Sony VAIO TZ Ultraportable Review

Design & Features

Sony's newest ultra portable laptop is as light as air. With its amazingly thin and light design, the TZ laptop is definitely for the mobile user. It has a stylish design, from the green power button to the carbon fiber casing. On paper and in pictures, there's nothing not to like about the TZ from top to bottom!

The design of the TZ is truly breath taking. The TZ is incredibly light and thin with a weight around 2.65 lbs (when equipped with SSD) and a thickness of less than 2 inches.

The left side houses the power port, ventilation exhaust, 2 USB ports, while the other side sports the monitor output, DVD drive and power button. The signature left side charge, right side enable remains on the TZ.

Our review model had a carbon fiber casing that makes the TZ look like a piece of modern art.

To accentuate the design even further, the keyboard bezel has a glossy, piano finish. Unlike most laptop keyboards, however, the TZ has raised keys.

Furthermore, the keys are spaced out, which surprisingly doesn't hinder typing. Unfortunately since the keys are so small, it can be difficult to type; especially for people with big hands.

The main design concern I had when using the TZ was the noise. The laptop had a constant hum that was apparent when in a quiet room. The hard drive wouldn't make any noise given it is an SSD, but it might have been due to a constantly running fan since the laptop never got hot at all.

It also comes with a DVDRW drive and 2.0 mega pixel MotionEye camera integrated into the LCD screen. While not quite as stripped as the MacBook Air, the TZ doesn't overwhelm with connectivity. You've got VGA output, 2 USB, LAN, dial-up, Firewire, and SD/Memorystick slot as well as audio and mic jacks.

While the laptop itself is a little over 1" thin, the screen itself is nearly paper-thin. The display maxes out at 1366x768 and thanks in part to the XBRITE technology the colors are bright and vivid. We were overall very pleased with the screen, but it remains to be seen how durable something that thin could possibly be.

The Sony TZ won’t break any performance records, but with a lower clocked Ultra Low Voltage processor this is to be expected. Regardless, performance should be more than sufficient for the standard day to day usage. On the bright side, this sleek ultraportable does have excellent battery life.

On a full charge, under normal usage, the battery lasted around 8 hours! It even lasted watching a whole movie on DVD and still had power left for another 2-plus hours. Between the Ultra Low Voltage processor, LED backlit screen, solid state drive, and hefty battery, the TZ certainly was designed with battery life in mind.


Samsonite Pro-DLX Medium Laptop Briefcase Review


Geared for the business traveler, this year Samsonite introduced the new Pro-DLX line that combines functionality, versatility and style. The model we tested is the Samsonite Pro-DLX Medium Laptop Briefcase, which is a semi-light and functional carrying case that projects a professional image, thanks to its subtle and seamless design.

This bag features several convenient pockets, protective sleeves, and a removable laptop sleeve capable of holding 15-inch laptops. Notepads, documents, mice and all your essential mobile gear can go with you in style and comfort.

The Pro-DLX Medium Laptop Briefcase is what we characterize as a premium bag, aimed at style-conscious business travelers who place a bigger emphasis on a brand's cachet and stylish looks than strictly price alone. Priced at $189.99, this premium bag holds a limited lifetime warranty and a design that exemplifies elegance with business fusion.


Design - External

Measuring 18-inches long, 15.5-inches tall, and 5.5-inches thick, the Pro-DLX is considered a medium sized bag, but is still feasible for easy transportation. Relative to its medium size, it offers plenty of storage. The weight will add up substantially when books, a laptop, and other accessories are hauled around so the weight of the bag empty is an important factor to consider. At almost 5.5 pounds empty, the Pro-DLX isn't the lightest bag around [compared to the 2.2 pound Samsonite L35 ], but the well-constructive padding and over 16 pockets make the bag practical for its size.

The exterior is composed of 2520 Denier Armored Nylon combined with 1682 Denier Armored Nylon, offering robust protection. The nylon texture is tightly woven and well-constructed, thick enough to withstand abrasions and tears. Covered in black with a touch of orange, this color scheme gives the case a very conservative look.

The carry handle is made from soft Nappa leather that is rugged yet comfortable when carrying the case briefcase style.

Very comfortable handles

Nice little name tag holder that can easily be tucked away.

The leather material is also found at the bottom section of the bag, for a high class look.

Leather down there

On the back panel, there is an external zipper pocket that could hold flat documents and accessories for quick & easy access. It could also be used to pass through a suitcase handle by unzipping the bottom section.

Unfortunately, the back panel area isn't comprised of any type of soft breathable mesh material for extra comfort against your body.

When carrying a heavy load, having a comfortable shoulder pad is essential. The shoulder pad is packed with three gel-infused pads for added comfort.

Comfortable shoulder pad thanks to the gel-infused pads.

The shoulder pad also helps distribute weight evenly on your shoulder, especially when you have a full load and ergonomically designed with a slight contour to support your shoulder.

Toshiba Qosmio G35-AV650


Toshiba's Qosmio line of notebooks are the poster children for multimedia excellence. Always loaded with the latest mobile technology from Intel, gorgeous and bright screens, Windows XP Media Center Edition, TV tuner, and plenty of other multimedia goodies. Today we're looking at the Qosmio G35-AV650, the current middle-of-the-line Qosmio model available. The Qosmio multimedia experience starts at $2,399 with the G35-AV600, but goes up to the G35-AV660 at $3,499.

The AV650 uses Intel's Centrino Duo platform, sporting the T2500 2.0GHz processor and 3945ABG wireless card. You get a high resolution WUXGA (1920x1200) screen powered by NVIDIA's GeForce Go 7600 with 256MB of GDDR3 VRAM. Every port you could want is on this puppy, including HDMI video output perfect for watching HD-DVD movies on your high definition home theater. Speaking of HD-DVD of course, the Qosmio AV650 sports an optical drive capable of playing HD-DVD movies! Enticed by this feature filled Qosmio yet? Read on to find out what other surprises this laptop has in store!


Let's just put it this way: none. Weighing in at a hefty 10.1lbs, the only people wanting to tote this around are looking for a workout at the same time. With dimensions of 16" x 11.6" x 1.79", you aren't likely to be able to open this up on your seatback tray in coach class on an airpline either. Any questions?

Case and Design
Like most entertainment electronics these days, the Qosmio is designed to be pleasing in both form and function. The silver-on-black theme is attractive, but subtle. When you open the Qosmio, you'll notice the polished black interior reflecting back at you. The brushed silver mouse buttons & volume control, striking large speakers, and blue accent lights really stand out.

On the front you'll find a large LED indicator panel with the following indicators left to right: AC Power, System Power, Battery, Hard Drive Activity, Media card reader, and WiFi.

If that weren't enough, you've got a system control panel at the top of the keyboard, left to right: Power, TV Playback, CD/DVD Playback, Play/Pause, Stop/Eject, Previous, Next, Record, Brightness Down, Brightness Up, Dolby Sound enable, TV Output enable. And the final control feature of this system, the stylish silver volume knob:

The overall design quality of the Qosmio is rather high, with fit and finish being top notch. Our only complaint is in regards to the screen and how it is secured to the notebook, which you can read more about in the Display section.

For those who perused our Portege M400 review, you'll remember well the odd-ball keyboard arrangement Toshiba notebooks have. The Start & Context Menu keys are in the upper right and the Tilde & Delete keys are on either side of the spacebar. This configuration makes fast typing very difficult at first, but one does get used to it. Weird layout aside, the quality of the keyboard was excellent. There is no flexing, fairly quiet when typing fast, and comfortable to use for long periods of time.

Toshiba Portege M400-S933


Tablet notebook users fit in a very small and specialized niche of computing needs: they want the ability to be portable, but also the flexibility to compute without having to break out a keyboard and mouse/touchpad. There are pure tablet PC's which have no user input built-in except for a stylus and there are also hybrid units that can transform between standard notebook and tablet mode, like the Toshiba we're looking at today.

The Toshiba Portege M400-S933 (here on referred to as the M400) is a new hybrid tablet notebook based on Intel's Centrino Solo platform. Using the Core Solo T1300 (1.66GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 667MHz FSB), Intel's 3945ABG wireless card, and the 915GM chipset, the M400 brings the latest in single-core performance and battery life. The features continue with 512MB DDR2 RAM, a spacious 80GB 5400RPM SATA hard drive, 5-in-1 card reader, and integrated CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive. Your tablet experience will be conducted using a 12" XGA screen, powered by Intel's GMA950 integrated graphics. In the past users have had to compromise the hardware in their tablet to get a reasonably small machine, but Intel's latest technology allows for all the features of a regular notebook with the flexibility of a tablet.

If the tablet experience is for you, then Toshiba's Portege M400 series is worth a long, hard look. The build quality of this machine is outstanding and Toshiba has an extremely comprehensive software package to customize the tablet to your every desire. Battery life is a little weak, but keeping the chassis reasonably light means sacrificing a little on battery capacity; the digitizer that allows the tablet interface also draws some extra power. The system's performance is more than adequate for any normal usage and the $1899 price tag is a steal for the features & quality oozing out of the Portege M400-S933.


Most people looking at a 12" notebook want something considered "ultraportable," but the dual-nature of this machine makes it substantially bulkier than your standard ultraportable. Weighing in at a hefty 4.5lbs and measuring 11.6" x 9.8" x 1.53", the 12" M400 has the size and feel of a 14-15" notebook without the screen real estate. If you're in need of a tablet that doesn't sacrifice traditional computing (i.e. via a keyboard & touchpad), the M400's size can be easily overlooked.

Case and Design
Toshiba went with a fairly conventional design, and a well built one at that. Dressed mostly in grey with some black accents and black LCD bezel, the M400 has a simple yet modern look.

The only LED indicators are located on the front bezel of the machine, and with the way the LCD sits slightly back from the front edge you can view the LEDs with the notebook opened or closed. From left to right you have AC Power, Power Indicator, Battery 1 status, Battery 2 status, Hard Drive Activity, and Wireless indicator.

ASUS Eee PC 1005HA

The ASUS Eee PC 1005HA is ASUS’ update to their popular Eee PC 1000HA, and continues the tradition of excellent netbooks. The 10.1-inch unit weighs in at only 2.8lbs, and at its thinnest point is well under an inch thick. The keyboard was solid, the trackpad multitouch, and the overall design glossy and stylish. Most important of all though, the battery life was impressive, even when compared against other netbooks. The internals are what you’d expect, with an Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz, 160GB HDD, and 1GB RAM. Are there enough features to justify picking it over netbooks with similar performance? Read on to find out.

Case Look and Feel

The 1005HA features ASUS’ “seashell” design, which includes a fairly sharp taper from the wider back of the netbook to the thinner front. The entire machine is covered front and back in a bright gloss, with only the matte keys of the keyboard spared the shiny expense. It does look nice, but is exceptionally prone to fingerprints. The lid is all black except for a silver “Eee” emblazoned in the center and towards the top. The front of the display features the glossy screen surrounded by a somewhat thick black frame, the top of which houses the integrated webcam. The display is secured to the rest of the unit with two thick hinges, which extend along with the display below the keyboard to save space.

The glossless keyboard begins about an inch in from the top edge, and sits flush with the sides of the case. The top of the touchpad is flush to the keyboard and the touchpad buttons are flush to the bottom of the case, a clear space saving gesture. The overall look is very smooth and all the status lights are subtle. The feel is solid as a whole, although the back of the netbook is a little heavier as a result of the taper.

Size & Weight

The Eee PC 1005HA is not the smallest or thinnest netbook on the market, but fares well on both counts. The weight of 2.8lbs felt very light and easy to carry. I actually carried the 1005HA in its protective sleeve inside the power cord pocket (instead of the power cord) of my standard 15” laptop case earlier today, and barely noticed the difference, even from a strictly visual perspective. With dimensions of 10.3 x 7 x 1.4 inches, but measuring only .89” at its thinnest point, there is little bulkiness to worry about.


The Eee PC 1005HA has a number of features that serve to make life a little easier for the user. Some of these are standard functions built into the keyboard, such as brightness up and down, volume up and down or mute, Wifi on/off and suspend. A more interesting feature built into the keyboard is ASUS’ “Super Hybrid Engine,” which allows one to quickly overclock/underclock the computer for the sake of battery life or performance. There is also a dedicated button for disabling the trackpad.

ASUS has also built some interesting software into the 1005HA. Most notable is the “Eee Docking software,” which is a somewhat customizable dock built into the top of the screen (though location is adjustable). It has 4 sections, the Eee Arena , Eee Sharing, Eee Xperience and Eee Tools. Each of these has quick links to a number of applications, including Data sync for syncing with another computer, Eee Storage to access your free 10GB online storage, music/media applications, and parental controls. All these and a few other programs are easily accessible from the start menu as well.

Apple MacBook 13-inch

The new 13-inch widescreen Apple MacBook is the powerful new value laptop, replacing the Apple iBook. Available in both white and black colors, the MacBook is Apple's first completely redesigned Intel-based laptop in the thin and light spectrum. Although this laptop is meant to be thin-and-light, weighing 5.2 pounds is relatively heavy for its size. But built to last, the MacBook is composed of a durable polycarbonate shell that provides a unique solid feel. The brightly lit, glossy widescreen display is breathtaking, and the keyboard is top notch in comfort and tactile feedback.

The MacBook's new features have raised the standard for what value-focused laptop should be. While the rest of Apple's computers have simply just received Intel chips in similar enclosures to their PowerPC predecessors (like the MacBook Pro), the MacBook was built from the ground up using Intel's fast and efficient Core Duo processor. The MacBook is arguably the ultimate companion for students and even business professionals since Apple officially supports Windows XP via the BootCamp software.

Some major improvements over the iBook include a wider trackpad, magnetic LCD closure, MagSafe AC adaptor, fantastic keyboard (which can easily be removed for disassembly), and a built-in iSight webcam. Apple has also recently upgraded their iLife suite of software packages, as well as its Front Row multimedia software. Meanwhile, other hardware improvements include improved feet on bottom of the laptop so that they do not fall off, as well as internal improvements including customer replaceable hard drive, digital audio-input, extensive wireless connectivity options, extend desktop support with external display, and extended battery life. However, if you are a high performance user, hardcore gamer or graphic designer you may want to consider Apple's MacBook Pro lineup for more horsepower and standard performance features.


Weighing in at 5.2 pounds, 1.08' thick, 12.78' wide, and 8.92' deep the 13-inch MacBook isn't the most portable machine out there. This 13.3' machine weighs closer to most 14-15' laptops, but shouldn't trouble most users with its size.

13-inch black MacBook on top, 15-inch MacBook Pro on bottom

Case and Design
When the computer is on, the glowing white Apple logo radiates from the black matte finish to add aesthetic appeal. Similar to the Apple iPod, the MacBook is available in black or white colors to give users more personal preference.

The form factor and aesthetic nature of the MacBook is arguably superior to other thin and light notebooks in its class. The case is made of a durable polycarbonate with a matte-like feel. Much like the Apple iPod, the new MacBook features a very simplistic look and feel. Everything is right where it needs to be.

All peripherals are plugged in on the left of the keyboard, the Superdrive to the right of the keyboard, and the keyboard features the standard Apple keys. The only other items visually present are the LCD, track pad, an IR port, and indicator light next to it, the glowing Apple logo on the lid, and that's it. This computer relishes in simplicity, yet is just as efficient if not more so than any other laptop.

The keyboard has a rounded edge bezel and is offset deep enough so that when the notebook is closed, the keyboard cannot come in contact with the MacBook's screen. This is a considerable improvement over Apple's iBook that was known for key marks on its screen. The new keyboard has flatter keys that have been separated from each other so they aren't touching. This is a new keyboard design for an Apple laptop, but it is a considerable improvement. The new keyboard only takes a short while to get used to and once you do you may miss it when using any other.

Enlarge Image

Upgrading and Expansion
Unlike the past Apple portable machines, the MacBook makes upgrading easy, with easily upgradeable hard drive and RAM.

Inserting RAM into the MacBook is as simple as pulling a lever, and placing the new RAM into the slot and lever loading mechanism.

If the above images make it look simple to remove the hard drive, it is because it actually is that simple.

Feel free to upgrade your hard drive!

Acer TravelMate 8204 WLMi

Faster and sleeker than ever, the Acer TravelMate 8204 is a high-end laptop and one of the first to utilize Intel's next generation Centrino Duo Mobile Technology. A successor to the highly acclaimed TravelMate 8100 series, the TravelMate 8204 is designed to impress inside and out. Sporting a revamped design, it is composed of a carbon fiber chassis combined with Acer's Folio design theme, exemplifying a modern and sleek design that appears to descend from the 22nd century.

Everyone will appreciate the new features and cutting-edge technology incorporated into this sleek laptop. It is filled with a robust set of features, including the new Intel Core Duo T2500 (2.0 GHz) processor, a whopping 2GB DDR2 RAM, and a massive 120GB Serial ATA hard disk drive. Other prominent features include a high-resolution 15.4-inch widescreen display, modular DVD+RW drive, built-in rotating Web Camera, and VoIP Bluetooth phone!

Avid gamers will be very satisfied with the performance from the mid-range yet powerful ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 with 256MB DDR VRAM and AVIVO technology, while business professionals will appreciate the Smart Card feature, providing extra security from unauthorized access. The near-perfect Acer TravelMate 8204 WLMi is an attractive package: it's powerful, combines a myriad of new functions, and is just darn sexy. Of course for $2500, it's one of the more expensive laptops out there.


Although the Acer TravelMate 8204 WLMi possesses similar attributes to a desktop alternative notebook, this is a performance-thin laptop that won't break your back. Measuring 14.3-inches wide, 10.7-inches long and only 1-inch thick at the front section and extending 1.4-inches thick towards the back, the TravelMate 8204 is ideal for large sized cases and backpacks. I found the lightweight Samsonite L45 and the Samsonite Pro-DLX Medium laptop briefcase to be the perfect companion. I even managed to squeeze the computer on my flight to Las Vegas with just enough room to be used on the reclining table attached to the seat in front of me in economy coach.

Case and Design
The instant appeal of the TravelMate 8200 lies in its Folio design theme, which is Acer's name for its unique design found in a number of their laptops. In addition, the two tone inverted color scheme keeps it clean and simple, with carbon fiber wrapping around the top lid while graphite grey covers the surface around the palm rest and keyboard area. There is also a touch of glossy black trim above the keyboard and at the bottom of the outside lid for added style.

Sleek and durable carbon fiber lid gives it an original style.

The edges are curvaceous and the clean surface is smooth as silk, which gives the TravelMate 8204 a refining look. Not only is the carbon fiber lid lighter and stronger than other materials, it also gives off a distinctive look with the black and grey checkered shades, derived from the Acer Ferrari 4005 WLMi . For good measures, the laptop comes with a microfibre cleaning cloth to keep the laptop looking its best.

Acer also included a cleaning cloth to help keep the laptop looking slick.

Two stiff hinges hold the LCD panel together, located near each corner of the display. The LCD panel contains dual latches that assist in keeping the lid securely closed, preventing any type of movement when shuffling the laptop around. When shut the screen hovers slightly over the keyboard and palm rest area, reinforced by eight rubber pads to prevent the screen from touching the keyboard and wrist area.

There are two sets of status indicators found on the computer, the first is located on the upper-right corner above the keyboard (below the display screen) and the second set is on the front of the computer. The upper-right corner below the display contains indicators for hard disk, caps lock, and num lock. All indicators emit a green glow when activated.

Conveniently located on the front panel are a set of highly useful indicator lights which provide a quick glance at the power, battery charge, Bluetooth, and Wireless LAN. Both the power and battery status indicators emit a green glow when active (or amber for the battery when it's charging) while the Bluetooth and Wireless LAN buttons emit a dazzling blue and amber glow, respectively. The Bluetooth and Wireless LAN are buttons used to enable or disable its associated function.

Buttons and indicators located in the front for quick & easy access.

Taiwan market: Fujitsu launches new tablet PC and ultra-thin notebooks


Japan-based PC vendor Fujitsu has launched the 12.1-inch LifeBook T4310 tablet PC priced at Fujitsu LifeBook T4310 tablet PCNT$52,800 (US$1,625) in Taiwan along with the 11.6-inch LifeBook P3110 and 12.1-inch LifeBook P8110 ultra-thin notebooks priced at NT$29,800 and NT$48,800, respectively.

While LifeBook T4310 is priced higher than the NT$25,000-35,000 asked for tablet PCs by first-tier vendors, Fujitsu Taiwan emphasized the T4310's high quality and specifications, as well as its "made in Japan" origin.

Fujitsu Taiwan pointed out it sells about 100 tablet PCs per month in Taiwan mainly to the medicare and education markets, but with the new tablet PC entering the consumer market, sales are expected to increase in the future.

The LifeBook P3110, made by Quanta Computer will only be sold in the Asia Pacific market and the company plans to launch another P3 series model made by Inventec in the future. The LifeBook P8110 is produced by Fujitsu in-house.

Acer Ferrari 4005 WLMi


As the leading computer notebook brand in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa), Acer has teamed up with Ferrari to be the official supplier to Scuderia Ferrari, the racing team of Ferrari. Leveraging this partnership, Acer is able to introduce exclusive, racing inspired notebooks that are elegant, cutting-edge, and powerful, much like the actual Ferrari automobile. The new Acer Ferrari 4000 revamps the previous generation Acer Ferrari models by pumping more horsepower and sporting a new design.

The Acer Ferrari is designed to impress, especially with its sleek looks and powerful components. Like the Acer TravelMate 8100 series, the Ferrari 4000 is composed of Acer's Folio design. To distinguish the new platform from its predecessors, the 4000 retains its own racing-inspired theme made up of an elegant thin-and-light carbon fiber casing in sleek black and Ferrari-red trims. Even the included Bluetooth mouse matches the system. Under the hood, the Acer Ferrari 4000 (model 4005 WLMi) sports AMD's new Turion 64 mobile processor, running at 2.0GHz on ATI's Radeon Xpress 200M chipset. Other prominent features include a luminous 15.4-inch widescreen LCD with razor sharp 1680 x 1050 native resolution, a new modular slot-loading dual layer DVD burner, 100GB hard drive, and 1GB RAM. This attractive package also combines a myriad of other bells and whistles.

Avid gamers will be satisfied with the performance from the mid-range ATI MOBILITY RADEON X700 graphics with 128MB DDR VRAM. Although the Ferrari 4000 possesses some characteristics of a desktop alternative, it measures only 1.2 inches thin and weighs 6.3 pounds with its 8-cell battery. While not the most ideal computer for intensive travel, it's still a well-balanced machine suited for moderate portability and is actually more portable than other notebooks in the same class.

The stunning Acer Ferrari 4005 WLMi gives you power and status, for a hefty $2,199 price tag.