Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

Anything interest you from CES 2013 this week?

Anything interest you from CES 2013 this week?

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imageI browsed the articles and stories throughout the week, but I was pretty surprised at the stuff that didn’t interest me. I guess I expected more laptop news but there just wasn’t much on that front.  My biggest surprise was the new Ultrabook™ specifications for Intel Haswell based ultrabooks.  Apparently they now require a touch screen.  I’m not sure how I feel about that yet.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see how the requirement impacts screen quality. 

Like last year, Samsung decided to make some interesting product announcements.  They of course rolled out some fascinating HDTV’s, but once again they announced some new laptop designs.  Here’s the new Samsung Series 7 Ultra.

The screen on this model is a 1920x1080 resolution screen and apparently they will have touch and non touch models.  The touch model is listed as 1.65kg which puts it at 3.6 pounds. The Series 7 Ultra is over a pound heavier than my Series 9. 

See the rest of the specs at http://samsung2013ces.com/ces-photos/series-7-ultra-unveiled/. Looks like a hot new seller for Samsung.

Then there’s the refreshed Samsung Series 7 Chronos.  This 15.6” bad boy is packed with technology. The new Chronos is sporting a 1920x1080 resolution touch screen, higher end graphics card, up to 16GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD if desired. 

In order to accommodate all of the tech, the Chronos is slightly thicker and weighs in at 2.35kg or 5.1 pounds.  That seems to be pushing the “ultrabook” envelope if you ask me, but I haven’t read the details in Intel’s logo program.

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As you can see in the picture above, the Samsung Series 7 Chronos is similar to the Ultra in appearance. I have a feeling this machine is going to be popular with the folks looking for a machine with more muscle.  I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the options and prices are.  It shouldn’t be too long.  It appears Samsung is trying to get their new machine in the channel in the first half of 2013.

There was also a mention in the Samsung press conference about the Series 9 machines.  The executive on stage said the Series 9 would also be getting the 1080p screens.  That got my attention.

Anyone else see something noteworthy in the announcements from this week?

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  • The Lenovo Helix really did it for me. I'd been pretty set on a Surface Pro until this week, but the Helix fixes my two biggest complaints about that - the lack of inbuilt WWAN connectivity and the acceptable-but-not-amazing battery life. As soon as Lenovo starts taking orders, they'll have mine!

  • I need to see the Helix before I buy.

  • Me too, I'd like to keep the screen high quality and non-touch... Maybe, just maybe, I would entertain the idea of having a second lower quality touch screen with a virtual keyboard and trackpad?!

  • More people are paying more attention to screen quality.  You can probably thank the slate/tablet market for that.  You really do need a high quality IPS screen on those devices because they are held in many different positions.

    Notebook computers haven't received the same attention but thankfully there are exceptions in history, and on the current market.  I own a classic ThinkPad with a 15" 1600x1200 Flexview IPS screen. It is fantastic.

    The 13.3" Samsung Series 9 I am typing this on is a PLS screen and also fantastic.

    My family has a few Apple products with Retina screens so I am familiar with them as well.

    If Lenovo had delivered the X1 Carbon with an IPS screen to die for, I would own one.  But they didn't.

    Now that Samsung has announced the 1080p screens are coming for the Series 9, I plan to buy one and upgrade the RAM and mSATA drive.  Looking forward to a super slim and light 15" machine.  The 13.3" has been great, but I would like a larger screen.

  • It's funny, I've been itching for a new laptop for a couple of months now, but wanted to wait until after CES to see if there's anything that jumps out at me.  You picked the only two devices from the entire show that really did anything for me (at least based on specs alone).  At this point I'm not sure which I would rather have without getting a little hands on time.  Super "sexy thin" versus "not too thick but way powerful". Decisions, decisions.

    The other one that half piqued my interested was the touch screen version of the Asus UX51VZ(UX500?), but I expect that to be fairly pricey.

    The only other machine that even comes close today is the MacBook Pro Retina (15"), but the Windows support under BootCamp isn't that great and there's no touch screen (which I think I want, still haven't tried Win8 with touch yet).  That, and I'd expect the Samsungs mentioned to be around $1000 less expensive too.

  • @OtherKevin,

    You have expensive tastes like I do. I am a bit of a collector so it gets rather expensive.  

    The ASUS Zenbook Prime U500VZ is spec'd very similar to the Retina MacBook Pro. See zenbook.asus.com/zenbook. I don't think the ASUS will be cheap. Those bells and whistles will come at a cost.

    The Retina Mac is very expensive, but most quad core 15" machines are. Look at what the competition charges for equivalent tech on their models.  The gap isn't as wide as most people think.

    It will be interesting to see what Samsung prices the high end Samsung Series 7 Chronos H at fully loaded.

  • @keith:

    Yes, I have caviar tastes, but a Doritos budget.  Or at least one that has me looking for value.  I'd hope that at least one of the Samsungs comes in around $1500-$1600.  I think that would be a huge seller at that price point.  The current Series 7 Chronos ranges from $1000-$1300 (not sure why there's such a large range), so figuring on an upgraded display, touch screen, and GPU $1500-$1600 doesn't seem unreasonable.

    The non-touch UX51VZ that's available now starts around $1900.  I'd expect the touch version to only be marginally more expensive.  It won't be that far off, spec-wise, from an MBPR.  But as I understand it it has the advantage of being at least moderately end-user serviceable (for a techie like me, anyway).  To be honest, if they had a UX51VZ with a mechanical or hybrid drive for $1600 I would have already bought it.  SSD prices are dropping pretty quickly, so I'd rather swap in a drive that I get on sale than pay either Apple's or Asus' markup for having an SSD installed at the factory.

    I'm also still on the fence about whether this heavily MS-centric IT professional wants to put up with all of the ribbing from his friends and family.  :-)

    I still think that there's a weird hole in the laptop marketplace.  The $1000-$1300 range in pretty full of interesting models, but then once you go beyond that there's not much else until you hit almost $2000.  At least nothing particularly interesting.

  • The biggest issue I see with the 15" Retina MacBook Pro is a slight performance hit when running OS X at the highest scaled resolution. You feel it mostly in applications you need to scroll in. Painting that screen with all those pixels takes some horsepower.

    Don't even think about bootcamp right now.  Apple has not released a bootcamp version for the rMBP which seems a bit late (and odd) at this point.

    Windows 7 and Windows 8 run very nicely in VMWare Fusion 5.x. I have not tried Parallels or Oracle VirtualBox on the latest Macs. If you are going to buy a Mac, plan on buying Fusion.  The upside is that OS X will still handle power management and thermals nicely.  The downside is that you are running in a VM but you can hardly tell full screen.

    The Windows PCs on the market running Windows 7 or Windows 8 are simply faster. My Samsung Series 9 NP900X3D-A02US is very efficient and runs Windows 8 excellent. It runs Windows 8 better that the Retina Mac runs OS X in my opinion. It also runs Windows 8 better than Windows 7.

    I would continue saving your pennies and wait for the new machines to arrive this quarter. If nothing floats your boat, then the Haswell based machine will likely be out late Q2 or early Q3.

    And cut down on the Doritos. :-)