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HP’s dorky ‘Star Wars’ laptop is impressive in its attention to detail

Depending on how you feel about Star Wars, either you’ve had enough of the gimmicky merchandising tie-ins, or you intend to buy all the things until the new movie comes out on December 18th. For our part, we don’t know whether to be amused or excited by this special edition Star Wars laptop from HP. On the one hand, a notebook covered in images of Stormtroopers and the X-wing Star Fighter Guidance System, with Aurebesh lettering replacing English, is even dorkier than your typical gaming rig (and that’s saying a lot). On the other, the Star Wars notebook is so committed in its dorkiness that it’s hard not to be impressed by HP and Disney’s attention to detail.Slideshow-324978

It all starts with the packaging. Even before you lay eyes on the laptop, you’ll be greeted by a large box covered in Darth Vader’s image, with a smaller box inside (also decorated with Darth) that houses all your cables and whatnot. Both boxes have a magnetic close, with the smaller of the two bearing the words “You don’t know the power of the dark side” underneath the flap. The notebook itself is protected by foam inserts shaped like an Imperial starfighter. If you’re into Star Wars (and of course you are), you won’t want to throw the packaging away.

As mentioned earlier, the 15-inch notebook is covered in images of Stormtroopers and the X-wing Star Fighter Guidance System, with a textured, distressed finish on the lid meant to make the system feel “battleworn” (HP’s words, not mine). Even the touchpad is decorated with the heads-up display from Luke Skywalker’s Death Star trench run. Then there’s that Aurebesh font, with the words “Galactic Empire” emblazoned across the hinge. This is also a good time to mention the matching accessories: a neoprene laptop sleeve and a wireless mouse. They don’t come in the box, but I have a feeling more than a few of you will choose to go whole hog.

It’s really the software, though, that made me realize how thorough HP and Disney-owned Lucasfilm were in designing this. Boot up the machine and you’ll see that even the standard Recycle Bin has been replaced with a Death Star icon. From there, you can replace typical system sounds (like inserting a USB drive) with various Star Wars beeps and boops (think: R2-D2 or the lightsaber sound). There’s even an Aurebesh system font. All that’s not counting all the content HP pre-loaded, including 1,100-plus images including themes, galleries, screensavers, wallpapers, behind-the-scenes photos, storyboards, movie posters, classic photos and set and costume designs. Additionally, HP pre-loaded a Marvel Star Wars comic, various movie trailers and excerpts from select e-books.


Maybe it’s that HP showed me the Star Wars laptop alongside its new gaming notebook, or maybe it was just the cheesy red keyboard backlighting, but I initially expected specs more in line with a gaming rig. It turns out, that while you can configure this with discrete graphics, it’s more or less a mainstream notebook with an extremely nerdy facade. It starts with a sixth-gen Core i5 processor, with Core i7 available as well. At the highest-end, you can get it with 12GB of RAM and a 2TB hard disk, not to mention that NVIDIA GeForce 940M GPU. The display can be upgraded to a Full HD touchscreen as well. So, while some of you will end up with a decently fast machine, others of you will probably be settling for integrated graphics, a middle-of-the-road CPU and a modest amount of memory.

Star Wars fans can pre-order the laptop tomorrow for $700 (with an expected shipping date of November 8th), while the sleeve and mouse will be available for $40 apiece.


HP’s updated Stream laptops offer better battery life for your buck


HP’s inexpensive Stream laptops weren’t perfect by any means, but with a starting price of $200, we were able to forgive a lot, including so-so displays, sluggish performance and sometimes-flaky touchpads. Today HP is refreshing both the Stream 11 and 13, and while neither seems to address the flaws we found in the original, they at least keep the same price, all while bringing longer battery life — and in the case of the smaller one, a lighter design. In particular, the 11.6-inch model now weighs 2.6 pounds, down from 2.74. The 13.3-inch version remains unchanged at 3.42 pounds, and there’s an optional touchscreen for the larger model as well. In both cases, you can expect better runtime: up to 10.5 hours on the 11 (up from 8:15) and 8.5 hours on the 13 (versus 7:45 on the last generation). That’s important, as the Stream line competes in part against Chromebooks, some of which have no problem reaching the 10-hour mark.Slideshow-324983

Otherwise, the upgraded Stream laptops are mostly the same, save for a new color palette (cobalt blue, bright purple and ash silver) and an updated Intel Celeron processor. Even then, we’re not expecting a significant performance leap here — these machines will always be serviceable for the basics, but not much more. As ever, too, the Stream laptops come with 32GB of built-in storage and 1TB of OneDrive space, free for one year (yet another reason HP’s Stream laptops welcome comparisons with Chromebooks). Like last time, you’ll also get a free one-year subscription to Office 365, along with 60 Skype minutes per month.

The upgraded Stream 11 and 13 ship October 18th at the same prices as before, with the 11 starting at $200 and the 13 at $230.Slideshow-326591


HP’s new PCs include an updated convertible, a thin-and-light and some all-one-ones

Of all the products HP is announcing this morning, its Surface Pro competitor is likely to get the most attention. That said, the company’s new line of PCs doesn’t end there. HP is making some minor tweaks to its premium Spectre x360 convertible, which we liked very much the first time around. For those with simpler tastes, the firm unveiled a new thin and light notebook that keeps its weight (and waistline) down by forgoing a touchscreen and sticking with a basic clamshell design. And, completing the gamut, HP also introduced some new all-in-one desktops.

Starting with that thin-and-light, the Envy 13 weighs in at 2.8 pounds and measures a slim 12.95mm (0.51 inch) thick, all while packing full-fledged sixth-gen Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 processors (none of this watered-down Core M business). It also promises up to 10 hours of battery life, which, if accurate, would be impressive for a laptop this thin. Additionally, the metal chassis has a rounded hinge that lifts the machine off the ground when the lid is open — a design touch that’s not just pretty, but should also help keep the bottom side cool. Other perks include Bang & Olufsen audio and a fingerprint reader that allows users to take advantage of Microsoft’s Windows Hello biometric login. That can’t be said of all new notebooks — heck, even HP has some new models that don’t make the cut for Hello. The main trade-off, as I mentioned, is that the screen is a non-touch panel — with a thick bezel to go with it. Expect the Envy 13 to ship on October 18th for $850 and up.Slideshow-324982

As for the x360, it looks the same as ever, with a 3.2-pound, CNC-machined aluminum body and a 360-degree hinge that allows the 13.3-inch touchscreen to fold back into tablet mode. Under the hood, however, HP has upgraded to sixth-gen Core processors. Thanks in part to those new CPUs, battery life is now rated between 13 and 15 hours, up from 12.5 in the original. Why the two-hour range, you ask? It seems HP padded its estimates to account for whether the system has an i5 or 7 processor, and either a Full HD or Quad HD display. In addition, the x360 is now available in a special Bang & Olufsen edition (pictured above), with an “Ash Silver” color that to my eyes looks like dark a metallic brown-gray with gold accents. The refreshed version starts at $900, the same price as before, though the Ash Silver version will start at $1,300 when it arrives on November 8th.Slideshow-324980

Finally, HP also trotted our three new desktops, including two plainer ones and one with a curved display. The curved model, aptly called the Envy Curved All-in-One, has a 34-inch, 3,440 x 1,440 panel with a 21:9 aspect ratio and a tilting hinge that allows the screen to dip 25 degrees. The screen is also Technicolor-certified, promising high color fidelity. Under the hood, it runs sixth-gen Core i5 or i7 processors with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM and an optional NVIDIA GTX 960A graphics card. Storage options include a 128GB solid-state drive, up to a 2TB HDD or a hybrid disk. For the money, it also has six Bang & Olufsen speakers and a RealSense camera setup that, like some of HP’s other PCs, allows the user to log in through Windows Hello — this time through facial recognition. It lands on November 8th starting at $1,800, making it far more expensive than the other two desktops HP announced.

Speaking of the sort, the new Envy all-in-one comes in 23.8- and 27-inch screen sizes, with a flat screen that can be configured with either Full HD or Quad HD resolution. Other than having a more traditional screen, the specs are somewhat similar to the curved model, in that you get a sixth-gen Core processor; up to 16GB of memory; your choice of an SSD, HDD or hybrid disk; a Technicolor-certified screen; and Bang & Olufsen audio, albeit with four speakers here instead of six. Look for them on November 1st, starting at $1,000 for the Envy 24 and $1,200 for the 27.


HP wants you to use its new 8-inch Windows tablet to get work done

The nice thing about 8-inch Windows tablets, aside from how portable they are, is that they’re often super inexpensive and come with Microsoft Office pre-installed. The challenge for big tech companies is getting consumers to actually want to use the desktop on such a tiny screen. HP is the latest to try its hand, with a new device called the Envy Note 8. As you’d expect of any tablet being billed as a productivity device, it comes with a keyboard — in this case, a Bluetooth accessory that allows you to view the tablet in landscape or portrait mode, and that has a slot in the back where you can stow the device when you’re not using it. This is a design we’ve seen before, but it’s the first time HP is attempting it. Also, for what it’s worth, HP will include a stylus in the box, which not all of its rivals bother to do.Slideshow-324985

While an 8-inch tablet might look a little silly paired with a much bigger keyboard, it’s necessary to ensure an acceptable typing experience; a keyboard flush with an 8-inch tablet would be even more cramped than a netbook. Indeed, the aluminum keyboard here is sturdy, and offers a good deal of travel, with the buttons measuring 1.5 millimeters deep. The touchpad is also more spacious than what you’d find on competing devices, including the Surface’s optional Type Cover. At the same time, the fact that there’s a stowaway slot in the back means you don’t have to pack a separate tablet and Bluetooth keyboard, which could quickly get annoying.

Even with a comfortable typing experience, though, it’s still your call if you want to run Office on an 8-inch display. As it happens, the quality here isn’t bad: 1,920 x 1,200 resolution (a high pixel count for a screen this size), with decent viewing angles to match. Processing power is also an issue. While the Intel Atom x5-Z8300 CPU inside is surely sufficient to handle the basics (email, web surfing, et cetera), we’ve found that even Intel’s Celeron processors can make for sluggish performance on Windows, so that doesn’t bode well for the even lower-end Atom. Somehow, despite that power-sipping chip, battery life is rated a little over six hours, which seems skimpy.


All told, then, while the keyboard and free Office install are nice to have, the Note 8 is still a tablet-first sort of device, which means you’d better be happy with the selection of touch-friendly apps in the Windows Store instead of expecting to rely just on desktop programs. The stylus here might help too. You could use it with common apps like OneNote, for instance, and HP also built in some radial shortcut menus for copying, pasting and accessing a couple apps, including HP’s own “Notes Hub” and “Instant Note.” In case you intend to use this small tablet as a camera, the specs here should make for some serviceable, if unremarkable, shots: a 2-megapixel webcam up front, paired with a 5MP autofocusing camera around back.

The Envy Note 8 ships November 8th, starting at $329 with the stylus included. You can also get it with the keyboard bundled for $429.Slideshow-326589


HP’s newest gaming notebook is for more casual users

After taking a long break from making gaming notebooks, HP finally got back in the saddle last year when it unveiled the Omen, a slim gaming laptop priced at $1,500. It generally earned respectable reviews on account of its stylish design and decent performance, but had lots of competition at that price, and its rivals often won when it came to sheer horsepower. To cover its bases, then, HP announced the Pavilion Gaming notebook, which starts at a more palatable $900 — and might have fewer competitors at that price.Slideshow-324979

Though the Pavilion looks the part of a gaming laptop with its backlit green keyboard, it’s heavier than the Omen, weighing in at 5.46 pounds, versus 4.68 for the more expensive model. As you’d expect, it runs Intel’s new sixth-generation Core processors, which is a good thing because the Omen was dinged in reviews for running older silicon than competing machines. Also, the 15.6-inch screen starts at mere HD (1,366 x 768) resolution, with Full HD offered as an upgrade option. (The Omen comes standard with 1080p.) As for graphics, the Pavilion uses an NVIDIA GTX 950M GPU — a step down from the 960M offered in the more expensive Omen. Storage options include up to a 2TB HDD, up to a 1TB hybrid drive or a combination 2TB hard disk and 128GB SSD.

Other specs include up to 16GB of RAM and battery life rated at a little over eight hours (that’s presumably with no gameplay going on). The Pavilion is also offered with an optional RealSense camera setup in lieu of a normal webcam, which would allow you to take advantage of Windows Hello. Rounding out the feature set, you’ve got dual Bang & Olufsen speakers, three USB ports (two of them 3.0), HDMI output and an Ethernet jack. The Pavilion arrives November 8th with a starting price $900. That puts it in the same class as machines like the Alienware 13, which costs around the same, but has a slightly better 960M GPU.Slideshow-326586


Apple and Google top Best Global Brands in 2015

samsung galaxy note 5 vs iphone 6 plus aa (7 of 13)

Interbrand has released its latest annual ranking of the world’s most valuable brands and for the third year running, Apple and Google have topped the list. The 2015 edition of the Best Global Brands reveals that technology brands show no sign of slowing down with six out of the top ten made up of technology companies.

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For the third year running, Apple has topped the list and Google has come second, with both companies leading the list for the third year in a row. Apple is valued at $170 billion while Google is valued at $120 billion and the consultancy derives its valuation from a company’s financials, ability to influence purchase decisions and the extend that it can support premium pricing (which explains why Apple has topped the list).

Microsoft and IBM swapped places, with the Redmond-based Windows-maker valued at $68 billion in fourth place. Korean giant Samsung stayed in seventh place with a valuation of $45 billion while Amazon (who is technically classified as a retailer), is up 29 percent to $38 billion in tenth place. Other brands in the top ten include Coca-Cola, General Electric and McDonald’s.

Elsewhere on the list outside the top 10:

  • Intel rank in 14th with a 4 percent increase to $35 billion
  • HP dropped 3 percent to $23 billion in 18th place
  • Social giant Facebook rose 54 percent to a valuation of $22 billion in 23rd place
  • Camera giant Canon dropped 4 percent to $11 billion in 40th place
  • Siemens ranked 53rd ($8.5 billion)
  • Sony dropped 5 percent to a valuation of $8 billion in 58th place
  • Panasonic rose 2 percent to $6.4 billion in 65th place
  • Huawei rose a whopping 15% percent to $5 billion in 88th place

This year’s edition also saw PayPal and Lenovo enter the list at 97th and 100th place with valuations of $4.25 billion and $4.11 billion but the list isn’t great for everyone; as might be expected, troubled Finnish company Nokia joined troubled gamer Nintendo in dropping out of the list.

What do you think of the companies on (and off) the list? Let us know your views in the comments below guys!


Hewlett Packard will cut another 30,000 jobs during split

Inside The HP Discover 2015 Conference

As it continues the process of splitting itself into two distinct companies, Hewlett-Packard has announced that it’ll fire between 25,000 and 30,000 more employees. That figure is believed to be on top of the 55,000 roles that were earmarked for the door when the plan was announced last October. If you’re not caught up on the news, here’s the tl:dr version: the ailing hardware maker is becoming two smaller firms in the hope that it can survive in a world that no longer loves the PC. Hewlett Packard Enterprise will produce software, services and servers for the business crowd, much like IBM, while HP will take over the personal computing and printer divisions.

The firm is bullish that it’s going to come out of this transformation all the better for it, with the company saying that HPE (as it’ll be known) will earn $50 billion in annual revenue. That may not be in line with the reality of the situation, however, since Reuters points out that its enterprise division saw an 11 percent drop in sales during the latest quarter. Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Anand Srinivasan piled on, telling Bloomberg that “the solution to revenue growth is not going to come from restructuring actions.” No-one should mention that to Meg Whitman, however, as the deal’s probably too far down the road for anyone to change it, now.

[Image Credit: Bloomberg via Getty]

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Reuters, Boomberg


Tags: Bloomberg, HewlettPackard, HP, IBM, MegWhitman


Which gaming laptops are worth buying?


For years, the wisdom has been that if you wanted a dedicated gaming machine, you bought a desktop. Gaming components were too unwieldy to fit in a notebook form factor, and if you tried to put together a machine with desktop-caliber components, it always ended up too big and heavy to be truly portable. However, recent gaming laptops have defied that history, packing lots of power into thinner and lighter chassis. They’re still not as slim as Ultrabooks, and meanwhile there’s still a gap in performance versus desktop machines. Even so, your days of lugging around a large desktop tower to LAN parties are over. We’ve taken a look at some of the more recent entries in the race to build a smaller gaming machine to find ones that can fit your needs — and budget. Slideshow-315071

Filed under:
Gaming, Laptops, ASUS, HP


Tags: Alienware, Alienware15, asus, EON-15X, G751, gaming, gaminglaptops, GS60, GS60Ghost, GS70, GS70Stealth, GT80, GT80Titan, hp, HPOmen, laptop, laptops, MSI, Omen, Origin, Razer, RazerBlade, RazerBlade2015, reviewroundup, ROGG751


The 17 best laptops you can buy today

Our last buyer’s guide update had a pretty solid list of laptops, so if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? We do have a couple of new additions to spice things up, however. We felt compelled to add the agile ASUS Chromebook Flip, which serves up a 360-degree rotatable touchscreen and killer battery life. For PC gaming, MSI’s power-packed GT80 Titan is definitely worth a look. It offers top-of-the-range graphics and processing options, along with a large display and full mechanical keyboard. There are plenty of great choices out there right now, so if you’re in the market for a laptop or thinking of an upgrade, it’s worth taking a spin through the gallery below. Feel free to swing by our complete buyer’s guide, too, for a rundown on some of the best gadgets across the board.


Filed under:
Laptops, Apple, Samsung, ASUS, Google, HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo


Tags: acer, apple, asus, buyers guide, buyersguide, dell, engadget buyers guide, engadgetbuyersguide, google, hp, lenovo, samsung


Which monitors are worth buying?

Which monitors are worth buying?

With all the work you do, the games you play and the videos you watch, you spend a lot of time staring at your monitor. So why not do your eyes a favor and make sure you get one that’s got exactly what you need, whether it’s precise colors, fast response time or just a pleasing design? We’ve delved into some of the better monitors currently on the market to let you know which ones give you the best view for the money.

Filed under: Displays, HD, LG, HP, Dell, Acer



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