The Notebook that Doubles as a Tablet

HP Envy X2What’s better, a tablet, or a notebook? The answer to that question often is based upon what tasks you need to preform. Typically, a notebook is better if you want to type a blog or write a paper. A tablet, with it’s touch screen, is better if you want to play certain games.

What if you want to do some work but also want to play some games? What if you are traveling and can carry a laptop or a tablet, (but don’t want to juggle both)? You are going to have to make a decision between them.

Or, you could bring the HP ENVY x2 with you. Hewlett-Packard has created a handy device that can function as both a laptop and a tablet. It’s twice the fun! Use it as a laptop, or slide the tablet off of it and take just that part with you. The price starts at $849.99.

Here’s a quick look at the specs:

* 1.80 GHz Dual Core Intel Atom Processor Z27g0
* Windows 8 Operating system
* The tablet is 8.12” in height and 11.93” in width.
* The closed notebook is 0.66 – 0.76” in depth.
* The entire device weighs 3.11 lbs
* 11.6” HD Diagonal BrightView LED-backlit IPS Display
* Up to 64 GB storage
* Beats Audio with Dual Speakers
* Front-facing HP TrueVision webcam with integrated digital microphone.
* 8.0 MP rear-facing camera
* Intel Graphics Accelerator
* Starts at 2 GB RAM
* Bluetooth
* Ports: HDMI, Audio/Microphone, and two that are USB 2.0
* Full size keyboard
* Trackpad
* HP Touch Display
* 19 hours of battery life
* Separate battery in each device

Image by Hewlett-Packard

THD N2-A Laptop Runs Android ICS, Priced at $149

The term “Smartbook” has been kicking around the tech industry for some time now, but has never really taken a hold.  That probably won’t change, but one company, THD, is taking another crack at it.  Sure, it’s not likely to catch on, but it won’t be because they haven’t put together a beautiful peice of hardware.

Unveiled at the recent Computex show, the THD N2-A looks a lot like a MacBook Air, but it runs android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.  As for hardware specs, the 13 inch screen has a 1366×768 resolution, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, a full keyboard, a trackpad, and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi.  Unfortunately this isn’t a Google certified Android device, which means it lacks features like Gmail, Google Play Store, and Maps.

The notebook will retail for a very competitive $149, but at the moment is only available to retailers, so if you can’t wait then you will need to pony up about $74,000 for a lot of 500 devices.

Android Book

Sticker Munch Make Logos Fun at The Gadget Show

Geek booksNovelty sticker company Sticker Munch launched at last week’s The Gadget Show Live and I was able to grab an interview with MD and founder, Sufian Hassan. Sticker Munch offer a range of novelty stickers that put the fun back into technology by incorporating the logo as part of the design or by trading on the geekiness of it all.

The stickers themselves are high quality vinyl decals and can be stuck to almost anything, from laptops to books, skateboards to vehicles. Some of the decals will be for particular models or devices, e.g. iPad, especially when the logo is integral to the design, but others can be stuck anywhere!

Prices range from an astonishingly low 50p up to £10.

 

Buffalo AirStation N450 USB Adapter

The Buffalo AirStation N450 USB adapter (aka WLI-UC-G450) is a 2.4 GHz 11n wireless adapter capable of a theoretical 450 Mb/s using a 3×3 antenna array. Sweet.

Buffalo N450 USB adaptor

If you are used to small wireless adaptors and tiny memory sticks, then the N450 will be a bit of surprise. It’s a pretty chunky number at a little under 9.5 cm long, including the USB jack. The otherwise plain, but shiny, exterior has a single blue LED to advertise activity.

Buffalo N450 USB Adapter

Setting up the N450 was a doddle. Insert CD, follow the prompts, reboot, insert N450, job done. On my laptop, the adaptor appeared as Wireless Network Connection 2. In order to use the N450, I found that it was necessary to disable the internal wireless card otherwise it seemed to take priority over the N450. (On my laptop there’s a switch for that, otherwise right-click on the icon and choose Disable.)

Network Adapters

Initially, the laptop couldn’t see my 11n wireless network, but it could see a different 11g network. I’d had this problem before so I knew what was up. The 11n network uses channel 13 as the frequencies there are clear from interference in my neighbourhood, whereas I have the 11g network down on channel 1. Unfortunately, some Wi-fi devices only recognise channels 1-11 as these are the channels allowed in the US, and it appears that the N450 is one of them.

Once I’d pushed my 11n network down into channel 11, everything went swimmingly. Regrettably I wasn’t able to test out the full 450 Mb/s connection as my access point only supported 300 Mb/s, but it was pretty quick regardless. Even then you never get the full 300 Mb/s but I regularly saw data transfer figures around 80 Mb/s, which I think is about right. Your mileage may vary, of course, and you’d probably get over 100 Mb/s data transfers connecting at 450 Mb/s.

The high data transfer rates will make the N450 of interest to those wanting to stream HD movies over a LAN to a laptop for viewing, but the adaptor needs to be paired with a suitably fast router or access point to get the maximum speed.

Available on-line for around £30. Thanks to Buffalo for the loan of the adaptor.

GreenSmart Eco-Friendly Gadget Gear

GreenSmart Laptop SleeveA good bag can make travelling a pleasure and it’s important to choose the right bag for your needs. It’s even better if its a “green” bag. Andy and Courtney interview Tom Larsen from GreenSmart on their range of eco-friendy travel bags and gadget gear.

GreenSmart’s unique selling point is not just that the bags are good-looking and functional, it’s that the bags themselves are made from recycled materials, hence both the “green” and “smart”.

On show are laptop and tablet sleeves in a neoprene-like material made from recycled plastic bottles. There’s also a backpack made completely from recycled materials.

To reduce packaging waste, GreenSmart designs the retail display of the product as part of the bag itself. For example, a carry handle is used to hang the bag from the display rail while it’s on show in-store.

GreenSmart bags are on sale on-line and in select retail locations.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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AViiQ For Gadgets On The Go

AViiQ is a product innovation company that specializes is in cool travel gadgets. Andy and Courtney see the latest toys with Alan Yeung of AViiQ.

First on show is a portable laptop stand that unfolds from a flat strip that’s about 13″ long, 2.75″ wide and only 0.25″ thick. Made from a material called Hylite, it’s a composite of aluminum and polypropylene weighing just 5.5 oz. Prices start at $59.99.

Next up is the Portable Charging Station, a folio USB charging kit that comes with an AC adapter that powers a four port charging hub. Not only does it reduce the number of power adapters needed but by keeping all the cables together, it reduces the chance that one will be left behind. Available for $79.99.

For smartphone and iPod / iPhone syncing, a AViiQ offers short stiff connectors rather than twisty cables, with a USB connector at one end and Apple / mini-USB / micro-USB at the other. The interconnects also have a pen clip so that they don’t always fall to the bottom of the laptop bag. $12.99 and $34.99.

Finally, folding travel plugs and power adapters make traveling easy, with both a folding US-UK plug and an expanding power strip that offers surge protection and USB power. Both $34.99.

Great gadgets for the frequently traveler.

Interview by Andy McCaskey and Courtney Wallin of SDR News and RV News Net.

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j5 create’s Wormhole Station

j5create logoj5 create‘s background in USB display adaptors means they know a thing or two about using both hardware and software to create unique solutions. j5 Create’s Wormhole cable is one such solution as it joins two computers into one…and they don’t even have to be running the same OS. Fred shows Jeffrey and Steve some of the benefits of this innovative technology, which won a CES Innovation Honoree award.

At its most basic the Wormhole switch is simply a USB 2 cable that connects between two computers, but clever software allows the computers to work together, with one keyboard and mouse being shared between the two. The OS of the two devices doesn’t have to be the same and an Android tablet being controlled by a Windows PC is perfectly possible. Files can be seamlessly transferred between the two machines as well. Pretty smart.

Moving on to a second product, j5 create has a very desirable line of small docking stations for laptops that are little more than foot-long shiny tubes with a plethora of ports. Branded “ultrastations” and connecting via USB 3, these take full advantage of the faster data rate to provide a myriad of connections, including HDMI, through a single USB 3 cable. Nice.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of The Geekazine Podcast and Steve Lee of Netcast Studio.

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Samsung Series 9 Notebooks

If you are in the market for a new notebook computer then you may want to check out the latest offerings from Samsung with their Series 9 version, which was announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas just recently.  Samsung calls it the world’s thinnest laptop, which is saying something given the MacBook Air and all of the new UltraBooks that were unveiled at CES.

The new Samsung Series 9 will come in both 13 inch and 15 inch versions.  The new laptops are extremely thin and light and sport all-aluminum bodies.  In addition, the Series 9 has a back-lit keyboard, a 128 GB or 256 GB SSD, an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, and a high-resolution 1600 x 900 screen.  The Samsung Series 9 notebooks should be available sometime this spring for an as-yet-undisclosed price.  You can get a look at the 15″ version in the video posted below.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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The HP Envy 14 Spectre

HP logoLast week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas computer maker HP unveiled the Envy 14 Spectre, a new 14 inch laptop with some fairly impressive specs behind it.  It comes with either a Core i5 or Core i7 processor, an option for a 128 GB or 256 GB SSD, 4 or 8 GB of DDR3 RAM, Mini DisplayPort, HD webcam, Gorilla Glass inside and out, and USB 3.0.  Users also get a choice of Windows 7 Home Premium, Ultimate or Professional, but you will have to go with the 64-bit version, as this new notebook doesn’t come in a 32-bit version.  HP claims a nine hour battery life, but perhaps the nicest touch is the keyboard, which has individual LED’s behind each key to make them easily visible in low, or even no, light conditions.

Although I haven’t seen the HP Envy 14 Spectre referred to as an “Ultrabook” that’s the first word that comes to mind when I see it.  The sleek, thin design and the lack of an optical drive all point to that category, which was the hot meme at CES 2012.  There is more to this notebook than just the specs I listed above, but you will need to watch the video below to get all of the details.  The Envy 14 Spectre will start at an MSRP of $1399.  You can also visit HP for more info.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast Network.

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Belly-Bean Functional Workplace @ CES 2012

Belly Bean One of the biggest problem with laptops is that they get too hot to use on a lap. Many answers to this problem aren’t very stylish and look rather dorky. Belly Bean is a stylish solution for this problem. It looks like a cross between a skate board and a surf board. Belly Bean is made of hard-rock maple and on the back is EVA (Ethylene vinyl acetate) foam, which prevents heat transfer. EVA foam is also used in diving and dry suits.

Belly Bean is a functional workspace large enough for a 17 inch laptop with room left over. It is $49.00 and is available through the Belly Bean Web site. So now you can look great and be cool while you continue to work with a lap top on your lap.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central

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