takes care to color match some of the metal on the watchband hinge, which is nice.

But even at $1,300, the Yoga 920 is close to being my ideal portable PC. Now I will admit, when decked out with similar specs including an 8th-gen CPU, Dell’s XPS 13 does have an SD card slot and costs just $1,150. But for that price, you don’t get a touchscreen, which once again, gives the edge back the Yoga 920. Look, I’m not trying say that you need to toss your current system in the trash right this second, but if your only objection to 2-in-1s is that you don’t think you need that kind of flexibility, give one a chance, because you might realize what you’ve been sleeping on. Change is a good thing, and thanks to hybrids like the Yoga 920, there aren’t really any good reasons to hate on 2-in-1s anymore.

README

  • Lenovo’s 2-in-1 watchband hinge is still the best business.
  • New 8th-gen Intel CPU offers noticeably better performance than previous chips without really degrading battery life.
  • Features two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 in addition to an USB 3.0 Type-A port, but there’s no SD card slot,
  • New features for the Yoga 920 include far-field microphones for use with Cortana, and stylus support with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. (Lenovo’s Active Pen is still a $50 optional extra though)
  • The fingerprint reader support Windows Hello, but the webcam doesn’t and it’s in the wrong spot.

SPEC DUMP

Windows 10 Home • 8th-Gen Intel Core i7-8550U CPU • 8GB of RAM • 256GB SSD • Intel UHD Graphics 620 • 13.9=inch 1920 x 1080 IPS touchscreen • 2 USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports • 1 x USB 3.0 Type-A port • 720p webcam • 802.11ac wi-fi • Windows Ink and Lenovo Active Pen support • far-field microphones for use with Cortana • 70 Wh battery • 12.72 x 8.8 x 0.55-inches • 3.02 pounds • available in platinum or bronze

Razer’s New Cheaper Razer Blade Pro Doesn’t Make Any Damn Sense

There are always going to be people who want a big, powerful laptop. I’m talking about people like developers that want to show off early game builds at trade shows or stubborn people who simply can’t compromise on performance when they are away from home. But is there any benefit to turning these 17-inch behemoths into something that thin and light too?

For years, that’s exactly the point Razer has been trying to make with its 17-inch Blade Pro, which packed desktop-level specs in a surprisingly thin body. But with prices that hovered near $4,000, that question was largely academic, since you’d have to be independently wealthy to actually buy one. But now, Razer has trimmed back some components to create the least expensive 17-inch gaming laptop the company has ever made, which makes the idea of a thin-and-light 17-inch gaming notebook finally a topic worth investigating.

That said, starting at $2,300, the Blade Pro still doesn’t seem that cheap, and compared to other 17-inch devices it isn’t. Like the $3,800 fully-equipped Blade Pro, this model has a solid aluminum unibody chassis that measures just 0.88 inches thick, which is almost 40 percent thinner than a traditional 17-inch system like the 1.43-inch thick Lenovo Legion Y920. But even with that kind of thinness, the Blade Pro’s 6.8 pound heft and sheer dimensions mean this still isn’t something you can just casually toss in a bag.

In fact, the Blade Pro doesn’t even fit in the messenger bag I carry every day, or any of the other shoulder bags I own besides my cavernous camping backpack or the rolling suitcase I use when traveling. That means I’m forced to buy special gear just to haul this thing around, which makes it just as cumbersome as other 17-inch systems with much bigger waists. This is purely thinness for thinness’ sake.

Instead of a 4K display, this new model sports a big full HD screen with good peak brightness (360 nits) and a handy matte coating to prevent distracting reflections from messing with your games. You also get a healthy number of ports including one USB-C jack with support for Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, Ethernet and even an SD card reader. And since its Razer, you get a chiclet keyboard with some of the most colorful and best looking RGB backlit keys on the market.

One of Razer’s departure from the typical laptop formula involves moving the touchpad to the very right side of the system, instead of below the keyboard like you’d normally expect. This is something that takes some getting used to as countless laptops have taught me to instinctively reach below the spacebar when I need to make a quick cursor gesture. I was able to adjust in less than a day. which makes the touchpad’s location more of a quirk than a real con. But if you’re thinking that placement means you might be able to simulate the traditional mouse and keyboard arrangement with your left hand on WASD and your right on the touchpad, think again. Even with a huge 4 x 3.25-inch surface area, no touchpad is good enough to sub in for a actual mouse.

I really wish I could have found more uses for the scroll wheel than I actually did.

Then Razer spices things up even further by adding a physical scroll wheel that can be reprogrammed to a number of different functions using the company’s Synapse software. But the weird thing is that even though I was really looking forward to using it, I actually found that most of the things I actually wanted to use it for, like volume control or scrolling, have already been taken care of with function keys or touchpad gestures. That makes the wheel kind of redundant.

As for the Blade Pro’s actual gaming cred, its performance falls right in line with what you’d expect from a something with an Intel Core i7-7700 HQ CPU, 16GB of RAM, and a Nvidia GTX 1060 GPU. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, the Blade Pro hit 82 fps on high, and 55 fps on high in Civilization VI. That should give you the confidence to play pretty much any modern AAA title on settings high enough to please. However, at the same time, I’d be remiss to mention that gaming laptops that cost north of $2,000 normally include an Nvidia 1070 or 1080 GPU, which offer 20 to 40 percent better graphics performance. Another nice thing about the Blade Pro’s big chassis is that you have you enough room for two storage drives, which means you get a 256GB SSD for storing your OS, apps, and games, and a 2TB HDD for all your extra media.

Ethernet! Now that’s a port you see don’t see that much anymore.

Now it probably won’t surprise you to know that the Blade Pro’s battery life is pretty bad, as it lasted just 4 hours and 10 minutes on our battery rundown test. And if you plan on doing any sort of gaming without plugging in the power cord, that times shrinks down to an hour and a half or two at the most.

But in the end, the thing I don’t get is that for almost $500 less, you can get the $1,850 14-inch Razer Blade, which has the same great build, CPU, GPU and RAM in a body you might actually want to move around. Both systems even have the same screen resolution, and for my money, the smaller Blade is the one I’d get. Sure, the bigger 17-inch Blade Pro has a few more ports and its bigger screen gives you a more room to work and play with. But let’s not forget, you can take the $450 you saved on the 17-inch Blade Pro and spend it on a nice desktop monitor, a big external drive, and still have a bit of cash left over for some games. There’s a reason Apple stopped making 17-inch MacBook Pros; the balance between performance and portability just isn’t there, even on a chassis this thin. And at $2,300, the “cheapest” Blade Pro’s value proposition is pretty poor too.

Unlike the smaller Blade Stealth, the Blade Pro can’t use its USB-C port for charging.

If you’re still deadset on a 17-inch gaming laptop, you’re much better off going with a thicker system that can accommodate more powerful components without raising the price to almost $4,000. You could even splurge a bit and opt for something like the MSI GT75 VR, which at 2.3-inches thick and weighing more than 10 pounds, is an absolutely monstrous system. But it’s performance is equally beastly and with a starting price of $2,700, its a much better option for people looking for top-notch specs.

I appreciate that Razer’s laptop pricing is moving in the right direction, and the idea of having a big screen laptop with a luxuriously thin body is nice, but the number of extra Benjamins that you have to shell out to get it still seems a bit too high.

README

  • The Razer Blade Pro costs $500 to $800 more than thicker 17-inch systems with comparable specs.
  • The offset touchpad takes a bit of getting used to, but the RGB backlit keyboard is very pretty.
  • For starting $2,300 Blade Pro features an Nvidia 1060 GPU, but if you want to upgrade to the model with a 1080 GPU, it’s going to cost you an extra $1,500.
  • The Blade Pro’s four hours of battery life are pretty standard for a system this size, but that number shrinks to two hours or less if you are actually gaming on the go.

SPEC DUMP

Windows 10 Home • 17-inch 1920 x 1080 non-touch matte display • Intel Core i7-7700HQ CPU • 16GB of RAM • 256GB SSD • 2TB HDD • Nvidia GTX 1060 (6GB vRAM) • Killer Wireless AC 1535 • 2-MP webcam • SD card reader • 1 USB Type-C with Thunderbolt 3 • 3 USB 3.0 • HDMI 2.0 • 3.5mm audio • Ethernet • 70-Wh battery • 16.7 x 11 x 0.88 inches • 6.78 pound

Can Samsung’s Galaxy Book 2-in-1 spell the end of the traditional laptop?

BROWSING the internet, writing and watching streaming services are the only things I use my computer for, so why am I stuck believing a traditional laptop is best for me?

This is the question I had to ask myself when contemplating if I would get better value from making the switch to a 2-in-1 — a device combining the computing power, storage and software compatibility of a laptop with the flexibility and freedom of a tablet.

With Samsung’s Windows 10 Galaxy Book joining the growing list of impressive 2-in-1 products on the market, I decided to see if I was ready to say goodbye to my laptop for good.

DESIGN

The detachable 2-in-1 device has a gorgeous 12-inch Super AMOLED display that has an impressive 2,160 by 1,440 resolution.

When removed from the keyboard, the display’s curved edges, top-oriented power button and volume rocker offer an authentic tablet experience.

The plastic shell of the display gives the illusion of an aluminium finish, which gives the device the sleek and sexy appearance of other Samsung devices.

There are two speakers on the left and right edges of the device, with both offering decent sound, while the right side also houses a 3.5mm headphone jack and two USB-C connections — USB 2.0 and HDMI inputs can be connected with an adaptor.

The Galaxy Book also offers a 13MP rear camera and 5MP front-facing webcam.

The Samsung Galaxy Book can double as a 12-inch tablet.

The Samsung Galaxy Book can double as a 12-inch tablet.Source:Supplied

The full-size detachable keyboard cover is the same layout and size as most Windows 10 laptops meaning there is no adjustment period or learning curve, and the backlit keys make the device easier to use the device the dark.

While Samsung could have followed the Surface Pro’s design of a rear kickstand and a detachable keyboard, the Galaxy Book includes a keyboard cover with various magnetised orientations for holding up the display.

Even though this helps avoid adding too much bulk to the device, it means the Galaxy Book tends to be flimsy when being used on anything other than a flat surface.

I did find this to be frustrating at first, but when lounging around I simply removed the display and used the on-screen keyboard built into the tablet.

After a while I actually found using the large tablet more comfortable than it would have been to use a keyboard or traditional laptop in the same position, yet it would still be nice to have the option of a reliable kickstand.

So the keyboard cover isn’t the most sturdy kickstand.

So the keyboard cover isn’t the most sturdy kickstand.Source:Supplied

In addition to the detachable keyboard, the Galaxy Book also comes standard with an S-Pen stylus that can be used for physically scribbling down notes or as a replacement for the mouse.

Both are a welcome inclusion as the Surface Pro requires users purchase the detachable keyboard and stylus separately.

The stylus is very responsive and fantastic to use, although it could be easy to lose given there is nowhere to physically store it on the device.

On the plus side, if you do happen to misplace the S-Pen you could always purchase the Staedtler Noris digital — an adaptation of a traditional pencil with the cutting-edge technology of an S Pen.

Impressively, the tablet creates an electromagnetic field that interacts with the tip of the S-Pen to ensure you always knows the exact location of the point of the pencil.

Another positive is both the keyboard and stylus don’t need to be charged for use.

The Staedtler Noris digital looks and feels exactly like your pencils from school.

The Staedtler Noris digital looks and feels exactly like your pencils from school.Source:Supplied

PERFORMANCE

The Galaxy Book comes standard with Windows 10 to help it feel like an authentic replacement for your PC, while also including a few Samsung exclusive apps to take advantage of the S-Pen.

Powering the device is a dual-core, seventh-generation Core i5 processor running at 3.1 GHz, with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB hard drive also included — more than enough to meet my aforementioned computer needs.

Samsung says the Galaxy Book offers 11 hours of battery life from a single charge, although I found it delivered closer to five to six hours life during heavy use — still more than enough for your morning commute.

The Galaxy Book has also been fitted with “fast-charging” abilities, however this doesn’t work as quickly as you would hope when using the device while plugged in.

To take advantage of the 12-inch Super AMOLED display, Samsung has made the device compatible with HDR video content — a technique allowing preservation of details otherwise lost due to limiting contrast ratios.

This alone makes the device a great choice for those wanting to watch video content on the fly.

The Galaxy Book is Samsung's latest 2-in-1.

The Galaxy Book is Samsung’s latest 2-in-1.Source:Supplied

CONCLUSION

I came into this review looking to see if Samsung’s 2-in-1 Galaxy Book could be a solid replacement for my traditional laptop and I truly believe this could be the case.

There is no denying the keyboard kickstand poses some pretty big issues with the device, but the inclusion of the stylus and ability to use as a tablet certainly offers benefits not seen with the laptop. The appeal of 2-in-1 will really just depend on what you use the device for.

I enjoyed using the Galaxy Book as a tablet when watching TV on the couch and drawing using the stylus has also been a fun, new experience.

Having to use the detachable keyboard kickstand on a flat surface does add some frustrations, although I generally found myself sitting at a desk when writing on my laptop anyway.

As someone who enjoys binge-watching when on trains and planes, the Super AMOLED display is a huge winner in my eyes.

I would put some serious thought into the uses of your device and if a 2-in-1 can better fit your needs, why not make the switch?

Or if you wanted to own both a laptop and tablet, but don’t have the money for both, this could also be a valid solution.

Five of the best new computers reviewed, from laptops with pens to desktops that move

COMPUTERS are no longer just beige boxes plonked on a desk.

They can arrive without keyboards, with digital pens, in slender bodies or hefty forms.

We’ve rounded up five of the best — and arguably most diverse — new portable computers to help you choose your next workhorse.

Microsoft Surface Laptop

4 out of 5 stars / $1499-$3299 / microsoft.com/en-au

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is lightweight and well built.

Microsoft’s Surface Laptop is lightweight and well built.Source:Supplied

Microsoft’s most accessible computer is beautifully crafted.

The Surface Laptop features a slim profile, metal top, and unusual spill-resistant fabric covering around its keys. It also offers a 13.5-inch touchscreen that is easy on the eyes, at 201 pixels per inch, though it doesn’t flip over or detach like some of its other products.

This laptop also uses Windows 10 S, which is designed for use with Microsoft apps, though you can upgrade it to Windows 10 Pro for free this year and install whatever program you please. This straightforward laptop should appeal to anyone in need of a basic computing experience, and travellers in particular due its pleasingly light weight.

It does have just one USB port, however, so you might need to pack a couple of adaptors.

Samsung Galaxy Book 12-inch

3.5 out of 5 stars / $1599-$2299 / samsung.com/au

The Samsung Galaxy Book features a 12-inch touchscreen, and comes with a keyboard cover and stylus.

The Samsung Galaxy Book features a 12-inch touchscreen, and comes with a keyboard cover and stylus.Source:Supplied

Why would you buy Samsung’s Windows 10 tablet over its Microsoft Surface equivalent?

The new Galaxy Book boasts a 12-inch Super AMOLED screen that is crisp, bright, and capable of screening HDR content, it comes with a battery-free stylus capable of greater pressure sensitivity than its peers, and there’s a keyboard cover thrown into the package.

Additionally, if you buy the top package, you can get up to 256GB storage, 8GB RAM, and a built-in 4G connection to stay connected wherever you roam.

And why would you stick with Surface instead?

This 2-in-one tablet convertible peaks at a dual-core Intel Core i5 chip, is a bit smaller but a bit heavier than an iPad Pro, and the packaged keyboard is troubled, offering limited angles, connection delays, and little use on a lap.

HP Spectre X2

4 out of 5 stars / $2199 / hp.com.au

The HP Spectre X2 is a convertible tablet computer with a sophisticated design.

The HP Spectre X2 is a convertible tablet computer with a sophisticated design.Source:Supplied

This convertible tablet makes Microsoft Windows look young again.

The Spectre X2, from HP’s premium range, shows off the software on a 12-inch touchscreen surrounded by a copper-coloured kickstand and a slender keyboard with a matt black exterior. It’s not all about looks with this machine, of course.

As its price suggests, it can act as a fully functional laptop too, with Windows 10 Home, 8GB RAM, Intel Core i5 chip, and a 256GB hard drive.

It also has enough connections to appease most users, with two USB-C ports and a memory card slot. The new X2 comes with a stylus too, though it doesn’t match the Surface Pen, and a keyboard that offers surprising comfort but an occasionally finicky trackpad.

Its battery life is also not as good as that of the Surface Pro, but it should make the shortlist.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S3

3.5 out of 5 stars / $949-$1099 / samsung.com/au

The Samsung Tab S3 is a high-end Google Android tablet with a crisp 9.7-inch touchscreen and a packaged stylus.

The Samsung Tab S3 is a high-end Google Android tablet with a crisp 9.7-inch touchscreen and a packaged stylus.Source:Supplied

If you want a tablet free of a fruity logo, there aren’t many high-end options for you to choose. Samsung addresses this void with the Galaxy Tab S3 that is the most advanced Google Android tablet on the market and a slick device.

Its 9.7-inch Super AMOLED display is crisp and easy on the eye, it features an attractive glass back, meagre 434g weight, comes with a battery-free but efficient stylus, and decent sound thanks to four speakers and Samsung’s AKG Harman purchase.

Both its wi-fi and 4G variants come with just 32GB storage, though users can boost that by adding a memory card. On the downside, it can be sluggish to operate, its optional keyboard is poorly designed, and its screen is smaller and more reflective than the competing iPad Pro 10.5 that costs just $30 more.

HP ZBook 17 G4

No stars / $3893 / hp.com.au

HP's ZBook 17 G4 is a mobile workstation.

HP’s ZBook 17 G4 is a mobile workstation.Source:Supplied

HP calls this a “mobile workstation” rather than a laptop because it’s far too big to sit on a lap. This 3.12kg computing beast arrives in a magnesium-reinforced chassis, features a 17.3-inch touchscreen, a full-sized keyboard with number pad, several connections including four USB ports and space for an Ethernet cable, and it can be customised to your liking.

You could, for example, add up to four terabytes of storage, and the rear panel of the machine can be removed to replace the battery.

Extremely rare ‘Schoolsky’ Apple-I computer could fetch $881,000 at auction

Image result for Extremely rare ‘Schoolsky’ Apple-I computer could fetch $881,000 at auction

IF YOU thought $1800 for Apple’s new iPhone X was a little steep, you might not want to look at how much you could be paying for one of the company’s computers.

It might have been four decades since it was considered a cutting-edge gadget, but an Apple-I computer is currently for sale in an auction has already attracted bids of $A258,000.

Even more wild is the value estimated for the “extremely rare ‘Schoolsky’ Apple-I computer” is $A881,000, according to the auction house with the listing.

“Bid to win one of the first models of the Apple-I computer, originally owned by friend and associate of Steve Wozniak, Adam Schoolsky,” the listing reads.

“The Apple-I Computer is considered the origin of the personal computer revolution and was built in Steve Jobs’ parents’ home on Crist Drive in Los Altos, CA.

“200 were hand-built by Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs’ sister, and their team, but it is believed that less than 60 are still in existence.”

Built using an Apple-I “NTI” board acquired from internal stock when Adam Schoolsky was an employee of the company, the device has since been authenticated by a historian.

There is also a documentation package with this computer, which the historian scored as a nine out of 10 in terms of condition.

So if you have a spare $A259,000 or more, why not make the bid — but be quick as there is only 17 hours remaining at the time of writing this article.

“Schoolsky” Apple-I Items Included in Set:

• Apple-I original Operation Manual

• Apple original Basic Users Manual

• Apple-I original Cassette Interface Manual

• Apple-I original cassette (dis-assembler)

• Apple-I original advertisement

• Apple-I original box

• Apple original price list, 1977

• Miscellaneous correspondence between LCF Group and Adam Schoolsky

• Three original issues of Silicon Gulch Gazette (1976 — 1978) addressed to Adam Schoolsky

• Original copy, in mint condition, of the 40-page First West Coast Computer Faire Conference Program dated April 15-17, 1977

• Early copy of the Zaltair brochure, created by Steve Wozniak and Adam Schoolsky as a spoof document to be distributed at the First West Coast Computer Faire Conference

• Apple ][+ Keyboard with Apple-I adaptor

• Stancor power supply transformers

Bill Gates reveals one big decision he would rethink if he could turn back time

BILL Gates has revealed the one decision he wishes he could change if time travel were possible — and it might surprise you.

The Microsoft founder said he wouldn’t change too much in case he altered the course of history, reports The Sun.

But he did say there was one small tweak he would make that may have changed your life for the better.

Gates said during a talk at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum that he wouldn’t have created the CTRL-ALT-DEL keyboard shortcut

The shortcut allows you interrupt your computer’s operations when it goes haywire, allowing you to restart if necessary but it is notoriously tricky to manoeuvre.

When quizzed on the keyboard function during his appearance at the Plaza Hotel in New York, Gates said: “I am not sure you can go back and change the small things in your life without putting the other things at risk.”

Asked whether he regretted his decision, he said: “Sure, if I could make one small edit I would make that a single key operation.”

It certainly hasn’t cost him dearly, as Gates is apparently on track to become the world’s first trillionaire.

Forbes, which publishes a yearly rich-list, estimates Gates’ fortune in 2017 to be around $A108 billion. But he is accumulating wealth by simply breathing.

An Oxfam report stated if billionaires like Gates continue to secure these returns, “we could see the world’s first trillionaire in 25 years”.

Windows 10: Microsoft promises to fix an ongoing game-stuttering problem

rocket league

If your PC games have been plagued by starts and stops and other “stuttering” issues, you’re not alone. Microsoft has identified “several different problem sources” that can cause stutter within the current Windows 10 Creators Update, the company said.

As reported by Neowin, Windows 10 users have reported incidents of “stutter” on games like Overwatch, Rocket League, Mass Effect, and others. The stutter, or unexpected choppiness in frame rates, appear to be affecting games and in some cases general PC use as well. Gamers are complaining about this issue both on sites like Nvidia’s forums but also on the Feedback Hub application within Windows 10.

So far, neither Microsoft nor anyone else appears to have nailed down the problem. In a statement that’s been reproduced across the Feedback Hub in several threads, however, Microsoft says it has identified several “problem sources” that may be contributing to the issue. For now, the best bet seems to be joining the Windows 10 Insider program.

“Thank you everyone for providing feedback and submitting traces,” according to a statement provided by “Peter K.,” a Microsoft engineer. “We have been analyzing the traces from your feedback and have identified several different problem sources surfacing as stutter in games. We have a fix for one of them in the Windows Insider build that flighted to the “Fast” ring (build 16273 and above). You can find instructions on joining the Windows 10 Insider Program here. We are actively investigating the remaining stutter causes and appreciate your patience on this issue.”

Build 16273 of the Insiders Program, released August 23, contained a few feature updates including a new font and mixed-reality controls. However, Microsoft has moved into the “bug-fixing” portion of its development process, in preparation for the Fall Creators Update to be deployed on Oct. 17.

What this means for you: On one hand, it’s nice to know that Microsoft has at least confirmed the issue, identified some of the causes, and has begun working on a solution. Still, those stuttering issues have apparently been present since March, when the Creators Update launched to the installed base of Windows 10 at large. Most gamers would probably hope for a more prompt response in the future.

Google Chrome will start blocking noisy autoplay videos in January

pcw chrome primary

Google is taking aim at one of the biggest scourges of the modern web. Starting in January 2018, the Chrome browser will automatically block noisy autoplay video on webpages.

“One of the most frequent user concerns is unexpected media playback, which can use data, consume power, and make unwanted noise while browsing,” Google wrote in a blog post. “To address this, Chrome will be making autoplay more consistent with user expectations and will give users more control over audio.”

[ Further reading: Best web browsers of 2017: Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Opera go head-to-head ]

In Chrome 64, autoplaying videos will be blocked by default unless they’re muted, or if “the user has indicated an interest in the media.” That means autoplay will be allowed for a site if you’ve frequently played a video on it or added the site to your mobile homepage. You won’t need to manually play every YouTube video or Twitch stream you select, in other words. Autoplay will also be enabled if you “clicked somewhere on the site during the browsing session” for some reason.

If you want to start blocking unwanted audio from autoplay videos today, try Avram Piltch’s Silent Site Sound Blocker extension for Chrome. Apple’s Safari 11 browser will also allow you to easily stop autoplay videos when it launches with macOS High Sierra on September 25.

Mute websites in Chrome

Google’s paving the path for the wonderful-sounding feature by adding the ability to completely mute all audio for a given website in Chrome 63, which is currently in the testing phase. The disabling will continue between browsing sessions.

To activate page-muting when Chrome 63 goes live, load the website you want to disable audio for, click on the “Page Info bubble” to the left of the URL, and look for the Sound option. Here’s a picture of it:

chrome 63 sound settings

Francois Beaufort/Google

The story behind the story: Noisy autoplay videos aren’t the only online bane in Google’s sights. Native ad-blocking capabilities are coming to Chrome soon. “We plan to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018,” Google’s Sridhar Ramaswamy announced earlier this year. Chrome’s ad-blocker won’t eliminate all ads—only the most distracting and burdensome ones.