Video: Review of Toshiba Chromebook Laptop for under $300

Chromebooks are somewhat hard to position in the market, sitting somewhere between an Android tablet and a Windows laptop.  They run a web based operating system from Google called Chrome OS.  Here we show a video of the Toshiba 13.3 inch Chromebook.

Check the Toshiba Chromebook out here.

The Toshiba is a fully fledged laptop.  Ports wise the Chromebook features 2 USB ports, one HDMI port, a card reader and a headphone port.  The laptop isn’t heavy, in fact it feels to be a very portable laptop whilst still keeping good build quality. The screen is crisp, giving a great picture, and the keyboard feels very sturdy.

Under the hood you have an Intel Celeron processor – this isn’t the most powerful of processors, but power isn’t really what Chromebooks are for.  If you’re wanting to run processor intensive tasks you may want to go for a Windows laptop (see our review of the Dell XPS 13 here).  On board you have 2Gb of RAM and 16GB of storage, whilst this doesn’t sound like much, remember that this is a Chromebook, so almost everything is run and stored in the cloud.

Price wise this comes in at $276.99.  This is a little pricier than some Chromebooks on the market, but it’s worth spending the extra dollars.  Quite honestly some of the Chromebooks out there risk feeling a bit… cheap.  You don’t get this with the Toshiba.  It’s a well built device, and great for those on the road a lot.

Check it out on Amazon here: Toshiba CB35-B3330 13.3 Inch Chromebook (Intel Celeron, 2GB, 16GB SSD, Silver)



The small Apple Watch feature that makes it amazing

There’s a small feature of my Apple Watch that has made me love it.

 

Let’s be honest, the first generation of most new devices are not the best. There’s usually some tweaking that needs to happen. The Apple Watch is no exception, it’s a great device, or more specifically, it will be a great device, but it has its weaknesses.

However, we’re not here to talk about those weaknesses today. There’s a small feature in the Apple Maps application that is great. You put your destination in, plan the route and get going. When you need to turn your watch will buzz on your arm and you’ll have the directions (e.g. ‘turn left onto High Street’) on the screen.

Now, I tried this with driving and it didn’t mean much to me.. I mean.. I have the phone screen right in front of me so don’t find this a valuable add on. However on a recent vacation to Italy I found it invaluable when walking.

You see, with navigation by the phone you’re always walking along with the phone in your hand, checking where you are, if you’ve gone too far or need to turn. It’s really antisocial and it sucks, especially on vacation.

Instead with the Apple Watch, just set everything up, throw your phone in your pocket and go for a nice walk. Chat with people, look around, take in the city you’ve just paid to visit. Your watch will quietly buzz on your arm when you need to turn. You then quickly look at the watch to find out where you need to go. Then you carry on with your vacation.

It’s a small thing, yes, but it’s a great little feature that I used, and will continue to use, constantly when navigating on vacation.

Check out more about the Apple Watch here.

Zoostorm Home Desktop PC User Review

Zoostorm is a British PC manufacturer that those looking for a well built desktop PC at a good price should look towards.

The model we’re reviewing has an Intel Core-i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1tb hard drive and Windows 10 Home pre installed. All this comes in at just £394.93 with free delivery from Amazon. However, Zoostorm have a wide and comprehensive range of PCs available so there will be other models to suit your requirements.  Amazon has the same spec PC listed, albeit with a slightly different case:

The first thing you notice is that the computer is big, physically. It is not in a slimline or sleek case, it is a good old fashioned tower case. This means it’s more likely going to sit under your desk rather than on it. Computer enthusiasts will like this as you can easily open the case to access all the components but space conscious users may be concerned by this.

The performance for a home PC is good. We’ve used the PC for email, web browsing, editing word documents, photos and video management, and some remote access to work computers. This isn’t a gaming powerhouse, but the price reflects this.

The model we tested didn’t come with wifi. This means that we hooked it up by plugging a network cable into a powerline network (that is a wired network that runs over you home electrical system). We found this to be too slow and eventually installed a wifi card. Installation was easy as the case is so big, and the performance of the card was good. We used the following wifi card:

TP-LINK TL-WDN4800 N900 Wireless Dual Band PCI Express Adapter

The PC doesn’t come with any speakers, so you’ll need some headphones or a set of cheap pc speakers. You’ve probably got some kicking about the house/office.

Build quality wise the tower case is well built and sturdy. There are no corners cut here and the computer feels like a premium product. The computer is supplied with a keyboard and mouse, which are perfectly usable although the mouse in particular has a somewhat budget feel. Again, consider the price though and this becomes more acceptable.

In summary, if you are looking for a slim, small PC this isn’t for you; if you are looking for a powerhouse PC this isn’t for you; however if you are looking for a great value PC with good performance (which can be easily modified and upgraded) then you really should consider a Zoostorm PC.


Dell XPS 13 (2015 Skylake) User Review

I have been using my Dell XPS 13 for a few months now.  This laptop features the new Skylake processor and a USB-C port.  I use this laptop for all the usual things plus I travel a lot, write some code and often present on external displays.

Overall this is a great device, it’s plenty powerful enough thanks to the Skylake chip and copious memory and it is easy to slip into a shoulder bag.

The entry level model starts at £849 in the UK, however the model discussed here features a i7-6500U processor, 16Gb memory and a 512GB Solid State Drive at £1399.  The XPS 13 can be bought online here:

Amazon (USA): Dell XPS 13 on Amazon USA

Amazon (UK): Dell XPS 13 on Amazon UK

dabs.com (UK): Dell XPS 13 on dabs.com

ebuyer (UK): Dell XPS 13 on Ebuyer

Portability

This is key with this type of laptop and the Dell really excels here. The 13 inch display has been crammed into a case more similar in size to an 11 inch MacBook Air. The shell is sturdy enough to deal with the inevitable knocks and bashes that will occur when travelling.  It’s also super light so you don’t get laptop shoulder ache.

One of the quirks of the unique size of this laptop is that it makes it rather hard to find a well fitting sleeve. It’s too small for normal 13 inch laptop sleeves but a tiny bit too big for the 11 inch MacBook Air sleeves…. And the Dell one is simply ugly. In the end I bought this one custom made from Etsy and it is fantastic quality:

Dell XPS 13 custom laptop sleeve

Performance

The model I have  features a dual core i7-6500U processor with 16GB memory. This is more than capable, I even run complex data analytics software on it which it handles with ease.

Geekbench gives a single core rating of 3115 and a multi-core rating of 6596.  What’s impressive here is the performance per CPU core, which is very good.

Connectivity

All the usual suspects are here from a wireless perspective: fast wifi and Bluetooth. No problems here. It does get more interesting when you get to physical ports; the XPS 13 is ahead of its time and features a USB-C port, which is great. However there is no mini display or hdmi port. This means that to connect up to an external display you will need a usb-c to vga or hdmi adapter, which there are not many of at the moment.. And those that are available are rather pricey:

VGA: Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter

HDMI: Google USB-C to HDMI adapter

Alongside the USB-C you have the power adapter, a couple of USB 3 ports, an SD card reader and a headphone socket.

Dell are also releasing a USB-C docking station which had all the display, charging, network and use ports you’d expect.  It is, however, not available at the time of writing.

Display

Quite honestly, the display is lovely. The screen is a QHD+  Which has a resolution of 3200 x 1800, and it produces a fantastically vibrant and crisp image.  This really is the highlight of this laptop.  It is also a touchscreen which I don’t find I use that often, but is occasionally handy for lazy web browsing.

Windows 10

This is finally the good Windows. This isn’t a review about Windows 10, but it is worth mentioning as the OS is much easier to use than Windows 8.1 and looks brilliant on the XPS’ display.

Overall this is not just a great laptop on paper, but is also great to use on a daily basis.

I would highly recommend checking it out.