Lenovo ThinkPad Twist Announced

The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Twist convertible tablet to notebook PC is on its way to virtual and store shelves October 26th.  The ThinkPad Twist, announced today by Lenovo, is a 12.5” Windows 8 convertible tablet to notebook.  Think of it as a business version of the IdeaPad Yoga announced a few months ago and demonstrated to the media again today.  Lenovo is actually calling this a convertible Ultrabook, the weight of 3.48lbs isn’t as light as the ThinkPad Carbon X1 Ultrabook but rather is more in line with the 12.5” ThinkPad X230.  The thinness of 0.79” is however an improvement over the ThinkPad X230 which is thicker at around 1”.

One major highlight of the ThinkPad Twist is the fact it includes an IPS screen multi-touch screen with 350-nits brightness that twists into four different modes: Laptop Mode (for typical laptop usage), Tablet Mode (for web surfing, reading) and Stand Mode for watching movies.  Below are pictures of each mode:

Tablet Mode:

Tablet Mode

Laptop Mode:

Laptop mode

Stand Mode:

Stand Mode

The ThinkPad Twist doesn’t skimp in terms of performance, it offers up to a 3rd generation Intel Core i7 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB HD or 128GB SSD.  Ports included are 2 USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet LAN RJ45 connector, 4-in-1 media card reader, mini-DisplayPort and a mini-HDMI port.  The OS is either Windows 8 Standard or Windows 8 Pro, depending on what you configure.  Audio is enhanced via Dolby Home Theatre.

Being a ThinkPad the Twist of course gives you the familiar ThinkPad keyboard with red trackpoint and dual mouse buttons.  It also includes TPM security and Lenovo Solutions for Small business, making this a nice choice for a work machine and business needs.  Lenovo quotes battery life at about 7 hours depending on usage, that’s nearly all day computing.  Availability is set for October 26th to coincide with the Windows 8 launch and the price will start at $849.]]>


Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 now has Nvidia 650M Graphics, Upgraded Processor

The Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 is notable for the fact it’s a budget friendly portable gaming laptop, it was released in Spring 2012 with an Nvidia 640M graphics card and since then people have been waiting and hoping to see an upgraded Nvidia 650M graphics card available that Lenovo initially mentioned would act as the GPU.  A more powerful configuration with an Nvidia 650M is now available on the Y480 Lenovo.com product page, along with an upgraded Core i7-3630QM processor.  Best of all, the price is still the same for these better components at an extremely reasonable $799.99.  That’s a rather amazing price for a portable 14” gaming laptop.


Along with those specs you get 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive that spins at 5400RPM.  There’s only one configuration available right now unfortunately, but we assume more will become available as the older 640M equipped models are phased out.  Check out our review of the Y480 where we had the following conclusion:

The IdeaPad Y480 is a worthy successor to the acclaimed Y70 and Y470p.   For the most part Lenovo has stuck to the winning formula of the Y470 – that being producing a mobile 14” laptop that has all the performance of larger 15 – 17” laptops while keeping the price under $1,000.  The new Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor is a nice improvement, offering around a 20% performance boost of similar previous generation Intel processors.  The Nvidia 640M LE graphics card is similar in performance to the AMD 7690M, but once Lenovo starts rolling about more configurations of the Y480 there should be more powerful options available, such as the Nvidia 650M.   Even with all that power packed into a small 14” chassis the heat and noise were a non-issue, Lenovo engineers should be commended for developing a cooling system that works well.

As with anything, not everything is perfect about the Y480.  Some people will be disappointed not to see a higher resolution screen option, for now Lenovo is sticking to just a 1366 x 768 screen option.  The glossy screen and bezel will deter some more conservative buyers.  The Y480’s battery life has actually decreased relative to the Y470 that was able to achieve six hours, not what we expected with Intel touting the power saving abilities of Ivy Bridge.

For the most part though, the Y480 is an improvement.  The backlit keyboard alone is enough to make this reviewer choose the Y480 over the Y470 given the choice.  The Y480 should especially appeal to students who want something both powerful and mobile.  Ultrabooks are all the rage now, but they can’t touch the power and performance you get with the Y480 for the same price.


HP Envy x2 Unboxing and First Thoughts Video

The HP Envy x2 will be arriving just in time for the holidays as it’s predicted to hit the virtual and store shelves in early December.  So what’s all the excitement about this new “Hybrid PC” as HP is calling it?  For one it’s HP’s re-entry into to the consumer tablet market following the TouchPad debacle that saw them dump producing a WebOS tablet just a couple of months after its release.  Second, the Envy x2 is going to be joining the vanguard of new Windows 8 based tablets.  Finally, this is a product that HP engineers put a lot of work into, the Envy x2 uses a unique docking mechanism using magnets and a latch that allows the tablet portion to be easily attached or removed from the keyboard based docking station.  In the past HP has produced Pavilion convertible tablets that involved a rotating hinge design, but they were much more clunky and heavy than what the Envy x2 brings to the table. We just received a review model of the Envy x2 and while we haven’t had enough time to actually use the x2 to give a proper analysis yet an unboxing is of course in order for such a cool and new device:

HP Envy x2 Unboxing

The first thing you’ll notice when opening the Envy x2 is really how solid it feels, it’s clad in an all aluminum body.  Despite all that metal it’s still pretty light at around 3lbs.  The tablet portion weighs about half of that total at 1.5lbs.  To get an idea of how the tablet weight compares to other tablets, the current Apple iPad weighs 1.44lbs.  However, the Envy x2 is an 11.6” display while the Apple iPad is slightly smaller at 9.7”, so the density is actually less.    Speaking of screens, the resolution of the Envy x2 screen is 1366 x 768, that’s far less than the iPad’s 2048 x 1536 resolution.  However the good news is that the screen on the Envy x2 is IPS wide angle viewing like the iPad and it also offers a stylus pen input using Ntrig technology for more accurate on screen touch and writing.  That could be an essential feature to artists or at least students and business users that want to be able to write on the screen, the stylus is not included though and is going to be an extra accessory to buy.  The keyboard docking connector for the the HP Envy x2 that converts it to a laptop is more elegant hardware solution than anything offered with the iPad.  Also important is the fact you get Windows 8 on the Envy x2, a fully fledged OS with typical multi-tasking features that aren’t present in the more basic mobile iOS on the iPad.  The docking connector offers ports such as HDMI, two USB 2.0 ports, and an SD card slot.  It also offers a built in battery that helps boost the 9 – 10 hour battery life already available with the tablet alone. Check out the video to see the Envy x2 first thoughts from someone who has never seen or touched the Envy x2 before and then stay tuned for the upcoming review! image


HP EliteBook 2570p Video Review Posted

This weekend we posted a written review of the EliteBook 2570p and we’ve just posted a video version of the 2570p review for those that prefer more visuals than text:

HP EliteBook 2570p Review

Sections included in the video review of the EliteBook 2570p include heat and temperature measurements and a listen in on the fan noise, which is much easier to present in video than talk about in text!  There’s also a comparison of the screen on the EliteBook 2570p to the ThinkPad X220 so you can get an idea of the viewing angles and brightness.  The video lasts 18 minutes, enjoy!



HP EliteBook 2570p Review

The HP EliteBook 2570p is a 12.5” screen portable business laptop built for those that demand a little more durability than your average user.  The EliteBook 2570p is constructed of a rigid magnesium-alloy chassis and meets mil-spec standards for durability and ability to withstand extremely adverse conditions.  What this means to your average business user is the typical jostle of travel, such as shoving a laptop in an overhead compartment or under the seat while flying, will leave the 2570p unfazed.  Aside from the excellent build quality the 2570p also brings to the table serious performance via the 3rd generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processor available, up to 16GB of RAM and optional SSD.  You might think the EliteBook 2570p would retail for well over $1,000 given the build quality and specs, but it’s actually very reasonable, our mid-range configuration totaled only $815 purchased online from Buy.com.

HP EliteBook 2570p

The core specs for the 2570p we’re reviewing include an Intel Core i5-3210m 2.5GHz (overclockable to 3.1GHz), Intel HD 4000 graphics, 4GB of RAM, 500GB 7200RPM hard drive and 12.5” screen with 1366 x 768 resolution.  The performance could obviously be improved with an extra 2 – 4GB of RAM on board, but for most business users these specs will more than suffice to churn through any application you throw at it.  Even if you want to do some light gaming in the evening to unwind, you could play some demanding games (such as Skyrim or WoW) at low graphics settings and you easily play any of the EA sports series games with no slowdown.  But in reality, the user base for the EliteBook 2570p will be more concerned with whether it’ll be a reliable business tool and ready to take a beating and keep on ticking.  And you’re more than covered there…

HP EliteBook 2570p lid

After using ThinkPads for a number of years it has been sometime since I’ve had hands on usage with an EliteBook, and I must say I’m impressed by the ruggedness of the design.  The 2570p feels much more substantial and rock solid than my ThinkPad X220.  The ThinkPad line uses a lot of ABS plastic in the outer case, which is durable and has the advantage of being light weight.  However, the EliteBook goes all out using a full magnesium alloy chassis, aluminum-alloy hinges and cast titanium-alloy display latches.  That’s a lot of metal!  The downside to all that metal and tank like durability is that the 2570p weighs more than your typical 12.5” laptop, with the 6-cell battery on my kitchen scales it comes to a rather high 4.38lbs.  Compare that to the 3.6lbs or so that the ThinkPad X230 weighs, not a small difference.


While that weight of 4.38lbs is high, you HP does squeeze in more than your average 12.5” notebook to this frame.  For one, you get an optical drive built-in, which is pretty rare for this size laptop these days.  You also get a ton of ports included.  Here’s a look around each side of the 2570p to see everything you get:

On the left side from back to front you get the power jack, Ethernet port, optional modem port (blocked out for our config), optical drive DVD Burner and Smart Card Reader

HP 2570p left side

On the right side you get a 34mm ExpressCard slot, dual headphone microphone jack, DisplayPort, USB 3.0 eSATA combo port, Docking Connector

HP 2570p right side

On the back side you get a VGA monitor out port on the left side and USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 on the right side.


If all those ports still aren’t enough for you, then you can use the option docking station to expand the number of ports when at a desk.  Frankly, I think most will agree this is already more than enough!

The keyboard on the EliteBook 2570p is full sized and uses a chiclet style design just as about every other laptop these days.  The keys have what HP calls a DuraFinish, which ensures that overtime the lettering does not fade and the keys do not get worn down and look ugly.  You get a pointing stick with mouse buttons to compliment it or if you’re a touchpad user that’s available too.  The keyboard feel is nice, there’s no flex anywhere and it feels as solid as the rest of the notebook.  However, the key travel isn’t quite as much as I’d like and therefore does not feel as good as the ThinkPad keyboard I’m used to using.  Another downside is the fact there’s no keyboard backlight option, though there is a light built into the screen that shines down on the keyboard to help illuminate it.

EliteBook 2570p keyboard

The touchpad is rather small, while I prefer to use the pointing stick and it has no adverse affect on me, those that are touchpad users will be disappointed by the small area.  That said, the feel of it is nice and it’s easy to glide your finger over.  I particularly like the mouse buttons as they are quiet and have great feedback.   To the right of the touchpad you get a fingerprint reader, again another great business feature to have.

One thing I really love about the EliteBook 2570p is the ease of upgrades and accessing components.  It’s super simple to access the guts of the laptop, all you have to do is release a latch on the bottom of the notebook and slide off a metal panel and, voila, you can get to just about everything.  Even the processor is theoretically upgradeable as it is not soldered on.  You can see the hard drive, memory and wireless card are all easy to access and upgrade.  Also nice is the fact the fan is right there and easy to clean out.  The 2570p is a dream for an IT department that has to make frequent upgrades and fixes, but it’s also handy if you’re an individual user that likes to tinker a bit.

HP EliteBook 2570p insides

As mentioned previously the screen on the EliteBook 2570p we have is a 1366 x 768 resolution 12.5” display.  It has a matte anti-glare finish, which is good as that reduces glare. Unfortunately there’s no resolution upgrade option nor any other type of choice in what display you get.  The competing ThinkPad X230 offers a premium IPS display upgrade for an extra $50, I have an X220 on hand with this IPS display and took a few photos comparing the screens of these two laptops (the 2570p is on the left, ThinkPad X220 on the right in all pictures):

ThikPad X220 on the right, Elitebook 2570p on the right

HP EliteBook 2570p on the left, X220 on the right

tilted back

tilted forward

As you can see, the viewing angles on the ThinkPad X220 with its IPS screen are far superior to the EliteBook 2570p.  Overall, the 2570p screen is pretty average with color saturation and contrast that aren’t the best and viewing angles that are typical of TN panel laptop screens.  The larger 15” HP EliteBook 8570w offers a premium IPS display, but it costs nearly twice as much!

Battery life is important to just about any business user, especially those that travel, which the 2570p is built to do.  With the 6-cell battery this review HP quotes the battery life to be 9 hours.  I found that number to be a bit generous, in my testing with wireless on, power level set to “Balanced”, screen at 50% brightness and a browser open and refreshing every 60 seconds the battery lasted almost exactly 7 hours before the laptop went into hibernation.  That’s great battery life, and you could squeeze out more if you got really conservative with power usage.  You could also upgrade to a larger 9-cell battery with a quoted life of up to 15 hours.


The HP EliteBook 2570p is one of the toughest portable laptops I’ve ever used.  Granted, it’s still not on par with a Panasonic ToughBook that’s built to withstand car rollovers, fire and bullets but unless you’re going to war you don’t need all that extra armor.  The 2570p is built well enough for the average user to treat it roughly and still not worry about ever breaking anything.  The all metal body and chassis while making the 2570p rigid and solid, has the downside of adding some heft as well.  With the 6-cell battery the weight of the 2570p comes to 4.4lbs, which is quite heavy for a 12.5” laptop.  However, if you consider the fact it comes with an optical drive and extensive selection of business essential ports then you can be a little more accepting of the extra weight and thickness this model has over competitors.

Performance of the 2750p is more than adequate for the typical business user with the latest Intel Core i5/i7 processor and ability to upgrade to 16GB of RAM and a fast SSD if you so choose.  If you need dedicated graphics and workstation style performance you’ll need to step up to the larger 8470w or 8570w EliteBooks that offers such.  Battery life at around 7 hours under normal usage is great and will see you through a coast to coast flight in the U.S.  If you’re traveling further afield, say Asia, then the 9-cell battery with its 15 hours of quoted life could fill that gap.

Missing from the 2570p that I’d like to have really seen is the ability to upgrade the screen to a higher resolution or IPS panel and giving the option of a backlit keyboard.  Nearly all of the competition offer these enhancement features.  However, given the price of $815 I paid for this a couple of drawbacks can be forgiven.  Indeed, at under $1,000 the 2750p is a relative bargain for what you get, and since it’s built to last for years the amortized cost over the years it will last you makes this an even better value.


New Details Emerge on Upcoming Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 Gaming Rig

A few new details on the upcoming Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 announced this summer have surfaced thanks again to a Chinese forum poster on it168.com (anyone know why numbers in domains are so popular in China?).  To refresh, the IdeaPad Y500 is going to be released at the end of October and will break new ground for laptops by offering an “UltraBay” into which you can easily add a second powerful dedicated graphics card and other upgrades.  The new information reveals that this Ultrabay will not only be able to house a dedicated GPU upgrade, but also a DVD Burner, Blu-Ray drive, extra hard drive, extra fan or a dummy weight saver.  These are all great options and you can easily swap out the Ultrabay depending on your needs for the day.  For instance, if you want to watch a DVD movie simply swap in the optical drive to the UltraBay, then later if you want to play a game such as Skyrim you can swap in the dedicated Nvidia graphics.  Speaking of Nvidia graphics, the source has revealed that it will be the Nvidia 650M graphics card used both internally for the Y500 and as the option for the UltraBay.  The screenshot below proves the fact that two Nvidia 650M GPUs are at work in the Y500 system this person has:


The smaller sized 14-inch Y400 will also have this same option of dual Nvidia 650M graphics cards, that would make it likely the most powerful and capable 14-inch laptop on the market – now we can only hope the cooling is reasonable!  What was further revealed is that the UltraBay Nvidia 650M GPU will retail for around 1500 RMB in China, which is about $238 in the U.S.  The pricing on the Y400 and Y500 will be higher than what we see on the current Y580 and Y480 – after all, there is more technology involved, but Lenovo is currently trying to get the pricing down so it’s at least competitive.

It has been confirmed that the IdeaPad Y500 will have a 1920 x 1080 Full HD screen option, however the Y400 will be stuck with just a 1366 x 768 screen and no screen resolution upgrade option.  The power adapter will be a 170W variety to provide enough power for the dedicated GPU options, it’s unlikely the Y500 or Y400 will do well on battery life, especially if you have two dedicated graphics cards running at the same time.  Finally, the last bit of information that has been verified is that the Y500 will have both Core i5 and i7 3rd generation processor options while the Y400 will have Core i3, i5 and i7 to support more budget friendly

Lenovo IdeaPad Y500

There is still no specific release date for the U.S., these notebooks will likely be found in China a couple of weeks earlier than here so we’ll just have to wait and see when in October they actually launch.

Source: it168.com


Lenovo ThinkPad T430 Vs. Edge E430 Comparison, Which is Best for You?

The Lenovo ThinkPad T430 and the ThinkPad Edge E430 14” business laptops are similar in many ways, so what makes the T430 so much more expensive with a starting price of $685 versus $494 for the E430?  There of course has to be enough of a difference between these two business laptops to justify the price difference and why you would prefer one over the other.  In this article we’ll do a comparison of the ThinkPad T430 and Edge E430 to help you decide which to buy if you or your business are in the position of trying to decide between these two options from Lenovo.  First we’ll do a quick overview of each.

ThinkPad T430 Overview

The ThinkPad T430 is part of the long line of “T Series” ThinkPads and is considered by many as the flagship model.  In terms of size the ThinkPad T430 sits between the smaller 12.5” screen X230 and larger 15” screen ThinkPad T530.  As such, it is the middle of the road option and will suit both the needs of travellers that need a laptop thin and light enough to carry on a long distance flight, but yet still offers a large enough screen and resolution to make for comfortable and efficient work when back at the office.  Specifically, the T430 weighs in at 4.77lbs and has a thickness of around 1.20”.  That’s nowhere near as light and portable as the 3.3lbs ThinkPad X230, but the 14” screen and option of a 1600 x 900 HD resolution means you can fit a lot on the T430 screen and in turn be more productive.


Design wise the T430 is best described as all black with a rubberized surface finish on the lid and bottom to make for an easy grip.  The top and bottom of the case are also made of a magnesium alloy to add extra durability and help the laptop survive the odd drop (within reason).

You of course get the iconic red trackpoint pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard along with a touchpad for dual input options.  Aside from the red trackpoint, the mouse buttons also have a red accent and the ThinkVantage button has a blue color, which helps to somewhat break up the color of the otherwise all black finish.

The T430 comes with a range of Intel Core i3 to Core i7 processor choices from the Intel 3rd generation Core family (Ivy Bridge) so you can find the right balance of performance and cost for your needs.  Also available is the option to upgrade the hard drive to an SSD for added performance, especially in regards to boot time.  The T430 also has the option for Nvidia NVS 5400M dedicated graphics with optimus technology for an added 3D performance boost.

The battery life for the T430 with the standard 6-cell sized battery averages around 5.5 hours, you can also upgrade to a larger 9-cell and add a battery into the optical drive bay for up to 9 hours of battery life.

The T430 comes with the following ports: two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, 4-in-1 media card reader, Mini Display Port, 34mm Express Card slot, Ethernet port (LAN), VGA monitor out.  If that’s not enough ports for your needs, you can connect to a docking station using the docking connector port on the bottom of the laptop to expand the type and number of ports available.

The T430 starts at $685 via Lenovo.com at the time of this writing.

ThinkPad Edge E430 Overview

The ThinkPad Edge E430 is part of the small business targeted ThinkPad Edge lineup from Lenovo.  The Edge series carries a lower price tag than the regular ThinkPad lineup yet still maintains many of the same benefits and features.  The E430 has a 14” screen and weighs in at 4.7lbs.  The design of the Edge E430 is slightly different to the typical ThinkPad, it has a curved front edge and a blinking red dot above the “i” in ThinkPad.  It has the option of either a matte or glossy screen, depending on your preference.  The keyboard is a chiclet style design, just like all other ThinkPads at this point.

ThinkPad Edge E430The E430 offers a selection of Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors.  The graphics are supplied by either Intel HD 3000 or Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics GPU depending on what processor you get, there is no option for an upgrade to dedicated graphics.  The standard storage is a 500GB hard drive that spins at 5400 RPM, there is no SSD upgrade option online but you could attempt to install an SSD yourself aftermarket.

The build quality if the Edge E430 is very good, but not as rugged as the flagship ThinkPad lineup.  It can still standup to the rigors of travel and stand the test of time, while the price tag is more budget oriented that does not equate to cheap feel and build quality.

Speaking of travel, the standard 6-cell battery provides an average of 5 hours and 30 minutes of battery life, that’s pretty good for a budget friendly 14-inch laptop.

The E430 has all the ports you’ll need as a small business user: VGA monitor out, HDMI, Ethernet port, microphone / speaker combo jack, 3 x USB 3.0 ports, 1 USB 2.0, and 4-in-1 card reader.  It doesn’t have the DisplayPort for video out which is supported by more monitors used in business settings.  There is an HDMI port in place of DisplayPort, since HDMI is used in connectivity with TVs this is more popular with consumers and small businesses.

The E430 starts at $494 on Lenovo.com at the time of this writing.

ThinkPad T430 and E430 Comparison

Tables are most helpful when it comes to making comparisons so here’s our comparison table of important features for the ThinkPad T430 Vs. E430:

ThinkPad T430ThinkPad Edge E430
Screen Size and Resolution14.1”, choice of 1366 x 768 or 1600 x 900 high resolution14.0”, 1366 x 768 resolution no upgrade option
Starting Price$685$494
Thickness / Thinness1.18 – 1.20” thick1.12 – 1.33” thick
Matte or Glossy ScreenMatte (Anti-Glare) onlyMatte (Anti-Glare) or Glossy option
GraphicsIntel HD 3000Intel HD 3000
Processor OptionsCore i3, i5, i7 (2nd and 3rd gen)Core i3, i5, i7 (2nd and 3rd gen)
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • VGA monitor out
  • Display Port
  • 4-in-1 media card reader
  • 34mm Express Card slot
  • Ethernet port (LAN)
  • microphone / speaker combo jack
  • 3 x USB 3.0 ports
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • VGA monitor out
  • HDMI
  • 4-in-1 media card reader
  • Ethernet port (LAN)
  • microphone / speaker combo jack
SSD Option ConfigurableYes, SSD Available onlineNo, SSD not Available online
Lid Color OptionsBlackBlack
Built-in Mobile BroadbandUpgrade AvailableNone Available
Built-in Web Cam720p web cam, dual mics720p web cam, dual mics
Slice Battery OptionExternal slice battery optionNone Available
Fingerprint Reader OptionYesYes
ThinkVantage Active Protection SystemYesYes
Spill Resistant KeyboardYesYes
mini-SATA SSD CapableYesYes
Docking Station PortYesNo
Removable Optical Bay DriveYesNo

The specs show the T430 and E430 to be very close with their feature offerings, but the one big disappointment with the ThinkPad E430 is that you don’t have the option of a higher resolution 1600 x 900 screen like you get with the T430.  The higher resolution HD+ screen can really be nice when you need to fit more text on a screen to prevent scrolling, especially if you’re a spreadsheet junky or editing similarly long documents.  That said, the screen quality of the T430 and E430 in terms of color saturation, viewing angles and contrast is not the greatest, the ThinkPad X230 offers a gorgeous IPS display that really puts the T430 to shame.  Check out our individual reviews of the T430 and E430 to see how the screens appear from various angles.

T430 keyboard
E430 keyboard

The T430 and E430 use the same chiclet style design keyboard appearance, that’s a new feature for the T-series but the Edge series has been using a chiclet keyboard design for a while now so nothing new there.  Both keyboards are spill resistant, which is great if you’re prone to spilling a little water or coffee now and again – you can’t dump gallons of water on them and still come away undamaged, but a small cup of water should just travel through the drain holes.  The feel of the keyboards is pretty much the same, and that means you get the best keyboard in the industry no matter which you choose.  ThinkPads are pretty much the gold standard for keyboards.  Worth noting is the fact the E430 has a larger clickpad style touchpad with no dedicated buttons while the T430 has a smaller touchpad with dedicated mouse buttons at the bottom.  Those that prefer touchpads and a larger size might therefore consider this a benefit of the E430.

The hinges on the T430 are made of metal and are much more sturdy feeling than what you get on the Edge E430.  In general, the T430 feels more sturdy as it has a thicker case and more metal used in the chassis along with a carbon fiber reinforced lid.  The extra metal actually makes the T430 slightly heavier than the E430.  The extra weight is worth the extra strength you get in my opinion.

The battery life with the 6-cell battery on the T430 is about the same as that on the E430 at around 5 – 6 hours depending on usage.  However, the ThinkPad T430 has more battery extension options such as a larger 9-cell battery or slice battery that attaches to the bottom of the laptop for all day battery life if you need it.

If the design of the ThinkPad lineup is too boring for your tastes, the Edge E430 might be different enough to make you reconsider.  It has a curved front edge design instead of the typical boxy design exemplified by the T430.  It also has a cool red blinking dot in the “i” of ThinkPad.  If you don’t like too much black, you can go with a red lid or aluminum black on the Edge E430 for an extra $25.

The ThinkPad T430 is more geared towards enterprise users and the built-in docking station support via the port on the bottom of the laptop is one such indicator of this.  The Edge E430 does not have a docking station port so you can’t use the port replicator other ThinkPads such as the X, T and W series can all share.

The one factor that’s of course the biggest deal to most buyers is the pricing difference between these two laptops.  The T430 starts at $685 with an Intel Core i3 2nd generation processor at the time of this writing while the Edge E430 starts at $494 with a 2nd generation Core i3 processor.  That’s almost a $200 difference and significant to many.  If you’re on a budget and need to buy ten of these for your staff it’s thousands in savings to go with the E430.  Do the benefits of the T430 we’ve discussed justify the extra cost?  Well, that’s really up to you to decide since needs and preferences vary by user.  If money is no object, I’d go with the T430.  If money is a concern (as it is for most) and you don’t need upgrades like a 1600 x 900 resolution screen, built-in mobile broadband or dedicated graphics offered by the T430 then the E430 should be considered as an alternative to the T430 that offers a nice compromise of price and features.


HP Releases ProBook 4545s for Budget Business Buyers

HP has just announced an update to its ProBook 4545s (along with the 4445s and 4446s) with a significant performance boost; however, the look and design still remains the same as last years model.

The new laptops are exclusively equipped with an all-new 2012 AMD A-Series accelerated processor along with AMD VISION Pro graphics so that it can handle any intensive work assignments that business users throw at it. AMD Enduro Technology (AKA AMD Dynamic Switchable Graphics) uses discrete graphics to create a superior, brilliant picture when plugged in, which is AMD’s response NVIDIA’s Optimus GPU switching technology. When plugged in, it allows the PC to switch to battery-saving mode automatically by powering down the discrete GPU. Also provided is the option of AMD Radeon Dual Graphics for high-end 3-D rendering processing performance.

HP ProBook 4545s

Outside of the internal specs, the ProBook 4545s uses a rugged design that includes an aluminum chassis and spill resistant keyboard.  The case has a DuraFinish that prevents smudging and wear resistance over time.  The design includes a brush metal finish, silver case on the lid and inside and black bezel around the screen.  You can get a standard 6-cell battery or larger 9-cell battery for longer life.  The screen resolution unfortunately tops out at 1366 x 768, quite low for a display of this size.

Here’s a quick rundown of the specs for the ProBook 4545s:

  • Processor: AMD Quad-Core A8-4500M APU with Radeon HD 7640G Graphics or AMD Dual-Core A6-4400M APU with Radeon HD 7520G Graphics (3.2/2.7 GHz, 1 MB L2 cache, 2 cores)
  • Dimensions: 14.76 x 10.09 x 1.4 in (37.5 x 25.6 x 3.5 cm)
  • Memory (Maximum):  8 GB 1333 MHz DDR3 SDRAM
  • Internal Drive: 320GB – 750GB (5400RPM or 7200RPM SATA II)
  • Optical drive: Blu-ray ROM DVD+/-RW SuperMulti DL; DVD+/-RW SuperMulti DL
  • Display: 15.6" diagonal LED-backlit HD anti-glare (1366 x 768)
  • Ports: 2 USB 3.0, 2 USB 2.0, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI

The new ProBook 4545s is available now via HP.com with a price starting at $499.99.


HP Pavilion SleekBook 15 and SleekBook 14 Announced

HP is adding to its Sleebook lineup with the Pavilion Sleekbook 14 and Sleekbook 15 to be released coinciding with the launch of Windows 8 on October 26th.  The Sleekbook 14 will use an AMD APU to power the processor and graphics while the larger sized Sleekbook 15 will use Intel based processors and the Intel HD 4000 graphics card.  Each version will be available in either a black or red color. 

HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15

The good news is that there will be dedicated Nvidia graphics available in the Pavilion 15 Sleekbook, meaning it will have some gaming performance potential.  To sweeten that further, HP is going to make a Full HD 1920 x 1080 screen available as an option.  It’s about time HP started offering higher end specs on some of their thin and light models instead of watering them down with only integrated graphics and low resolution screens!  The Sleekbook 15 will also have a built-in number pad and up to 1TB of storage.  There will be no SSD option, but you will be able to get a 32GB mini SSD to help with bootup and application opening times.  In terms of ports, you’ll get both USB 3.0 and USB 2.0, HDMI and an SD card slot.  There will be no VGA monitor out.  Pricing on the Pavilion Sleekbook 15 will start at $559.99 for the base model but prices will of course go higher as you choose higher end options such as Full HD and dedicated graphics.

HP Pavilion Sleekbook 14

As far as the Pavilion Sleekbook 14 goes, the price will start out at a lower $499.99 and the AMD Trinity lineup of APUs will be used as the brains.  The battery life is quoted as up to six hours and the weight should be just under 4lbs making for a portable laptop that can last when away from outlets.  You will be able to purchase both models either online or in retail stores in time for the holidays!


Sony VAIO T Ultrabook Review

After biding their time, Sony has finally released their version of an Ultrabook, the Sony Vaio T. While Sony is not new in the small laptop game (previously having released a VAIO Z, VAIO X, and VAIO P), the Vaio T is the first of its laptops to be marketed as an Ultrabook. While they may be a little late in the Ultrabook game, Sony took their time to develop and design the Vaio T around the latest Ivy Bridge processor family and their highly-regarded HD 4000 graphics. So how does Sony’s affordable Ultrabook stack up against the competition? Read on to find out.

Sony VAIO T Review

The Sony Vaio T under review comes with the following specs:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz, TurboBoost to 2.6GHz, 3MB cache)
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4000
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • Display: 13.3” 1366 x 768 resolution
  • OS: Windows 7 Professional
  • Storage: 500GB HDD + 32GB mSATA SSD cache drive
  • Battery: 4-cell 4050mAh
  • Wireless: Atheros AR9485WB-EG 802.11 b/g/n
  • Ports: Ethernet, HDMI, VGA,USB 3.0 (x1), USB 2.0 (x1), headphone jack, SHDC card reader
  • Dimensions: 12.72” x 8.9” x 0.71” (32.31 x 22.61 x 1.8 cm)
  • Weight: 3.4 lbs (1.54 kg)
  • Warranty: 1 year depot

Build and Design

A small, lightweight Ultrabook, the Sony Vaio T is barely noticeable in a messenger bag or backpack. The Vaio T shares a lot of the same design features as its more expensive brother, the Vaio Z; however, the T is aimed more at people who want premium styling without the major price hike that many premium designs command, nor have the need for a full-voltage processor (hence why the Vaio Z isn’t defined as an Ultrabook). Instead of carbon fiber, the T is composed mainly of aluminum and plastic trim, located along the back edge of the laptop as well as the center of the top edge. The top of the lid has a brushed metal styling with the Vaio logo emblazed in the center in a chrome-like finish similar to the back edge.

VAIO T lid

While there is no noticeable flex in the keyboard, it’s relatively easy to bend the display a few degrees in each direction with moderate force. It goes without saying that it’s bad practice to handle a notebook by the display, so it’s good practice to be careful not to apply excessive force on the display to prevent damage. Aside from the display, the rest of the notebook is rock solid. One interesting feature is that there are two prongs on the back edge of the laptop that prop up the laptop’s body at a slight angle when the display is opened. Whether or not it’s an advantage is up to the individual user; personally, I like having keyboards that are raised at an angle, but others may not like this feature.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Vaio T’s keyboard, like practically all Ultrabooks on the market, is a compromise on quality due to the small, thin package. However, the keyboard is sub-par even compared to other Ultrabooks such as the Lenovo IdeaPad U310. Key travel on the Vaio T is especially short, bottoming out as soon as you press down on a key. Any less key travel and it would feel like you’re just tapping your fingers on the palm rest. A saving grace for this keyboard is that it features a standard keyboard layout, and excludes odd button placement such as the U310’s special function keys being on the right edge of the keyboard. The Vaio’s only extra keys (Assist, Web, and Vaio) are out of reach enough not to be accidently pressed. Pressing Assist will launch Sony’s VAIO Care maintenance software. Clicking the Web key will launch the user’s default web browser. The Vaio key will launch a window, asking you if you want to launch either PlayMemories or Media Galley.


In contrast, the touchpad on the Vaio T is well designed and doesn’t feature any compromise. At four inches wide and about two and a quarter inches tall, the touchpad is fairly large. It has a similar texture to the aluminum palm rest, though the touchpad is recessed to allow the user to know when their finger is on either the palm rest or the touchpad. Clicking anywhere but the bottom-right on the touchpad produces a satisfying left-click (the whole thing is a giant button).

extra buttons and power button


At 1366 x 768, the amount of screen real estate is only average, but this is the norm for most small Ultrabooks out on the market these days (though some do come with 1600 x 900 displays). Just about everything about the TN panel used in the Sony Vaio T is average: color quality, black levels, viewing angles, etc. The display is pretty bright compared to the Lenovo IdeaPad U310, however. Overall, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about this display to report.

VAIO T ScreenVAIO T Screen back
VAIO T Screen forwardVAIO T Screen side


Sony’s Vaio T certainly has enough volume to satisfy an end user and perhaps a few friends when sharing a video, though the speakers on this laptop are noticeably tinny, especially when played at above 50%. If you took an iPod Touch’s internal speaker and manage to boost the volume up to typical laptop levels, you would have audio only slightly worse than this Ultrabook. A pair of quality headphones or earphones would be highly recommended.


As an Ultrabook, the number of ports on the system is somewhat limited, but this is to be expected in such a small package. Like nearly all Ultrabooks, the Sony Vaio T lacks an optical drive, though with the rise in cloud computing, flash storage, and media downloads directly to customers’ computers, this part of the system is becoming more and more irrelevant as time passes.

On the left, we only have the two USB ports and the cooling vent for the laptop internals.

VAIO T left side

On the right, we have the rest of the ports: a headphone jack, card reader, HDMI and VGA video out options, and Ethernet port. There’s a small orange light (between the headphone jack and card reader) that serves as an activity light for whatever card is stuck in the slot.


The front has three indicator lights for (from left to right) battery charging, HDD activity, and wireless indicator. Also on the front edge of this Vaio are the two speaker “grills” (really more like small slots).


Just like the front, the back of the Sony Vaio T is clean of any sort of ports, only containing the display hinges.


Heat and Noise

During normal operation, the Sony Vaio T is a silent machine. The user won’t hear the mechanical drive or the fan when just browsing the web or doing other low-intensive tasks. When typing on the keyboard, the individual keys make the same sort of noise as any other Ultrabook keyboard, though these keys are slightly louder than the keys on the Lenovo IdeaPad U310. However, when benchmarking, the fan becomes a miniature jet engine, making its presence known to anyone in a moderately-quite room (classroom, home, etc.). Even when not benchmarking, the fan will kick in during YouTube video playback, so bringing a Vaio T into a library might not be a good idea.   We took some video to demonstrate the kind of noise the fan generates when the system is stressed:

Sony VAIO T Fan Noise Test

One positive thing about the Vaio T is that it stays cool during use. When idle or under a light workload (typical of Ultrabook use), this Sony laptop stays cool at a system temperature of between 30 and 40 deg C. The only way to get the Ultrabook to heat up was during benchmarking, and the absolute highest temperature obtained was by running IntelBurn Test, which produced temperatures of 81 deg C. All measurements were taken at a room temperature of 68 deg F.


Like most notebooks, the Vaio T comes with pre-installed software from the factory that, for the most part, duplicates functionality with Windows-included software. Aside from the typical Microsoft Office 2010 Starter and anti-virus trial (Kaspersky Internet Security 2012, in this case), The Vaio T comes with a slew of VAIO-branded softeware. Most of this can be accessed by the VAIO Gate media dock located on the top edge of the display, which can be opened by clicking a rounded tab that hangs on the top-center of the display. Media Gate is a photo, video, and music organizer that combines the functions of Windows Media Gallery and Media Player, albeit in a nicer-looking package. VAIO Collaboration Apps are a family of applications that allow a user to control their other Sony products from the Vaio T, such as a PlayStation3, Bravia TV, Sony Blu-ray players, etc. PlayMemories Home is another Sony-produced software product that allows end users to organize photos, as well as edit them and burn media to a disc from within said program (though for the latter, an external DVD drive would be required as the Vaio T has no built-in optical drive). Music Unlimited is a link to Sony’s online music store, and VAIO Care is a maintenance program that centralizes system information, updates, install/uninstall, troubleshooting, and contact information (for Sony support).

Aside from Sony-made software, the Vaio T includes Skype, a link to eBay’s website, Intel’s AT service signup (a link to sign up for Intel’s anti-theft service), and ArcSoft WebCam Companion 4 (which allows an end user to capture video, edit it, and add objects to video such as masks, photo frames, etc.).

Battery Life

From full charge to Window’s 7% warning, the Sony Vaio T manages to run for a very respectable six hours and twenty-one minutes on the 4-cell battery while browsing the web and using Window’s “Balanced” performance plan. Performing typical daily tasks such as web browsing, document work, and the occasional YouTube video, nearly six and a half hours from the tiny 4-cell battery is pretty good.

VAIO T underside and battery

A handy feature that the Sony Vaio T has is that if the laptop’s battery is running low on power, the power button will flash on and off to visually warn the user about the battery. It certainly grabs the user’s attention in a way that the Windows task bar cannot.


In 3DMark Vantage, the Sony Vaio T scores a decent 2439 3DMarks, with a GPU score of 1984 and CPU score of 7855, which puts the i5-3317U on par with the full-voltage i3-2330M, more than powerful enough to suit the needs of typical Ultrabook uses.

3DMark Vantage – Measures 3D graphics performance, higher scores are better

Laptop3DMark Vantage
Sony VAIO T – Intel Core i5-3317U, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 32GB mSATA SSD, Intel HD40002,439 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – Intel Core i5-3427 2.3GHz, Intel HD 4000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD2,755
HP ENVY 4t-1000 – Intel Core i3-2367M 1.4GHz, 4GB RAM, 500GB 5400RPM HD, Intel HD 30001,320
Lenovo ThinkPad X230 – Intel Core i5-3320M 2.60GHz, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM HD3,165
Lenovo ThinkPad X220 – Intel Core i5-2410M 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM HD1,611
Dell XPS 15 (Intel Core i7-2670QM, Nvidia GT 525M 1GB RAM, 8GB RAM, 7200RPM HD)4,211
HP Envy 17-3000, Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD6,970
Dell XPS 17 (Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, Nvidia 550m, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM)4,747
HP Pavilion dv6t Select Edition – Intel Core i5-2410m, Intel HD 3000 Graphics, 6GB RAM1,845

Overall, Sony’s official Ultrabook scores an 8,014 in PCMark Vantage, comparable to other Ultrabooks with a similar hardware layout.

LaptopPCMark Vantage Score
Sony VAIO T – Intel Core i5-3317U, 4GB RAM, 500GB HDD + 32GB mSATA SSD, Intel HD40008,014 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon – Intel Core i5-3427 2.3GHz, Intel HD 4000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD11,696 PCMarks
Dell XPS 13 (Intel Core i5-2476M 1.60GHz, Intel HD 3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)9,826 PCMarks
HP Folio 13 (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60GHz, Intel HD3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD)9,026 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad U310 – Intel Core i5-3317U ULV 1.7GHz, 4GB RAM, Intel HD 4000, 540RPM HD6,433 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X230 – Intel Core  i5-3320M 2.60GHz, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM HD7,603 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X220 – Intel Core  i5-2410M 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM, 7200RPM HD5,764 PCMarks
SONY VAIO SA – Intel Core i5-2430M, AMD 6750M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD7,007 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM6,056 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 – Intel Core i3-2310m 2.1GHz, 2GB RAM3,204 PCMarks

Boot times for this laptop are above average thanks to the SSD Sony pairs with the regular notebook hard drive. Time to login is less than ten seconds, with overall boot time under half a minute, cutting typical mechanical hard drive boot times in half. Compared to an all-SSD notebook, the Sony Vaio T is not that far behind when starting from a cold boot. Also thanks to the SSD pairing, the Sony Vaio T resumes from sleep in one or two seconds.


In its own right, the Sony Vaio T is a decent laptop, with plenty of performance to offer and plenty of ports compared to other Ultrabooks. It’s also a stylish notebook, typical of Sony. However, the display is only average and the keyboard is uncomfortable to type on for extended periods of time. Not to mention the fan being a problem for watching YouTube videos or performing any other task beyond simple web browsing and document work. What Sony has going for the Vaio T, then, is the large trackpad and Sony’s Fresh Start option, which is a free configuration option to rid the laptop of bloatware straight from the factory.

However, the Sony Vaio T faces tough competition from other OEMs and even from Sony itself; the Sony Vaio S 13.3” is only a hair heavier (3.8 lbs) and offers a more powerful i5-3210M and while it doesn’t offer a hybrid SSD option, it does offer dedicated nVidia graphics. As for competition from other Ultrabooks, the Samsng Series 5 Ultrabook offers a brighter screen (300 cd/m) than the Vaio T, is just as lightweight, and even offers an extra USB port.

Just considering the Vaio T itself, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s an affordable Ultrabook that brings together form and function, with a brushed aluminum lid and all-aluminum construction, an i5 ULV, and hybrid SSD performance for just under $800. But when considering the entire affordable Ultrabook market, there’s nothing that makes the Sony Vaio T stand out. If Sony gave the Vaio T a few extra options, such as a 1600 x 900 13.3” display while keeping the price at around $800, then it would blow the competition out of the water at this price point. But as it stands, the Vaio T is not a clear winner, but also not a clear loser either.


  • Entry-level price
  • Affordable SSD-like performance
  • Low system temperatures
  • Standard layout keyboard
  • OEM Fresh Start option


  • Shallow keyboard
  • Tinny audio
  • Fan noise

Where to Buy

The VAIO T Ultrabook can be purchased direct from the Sony Store Online starting at $739.99

1 comment
« Previous PageNext Page »
Laptop Reviews

Laptop Reviews