Monday 24 November 2014

Weckler on Tech: high-end laptop 
that's all business

Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 Price: from €1,500 Rating: ****

Published 12/07/2014 | 02:30

Lenevo Thinkpad Carbon X1
Lenevo Thinkpad Carbon X1
BlackBerry Passport
GoKey
Huawei Ascend P7
G-Technology G-Drive

Do laptops influence first impressions? I think they do. If you whip out a MacBook Air, it says you're reasonably well-off, like form as much as function and have limited computing requirements.

Unzip a large Dell from your leatherette bag and you're probably a lower-tier executive who takes whatever the financial controller gives you.

An IBM Thinkpad, on the other hand, is the archetypal laptop of the management consultant or the upper-tier financial analyst. There's a reason for this. First, they're unashamedly high-end machines. Second, they're pricey. The high-end Carbon X1 is light (1.4kg, despite its 14-inch screen) and robust (splash-proof, dust-proof and bump-proof). It's also ultra-powerful, with Core i7 processors and 8GB of Ram.

It's styled very much in the same manner as Thinkpads over the last decade with a black matte finish, a generous keyboard and pragmatic function buttons.

It's hard to think of a more archetypal business machine.

BlackBerry squares up with last-ditch effort

BlackBerry Passport    Price: tba   Rating: not yet released

At first, it sounded like a practical joke. But BlackBerry, which is at death's door as a smartphone firm, appears to be serious about its square-screened Passport device.

The phone is wider than a normal (5-inch) smartphone and much, much wider than the smaller iPhone 5. This is because its 4.5-inch screen is square rather than rectangular, meaning its diameter (which is how screens are measured) pushes it out in a pronounced way.

In some ways, this might make sense: having to switch between 'portrait' (vertical) and 'landscape' (horizontal) is a pain in this age of increasing mobile video and web consumption.

Even if the gimmick catches the imagination (and there aren't any signs that it will), BlackBerry now faces an almost impossible task of persuading business people to ditch their iPhones and Galaxies and go back to 'email' devices.

Don't hold your breath on this one.

Keeping tabs on lost gadgets is the key

GoKey   Price: €55 (including shipping) from GoKey.com   Rating: ****

What are the two items we misplace most? Keys and phones. This handy little smart keyring lets you know where it is by calling it from your phone so long as it is within 80 feet, or so.

It works the other way around, too: if you've mislaid your phone, you can push a button on the GoKey and you phone will make noise, letting you know where it is. An app for the device also gives you the last known location of the GoKey gadget, thanks to its GPS. The device also has its own onboard battery, allowing you to recharge your phone with an emergency boost while you look for a power outlet.

Finally, it even has its own storage (8GB to 32GB), meaning you can use it as a USB memory key.

It's available in a range of colours for iPhone 5 (with Lighting connectors) and Android phones (with MicroUSB connectors).

Cut-price phone takes on 5-inch rivals

Huawei Ascend P7        Price: €350 unlocked       Rating: ****

Is there smartphone life outside Apple, Samsung, HTC and Sony? Huawei has been knocking on the door for some time. Its latest 5-inch Ascend P7 Android handset gives a lot of smartphone for around half the price of a rival such as Samsung's Galaxy S5. It has an excellent screen, a decent (though not outstanding) 13-megapixel camera and plenty of power (quadcore 1.8mhz chip, 2GB Ram) under the hood. Curiously, it's styled very like Sony's Xperia Z1 and Z2 handsets, with lots of glass. The key to this phone's appeal is very clearly its price, which is around the level of a 'mini' version from Samsung or HTC.

Mobile storage at breakneck speed

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile 1TB    
Price: €180 from Apple.com/iestore   Rating: ****

With so much cloud storage around, we're not supposed to need physical hard drives anymore, right? Wrong.

While old-fashioned hard drives in PCs and laptops have expanded toward 1,000GB, newer business laptops are typically no more than 128GB or 256GB flash drives. But if you are going to invest in a business-friendly portable drive, it makes sense for that drive to be fast and expandable. These are the main advantages to G-Technology's G-Drive. First, the 1-terabyte unit has both USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt connections, meaning MacBook Pro users can transfer content very, very quickly. Second, the company also sells a desktop unit called the G-Dock which allows you to slide the G-Drive in for quick connection to PCs. For Apple work PC owners, this is an excellent storage device.

Irish Independent

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