Finding a small tower is not easy, Dell describe this as a ‘Small Form Factor Workstation’. I was asked to find a sub £600 small Tower. This however does not actually fill the request but it is a very powerful system that would do everything you need. On the face of it the price is only just over that figure but as it’s sold as a business unit VAT has to be added.
It is 29cm tall 8cm wide and when cables are inserted in the back 30cm deep, so it is very small. However it is very powerful with Intel i3, i5 and i7 processor options. The front has a vertically mounted optical drive and the on/off button to the right of this should be a multi card socket (not on the unit sent to me), below this a 3.5mm headphone socket two USB ports side by side and below these a USB3 port and a USB ‘C’ port.
When looking for a portable computer that will not take up too much room in your luggage, this next product might fit the bill.
Avoiding any obvious confusion between the terms “laptop” and “notebook”, when is a laptop product not a laptop? One possible answer to this conundrum is when the device under consideration, belongs to the Ideapad 300 series of units that come with the tagline of “being thinner and lighter with a narrower bezel than your everyday laptop”.
Last year Dell showed their new rugged range in London and as spring dawns one of their offerings arrives for me to give it the once over. Of course it will be in my office and the around surroundings and not as the early sample was in far flung places with very inhospitable conditions when things like battery life were truly life challenging.
It is 34.5x28x5cm and weighs 2694 grams as supplied to me. Unlike most normal notebooks the figures here need some explanation. The width is to the edge of the padding, the depth is to the extent of the non-retractable handle and the width includes the fairly substantial feet. The viewable screen is 30.5x17.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 13.8inches. The default screen resolution is 1920x1080 at 150%. It has an Intel Core i5 running at 1.
A powerful Windows 10 notebook for those who still need all the connections yes it even has Ethernet. So suitable for both work and dare I say the word PLAY. This is a solidly constructed offering that may even reduce the need for so many visits to the gym.
The Acer Nitro 5 measures 39x26x2.4cm and weighs 2.454 kilos. Going around the outside finds Kensington Lock Port, Ethernet, USB ‘C’, HDMI out, USB 3.1 and SD Card socket all on the left side. The front is clear apart from speakers at each of the chamfered corners. The right side has headphones out, two USB2 ports, two LEDs and finally DC input. The back like the front is clear apart from large heat outputs. The base has four structured rubber feet to also allow expulsion of heat.
One of the latest batch of notebooks to come on the market from Acer and not only is it powerful but has the absolutely latest version of Windows 10 that is V1809. Another of the recent inclusions is just USB ‘C’ ports on the unit. However for those that still need standard USB2 and USB3 an adapter unit is supplied in the box to attach.
The Acer Swift 7 measures 32.5x23.5x.7cm and weighs 1185grams, so very thin and light as the width was at the thickest point at the back at the front it is only .5cm thick at the edge. I normally spend quite a long time upgrading to the current version of Windows and here this was not needed as it is even more recent than my PC as this has V1809.
Like a number of Dell offerings it comes with a choice of hard disk, memory and processor options all under the same name of G5 15. So you can choose exactly what options you want at least until next year and then who knows what.
Not a light machine and while it does have good battery life and worked fine on my Wi-Fi those into gaming will probably use it on mains power in a single place and even plug in the Ethernet. It is 38.5x26.5x2.5cm and weights 2.82kilos. The unit as supplied to me had an Intel i5 8300H CPU running at 2.3GHz with 8GB of RAM a small 128GB SSD drive ‘C’ with around 38GB free and a 1TB hard drive ‘D’. The viewable screen is 34.5x19.
It’s taken a while, 18 months in fact from change of agency to the first arrival of an HP notebook. Its thin its light and it has connectivity so what is not to like about this 13inch offering called very appropriately by the name of ENVY.
The HP Envy 13-ad015 laptop measures 30.5x21x1.5cm and weighs 1359 grams. It is matt silver grey in colour with four silver lines of two lengths that form a very clever HP logo. The left side has a USB port, 3.5mm headphone socket, USB ‘C’ port and micro SD card port. The front is clear the right side has USB ‘C’ port, USB port and charging port. Open the lid and the screen can go back to 135 degrees.
This is neither large nor heavy so ideal to use when out and about. A black sandwich with silver grey slices, it is a Notebook and a Tablet running the latest version of Windows 10 V1803. Three sides of the screen have tiny edges the forth the bass is the less than usual place to find the webcam. There are other surprises like only USB ‘C’ ports.
The Dell XPS 13 "2-in-1" convertible laptop measures 30x19.5x1cm at the front and 1.5cm at the back it weighs 1212 grams. The diagonal imperial measurement is 13inches As this folds back on itself the rear is clear of any ports. The left side has USB ‘C’ and headset 3.5mm socket along with a button to show the current battery state in 20% increments. The front is also clear apart from an LED to show when the unit is on.
Most people think of Acer for their comprehensive Aspire range which varies hugely from entry level to really powerful business machines, they also have the Predator range of gaming systems and as I recently found another range call Nitro, here I am looking at the Nitro 5.
The Acer Nitro 5measures is 39x26x2.5cm and weights 2.454kilos. This is of course a powerful machine likely to be used by gamers. This means that battery life may not be that great, the best I got streaming video was around four hours. I see the figure quoted is ‘up to 8.5 hours’. So going around the outside has a Kensington Lock port, an Ethernet port, USB ‘C’, HDMI, USB3 and SD Card socket. The front is clear apart from the speakers that are under the cut away corners.
I saw this at the launch last year and despite two representatives of ASUS saying it would be available from tomorrow, it has taken a whole lot of tomorrows to pass before I managed to finally get one into my hands to review.
ZenBook means it is both a Notebook and Tablet and unlike a couple of recent machines this has a good amount of storage and indeed it arrived complete with V1709 of Windows 10 the latest update that has finally very recently struggled onto my own PC despite it trying to upgrade to it since mid December. It is 30.5x21.5x1.2cm the last figure at the back but this is half that at the front and it weighs 1110 grams. The viewable screen is 29.3x16.
This is part of a range of gaming notebooks from Acer. While I openly admit that I am no gamer other reviews will tell you what this and other units in the Predator range can accomplish in the gaming area I concentrate on its other features.
The Acer Predator is a 17.3 inch high performance gaming laptop measuring 42x28x2.5cm and weights just short of 3kilos at 2.94kilos. This is a powerful beast that has the whole rear to dissipate the heat a heady gaming session is likely to create. The left side has a Kensington lock socket, Ethernet port, USB ‘C’ port, HDMI out, USB3 port and an SD Card slot.
Small enough to use on your lap and it comes with ‘ice cool’ technology to keep your palms cool something you will appreciate in the warmer months. The touchpad – a dirty word for some – has intuitive gestures and there is even decent sound from the Sonic Master chip.
This ASUS Notebook measures 33x23x1.5cm and weights 1473grams. The left side has DC input, Ethernet port, USB ‘C’, HDMI out, USB and an SD Card port, The front has three pin hole LEDs. The right side has a Kensington Lock port, a USB port and a 3.5mm headphone socket. The back is clear as the screen goes back over it to 135 degrees. There are four 1.5cm rubber feet on the base as well as the pair of speakers either side near the front.
A big silver grey notebook from Dell was their latest offering to land on my desk. A large screen and a surprisingly small keyboard almost lost with lots of free space all around it may not sound that encouraging for you to read on.
The Dell Inspiron 15 5000 measures 37.5x25x1.5cm and weight just over two kilos. Bootup is ten seconds and shutdown to blank desktop only two seconds. One fact I cannot normally give is that after a full charge and being left unused for ten days the battery was still 98% charged. The reasons for the lack of use were a nasty bug affecting me and then several trips out which meant that little was done workwise but since that useful fact is available I have shared it.
Combining the functionality of a notebook and tablet elements is a product from Acer
Adding to its extensive range of computer based products, Acer has released its Swift 3 offering. While classified as a notebook type device, the Acer Swift 3 adopts the more modern style of product by incorporating the ability to split itself into two separate units. A straightforward ripping motion is all that is required to turn the basic notebook format into a tablet and detachable keyboard arrangement.
The Swift range was launched a year ago in Glasgow and I have previously looked at a different model from the same range. This is a rather smart looking Notebook with the screen capable of going back to 180 degrees.
The Acer Swift 3 is an ultra-thin notebook measuring 33x23x1.5cm and weighing 1629 grams. The base has a 27x1cm strip of rubber and the two front corners a 3x1cm front to back strip to protect whatever you sit it on, this matters because the body is all metal. Looking at the Acer site finds 21 different Swift 3 models with various memory and processor combinations. The one I have has silver body an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD drive.
This Toughbook looks ‘normal’ which while it may sound like a criticism, it isn’t, some Toughbook’s are very rugged as they are used on building sites and other places where they get abused, here one that would not look out of place in a boardroom.
I first saw this over four months ago at a pre-launch briefing at Panasonics factory in Cardiff. The Panasonic Toughbook CF-XZ6 measures 28.5x22x2cm and weights 1.2kilos. The viewable screen is 25.5x17cm and it has the notional diagonal imperial screen measurement of 12inches and a screen resolution of 2160x1440 which never looks small even on the smaller than normal screen. There is a 2MP web cam and microphone in the centre at the top of the landscape screen.
This is a lightweight Windows Notebook/Tablet with – for me anyway – the all-important touch ability. Other things that might tempt you are USB ‘C’ and narrow screen borders on either side or the screen and the lack of Bloatware pre-installed.
The Lenovo Yoga 520 measures 32x23.5x1.5cm and it weighs 1710grams. The viewable screen is 31x17.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 13.7 inches, it would have been nice to have 1920x1080 display but the default is 1366x768 which becomes noticeable when viewing web pages. The left side has DC input, HDMI output, USB and USB ‘C’ ports and a 3.5mm socket for headphones. Both the front and back are clear, the base has a pair of speakers.
This is both a Notebook and a Tablet computer. It is of course quite light which is nice if you are walking around with it all day but that means compromises the main one for me was the lack of a full size USB port which for some might be a problem.
The Acer Spin 7 measures 32x22.5x1cm and it weighs 1341grams. The diagonal screen measurement is 14inches and the recommended display is 1920x1080.This is an updated version of one the units I got to briefly try during last year’s Glasgow visit. At that point it had Windows 1511 and now via updates it has Windows 1703. It has on/off button on the left and beside this is a volume rocker, both the front and back are clear. The right side has a 3.
A notebook with decent Harman Kardon speakers, a not that reflective screen brushed metal front and a mushroom back which means not much to show finger marks all things that are plus points before we get on to what’s inside.
This Asus Zeonbook measures 32x22.2x1.5cm the last measurement is at the back and it is only 1cm at the front and it weighs 1320 grams. The viewable screen is 31x17.7cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 14 inches. The display is 1920x1080. The left side has DC input, USB port, HDMI port, USB 3.1 port and finally a 3.5mm socket for headphones. Both the back and front are clear. The right side has two USB2 ports and an SD card socket.
This is part of the Dell back to school/university range. A Chromebook is able to do a lot of things that a Windows or Apple computer can do, it can browse the Internet, collect and send emails and you can these days even store word processing and spreadsheets on it. What it cannot do is run Apple or Microsoft programs.
This Dell Chromebook measures 30x20.4x1.5cm and weighs 1290grams. The viewable screen is 25.5x14.5cm which gives the notional diagonal imperial measurement of 11.6inches. The screen opens to 180 degrees. The base has four enlarged rubber bumps to keep the unit off your desk and allow the speakers to function, these are placed either side at the front of the base and give better sound – and more of it – than a lot of other notebooks.