Brazos ultraportables come out swinging

The launch of Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors last week was a tough act to follow. Nevertheless, AMD managed to draw crowds at CES with its freshly released Brazos platform, which has materialized in some rather interesting little notebooks.

The most exciting of those is probably the HP Pavilion dm1, an 11.6" ultraportable with a $449.99 starting price tag, a 1.6GHz AMD E-350 (a.k.a. Zacate) accelerated processing unit, 3GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 320GB 7,200-RPM hard drive. The dm1 looks and feels very compact and slick, measuring only 0.8" at its thinnest point. HP is quoting some impressive run times with the standard six-cell battery, too: 9.5 hours in MobileMark with mechanical storage and 10.75 hours with a solid-state drive. We couldn’t get a straight answer from HP about the battery’s watt-hour rating, but we’re told it’s somewhere around 55-62 Wh.

Next up is the ThinkPad X120e, which looks and feels like an honest-to-goodness ultraportable ThinkPad—but will start "under $400" when it becomes available next month, according to Lenovo. The X120e has an 11.6" display, a thickness of 1", a weight of less than 3 lbs, and a battery-life rating of over six hours. I believe this one also features the E-350, AMD’s fastest Zacate APU.

We also saw an interesting animal at AMD’s Pepcom showcase: this 13-inch MSI X-Slim powered by AMD’s lowest-end APU, the 1.2GHz single-core C-30. We weren’t able to gather too many details, but it’s definitely interesting to see such a low-power CPU (the C-30 has an 8W TDP) inside such a large laptop. I wouldn’t be surprised if this puppy had fairly impressive battery life, although personally, I don’t think I’d purchase a laptop with a single-core CPU.

Comments closed
    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    I’m sorry but the only laptop with the feel and touch pad I like is a apple laptop(not that I have one, do I look like I’m made of money?)

    Why do all these other companies fail to hire people capable of designing worth while products.

      • Anonymous Coward
      • 9 years ago

      I doubt ability to design has anything to do with the difference between Apple and mainstream PCs.

        • Firestarter
        • 9 years ago

        Then maybe the ability to market? All I know is that whenever I look around in an major electronics store, I see rows upon rows of laptops that I just don’t like at all.

          • travbrad
          • 9 years ago

          Well at least those stores are consistent. Any time I go to BB I see row after row of stuff I don’t like. :p

          Those stores seem to pick some of the worst and most overpriced products, no matter what the product is. $50 generic DVD drives, $100 headphones that are crap, 3 year old video cards, etc

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 9 years ago

          The price tag is more important than the product, and the manufacturers build products accordingly.

    • Anonymous Coward
    • 9 years ago

    So off topic a bit, but has our TR reporter been using a super-large aperture on the camera or something? You can see the plane of focus cutting across the Lenovo for example. I think thats a bit unnecessary. Surely you can just boost your ISO and use a fairly long shutter (with extra pictures taken to get one without motion blur) for pictures destined to be shown online at low resolution.

      • bimmerlovere39
      • 9 years ago

      Looking at the large sizes… they already were taken with high-ish ISO and there’s still motion blur. It doesn’t take a large aperture to get noticeable DOF at these distances.

      I’m sure the good ‘ol tack-sharp pictures will return when they aren’t taken in the middle of a trade show.

        • Anonymous Coward
        • 9 years ago

        Not to dwell on the unimportant, but I can’t see any evidence in the “big” image size. Perhaps you found an image I did not.

        I recall reading about TR getting a new Canon DSLR and if its anything like mine, it chooses what I consider to be entirely inappropriate settings when left in “P”, auto ISO and there is low light. It seems they used a 35mm focus length, so that sounds to me like they are likely using the 35mm f2.0 prime. (Could be a zoom, but what are the odds of being right at 35mm?) If they let the camera do the thinking, I bet its going to choose f2.0, some low ISO (200?) and maybe 1/40 second shutter speed. Entirely sub-optimal for this purpose! Instead they should manually set the ISO to 1600 or even 3200 (if that is a realistic option on their camera body) and set the shutter speed to 1/30. Let the camera choose the appropriate aperture to get a good exposure. Take a few pictures rapid-fire to try to get one thats acceptably sharp. A deeper focus plane is more important than super sharpness on only part of the product.

        They might do a bit better using an image stabilized zoom that opens to f2.8, but those are a lot larger, heavier and more expensive than an average prime.

    • gerryg
    • 9 years ago

    More and more laptops have no optical drive. I can’t see getting totally away from them for at least a couple more years due to legacy software and backups plus companies that haven’t yet picked up the skills they need to live without discs. The new Mac app store plus the MS store coming soon will definitely help, but the transition will still take time.

    Anyhow, do y’all have suggestions for a good yet inexpensive external optical drive that can burn DVDs? Preferably one that comes with at least halfway decent software.

    Thx!

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      How about this one:

      [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106356[/url<] I have this one: [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106341[/url<] but it has s*hit rating, and I never burned anything with it - it reads fine. Software? Use CDBurnerXP. Got a Mac? Sorry, since you'll burn in hell, none of it matters 😛

      • Flying Fox
      • 9 years ago

      Actually USB sticks have been gradually replacing the need for discs, now that you can get 8gig or even 16gig for pretty cheap now.

    • Flying Fox
    • 9 years ago

    I haven’t been up to speed on the Brazos reviews, can they play 1080p video just by CPU alone? If they can (just for the occasional failed DXVA playback), then X120e here I come!

      • shank15217
      • 9 years ago

      No, better it can play the 1080p movies by the GPU alone.. 🙂

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        OK, here’s the thing. GPU is on the CPU package (die?). System is low power, overall, but… does using the “GPU” to handle the video decoding use less wattage than a purely software solution using an optimized SSSSSSE4.3 XP Supersauce code path? Did anyone measure this even with regular DXVA offloading? It might be neat to see 3% CPU usage, but if the GPU uses more watts, doesn’t make much sense other than multi-tasking, and if you’re playing back 1080p video, what other tasks are you doing in the background (especially on a laptop) that you need the CPU cycles for.

          • odizzido
          • 9 years ago

          I’ve often wondered this myself

          • Flying Fox
          • 9 years ago

          In the case of IGP yes that seems to be the case. I did not measure actual power draw but I have power numbers when CPU is 100% vs relatively idle with an IGP system (785G). There is a ceiling of watts that the IGP generates so getting the CPU to lower utilization would result in some power savings.

          • shank15217
          • 9 years ago

          Yes, the gpu has a decoder called UVD3 that handles this function in hardware, and more efficiently than the cpu could alone and efficiency means it does it faster and therefore with less power than the main x86 core (less power only because there is no point in decoding video faster than you would view it).

        • Flying Fox
        • 9 years ago

        Well, someone better write that GPU-run rmvb/ogm filter.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    That X120e looks sweet. And the display seems to be matte as well. I’ll be hanging on to my X300 for a while, but it might make a good laptop for the wife.

    • FuturePastNow
    • 9 years ago

    *looks at Pavilion DM1*
    *sees HP’s horrific trackpad*
    NO SALE

    I love the Thinkpad, but if the x120 follows the path of the x100, it’ll be about $100 more than the others with the same specs (but will have Win 7 Professional).

    I’ve seen pictures of MSI’s Wind U270 (with the E-350), and it’s a fingerprint disaster. Covered with gloss.

    I would like to see what ASUS and Acer do with it.

      • shank15217
      • 9 years ago

      Its not the price but the form factor and professional finish. Pair this with SSDs and 4GB of ram and it could easily replace many professional desktops.

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        It’s sad, but having a laptop that isn’t covered with greasy fingerprints is now worth at least $100 extra, at least that’s what it seems from the pricing. I’m waiting for this to appear on Dell’s system configurator. Matte finish touchpad – add $20. Matte finish palmrest – add $40. Matte finish lid – add $50. Matte screen coating – add $100. Seriously, what in the bloody hell is with the screen. Is it because anti-reflective coatings diminish the absolute brightness of the display? LCDs are waaaay bright anyhow. Who decided that we want to see our reflections in our computer screen? I would if I was Cindy Crawford (?). But I’m not.. Seriously, let’s find out who this guy is and kick him in the nuts. Like a million times, so he never reproduces.

        • FuturePastNow
        • 9 years ago

        I doubt it could really replace a professional desktop. The E-350 is an Atom-killer but beyond that it isn’t much of a CPU.

        However, I will be buying one of these machines, and I’ll probably go with the Thinkpad. I don’t even really mind a glossy screen, since I don’t touch the screen, but a glossy case is too much.

        And HP’s multitouch trackpad is proof that they hate their customers.

          • bender
          • 9 years ago

          –> And HP’s multitouch trackpad is proof that they hate their customers.

          Seriously – what are they doing? Just use a couple of normal buttons and their machines become buyable again. Till then, complete deal breaker on otherwise nice laptops.

    • Tumbleweed
    • 9 years ago

    And is that a nice matte display on that ThinkPad? Come to papa!

      • BlackStar
      • 9 years ago

      Oh, yeah!

      • flip-mode
      • 9 years ago

      I saw that too. Yay! I’m telling my mums about that one.

    • BlackStar
    • 9 years ago

    Drools.

    Is there any chance of displayport / hdmi output? Or is that too much to ask?

      • shank15217
      • 9 years ago

      It probably has one, the pictures don’t show.

      [url<]http://www.thinkpadtoday.com/thinkpad-x120-review-superb-lenovo-gets-it-right-on-target-2.htm[/url<] this article says it does.

        • BlackStar
        • 9 years ago

        Oh, *lovely*!

        This is the ultraportable I’ve always dreamt of.

          • Anonymous Coward
          • 9 years ago

          Amazing what is possible what the CPU/platform supplier doesn’t place segmentation-driven restrictions on what may or may not go together.

    • shank15217
    • 9 years ago

    Lenovo x120e droool, I want it.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Put in an SSD, sell it for $450-$500, and it would take over the whole ultraportable segment.

      My god, I didn’t think E-350 would be capable of such long battery life. If it truly gets 6h with 3cell battery, Intel can just quietly exit the netbook/ultraportable business, as they have nothing competitive to offer, short of trying to sell low-power SBs at low margins.

        • moriz
        • 9 years ago

        lenovo didn’t specifically quote a three cell battery, but given the differences in battery life, i suppose it’s reasonable to assume as such.

        i want a six cell version of the X120e. i want it naoooo!

          • Ethyriel
          • 9 years ago

          Me too, but I want it in a 12.5″ version.

          • mczak
          • 9 years ago

          The press statement of lenovo mentions “over 6 hours” with the 6 cell battery, and “under 3 lbs” for the 3 cell battery – so you won’t get both at the same time :-).
          So I guess the “under 400$” is for a 3 cell battery version, and since it only states “E series APU” that price could potentially be for the E-240, which would make the E-350 version with 6 cell battery probably closer to 500$.
          You get definitely more runtime compared to the x100e predecessor (which only offered 4 hours or so with 6 cell battery, no 3 cell option), and faster graphics, though the x100e was actually available with a faster cpu (if there really is a E-240 option, the cpu on the low-end version will be slower too).

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            Ah, I see. Dammit. I got so excited – now I’m disappointed again. 🙁

            Somebody please make a perfect ultraportable!!

            • FuturePastNow
            • 9 years ago

            Look at prices on the x100e on Newegg. The cheapest one has a single-core processor (the K8 based MV-40), while the best dual-core model is $550. I assume the x120e will be similar, since it looks to use exactly the same case and screen, just updated guts.

            • shank15217
            • 9 years ago

            It cant be the exact case, it would have different board layout, as for lcd who know. The size doesn’t tell you anything.

            • Edgar_Wibeau
            • 9 years ago

            X100e, Edge 11 and X120e use very similar cases, the X120e’s layout (sports HDMI which X100e doesn’t) is even closer to the edge 11. The board layout differs of course, but the chassis is very similar, even for the intel models of the edge 11.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        that’s a quite reasonable post actually!

          • NeelyCam
          • 9 years ago

          …are you implying that my other posts are unreasonable…?

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            yes. when intel is involved, you can get a little trollish. By your own account, you’ve agreed!

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            Fair point. Sometimes I troll a bit because it’s so easy to freak out AMD fanbois… But even those posts are based on real stuff – I just exaggerate a bit for (my own) entertainment value.

            Pro-Intel arguments on the lawsuits/settlements were losing battles from the beginning, but they were fun nonetheless.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            as long as your realize it, we’re all good! troll away!

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            … Did I just get a permission to troll?!?

            oooh, this is gonna be fun!

      • [+Duracell-]
      • 9 years ago

      Oh man, both that and the HP machine look pretty damn slick. I think I like the look and feel of the Lenovo’s better, though.

      • axeman
      • 9 years ago

      It has a chiclet keyboard, so they fixed what wasn’t broke (Thinkpad keyboard feel), but Ctrl is still in the wrong place, so they didn’t fix what’s actually wrong with ThinkPads. I guess you can switch it in the BIOS now (swap Fn and Ctrl) but YOU DON’T %$#K WITH THE CTRL KEY. they bring all their equipment on the bus. YOU CANNOT F$%& WITH THIS KEY.

        • Ethyriel
        • 9 years ago

        Honestly, I’d rather have the fn key where it’s easily found without hunting, because I can assign ctrl to it’s proper location replacing caps lock in software.

        edit: Oh, and while it won’t replace the proper T/W/X/L series keyboards as my favorite, the keyboards on our X100e’s at work are by far my second favorite laptop keyboard. That includes Elitebooks. The contoured keys are very nice, and the key presses are firm and consistent, without the keys wiggling around in their slots.

        • Firestarter
        • 9 years ago

        Looks like the keys have the same dimensions. So, why not swap them in the bios AND swap them physically?

          • BlackStar
          • 9 years ago

          Overkill. I like this!

    • shank15217
    • 9 years ago

    I am sure there will be some very happy techreporters regarding the Lenovo x100 refresh. Its awesome indeed. I think I remember ubergerbil drooling over the possibility of one.

      • 5150
      • 9 years ago

      Wonder how bad they managed to screw up the LCD in it.

        • shank15217
        • 9 years ago

        I don’t care about a beautiful lcd, it needs to look decent head on.

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