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October, 2012

Acer Aspire S7-391 review: first look

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Acer Aspire S7

At today’s Build 2012 opening keynote, Steve Ballmer used several devices to show off Windows 8, but there was one that stood out. The Acer Aspire S7, said Ballmer, was the one device that was turning all the heads within Microsoft – but even from the second row of the auditorium it was tough to make out what was so special about this little laptop.

It took no more than three seconds with the device in the demo hall to work it out. (more…)

Microsoft Windows Phone 8 Data Sense: hands-on video

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Microsoft managed to hold some key features back for the launch of Windows Phone 8, among the most intriguing of which is Data Sense.

It offers users an overview of mobile data use, showing which apps have been using most data, and allowing users to set a data limit so the app can sound the alarm when you’re about to breach the cap. And the app has a Live Tile you can pin to the phone’s homescreen, displaying a running total of data consumed over the past month.

(more…)

Windows Phone 8 Kid’s Corner: hands-on video

Monday, October 29th, 2012


Microsoft might not have announced anything groundbreaking at its grand unveiling of Windows Phone 8, but that’s not to say we were completely underwhelmed. Indeed, for anyone who has children, the official confirmation of the new Kid’s Corner feature will come as a breath of fresh air.

And while the demo involving Windows Phone manager Joe Belfiore’s own children appearing on stage was undeniably cheesy, it will have struck a chord with smartphone-owning parents across the world. It certainly did with me, for whom the wheedling question “can I play a game on your phone, daddy?” has become a tiresomely regular refrain of late.

You can see a short demo of the feature in the short video at the top of this blog post, but the idea is really good. Set up involves ticking a few boxes in the Kid’s Corner settings, applying a lock so your kids don’t unlock the main phone and send your boss a text by accident, or purchase a small fortune’s worth of apps and music.

Then all your little devils need to do to get to their protected area is swipe a finger from right to left on the lock screen, and up pops a bright, kiddy-friendly interface, complete with live-tile-equipped home screen, but with only access to the apps you specified earlier.

There’s just one potential pitfall: it’s all lovely and safe and cuddly, but giving the kids their own “phone within a phone”, as Belfiore put it, seems likely to give even them an over-inflated sense of ownership over your pride and joy, making it more difficult than ever to prise their sticky fingers from it when you need it most.

Working with a Windows 8 tablet: a long-term test

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Samsung 700T

Yesterday’s official launch of Windows 8 felt like a curious anti-climax for me. Not because of the lacklustre presentation – although the death by PowerPoint was thoroughly deflating – but because I’ve been running Windows 8 on my primary work PC for the past six months, ever since the launch of the Consumer Preview. And for the past three months, I’ve been running the new OS on a Samsung 700T tablet, to get the full touchscreen experience.

So what’s it like using a Windows 8 tablet as your primary work PC? For the vast majority of the time, it’s been absolutely fine. The 700T comes with a smart little docking stand with HDMI-out, that lets me connect a second 24in Full HD display on my desktop. That means I can keep the old-school desktop running on my primary display with all my regular Office apps etc, and use the tablet’s screen as a secondary display for Metro apps and keeping an eye on the PC Pro Twitter account.

Without that second screen, I don’t think I’d even bother with the Windows 8 Start Screen or Metro apps at all, because they don’t scale well on screens much bigger than my tablet’s. However, when sat on the secondary display, the live tiles on the Windows 8 Start screen are actually quite useful for spotting a new email dropping into my Gmail account, upcoming calendar appointments or news headlines.

(more…)

Microsoft Surface review: first look

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Microsoft Surface table

After the disappointment of the Windows 8 keynote, where very little was said that was either key or of note, Microsoft has struck back with a vengeance by delivering the Surface. And it is a staggeringly good device.

To explain this without making me sound like a Microsoft fanboi, I’ll dive into the kind of minutiae that PC Pro readers should appreciate.

(more…)

Dell XPS 12 review: first look

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Dell XPS 12 hands onI’ve spent a lot of time in the past couple of days examining Windows 8 devices in all shapes and forms, but to me the XPS 12 (which first broke cover at this year’s IFA) looks like the real deal: a powerful laptop when you want it, a tablet when you just want to consume or fiddle with information.

(more…)

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 review: first look

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 in Windows 8 line-up

If Windows 8 tablets are going to take off, it’s designs like the IdeaPad Yoga 11 that are going to make the difference. It’s slim, has stunning battery life, and it’s stupidly easy to move between tablet and laptop positions.

(more…)

Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx review: first look

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Lenovo IdeaTab LynxWith two days to go until the Windows 8 launch, we’ve enjoyed an hour or two with all Lenovo’s new devices: and the IdeaTab Lynx promises “the ultimate flexibility between work and play”. So can it deliver?

The design is fundamentally similar to the Asus Transformer Prime, with all the intelligence packed into the tablet but an optional keyboard base for when you need to get some work done.

(more…)

Asus VivoBook S200 and VivoBook S400 review: first look

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

SAM_1550

With yesterday’s launch events in London and New York, Asus introduced its glittering new range of Windows 8 devices to the world. In amongst a host of familiar tablets, laptops and convertibles from this year’s Computex and IFA trade shows, however, Asus slipped in a little surprise with the arrival of its affordable touchscreen not-quite-but-almost-Ultrabooks, the 11.6in VivoBook S200 and 14in VivoBook S400.

(more…)

All aboard the PC train case

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

We’re used to seeing dull, monolithic PC cases turn up the PC Pro Labs, so we were more than a little surprised when Lian Li’s PC-CK101 trundled onto our test bench… 20 minutes late.

It might hold a mini-ITX motherboard and include a pair of USB 3 ports, but Lian Li’s latest looks like a train, sounds like a train (although we must confess we’ve added sound effects to our video), and even moves like a train. Unlike most locomotives, though, this one only costs a mere £265.

(more…)

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