Over the past several weeks computer makers have released new laptops--and updated existing ones--in preparation for the back to school onslaught. Before you run down to Best Buy, here are a few tips on what to look for in a school laptop.
Laptops & Desktops
John Morris and Sean Portnoy deliver straight talk about notebook and desktop computers.
John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine.
Sean Portnoy is a former executive editor at Computer Shopper magazine and editor at CNET Networks.
The Asus Ares graphics monstrosity costs about as much as a decently equipped midrange desktop -- $1,200 -- so it better perform like a monster. For that price, you get two ATI Radeon HD 5870 cards yoked together, along with 4GB of DDR5 graphics memory, in a unit that weighs 5 pounds all by itself.
It's been an interesting week for what had become a fairly uninteresting desktop niche: the all-in-one (AIO) PC. First, Asetek showed off its liquid-cooled AIO prototype, and now MSI has officially revealed details of its first 3D AIO system, the AE2420.
All-in-one PCs have been classified as "kitchen PCs" or "mom PCs" because they emphasize a space-saving form factor and ease of use over performance. That hasn't stopped Asetek, best known for creating budget liquid-cooling kits that companies like CoolIT and Corsair sell, from developing an all-in-one desktop prototype that receives a blast of water cooling.
Expect some more new Intel CPUs as well as some price cuts, according some sleuthing from the DigiTimes. The biggest news is the new (but long awaited) six-core Core i7-970, which will sell in bulk for $885 sometime this month.
When Samsung launched its N230 netbook a couple of days ago, you may have assumed it was just the latest attempt to one-up the competition in a product category that's no longer the hottest. After all, its larger battery option promised a whopping 13.
Acer threw down the metallic orange gauntlet with its Predator desktop, offering one of the most radical designs for a major manufacturer's PC. Now it's updated the specs on the system, while adding a little bit more black to the case design.
HP's acquisition of Voodoo PC wasn't a raging success -- especially for Voodoo -- but the former boutique builder did contribute to the successful Envy laptop line, which has just apparently added a 14-inch version to its roster. The Envy 14 series is now available for ordering on HP's site, priced from $1,099.
If you're looking for something even simpler, and cheaper, than a Mac Mini for basic computing and perhaps some living room-related duties, eMachines is happy to oblige you with the new Mini-e ER1402 small-form-factor. You won't get much in terms of fancy specs, but it does come with its own pedestal -- and only costs $299.
Remember when all laptop cases were a slab of plastic or, if you were lucky (i.e.