The volcanic styling will appeal to fans of bombastic shooting games, but may attract funny looks on the train. That bulge means it'll be difficult to find a smart case or neoprene sleeve to slide it into for some gaming on the go. That's probably not much of an issue though, as this thing really isn't designed for portability -- much better to leave it chained to your desk than risk a hernia.If you do decide to hunker down on the bus and frag some 'n00bs', know this: the battery is terrible. We ran our battery benchmark test and it only managed to last 25 minutes before giving up the ghost, which is one of the worst battery performances we've ever seen from a laptop.It is a very brutal test, however, so you can expect a better time with cautious usage. Even under perfect conditions Toshiba reckons it will give a maximum of 2 hours 30 minutes -- and bear in mind that 'maximum' involves the computer doing very little.
When it's safely plugged into the mains, the X770 is certainly an imposing beast. It's coated in plastic that's been given a rough, lined texture. A dark, steel-grey colour dominates most of the machine, but the back end blends into a shiny red colour, giving the laptop the appearance of a slab of steel that's been partially heated to red-hot temperatures.Whether you like that sort of look or not is a matter of taste -- it's the kind of style that would make any teenage shooter fan dribble with excitement.The plastic feels thick and didn't give much in the way of flex, but we worry it's rather brittle -- we certainly wouldn't want to drop it as we don't think it could take it, which is worth bearing in mind considering its not inconsiderate weight means it's practically begging to be dropped.Under the lid is more of that dark grey plastic trying its best to look macho and menacing. The keyboard uses square, black isolated keys that are well spaced and are just firm enough to not feel flimsy and plasticky. The whole keyboard is backlit with a deep red glow that looks like a furnace is burning inside, although sadly the light doesn't illuminate the characters through each key for easier night-time typing so it's mostly there for dramatic effect.
The trackpad is fairly large and has a rough texture to it that makes sliding your finger over it particularly easy. It's responsive too, and supports multi-touch gestures for two finger scrolling and pinch to zoom. The buttons beneath it are particularly big and are very easy to press -- handy if you're doing some furious clicking around web pages. You'll still want to stick in a USB mouse if you're booting up games.Above the keyboard are two angry-looking grilles, behind which lie two speakers provided by audio specialists Harman/Kardon. They pump out a decent racket by laptop speaker standards, with a punchy bass and clear highs, but if you want a really immersive gaming or movie experience, you're going to need to hook up a proper set of speakers or get yourself some awesome headphones to hear those head-shots in beautiful, brain-rending definition.Harman/Kardon provides the speaker tech, elevating the X770's sound above the tinny norm thanks to this subwoofer. Around the sides of the X770 you'll find a VGA out port, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, one USB 3.0 port (only one? That's a bit stingy, Toshiba), three USB 2.0 ports, an SD card reader and headphone out/mic in jacks. You also get a Blu-ray drive to enjoy your favourite flicks in glorious high definition.
If the idea of watching films in only two boring dimensions makes you sick to the point of needing medical assistance, we have great news for you -- the X770 uses Nvidia 3D vision to bring out that mystical third dimension for your films.Unlike the Toshiba Qosmio F750, which allows you to watch 3D content with your eyes free of an ugly tangle of plastic, the X770 will force you to don a pair of daft 3D glasses.If you're the sort of super-busy business person who wants a slim laptop with absolutely no style or flare, the Acer TravelMate 8481T may be for you.It packs an Intel Core i5 processor and 3GB of RAM into a sturdy, metal-shelled body. We're not keen on the way the battery pokes out, but many of you will appreciate the typing comfort offered by the tilted angle.When it's just sat on your desk, the 8481T seems to have its little heart set on taking the prize as the most boring looking laptop currently on sale. The lid is simply a piece of plain matte black that goes to show just how dull a laptop can be made. Bravo, Acer, we don't think we've yawned that hard at a laptop before.This model is designed for the business chap though, so it's understandable that it hasn't been slathered in bright colours or pretty patterns. Still, a bit of style wouldn't be too frowned upon in the boardroom would it?
The shell is made from a magnesium-aluminium alloy that feels like it could withstand a few bumps and knocks. Slightly annoyingly, the lid is extremely thin and can be easily bent, which we weren't too keen on. It's not a major issue though as laptops generally don't receive damage when sat open on desks -- it's much more likely that they'll receive the heavy blows while in transit.Thankfully then, when it's closed up it feels a lot more secure. The metal shell acts rather like a frightened armadillo, balling itself up to protect its fragile interior. It didn't offer much in the way of flex so we're pretty confident it could take the sort of punishment it would likely get on an average business trip -- including being used as a coffee-table in meeting room B.At 22mm thick, the 8481T is particularly slim for a business-orientated laptop so it will be slightly easier to carry around than some of the chunky beasts out there. Sadly, the battery sticks out at the back an extra 20mm, meaning that the thickness is not uniform all the way along.
Without that battery, the 8481T is very slim. It does give it a nice angle for typing on, though. In some ways that's quite annoying as the lump stops you from sliding it into a slim sleeve, as well as making it look as though it has a terrible hump. However, when your laptop is on your desk, the hump tilts the machine towards you which provides a very comfortable typing experience when you're sat working for hours on end.You could also potentially hold onto the battery and use it as a handle, but we wouldn't really want to trust the plastic clips keeping it in place for too long. The keyboard uses isolated keys, but they are the type that float above the keyboard base, rather then poking through it, as you'd find on laptops such as Acer's own Aspire Timeline X. We're much less keen on this 'floaty' type as it makes the keys feel very rattly and fragile. Worse still, there's a massive gap beneath each key which is just begging to be filled by cake crumbs, fluff and any other detritus that happens to be in the local vicinity.The keyboard's base also doesn't fill us with confidence due to the fairly large amount of flex it offers while you're typing -- it's somewhat disconcerting when you press down on one key and see all the surrounding keys flex inwards. You'd certainly want to avoid smashing your fists down on it in rage if you just missed those quarterly projections.
As the keys 'float' above the surface, it's sometimes quite difficult to differentiate between each key when typing at speed, which may result in a few errors until you get used to it. Thanks to the battery bump, the keyboard angle makes typing much more comfortable when you're sat upright at your desk.The keyboard takes up most of the width of the machine, so you're getting a full-sized keyboard rather than a cramped thing designed for people with needles for fingers. There's no separate numeric keypad though so if you plan on inputting a load of figures into spreadsheets then you may want to get an external keypad. And a coffee.The trackpad is large and responsive, supporting multi-touch gestures for two-finger scrolling and pinch to zoom. The buttons are wide and very easy to press, which makes web browsing that bit smoother.
The trackpad is large and responsive. There's a fingerprint reader too, which will please your IT department. There's also a fingerprint reader sat in between the buttons which will cause no end of delight for your IT department who'll no doubt be very keen on beefing up your security and passwords with your fingers.The landscape of budget laptops often looks like a police lineup of suspects: a muddy confusion of similar-looking faces and bodies. For $600 you can buy a lot of computer lately, though you're not likely to get something that's particularly sexy.The $629 Gateway NV55S05u is one of more than a dozen 15-inch Gateway NV laptops with a galaxy of different processors. In the case of our 15.6-incher, an AMD A8-3500M APU is inside. AMD's A8 processor is part of a new line of AMD Fusion processors with graphics and CPU on one chip (called an APU). The A8-3500 in this Gateway is a quad-core CPU paired with AMD 6620G graphics, which gives a better-than-Intel integrated-graphics experience playing mainstream 3D games. As for the CPU power, it's comparable to an Intel Core i3, but slightly less fast.
A 640GB hard drive and 6GB of RAM are more than you're likely to get elsewhere for the same price, but otherwise this $629 laptop is the picture of decently made mediocrity. Get it if you're desperate for an all-around laptop with some better-than-average graphics at the lowest price possible. Just be aware that even at its reasonable price, there are other options out there.The three-year-old company says its Sonata batteries are able to recharge to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes, versus two hours to get to a 90 percent charge in conventional notebook batteries. And Boston-Power's batteries can be recharged 1,000 times before their performance starts to wane, versus 150 times in today's laptops, according to founder and CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud. Typically, the amount of computing time that a laptop battery supplies goes down after hundreds of charges. I caught up with Lampe-Onnerud on Tuesday at the Fourth Conference on Clean Energy in Boston. Ironically, we bumped into each other at a water cooler where I was doing what so many laptop toters are stuck doing: plugging into a free outlet because my battery was dying.
Lampe-Onnerud says the arrival of Sonata batteries will mean a completely different user experience, allowing people to go all day without having to carry cords and search out public power outlets.Hewlett-Packard last year said it has tested Boston-Power's batteries.Without mentioning HP by name, Lampe-Onnerud said Boston-Power expects to announce its first customer soon. A company representative on Wednesday said Sonata-powered laptops will be available early next year. Lampe-Onnerud added that the company is working with smaller laptop providers as well.Boston-Power, which has raised $70 million, has a technology road map to improve further on performance. In its labs, it has batteries able to recharge 1,400 times. Next year, it intends to release a portable power source for recharging consumer electronics, either through a USB connection or a small solar panel, Lampe-Onnerud said.In two years, it expects to have a product for plug-in electric cars, she added. "The specifications for laptops and electric cars are remarkably close," she said.The company has done a number of things to improve lithium ion battery performance and safety, according to Lampe-Onnerud. The company has also redesigned the battery pack to have fewer cells and has made a number of manufacturing improvements, she explained.