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Vaio FE 14.1 review: not the Vaio you remember

Vaio FE 14.1

MSRP $949.00

“The Vaio FE 14.1 is old school, and not in a good way.”

Pros

  • Excellent keyboard
  • Decent battery life
  • Display had good contrast
  • Entry-level model attractively priced

Cons

  • Relatively slow performance
  • Flexible build quality
  • Old-school 16:9 display
  • Display colors were below average
  • Tiny touchpad

The Sony Vaio was once an innovative and competitive laptop brand that offered a compelling lineup. In 2014, Sony spun off the Vaio division, and the brand has become a stand-alone laptop maker. Its selection is more limited, with the Vaio Z and SX lines firmly in the market’s premium segment and the Vaio FE representing the budget and mid-range lineup. Vaio recently introduced an update to the Vaio FE 14.1 with 12th-gen Intel CPUs, and I was able to give it a workout.

In many ways, the Vaio FE 14.2 is a throwback to laptop designs made several years ago — and not in a good way. On top of that, its performance and build quality aren’t anything to write home about, making it a problematic laptop to recommend.

Price and configuration

I reviewed the top-end model priced at $949 with a 12th-gen Intel Core i7-1255U and a 14.1-inch 16:9 Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display, making it more of a mid-range than a budget laptop.

There are three configurations of the Vaio FE 14.1. The entry-level model is $699 for a Core i5-1235U, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 14.1-inch 16:9 Full HD IPS display. All models share the same display option. The mid-level machine is $799 for a Core i5-1235U, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. Finally, my review configuration is $949 for Core i7-1255U, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The $699 configuration is probably the best value.

Several other laptops are available in the same price range, including the HP Pavilion Plus 14 and the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1. The Pavilion Plus 14 is particularly attractive at $1,000 for a faster 45-watt Core i7 CPU and a spectacular 14-inch 16:10 OLED display running at 90Hz.

Design

VAIO FE 14.1 front angle view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Vaio FE 14.1’s most striking aesthetic attribute, at least on my review unit, was the bright blue color scheme on the lid and keyboard deck. Most colored laptops have more subdued hues, but Vaio went for a color that’s sure to stand out. There’s also a pink available that seems as shocking, as well as more subtle silver and dark grey colors. If you want your laptop to shout, then the Vaio FE 14.1 is for you.

Other competitive laptops, like the HP Pavilion Plus 14 and the MSI Prestige 14, are much quieter in their designs. Outside of the color, the Vaio FE 14.1 is much less elaborate, with simple lines and angles and only some venting along the left-hand side that seems out of place.

One oddity with the design is the dedicated hard drive activity light at the top of the keyboard. I don’t remember seeing one of those in quite some time, and it’s another of those old-school qualities that makes the laptop feel dated.

The Vaio FE 14.1 has some bending in the lid and flex in the keyboard deck.

The plastic display bezels are reasonably thin on the sides but quite thick on the top and bottom. That matches the old-school 16:9 aspect ratio and makes a laptop that’s wider than some other 14-inch machines and as deep as those with 16:10 aspect ratios. The Vaio FE 14.1 is also thick at 0.78 inches and heavy at 3.5 pounds. The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is 0.72 inches thick and weighs 3.09 pounds, and the Asus Vivobook S 14X is 0.70 inches and 3.23 pounds. The Vaio FE 14.1 isn’t the thinnest or lightest 14-inch laptop around.

Regarding its build quality, the Vaio FE 14.1 displays some bending in the lid and flex in the keyboard deck due to a combination of aluminum and plastic in its construction. It’s not egregious for a laptop under $1,000, but it’s not the best I’ve seen.

The Pavilion Plus 14 is much more rigid, while the Vivobook S 14X is similar to the Vaio. It’s not bad enough to make you lack confidence in the laptop’s durability, but it doesn’t scream quality, either.

Port and connectivity

Connectivity is decent, with one omission. There’s a single USB-C 3.2 port, a USB-A 3.1 port, and a USB-A 2.0 port to go with a full-size HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an Ethernet connection. The latter is unusual on modern 14-inch machines, and the lack of Thunderbolt 4 is disappointing but forgivable at the price. There’s also a full-size SD card reader, which is welcome.

Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 provide wireless connectivity, which is just a step behind other laptops shipping with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.

Performance

VAIO Fe 14.1 rear view showing lid and logo.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Intel Core i7-1255U is a 15-watt, 10-core (two Performance and eight Efficient), 12-thread CPU aimed at thin and light laptops and intended to provide better efficiency than Intel’s 28-watt P-series CPUs. We’ve reviewed a few laptops with the CPU, and its performance has varied depending on the benchmark and the machine. In general, though, the chip has been fast enough for demanding productivity tasks but not as fast for creative workflows. Of the laptops we’ve tested with the CPU, the Vaio FE 14.1 has been the slowest, and it’s only marginally quicker than Intel’s 11th-gen processors.

In the Geekbench 5 benchmark, the Vaio FE 14.1 was just barely faster than the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo with its 11th-gen Core i7-1185G7. That’s a 28-watt CPU, but the other laptops we’ve tested with the Core i7-1255U were considerably faster. Unlike most other laptops I’ve reviewed, the Vaio doesn’t have a thermal management utility, so there’s no performance mode to ramp up performance.

In our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, the Vaio FE 14.2 was the slowest among our comparison group, and in the Cinebench R23 rendering benchmark, it was the second slowest. Finally, in the PCMark 10 Complete benchmark that measures a mix of productivity, multimedia, and creative tasks, the Vaio again came in next-to-last place.

I noticed no throttling with the laptop, with it hitting a maximum of 91 degrees C in the most CPU-intensive benchmarks. It simply didn’t run very fast and, most of the time, kept temperatures in the 70s. The Vaio FE 14.2 will meet your productivity performance needs, but faster laptops are available for around the same price.

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Complete
Vaio FE 14.1
(Core i7-1255U)
Bal:1,682 / 5,167
Perf: N/A
Bal: 208
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,562 / 5,045
Perf: N/A
4,895
Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7
(Core i7-1255U)
Bal: 1,652 / 8,194
Perf: 1,692 / 8,443
Bal: 200
Perf: 141
Bal: 1,679 / 7,176
Perf: 1,748 / 7,701
5,211
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Core i7-1255U)
Bal: 1,703 / 6,520
Perf: 1,685 / 6,791
Bal: 153
Perf: 141
Bal: 1,729 / 6,847
Perf: 1,773 / 7,009
5,138
Acer Swift 3 2022
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,708 / 10,442
Perf: 1,694 / 10,382
Bal: 100
Perf: 98
Bal: 1,735 / 9,756
Perf: 1,779 / 10,165
5,545
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,717 / 9,231
Perf: 1,712 / 10,241
Bal: 130
Perf: 101
Bal: 1,626 / 7,210
Perf: 1,723 / 8,979
5,760
Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
Bal: 1,417 / 6,854
Perf: 1,404 / 7,223
Bal: 112
Perf: 111
Bal: 1,402 / 8,682
Perf: 1,409 / 8,860
5,647
MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo
(Core i7-1185G7)
Bal: 1,352 / 4,891
Perf: 1,518 / 5,310
Bal: 207
Perf: 188
Bal: 1,360 / 4,391
Perf: 1,385 / 4,909
4,872

Gaming on the Vaio FE 14.1 won’t be much fun, given its below-average performance in our lightweight gaming benchmarks. It scored poorly in the 3DMark Time Spy test and only managed nine frames per second (fps) in Fortnite and 1080p and epic graphics. Intel’s Iris Xe isn’t good for more than casual gaming on the fastest laptops, and on the Vaio, it’s not going to keep up at all.

3DMark
Time Spy
Fortnite
(1080p/1200p Epic)
Vaio FE 14.1
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,368
Perf: N/A
Bal: 9
Perf: N/A
Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,790
Perf: 1,716
Bal: 18
Perf: 18
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,492
Perf: 1,502
Bal: 12 fps
Perf: 12 fps
Acer Swift 3 2022
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,967
Perf: 1,967
Bal: 19
Perf: 19
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,658
Perf: 1,979
Bal: 12 fps
Perf: N/A
Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED
(Radeon graphics)
Bal: 2,110
Perf: 2,213
Bal: 19 fps
Perf: 19 fps

Display and audio

VAIO FE 14.1 front view showing display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

There’s only one display option with the Vaio FE 14.1, a 14.1-inch 16:9 Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS panel. As I used the display during my testing, it wasn’t terribly bright, and its colors didn’t seem that dynamic, but its blacks seemed deep enough.

According to my colorimeter, my eyes weren’t deceiving me. Brightness was lower than we like to see at 280 nits, just below our 300-nit threshold. You’ll probably do fine in most indoor settings, but outside in the shade will be challenging. Colors were narrower than the mid-range to premium average, at 66% of sRGB and 49% of AdobeRGB, where the average is closer to 95% and 75%, respectively. And the color accuracy was poor at a DeltaE of 3.46, where 2.0 or less is the minimum for creative work. Only the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1’s colors were equally poor. However, the Vaio FE 14.1’s contrast was fine at 1,070:1, exceeding our 1,000:1 standard.

The display is good enough for productivity work, but media consumers and creators will be unhappy with the colors. It’s a budget-level display that would be fine in a laptop costing $600 or less, but it’s not acceptable at $949.

Brightness
(nits)
Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is better)
Vaio FE 14.1
(IPS)
280 1,070:1 66% 49% 3.46
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(OLED)
398 27,830:1 100% 95% 0.78
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(IPS)
288 1,330:1 63% 48% 3.35
Acer Swift 3
(IPS)
368 1,330:1 98% 75% 1.51
MSI Summit E14 Flip
(IPS)
516 1,320:1 100% 89% 1.10
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon
(OLED)
397 27,590:1 100% 96% 0.88

Two upward-firing speakers above the keyboard provide adequate audio, with just enough volume for watching the occasional YouTube video. Mids and highs were fine without distortion, but there wasn’t much bass. You’ll want a pair of headphones for music and Netflix binging. The speaker placement is also unfortunate since it steals away space from the keyboard deck and contributes to the touchpad’s small size.

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

VAIO FE 14.1 top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Vaio FE 14.1’s keyboard has large keycaps and excellent key spacing to go with a convenient row of navigation buttons on the right-hand side. The switches have lots of travel with a snappy bottoming action that provides plenty of feedback. It’s a precise and comfortable keyboard that competes with the best Windows has to offer, including those on the Dell XPS and HP Spectre lines.

Another old-school attribute of the Vaio FE 14.1 is the presence of dedicated touchpad buttons (which were a bit harsh and loud). I don’t see them often, and it took me a little while to get used to pressing them rather than using more of the touchpad as a clickable surface. It’s the opposite of the modern haptic touchpad, where the entire surface responds to input. While some people might prefer separate buttons, the biggest problem is that they make a tiny touchpad even smaller.

It’s one of the smallest touchpads I’ve tested and the smallest on a 14-inch laptop. Compounding the issue is the fingerprint reader embedded in the upper left-hand corner which takes away even more space. This is such a tiny touchpad that I’m tempted to call it cute. It works well enough, supporting Windows 11 multitouch gestures with no problem; it’s just way too small.

The aforementioned fingerprint reader supports Windows 11 Hello passwordless login. It worked quickly and reliably during my testing.

VAIO FE 14.1 front view showing webcam.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The webcam comes in at 2MP, which should be capable of 1080p video. I found the image quality sufficient for videoconferencing but not among the best I’ve used lately. The webcam has a physical slider for privacy.

Battery life

VAIO FE 14.1 side view showing lid and ports.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

There are 55 watt-hours of battery capacity stuffed inside the Vaio FE 14.1, which is less than I like to see for 14-inch laptops. It’s not an unusual amount, though. The similarly priced Acer Swift 3 and HP Pavilion Pro 14 each had around the same battery size. With a Full HD display and 15-watt CPU, I expected at least decent battery life from the Vaio.

That’s essentially what I saw during my testing. In our web browsing test that cycles through some popular and complex websites, the Vaio FE 14.1 lasted for 7.25 hours, which is slightly less than the eight hours or so we like to see on this test. It managed 12 hours in our video test that loops a 1080p movie trailer, which is around average. And it managed 9.5 hours in the PCMark 10 Applications battery test, which is the best indication of light productivity battery life. That’s about half an hour less than average. The Acer Swift 3 lasted slightly longer in each test, while the HP Pavilion Plus 14 with its 45-watt CPU and OLED display did much worse.

Overall, I’d rate the Vaio FE 14.1’s battery life as close enough to average. It should last most of a full day of productivity work if it’s not too demanding. I’ll note that the laptop ships with a proprietary power connector, which is another throwback — every other 14-inch laptop I’ve reviewed lately has used a USB-C charger. The Vaio will charge via its single USB-C port, but of course, that limits its connectivity. I’d rather have a second USB-C port than a proprietary charger, though.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10
Applications
Vaio FE 14.1
(Core i7-1255U)
7 hours, 14 minutes 11 hours, 57 minutes 9 hours, 32 minutes
Lenovo Yoga 7i Gen 7
(Core i7-1255U)
7 hours, 7 minutes 13 hours, 53 minutes 10 hours, 41 minutes
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Core i7-1255U)
6 hours, 42 minutes 10 hours, 6 minutes 8 hours, 43 minutes
Acer Swift 3 2022
(Core i7-1260P)
8 hours, 2 minutes 14 hours, 10 minutes 10 hours, 1 minute
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(Core i7-12700H)
4 hours, 29 minutes 7 hours, 29 minutes 5 hours, 48 minutes
 Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
8 hours, 4 minutes 13 hours, 13 minutes N/A

Our take

The Vaio FE 14.1 is an old-school laptop in several ways and seems a couple of years behind the curve. The 14-inch laptop market has been particularly strong lately; unfortunately, the Vaio has little to recommend it among such a competitive group.

Performance was slower than it should be, the display was disappointing, and the tiny touchpad was a letdown. Vaio will need to bring more if it wants to compete.

Are there any alternatives?

The Acer Swift 3 is a strong competitor, coming in at just $80 more than the Vaio with faster performance, a much better display, and better battery life. The build quality is also sturdier, making the Swift 3 a more attractive machine.

The HP Pavilion Plus 14 is another solid option, costing $50 more for a machine with better performance, a spectacular 2.8K OLED display running at 90Hz, and a rock-solid build. Its one weakness is poor battery life.

Finally, you could choose the Apple MacBook Air M1. It’s a slightly more expensive laptop, but its performance, battery life, display, and build quality blow the Vaio FE 14.1 out of the water.

How long will it last?

The Vaio FE 14.1 suffers from some bending and flexing, but it’s still built well enough that it should last for several years with reasonable care. Its components are up to date except for no Thunderbolt 4 support, which limits its expandability. The industry-standard one-year warranty is fine at this price point.

Should you buy it?

No. The Vaio FE 14.1 is too slow and has too many old-school attributes to justify its price, especially against such intense competition.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Computing

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: all business

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10

MSRP $1,680.00

“The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 isn’t a performer, but excels in battery life and security.”

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • Dizzying array of display options
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Above-average battery life
  • Good business support

Cons

  • Touchpad is too small
  • Expensive for the performance

A laptop should be fairly refined by the time it’s hit its 10th generation. That’s particularly true with one as iconic as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the company’s marquee business-oriented thin and light laptop.

Lenovo didn’t mark the X1 Carbon’s 10th generation with a spectacular reworking. Instead, it further refines the celebrated design with a few small but meaningful refinements, as it’s been doing in every generation since its launch.

These small tweaks, alongside an update to Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs, leave this premium business laptop at the top of its game, even if its price still doesn’t make it a particularly realistic mainstream consumer option.

Price and configurations

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 rear view showing lid and logo.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

I reviewed a $1,680 configuration with a Core i7-1260P CPU and a 14-inch 16:10 UXWGA (1920 x 1200) low-power IPS display.

Of course, Lenovo provides several other configuration options with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10. CPUs range from the 28-watt, 12-core/16-thread Core i5-1540P to the 28-watt 14-core/20-thread Core i7-1280P with vPro. As we’ll see in the display section below, there are a dizzying number of display options that make it possible (if challenging) to dial in precisely the desired efficiency and display resolution and quality.

Regarding pricing and using Lenovo’s configurator, things start at $1,320 for a Core i5-1540P, 8GB of LPDDR5 RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD, and a 14-inch 16:10 WUXGA (1920 x 1200) low-power, anti-glare IPS display. At the high end, you’ll spend $2,595 for a Core i7-1280P with vPro, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB PCIe 4.0 SSD, 4G LTE, and a 14-inch 16:10 WQUXGA (3840 x 2400) anti-reflective, anti-smudge touch display.

These are steep discounts from the retail prices, and they aren’t out of line for the business audience that’s likely to be most interested in the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10. In terms of price, it’s less expensive than the more powerful Apple MacBook Pro 14 and around the same price as a similarly configured Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7.

Design

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 enjoys the same thin and light chassis as before, constructed of magnesium alloy in the chassis and carbon fiber in the lid. It’s subjected to the usual military testing for robustness as all ThinkPads. Still, like most laptops with magnesium and carbon fiber, there’s some bending in the lid and flexing in the keyboard deck.

In the ThinkPad’s case, though, it’s very minor and most people won’t notice it, but it doesn’t quite live up to the standards of more solid machines like the Dell XPS 15 and the MacBook Pro 14. The hinge is perfectly balanced, light enough to open the lid with one hand but stiff enough to hold the display in place.

The magnesium and carbon fiber do bring a meaningful benefit in terms of the ThinkPad’s weight, which comes in at just 2.48 pounds. It’s also thin at 0.60 inches, with larger bezels for a modern laptop and thus more width and depth than some.

What can I say? The latest ThinkPad X1 looks precisely like a ThinkPad.

By comparison, the solid aluminum MacBook Pro 14 with a 14.2-inch display weighs 3.5 pounds and is 0.61 inches thick, while being just slightly thinner and shallower in spite of the larger panel. The MSI Prestige 14, on the other hand, is a little wider and a little shallower while weighing a whopping 4.64 pounds and coming in at 0.63 inches thick. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is one of the lighter 14-inch laptops around while being reasonably sized in all dimensions.

Aesthetically, what can I say? The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 looks precisely like a ThinkPad — all-black chassis, minimalist lines and angles, red LED do on the stylized ThinkPad X1 logo on the lid and red TrackPoint nubbin in the middle of the keyboard. It’s a conservative, iconic design that’s recognizable from a distance. Ultimately, it’s more striking than simplistic machines like the Prestige 14 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7, while being less elegant than the MacBook Pro 14. But nobody will be embarrassed taking it into a business meeting.

Ports and connections

Connectivity is mostly solid for a 14-inch machine, with two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a full-size HDMI 2.0b port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. There’s no SD card reader, which is disappointing.

Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 provide the latest in wireless connectivity, and a Nano SIM slot is optional supporting 4G LTE WWAN.

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10’s keyboard has slightly changed from the standard ThinkPad version. The keycaps are squared off, giving a more streamlined appearance and, in my opinion, a better feel. The switches seemed a bit lighter than many ThinkPads I’ve tested, and that’s an improvement in my book. I’ve usually found ThinkPad keyboards to require too much force. There’s still plenty of travel and a precise, snappy bottoming action, making it an excellent keyboard for long typing sessions. Lenovo also built air intake holes into the keyboard to improve thermal performance, and waterproof seals maintain the keyboard’s spill resistance. The layout remains the same, including the odd swapping of the left Fn and Ctrl keys.

The touchpad is wider than previous models and still hosts two buttons to support the red TrackPoint nubbin in the middle of the keyboard. That makes the touchpad slightly larger than in the past but still smaller than you’ll find on many competitive 14-inch laptops. Its glass surface is smooth and provides reliable support for Windows 11 multitouch gestures. And the TrackPoint works as well as ever for those ThinkPad diehards who prefer it.

Windows 11 Hello passwordless support is provided by a fingerprint reader built into the power button embedded in the deck above the keyboard. The power button’s placement helps avoid accidentally pressing the wrong key, and the fingerprint reader worked quickly and reliably in my testing.

Finally, the webcam is Full HD (1080p) and has a webcam privacy shutter. The webcam provides excellent video quality in normal and low-light environments and should meet anyone’s videoconferencing needs. There are options for a Full HD webcam with infrared for facial recognition and another with Lenovo’s Computer Vision technology.

Performance

Intel’s 12th-gen Core i7-1260P is our most-reviewed CPU over the last several months. It’s popular among thin and light laptops like the Carbon X1 Carbon, and we’ve seen some stratification in the chip’s performance. As a 28-watt, 12-core (four Performance and eight Efficient), 16-thread processor, the Core i7-1260P has provided at least solid productivity performance, but some laptops have performed better than others. The Acer Swift 3 2022 and MSI Prestige 14 are two laptops that provided overall superior performance than the average, while the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is among those providing significantly less performance.

That’s not a surprise given how previous models in the line have handled performance. This ThinkPad was particularly slow in our CPU-intensive benchmarks compared to competitors, including video encoding in Handbrake and the 3D rendering benchmark in Cinebench R23. The laptop’s PCMark 10 Complete result, a measure of a mix of productivity, multimedia, and creative tasks, was also lower than the average and even fell behind the 9th generation model with a Core i7-1165G7.

Performance didn’t live up to this CPU’s potential.

Oddly enough, I used Lenovo’s thermal management utility, and it performed worse in some tests in performance mode than in balanced mode.

Despite having a higher wattage chip inside, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 7 performed more like the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 with a 15-watt, 10-core (two Performance and eight Efficient), 12-core Core i7-1255U. I can’t say that the ThinkPad suffered from any unusual issues with throttling, at least no more than the rest of the thin-and-light field, but it didn’t perform up to this CPU’s potential.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll notice. It’s still a fast enough laptop for demanding productivity tasks, and it’s faster than Intel’s 11th-gen equivalents in most cases. But the ThinkPad’s ability to handle heavier tasks in creative applications is significantly less than with some other competitive machines.

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Complete
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,531 / 8,209
Perf: 1,580 / 8,342
Bal: 133
Perf: 138
Bal: 1,538 / 6,993
Perf: 1,538 / 6,783
4,982
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9
(Core i7-1165G7)
Bal: 1,327 / 5,201
Perf: 1,556 / 5,490
Bal: 170
Perf: 190
Bal: 1,469 / 4945
Perf: 1,463 / 4,968
5,147
MSI Prestige 14
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,505 / 10,041
Perf: 1,477 / 10,604
Bal: 114
Perf: 97
Bal: 1,553 / 8,734
Perf: 1,567 / 10,450
6,201
Acer Swift 3 2022
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,708 / 10,442
Perf: 1,694 / 10,382
Bal: 100
Perf: 98
Bal: 1,735 / 9,756
Perf: 1,779 / 10,165
5,545
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,650 / 8,080
Perf: 1,621 / 8,544
Bal: 116
Perf: 120
Bal: 1,587 / 7,682
Perf: 1,611 / 8,078
5,537
MSI Summit E14 Flip
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,485 / 7,732
Perf: 1,472 / 10,276
Bal: 152
Perf: 94
Bal: 1,536 / 6,793
Perf: 1,536 / 9,124
4,910
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Core i7-1255U)
Bal: 1,703 / 6,520
Perf: 1,685 / 6,791
Bal: 153
Perf: 141
Bal: 1,729 / 6,847
Perf: 1,773 / 7,009
5,138
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
Bal: 1,417 / 6,854
Perf: 1,404 / 7,223
Bal: 112
Perf: 111
Bal: 1,402 / 8,682
Perf: 1,409 / 8,860
5,647

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 utilizes Intel’s Iris Xe graphics, and it was an average performer in both the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark and Fortnite at 1200p and epic graphics. You’ll want to limit your gaming to older titles and esports.

3DMark
Time Spy
Fortnite
(1080p/1200p Epic)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,816
Perf: 1,820
Bal: 17 fps
Perf: 16 fps
MSI Prestige 14
(RTX 3050)
Bal: 4,438
Perf: 4,451
Bal: 23
Perf: 26
Acer Swift 3 2022
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,967
Perf: 1,967
Bal: 19 fps
Perf: 19 fps
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,899
Perf: 1,886
Bal: 17 fps
Perf: 16 fps
MSI Summit E14 Flip
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,740
Perf: 1,959
Bal: 15 fps
Perf: 19 fps
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,492
Perf: 1,502
Bal: fps
Perf: fps
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Radeon graphics)
Bal: 2,110
Perf: 2,213
Bal: 19 fps
Perf: 19 fps

Display and audio

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 front view showing display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Lenovo offers a mind-boggling assortment of display options for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10. There are seven 14-inch 16:10 panels to choose from, differentiated by an alphabet soup of acronyms. First, there are three WUXGA (1920 x 1200) LP (low-power), AG (anti-glare) panels, one non-touch and two touch-enabled. One of the WUXGA displays with touch includes Lenovo’s Privacy Guard feature. Next is a 2.2K (2240 x 1400) AG IPS screen, followed by a 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED AGARAS (anti-glare, anti-reflection, anti-smudge) display. Finally, there are two WQUXA (3840 x 2400) IPS displays, one LP AG non-touch and one LP AOFT (Add-on Film Touch) AGARAS touch.

Whew.

My review unit was equipped with the WUXGA LP AG touch display, which seemed fine during my testing. It was plenty bright, colors seemed dynamic without being oversaturated, and blacks were deep for an IPS panel.

My colorimeter confirmed my subjective experience. The display hit 411 nits of brightness, which is well above our 300-nit threshold and more than bright enough for any indoor lighting condition you’re likely to face. Its contrast was also excellent at 1660:1, well about the 1000:1 we like to see in premium displays. That resulted in true blacks, for example, text that pops on a white background (my personal standard) and plenty of detail in dark images.

Colors hit the premium laptop average of 98% of sRGB and 76% of AdobeRGB, although I’ve seen more displays lately falling in the 80s for AdobeRGB. Color accuracy was okay at a DeltaE of 1.96, below the 2.0 mark that’s the minimum for creative work but still higher than I like to see. The MSI Summit E14 Flip and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 had wider and more accurate colors.

This is an excellent display for productivity workers and media consumers, but it falls short of what creators are looking for. However, Lenovo offers so many display options that certainly anybody can dial in a display that will meet their needs.

Brightness
(nits)
Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is better)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
(IPS)
411 1660:1 98% 76% 1.96
MSI Prestige 14
(IPS)
317 1820:1 97% 72% 3.67
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(IPS)
386 1900:1 100% 81% 0.78
MSI Summit E14 Flip
(IPS)
516 1320:1 100% 89% 1.10
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(OLED)
406 28380:1 100% 95% 0.87
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon
(OLED)
397 27590:1 100% 96% 0.88

Two downward-firing speakers put out a surprising amount of volume, and the quality was better than I expected. Along with clean mids and highs without distortion, I heard a touch of bass. The speakers were strong enough for Netflix binging sessions and informal music listening, although a good pair of headphones will still provide the best quality.

Battery life

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 side view showing lid and ports.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

My review unit used a 28-watt CPU and a low-power WUXGA (also known as Full HD+) display. Its 57 watt-hours of battery capacity is a little light for a 14-inch laptop, especially compared to the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 with its 75 watt-hour battery. I wasn’t expecting all-day battery life.

After running our suite of battery benchmarks, I came away mostly impressed. Its 7.5 hours in our web browsing test that cycles through a series of complex websites is about half an hour less than we like to see, but it was competitive among our comparison group. The Yoga 9i Gen 7 lasted longer, as did the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 (with 71 watt-hours) and the AMD-equipped Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED with a power-hungry display. Even so, the ThinkPad did okay. In our video test that loops a local Full HD Avengers trailer, it lasted for 14.5 hours, a strong score likely thanks to its low-power display. And finally, in the PCMark 10 Applications test that’s the best indication of productivity battery life, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 made it to 10.75 hours, an above-average result.

Overall, the ThinkPad’s battery life is pretty good, promising a full day’s work unless you push the CPU. You’ll get less out of some of the available higher-resolution displays as well as the OLED option, but stick with this display and you won’t need to carry your charger with you.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10
Applications
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
(Core i7-1260P)
7 hours, 39 minutes 14 hours, 34 minutes 10 hours, 42 minutes
MSI Prestige 14
(Core i7-1260P)
5 hours, 11 minutes 6 hours, 2 minutes 7 hours, 2 minutes
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
10 hours, 10 minutes 16 hours, 12 minutes 10 hours, 33 minutes
MSI Summit E14 Flip
(Core i7-1260P)
7 hours, 23 minutes 9 hours, 0 minutes 7 hours, 54 minutes
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
9 hours, 10 minutes 12 hours, 45 minutes 8 hours, 32 minutes
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Core i7-1255U)
6 hours, 42 minutes 11 hours, 6 minutes 8 hours, 43 minutes
 Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
8 hours, 4 minutes 13 hours, 13 minutes N/A

Our take

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is a well-built and highly configurable laptop with options for the kind of management and security that businesses crave. For that audience, it’s a solid offering at a fair price.

For anyone else, the ThinkPad’s performance is lacking and it doesn’t offer as much to justify its high price. ThinkPad fans will love it, but other mainstream buyers should do their shopping first.

Are there any alternatives?

Dell’s Latitude 7430 is a likely alternative for the business market, offering similar management and security and a similar pricing scheme. It doesn’t offer the same breadth of display offerings as the ThinkPad.

Lenovo’s Yoga 9i Gen 7 is a strong competitor for the mainstream market, offering a more stunning design, the flexibility of a 2-in-1, better performance, and similar battery life. It costs a bit less as well.

Finally, Apple’s MacBook Pro 14 is a compelling option that’s exceptionally well-built and offers superior performance and battery life. It offers just one display option, but it’s as good as anything Lenovo has to offer. You’ll spend a bit more at the high end, though.

How long will it last?

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is well-built and should last for years of typical abuse. Its components are fully updated and will keep Windows 11 humming along. I’m glad to see the three-year warranty, which should be included with all business class and premium laptops.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if you’re a businessperson who will benefit from plugging into an enterprise environment or a ThinkPad fan who’s looking for the latest and greatest.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

‘As Dusk Falls’ review: A sluggish small-town soap opera

As Dusk Falls is an ambitious narrative adventure game that fails to execute its grandest ideas, hemorrhaging tension along the way. It attempts to tell a mature, action-packed tale about family and loss, but repeated missteps in logic and emotion strip the story of its power. From the mechanics to the branching narrative itself, As Dusk Falls sets clear goals and then fails to meet them, resulting in a choppy southwestern soap opera peppered with sluggish quick-time events.

It feels like this game was purpose-built for me to review it. I’m an Arizona native and the high-desert regions where most of As Dusk Falls takes place are home for me; I grew up hiking the mountain trails just outside of Flagstaff, camping among the creosote bushes and pine trees, and partying on the edges of the valley, surrounded by saguaros and dust. I know how the landscape shifts along the I-17 from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon, the mountains swallowing up flat dry land and spewing out smooth red rocks and craggy black cliffs.

I love my hometown and I was excited to see it portrayed in a video game, especially from a new UK studio headed up by Caroline Marchal, the lead designer of Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls. As far as the setting goes, As Dusk Falls gets it mostly right. I’m not going to be too precious about the details here — the landscape shifts from northern to southern desert in an unrealistic way and all the exit signs are European — because the environment does its job of grounding the characters in an isolated town.

As Dusk Falls

INTERIOR/NIGHT

What’s actually jarring is the dialect in As Dusk Falls, which leans heavily on stereotypically rural words like “ma” for mom, “pa” for dad and “pappy” for grandpa. These terms aren’t the norm in Arizona, even in small desert towns, and they come across as a cheap attempt to infuse the characters with generic “backwoods” traits.

I’d be able to forget the cliche turns of phrase if they weren’t symptomatic of the game as a whole. As Dusk Falls attempts to tell a realistic story that deals with mature subjects like death, suicide and generational trauma, but it places a Hollywood filter over all of its scenes, complete with small-town caricatures, blubbering deathbed monologues and sociopathic responses to murder. As Dusk Falls fails to let its dramatic moments breathe, choking the tension out of the game as a whole.

As Dusk Falls begins in 1998 and features a wide cast of characters, though the main story focuses on two families — one from small-town Arizona and the other passing through on a drive from Sacramento to St. Louis. The local family consists of three brothers on the brink of adulthood, plus ma and pa. The traveling family consists of a dad and mom in their early 30s, their daughter who’s about 10 and her grandpa. For the bulk of the game, you play as the youngest local and the father of the traveling family.

As Dusk Falls

INTERIOR/NIGHT

These families’ paths cross at a motel in the middle of the desert, where the brothers end up in a standoff with the sheriff’s department, holding everyone in the lobby hostage at gunpoint. As the standoff unfolds, players control the dad of the traveling family, deciding what to say and do in response to the brothers’ orders. The game swaps between past and present for both families, showing how they ended up in such a desperate situation, and players’ choices dictate how the story unfolds.

Though the narrative extends past the motel, there are numerous examples of lost tension in the hostage scenes alone. Details will vary depending on the choices each player makes, but in my time with the game, two significant characters ended up shot and killed inside the motel. These characters had strong, loving ties to the remaining group members, yet their deaths were barely acknowledged. Instead, characters that should have been consumed by grief — or, like, any emotion — were soon having conversations about their travel plans and career moves, with barely a word for the dearly departed.

As Dusk Falls

INTERIOR/NIGHT

In As Dusk Falls, it feels like the second a character dies, they’ve served their purpose; the moment anyone steps off-screen, they’re forgotten. This is a pitfall of interactive storytelling — even hits like Until Dawn have awkward pauses or nonsensical dialogue when the writers haven’t properly accounted for all of the player’s decisions. Still, as a game that relies on narrative-driven progression, these anomalies should’ve been addressed. It’s also worth noting that As Dusk Falls can be played with friends online and locally, though I’ve only tried single-player.

The motel is a mess of dramatic but illogical events: The dad exits the hostage situation multiple times and always ends up running back to his captors, throwing out a line like, “but my family’s in there” as explanation. Characters disappear and suddenly reappear when it’s time for a big story beat — and this includes the entire sheriff’s squad. A woman is allowed to walk into the motel in the middle of an active, already-lethal standoff. And don’t get me started on the dad’s two-way pager, which doesn’t have a keyboard but somehow still functions like a modern text app.

As Dusk Falls expands beyond ‘90s Arizona, traveling across the country and 14 years into the future. Most drama in the game feels forced and unearned, and what remains plays out like a soap opera, subsisting on surface-level emotion and oddly timed monologues.

Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

‘Stray’ review: A cute and contained cyberpunk adventure game

Despite the fact that it stars a cat, there’s no extra fluff in Stray. The game takes place under the dome of an artificial sky, in a futuristic city populated by robots and cut off from the natural world, and mechanically, it’s also perfectly contained. Every detail in Stray serves a purpose, whether it’s an environmental cue nudging players toward a specific path or the ability to meow at will, which is adorable, but can also distract enemies in combat scenes.

Stray is a cyberpunk playground where players are rewarded for trusting their instincts, and it offers a beautiful balance of exploration, puzzle solving and soothing cat activities. And somehow along the way, it manages to tell a heart-wrenching human story without any people at all.

Cat people, you’re going to love Stray, but there are also some scenes that are hard to watch. The game begins with a gang of four cats living their best lives in a lush, overgrown industrial park that’s long been abandoned by people. Players are an orange tabby, leaping across huge pipes and steel beams until one slip changes everything. As its friends look on, the cat falls dozens of storeys down a deep, pitch-black hole, landing in a broken heap on the concrete floor of a sewer. The cat is injured, making players walk around limping and woozy for a while before recovering normal mobility. The injury scene is tough to watch and even harder to play, even for a dog person like myself, but it builds an instant emotional connection with the tabby that carries through the entire game.

The bulk of Stray takes place in the neon-lit neighborhoods trapped under the dome and populated by anthropomorphic robots. Players explore while trying to find a way back to their friends in the sunlight, and eventually the cat is equipped with a cute little drone that helps it communicate with the robots and hack certain terminals. The drone, B-12, is attempting to solve a mystery of its own – while traversing the cities, players collect memories from random shining objects, helping B-12 remember where it came from.

Stray’s world was built for humans and bipedal robots, which makes it particularly intriguing to explore as a cat. From a foot off the ground, things like doors are useless, while items like pipes, railings and air conditioning units provide ideal platforms for scaling buildings and navigating the twisting alleyways under the dome. The environmental puzzles take advantage of this cat-level perspective, inviting players to look at the world with different, light-reflective eyes.

Stray

BlueTwelve Studio

None of the riddles in Stray are overly complicated, though quite a few of them are clever. The most engaging puzzles ask players to travel back and forth among multiple locations, helping or tricking various robots to get what’s needed, with minimal direction from the game itself. These puzzles are solved by exploring the cities and talking with their inhabitants, naturally building out the lore at the same time. And Stray doesn’t stick with any mechanic for too long, presenting new enemies and fresh situations to solve with each environment.

The path forward in Stray is usually obvious, with yellow paint marking jumpable platforms and large neon arrows often pointing the way. These navigation elements aren’t exactly subtle, but they blend into the richness of the city, only standing out when they’re really needed. This makes progressing in Stray feel completely natural – with the environment constantly directing players along the proper path, the next leap is usually the right one, and this keeps the pace up nicely overall.

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Categories
Computing

HP Pavilion Pro 14 review: OLED on the cheap

HP Pavilion Plus 14

MSRP $850.00

“HP Pavilion Plus 14 offers a 90Hz OLED screen at an unbeatable price.”

Pros

  • Spectacular 90Hz OLED display
  • Class-leading build quality
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad
  • Solid productivity performance
  • Strong value at sale prices

Cons

  • Review unit performance limited by throttling
  • Poor battery life

HP’s Pavilion line carries its budget to mid-range laptops, and it’s offered some solid options over the years. For 2022, the company decided to upscale the line with the Pavilion Plus 14, a laptop that’s the thinnest Pavilion yet and the first with an OLED display. And it’s a 90Hz display, offered at an extremely attractive price.

It’s a competitive market, though, and HP has its job cut out.

My review unit is currently on sale at HP.com for $850, down from $1,000. That’s a compelling price for a 12th-gen Intel Core i7-12700H CPU and a 14-inch 16:10 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED display running at 90Hz. In fact, it’s one of the least expensive OLED laptops around, and it’s a step up from most, thanks to the display’s faster refresh rate. There are other excellent deals available, and if you can get the Pavilion Plus 14 at one of its sale prices, you’re getting an outstanding laptop for a fantastic price.

Design

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Pavilion Plus 14 is constructed of all aluminum, and you can tell. The chassis and lid evoke confidence in the laptop’s durability thanks to a lack of twisting, bending, or flexing. The Pavilion Plus 14 is as robust as some laptops I’ve reviewed lately that cost significantly more, such as the $1,500 MSI Prestige 14. Like that machine, the Pavilion Plus 14 isn’t quite as solid as the Dell XPS 15 or the MacBook Pro, but it’s close, and those two are much more expensive.

Even the Pavilion Plus 14’s hinge is well-designed, allowing the lid to be opened with one hand while holding the display firmly in place. The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 and Asus Vivobook S 14X retail for around the same price as the Pavilion Plus 14, and neither are as rigid in their construction.

The laptop’s design is simple and streamlined, with five available colors — Natural Silver, Tranquil Pink, Mineral Silver (dark gray), Warm Gold, and Space Blue. My review unit was the silver model, sporting a minimalist but attractive aesthetic. That’s common among laptops today, with few standing out, particularly at budget and mid-range prices. For example, the Asus Vivobook S 14X is another similarly priced and conservatively designed laptop.

The Pavilion Plus 14 has been slimmed down compared to other Pavilion laptops, coming in at 0.72 inches and 3.09 pounds. The plastic display bezels are small for the class, with an 87% screen-to-body ratio that’s higher than most similarly priced laptops. That’s partly thanks to the switch to a 16:10 display, which makes the laptop narrower than previous Pavilion 14 models and slightly deeper. The Vivobook S 14X is wider and deeper while marginally thinner at 0.70 inches and considerably heavier at 3.59 pounds. The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is wider and deeper, again thinner at 0.65 inches and heavier at 3.23 pounds.

There are plenty of ports, with two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, 2 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a full-size HDMI 2.1 port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader. The most significant omission is Thunderbolt 4 support, which isn’t a shock at this price point but still a bit disappointing. Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 provide wireless connectivity.

Price and configurations

As of when this review is being written, most configurations of the Pavilion Plus 14 are heavily discounted. The best deal is the entry-level model that’s $550 at Staples (on sale from $780) with a 12th-gen Intel Core i5-1240P CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 14-inch 2.2K (2240 x 1400) IPS display. The Core i5-1240P is a 28-watt 12-core (four Performance and eight Efficient) and 16-thread processor running at a max frequency of 4.4GHz.

My review unit retails for $1,000 but is on sale for $850, with a Core i7-12700H (see the performance section), 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 14-inch 2.8K OLED display. Spend $1,130 (on sale from $1,310), and you get an Intel Core i7-1255U CPU, 12GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2050 GPU, and the 14-inch OLED display. Oddly enough, the Core i7-1255U is a 15-watt 10-core (two Performance and eight Efficient), 12-thread CPU. You can mix and match more CPU and GPU options using the configure-to-order tool at HP.com.

The Asus Vivobook S 14X is similarly priced at retail, $1,100 for a Core i7-12700H, 12GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, Intel Iris Xe graphics, and a 14-inch 2.8K OLED display at 120Hz. For $900, you can get a Core i5-12500H, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and the OLED display. Another laptop that’s priced around the same is the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1, which is $1,050 for a Core i7-1255U, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 14-inch Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) display. Although the Pavilion Plus 14’s configuration options are complex and sometimes confusing, the laptop is a great value at its various sale prices.

Performance

HP Pavilion Plus 14 front view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

My review unit was built around the 12th-gen Intel Core i7-12700H, a 45-watt CPU with 12 cores (four Performance and eight Efficient) and 16 threads. It’s a processor that we don’t often see in thin-and-light ultrabooks like the Pavilion Plus 14, which typically equip 28-watt Intel P-Series or 15-watt U-Series CPUs. Also unusual is that the Pavilion Plus 14 is limited to Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics. Usually, the 45-watt CPUs are paired with discrete graphics.

We have one comparison machine that also used a Core i7-12700H and Iris Xe graphics, the Asus Vivobook S 14X. Looking at our benchmarks, the Pavilion Plus 14 had a similar performance. In Geekbench 5, its single-core scores were lower but its multi-core scores were higher. It was essentially tied in our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, and it was slower in Cinebench R23. Both laptops were below other machines with the same CPU, such as the Dell XPS 15, and depending on the benchmark, both were closer to laptops with the 28-watt Core i7-1260P. Unfortunately, the Pavilion Plus 14 wouldn’t complete the PCMark 10 Applications test, which is a good test of general productivity performance.

Another similarity between the two laptops was that both demonstrated significant throttling. I used each laptop’s thermal control utility to test in balanced and performance modes, and I noted that each hit 95 degrees C or higher and throttled in our CPU-intensive benchmarks. That clearly limited their performance. As I pointed out with the Asus, it’s not that the Pavilion Plus 14 is slow; it’s that it’s not benefiting from the more powerful CPU given its very thin chassis.

The biggest difference is that the Pavilion Pro 14 can be configured with the 28-watt Core i5-1240P, which could provide similar performance if it throttles less, and the 15-watt Core i7-1255U, which would presumably offer improved efficiency. And, the HP is significantly less expensive than the Asus in most of its configurations.

Ultimately, my review unit performed well for an $850 laptop and okay for a retail price of $1,000. It’s going to keep up with demanding productivity workflows, and it can do some very lightweight creative tasks as well. As I just mentioned, though, the 45-watt CPU is wasted on the thin chassis, and HP might have been better off going with the Core i7-1260P.

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,462 / 8,531
Perf: 1,472 / 8,531
Bal: 104
Perf: 102
Bal: 1,523 / 8,358
Perf: 1,716 / 10,915
Asus Vivobook S 14X
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,595 / 6,692
Perf: 1,681 / 7,175
Bal: 113
Perf: 102
Bal: 1,757 / 10,339
Perf: 1,792 / 12,051
Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,470 / 9,952
Perf: 1,714 / 11,053
Bal: 100
Perf: 77
Bal: 1,509 / 11,578
Perf: 1,806 / 13,313
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Core i7-1255U)
Bal: 1,703 / 6,520
Perf: 1,685 / 6,791
Bal: 153
Perf: 141
Bal: 1,729 / 6,847
Perf: 1,773 / 7,009
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,650 / 8,080
Perf: 1,621 / 8,544
Bal: 116
Perf: 120
Bal: 1,587 / 7,682
Perf: 1,611 / 8,078
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,717 / 9,231
Perf: 1,712 / 10,241
Bal: 130
Perf: 101
Bal: 1,626 / 7,210
Perf: 1,723 / 8,979
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
Bal: 1,417 / 6,854
Perf: 1,404 / 7,223
Bal: 112
Perf: 111
Bal: 1,402 / 8,682
Perf: 1,409 / 8,860

The Pavilion Plus 14 can be configured with up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2050, but my review unit used Intel Iris Xe graphics. It scored slightly below average in the 3DMark Time Spy test, but its Fortnite performance was around average at 15 frames per second (fps) at 1200p and epic graphics. It’s not a gaming laptop unless you limit your library to older titles and eSports games.

3DMark
Time Spy
Fortnite
(1080p/1200p Epic)
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,520
Perf: 1,577
Bal: 15
Perf: 16
Asus Vivobook S 14X
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,251
Perf: 1,253
Bal: 6
Perf: 7
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,899
Perf: 1,886
Bal: 17 fps
Perf: 16 fps
MSI Summit E14 Flip
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,740
Perf: 1,959
Bal: 15 fps
Perf: 19 fps
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,658
Perf: 1,979
Bal: 12 fps
Perf: N/A
LG Gram 16 2-in-1
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,746
Perf: 1,919
Bal: 15 fps
Perf: 20 fps
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(AMD Radeon)
Bal: 2,110
Perf: 2,213
Bal: 19 fps
Perf: 19 fps

Display and audio

HP Pavilion Plus 14 front view showing display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

One of the most important recent advances in display technology is the widespread adaptation of OLED panels. They provide brighter and more accurate colors and deeper blacks, making for excellent productivity, creativity, and media consumption displays. If you can get an OLED display for less than $1,000, that’s a terrific value proposition, and when that display runs at 90Hz, it’s even better. Higher refresh rates help make Windows 11 a smoother experience, not to mention allowing games to run tear-free at higher frame rates (not that we’re worried about that with integrated graphics).

My review unit was configured with the 2.8K (2880 x 1800) 90Hz OLED display, and it was beautiful out of the box. If I’d spent $850 on the laptop, I’d be tickled pink with the bright and accurate colors, inky blacks, and smooth Windows 11 experience.

According to my colorimeter, HP didn’t cut any corners with the display. Brightness was excellent at 398 nits, well above our threshold of 300 nits for working in all lighting conditions except direct sunlight. Colors were wide at 100% of sRGB and 95% of AdobeRGB, and they were extremely accurate at a DeltaE of 0.78 (1.0 or less is indistinguishable to the human eye). And, of course, the contrast was extremely deep at 27,830:1, making for inky blacks.

This is a spectacular display at any price; it’s a steal at $1,000 or less. It’s a display that will please everyone, from productivity workers to creators to hardcore media consumers.

Brightness
(nits)
Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is better)
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(OLED)
398 27,830:1 100% 95% 0.78
Asus Vivobook S 14X
(OLED)
403 27,930:1 100% 99% 1.07
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(IPS)
386 1,900:1 100% 81% 0.78
MSI Summit E14 Flip
(IPS)
516 1,320:1 100% 89% 1.10
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(OLED)
406 28,380:1 100% 95% 0.87
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro
(IPS)
369 1,340:1 100% 80% 1.65
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon
(OLED)
397 27,590:1 100% 96% 0.88

Two downward-firing speakers on the front bottom of the chassis provide the audio, putting out very low volume sound. What they lacked in loudness, the speakers made up for in quality, with clear mids and highs and a surprising amount of bass. You’ll want some headphones for music and serious binging, but for watching a video every now and then, the audio quality is fine.

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

HP Pavilion Plus 14 top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Pavilion Plus 14 enjoys a nicely sized keyboard with large keycaps, and its switches are light with a precise bottoming action. It’s almost as good as the keyboard on HP’s Spectre line and has the same row of navigation keys on the right-hand side. As I was writing this review, I found the keyboard very comfortable for longer typing sessions.

The touchpad is large and has a smooth surface that makes for precise swiping with support for the full complement of Windows 11 multitouch gestures, thanks to Microsoft Precision drivers. The buttons are responsive and quiet. You won’t find a better touchpad on many laptops costing twice as much. The display isn’t touch-enabled, unfortunately.

Windows 11 Hello passwordless support is provided by a fingerprint reader on the palm rest, which isn’t as convenient as those built into the power button. Nevertheless, it was quick and reliable during my testing.

HP built a 5MP webcam into the Pavilion Plus 14 along with some technology to improve image quality. The video was smooth and detailed, much better than the average, and good enough to make for excellent videoconferencing.

Battery life

HP Pavilion Plus 14 side view showing ports and lid.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Pavilion Plus 14 has 51 watt-hours of battery capacity, which is a little on the low side for a 14-inch laptop, and my review unit equipped a 45-watt CPU and a power-hungry high-res OLED display. I wasn’t expecting miracles in terms of battery life.

I didn’t get any. The Pavilion Plus 14 demonstrated below-average battery life in all our tests, starting with our web browsing test that cycles through a handful of complex websites, where it hit 4.5 hours. That’s around half of what we like to see in this test. In our video test that loops a local Full HD Avengers trailer, the HP managed just 7.5 hours, again well under average. And in the PCMark 10 Applications test that’s the best indication of productivity battery life, it hit just 4.75 hours, again significantly less than average.

Overall, the Pavilion Plus 14 is unlikely to get you through a full day of productivity tasks. You might be lucky to make it to lunch. The other configurations with lower-watt CPUs may do better, but my review unit configuration will need its charger kept handy.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10
Applications
 HP Pavilion Plus 14
(Core i7-12700H)
4 hours, 29 minutes 7 hours, 29 minutes 5 hours, 48 minutes
Asus Vivobook S 14X
(Core i7-12700H)
6 hours, 20 minutes 8 hours, 18 minutes 7 hours, 1 minute
Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
9 hours, 38 minutes 12 hours, 40 minutes 11 hours, 14 minutes
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
10 hours, 10 minutes 16 hours, 12 minutes 10 hours, 33 minutes
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
9 hours, 10 minutes 12 hours, 45 minutes 8 hours, 32 minutes
 Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
8 hours, 4 minutes 13 hours, 13 minutes N/A
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon
(Ryzen 7 5800U)
10 hours, 6 minutes 11 hours, 12 minutes 9 hours, 22 minutes

Our take

The HP Pavilion Plus 14 isn’t the first thin-and-light laptop I’ve reviewed with a 45-watt CPU and, apparently, thermally limited performance. However, it’s much more forgivable at an $850 sale price with a spectacular 90Hz OLED display. The battery life is disappointing, but the build quality is excellent, as are the keyboard and touchpad. And as this review is being written, you can buy the Pavilion Plus 14 with a Core i5-1240P CPU and a 2.2K IPS display for as low as $550, which is a tremendous value.

The Pavilion Plus 14 is an attractive mid-range laptop even at full retail prices. And I can’t stress enough how nice it is to get such a great OLED display at such a low price.

Are there any alternatives?

There aren’t many laptops in the same price range offering 12th-gen Intel CPUs. I’ve reviewed a couple of them, and neither offers quite the same overall value as the Pavilion Plus 14.

However, if you can spend a bit more, then Lenovo’s Yoga 9i Gen 7 is a solid option. It has its own incredible OLED display and a stunning new design, it performs similarly, and it has better battery life. As a convertible 2-in-1, it offers a more flexible form factor.

You could drop down in display size slightly and consider the Apple MacBook Air M2. Although it’s $1,200 with less RAM at 8GB and storage at 256GB, it will be significantly faster and will offer considerably better battery life. And its display should be more than good enough.

How long will it last?

The Pavilion Plus 14 is exceptionally well-built for a budget to mid-range laptop, and it should last for years of productive service. Its components are modern, although the lack of Thunderbolt 4 does hold it back. Its industry-standard one-year warranty is okay at these prices.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if you can get it at a sale price. Performance is good if limited by the thin chassis, and the build quality, keyboard, and touchpad are all excellent. Battery life is a disappointment, though, with the review configuration. Other configurations with lower-watt CPUs might last longer.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Computing

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook review: The new standard

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook

“The HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is the ultimate premium Chromebook, especially for business.”

Pros

  • Outstanding Chrome OS performance
  • Superior haptic touchpad
  • Beautiful display
  • Attractive aesthetic
  • Google Enterprise support with vPro
  • Excellent connectivity with Thunderbolt 4

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Below-average battery life

Chromebooks continue to grow in excellence, but there’s never been a Chromebook that felt what I would call “cutting edge.”

And then, there’s the HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. There are several platform-first innovations tucked inside this little Chromebook, including a haptic touchpad, an Intel vPro processor, and a 5-megapixel webcam.

I reviewed a $1,734 configuration of the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook with a 12th-gen Intel Core i5-1245U with vPro and a 13.5-inch 3:2 WXUGA (2256 x 1504) IPS display. Like all Elite Dragonfly machines, the 2-in-1 was thin, light, and attractive, and thanks to the CPU, it was incredibly fast. There’s just never been a Chromebook this premium.

Design

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is constructed of a magnesium-aluminum alloy contributing to its light weight of 2.8 pounds. As I’ve seen with such laptops, there’s some bending in the lid and flex in the keyboard deck. It’s not a knock against the laptop, given that the alloy itself is quite strong and the machine will hold up to some abuse. HP also subjected the laptop to MIL-STD 810H military test for robustness.

But it’s still a different rigidity than you’ll find in all-aluminum designs. The HP Elite C1030 Chromebook and Lenovo ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook are two such laptops, and both feel more solid. The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook’s hinge is perfect, though, allowing the lid to be opened with one hand yet holding the display in place in clamshell, tent, media, and tablet modes.

In addition to being lightweight, the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is thin at 0.65 inches. Its display bezels are thin along the sides but a little larger than other modern devices on the top and bottom.

It has an understated and elegant look.

Given the 13.5-inch 3:2 display, the 2-in-1 is nicely sized, about an inch less wide than thin-and-light 14-inch 2-in-1s but equally as deep as those with 16:10 displays. It’s within fractions of an inch of the Elite C1030 Chromebook, which also has a 13.5-inch 3:2 display. Overall, the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is a very compact laptop given the display size.

The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook shares the same aesthetic as the rest of the Elite Dragonfly line. It’s a dark blue color that borders on black, and its lines are simple and minimalist. There are some chrome accents on the hinges and a chrome HP logo on the lid; otherwise, the laptop is unadorned. It’s an understated and elegant look that’s attractive without standing out. The Elite C1030 Chromebook is flashier, while the upcoming Lenovo ThinkPad C14 Chromebook Enterprise looks dull by comparison.

Ports

Connectivity is a real strength not only for such a thin and light laptop but also for a Chromebook. First, there are two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, which is unusual for a Chrome OS laptop. That opens up a range of expansion options, including working with all of HP’s excellent Thunderbolt docks with up to three external displays.

There’s also a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port, a full-size HDMI 2.0 port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a microSD card reader.

Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 provide wireless connectivity, and both 4G LTE and 5G WWAN options are available.

Performance

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook rear view showing lid and logo.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

My review unit was equipped with the Intel 12th-gen Core i5-1245U with vPro, a 15-watt CPU with 10 cores (two Performance and eight Efficient) and 12 threads. It’s Intel’s mid-range processor for thin-and-light laptops, with the P-series running at 28 watts and lower-power U-series versions running at 9 watts. Chrome OS is a very lightweight and efficient operating system, making the Core i5-1245U almost overkill for the platform. Combined with the 8GB of RAM in my review unit, the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook should fly — and you can configure the machine with an insane 32GB of RAM.

I can’t run our full suite of benchmarks on Chromebooks, but in the Android version of Geekbench 5, the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook achieved one of the highest scores we’ve seen on a Chrome OS laptop. It was slightly slower in multi-core mode than the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 with an 11th-gen four-core/eight-thread Core i5-1135G7, but significantly faster in single-core mode. And in the Speedometer 2.0 web benchmark, the HP achieved the highest score we’ve recorded at 206, well ahead of the Chromebook Flip CX5.

Simply put, you’ll have to work hard to overwhelm the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. I opened numerous Chrome tabs and ran several Android apps in the background and couldn’t get the laptop to slow down.

Geekbench 5
(single / multi)
Speedometer 2.0
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
(Core i5-1245U)
1,394 / 4,055 206
HP Elite C1030 Chromebook
(Core i7-10610U)
1,102 / 3,216 114
Acer Chromebook Spin 513
(MediaTek Kompanio 1380)
936 / 3,438 76
HP Chromebook x360 14c
(Core i3-1125G4)
898 / 2,866 N/A
HP Chromebook x2 11
(Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c)
590 / 1,689 45
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5
(Core i5-1135G7)
1,190 / 4,151 163

Display

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook front view showing display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Out of the box, I was impressed with the 13.5-inch 3:2 WXUGA (2,256 x 1,504) IPS display. The background featured a cloth floral arrangement against a deep black backdrop, and I had to check the specs to ensure the panel was indeed IPS and not OLED. As I tested the laptop, I found the colors to be bright and dynamic, and the display was a pleasure to use.

I can’t apply my colorimeter to Chromebooks and can only provide my subjective experience. But the display was bright enough to use in my typical working environments, and black text popped on a white background. It’s an excellent display for productivity users and creators and one of the better displays I’ve seen on a Chromebook.

A 1000-nit HP SureView privacy screen option makes the display impossible to read from outside of a direct-on angle. It’s a great display for anyone who’s particularly worried about the privacy of their data.

Audio is provided by four speakers, two upward-firing above the keyboard and two downward-firing at the front bottom of the chassis. The setup put out plenty of sound that was just a tiny bit distorted at full volume, with clear mids and highs and a bit of bass. It was good enough for watching YouTube videos and the occasional Netflix show, but music lovers and bingers will want to pull out their favorite pair of headphones.

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The keyboard has larger keycaps with tight spacing, and the switches are light and springy with a nice click when bottoming out. It’s a very precise and comfortable keyboard that’s as good as HP’s Spectre keyboards which are among the best Windows versions.

The 3:2 touchpad is a haptic version, and it’s excellent. It’s large with a very comfortable surface, and it responds immediately to taps and clicks. The feedback felt natural and was reliable during my testing. It was a great overall experience, with the entire touchpad surface responding equally to input. Not only does the haptic mechanism provide feedback for clicks, but it also lets you know when you’ve snapped a window to either side and when you move a desktop in multiple desktop mode. There are apparently more effects that I didn’t discover during my testing, but clearly, the platform is there to make great use of the haptic technology.

The display is touch-enabled, of course, and works as well as usual. It supports an active pen, which is included with some configurations and magnetically attaches to the right side of the chassis for storage and wireless charging. I found the pen to support Chrome OS inking with precision and reliability.

The webcam is a 5MP version, providing excellent resolution for high-quality video streaming. The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is an outstanding laptop for hybrid workers who need videoconferencing to stay connected to colleagues. The webcam has a physical slider for privacy.

Security and management

The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is one of the few Chrome OS laptops with biometric login, in this case, a fingerprint reader located on the palm rest. It worked quickly and reliably in my testing and made the Chromebook much more convenient to use.

More important, though, are the security and management features afforded by Chrome OS Enterprise coupled with the Intel vPro CPU. Chrome OS is already a secure operating system, but the Enterprise version takes things to an entirely new level. Most importantly, a company’s IT department can approve and block apps and extensions, remotely disable and wipe machines, and protect an entire fleet with advanced security controls.

The vPro CPU enables total memory encryption (TME) and Keylocker, safeguarding sensitive data from hackers. The Google Admin Console allows centralized control over Keylocker, TME, Thunderbolt driver and firmware versions, and management of Wi-Fi configurations.

Battery life

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook top down view showing hinge.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Elite Dragonfly Chromebooks packs 50 watt-hours of battery capacity into its small frame, which isn’t a huge amount for a 13.5-inch laptop. Chrome OS is a very efficient operating system, though, while the Core i5-1245U is a lower-watt part in Intel’s 12th-gen lineup. It’s going up against some ARM CPUs in our comparison group, though, so I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of battery life to expect.

What I saw was slightly disappointing battery life. The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook managed just eight hours in our web browsing test that cycles through a handful of complex and popular websites. That might not sound all that bad, and it’s not. But in the context of other Chromebooks, which tend to excel in battery life, it’s definitely below average. In our video test that loops a local 1080p movie trailer, the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook hit 9.25 hours. Again, that’s below average, even if Chrome OS laptops typically don’t do as well in this test.

Overall, I’d rate battery life as less than stellar. Depending on your workflow, you may or may not get a full day’s work on a single charge. If this laptop has a weakness, longevity is it.

Web browsing Video
HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook
(Core i5-1245U)
7 hours, 59 minutes 9 hours, 13 minutes
HP Elite C1030 Chromebook
(Core i7-10610U)
8 hours, 33 minutes 10 hours, 34 minutes
Acer Chromebook Spin 513
(MediaTek Kompanio 1380)
11 hours, 7 minutes 12 hours, 42 minutes
HP Chromebook x360 14c
(Core i3-1125G4)
7 hours, 44 minutes 8 hours, 2 minutes
HP Chromebook x2 11
(Qualcomm Snapdragon 7c)
12 hours, 42 minutes 10 hours, 59 minutes
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5
(Core i5-1135G7)
9 hours, 25 minutes 8 hours, 50 minutes

Pricing and configurations

HP Elite Dragonfly Chromebook top view showing lid and logo.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Pricing for the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is quite different between pre-configured models and custom configurations, with the latter being considerably more expensive. I’m only seeing one pre-configured model on HP’s website as I write this review, so I’ll list the pricing for custom-configured models here. Just be aware that there will be less expensive pre-configured models available. My review unit costs $1,734 configured with a Core i5-1245P with vPro, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe SSD, and the 13.5-inch QHD+ (2256 x 1504) IPS display.

The entry-level pre-configured model is $1,149 with a Core i3-1215U, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB PCIe SSD, and a 13.5-inch WUXGA+ (1920 x 1280) display. At the high end, you’ll spend $2,278 for a Core i7-1265U with vPro, 32GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, a 13.5-inch WUXGA+ Sure View Privacy screen, and 5G WWAN support.

Our take

There’s no other Chrome OS laptop quite like the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook. Its haptic touchpad is better than most touchpads on any platform, coming in a close second to Apple’s Force Touch touchpads. Its vPro CPU enables extensive security and management for large organizations. And when fully configured, it’s the fastest Chromebook you can buy.

No, this isn’t a Chromebook that many consumers are likely to buy, mainly because of the high price. But any business looking for a secure, manageable, high-performing, and innovative Chromebook now has just one logical choice.

Are there any alternatives?

Right now, there really aren’t any legitimate alternatives. HP has jumped far ahead of the curve with the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, with Intel 12th-gen CPUs with vPro that no other Chrome OS laptop can match.

The Lenovo ThinkPad C14 Chromebook Enterprise is a clamshell laptop with 12th-Gen Intel processors with vPro, but it’s listed as “coming soon.” Once it arrives, it still won’t have a haptic touchpad or 2-in-1 form factor.

If you don’t need the Chrome OS Enterprise features of the Elite Dragonfly Chromebook, then there are many less expensive machines to consider. However, none of them will have the wealth of features that the HP enjoys.

How long will it last?

The Elite Dragonfly Chromebook is built well enough to last through years of abuse, and it’s equipped to power Chrome OS for years to come. The one-year warranty is particularly disappointing for such an expensive laptop, though.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if you’re a business that’s looking for the most advanced, secure, and manageable Chromebook available today. Consumer Chromebook buyers should look elsewhere.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Computing

Sony InZone M9 monitor review: The ultimate PS5 HDR monitor?

Sony InZone M9 gaming monitor

MSRP $900.00

“The Sony InZone M9 challenges the state of HDR in gaming monitors under $1,000.”

Pros

  • Excellent HDR for under $1,000
  • Auto tone mapping with PS5
  • Works with G-Sync and FreeSync
  • Easy to use OSD and software
  • KVM switch with two USB ports
  • DisplayPort over USB-C

Cons

  • Vignetting around the edges
  • Stand doesn’t get high enough
  • SDR is lacking behind VA panels
  • Poor color and brightness uniformity

Sony is entering the world of gaming monitors, and it clearly isn’t content to do that quietly. The Sony InZone M9 challenges the old guard of 4K gaming monitors, upping the ante with full-array local dimming, HDR that isn’t terrible, and a unique, space-saving design — oh, and all for under $1,000.

A spec sheet would have any display enthusiast sold on the M9 in a heartbeat, and some of that is earned. However, for as much as Sony’s first gaming monitor gets right, it also gets a number of things wrong. The stand doesn’t make sense for most people, and I experienced panel issues on two separate units. And, if you don’t care about HDR, there isn’t much to sell you on the M9 over the competition from LG and Samsung.

For that group with a PlayStation 5 and a PC that cares about HDR performance, though, the InZone M9 is offering something that the market just doesn’t have right now. And most importantly, it’s a step forward for the largely stagnant market of the best monitors.

Specs

  Sony InZone M9 (SDM-U27M90)
Screen size 27 inches
Panel type IPS
Resolution 3840 x 2560 (4K)
Peak brightness 600 nits
HDR DisplayHDR 600 w/ Full Array Local Dimming (96 zones)
Response time 1ms GtG
Refresh rate 144Hz
Curve None
Speakers 2x 2W
Inputs 2x HDMI 2.1, 1x DisplayPort 1.4, USB-C
USB ports 2x USB-A, 1x USB-B
Adjustments Height adjustment (2.5 inches)
List price $899

Design and features

Destiny 2 running on the Sony InZone M9 gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The InZone M9 looks great, especially next to a PlayStation 5. They’re purpose-built for each other, with the monitor wrapping stark white plastic around a black interior for a futuristic look. The monitor even has a glow behind it like the PS5, as well, which you can adjust to match the look of the LEDs on the console.

The stand is where things get funky though. It has three legs, unlike the standard two you find on most monitor stands. It’s certainly a unique look, and it’s a huge space saver on cramped desks.

I’m just not sure what Sony was thinking with the ergonomics here. It’s just tall enough. Even at its highest point, I couldn’t find a position where I wasn’t tilting my neck downwards. The range of height adjustment is so low, too, so there’s very little room to adjust it how you want. Unless you have a lot of room for height adjustment with your desk and chair, the InZone M9 was uncomfortable to use without a monitor arm. There’s a touch of tilt adjustment to help, but you’ll still be angling your neck down in most cases.

The ergonomics are a shame because the M9 and its stand really do look fantastic. Sony took advantage of the PS5 beyond looks, too. The M9 features an automatic genre mode that can toggle between the low-latency Game mode and quality-focused Cinema mode depending on what you’re doing on your PS5.

The back of the Sony InZone M9 gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

More importantly, the M9 does automatic HDR tone mapping. The PS5 can detect the M9 as the monitor, and it will adjust the color and brightness values it spits out to cater to Sony’s display. I’ll dig more into that in the performance sections below, but spoiler alert: the HDR tone mapping is really good.

Ports and controls

Menu on the Sony InZone M9 monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The M9 has a great selection of ports: two HDMI 2.1 to support 4K at 120Hz on the PS5, a single DisplayPort 1.4 connection, and even support for USB-C. You get a couple of USB ports if you hook up the USB-B connection to your PC, and thanks to the KVM switch inside the M9, you can swap your peripherals between devices just by changing the input. All thumbs up here.

What’s more exciting is the OSD. I’ve praised the menus on monitors like the Acer Predator X28, but even they don’t hold a candle to the M9. You get a large, clearly legible, and understandable OSD that’s dead simple to navigate with the joystick behind the right side of the monitor. Sony uses a separate power button, too, so you won’t accidentally switch off the display.

The InZone Hub invites a deeper level of monitor customization

You don’t have to use the OSD, though, and I recommend you don’t. The InZone Hub app gives you all of your monitor settings on your desktop, and unlike the MSI MPG32-QD, you don’t need to hook up a USB cable to use the software.

Inside, you’ll find five picture modes: Cinema, Standard, FPS, Game 1, and Game 2. The two gaming picture modes are actually custom slots where you can adjust brightness, contrast, etc. Otherwise, the picture settings are locked outside of the black equalizer and local dimming setting. None of them are bad, but the Standard mode is scorching bright, while the Cinema mode has a signature warm color temperature that only really looks good if you’re watching a moody drama.

I adjusted the brightness of the first gaming mode down to a comfortable level and went to a neutral color temperature, but that’s all I had to do to get the monitor looking how I wanted.

InZone Hub on the Sony M9 monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I suspect most people don’t configure their monitor settings because, frankly, it’s annoying dealing with an OSD and a joystick. The InZone Hub invites a deeper level of customization, which I love, and manages to provide all the crucial picture settings you need without getting into advanced color calibration that only a small fraction of people will take advantage of.

Image quality

A SpyderX sitting over the Sony M9 monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I strapped my SpyderX on the M9 to verify the specs listed by Sony, and almost everything checks out. It’s a wide gamut display that covers 100% of the sRGB spectrum and 92% of DCI-P3 based on my testing. Sony says it covers 95%, but my results are close enough that I’m content. My panel was surprisingly color accurate, too, with an average Delta-E (difference from real color) of 1.14. Less than 2 is ideal for colorwork, though the M9 certainly isn’t a display for video or photo pros.

The other results are straightforward for an IPS panel. In SDR, the M9 topped out at a peak brightness of 419 nits, with a contrast ratio of 900:1. The higher 600 nit mark that Sony quotes comes with local dimming and HDR turned on, and I actually measured a much higher value of 834 nits with VESA’s DisplayHDR Test tool. That’s super bright for an IPS panel, but keep in mind that this test blasts 10,000 nits at the screen at once. It’ll rarely get that bright in use.

The HDR can outpace even the best VA panels on the market.

Native contrast isn’t going to floor you; this is an IPS panel, which universally have poorer contrast compared to VA options. It’s the HDR contrast that stands out. With HDR and local dimming on, I measured a contrast ratio of 5,180:1, which outpaces even the best VA panels.

The specs and my testing checks out, but my subjective experience with the M9 was far from perfect. My initial review unit arrived with a few panel defects — not a huge deal, these things are bound to happen to at least a few of any monitor — and Sony swiftly sent out another one.

The second unit didn’t come with defects, but it showed clear vignetting. It was never a problem when a lot of colors were on screen from a game or movie, but it was distracting with just a web browser open, as my eye would shoot to the corner to double-check that my vision wasn’t going. My first unit came with some vignetting, as well, though not as much as the second one. I reached out to Sony about both issues, and I’ll update this review when I hear back.

I’m really torn on the M9. As I’ll dig into in the next two sections, it easily offers one of the best HDR and gaming experiences available today. No question. But it’s hard to overlook issues with the panel, especially when two separate units each come with their own problems.

HDR performance

An HDR video playing on the Sony InZone M9.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The InZone M9 is certified with VESA’s DisplayHDR 600 certification, which, as monitors like the Samsung Odyssey G7 show, doesn’t always indicate great HDR performance. For the M9, the big deal isn’t its DisplayHDR certification. It’s Full Array Local Dimming (FALD).

Unlike the Odyssey G7 and LG’s ever-popular 27GP950, which have dimming zones on the edges of the display, the InZone M9 comes with dimming zones all around the screen. And it comes with 96 zones, which compares to only eight zones on the Samsung monitor and 16 zones on LG’s. Those zones make a huge difference. Unless you seek out a QD-OLED panel like the Alienware 34 QD-OLED, you’re not going to find a better HDR experience below $1,000.

This is easily the best HDR experience you’ll get on a PC under $1,000

DT contributor Arif Bacchus actually saw the M9 right next to LG’s popular 27-inch monitor, and he didn’t mince words: “I’m telling you, the Sony is better.”

I started with Destiny 2 to test HDR performance, which has become my litmus test with its eye-scorching contrast. And it looked great. HDR monitors have been lagging behind TVs for a while, and the InZone M9 is finally raising the bar. Due to the 96 dimming zones, you get much higher contrast in games like Destiny 2 without seeing individual parts of the monitor adjust how bright they are.

Destiny 2 on the Sony InZone M9 gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

HDR gaming is great, easily the best experience on PC you’ll find for $900 (at least at this resolution). PS5 is even better due to the automatic tone mapping. I played through some of Tales of Arise and Returnal, both of which looked fantastic. Tales really shined with its watercolor-esque art, as the tone mapping and local dimming squeezed out hidden areas of contrast I never paid any mind to.

Gaming performance

Tales of Arise on the Sony InZone M9 gaming monitor.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Gaming is a treat on the M9, especially if you have a PC and PS5. I had both hooked up, and I swapped back and forth between my machines instantly thanks to the deep integration the M9 has with Sony’s hardware. The console picked up the M9 right away and optimized the PS5 picture settings, and all I had to do was tickle the brightness slider to get a fantastic image. This is Sony taking advantage of its gaming ecosystem.

For raw gaming features, the monitor support variable refresh rate (VRR) and goes up to 144Hz. It’s G-Sync Compatible, which means VRR works across Nvidia and AMD GPUs, and the PS5 automatically turned on VRR in the settings once I hooked the monitor up.

I used the M9 as my primary gaming monitor for just over a week, trying everything from Destiny 2 to Tale of Arise to Neon White — whatever I happened to be playing at the time. And it’s fantastic. Even with HDR turned off, the local dimming offers a nice bump in contrast to some PC games, and the always-on HDR on the PS5 takes the local dimming nicely.

The PlayStation Store on the Sony InZone M9.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

VRR support and a 144Hz refresh rate take the M9 outside of Sony’s console, too (though, you’ll need one of the best graphics cards to drive those frame rates at 4K). The only minor issue is some ghosting at high overdrive levels. The M9 allows you to lower the response time with overdrive, and as these settings typically do, there was some ghosting behind moving objects. It was far from a problem, though, and the monitor defaults to having overdrive turned off.

Pricing

Price is the key factor that the M9 lives and dies by, and Sony is choosing to live. The list price is $900, which will almost certainly catapult the M9 to the go-to monitor for 4K gaming. The past few years have been dominated by two monitors around the same price — the 28-inch Samsung Odyssey G7 for $800 and the LG 27GP950 for $900 — and the M9 beat them point-for-point.

It’s finally a step forward for gaming monitors. There are at least a half dozen other 28-inch 4K monitors with a 144Hz refresh rate, but they’re all around the same price with only slight deviations in features. The Gigabyte M28U is cheaper and comes with a KVM switch, for example. The M9 stands apart with its 96-zone FALD.

My main question is how much the M9 will actually sell for. List price to list price, it’s a great deal. But the standard guard of 4K monitors around this price are frequently on sale, below $600 in a lot of cases. And in that situation, better HDR performance doesn’t quite seem worth the premium.

Our take

Panel issues aside, you can’t ignore the M9. There isn’t another monitor at this price that does everything the M9 does. It’s the best HDR monitor for gaming you can buy under $1,000 right now, and it’s even better if you can pair it with both a PC and PS5. HDR is the big selling point, though. If HDR isn’t important to you, the tried and true options from Samsung and LG offer a similar experience (and usually for less money).

Are there any alternatives?

Yes, there are several alternatives. The two main competitors are the LG 27GP950 and Samsung Odyssey G7, which are around the same price when they’re not on sale. They’re almost identical to the InZone M9, though they lack full-array local dimming.

Meanwhile, the Alienware 34 QD-OLED offers an even better HDR experience, though you’ll have to pay considerably more for it.

How long will it last?

Most IPS monitors will last at least a decade and often longer. The M9 shouldn’t be any different, though be wary of panel defects.

Should you buy it?

If you highly value HDR, yes. There isn’t another monitor offering what the M9 does at this price. If you don’t care about HDR, and especially if you’re strictly a PC gamer, the LG and Samsung alternatives offer a better value overall.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Computing

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 review: Disappointing overall

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (7420)

MSRP $1,050.00

“The Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 would be a solid option were it not for the mediocre display and battery life.”

Pros

  • Good productivity performance
  • Decent keyboard and touchpad
  • Streamlined good looks
  • 1080p webcam

Cons

  • Below-average battery life
  • Inferior display
  • No Thunderbolt 4

I’ve reviewed more 14-inch laptops over the last several months than any other size, demonstrating how popular these devices have become.

The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 has been one of the more popular 2-in-1 options, especially if you’re hoping to save a few hundred bucks compared to the most premium laptops. And Dell has updated the machine for 2022 with a slightly more streamlined aesthetic and an upgrade to Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs.

The high-end model I reviewed came in at $1,050, though a cheaper $850 base configuration is also available. Unfortunately, regardless of how you configure it, the low-quality display and mediocre battery life make this 2-in-1 hard to recommend.

Design

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420 rear view showing lid and logo.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 received a design refresh for the latest version, with sharply angled rear edges replacing rounded surfaces and horizontal rear vents taking the place of round holes. The silver color scheme of my review unit contributes to a more streamlined look than before, –a definite improvement. Overall, the Inspiron now looks more like the XPS line, which is good.

The $735 Lenovo Flex 5i 14 is more understated in its design, while the $650 Asus VivoBook Flip 14 has a black chassis that’s attractive without being garish. Those laptops are slightly less expensive than the Inspiron 14 2-in-1, and if you jump up in price, you can buy one of those most stunning 14-inch 2-in-1s available today, the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7.

A combination of aluminum in the lid, plastic in the chassis bottom, and mylar in the palm rest and touchpad are used in the Inspiron 14 7420 2-in-1’s construction. The result is some bending in the lid and flexing in the keyboard deck, while the chassis bottom is solid.

It’s an adequate build for the price, and it’s more robust than the Asus Vivobook Flip 14 while being equal to the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14. The Asus Vivobook S 14X, priced around the same as the Inspiron, is built as solidly as well. You’ll need to increase the price if you want the most robust build quality.

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (7420) used as a tablet.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The display bezels aren’t the smallest around, particularly on the top and bottom, making the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 with its 16:10 display a bit deeper than some of the competition. It’s 0.62increase to 0.70 inches thick and weighs 3.61 pounds with the larger 54 watt-hour battery, which is a decrease in thickness but an increase in weight.

That compares to the Asus Vivobook Flip 14 at 0.72 inches and 3.31 pounds and the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 at 0.82 inches and 3.3 pounds. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 isn’t the thinnest nor the lightest 14-inch convertible 2-in-1, but it’s not overly large either.

Ports

Connectivity is a mixed bag. You get two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, but no Thunderbolt 4 support — which is disappointing — along with a USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, a full-size HDMI 1.4 port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a full-size SD card reader. The SD card reader is an excellent addition to what is otherwise a standard array.

Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 are options, meaning you can gain access to the most up-to-date wireless connectivity.

Performance

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420 front angled view with keyboard folded under and showing display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420 is the first laptop we’ve reviewed with the Intel 12th-gen Core i7-1255U. It’s a 15-watt, 10-core (two Performance and eight Efficient), 12-thread CPU that’s a midrange lower-power option for thin-and-light laptops. We’ve tested several machines with the 28-watt, 12-core (four Performance and eight Efficient), 16-thread Core i7-1260P, and then Intel also has the even lower-power Core i7-1250U, with the same core and thread count as the Core i7-1255U, but running at 9 watts. We haven’t tested that CPU or any other variations with slightly faster frequencies or more cores.

The bottom line is that the Core i7-1255U is intended to provide slower performance than the Core i7-1260P while offering better efficiency. Regarding the former, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 slots in between the 28-watt 11th-gen four-core/eight-thread Core i7-1165G7 and the Core i7-1260P. That’s not necessarily a verdict on the Core i7-1255U’s performance because we need to account for Dell’s thermal design and tuning. We’ll need to test more laptops with the chip to draw any firm conclusions.

Surprisingly, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 was quite fast in single-core tests.

As usual, I used the laptop’s thermal tuning utility that allows adjusting fan speeds and CPU frequencies to optimize for quiet and cool or loud and fast operation. I’ve reported both balanced and performance modes in the table below, but the utility wasn’t as impactful in the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 as similar utilities have been in some other laptops. In addition, as with most thin-and-light laptops we test, there was some throttling in our more CPU-intensive benchmarks, particularly in performance mode.

Surprisingly, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 was quite fast in single-core tests in Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R23, beating every laptop in our comparison group except the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7. It wasn’t as fast in multi-core mode as the Core i7-1260P-equipped laptops, particularly in performance mode, nor was it able to keep up with the AMD Ryzen 7 6800U in the Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED. Its score in our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, was the second slowest overall, coming in just ahead of the Asus ZenBook 14X OLED with a Core i7-1165G7.

The Core i7-1255U, at least in the Inspiron 14 2-in-1, was a slight step up from the 11th-gen Core i7. Notably, the newer model is slower than the previous generation with the AMD Ryzen 7 5700U. Overall, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420 was fast enough for demanding productivity workflows, but it wasn’t particularly quick at CPU-intensive creative tasks.

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Complete
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Core i7-1255U)
Bal: 1,703 / 6,520
Perf: 1,685 / 6,791
Bal: 153
Perf: 141
Bal: 1,729 / 6,847
Perf: 1,773 / 7,009
5,138
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,650 / 8,080
Perf: 1,621 / 8,544
Bal: 116
Perf: 120
Bal: 1,587 / 7,682
Perf: 1,611 / 8,078
5,537
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,717 / 9,231
Perf: 1,712 / 10,241
Bal: 130
Perf: 101
Bal: 1,626 / 7,210
Perf: 1,723 / 8,979
5,760
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(AMD Ryzen 7 5700U)
Bal: 1,184 / 6,281
Perf: N/A
Bal: 116
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,287 / 8,013
Perf: N/A
5,411
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED
(Core i7-1165G7)
Bal: 1,536 / 5,780
Perf: 1,527 / 5,776
Bal: 175
Perf: 162
Bal: 1,479 / 5,717
Perf: 1,502 / 6,252
5,366
Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
Bal: 1,417 / 6,854
Perf: 1,404 / 7,223
Bal: 112
Perf: 111
Bal: 1,402 / 8,682
Perf: 1,409 / 8,860
5,647

The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 scored well below the Intel Iris Xe average in the 3DMark Time Spy test. Unsurprisingly, the laptop’s Fortnite score was below average at 12 frames per second (fps) at 1200p and epic graphics. The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is even less of a gaming laptop than the typical Iris Xe machine.

3DMark
Time Spy
Fortnite
(1080p/1200p Epic)
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,492
Perf: 1,502
Bal: 12 fps
Perf: 12 fps
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,899
Perf: 1,886
Bal: 17 fps
Perf: 16 fps
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Intel Iris Xe)
Bal: 1,658
Perf: 1,979
Bal: 12 fps
Perf: N/A
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Radeon graphics)
Bal: 1,247
Perf: N/A
Bal: 14 fps
Perf: N/A
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED
(GeForce MX450)
Bal: 1,756
Perf: 1,765
Bal: 18
Perf: N/A
Asus ZenBook S 13 OLED
(Radeon graphics)
Bal: 2,110
Perf: 2,213
Bal: 19 fps
Perf: 19 fps

Display

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420 front view showing display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

We dinged the previous-generation Inspiron 14 2-in-1 for its poor display, a 16:9 panel with well below-average colors and brightness. Unfortunately, although Dell improved the display to a 16:10 version at Full HD+ (1,920 x 1,200), everything else remained roughly the same (or worse). As I used the latest review unit, I was reminded of that display — and not in a good way.

The colors weren’t even close to the midrange and better average of 95% of sRGB and 75% of AdobeRGB, at just 63% and 48%, respectively. Color accuracy was also poor at a DeltaE of 3.35 (1.0 or less is considered excellent). The contrast was above average at 1,330:1, exceeding our threshold of 1,000:1, but the brightness was just 288 nits, below our preferred 300 nits. It’s true that the laptops in our comparison group are all more expensive, but the Apple MacBook Air M1 and Microsoft Surface Go 2 are in the same ballpark and have much better displays.

This is an unfortunate display on a laptop exceeding $1,000, particularly given that IPS displays have generally improved. And it’s even more unfortunate this time, given that the previous generation was faster and longer-lasting (see below).

Brightness
(nits)
Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is better)
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(IPS)
288 1,330:1 63% 48% 3.35
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(IPS)
386 1,900:1 100% 81% 0.78
MSI Summit E14 Flip
(IPS)
516 1,320:1 100% 89% 1.10
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(OLED)
406 28,380:1 100% 95% 0.87
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro
(IPS)
369 1,340:1 100% 80% 1.65
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon
(OLED)
397 27,590:1 100% 96% 0.88

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420 top down view showing keyboard, touchpad, and pen.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Inspiron 14 2-in-1’s keyboard is wide and spacious, with large keycaps. The switches are exceptionally light, with a solid click as keystrokes bottom out. They’re maybe a hair too light, though, as they lack the precision of a Dell XPS or HP Spectre keyboard.

The touchpad is 14% larger than before, with a mylar material that provides a smooth surface that’s comfortable for swiping. It’s a Microsoft Precision touchpad, of course, so Windows 11 multitouch gesture support is precise and reliable. The clicks are solid and quiet enough, making the touchpad a pleasure to use.

The display is touch-enabled and works as well as usual. It supports Dell’s optional Active Pen, which I tried out and found as good for inking as most 2-in-1s today.

Windows 11 Hello password-free login is provided by an optional fingerprint reader embedded in the power button, which is precisely the right place. It worked quickly and reliably during my testing.

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420 front view showing webcam.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The webcam is Full HD, which is a nice upgrade. It provided a clear and sharp image that should keep hybrid workers happy as they interact with their colleagues. There’s also a physical privacy slider that covers the webcam for some additional privacy.

Battery life

Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 7420 rear corner view showing ports and vents.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Judging a laptop’s battery life can be a challenge. While the absolute numbers are clear, letting us see how long a laptop lasts against its competition, determining which factors led to its longevity can be complicated. That’s particularly true with a laptop that has a brand-new CPU that’s meant to be more efficient. So many factors come into play that it’s difficult to point to just one as the cause of really good or really bad battery life.

The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is a case in point. It has 54 watt-hours of battery capacity, which isn’t a lot for a 14-inch laptop, even given the lower-resolution Full HD+ display. The Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7, for example, has 70 watt-hours, but it also has a power-hungry high-res OLED display and a faster CPU.

At the same time, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga Gen 7 with a Core i7-1260p has just 57 watt-hours, not significantly more than the Inspiron, but our review unit was equipped with a low-power Full HD+ display. Looking at our battery life test results, the Inspiron fell well behind both laptops on two of our tests and was generally below average, even though its CPU is meant to be a more efficient option.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10
Applications
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Core i7-1255U)
6 hours, 42 minutes 10 hours, 6 minutes 8 hours, 43 minutes
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
10 hours, 10 minutes 16 hours, 12 minutes 10 hours, 33 minutes
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
9 hours, 10 minutes 12 hours, 45 minutes 8 hours, 32 minutes
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1
(Ryzen 7 5700U)
12 hours, 53 minutes 16 hours, 3 minutes N/A
 Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
8 hours, 4 minutes 13 hours, 13 minutes N/A
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED
(Core i7-1165G7)
7 hours, 33 minutes 10 hours, 42 minutes 8 hours, 2 minutes

In our web-browsing test that cycles through a handful of popular and complex websites, the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 managed just 6.75 hours, a few hours less than we like to see. It hit 10 hours in our video test that loops a local Full HD Avengers trailer, which is about 90 minutes less than average. Finally, in the PCMark 10 Applications battery test that’s the best indication of productivity battery life, the Inspiron made it to 8.75 hours, also a bit less than average.

Overall, battery life wasn’t great, and the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 may struggle to make it through a full day of anything more than a light productivity workload. As I mentioned above, we can’t draw strong conclusions about the Core i7-1255U’s efficiency from testing one laptop. Too many other variables come into play, and we’ll have to wait to test more laptops before a pattern emerges. Interestingly, the previous Inspiron 14 2-in-1 generation with the Ryzen 7 5700U got significantly better battery life.

Price and configurations

My review unit is priced at $1,050 for a Core i7-1255U, 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, and a 14-inch Full HD+ display. Drop down to a Core i5-1235U and 8GB of RAM, and you’ll spend $850.

There’s also a model based on the AMD Ryzen 5 5625U with 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 14-inch Full HD+ display for $800.

Our take

The Inspiron 14 7420 2-in-1 takes a step back in performance and battery life from the previous generation while retaining the same subpar display. It’s attractively priced at $1,050, but you’re making too many compromises.

While I was able to recommend that last version, this one doesn’t make the cut. It would be worth spending a few hundred dollars more to get a better laptop, or even a few hundred dollars less for laptops that perform as well even though they’re based on older CPUs. Or, you can wait for the $1,000 laptop class to catch up to Intel’s 12th-gen wave.

Are there any alternatives?

I’m unaware of any other 2-in-1s in the same $800 to $1,000 range that equip Intel 12th-gen CPUs, so a direct recommendation is difficult.

If you don’t need a 2-in-1 and can drop down a bit in size, then the Asus Zenbook S 13 is a great option. It’s $250 more, but it offers a faster AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processor and a gorgeous OLED display.

If you want to save some money, then you could consider the Asus Vivobook Flex 14. It has a similar display and performs similarly even with an older CPU, but the battery life is better.

How long will it last?

The Inspiron 14 2-in-1 is robust enough to provide years of productive use, with modern components (except for no Thunderbolt 4 support) that should keep Windows 11 running smoothly for quite some time. The industry-standard one-year warranty is disappointing, as always.

Should you buy it?

No. While it’s priced right, you’ll make too many compromises. There are many other 14-inch laptops to consider that are faster, longer-lasting, and worth some extra cash.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Computing

Logitech MX Mechanical keyboard review: Form, meet function

Logitech MX Mechanical keyboard

MSRP $170.00

“The Logitech MX Mechanical keyboard should be the centerpiece of your next office setup.”

Pros

  • Excellent typing experience
  • Works with Windows and MacOS
  • Pairs with up to three devices at once
  • Adaptive, useful backlight
  • Pairing is a breeze

Cons

  • A bit expensive
  • Limited key remapping options
  • No hot-swappable switches

The Logitech MX Mechanical fills a gap that’s plagued mechanical keyboards for years. You want a true mechanical typing experience with the slim form of Microsoft’s Surface Keyboard, but all you’ve been able to find are RGB-ridden gaming keyboards that may offer a great typing experience, but don’t look great sitting in the office.

Enter the MX Mechanical.

It’s not the first low-profile mechanical keyboard, but it’s the first we’ve seen from a mainstream peripheral brand like Logitech. The price is a bit high, and the software could use more features, but the sublime typing experience on the MX Mechanical earns it a spot among the best keyboards on the market.

Expensive but not egregious

Logitech MX Mechanical keyboard sitting next to its dongle.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Logitech’s premium peripherals are expensive — there’s no way around it. The MX Mechanical doesn’t buck that trend, but it still doesn’t feel like you’re throwing away extra money. Logitech has two versions available at slightly different prices: The full-sized MX Mechanical for $170, and the 75% MX Mechanical Mini for $150.

The main competition are the low-profile Keychon K3 and K7, which are both around $50 less than what Logitech is asking. The K7 supports hot-swappable switches, too, so you can adjust the feel of the keyboard down the line or swap some switches out if they go bust.

What’s working in Logitech’s favor is that the MX Mechanical works with other Logitech peripherals, and it unlocks some productivity features that aren’t present with brands like Keychron. Make no mistake: The MX Mechanical keyboard is expensive. But considering Logitech’s gaming-focused G915, which is very similar to the MX Mechanical, sells for $60 more, the price doesn’t seem as intimidating.

Three devices at once

Device keys on the MX Mechanical keyboard.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

One of the most exciting aspects of the MX Mechanical is that it can switch between three devices almost instantly, regardless of the operating system you’re using. You can connect with either the pre-paired Logi Bolt dongle (a newer dongle for keyboards like the Logitech Pop Keys) or Bluetooth, and you can switch between systems either with a trio of dedicated keys on the board or through the free Logi Options+ software.

I paired it to my desktop with the Bolt dongle and Bluetooth across a laptop and tablet, and there was never more than a second or two of delay between switching. One downside here is that the MX Mechanical flat-out doesn’t have a wired mode. It works via wireless while it’s plugged in and charging, but you can’t ditch Bluetooth or the dongle for a straight wired connection.

Dual support for Windows and MacOS is a huge plus for the MX Mechanical.

Even inexpensive mechanical keyboards like the Akko 3068B work across various connections at the press of a key, but the big boon for the dual connections is Logitech Flow. With a compatible mouse, you can bounce between Windows and MacOS just by dragging your mouse, as well as transfer files or text. It works across up to three devices, either with Windows or MacOS.

The keyboard supports Windows, MacOS, Linux, iOS, iPadOS, Chrome OS, and Android on its own, but Flow is restricted to the two major desktop types of OS. Dual support for Windows and MacOS is the main plus for the MX Mechanical, though. Unlike the Keychron Q1, the MX Mechanical recognizes what OS you’re using and automatically switches the layout.

More than a backlight

Lighting on the MX Mechanical keyboard.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

I assumed the static white backlight on the MX Mechanical would be the biggest difference it has compared to Logitech’s G915 gaming keyboard, but I was wrong. The MX Mechanical doesn’t have RGB lighting, but the white backlight is for more than just looks.

It’s adaptive, so the ambient light sensor inside the MX Mechanical will adjust the backlight automatically based on how much light you have in the room. This is a key component that allows the MX Mechanical to achieve 15 days of battery life and a full 10 months with the backlight off, according to Logitech. I don’t have 10 months to wait for a keyboard to die, but I’ve been using the MX Mechanical on and off for about three weeks, and my battery is at 50%. Bring a USB-C cable with you when you leave the house just in case, but you shouldn’t need to charge the MX Mechanical often.

The lighting has some nice touches outside of being adaptive. It lights up when you lay your hands over the keyboard, for example, which is a novelty I haven’t grown tired of (even after three years with the Nvidia Shield’s remote and its proximity sensor). Logitech uses the backlight to call out important information, too, like a brighter light on your currently paired device when you turn the keyboard on.

Sublime typing

Logitech logo on the MX Mechanical keyboard.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The MX Mechanical isn’t a G915 with the gaming bits ripped out, and a few minutes of typing on it makes that clear. It uses Kailh Choc switches like the G915, but the V2 versions the MX Mechanical comes with use a standard cross stem so you can swap the keycaps out if you want. Logitech gives you the choice of Tactile Quiet (brown), Linear (red), and Clicky (blue) switches, and I chose the Tactile Quiet option that comes with 45 grams of activation force, 1.3mm to reach the actuation point, and 3.2mm of total travel distance.

These low-profile switches have the same force as their full-sized counterparts, but the travel distance is much shorter (0.7mm less actuation travel, and 0.8mm less total travel). That completely changes the typing experience compared to full-sized switches like the ones on the Azio Izo keyboard. It’s snappy, like if Apple’s Magic Keyboard was slathered in a coat of mechanical goodness.

Switch on the MX Mechanical keyboard.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

The Tactile Quiet switches have a traditional feel, but they’re not exactly quiet. They’re not loud, like the click you’ll find on the Clicky option, but they have a hollow, chunky clunk as you type. It’s immensely satisfying for typing, and I found myself wanting to write just to use the keyboard more. Most mechanical keyboards are focused on gaming first (like the SteelSeries Apex Pro Mini), but the MX Mechanical is among the few mainstream options focused on typing first.

I didn’t count it out for gaming, though I probably should have. The flat keycaps mean there’s little distinction between rows, causing multiple slipups in Destiny 2 and my recent addiction, Neon White. It works for gaming, but you might have to build your own keyboard for something that looks like the MX Mechanical but functions like a G915.

Simple isn’t always better

Key remapping options in Logitech Options Plus software.
Jacob Roach / Digital Trends

Logitech wants the MX Mechanical to be powerful and simple, which is apparent the first time you load up the Logi Options+ app. It walks you through the unique elements of the keyboard — the three device buttons, the various backlighting options, and even some special function keys like a dedicated emoji key and a mute button for meetings. Simplicity is great, but the MX Mechanical takes it too far.

You can’t rebind most of the keys. Options+ allows you to rebind your function keys, the grid between Insert and Page Up, and four keys on top of the keypad, but that’s it. Key remapping is a standard function for multiple Logitech keyboards, so it’s strange that it’s not more available on the MX Mechanical.

It’s even more strange considering the options you have for the few keys you can remap. You can bind them to keyboard shortcuts, OS apps like the Calculator, and functions like minimizing the active window. You can even customize the keys for specific apps (though, you’re given the same slate of actions regardless of the apps you’re using).

Options+ is also missing macro recording and binding. The list of actions in Options+ is fairly comprehensive, but the fact that you can only rebind some keys seems like an unnecessary roadblock for what is otherwise a great software experience.

Our take

The Logitech MX Mechanical keyboard is all about keeping you productive. Flow is a big plus if you have an MX mouse, and the updated low-profile switches provide one of the best typing experiences you can get south of $200. The price stings a bit with the lack of options in Logi Options+, but the premium is well worth it if you have other Logitech peripherals or often need to switch between Windows and MacOS.

Are there any alternatives?

Yes, but they’re few and far between:

  • Keychon K3: It’s much cheaper than the MX Mechanical and still comes with low-profile mechanical switches. It doesn’t support Logitech Flow, however, and it uses strictly Bluetooth for the wireless connection.
  • Logitech G915 TKL: A gaming take on the MX Mechanical for a much higher price, the G915 offers a similar build and typing experience. It’s much more focused on gaming, with dedicated meta buttons, a volume wheel, and per-key RGB lighting.

How long will it last?

Low-profile mechanical switches have a life span of 50 million keystrokes, so you can get several years out of the MX Mechanical before you need to replace it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have hot-swappable switches like the Keychron K7 or K3, so you can’t extend the life with a switch swap down the line.

Should you buy it?

Yes, especially if you have a mouse that supports Logitech Flow or toggle between devices often. You can get a similar typing experience for less with something like the Keychron K3, but no other peripheral maker has the same combination of features that Logitech is offering with the MX Mechanical.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Game

Epic Games Store will randomly ask users to rate games to prevent review bombing

has added a long-awaited feature to its store: user ratings. The company that only those who have played a game for at least two hours will be able to rate it on a five-star scale. Not everyone will be able to rate a game either. Epic will randomly offer players the chance to score a game after they finish a play session. The company believes this approach will prevent and make sure ratings are from people who are actually playing the games.

An overall rating will be calculated based on players’ scores and this will appear on a title’s page. The aim, of course, is to help users figure out whether a game’s worth playing. Store pages already featured critics’ reviews to help folks make a decision about whether to buy or download something.

Epic says it likely won’t ask for ratings on every game or app and the randomization approach will help it avoid spamming players. That seems like a good call. It’s a little annoying, for instance, that Microsoft asks for feedback after every Xbox Cloud Gaming session.

Polls on Epic Games Store

Epic Games

In addition, Epic may ask you to answer a poll after a game session. There’s a broad range of questions, including the likes of whether a game is better to play with a team or how challenging the combat is. 

Epic will use data from polls to create tags for store pages. Eventually, tags will be used on category pages and to create tag-based categories for the home page. The idea is to improve discoverability and help people gain a better understanding of what to expect from a game. 

Separately, Epic is a set of cross-play tools for developers. Epic Online Services an overlay that can merge Steam and Epic Games friends lists and help players find their buds, send friend requests and hop into multiplayer sessions with cross-platform in-game invites.

Epic has broader ambitions for support beyond Steam. It’s working to support other PC launchers, as well as macOS and Linux. It will add cross-play tools for consoles and mobile to the SDK further down the line. Several of Epic’s own games — including Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout — have full cross-play support.

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