Notebookcheck's Best of June 2011

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Martina Osztovits), 07/23/2011

Frame-Master. The Alienware M18x rocks with Crossfire HD 6970M. The ThinkPad X220 and the Fujitsu Lifebook NH751 inspire with good displays. The Motorola Xoom delights us with a battery life of 15 hours. The Aspire One 722 cannot achieve this, but, can smoothly play 1080p videos via HDMI.

Our reviews were dominated by gaming and multimedia laptops in June 2011. One of the gaming laptops featured the most powerful single laptop graphics card of the world, the GeForce GTX 580M. However, the other four candidates from Asus, MSI, and Alienware also had their advantages, although they featured e.g., a "smaller" GTX 560M or a dual graphics solution, the Radeon HD 6970M (Crossfire). The category multimedia was not neglected too as we had six devices under review. The same is true for the subnotebook class, which consisted of four 12- and 13-inchers. We give a clear resume about the best laptops in each category.

Category Tablet/MID

Contenders:

HTC Flyer 7-inch WiFi+3G 

Motorola Xoom WiFi/UMTS 

Android 3.0 Honeycomb versus Android 2.2. That's how the competition between the two tablets could be called if you only consider the operating systems. In terms of rating the Motorola Xoom (86%) performs slightly better than the HTC Flyer (85%). Both test samples featured 3G and excellent viewing angles. However, outdoors, their glossy displays uglily reflected. Both tablets work in a quiet manner and are equipped with a single core processor (NVIDIA Tegra 250 1 GHz / Qualcomm MSM8255 1 GHz @ 1.5 GHz).

Tablet/MID of June 2011: Motorola Xoom WiFi/UMTS

Although the Motorola Xoom struggled with teething problems (crashes, inusable microSD-Slot, not recognized by Vista computer), we selected the 10-incher because of its long 15 hour battery life (load-idle mix). Those interested in it should, however, wait for the next Android-Updates. The 7-inch Flyer immediately follows in terms of points and shines with a low weight and low temperatures.

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What we like

The Xoom is very handy and fits well in your hands. The display reacts immediately to inputs.

What we'd like to see

The Xoom's operating elements are always in the lower left corner of the display. In terms of hardware, the device has no corresponding keys.

What surprises us

The SD card slot is (still) unusable, the USB transfer rates are far below the USB 2.0 level, the Xoom isn't recognized on Vista computers.

The competition

Despite some small drawbacks, the Xoom still manages to fill one of the top sports in our TOP 10 tested tablets (German).

Category Netbook

Contenders:

Acer Aspire One 722

Asus Eee PC 1215B

12.1-inch versus 11.6-inch. The two rivals are more similar than their names might imply. Both are based on the AMD Fusion platform (APU C-Series C-50 1 GHz), which features the AMD Radeon HD 6250. Furthermore, they have high-gloss and low contrast displays with narrow viewing angles in common.

Netbook of June 2011: Acer Aspire One 722

We selected the Acer Aspire One 722, because its rating was slightly better (85 vs. 84%). Nevertheless, the two Fusion Netbooks are overall alike. This also applies to the cons,  e.g. moderate system performance (delays when invoking a program) and glossy TFTs.

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What we like

The fresh design with the raindrop look, the good battery runtimes, the easy extendability and the quiet office operation.

What we'd like to see

A matt display with the previously available 1366x768 pixels and a warranty period of 24 months ex-factory.

What surprises us

A chiclet keyboard should be added to Acer's to-do list for the next generation.

The competition

Netbooks with the latest AMD hardware. Among others, Asus Eee PCs 1215B and 1015B or the Toshiba NB550D with the AMD C-50 APU, for example. Also the smaller Aspire One 522 with the same hardware.

Category Subnotebook

Contenders:

Lenovo IdeaPad Z370 

Lenovo ThinkPad X220 (IPS)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 

Toshiba Portégé R830-110 

The diversity rises in the popular category of small 12- and 13-incher. No wonder, because many users consider this size the best compromise between mobility, light weight, and fitness for work.  All four house a standard notebook processor (i3 2310M up to i5 2510M) and abandon a dedicated graphics card. The Lenovo IdeaPad Z370 unfortunately features a glossy display, but, scores points with a good keyboard and solid workmanship. The battery life of three hours is much shorter than of the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 (IPS): 6 hours. The X220 continues where the X1 with glossy display, Gorilla Glass Panel (Edge to Edge), turns against mobility. The Toshiba Portégé R830-110 tackles with low weight and long battery life (6 hours), however, it misses a "very good" rating because of its low brightness display with narrow viewing angles. 

Subnotebook of June 2011: Lenovo ThinkPad X220 (IPS)

Excellent mobility, fantastic input device, high performance and a touch display with strong colors and viewing angles are the basis for a "very good" rating (88%). What we'd like to see is a yet better case stiffness and a USB 3.0 or eSATA-interface. The R830 offers these.

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What we like

The great display, good performance and low emissions all integrated into a mobile device

What we'd like to see

Better case sturdiness and at least one fast port

What surprised us

Lenovo offers such a great display for the X220 for a relatively cheap premium.

The competition

Samsung 900X3A, MacBook Air, Asus P31F, HP Elitebook 2560p, Fujitsu Lifebook P701, Dell Latitude E6320 and E4200 are a few of many.

Category: Office

Contenders:

HP ProBook 4530s 

Samsung 200B5B-S01DE 

Fujitsu Lifebook LH531 

Small, but fine - could have been the theme of the two 15.6-incher and one 14-incher (Lifebook LH531) under review. Matt displays, up-to-date Core i5- or i3-processors, good up to very good input devices are an ideal choice for typewriting. Virtually, because the throughout narrow viewing angles and the pale colors do not please the eyes. The Samsung 200B5B delivers the lowest contrast (125:1), followed by the Fujitsu Lifebook LH531 (152:1) and the HP ProBook 4530s (176:1). This considered, it does not surprise that none of them covers the sRGB color space.

Office-Notebook of June 2011: HP ProBook 4530s

The ratings (GOOD, 84%, 83%, 80%) are close together. Nevertheless, the HP ProBook 4530s came easily off as winner. The high-quality workmanship and the aluminium look rises the pride of the owner and, in including ExpressCard 34 and USB 3.0, the interfaces are up-to-date. A stain is that a docking-port is missing (the Samsung 200B5B features such).

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What we like

The new design of the 2011 ProBook series, as well as the case stability, and the numerous configuration options.

What we'd like to see

A standard 24 month warranty with Pick-Up & Return service, as well as a better display as standard.

What surprises us

The successful all-round impression, combined with the comparatively low entry price. Also the affordable upgrade for a more powerful Intel Core i5-2410M is a positive aspect.

The competition

Affordable office notebooks with a 15.6 inch display and up-to-date hardware. Among these are for example the new and comparable Samsung 200B5B-S01DE, the more expensive HP EliteBook 8560p, Lenovo's ThinkPad L520, or the Dell Latitude E6520 entry model or the Latitude E6520 with an Intel Core i7 CPU.

Category: Multimedia

Contenders:

HP Pavilion dv6-6008eg 

Asus K53SV-SX131V 

Fujitsu Lifebook AH531 

Fujitsu Lifebook NH751 

Lenovo IdeaPad Y560p-M61G3GE 

Toshiba Satellite Pro L770-116 

The lead of the field take two 17-incher, the Toshiba Satellite Pro L770 and the Fujitsu Lifebook NH751.  While the Toshiba turns out to be a boring plastic chunk, the Fujitsu keeps up with the times and looks good. However, the price difference of 400 euros is huge. In featuring a quad-core CPU and an AMD Radeon 6770M gamers will sooner enjoy the HP Pavilion dv6-6008eg. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y560p with the same CPU, but only an Radeon HD 6570M cannot keep up with it in this aspect. Furthermore, we liked the haptics of the dv6's aluminium cover. Because of its stable case and its great ergonomic design, the Asus K53SV-SX131V does not need to hide too. But, the GeForce GT 540M cannot keep up with the HD 6770M.

Multimedia-Notebook of June 2011: Fujitsu Lifebook NH751

The Lifebook is the clear winner, even though it did not achieve a "very good" by far. The glossy display reflects heavily, but the viewing angles and the contrast are excellent. Furthermore, the premium multimedia laptop features a Full-HD display. It's a pity that it only houses a weak GeForce GT 525M, which can only suffices entry-level gaming, but cannot run games in high and highest resolutions. If you are looking for a gaming notebook which does not cost too much, you should rather consider the HP Pavilion dv6-6008eg.

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What we like

Extremely quiet in idle. Pleasant work surface with a good keyboard. USB 3.0 can be retrofitted via ExpressCard.

What we'd like to see

Interfaces on the rear to prevent a cable mess.

What surprises us

The first multimedia machine from Fujitsu – and a round package without visible flaws right away.

The competition

Alienware M17x R3 GTX 460M i7-2630: expensive alternative for gamers; Alienware M18x: every game in Full HD; Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch 2011-02 MC725D/A: downright worker; Sony Vaio VPC-F21Z1E/BI: excellent display; Dell XPS 17 (GT 555M): the gaming power that the Lifebook NH751 doesn't have (in some cases).

Category: Gaming / DTR

Contenders:

Asus G74SX-3DE 

Asus VX7 Lamborghini 

Schenker XMG P501 PRO 

MSI GT780R 

Alienware M18x

The first gaming laptop under review in June was the 18.4-inch Alienware M18x from Dell. Intel Core i7 2920XM, AMD Radeon HD 6970M Crossfire and WLED Full HD display with sRGB coverage – this 5.64 kilogram bundle can be called luxury. The Asus G74SX-3DE only achieved a slightly lower rating of 87% than the Alienware (88%). Reason: high noise level and that the fan is always on even when idle. The two bolides are on par in terms of materials and connectivity.

Although the Schenker XMG P501 PRO  cannot reach the A-Brands, it still belongs to the ultimate top performance range in 15.6-inch without doubt. The brand new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M and a fast Core i7 2720QM can ran all games in high details in a perfectly smooth manner. Often it even suffices a judder-free Full-HD (native). The matt display with good contrast is alright, but cannot excel the bright Asus G74SX-3DE  display (sRGB). 

In the GT780R, MSI uses the same GPU-CPU configuration than Asus in the G74SX-3DE. The price of 1800 Euro is similar too. However, the workmanship of the MSI is not that good as of the Asus. The GT780R's display delivers a differentiated and strong picture, but cannot cover sRGB.

The Asus VX7 Lamborghini is with 78% (still GOOD) clearly defeated. The racing car obviously stuck in the tuning garage as the GeForce GTX 460M is from September 2010. A GPU which is already nearly one year old is inadequate in a high-end laptop. However, the Asus looses the most points because of its run-of-the-mill display with low contrast and weak viewing angles. A no-go criterion considering a price between 1900 and 2000 euros. 

Gaming-Notebook of June 2011: Alienware M18x

Friends of fast computer games read about the strong performance of the  Nvidia GeForce GTX 580M, which works inside the Schenker XMG P501 Pro, with tears in their eyes. Nevertheless, the testers felt that the Alienware M18x with AMD Radeon HD 6970M (Crossfire) comes off better. Today, this laptop outperforms all dual and single GPU gamers. Although there are actually micro studders, these are hardly visible because of its extremely high performance.

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What we like

The excellent program and game performance.

What we miss

Less noise emissions under load.

What surprised us

The high battery life with the HD Graphics 3000.

The competition

18-inch gaming or multimedia notebooks such as the Acer Aspire 8950G.

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Notebookcheck's Best of June 2011
Author: Sebastian Jentsch, 2011-07-23 (Update: 2013-06-26)