ZTE Grand X2 brings high performance at low cost with new Intel chip

ZTE has announced another in its line of Intel-toting Android phones, except this one is ramping up the power.

The use of the new Intel Atom chip, which is dual-core with up to 2GHz speed, means the pone should come with a lower price tag while managing to offer a decent slug of power.
ZTE loves to chuck out phones with 'alternative' processors - the uninspiring ZTE Grand X came with a Tegra 2 processor rather than the Qualcomm options beloved by the industry.
The ZTE Grand X2 is otherwise a squarely middle-of-the-road handset, with Android Jelly Bean, an 8MP camera, a 4.5-inch HD (1280 x 768) display, 8GB of internal memory with 1GB of RAM to go on top.
Why are you wearing THAT?

However, thanks to the Intel technology, the Grand X2 can shoot snaps at up to 24 shots per second, and promises zero shutter lag when time is of the essence and you're after the perfect picture. Quite how the camera is 'socially smart' we don't know – but we assume that ZTE has placed a 'cool kids' filter on top to make sure you stay up to date with what's happening, dog.
ZTE has been quietly trying to push its hardware into the hands of consumers for the past couple of years, and has had a modicum of success – however, it hopes with higher-end hardware like this it can start to be seen as a more relevant player in the smartphone game.
While it says that the Grand X2 release date is set for Q3 2013 with 'key operators and channel partners' in Europe, the problem has been nobody seems to want to stock anything with a ZTE badge, and in a world where consumers are being forced to believe that quad core and oodles of RAM is best, it's hard to see where this phone will fit in.
It's good to see a faster Intel Atom processor in a phone though – more power with less of a battery drain (at least, that's what's promised) is always a good thing.
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Google's Galaxy S4: what you need to know

Google was rather busy during the first day of its annual Google IO conference, announcing not just new music and game services for Google Play, but also shocking everyone with the reveal of a brand new Samsung Galaxy S4.
Though Samsung has been rather pivotal in making Android the most successful and widely adopted operating system in use around the world, the version available on smartphones like the Galaxy S4 isn't as pure as that found on Google's own devices like the Nexus 4.
That's something Google is hoping to rectify with this new version of Samsung's flagship phone, which will be completely unlocked running a stock version of Android 4.2: Jelly Bean.

Google takes Android back

While we certainly sang a lot of praises for the Galaxy S4 in our review, we found the additional features added to the core Android experience by Samsung "flawed or overly complex."
Google is attempting to alleviate that issue by providing a more pure Android experience along the lines of its Nexus devices.
Gone will be the added Air Gestures and Smart Scroll and Samsung's TouchWiz interface, all of which will be replaced with the core Nexus experience as delivered by Android 4.2.
Additionally, the Google Galaxy S4 will include a fully unlocked bootloader, which bodes well for Android modders or developers keen to customize as much of the experience as they possibly can.
Even more important, with the core version of Android, users will be able to upgrade to each new version with ease.
That should come in handy considering it's widely expected Android 4.3 will make its debut during this week's Google IO (though this morning's keynote would have been prime time to roll it out).
Mirror Galaxy

Based on what we know from Google's presentation, the foundation of the Galaxy S4's hardware will remain intact and unchanged.
The Google Galaxy S4 should still get a massive 5-inch Super AMOLED HD display, backed by the 1.9Ghz quad-core Qualcomm 600 processor.
The 13MP rear camera doesn't appear to be going anywhere either, and the same can be said for the phone's 16GB of internal storage.
That said, the standard version of the Galaxy S4 loses a lot of that storage space to all the extra features included by Samsung.
With Google stripping the smartphone of all the non-essential bells and whistles, it would appear its version of the Galaxy S4 will start off with much more than 9GB of free space out of the package.
Google's version of the Galaxy S4 will also still support 4G LTE, as well as NFC, Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi, and will still include the solid 2600mAh battery.
You've got to pay to Play

The Play Store will be the only place you can purchase the new Galaxy S4, though the phone will be completely unlocked, and usable at both AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S.
Sadly, Verizon subscribers will be left in the cold when it comes to Google's own phones, even though the carrier is getting the Galaxy S4 later this May.
Unlike the Nexus 4, which also came completely unlocked, the Galaxy S4 will unfortunately not be quite as affordable.
Beginning on June 26, Americans will be able to get their hands on the exclusive phone for $649 with no contract, which is $10 more than AT&T and $20 more than T-Mobile is charging for the Galaxy S4 outright. The price converts to AU$657 and UK£426.
Part of what made the Nexus 4 so appealing, despite its lack of 4G, was the $299 (UK£239, AU$499) price tag, which without a contract, made it rather comparable to most competitor phones purchased through a specific carrier on contract.
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No 'Nexus Edition' HTC One in the cards, phone maker reveals

Google has taken its Nexus wand and waved it over Samsung's flagship phone, creating a stock Android 4.2 Galaxy S4 device it plans to sell unlocked for $649 on U.S. carriers T-Mobile and AT&T.
The question is: Will Google do the same to other Android devices?
One manufacturer has already answered the question for us.
"HTC is not currently planning a 'Nexus Edition' of the HTC One," Jeff Gordon, senior global online communications manager at the phone maker told TechRadar.
Only one

The Nexus 4-influenced Galaxy S4 was the lone hardware announcement to come out of this year's Google IO keynote, and it looks like it will be the lone phone to strip the manufacturer's skin in favor of Google's Nexus.
We can't imagine the S4 will be charting this territory alone for long, however, and will keep our ears open for phones that jump into the Nexus-ized S4's waters.
Check out the latest from Google's developer conference through our comprehensive hub page.

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Intel's new Atom could give phones PC-level power

Remember the Pocket PC, back in the days when that meant a PDA and pointing stick? Ironically, those Pocket PC devices were based on ARM CPU cores. Yup, Intel made ARM chips back then.
Today, of course, the idea of the Pocket PC seems pretty quaint. It's all about iPhones and Galaxies and iOS and Android. But you know what? I think the notion of a PC in your pocket is just about to become relevant again.
Windows 8.1 detailed: 12 key changes coming in the Windows 8 update
That's because Intel is finally going to give us a new Atom processor core. For clarity, Intel has rolled out all manner of Atom chips. Single-core, dual-core, models for netbooks, models for tablets and most recently models for phones.
At last, a new Atom core

But the actual CPU cores used in all those chips has remained the same since the first Atom chip appeared in 2008. At last, Intel is about to give us a new Atom core, codenamed Silvermont.
The big news is the transition from in-order to out-of-order execution instruction. The short version of why that matters is that in-order architectures involve quite a bit of waiting around for instructions to execute in careful succession.
Best Windows 8 tablets: all the Windows 8 tablets we've reviewed
Out-of-order chips can plow on and worry about tying everything together later. A gross oversimplification, but the key notion is that out-of-order chips do significantly more work every clock cycle. The shift to out-of-order alone should boost Silvermont's per-clock-per-core performance by 30 per cent, maybe more.
It's a big deal. Indeed, so critical is out-of-order processing that ARM's new Cortex A15 chip, as found in many of the latest tablet and smartphone chips, have gone out-of-order.
Pocket PC promise

Intel has tweaked Silvermont in various other ways, too, for additional performance. Net result? Very probably an ultra-mobile x86 chip that delivers on that ancient Pocket PC promise.
The impact of all this will be multi-pronged. First up, I'm hoping it will mean cheap tablets running Windows 8 will be properly usable. Personally, I wouldn't fancy anything running Windows 8 on the existing Atom chips. They're just too feeble.
Then there's Silvermont in a smartphone handset. Atom already compares pretty well to the best smartphone chips, so Silvermont is shaping up to absolutely blow them away.
Frankly, Intel needs nothing less if it's to break into the smartphone market. Being merely as good or a bit better isn't enough to wean everyone off their ARM addiction in the smartphone arena.
So, Silvermont could give Intel the leg up it needs in smartphones. But it also reboots that age-old idea of device convergence.
Forget about phablets

I'm talking, here, about an end to lugging about phones, tablets and laptops, all the while you have a desktop PC at home or in the office. If you could pack proper desktop x86 performance into a handset, well, your only limitation becomes the screen size.
Admittedly, the desire for a decent screen for certain tasks does mean that you're going to need more than just a handset for the foreseeable future. But I certainly like the idea of picking up my production PC and popping it in my pocket when I walk out the door.
OK, I'm not sure that even Silvermont is quite on that level. But it might be surprisingly close and, like I said, it should make for cheap Windows 8 tablets that are decidedly decent to use. Sounds good to me.
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What's new for BlackBerry business users?

As well as announcing the budget Q5 BlackBerry 10 handset at the BlackBerry Live conference this week, the company is also updating its management features for businesses – for its own and other smartphones.
So not only will the BBM messaging service be available for iOS and Android this summer - initially for text messages, photos and the new branded channels that businesses can use to reach customers - but with BBM voice and video features promised in the future. That could be useful within a business because it allows the sender to see when a message has been delivered and if it's been read yet.
But if your business uses Microsoft Lync or IBM's Sametime instant messaging, you can now get encrypted instant messages on BlackBerry 10 handsets.
You can see who else is available on IM, see new messages in the BlackBerry Hub, send individual and group messages or switch from a text chat to a voice call. And if you're using BlackBerry Balance to separate personal apps and work information, secure IM can be managed inside the work perimeter of Balance.
Secure Work Space

The free BlackBerry Enterprise IM 3.0 app is available on the BlackBerry site now, but the Secure Work Space apps for iOS and Android that BlackBerry showed in March is still in beta testing with selected partners. Secure Work Spaces will need an update to the BlackBerry Enterprise Service that will be available at the end of June.
It's scheduled to ship by the end of August through the Apple App Store and Google Play. Both versions will include email, contacts, calendar, tasks and file access, a secure browser for looking at intranet sites, and allow admins to package up apps to run inside the BlackBerry-protected workspace.
"What we're focusing on is data level protection," Jeff Holleran, Senior Director of Enterprise Product Management, told TechRadar Pro. "It's about protecting data on the device rather than the ability to control the complete device.
"We use the right levels of data protection so we don't have the concern of attack vector going against the data, because it's just those fully authenticated apps from the business that have the ability to go across the secure connection to the firewall. You can think of it as extending the firewall to cover the apps on the device."
Not only is that easier than trying to build an app that uses a VPN, but it's also better for battery life. Because a VPN connection will time out if it's not being used, other tools for connecting to business data have to keep the connection alive. This involves turning on the phone radio, which reduces battery life and uses up a data plan.
BlackBerry isn't yet looking at Windows Phone or any other platforms.
Feedback factor

"Our customers have asked us to support iOS and Android," Holleran said. "If there is feedback from them, we will add additional platforms when it makes sense to do so."
That's over and above the BES 10 version 10.1 update that's available this week, which allows admins to apply the same kind of policies to BlackBerry 10 handsets as they could with BlackBerry 7 devices, like turning off the camera or blocking personal apps and files.
It's aimed at primarily government departments and heavily regulated industries that need to strictly control what employees can do with phones. But smaller businesses will also be interested in the new version of BES because it's significantly easier to install, as well as showing more information about the phones – BlackBerry, iOS and Android - that you're managing.
The new dashboard will show how many devices are being managed, what mobile network they're on, what OS they're running, what apps are installed and whether they're complying with your policies.
"We got a lot of user feedback," Holleran told us. "We listened to the feedback and we've simplified it a lot."
For example, BES 10 had multiple installers, all with different requirements, and you had to run them in the right order.
"We consolidated the installers so it's going to lay down the components you need in the right order. We do port checking to make sure there are no conflicts. We made sure it became a very seamless installation."
Firewall options

The June BES update will also make managing iOS and Android devices easier by simplifying firewall options.
"The number one complaint we had was all those ports you had to open on the firewall to Apple and Google for managing devices," Holleran said. "Now we route that through the BlackBerry secure infrastructure so you don't have to open extra ports."
BES 10 version 10.1 is a free download and BlackBerry is continuing the offer of free upgrades for BES 5 users until the end of December 2013. After that licences will cost $59 (£39) per year per device.
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Panasonic ToughPad FZ-G1 review

In true rugged device fashion, the Panasonic ToughPad FZ-G1 isn't exactly a winner in the looks department, with a rather chunky plastic and rubber chassis. It provides a splash-proof cover - measuring in at 270 x 188 x 19mm - making Surface RT look super-thin in comparison.
But the ToughPad FZ-G1 isn't an aspirational lifestyle product like your standard tablet: this is a working machine, designed to go where frailer tablets wouldn't dare. And if you or your business need rugged, relatively portable computing with the power of a full PC, this 10.1-inch slate could be just right for you.
Those raised edges protect the ToughPad from bumps and scrapes
The ToughPad FZ-G1 comes running Windows 8 Pro - the same software you'll find on desktops and laptops. This gives you Microsoft's full operating system, which has been specially designed for touchscreen use.
At 1.1kg, the ToughPad FZ-G1 isn't as heavy as it looks, but its still feels substantial in the palm and you'll probably find yourself gripping it with both hands if you don't have a surface to rest it on.
Surface Pro review
On the right, there's a blocky port cover hiding a headphone jack, plus HDMI and USB 3.0 ports. On the left, there's a clip for the stylus pen - which can be defaulted to act as a right mouse or customised to your choosing.
Each corner is padded with a wedge of rubber, raised from the rest of the tablet, providing protection if the ToughPad FZ-G1 happens to slip from your grasp.
In the bottom-left corner, a rubber flap conceals the charging port, which is reminiscent of one you'd find on a regular laptop. All this armour should protect the ToughPad FZ-G1 from the accidents of working life.
Best Windows 8 tablets: all the Windows 8 tablets we've reviewed
Panasonic claims the ToughPad FZ-G1 can survive a drop of four metres, and though we couldn't test this claim, the rugged feel of this tablet makes us inclined to agree.
Seven large physical keys adorn the front of the ToughPad FZ-G1 just below the screen. These give you instant access to the home, volume, rotation, lock and power buttons, while the remaining two can be programmed according to your needs.
There are various customisation options, including the potential for a bigger battery
Inside, Panasonic has stuffed in an Intel Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM, which makes light work of Windows 8 Pro, booting up in a tidy six seconds. It runs smoothly and we were able to glide through the live tiles on the Start screen and drop in and out of desktop mode without any hassle.
As the ToughPad FZ-G1 comes running the full-blown version of Windows, you get a complete internet browser in the form of IE 10 - allowing for a simple, straightforward web surfing experience, and with a (somewhat pricey) 3G option available, it's great for those out in the field.
Surface RT review
Round the back you'll find a removable 4400mAh battery, which is claimed to last up to eight hours - which you can get with careful usage. You can also swap it for a larger, bulkier pack if you want a longer lasting option.
There's a bunch of optional extras you can add to the ToughPad, with a slot on the top of the tablet giving you the choice of LAN, USB 2.0, microSD, GPS and True Serial. There are also 126GB and 256GB flash memory storage drives, a variety of processor speeds and the potential to have a rear-facing camera as well as the standard 1.3MP front facing snapper, which lets you customise your rugged tablet even further.

The standard battery life makes this only just capable of lasting a working day, but the sturdy build and snappy insides mean the ToughPad is a hardwearing and hardworking option.
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Microsoft Surface RT review

In tablets, the big guns have big names. Apple has its iPad 4 and Google has the Nexus 10. And, if Microsoft is to take on the might of Apple and Google in the tablet space with Windows 8, it needs a big name of its own.
Microsoft Surface is the poster boy for Windows RT too, the brand-new version of Windows 8 designed for ARM.
Other Windows RT tablets and hybrids are available, including the Asus Vivo Tab RT, Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 11 (though that is getting an Intel processor soon), and Dell XPS 10.
Toshiba pulled out from Windows RT production before it even released a single RT device and Samsung has scaled back.

There's also an Intel version of Surface running Windows 8 Pro and called Surface Pro.
Surface RT is now available online and from many retail outlets, although initial sales have been slow and even Microsoft's partners have criticized Windows RT's performance in stores.
Find out: Windows 8 vs Windows RT: what's the difference?
Creating a flagship brand for Windows 8 is a clever move, no doubt a tactic learned from the success of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus that heralded Ice Cream Sandwich, the Google Nexus 7 for Jelly Bean, and more recently, the Nexus 10 for the completely anonymous Android 4.2.

But there's no danger of Surface being branded as a clone of rival 10-inch tablets.
It boasts a distinctive design, helped by those unmistakable keyboard covers, enjoys a 10.6-inch widescreen display, and runs a version of the most popular operating system on the planet. But there's a crippling caveat which might be its undoing.

Windows RT won't run old PC programs, so any trip to the internet to download legacy programs such as VLC Player, or even big-name offerings like Photoshop Elements, just won't work. For that you need Surface Pro, or any Windows 8 device featuring an Intel processor.

It has the potential to cause mass confusion and the power to sink Microsoft's figurehead before it's even taken off.
On picking up the Surface one single sentiment falls from the mouth of every man, woman or child without fail: "It's thicker than I thought."
That is factually nonsense. At 9.4mm thick, it's exactly the same thickness as the iPad 4, except that instead of masking its true girth with tapered edges, Surface's design looks as if it's been chiseled from a slab of slate.
It's square and boxy, but fresh looking and the magnesium 'VaporMg' coating gives it a cool finish.

At 690g Microsoft Surface is noticeably heavier than its rivals. The iPad 4 weighs 650g due to shedding an inch of screen, but Surface feels richer for the extra space.
The 16:9 screen is suited to Windows, it enables you to multitask apps and 'snap' them literally side by side. It feels like you're using a laptop and that's a big leap towards a genuine hybrid experience.
Of course, the rear kickstand is an iconic part of Surface. It's also made of metal, and does a good job of propping up your tablet - to an angle of 22 degrees - even when on your lap.

However, we'd have liked it to be more adjustable – at the moment it has just one position – and a button release would also be handy as you need nimble fingers to pull out the stand.
It's also larger than the iPad - the screen is a 10.6-inch 1366x768 IPS panel, which falls short of the full HD displays of the Sony VAIO Duo 11 and Asus Taichi, but still looks clear and crisp.
It's not going to win any awards for screen vibrancy, and certainly never going to challenge Retina, but it's good enough - and helps Microsoft keep the price down to a reasonable level.

A keyboard-less 32GB Surface costs £399, the same as an iPad 4 with half the storage.
Under the hood is an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, with the ARM technology that drives this new Windows RT operating system. It's the same you'll find in high flying Android tablets such as the Asus Transformer Prime and Google Nexus 7. There's also 2GB of RAM.
We'd love to say that it walked through every task that we threw at it, but in all honesty, we feel that Tegra struggles in Windows.
The system felt responsive to navigate but apps lingered on their splash screens for uncomfortable periods, seconds longer than they should.

There was no jerkiness or hangs, just a lethargy that frustrates when you're in a hurry.
We tested the 64GB Microsoft Surface, which offers plenty of storage, and even a Micro SDSX port hidden under the kickstand, which enables you to boost storage by another 64GB.
That makes Surface a great deal when you consider that you can get nearly 100GB of storage for the same price as the 16GB iPad. That's also not including the USB port for connecting USB storage, as well as traditional Windows peripherals.
Being able to plug in a memory stick in is especially refreshing, and makes Surface a genuine alternative to the iPad.

There's currently no 3G option for Surface, and with no dongles compatible with Windows RT at present, that's not an option right now.
Of course, one of the headline features is the Touch Cover, the clip-on keyboard that enables you to use your Surface as either a tablet or laptop. It feels shockingly light, as if it's made of cardboard.
Typing takes some getting used to, and the click sound that's used to denote a successful key press is essential to effective typing, as the lack of tactile feedback can be disorientating.
However, the keys are sensitive and speed typing is certainly possible with a few hours of practice.
What's more, despite the flat keyboard feeling like it's been hewn from old egg boxes, it features a multi-touch trackpad, should you want to use a mouse while in the traditional Windows interface.

The Touch Cover maybe a triumph of design but we would heartily recommend investing in the Type Cover for comfortable typing.
This offers a much more natural typing experience, and is one of the most spacious tablet keyboard accessories we've used.
It's much more comfortable and can easily be used for longer periods, but it does have an annoying flex in the middle, so the keys tend to bounce if you're a heavy typist.
We'd still recommend it, but it will cost you: the Type Cover costs an extra £110, rather than £80 for the Touch Cover.
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Dell XPS 18 review

The Dell XPS 18 is a bit of an odd one to categorise. It's essentially an 18-inch Windows 8 tablet, as if someone has stuffed one of the 'Eat me' sweets from Alice in Wonderland into the Surface Pro's USB port.
But at that size, surely it's not really a tablet, and is more like a massive Ultrabook - the Dell XPS 13's body-building brother? But, it also sits on an angled stand as a perfectly normal, super-thin all-in-one PC, like a touch-enabled Windows-touting iMac.
Actually, the Dell XPS 18 isn't alone in this world, and it's even one of the most portable of its kind. The Sony Vaio Tap 20 is a similar beast with a larger screen, and the HP Envy Rove 20 is much like the Sony. 'Portable all-in-one' seems to be the chosen name from the companies for this new class of hybrid, so that's what we'll go with.
So yes, the Dell XPS 18 is a portable all-in-one, meaning that you can use it in a charging stand with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard like a traditional desktop computer, or anywhere else thanks to its internal battery and two little legs that flick out of the back. It's touchscreen, so the traditional controls are optional when taking it around the house.

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Sadly, and perhaps surprisingly, it doesn't come with a pen to make use of its vast canvas for drawing, nor is there a digitizer for turning it into a big drawing tablet by adding your own stylus.
The Dell XPS 18 unit itself pretty impressively svelte, packing that 18-inch 1080p display, an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive with 32GB SSD for speedy boot times into a chassis that's just 18mm (0.7 inches) at its thickest point.
At 2.3kg (5lbs), it certainly isn't light compared to most Ultrabooks, and something we'd want to carry in our (presumably massive) backpack, but it's fine for carrying from room to room in the house.

The front is glossy glass, with a plastic edge around it that's a little like the chamfered design used in the iPad mini and iPhone 5, but it's all plastic on the back - no aluminium here.
It's really smart-looking from the front, we have to say, and the dock is similarly simple but pleasant, It's made from die-cast zinc and it holds the XPS 18 solidly. It's easy to fit the main unit's little power dock onto the contact on the stand, which immediately starts giving it juice, since it's the stand you plug into the wall (you can plug the mains charger into the XPS 18 instead of its stand, but that's only really for travelling).
The keyboard and mouse are both standard Dell fare - idols to the gods of black plastic. We'll go into more detail on how well they work in the Performance section.

Buying Guide

The version of the Dell XPS 18 we've got here costs £999 / US$1,349.99, but there's also an £899 / US$999.99 version available with an Intel Core i3 processor, 4GB of RAM and no SSD at all, which seems like a much worse deal to us. There's also a version that's identical to the one we've got here but with a Core i7 processor for £1,099 / US$1,449.99.

The Dell XPS 18 is pretty much an Ultrabook in disguise, offering modest specs to keep it a thin, sharp machine. The Intel Core i5-3337U processor in our review unit is a very recent chip, running at 1.8GHz normally, but is capable of hitting 2.7GHz in Turbo mode.
It's a dual-core chip, but features Hyper-Threading, meaning that it can appear as four virtual cores. It's designed to be a fairly capable chip, but it's not exactly designed for professionals.

This is a weaker chip than the one supplied in the high-end Sony Vaio Tap 20, which comes with an Intel Core i7-3517U, though we doubt the difference would be particularly noticeable. The Vaio Tap 20 also comes with 8GB of RAM, just like the Dell XPS 18, but offers a much larger 1TB hard drive (albeit with no SSD). So where's the extra money going in the Dell?
When it comes to graphics, it's integrated all the way, so there's no difference there. Intel's HD 4000 graphics are fairly capable, and we were able to play the latest SimCity game at full 1080p resolution smoothly on the Dell XPS 18, provided we turned down all the graphical wizardry.
It's not for serious gamers, but then that's inevitable with integrated graphics. Still, Intel's GPU is good enough most casual games. That said, the HP Envy Rove 20 will have much improved graphics over either the Sony Vaio Tap 20 or the Dell XPS 18 when it's released, because it will use Intel's forthcoming Haswell processors, which offer significantly improved gaming performance (and much better battery life).

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The screen is where the difference between the Sony Vaio Tap 20 and the Dell XPS 18 comes into play. The Dell's smaller 18-inch screen is actually a Full HD, 1920 x 1080 resolution panel, while Sony offers a mere 1600 x 900 in a larger panel. The Dell's is therefore much crisper and sharper, and should make for a more pleasant experience.
As we mentioned, the Dell XPS 18 offers 8GB of RAM, which should be more than enough for any home use. Those who like to do a bit of photo or video editing will no doubt be grateful for the extra headroom, but for most people 8GB is overkill, if anything - but certainly nice to have.
The 500GB hard drive is of the slower, smaller laptop kind, but is paired with a fast 32GB solid-state drive that contains Windows, which should help to keep speeds down when booting the computer or waking it from sleep.

When it comes to ports, you're rather limited, with just two USB 3.0 ports and an SD card slot, along with an audio jack. There's also the power port here, along with a power dock on the bottom, for where it connects to the charging base. We were hoping that the base would offer a wider range of ports, so that you could leave things connected there and just dock into the base to have the Dell XPS 18 access them, but that's not the case - it's just for power.
This strikes us as a massive missed trick. On its stand, the Dell XPS 18 is actually a really smart all-in-one PC, but having just two USB ports and no video-out ports really holds it back compared to the connectivity in something like the Apple iMac.
There's no optical drive, either, but we understand why not. It means that watching Blu-rays on that lovely screen is a bit awkward, but there are options. We don't blame Dell for omitting it at all.
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Asus Zenbook Infinity review

Asus made good at its promise to officially reveal the Zenbook Infinity, its super thin but power-intensive touchscreen ultrabook, at Computex this week.
Just several hours later, TechRadar and the Infinity were getting up close and personal, and while Asus is yet to confirm a few final specifics, we had more than enough time with it to form some initial impressions.
Standing out from the rest


If Tony Stark was an Asus guy then the Infinity is Iron Man's ultrabook. It's the world's first laptop to have a lid made from Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which might make it the most robust computer around right now.
Think you can scratch it? Asus laughs in your face. As our demonstrator told us, the Native Damage Resistance means it should be able to withstand some decent sized drops.
Obviously he wasn't too keen on the idea of us throwing the notebook around ourselves, so we'll have to wait until the full review to know for sure. But the exterior felt pretty steely when we took a coin and tried to scratch it.
And the reassurance is welcome. At just 15.5mm at its thickest point - 14 per cent thinner than the previous generation Zenbooks - we could see this slipping out of clumsy hands.
Cutting edge
Speaking of which, we unfortunately found that the Infinity enjoys a good fingerprint or two. Luckily it isn't quite so magnetic to prints on the touchscreen display, but chances are you'll find that gorgeous exterior getting smudged a fair bit.
Fingerprints - the only known enemy of Gorilla Glass
We did wonder if the Infinity might be affording its slim design by going heavy on the weight, but our fears were put to rest the moment we picked it up. It's incredibly light even in one hand, feeling barely heavier than an iPad.
The backlit keyboard and all-in-one trackpad are similar to other Zenbooks, and very reminiscent of the Macbook Air in both look and quality feel. Surrounding the keyboard and covering the trackpad is also Gorilla Glass 3 but with a matt finish.
Turn it around and on either side of the notebook is a USB 3.0 port, while a Micro HDMI, Mini Display port and SD card slot are also squeezed into the side of the body.
Good choice for the night owls


The display has a built-in touchscreen, which we found very responsive when jumping around the Windows 8 home screen and using the web browser.
Our demonstrator was unable to confirm the exact resolution but it certainly looked sharp enough to be the 2,560 x 1,440 we'd heard it would be - matching Acer's new S7 refresh.
Those tiles look nice and vibrant on the Infinity's display

The Infinity's slightness doesn't mean it's skimped on the specs. An Intel 28W Haswell dual-core Core i7 processor with Iris 5100 graphics power the way, which makes it the only fourth-gen ultrabook processor to use Iris.
The Asus rep showed us a demonstration of the performance of Intel Iris in a purpose-built racing game, and there's no doubting that this tiny machine is ready for some serious gaming.
Asus is yet to confirm RAM or storage sizes. Price and release date are also unknown at current, but we understand the Infinity is expected to land in Q3 of this year, and you'll have a choice of either Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 when it does.
Come at me, bro
Early verdict

Fast, indestructible and almost painfully sleek, the Zenbook Infinity discreetly slips into the Haswell era with a lot going for it.
It might be our favourite thing unveiled at this year's Computex, and while we're still waiting for Asus to firm some of the details, things could not look more promising. If this is the new standard for ultrabooks to aspire to, we've got nothing to complain about.
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HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook review

Try to sell most of us a laptop that can't run normal programs, never mind traditional operating systems such as Windows 8 or OS X, and instead only runs a web browser - forcing you to do everything online - and we'd hesitate.
ut that's precisely what a Chromebook like the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook is; a laptop that boots into the lightweight operating system Chrome OS, where all you can do is launch Google's Chrome web browser.
It might sound like a product that nobody in their right mind would buy, but there are two reasons why it's not as clear cut as that. The first is that we've actually come to quite like Chromebooks here at TechRadar, and not just because they're cheap - we'll come to why shortly.
The other reason, though, is that what started as a tiny dribble of models and manufacturers has turned if not into a torrent then into a steady trickle. Of course just because we're seeing an increasing number of Chromebooks hit the market it doesn't mean they must be successful, but PC manufacturers wouldn't bother making and marketing Chromebooks if they didn't think there was at least a potential market.

Now HP's Pavilion 14 Chromebook joins the slightly cheaper, slim, light and ARM-powered Samsung Chromebook, the cheaper still Acer C7 Chromebook with its 320GB hard disk, and the hugely more expensive, beautifully designed Google Chromebook Pixel with its high-res 3:2 screen.
Four Chromebooks compared to the many hundreds of Windows laptops or even the nearly dozen basic Apple MacBooks doesn't sound like much, but it still feels like a sector that's getting to be cautiously optimistic.
If you decide you want to buy a Chromebook or you just want a reliable, genuinely usable laptop with a price tag of just £249 / AU$399 / US$329.99, the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook distinguishes itself from the other models with a bigger, 14-inch screen.

Chrome OS won't suit everyone. It may not even suit most people yet, but it's true that it's constantly evolving, and so are our computing habits and needs. So while you can't currently do video editing, professional photography editing or coding on a Chromebook - although online services are springing up that at least begin to address these demands - many of us would cope fine with just a web browser.
Think about what you do on a traditional PC, for example, and there's a good chance either that you do essentially everything through a browser anyway - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, webmail - or that those things that you currently do with regular apps such as Word and Excel could be replaced with web services such as Google Docs.
You might think, that's all very well, but if these are all web apps, I have to be online to use them, and since the Pavilion 14 doesn't have a SIM card slot for 3G mobile browsing, it's just a useless door-stop when I can't get Wi-Fi access. But as we'll see, that's not quite the case.

Google Chromebooks: what you need to know
Let's start, though, with the specs. Now, specs with a Chromebook mean a little less than they do with normal laptops, so we can't just put a Chromebook next to a laptop from Lenovo, Asus, Dell or even HP and say that because it has a weaker processor, less storage, a lower-res screen and fewer, lower-specced ports that it's worse.
That's because, since Chrome OS is a lightweight operating system whose only job is to run a browser - albeit a fast, capable browser with support for complex HTML 5 and Flash - the hardware needs comparatively little oomph to do its job well.
The HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook has an Intel Celeron 847 processor running at 1.1GHz at its heart, and the 14-c002sa model we tested had 4GB of RAM.

Storage is courtesy of a 16GB SSD, which we think is the right choice; the 320GB hard disk in the Acer C7 is a bit redundant in a computer that's designed to be a thin client to web services, and because hard disks are slower than solid-state drives, all it did was slow the overall responsiveness of the machine down.
Put together, nothing about these core specs suggest anything other than pedestrian performance, but in fact they're more than sufficient for a Chromebook. The HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook feels slick and fast and responsive, and it coped well with everything we threw at it.
There are three USB 2.0 ports - no, no USB 3.0, but that's totally fine, since a Chromebook would have no real use for a faster connection, at least in its current incarnation - and an HDMI port, which is extra useful now that Chrome OS supports extended desktop view as well as mirroring on an external monitor.

New Chrome OS review
There's also a combined mic/headphone jack, a full-depth SD card slot and, as well as 802.11a/b/g/n, a very welcome Ethernet port.
The built-in webcam is, as you'd expect, HD resolution. But as you'd expect, 'HD' does not necessarily equate to 'high quality'.
Although the 14-inch screen is low-res by today's standards at 1366 x 786, and is a little washed out with poor viewing angles, we have seen worse, and we have to remember that this is in a £250 / AU$400 / US$330 laptop.

Weighing 1.8kg (4lbs), it's not ultrabook-light, but it's not going to break your back when slung in a laptop bag.
One thing that's flat-out bad on the HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook, though, is the battery. The battery takes up just a sliver of this 14-inch laptop's spacious body.
When battery life is so poor as it is here - giving somewhere between three and four hours of solid use, or perhaps a little more if you're lucky - and space in the chassis isn't at a premium as it would be with an ultrabook or a netbook, we can't help but feel cheated when HP has stuck a meagre 4-cell Li-Ion battery in.
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