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Fujitsu Lifebook U904 ultrabook hands-on review

17 Mar 2014

HANOVER: Fujitsu revealed its brand new 14in Lifebook U904 ultrabook at CeBIT this week, a business device that focuses on security and performance. As a top-end piece of hardware, the U904 is customisable in every area imaginable, and the device V3 tested was the pick of the bunch.

Design and build
At first sight, the U904 exudes quality, with its brushed metal outer coating feeling cool to touch and very sturdy. Fujitsu says the device weighs 1.39kg, although this will vary depending on the specification. Nonetheless, for a high-performance device, 1.39kg is more than acceptable for the business user on the move. The device is just 15.5mm thick, which Fujitsu claims makes it the thinnest business ultrabook on the market.

Fujitsu Lifebook U904 ultrabook front view

In terms of connectivity, the U904 has two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI connector, a single audio in/out jack, an SD card slot and a pull-out RJ-45 Ethernet port for when you want to hook up to wired internet instead of WiFi. A port replicator for docking stations is an optional extra, and can be found on the underside.

The U904's backlit keyboard is of the island or chiclet variety. As you would expect for a business-focused device, the keys have a good amount of travel and are fairly satisfying to use. The same goes for the touchpad, which does not feature physical buttons but instead requires the user to press down on the touchpad itself to perform a click.

Display
The Fujitsu Lifebook U904 has a screen resolution of 3200x1800, a frankly enormous number of pixels for a 14in screen. Everything we saw on the device looked incredibly crisp, with colour vibrancy also looking very good indeed. The screen comes in both touch and non-touch variants – we used the non-touchscreen, but would have welcomed a touchscreen too for the occasional prod. With that being said, we can imagine touching icons on a small screen with so many pixels would be quite a challenge.

It was difficult to tell how well the screen could stand up to bright lighting conditions, but Fujitsu advertises the screen as having an anti-glare coating.

Performance
There is plenty of choice when it comes to internal components for the Lifebook U904. The unit we used had Intel's top-end i7-4600U processor running at up to 3.1GHz. A pair of Intel i5 processors are also available. Both the i7 and the higher-spec i5 chip – the 4300U – feature Intel vPro technology, which secures the device at a hardware level, a big selling point for users working with sensitive data, and for IT managers who can monitor the laptop remotely using vPro.

Fujitsu Lifebook U904 ultrabook closed

Given our brief time with the device, we were unable to put it fully through its paces, but it is fair to say that we have high expectations for a device running Intel's top-end chipsets.

Because of its compact size, Fujitsu has not included a separate graphics card with the device, instead opting to use Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4400, which may limit the device's handling of more intensive multimedia such as video editing and games.

The device starts life with 2GB of RAM on board, which can be boosted to up to 10GB. Storage-wise, a host of options are available, with four solid-state drives and a traditional hard disk available. The solid-state drives (SSDs) range from 128GB to 512GB, while the spinning disk option weighs in at 500GB with an additional 16GB of SSD cache, offering a blend of capacity and performance.

Fujitsu Lifebook pull-out network port

We were also impressed to see that the device has room for optional 3G or 4G connectivity, which will be perfect for workers who often find themselves out in the field.

Battery life is estimated at a reasonable 10 hours, but we were unable to verify this figure.

Security
Fujitsu has paid a lot of attention to security, with the Lifebook U904 featuring a variety of optional extras intended to keep businesses' data secure.

While a traditional fingerprint scanner is available for this device, Fujitsu is keen to draw attention to its Palm Vein scanner technology, which scans the veins of a user's palm to verify their identity. The U904 is the first ultrabook to feature this technology, which is now thin enough to fit into smaller devices. Below you can see the sensor, which Fujitsu said it wants to make even smaller so eventually it could be used in phones and even everyday objects.

Fujitsu Palm Vein chip

Once you've been registered as a recognised user, you can use the Palm Vein sensor to log in. Administrators can also set up Palm Vein to authenticate other actions if needed, for example logging into a certain application. Users must place their hand a few inches above the sensor and follow the on-screen instructions, which will tell them to move their hand in a certain direction.

While Fujitsu claims Palm Vein scanners are 100 times more reliable than fingerprint scanners, the problem we can see with this technology is that it is still very slow. Even with a Fujitsu representative demonstrating the scanner, it took the device more than five seconds to recognise his hand and allow him to log in. While perhaps this is the price you pay for security, many users may be put off by its sluggishness.

Fujitsu Lifebook U904 Palm Vein

Other security options include Intel's vPro technology, as mentioned above, as well as Full Disk Encryption and a Trusted Platform Module to keep sensitive data extra safe.

Chances
The Lifebook U904 continues Fujitsu's theme of high-performance devices suitable for workers in fields that require both security and portability. While pricing for the device is yet to be announced and will vary depending on the options you choose, expect to be paying the better part of £1,400 for a device with all the trimmings.

As ever, this is a case of you get what you pay for, and if your business is looking to tick those performance and security boxes, the Lifebook U904 should certainly make your shortlist.

By V3's Michael Passingham

MWC: HP Pavilion x360 hands-on review

26 Feb 2014

BARCELONA: Since Microsoft released its latest touch-focused Windows 8 operating system, hardware manufacturers have been wrestling to find the best way to showcase its finer points and create a truly usable laptop-tablet hybrid.

Some firms, such as Asus, have tried to solve the problem by creating dockable keyboard attachments for Windows 8 tablets. Others such as Lenovo have been a little more creative, making IdeaPad Yoga devices with flexible hinges that let users turn the laptop into a tablet by rotating its keyboard round to go behind the screen.

HP has traditionally chosen the same route as Asus, creating standalone tablets that can be turned into laptop replacements with optional dock attachments. But all that changed at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2014, where the company chose to quite literally go back on itself and unveil its IdeaPad Yoga-like Pavilion x360 laptop.

Design and build
HP has worked hard to make sure the Pavilion x360 looks as eye catching as possible, releasing it in a variety of colours. The red version we saw looked particularly striking and set the Pavilion apart from HP's other more enterprise-focused hybrids.

The Pavilion x360 is fairly light by large tablet standards, weighing in at 1.4kg, and doesn't feel overly heavy. We also found the slightly rubbery plastic outer coating felt suitably robust and offered little to no flex with pressure.HP Pavilion x360 regular

The keyboard and trackpad also proved fairly pleasant to use and were suitably responsive to the touch.

Checking the Pavilion x360's sides and back we were also pleased to see that HP has equipped it with a healthy selection of connectivity options. The system features a SuperSpeed USB 3.0 port, two USB 2.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet and a headphone-out/mic-in combo jack.

It was only when we attempted to change the Pavilion x360 into a tablet that we noticed any issues. Attempting to rotate the keyboard to go behind the screen, the hinge was very stiff. It felt fairly delicate and on a few occasions we were concerned that we'd actually snap the hinge – though an HP spokesman told us this is because the model we looked at was pre-production and that this will be fixed on the final versions.

The Pavilion x360 was also slightly difficult to use, firstly, because by having the keyboard on its back, it's fairly hard to get a good grip on the Pavilion x360. Secondly, while it's reasonably light for a laptop, as a tablet, the machine is far too heavy to comfortably hold in one hand.

Display
The Pavilion x360 comes with a 11.6in HD LED-backlit, 1366x768 touchscreen, and seemed very responsive to gesture input. Our only regret in this regard is that the Pavilion x360 doesn't come with a digital stylus, which meant taht using it as a standalone tablet could at times be fiddly – especially if trying to use a desktop application.HP Pavilion x360 tablet

The display also offered reasonable picture quality. While nowhere near as good as the in-plane switching (IPS) displays seen in other tablets, the Pavilion's is reasonably good. Colours were suitably vibrant and text, while sometimes a little hazy, was always readable.

The only issue we noticed was that the Pavilion x360's screen was fairly prone to picking up stray light. When this happened the Pavilion x360 became all but unusable – though we were testing it in a very bright showroom.

Software
The Pavilion x360 comes with Microsoft Windows 8.1 pre-installed. There is no Windows 8.1 Professional option for businesses, meaning the device is more suited for BYOD than dedicated corporate use.

The use of Windows 8.1 is still reasonably good from a productivity perspective. The device comes with Microsoft's core Office and OneDrive document-editing and storage services. The use of Windows 8.1, as opposed to the less impressive Windows RT also means users can load and run legacy software on the Pavilion x360.

Performance
HP offers the Pavilion x360 with either an Intel Pentium N3520 2.17GHz processor or an Intel Pentium N2820 2.13GHz processor. The demo device we tested featured 8GB of RAM. All versions feature Intel HD graphics.

This means high-power tasks, such as digital painting, video editing and 3D modelling and gaming, will be beyond the Pavilion x360. Considering it is priced from £350, though, this is no surprise.HP Pavilion x360 side

Testing it for productivity tasks, such as web-browsing and document-editing, the Pavilion x360 purred along nicely and we didn't experience any performance issues during our hands on.

Storage and camera
The Pavilion x360 we tested had 500GB of built-in storage, but it also comes in 320GB and 750GB options. It also has an HP TrueVision HD Webcam with an integrated digital microphone for video-calling. Powering up Skype and making a video call to a smartphone, the camera was more than good enough for making video calls.

Battery
HP is remaining hazy as to how long the Pavilion's two-cell battery should last off one charge and a spokesman at the company's MWC stand declined to answer queries regarding battery life. We will test this properly in a full review.

Overall
While the HP Pavilion x360 doesn't feel terribly original, looking a little too much like a Lenovo Yoga for our liking, our initial impressions are fairly positive. While it is heavy as a tablet, the Pavilion x360 did feel like a reasonable netbook replacement.

But its ability to deliver will largely be determined by key details that HP is remaining quiet about, such as battery life.

The HP Pavilion x360 is due for release in Europe in March, with prices starting at £350. Check back with V3 then for a full review.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

Fujitsu Celsius H730 laptop hands-on review

05 Feb 2014

Data security has been a growing concern for numerous businesses, with intellectual property theft or loss having the potential to cripple even the healthiest of firms. This is because, not only do lost or hacked computers put the company at a competitive disadvantage, thanks to new legislation regarding the powers of the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), they can also land them with a hefty fine.

Fujitsu has looked to monopolise on businesses' security and data security concerns, marketing its brand new Celsius H730 with Palm Vein Security Reader as the ideal machine for any company working with sensitive customer data or valuable intellectual property.

Design and build
Visually the Celsius H730 is unashamedly business focused and is clearly designed to be a workstation, rather than a laptop. The pre-production unit we had a chance to test measured in at a hefty 380x257x35.5mm and weighed 2.9kg, so you wouldn't want to lug it around for an entire day.Fujitsu Celsius H730 three quarter

Making up for this, Fujitsu has taken advantage of the added real estate and loaded the Celsius H730 with a variety of graphics and component options. Unlike many other workstations that use Intel integrated graphics, Fujitsu has loaded the Celsius H730 with Nvidia Quadro professional graphics, offering K510M, K1100M and K2100M options.

Fujitsu has also equipped the Celsius H730 with a host of port and connectivity features, including an old school optical disc drive. Backing this up the Celsius H730 features four USB 3.0, two display and single VGA, DVI, Ethernet, audio in and out, and Kensington lock ports.

As an added bonus, the Celsius H730's rear battery is removable, meaning users on the move can pack a spare battery when they plan to be away from a power supply for a while.

Opening up the Celsius H730, we also got a chance to check out its full-sized keyboard and trackpad. Featuring a full-sized number pad, we found, while it wasn't backlit, the Celsius H730's keyboard was pleasant to type on. This was as much due to the reactive, snappy feel of the keys as it was the keyboard's large size.

We were also impressed with the build quality of the Celsius H730. While the Celsius H730 does have plastic parts, the workstation feels very robustly built and left us reasonably assured it could survive the odd accidental bump or scrape.

Display
The Celsius H730 comes loaded with a 15.6in LED backlit 1920x1080 display. Despite coming with a Windows 8 licence, the Celsius H730 doesn't feature a touch option. While this may be a bit of an issue for some early Windows 8 adopters, considering the number of businesses snubbing the latest version of Microsoft's operating system the absence is forgivable.Fujitsu Celsius H730 closed

In terms of display quality, we found the Celsius H730 performed reasonably well. In our bright office we found it, in general, boasted decent colour balance and brightness levels. The only slight issue we noticed was that it could at times become difficult to use when hit with direct sunlight.

Performance
The demo unit we tested boasted a cutting-edge Intel Haswell i7 Core processor, though it is also available in an i5 option. The Celsius H730 also comes with a variety of memory options ranging from a basic 4GB of RAM up to 32GB.

This, combined with its Nvidia graphics, means the Celsius H730 should be capable of dealing with even the most demanding of tasks and will be ideal for industries with high-performance needs, such as the financial or engineering sectors.

We didn't get a chance to test quite how powerful the Celsius H730 is or benchmark it during our hands on, but we will do this in our full review.

Software
Fujitsu offers the Celsius H730 in Windows 7 and Windows 8 options. The demo unit we tried ran using Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit. The Fujitsu spokesman on hand told us the majority of the units are set up to run Windows 7 as most critical independent software vendor (ISV) applications from companies such as Adobe and Oracle are yet to be optimised for Windows 8. He added that each Celsius H730 will come with a licence key for the newer Windows version, ensuring that they can be upgraded at the customer's convenience.

Security
The Celsius H730's enterprise appeal is compounded by its advanced security features. The Fujitsu Celsius H730 is the first ever laptop to come with the option to add an integrated Palm Vein Security Reader and Workplace Protect software.Fujitsu Celsius H730 PalmSecure scanner

The technology is similar to the Touch ID fingerprint scanner seen on Apple's iPhone 5S and uses biometric data to authenticate the identity of its user. Specifically the Palm Vein Security Reader scans the blood vessels in the user's hand to confirm their identity before unlocking. Unlike the iPhone Touch ID scanner, the Palm Vein sensor doesn't require the user to touch the device, but to hover their hand over the sensor, which is located at the bottom-right of its keyboard.

Fujitsu claims the scanner is the most reliable and secure way to lock any laptop. A spokesman told us the scanner has a 0.00008 percent false positive rate. By comparison he said fingerprint scanners have a less impressive 0.001 percent false positive rate.

We were impressed by how well the scanner worked. We set up the Palm Vein Security Reader using the Workplace Protect application, which simply required us to let the sensor scan our hand three times. Once done, the scanner proved capable of accurately and reliably authenticating our identity and generally took around four seconds to scan our hand and unlock.

As an added perk, the Celsius H730's Palm Vein Security Reader can register several users' identities and lock them to different accounts stored on the machine, so it can be used on shared devices with multiple users.Fujitsu Celsius H730 ports

The scanner is backed up by a number of other robust security features, including Intel vPro. Intel vPro is designed to secure the device against attacks such as rootkits, viruses and malware at a hardware level. As an added bonus, vPro also lets IT managers remotely monitor and interact with machines at a hardware level, making it quicker and easier for them to spot and mitigate any attacks on the machine.

Chances
The Celsius H730 is available from Fujitsu on a channel sales model with prices starting at £1,182. The Palm Vein Security Reader version is due for release sometime in March, and will add an extra £75 to the workstation's up-front cost.

Having tested the Celsius H730, we're fairly impressed. It comes loaded with a host of security features and hardware pre-installed, and includes the option for an integrated PalmSecure scanner, so the Celsius H730 is one of the safest choices for any business dealing with sensitive data or valuable intellectual property.

Add to this its powerful Haswell processor and dedicated Nvidia graphics card options and we can see the Fujitsu Celsius H730 with the Palm Vein Security Reader being a big hit in industries such as banking and engineering.

Check back with V3 later for a full review of the Fujitsu Celsius H730 workstation.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

CES: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch hands-on review

07 Jan 2014

LAS VEGAS: Lenovo released the original ThinkPad X1 Carbon in 2012 and it was one of a select few unashamedly business-focused ultrabooks.

But despite being lightweight and ultra powerful, the first X1 Carbon's enterprise appeal was hampered by a few issues, chief of which were its lack of Ethernet port and slightly poor non-removable battery. Two years on Lenovo has attempted to address these flaws by releasing a brand new, Intel Haswell-powered version of the X1 Carbon.

Design and build
At first glance the 2014 X1 Carbon looks all but identical to its 2013 predecessor, featuring the same sleek black carbon fibre chassis. It's only when you get closer to the device that you realise it's slightly smaller than the 2013 X1 Carbon, measuring in at 331x226x18.5mm. By comparison the 2013 model was 331x226x21mm.Lenovo X1 Carbon 2014

The 2014 X1 Carbon also features a slightly more impressive array of ports, with two USB 3.0 as well as a single full-size HDMI; OneLink Docking; mDP; and Native Ethernet inputs. Opening up the X1 we also noticed the newly added Adaptive Keyboard.

The Adaptive Keyboard is a capacitive strip that lies on the top of the X1 Carbon's keyboard dock. It is designed to provide users with a choice of touch shortcut keys that dynamically update depending on which application is open.

The feature was fairly useful and responsive. While playing a video file on the X1 Carbon the bar offered basic stop, start, fast forward and rewind keys, but switched to offer home, forward back and refresh keys when we opened Internet Explorer.

Display
The 2014 X1 Carbon is available in touch and non-touch screen options. The demo unit we tried boasted a 14in, 10-point multitouch, 2560x1440 in-plane switching (IPS) display.

As well as being nicely responsive to the touch, the X1's screen was also fairly pleasant to look at. Using the X1 Carbon in the brightly lit showroom floor the ultrabook's display proved suitably bright and remained legible even when hit with stray light. We were also impressed with its viewing angles, with text remaining crisp and legible even when viewing the Carbon's screen from the side.

Colours were also suitably vibrant and, while not as crisp as the Retina displays seen on Apple MacBooks, the Carbon's screen was far better than those seen on most competing Windows 8 ultrabooks.

Operating system
The X1 Carbon comes with Windows 8.1 Pro preinstalled, so the Carbon is running the latest version of Windows. While some businesses are choosing to sit on the fence with Windows 8, upgrading their systems to the more familiar desktop-focused Windows 7, we're big fans of the latest version of Microsoft's operating system (OS).Lenovo X1 Carbon side

As well as featuring full legacy software support, Microsoft has also fixed a number of minor tweaks in Windows 8.1, reinstating a Start button on the Desktop menu's user interface and improving its search capability to let users search the internet as well local menus using the built-in Search setting.

Processor
Our demo unit ran using a fourth-generation Intel Core i7 Haswell processor and boasted 8GB RAM. The combination meant that for pure productivity purposes the X1 Carbon was more than powerful enough, and it opened web pages and applications seamlessly.

Sadly we didn't get a chance to properly benchmark or see how the X1 Carbon dealt with more demanding tasks such as 3D gaming or design during our hands-on. But considering its integrated Intel HD graphics we're guessing it will struggle to play most current PC games – meaning its bring your own device appeal could be limited for some users.

As a final enterprise perk, the X1 Carbon also features Intel vPro technology. VPro is a custom technology from Intel designed to protect devices from cyber attacks at a hardware level. Considering the growing number of criminals looking to target corporations, its inclusion is seriously worthwhile.

Battery and storage
Past its performance-boosting powers, the real benefit of Intel's new Haswell chip architecture is its ability to boost ultrabooks' battery lives. Intel claims that thanks to its more energy-efficient design, Haswell chips are able to offer third-generation Core processor-level performance, coupled with Atom-length battery lives. For this reason it's unsurprising that Lenovo lists the X1 Carbon as being able to last for nine hours of regular use off one charge.

Lenovo X1 Carbon closed

We didn't get a chance to battery burn the X1 Carbon to check this, but considering the fact that the X1 Carbon's battery is non-removable it will be a serious pain for business users on the move if it doesn't live up to Lenovo's claims. Storage-wise Lenovo has stocked the X1 Carbon with a generous 512GB of internal space, which should prove more than enough for most regular users.

Chances
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is confirmed to arrive later in January, priced from $1,299. While we're disappointed at the lack of a removable battery, our opening impressions of the 2014 X1 Carbon are positive. Featuring a powerful and efficient Haswell processor, vPro technology and the latest version of Windows, the X1 Carbon could be one of the most enterprise-friendly laptops available in 2014.

Check back with V3 later this month for a full review of the 2014 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

 

HP EliteBook Folio 1040 G1 hands-on review

11 Dec 2013

BARCELONA: HP unveiled a series of new devices on Tuesday at its annual Discover conference and the most notable of these new units was the EliteBook Folio 1040 G1.

It was unveiled on stage by senior vice president of HP Business Personal Systems, Enrique Lores, who touted its military-grade build quality to withstand dust, extreme temperatures and drops, at which point he let it fall from his hand to the floor with a resounding clang. It seemed to be ok.

Enterprise buyers were also targeted with the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner and a smart card reader for extra security, and a docking connector to link to printers and other peripherals.

The firm also touted several other aspects of the device that have been upgraded from its earlier EliteBook Folio 9470M, saying it is lighter, thinner and faster thanks to the inclusion of Intel's Haswell processor. It will ship with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1.

We went to see the laptop in the giant Discover hall and had a quick play around on the new device and, as HP claimed, it certainly is a swish looking unit with rounded edges, a grey metallic design and an overall feel of quality that is not too dissimilar to a MacBook.

HP Elitebook Folio 1040 G1 side on view

One other notable feature of the new device that HP touted is the use of a new type of control pad called ForcePad (pictured below). Rather than the traditional style control pads on a laptop that require two fingers to select and drag items, this can be done with one as it recognises different pressure sensitivities.

HP Elitebook Folio 1040 G1 front view of ForcePad

It also has the ability to recognise five-touch inputs so touch-style controls such as pinch-to-zoom can be used on applications or web services that support this functionality. This would be useful if you choose to have Windows 7 shipped with the unit.

However, those wanting a touchscreen can get a Windows 8.1 model, which will now support touch, a major let down of the older model. However, the unit we saw was running Windows 7, so we didn't get a chance to test out the new touchscreen mode.

Another improvement is in size and weight, with the device weighing 1.49kg, down from 1.63kg, and the thickness is down from 18.9mm to 15.9mm on the previous model. We certainly found the device light and comfortable to hold, and it could easily slip into a shoulder bag or suitcase without adding much weight.

HP Elitebook Folio 1040 G1 side view keyboard

Overall, after a quick first glance and play, the EliteBook Folio 1040 seems a nice device with a focus on enterprises users that should appeal to many firms and staffers buying their own laptops. The option of Windows 7 or 8.1 means both tastes are catered for and the ForcePad shows that HP is trying to innovate on the otherwise fairly standard laptop model.

The HP EliteBook Folio 1040 will be available in the UK from the middle of December with a starting price of £1,380. Check back on V3 in the future for our full review of the device.

Google HP Chromebook 11 hands-on review

09 Oct 2013

Google's been enjoying a boom in Android sales for the last year or so, at least in smartphones. However, this success hasn't been replicated so far with Google's other mobile platform, the Chrome OS aimed at low-end laptop-style devices.

Google HP Chromebook 11 three quarter view

For this reason, Google seems to be stepping up its strategy of working with key hardware partners, resulting in devices like the newly unveiled HP-built Chromebook 11.

Design and build
HP and Google have both made a big deal about the Chromebook 11's build quality - one Google spokesman went so far as to describe the device as the "Wolverine of Chromebooks". On paper there's certainly a lot of merit to these claims, with the system boasting a metallic reinforced magnesium frame despite its low weight of 1.04kg.

Google claims the 297x192x17.6mm reinforced chassis is capable of taking more than the average wear and tear and should be able to survive the odd accidental bump or drop hassle free. While we didn't get a chance to actually drop test the Chromebook 11 during our hands-on, we were very impressed how robust the device felt.

Despite the slightly cheap feeling shiny plastic finish, the chassis has little give to it and feels much better built than any laptop we've experienced in the same £229 price-bracket.

During our hands-on we were also impressed how comfortable the keyboard was to type on. While, like any laptop in the same 11in size bracket, the keyboard did feel slightly squashed, the keys were suitable snappy and responsive and the Chromebook's slightly rounded frame made it comfortable to type on.

Google HP Chromebook 11 keyboard

In terms of ports, the Chromebook 11 is sparsely equipped, featuring just two USB 2.0 ports and a SlimPort video output, which uses a microUSB style connector.

Display
The Chromebook 11 comes with an 11.6in in-plane switching (IPS) display boasting a 300-nit brightness and 176-degree viewing angle. Using the Chromebook 11 in regular office lighting conditions we were fairly impressed with this screen. While far from the crispest we've ever used, the display was bright and colours looked rich and vibrant.

It also proved to have fairly decent viewing angles, with the display remaining legible even when viewing at an awkward angle. However, usersmay struggle to read itin in more adverse lighting conditions, like direct sunlight out of doors.

Software and performance
The Chromebook 11 comes with the latest version of Google's Chrome OS preinstalled. Whether this is a positive or negative is largely determined by which desktop and mobile ecosystem you're already accustomed to.

For those familiar with it, Chrome OS has a lot of benefits. Being largely cloud based, Chrome OS offers decent performance even on modest hardware. It does this by offloading a lot of the heavy lifting, traditionally tasked to the device's processor, into the cloud. This lets it do things like instant start and run demanding game applications traditionally beyond its Exynos 5250 processor and 2GB of RAM.

The OS  also features built-in multiple security layers designed to ward off malware. This, combined with its low market share which makes it an unpopular target with cyber criminals, means the Chromebook 11 is on a paper a very secure choice for businesses.

Chrome OS also makes setting up the device a doddle for people with a Google account, as it can transfer and setting up all their apps, shortcuts, calendar and email services with one simple login. Even better, the latest version of Chrome OS goes beyond the traditional set of online-only services, featuring support for a number of applications that can run offline, including Google Docs and Gmail.

Google HP Chromebook 11 straight-on

However, to those more accustomed to Apple or Microsoft platforms, the OS can seem fairly constricting. Considering how embedded most businesses are in the Windows or Mac ecosystems and services, this could be a massive sticking point for many buyers.

Storage and battery
Storage-wise the Chromebook 11 comes with a modest 16GB of solid state storage built in, which cannot be upgraded. Luckily, for those with an active internet connection Google's bundled the Chromebook 11 with 100GB of Drive cloud storage free for the first two years after purchase.

The Chromebook 11 is quoted as capable of six hours active use off one charge. We didn't get a chance to test the projected life during our hands on but will be sure to test it properly come our full review.

One plus point we did notice is that the Chromebook 11 charges using a generic microUSB cable, not a bespoke input. While this sounds small it does make the Chromebook 11 far more travel friendly, removing the need for you to pack an extra charger when away on a business trip.

Chances
Our initial impressions of the HP Chromebook 11 are positive. The Chromebook 11 appears to be a robustly built, yet lightweight and travel friendly netbook replacement.

Our only real concerns regard the nature of Chrome OS itself. Despite having a significantly better offline app offering than previous Chromebooks, a lack of inbuilt storage could still prove a problem for those regularly out of range of a network connection and the central focus on Google products and services will remain an issue for businesses already invested in alternative ecosystems.

The Chromebook is available in the US now and is confirmed to launch on Amazon, Google Play, HP Shopping, Currys and PC World on 21 October. Check back with V3 later for a full review of the Google Chromebook 11.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

Fujitsu’s Lifebook E-Line laptops hands-on review

12 Aug 2013

Fujtitsu E Line laptops

While consumers may be turning to tablets, corporate buyers still have a requirement for Windows laptops, according to Fujitsu, which has just begun shipping a new family of laptops designed for the enterprise market.

The Lifebook E-Line comprises three models offering a range of screen sizes: 15.6in, 14in and 13.3in, all based on the same motherboard and firmware. This commonality is designed to make it easier for IT departments, as the E-Line all use the same operating system images and accept the same peripherals.

One of the most interesting peripherals is the Fujitsu Bay Projector. As its name suggests, this is a projector which is designed to slot into the modular bay on any of the E-Line laptops, making it an all-in-one solution for delivering presentations.

Fujitsu Bay Projector

The Bay Projector is thus the same size and shape as a slot-in optical drive or second battery module, which are also available for the E-Line models, and adds about 150g to the weight of the system, making it much more convenient to carry around than a separate projector.

It fits flush inside the laptop case until needed, but at the flick of a lever, the business end of the projector slides out of the modular bay ready for use. This exposes a small panel of control buttons, while a hinged portion of the projector allows the user to adjust the position of the image up or down.

Fujitsu laptop with optional projector

The £280+VAT Bay Projector uses LEDs for its light source, so it is never going to compete against professional projector models designed for conference rooms, but in the brief demo we saw, it seemed more than good enough for presenting PowerPoint slides or video to a handful of viewers.

Fujitsu laptop operating projector

In terms of specs, the projector has a brightness of just 40 lumens, and can display an image up to 30in in size at a distance of two metres. It is also restricted to a resolution of 800x480 pixels.

Meanwhile, the Lifebook E-Line laptops offer a choice of 2.7GHz Core i5-3340M or 3GHz Core i7-3540M processors with Intel vPro for the corporate buyers, with up to 16GB memory and storage options up to a 500GB hard drive or 512GB SSD.

Because the laptops share a common motherboard, they all have the same I/O capabilities, including three USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, VGA and DisplayPort, plus an SD Card memory slot. Fujitsu's notion of using a common motherboard and firmware is that customers can equip a range of workers with whichever model best suits their role, while having the support and maintenance advantages you would gain from deploying a single model across the board.

While WiFi is standard as you would expect, mobile broadband is optional on all the models, with either 3G or 4G modules available.

Fujitsu Lifebook E753

The Lifebook E753 with its 15.6in display (above) is intended as a desktop replacement for office workers, and sports a numeric keypad alongside its standard Qwerty block. This can be configured with a choice of displays, offering 1920x1080 or 1366x768 resolutions.

Fujitsu Lifebook E743

The Lifebook E743 (above) has a 14in display, supporting a resolution of 1600x900 pixels, plus a typical weight of 1.7kg, which is common to all three models.

Fujitsu Lifebook E733

The smallest model, the Lifebook E733, has a 13.3in screen with a resolution of 1366x768 and is best suited for the most mobile workers, such as travelling sales "road warriors".

All three laptops can use a common desktop dock, which also cuts down on the number of items IT departments need to keep in stock, and helps with hot desking as a user with any of the Lifebooks can just drop it into a dock on any desk.

Fujtitsu E-Line laptop dock

The dock provides the usual array of connection options, sporting four USB 3.0 ports which enables a keyboard, mouse and more to be connected, plus an Ethernet LAN port, eSata connector, two DisplayPort, one DVI and one VGA port for connecting external displays.

Because the Lifebook E-Line laptops share much of their hardware, pricing is dependant on options selected, with the base price starting at £860+VAT and ranging up to £1,294+VAT.

Samsung Ativ Q vs Microsoft Surface Pro spec by spec

24 Jun 2013

For the last few years Korean tech giant Samsung has universally been acknowledged as top dog in the Android ecosystem. Sales of the firm's popular Galaxy smartphones and tablets constantly dominate the charts and to date it's the only firm to ever come close to matching the record breaking sales of Apple's competing iPad and iPhone devices.

However, sales of its Ativ PCs have been less impressive, with competitors like Lenovo controlling a significantly larger chunk of the PC market. Clearly unhappy with the situation, Samsung's unveiled its new Ativ Q hybrid laptop-come-tablet hoping to leverage its Android superiority to steal a bigger stake of the general PC market.Samsung Ativ Q

However with interest in Windows 8 still negligible it's unclear whether the dual-booting Android and Windows powered Q will be seen as an actual perk. This is especially true considering the recent arrival of Microsoft's homemade, super-powerful Surface Pro.

Measurements and weight
Samsung Ativ Q: 327x218x13.9mm, 1.29kg
Microsoft Surface Pro: 275x173x13mm, 907g

When it comes to size and weight neither the Q or the Pro are lightweight, with both weighing close to twice as much as less powerful Atom-based Windows 8 tablets. However of the two the Q is the heavier, with its physically attached slide-out keyboard making it close to 300g heavier than the Pro - even when the Microsoft machine is connected to its lighter detachable keyboard.

However, as noted in our hands-on review, the Q's increased weight does translate to pretty solid build quality and we found it was far more comfortable to type on than the Pro.

Display
Samsung Ativ Q: 13.3in qHD+ 3200x1800, 275ppi
Microsoft Surface Pro: 10.6in touchscreen, 1920x1080, 208ppi

Samsung's made a big deal about the Q's screen claiming it is the brightest and clearest ever seen on any Windows 8 tablet. On paper there's plenty of evidence to support Samsung's claims, with the Q's larger 13.3in display boasting a 275ppi that puts the Pro's, still reasonable, 10.6in, 208ppi unit to shame.

Processor
Samsung Ativ Q: Intel Core i5 Haswell
Microsoft Surface Pro: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5

When it was first released in the US the Pro was a powerhouse device running off a top-end Intel Core i5 chip. However, having taken its sweet time to finally arrive in the UK, its powerhouse status has waned with Intel unveiling its latest Haswell line of processors just before the Pro launched. This means that the Ativ Q could well be a nippier device than the Pro.Right side view of the Microsoft Surface Pro on a desk

Battery
Samsung Ativ Q: Up to nine hours quoted
Microsoft Surface Pro: 5.5 hours in V3 tests

Another added boon to Intel's Haswell line of chips is that they're far more power-efficient than their predecessors. This is a good thing as older Core i5-powered Windows 8 tablets, like the Surface Pro, suffered from battery life issues, generally petering out at around the five and a half hour mark. This is why Samsung has listed the Q as having an impressive nine hour life - here's hoping the claim proves true.

Software
Samsung Ativ Q: Windows 8, Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Microsoft Surface Pro: Windows 8 Pro

The Ativ Q is one of a select number of devices that comes with both Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows operating systems pre-installed. The device is able to dual-boot, running both OSs at the same time and can even share data between the two, thanks to some nifty software touches by Samsung. The Pro by comparison runs on the more premium Windows 8 Pro version of Microsoft's OS. It's unclear yet whether the Ativ Q will be able to upgrade to the professional version of Windows 8.

Storage
Samsung Ativ Q: 128GB
Microsoft Surface Pro: 64GB or 128GB

Storage-wise, both are available in 128GB options, though you can also pick up a 64GB Surface Pro if you want to save some cash. How much of a value proposition it will be remains unknown as Samsung is yet to reveal the Q's price. To get an equivalent 128GB Surface Pro with a keyboard costs from £899, while the 64GB model can be purchased for £819.

Overall:
Raced head-to-head, on paper the Samsung Ativ Q does outpace the Pro, which thanks to a series of delays getting to the UK is fast becoming a previous generation device. Chief sins are its non-Haswell Intel processor and slightly lower ppi display. Still, given we don't know the Ativ Q's price at the moment, the upgraded tech could well come at a premium cost.

Check back with V3 soon for a full review of the Samsung Ativ Q, and read our full Surface Pro review here.

By V3's Alastair Stevenson

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