HP Gaming Pavilion 15-dk0046nr Review

A solid laptop for an affordable price

 

OUR OPINION

The HP Gaming Pavilion 15 offers stellar performance and battery life at an affordable price.

FOR

  • Affordable
  • Solid gaming and overall performance
  • Runs cool while gaming
  • Great battery life

AGAINST

  • Dim, somewhat dull display when compared to costlier ones

The HP Gaming Pavilion 15-dk0046nr is an entry-level gaming laptop with either an Intel Core i5 or Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GeForce GPU, with an agile SSD and great battery life, all wrapped up in a striking, fairly portable design.. However, the dim, somewhat dull display does the laptop and gamers a minor disservice. Still, its combination of specs, power and endurance places the laptop as part of the top cheap gaming laptops under ₦400,000.

HP Gaming Pavilion 15-dk0046nr Price and Configuration Options

The ₦321,000 base model of the HP Gaming Pavilion 15-dk0046nr has an Intel Core i5-9300H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU with 3GB of VRAM. The ₦365,000 model reviewed here, the 15-dk0046nr, has an Intel Core i7-9750H processor with 12GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM.

Meanwhile, the ₦360,000 model gives you an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU with 6GB of VRAM.

Design

One thing’s for sure – the Pavillion doesn’t look like the typical gaming laptop. Instead of the tired black-and-red motif, the laptop has black with emerald accents. And if you really want to step off the beaten path, you can get the system with purple flourishes. Opening the laptop reveals a green backlit keyboard with some funky polygon-shaped speakers.

 

HP Gaming Pavilion Laptop 2019

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The HP Gaming Pavilion 15-dk0046nr weighs 5 pounds and measures 14.2 x 10.1 x 0.9 inches.

Ports

There is a decent amount of ports on the Pavilion 15.

HP Gaming Pavilion Laptop 2019

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the left side of the laptop is a USB 3.1 Type-A port, a USB 3.1 Type-C port, HDMI port, an Ethernet RJ-45 port and an SD media card reader.

HP Gaming Pavilion Laptop 2019

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

On the right side, you’ll find an additional two USB 3.1 Type A ports and jacks for the headphones and power.

Display

The HP Gaming Pavilion 15’s 15.6-inch, (Full HD) 1920 x1080 screen isn’t the brightest or the most colorful compared to the 4k display, but it delivers great image quality nonetheless, smallest details in pictures and scenes (such as the intense bright green of blaster fire) really pops.

HP Gaming Pavilion Laptop 2019

(Image credit: Laptop Mag) 

In terms of brightness, the Pavillion averages 241.2 nits. Additionally, its sRGB gamut percentage was 65.8%

 

OTHER HP LAPTOPS

Keyboard and Touchpad

The keys on the HP Gaming Pavilion’s keyboard are snappy and responsive. You can type faster than you normally would with this HP laptop’s keyboard.

The 2.4 x 4.6-inch touchpad delivered firm, springy feedback. Still, Windows 10 gestures works smoothly, no input delays.

HP Gaming Pavilion Laptop 2019

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Audio

Regardless of the volume, every sound comes out loud and clear from the laptop’s Bang & Olufsen dual speakers, be it jazz or opera, or any sound at all. The voicings, instrumentations will come out clear, no noice.

HP Gaming Pavilion Laptop 2019

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Gaming, Graphics, and VR

The Pavilion 15 packs an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. At the laptop’s highest graphical settings (1080p with Ultra settings), modern graphical marvels such as “Far Cry New Dawn” and “Hitman” averages out at 54 frames-per-second and 57 fps, respectively.

HP Gaming Pavilion Laptop 2019

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

 

On the virtual reality front, this HP gaming laptop averages 5.9 fps on the SteamVR Performance test.. It’s enough to top the 5.3 average.

Performance

Open plenty browser tabs, play YouTube videos on all those tabs, i can assure you that you can still play games smoothly without lagging.

The Pavillion 15 takes as little as 10 minutes and 42 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p.

When it comes to file transfer speed, the HP Gaming Pavilion’s 256GB SSD copied 4.97GB in 14.5 seconds, which is a transfer rate of 351 megabytes per second.

Battery Life

For a gaming laptop, even an entry-level system, the HP Gaming Pavilion 15 has a pretty long battery life. The system lasted 5 hours and 26 minutes on our battery test, which consists of continuous web surfing at 150 nits of brightness.

Bottom Line

Overall, the HP Gaming Pavilion 15-dk0046nr is not to be slept upon, it’s a budget system that equally satisfies your need.

The slightly USA used is available at 250,000 HERE

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Asus Just Unveiled the World’s Lightest Business Laptop

There’s light and then there’s light. The Asus Pro B9 is definitely the former at 1.9 pounds.

There’s no word on pricing or when the Pro B9’s launching, but it’s clear that Asus is gunning to be a major player in the business laptop space, an arena the company seemed to have left to the likes of Dell and Lenovo

Design

asuspro b9 top

I haven’t seen a laptop this light since the Lenovo LaVie Z. And honestly, it made me want to toss it like a frisbee. Let’s hope the Pro B9 fairs better. It looks to be made from the same blue aluminum seen on the likes of the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo so it’s definitely got a leg up. And the fact that the slim stunner has undergone MIL-SPEC-810G testing is reassuring that this isn’t a flimsy toy.

At 0.6-inches thick, it’s on a par with the Lenovo X1 Carbon, but the former is much heavier at 2.5 pounds. 

From the quick glimpse I saw of the notebook during the slide presentation, it appears to have a variation of Asus’ ScreenPad.

Specs

AsusPro B9

In another rebuke of the slim = weak narrative, Asus has found a way to outfit the Pro B9 with some seriously powerful specs. When it launches, it will have an Intel 10th Gen Core i7 processor, a pair of 1TB PCIe SSDs in either RAID 0 or RAID 1 configuration. It will also have Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3 ports.

And if like any good laptop, it will have TPM software and a fingerprint reader to keep your sensitive information under lock and key.

Bottom Line

Asus is making an aggressive play on the business space with the Pro B9 laptop. As you’d come to expect from the brand, it’s undeniably pretty and really powerful and it’s incredibly light. If it can offer reasonable battery life and it delivers on the performance, the Asus Pro B9 might be the laptop du jour for mobile professionals. 

Keep up with what’s happening on the IFA 2019 show floor with our up-to-the-minute coverage. 

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Razer Launches World’s First Gaming Ultrabook

The Blade family is getting even bigger. Razer just announced two new additions to its laptop library: the Blade Stealth 13 Mercury White Edition and the Blade Stealth 13 Graphics Edition. Available starting toward the end of September, the laptops will start at $1,499 and $1,799, respectively.

Blade Stealth 13 Graphics Edition

Razer is billing the Graphics Edition Blade Stealth as the “world’s first gaming ultrabook.” That’s because the laptop is outfitted with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB of VRAM coupled with a 10th Gen Core i7-1065G processor. That means you can play games like Far Cry New Dawn and Battlefield V, just not at the highest settings.

Razer-Blade-Stealth-13-Graphics-Editions-001

In addition to the Core i7 processor, the laptop is stacked with 16GB of RAM and 512GB PCIe SSD. The $1,799 configuration of the notebook features a 1920 x 1080 display that features Intel’s Lower Power Display technology, which is supposed to help extend battery life. Razer also has a $1,999 version with a 4K touch panel. Either system would work for a gamer on the go, but if frame rates and battery life are a big concern, I’d recommend the 1080p iteration.

Speaking of battery life, Razer claims that the Graphics Edition will last between 10-11 hours on charge. Most gaming laptops rarely last longer than 6 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery test, so I’m not optimistic about their chances.

Blade Stealth 13 Mercury White Edition

Razer-Blade-Stealth-Mercury-White-002

The first thing you’ll notice about the Mercury White Edition of the Blade Stealth is… that it’s white. But just like every other Blade laptop, the entire chassis is made of CNC aluminum and sports that boxy frame we’ve come to know and love. It’s just a really pretty laptop all around. As the name suggests, this version of the Stealth will only be available in this color.

Razer Blade Stealth Mercury White 001

Targeting college students, the laptop has one of Intel’s new 10 Gen Ice Lake processors (Core i7-1065G7 CPU), 16GB of RAM and an Intel Iris Pro integrated graphics card. Intel is promising better overall and graphics performance with this new round of chips as well as some AI functionality. I’m excited to see whether or not the components will live up to the hype.

The laptop has been outfitted with a 13.1-inch, 1980 x 1080 matte panel with the capability to reproduce 100% of the sRGB gamut thanks to factory calibration. And for storage, you have a 256GB PCIe SSD, which should translate into fast transfer speeds. 

The company is estimating 13 hours of battery life. Razer has been steadily working on the battery life, with the last Stealth lasting 8 hours and 5 minutes on the Laptop Mag battery test. Do I think the Mercury White Edition will last 13 hours? No, but I’m hoping it can clear 9 hours and maintain the company’s positive trend.

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Best Business Laptops 2019

Whether you’re buying an entire fleet of notebooks for your employees or just looking for a single productivity system for yourself, you’ll want a business laptop that’s durable, powerful and easy-to-use. The best business laptops outdo their consumer-focused counterparts by offering better security, stronger build quality and a superior typing experience.

As you’ll notice, many of the best business laptops come from Dell, Lenovo and HP.

For power users, Lenovo updated the ThinkPad X1 Extreme with an optional 4K OLED display.  If you want portability, go with the upcoming Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and ThinkPad X1 Yoga. HP’s Elite x2, a sleek detachable with a 1000-nit display, is also worth a look.

For everyone else, these are our favorite business laptops right now.

Best Business Laptop Overall: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen)

Best Business Laptop Overall: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen)

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the Maserati of business laptops, a sleek and stylish system with plenty of power under the hood. At 2.49 pounds, this 14-inch laptop can go anywhere, but it still finds room for a full suite of ports and enough battery capacity to provide over 11 hours of endurance.

The 6th Gen version of the X1 Carbon, ups the ante by adding a quad-core, Intel Kaby Lake-R CPU and one of the most gorgeous screens we’ve ever seen on a laptop. The optional, 2K HDR display rivals the OLED screens we see on top phones as it reproduces 199 percent of the sRGB gamut and provides up to 500 nits of brightness.

Pros: Super-vibrant HDR display; Long battery life; Excellent keyboard; Lightweight chassis

Cons: Tinny audio; Meh webcam

Key SpecsCPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB SSD | Display: 14-inch, 2560 x 1440 or 1080p | Size: 12.7 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.5 pounds

Best Apple Laptop: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

Best Apple Laptop: MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2019)

Start putting money aside now because the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro is one pricey machine, and there’s really no other business laptop like it. Performance is where the MacBook Pro really stands out from the crowd. With up to a Core i9-9980HK CPU and 32GB of RAM, this sleek productivity machine can handle some serious number crunching. Not to mention the breathtaking speed of its record-breaking SSD. And like the MacBook Pros before it, the 2019 model has a sharp, vivid display, great speakers and long battery life (10+ hours). 

Pros: Blistering performance; Sharp, vivid display; Powerful audio; Long battery life

Cons: Very expensive; Keyboard isn’t great; No USB Type-A ports

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i7/Core i9 | GPU: Radeon Pro 555X/Pro 560X/Pro Vega 16/Pro Vega 20| RAM: 16GB/32GB | Storage: 512GB/1TB/2TB/4TB | Display: 15.4-inch, 2880-1800-pixel | Size: 13.8 x 9.5 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 4 pounds

Best Design: HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3

Best Design: HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3

The HP EliteBook x360 1030 G3 is the complete package. Its aluminum chassis is not only thin and lightweight, but it’s also durable to military-grade specifications. Not to mention, the business laptop’s sturdy yet flexible hinge allows the gorgeous 13.3-inch, 1080p display to rotate back into tablet mode. Aside from its stylish looks, the Elitebook x360 1030 G3 has a comfortable keyboard, long battery life and a fast hard drive.

Pros: Sleek design; Gorgeous display; Comfortable keyboard; Solid audio; Fast SSD; Long battery life

Cons: Competing laptops are faster; Expensive

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 12 x 8.1 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 2.8 pounds

Best Business Detachable: Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Best Business Detachable: Microsoft Surface Pro 6

The Surface Pro 6 wasn’t designed as a business laptop, per say, but it has everything you could want from an enterprise machine. New to the Surface Pro is a sophisticated matte black finish that will blend into any professional office environment. The flexible detachable now has 8th Gen quad-core processors, which offer a significant performance boost when compared to last year’s Surface Pro. Battery life has also been markedly improved, so you can leave your charger at home. You can use the gorgeous, 12.3-inch touch screen display with the responsive Surface Pen, and the comfortable Type Cover keyboard attachment has a useful touchpad.

Pros: Speedy performance; Long battery life; Colorful display; Comfortable (optional) keyboard

Cons: No USB-C port; Sluggish SSD

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824-pixel | Size: 11.5 x 7.0 x 0.3 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds

Best Business 2-in-1: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

Best Business 2-in-1: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

If you want your business laptop to outshine those around you, then pick up the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. This 2-in-1 has a gorgeous 2K HDR screen that is among the most colorful we’ve ever seen. The laptop also features an elegant Mil-Spec tested design and its 8th Gen Intel processors offer excellent performance. If you’re worried about privacy, the X1 Yoga comes with a slider on the webcam, so you can ditch the tape.

Pros: Stunning 2K HDR display; Fast performance; Privacy webcam slider; Durable design

Cons: Pricey; Average battery life

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 14-inch, 1080p or 2560 x 1440-pixel | Size: 13.1 x 9 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 3.1 pounds

Best Battery Life: Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1

Best Battery Life: Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1

If battery life is a priority, the Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 is the business laptop for you. But its 13+ hours of runtime isn’t the only reason to buy this notebook; the Latitude 7400 2-in-1 has a sleek, flexible design, fast performance and some useful sign-in options.

Pros: Epic battery life; Strong performance; Sleek design; Nifty proximity sensor sign-in 

Cons: Display could be brighter; poor speakers

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7 | GPU: Intel UHD 620 | RAM: 8GB/16GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 12.6 x 7.9 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3 pounds

Best Performance: Dell XPS 15 (2019)

Best Performance: Dell XPS 15 (2019)

It may not be a business machine, per say, but the new Dell XPS 15 offers tons of power in a slim package you can easily bring to work every day. Packing up to a Core i9 CPU and 32GB of RAM, the XPS 15 destroyed our benchmark tests and had no problems streaming a movie trailer with 25 Chrome tabs open. The XPS 15 gives you all the ports you’d need to an external monitor, but your eyes will keep coming back to its stunning 4K OLED panel, which is both bright and exceptionally vivid. 

Pros: Breathtaking 4K OLED; Slim, attractive design; Great overall performance and graphics 

Cons: Below-average battery life

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7/Core i9 | GPU: GeForce GTX 1650 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB| Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB | Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p or 4K (OLED) | Size: 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches | Weight: 4.5 pounds

Best 15-inch Workstation: HP ZBook Studio x360 G5

Best 15-inch Workstation: HP ZBook Studio x360 G5

The HP ZBook Studio x360 G5 is hands down the best business laptop for power users, provided money isn’t an obstacle. This exorbitantly priced 15.6-inch laptop has it all, including a vivid, bright display and outstanding performance. Most impressive, however, is the workstation’s uncharacteristically sleek profile and long battery life. It’s also uncommon for a workstation to have a flexible chassis like the x360 G5’s, and the device’s touch screen can be used with a stylus. 

Pros: Premium design; Gorgeous 4K panel; Military-grade durability; Comfortable keyboard; Excellent performance; Long battery life

Cons: Lid flexes; Poor webcam; Expensive

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7/Xeon | GPU: Intel UHD 630/Nvidia Quadro P1000 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB | Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 15.6-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.8 inches | Weight: 4.9 pounds

Best 17-inch Workstation: Dell Precision 7730

Best 17-inch Workstation: Dell Precision 7730

If you have an unlimited budget and want the most powerful machine around, look no further than the Dell Precision 7730. This 7.5-pound workstation may not be the best for travel, but its Core i9 CPU and Nvidia Quadro P5200 GPU are capable of running even the most demanding applications, like 3D modeling or photo editing.

But the Precision 7730 isn’t all about performance. A gorgeous 4K display, a comfortable keyboard, and a MIL-SPEC design make this an exceptionally well-rounded machine, even though its battery life isn’t great. 

Pros: Vivid, detailed 4K display; Blistering performance; Comfortable keyboard; Durable design; Powerful graphics

Cons: Sub-par battery life; Runs warm; Exorbitant price

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i5/Core i7/Xeon | GPU: Up to Radeon Pro WX 7100/Up to Quadro P5200 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB/64GB/128GB | Storage: 500GB (HDD)/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB/4TB | Display: 17.3-inch, 1080p or 4K | Size: 16.3 x 10.8 x 1.2 inches | Weight: 7.5 pounds

Best Business Chromebook: HP Chromebook x2

Best Business Chromebook: HP Chromebook x2

Premium Chromebooks are on the rise, and there is none better (for now) than the HP Chromebook x2. The 12.3-inch tablet has a super-bright, high-resolution display and it lasts nearly 9 hours on a charge. One of best reasons to buy the x2 over competitors is that its attachable keyboard and pen are included in the $599 price. Business professionals who spend their 9-to-5s writing reports will appreciate the comfortable typing experience offered by the Chromebook x2, not to mention the security and convenience of Chrome OS. 

Pros: Bright, high-res display; Long battery life; Comfortable keyboard; Good sound 

Cons: A bit heavy; Thick bezels; Core m3 CPU is underpowered

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core m3 | GPU: Intel HD 615 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | Display: 12.3-inch, 2K | Size: 11.5 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches | Weight: 3.2 pounds

Best Rugged Laptop: Dell Latitude 5420 Rugged

Best Rugged Laptop: Dell Latitude 5420 Rugged

Although its beefier sibling, the Latitude 7424 Rugged Extreme, is the more durable laptop, the Latitude 5420 Rugged is the better all-around machine thanks to its exceptionally bright display, strong performance and a comfortable RGB keyboard. Unlike other rugged laptops we’ve tested, the Latitude 5420 has a responsive touchpad and a relatively thin chassis to go along with its nearly 10 hours of battery life. If this machine is right for you, check out our page for the top Dell Latitude accessories. 

Pros: Blindingly bright display; Survives 3-foot drops; Strong performance; Long battery life; Comfortable RGB keyboard

Cons: Expensive; No Thunderbolt 3; Poorly designed stylus slot 

Key Specs — CPU: Intel Core i3/Core i5/Core i7| GPU: Intel UHD 620/AMD Radeon RX540 | RAM: 8GB/16GB/32GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB | Display: 14-inch, 1080p | Size: 13.7 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 6.2 pounds

How to Choose a Business Laptop

Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing the right model of business laptop for you or your company.

  • Do you need vPro? Many business laptops are available with CPUs that have Intel vPro technology, which lets a support person log in remotely, even if the computer can’t boot. However, unless you have a large IT department and a huge fleet of laptops that you need the ability to service remotely, you probably won’t use this feature.
  • How fast do you need it to be? Most business users will be happy with a laptop that has a dual-core, Core i5 CPU like the Core i5-7200U or Core i5-7300U (vPro) and the CPU’s integrated graphics processor. However, if you require a high-end performance for 3D Modeling, professional video editing or creating predictive models, then get a mobile workstation with a quad-core Core i5 or Core i7 CPU (model numbers end in HQ) and Nvidia Quadro graphics.
  • Long battery life: Nobody wants to run out of juice in the middle of a long workday or a cross-country flight. Unless you’re getting a giant workstation, look for a laptop that gets more than 9 hours on a charge. Some business systems come with a choice of regular or extended batteries; always get the high-capacity unit.
  • At least a 1080p screen: It’s hard to be productive if you can’t see much text on the screen. Avoid laptops with low-resolution, 1366 x 768 screens like the plague. Get one with a resolution that’s 1920 x 1080 or higher.
  • SSDs for responsiveness: If you want a truly fast computer, get a solid state drive rather than a mechanical hard drive. SSDs boot up, open programs and multitask at least three times faster than old-fashioned hard drives.
  • The right ports: Nobody likes to carry a bag full of dongles. Consider which kinds of connections you or your employees will need the most. If you connect to a wired network a lot, make sure the laptop has an Ethernet port. If photography is a key part of the job, choose a laptop with a memory card reader. No matter what your needs, a Thunderbolt 3 port is a huge plus, because it will allow you to connect to a new generation of high-speed peripherals, universal chargers and powerful docks.
  • A great keyboard: It almost goes without saying that every laptop should have a good keyboard. But with business systems, a comfortable typing experience is even more important. Look for snappy feedback, deep travel and absolutely no flex.

Getting a business laptop with all the features you need could cost more than you expected, but you’ll be rewarded with a computer that makes you or your employees more productive for years to come.

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Laptops with Best Battery Life 2019 – Longest Lasting Laptop Batteries

No matter how stacked their specs are, even the best laptops are useless if they can’t hold a charge. Fortunately, there are plenty of notebooks that go the distance. Using our Laptop Mag Battery Test 2.0, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, we’ve identified the laptops with the best battery life on the market. We’re talking more than 9 hours of endurance, which should more than suffice for that cross-country flight, a long day of meetings or multiple, back-to-back classes.

Here are the laptops with the best battery life:

Lenovo ThinkPad T480 (17:19)

Lenovo ThinkPad T480 (17:19)

The Lenovo ThinkPad T480 was the last one standing among an army of laptops, with a battery life of 17 hours and 19 minutes. Along with its spectacular battery life, you get a great keyboard and solid performance packed into a military durable chassis that can withstand extreme temperatures, humidity, dust and vibrations. You also get an Nvidia MX150 GPU, which is good for some light gaming or productivity apps.

Pros: Epic battery life (with extended battery); Snappy keyboard; Good performance
Cons: Dull screen; Heavier than competitors

Key Specs: 14.1-inch, 1920 x 1080 display; Up to Intel Core i7-8650U CPU; 3.58 pounds / 3.98 pounds (with battery)

HP Envy x2 (Qualcomm) (14:22)

HP Envy x2 (Qualcomm) (14:22)

Between the HP Envy x2’s built-in 4G LTE and its 14 hours and 22 minutes of battery life, you can easily go on long trips without worrying about charging your notebook. Its included HP Digital Pen felt natural and smooth to use, and the Envy’s attached pen holster makes it convenient to use on the go. On top of being extremely portable, the HP Envy x2 offers a solid detachable keyboard and an incredibly bright display.

Pros: Amazing battery life; 4G built in; Comfortable keyboard; Beautiful display; Runs cool
Cons: Sluggish performance; Doesn’t run some Windows apps

Key Specs: 12.3-inch, 1920 x 1280 display; Up to Qualcomm 835 CPU; 2.7 pounds.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 (13:08)

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 (13:08)

Let me introduce you to one of the best Dell Latitudes around: The Latitude 7400 2-in-1 — a beast of a business laptop that can last 13 hours and 8 minutes on a single charge. That battery is packed into a super sleek design, measuring just 0.6 inches thick, alongside a strong Core i7 processor. One of the coolest features that the Latitude 7400 boasts is its proximity sign-in function, so you can sign into your computer just by walking up to it.

Pros: Sleek, modern design; Strong performance; 13+ hours of battery life; Proximity sign-in feature works well
Cons: Display could be brighter; Poor speakers;

Key Specs: 14-inch, 1920 x 1280 display; Up to Intel Core i7-8665U CPU; 3 pounds.

Dell XPS 13 9380 (12:22)

Dell XPS 13 9380 (12:22)

The Dell XPS 13 still has the slimmest bezels imaginable thanks to its InfinityEdge design, and as a bonus, Dell managed to fit the webcam in the top bezel, which has been a long-awaited feature. And to accompany those thin bezels is a gorgeous 13.3-inch, 1080p display that covered 126 percent of the sRGB spectrum and emitted 357 nits of brightness. This baby is also super light and thin, coming in at 2.7 pounds and 0.3~0.46 inches thick, and boasts a powerful new Whiskey Lake processor.

Pros: Slim, lightweight design; Strong performance; Gorgeous 4K display; Long battery life (on 1080p model); InfinityEdge bezels with properly placed webcam
Cons: Below-average battery life (on 4K model)

Key Specs: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 display; Up to Intel Core i7-8565U CPU; 2.69 pounds.

Lenovo Yoga C630 (12:14)

Lenovo Yoga C630 (12:14)

The Lenovo Yoga C630 sports a gorgeous aluminum chassis paired with a flexible, 0.5-inch thin design. Its battery life lasted 12 hours and 14 minutes on our tests, and when you combine that with its 4G LTE connectivity, it’s great option for people who frequently travel. As an added bonus, the Yoga C630 also features a decently colorful 13.3-inch panel.

Pros: Superslim, flexible design; Aluminum chassis; Very long battery life ; LTE connectivity
Cons: Poor price-to-performance ratio; Stiff keyboard; Hollow audio

Key Specs: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1280 display; Up to Qualcomm 850 CPU; 2.6 pounds.

HP Spectre x360 (12:07)

HP Spectre x360 (12:07)

HP’s Spectre x360 is back and sexier than ever, sporting a gorgeous Dark Ash Silver paint over its aluminum hood. To top off its design, its 13.3-inch, 1080p display blasted us with 150 percent of the sRGB color gamut, and the keyboard comforted us with a tactile 1.4 millimeters of travel. Not to mention that its battery lasted an epic 12 hours and 7 minutes on our tests.

Pros: Luxurious design; Outstanding battery life; Thin and lightweight; Vivid 1080p display; Class-leading keyboard; Powerful speakers
Cons: Display could be brighter; Bezels are a bit thick; Bloatware

Key Specs: 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1080 display; Up to Intel Core i7-8565U CPU; 2.8 pounds.

Dell XPS 13 9370 (11:59)

Dell XPS 13 9370 (11:59)

The latest version of Dell’s flagship laptop comes in an attractive rose gold and white color scheme and is a bit thinner than its predecessor, the still-for-sale XPS 13 9360. Because Dell shaved 0.14 inches off of the thickness and 0.13 pounds off the weight, the XPS 13 9370 has smaller battery and three hours less endurance. However, this sleek and sexy ultrabook still lasts nearly 12 hours on a charge and offers stronger performance and a more attractive screen than the 9360. You can also get the Dell XPS 13 9370 with an eye-popping 4K display.

Pros: Attractive design; Colorful display; Strong sustained performance; Very light
Cons: No USB Type-A port; Webcam looks up your nose

Key Specs: 13.3-inch, 1080p or 4K display; Up to Core i7-8550U CPU; 2.65 pounds.

Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (11:57)

Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro (11:57)

The 15-inch MacBook Pro boasts a ridiculously fast SSD, a vibrant display and strong performance packed into a gorgeous aluminum design. And with a Core i7 CPU, the 15-inch MacBook Pro could last as long as 11 hours and 57 minutes on a charge. That’s more than enough time to enjoy the perks of macOS as well as the MacBook’s solid speakers and improved keyboard.

Pros: Insanely speedy general performance; Fastest SSD we’ve tested; Comparatively thin and light design; Vivid, sharp display; Improved keyboard; Strong sound; Long battery life
Cons: Exorbitant price; Warm underside; No USB Type-A ports

Key Specs: 15.4-inch, 2880 x 1800 display; Up to Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU; 4 pounds.

Dell XPS 15 (11:53)

Dell XPS 15 (11:53)

Between its sleek aluminum chassis, ridiculously gorgeous 15.6-inch display and powerful performance, it’s practically a miracle that the Dell XPS 15 has long battery life. This baby lasted a solid 11 hours and 53 minutes, and while that’s not the best of the best, its other qualities easily make it one of the best overall laptops on this list. And with its GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU, you can run games like Hitman (Ultra, 1080p) at 60 frames per second.

Pros: Strong overall and graphics performance; Excellent battery life; Bright, vibrant screen; Runs cool; Attractive, if dated, design
Cons: Awkwardly placed webcam

Key Specs: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 display; Up to Intel Core i7-8750H CPU; 4.2 pounds.

Lenovo ThinkPad T480s (11:29)

Lenovo ThinkPad T480s (11:29)

Even at 3 pounds and 0.7 inches thin, the Lenovo ThinkPad T480s’ sleek chassis was able to take some MIL-SPEC punishment. And in terms of security, you can get a configuration with vPro, a fingerprint reader and an IR camera for Windows Hello (not to mention it already has a privacy shutter). All of those business friendly qualities are paired with a battery that can last 11 hours and 29 minutes.

Pros: Fast performance; Long-lasting battery life; Built-in camera cover
Cons: Dim display

Key Specs: 14-inch, 1920 x 1080 display; Up to Intel Core i7-8650U CPU; 3 pounds.

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Dell XPS 13 (2018) Specs

Dell XPS 13 (2018) is the latest, 2018 refresh of Dell’s popular, highly portable 13-inch laptop. This “CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree” (a.k.a. Dell 9370) comes with an 8th generation Intel processor, an edge-to-edge display and looks to retain its status as one of the best ultra-portables available.

Where to Buy Dell XPS 13 (2018)

Dell XPS 13 (2018) Key Specs & Features

  • 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i5, i7 processor
  • Intel® UHD Graphics 620
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
  • 3-inch FHD Infinity edge Diplay (1920 x 1080), 13.3 4K Ultra HD Infinity edge touch Display (3840 x 2160)
  • 4GB RAM, 8GB RAM, 16GB RAM
  • Widescreen HD (720p) webcam with 4 array digital microphones; Windows Hello compliant infrared camera
  • 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB,2TBPCIe Solid State Drive
  • USB Type C with PowerShare, DC-In & DisplayPort

 

Design

The Dell XPS 13 (2018) has a reputation of housing a 13-inch laptop in the an 11-inch body. It continues that trend here. You have in this one a notebook that is more than 3mm slimmer at roughly 11.6 mm in thickness. Dell XPS 13 (2018) has also shed some weight, coming in at only 1.2 kg.

This one shows solid construction with a sleek, durable aluminium finish. It seems to have titanium oxide coating that improves the polish. Dell boasts the XPS 13 (2018) is the first laptop to feature woven glass-fibre deck.

Display

The Dell XPS 13 (2018) again crams a 13.3-inch display in the body of an 11-incher. The improved InfinityEdge screen boasts Ultra HD 4K resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels for immersive viewing experience. It spreads from edge to edge with minimal size bezels.

Expect vibrant sharp images and amazing colour reproduction. There is a ‘CinemaColor’ technology in the mix to improve colours and deliver deeper blacks.

Performance

The Dell XPS 13 (2018) promises robust performance as its predecessor, coming with Intel Core i5 or i7 processor. It even gets better considering what you get here is a quad-core chip belonging to the latest eighth generation. The processor gets backing from up to 16 GB of RAM. There is up to 1 TB of SSD available.

Power management is better. The ultra-portable comes with a cooling system that feature two fans and heat pipes. This ensures heat doesn’t bog down performance.

Other Specs and Features

In terms of ports and interfaces, the Dell XPS 13 (2018) comes with two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a USB Type-C port with DisplayPort functionality, amongst others. It offers an IR camera that works with Windows Hello. There is optional fingerprint reader as well.

According to Dell, the battery on the laptop will last you up to 21 hours in Full HD mode, but just 11 hours in Ultra HD mode.

 

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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NVIDIA GT AND GTX

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN NVIDIA GT AND GTX

 

NVIDIA is a company that manufactures graphics cards –which can be found in computer games to increase the quality of the appearance of the graphics that appear on a computer screen. The company’s latest version of their graphics cards, the GeForce 8 Series, is its first unified shaded architecture –meaning, a set of computational units that have been, essentially, unified in order to run a complex shadier.

 

The 8800 GT supports PCI-Express 2.0, the latest version of the computer expansion card. This card also has the distinction of being the first graphics card to offer a 65 nm process. The basic processing power of the GT contains 128 stream processors as well as contains a 256 bit memory interface and 512 MB of GDDR3 memory. The top heavy nature of the memory sacrifices the GT’s performance at higher resolutions –as well as graphic settings that tend to be high.

 

The 8800 GTX comes standard with a 768 MB GDDR3 RAM. The GPU core of the GTX is comparable to the GTS; however, unlike the GTS, the GTX does not disable parts of the GPU or reduce RAM size and bus width in order to keep the production costs low. The GTX has the fastest largest commercial GPU constructed –consisting of 681 million transistors which cover a 480mm2 die surface area and built on a 90 nm process.

 

 

 

The GT contains a single slot cooler, enabling it to use less power than its predecessor, GTS because of its 65 nm process. The GT also outclasses the GTS in terms of features –including the PureVideo HD VP2 engine. This graphics card uses seven of the eight clusters of 16 stream processors. Its architectural enhancements outclass those of the GTX; however, as a result of its narrower 256 bit memory bus, the GPU performance is a bit more restrained than that of the GTX. The 8800 GT has gone through rejuvenation and will now sport the 9800 GT label. With the name change, comes a more efficient chip –once the current line of G92 chips have depleted, the GT will be equipped with a 55 nm chip.

 

The GTX has 128 stream processors that have been clocked at 1.35 GHz. It also contains a core clock of 575 MHz and 768 MB of a 384 bit GDDR3 memory. This means that the GTX has a bandwidth of 86.4 GB/s. This card also supports HDCP (High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection); however, it also contains an older version of the NVIDIA PureVideo processor, therefore uses more CPU resources.

 

Summary:

  1. The GT contains 128 stream processors and a 256 bit GDDR3 memory; the GTX has 128 stream processors and a 384 bit GDDR3 memory.
  2. The GT contains a single slot cooler; the GTX has a double slot cooler.

 

 

 

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iOS 10 is still a mess, but at least it’s a snappy, stable mess

With a week to go until iOS 10 gets a release date, the current beta shows an operating system that’s still painful to navigate

After a week of using the iOS 10 beta I called it a total mess. And it was. I’d essentially taken my workhorse iPhone and near crippled it by applying the beta. Yup, I know, betas and all that, but there’s no better way to get a feel for a platform, and get an understanding of its evolution than to start using it as early as possible.

And in many ways I’m glad that I did because I’ve seen a lot of changes. While I won’t comment on how the stability or performance of beta software is in any detail, I’m pleased to report that the current iOS 10 beta that I’m running on my workhorse iPhone has settled down to be very stable and snappy. If the current levels of performance and stability carry forward to the release version, then I think people will be happy on those two fronts.

I’ve also seen huge battery life improvements over the past few weeks. I’m now at the point where I’m getting the sort of battery life that I’d expect based on my daily usage.

So no complaints there, either.

But… (there’s always a “but,” isn’t there?).

The first, and I think most annoying, gotcha of switching to iOS 10 is Apple’s insistence on shoving too much of my data onto the lock screen. I wholeheartedly agree with my colleague Zack Whittaker when he says that a lock screen shouldn’t be a hub of information. I don’t understand why Apple would go to the trouble of building a secure platform, and then develop a super-convenient method of unlocking the device that only requires the tap of a finger, only to then, by design, make so much information accessible without needing to authenticate.

The answer, of course, is convenience. Apple realizes how complex iOS has become, with information buried in every nook and cranny, and this is how it has chosen to float this information to the surface.

Problem is, putting it on the lock screen makes it plainly visible to all.

And because the lock screen is now a sort of hub for what’s been going on since you last used your iPhone or iPad, Apple has tweaked the Touch ID process to make it harder to blow by all this junk.
NEXT

Ever since Touch ID was introduced, you just tap the Home button, and then you’re into your device, but with iOS 10, you can unlock the device and still be on the lock screen. You have to tap the Home button again to get to your apps. I get why Apple did this — because people would just blow past anything on the lock screen, like notifications and such, but in iOS 10, Apple wants to make more use of the lock screen. But it feels more like Apple wants to force me to use the lock screen rather than make it a useful feature. You can still blow past the lock screen — just tap and hold the Home button — but I feel like I’m forced to change how I work because Apple wants to show me the new lock screen’s cool features.

Apple has made a tweak to iOS 10 to allow users to restore the old functionality, but you have to know that this is possible, and then find it within the labyrinth that Apple calls the Settings app.

The lock screen also highlights another problem in iOS 10 — how much space notifications waste. Information is displayed in huge “flash card” style panels, but the text is tiny and there’s tons of wasted space. Also, while these panels might work out great in Apple’s lab during testing, if you get a lot of notifications then they really become unwieldy to use.
iOS 10 is still a mess, but at least it’s a snappy, stable mess

There are also some weirdly jumbo-sized buttons.
iOS 10 is still a mess, but at least it’s a snappy, stable mess

There’s also a lot more horizontal swiping in iOS 10. In fact, horizontal swiping seems to be the new vertical swiping. For example, from the lock screen you swipe left to access the camera, rather than swiping up. I’m not sure what this is supposed to accomplish, especially since you seem to have to make a huge, exaggerated swipe. I used to be able to access the camera from the lock screen with my thumb when I had to swipe up pretty reliably, but my success rate with this new swipe is much lower.

This is, to me, the perfect example of change for the sake of change, with an added twist of not really working all that well.

And then there are the horizontal scrolling inconsistencies.

For example, on the lock screen, a horizontal swipe takes me to the camera, but once in the Camera app, horizontal swiping is used to switch between different camera settings. Instinctively, I want to swipe out, but I can’t and have to use the Home button. It’s a minor gripe, and I know that you’ve never been able to swipe out of an app, but it highlights a big disconnect between the developers who wrote the code for the lock screen and the developers who work on the Camera app.

It all feels weirdly inconsistent.

Apple, to its credit, has streamlined some aspects of the user interface. For example, the gratuitous, gaudy, and highly annoying app opening/closing animations are gone, and the swiping seems to be a bit more refined (or maybe it’s me that’s getting better).

I’m also not a big fan of the new Messages app. Sure, it’s “fun” to use, but the fun features have been added at the cost of burying useful features. For example, you can’t seem to select text to copy from a message anymore, you have to copy the whole thing. This is because of the popups to allow you to send canned responses to messages.
iOS 10 is still a mess, but at least it’s a snappy, stable mess

Then there’s the Control Center box.
iOS 10 is still a mess, but at least it’s a snappy, stable mess

There are so many things wrong with this that I don’t know where to begin.

Why is the Night Shift button so crazy big?
Do the colors on the circular buttons for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and such mean anything in particular (beyond the fact that the setting is on/off)?
Why is the Night Shift button so crazy big?
Why has the volume control been shifted over to a second screen along with the other media controls?
Why is the Night Shift button so crazy big?
Access to HomeKit devices is buried on a third panel, so if you want quick access to your devices, forget about it.

The new Control Center panel is so bad that I’m left to assume one of two things:

4:00 pm came around on the day that the code for the beta was supposed to be finalized and this panel had not been done, so someone knocked this together in a few minutes as a placeholder and it has then been forgotten about.
Someone let their young child design it.

I don’t understand why this panel wastes so much space, and I don’t know why it has to extend over two panels (why can’t it just vertical scroll?).

The iOS 10 Control Center ranks not only as one of the worst user interface designs by Apple, but as one of the worst by any major software developer. If there was some way to customize the panel, that would remove some of the irritation, but it still wouldn’t compensate for the fact that Apple clearly doesn’t have a solution for its bloated platform.

iOS 10 now feels like iTunes.

So, when iOS 10 rolls onto tens of millions of iPhone and iPads later this month, I expect that users will be pleased by the speed and stability of the platform, but will be left confused and possibly angry by all the tweaks and changes that Apple has shoe-horned into the operating system. Gestures and actions that have been ingrained into muscle memory through thousands upon thousands of repetitions will need to be relearned, and there will be more swiping and more frustration and users have to dig through the platform to find the information they want.

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PS4 NEO (PS4.5) release date, news and rumours round-up: 8 things to expect from the 4K PlayStation

We all assumed the next PlayStation would be the PS5 – but we were wrong. Instead Sony’s next games console will be the PS4 NEO or PS4.5, a halfway house between the PS4 and PS5 – complete with 4K capability. Kotaku first broke news about the PS4 NEO around two months ago, and since then, the leaks and rumours haven’t stopped. Reports from Digital Foundry and GiantBomb and have revealed even more about the PS4 NEO (PS4.5) – and it now looks like the PS4.5 will have a 2016 release date. We know the PS4 NEO (PS4.5) is happening, and we know its release date, but what else do we know about the PS4 NEO or PS4.5? Here are 8 things to expect from the PS4 NEO (PS4.5).

8 things to expect from the PS4 NEO (PS4.5)

1. The PS4 NEO price might not be as expensive as we think

The PS4 NEO is going to have significantly more processing power than the standard PS4, and therefore you’d expect it to have a considerably larger price tag. However, that might also be wrong. The PS4 NEO could be just $100 more than the PS4 according to some analysts, and that’s mainly down to advances in manufacturing costs. On top of that, it’s likely that the PS4 NEO will also be bundled with PS VR, so it’s likely Sony would apply a further reduction there, too.

2. The PS4 NEO (PS4.5) will probably use AMD chips

So we’re still not 100% sure what chips the PS4 NEO will use, but a more and more reports are suggesting the PS4 NEO will be powered by AMD chips. Earlier this year, MCV noticed the chip manufacturer cited “three system on chip wins” for its higher than normal projected revenue – and that points to the Nintendo NX and Xbox 2 as well as the PS4.5. More recently, a new earning forecast noticed by VRworld also pointed to AMD supplying a new console – and it could be the PS4.5

3. And they’ll make the PS4 NEO (PS4.5) VERY powerful

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To get games running at 4K, Sony will need to implement some serious upgrades to the PS4. The current PS4 can handle 1080p resolution at 60fps with most games, but increasing that to a 4K would require several big upgrades. Digital Foundry has detailed just how powerful the PS4.5 going to be – and it’s looking pretty impressive. The report says the PS4.5 will use the same CPU as the PS4, but each of its eight Jaguar cores will be clocked to 2.1GHz instead of 1.6GHz – a boost of 1.3. At the same time, the memory will go up from 8GB GDDR5 at 176GB/sec to the same amount of memory at a faster 218GB/sec – enough for a 24% increase in bandwidth.

However, the largest increase will come from the GPU. Sony is upping the PS4’s 18 Radeon compute units at 800MHz to 36 “improved” units at 911MHz. That should give an increase of 2.3 FLOPs, which is massive.

4. The PS4 NEO (PS4.5) will output to 4K 

And what about 4K? It looks as though the PS4.5 will focus on 4K – just like we thought – but Sony is giving developers a lot of scope on how to do this. Instead, it looks like the NEO will be able to upscale to 4K, but will need to at least match the frame rate of the vanilla PS4 game.

5. The PS4 NEO (PS4.5) will be perfect for GT Sport and PS VR

We know that the PS4 NEO will be able to produce 4K content, but like the normal PS4, it’ll also work with the PlayStation VR headset to produce VR content. A PS VR headset with coupled with a PS4.5 will no doubt be the ultimate way to consume VR content on the PlayStation, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we a special an Ultimate Bundle, with a game like GT Sport.

6. The PS4 NEO (PS4.5) release date might be in 2016

Although games will feature both modes by October, that doesn’t necessarily mean the NEO or PS4.5 will be out before the end of the year. According to GameStop COO Tony Bartel, the PS4.5 is imminent – so could be out before 2017.

At a GameStop event, Bartel said: “Although we have not modelled extensive growth for new innovation in this presentation, we are very pleased to see the introduction of technology like virtual reality and rumoured new console launches. Some of which seem imminent.”

7. The PS4 NEO (PS4.5) is codenamed “NEO” right now

Ever since news broke of the “nearly PS5”, we’ve been calling it the PS4.5 or the PS4K. However, the latest leaks suggest the PS4.5 is being called NEO internally. Whether you like that name or not doesn’t really matter, as it’s likely to change well before release. After all, the PS4 was called the Orbis during development.

8. The PS4 NEO (PS4.5) won’t have its own games as such

When we first heard about the PS4.5, we were as stunned as everyone else, because we wondered how Sony could effectively split its customer base in two. However, Giant Bomb‘s report explains how the company aims to get round that – and just what the PS4.5 will mean for game developers. According to the report, every PS4 game will need to ship with a Base Mode that will run on the standard PS4 and a NEO mode that will use the PS4.5’s increased power. Earlier in the year, I suggested that developers would use something like a free, after-purchase download to unlock the potential of the PS4.5, and that looks to be the case. If Giant Bomb’s sources are right, that’ll be the extent of the differences between the consoles, as the report suggests there will be no PS4.5-only games.

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Sony SmartWatch 3 review: Getting on, but it’s now dirt cheap

The Sony Smartwatch 3 was one of the first wave of Android Wear smartwatches to hit the shelves, and although it’s looking a little dated now, there are a few reasons why you might want to still consider buying one. It remains Sony’s only Android smartwatch to date, and second, some big discounts mean it’s one of the cheapest Android Wear devices you can buy, at around £100 from some retailers.

And although it isn’t exactly the most attractive wearable I’ve ever come across, with wide bezels a rather unappealing rubber strap and an awkward, square display, it does still have its strengths.

Sony Smartwatch 3 - transflective screen in full sunlight

Sony SmartWatch 3: display and battery life

The first of the plus points is the SmartWatch’s 1.6in, 320 x 320 display. Instead of using the standard IPS or OLED tech used in most other manufacturers’ smartwatches, the Sony employs transflective technology.

Transflective (transmissive and reflective) LCD panels are dual-purpose screens, more commonly found on outdoor gadgets such as handheld GPS devices and ruggedised tablets. The addition of a reflective layer means that, as long as there’s enough ambient light, the display remains legible, even if the LCD backlight is switched off. For a smartwatch, where you don’t want to be constantly sapping the battery life by turning the backlight on and off, it’s the perfect fit.

In the case of the Sony Smartwatch 3, the transflective screen means that, even when you’re not engaging with the watch, you can read the time and notifications at a glance, and in bright sunlight the screen is far more readable than on wearables with standard screens.

Indoors, however, it operates just like any other smartwatch: the screen turns on when you tap the button or the screen or lift your wrist abruptly, and it can be turned off by covering the watch face with your palm, or pressing the button again.

It’s a clever idea and one that, coupled with a light sensor to adjust the backlight based on ambient conditions, leads to decent battery life. In casual use, with the screen set to always on, we found the watch typically lasted two days of use, matching Sony’s claims, and it did well in our smartwatch battery benchmark as well, achieving a projected runtime of 47hrs 16mins.

That result puts the Sony up with the best Android Wear devices we’ve used – the LG G Watch (52 hours) and LG G Watch R (69 hours) – although given the transflective display, it isn’t as good as we were hoping, especially since its 420mAh battery is as big as we’ve seen on a smartwatch.

With regard to the screen there is one major downside, too: compared with the AMOLED and IPS displays found on other smartwatches, with the backlight on and out of the sun, it looks terrible. Colours are washed out and insipid, and they fade further when viewed at an angle. Also, it’s disappointing that there’s no way to engage an ultra-power saver mode, by switching entirely to reflective mode. That could have made a palpable difference to the SmartWatch 3’s battery life. As it is, the battery is good but not better than the market leaders.

Sony Smartwatch 3: design, features and software

The watch itself looks a touch drab, but we did find ourselves warming to the minimal, frill-free design. It’s comfortable to wear and feels well made: its thick rubber wristband is adorned with a hinged metal clasp that holds it snugly and securely to your wrist.

A chromed button on the side of the housing sleeps or wakes the watch without you having to touch the screen or flick your wrist, and the watch is available in two colours: black or neon yellow.

We prefer the black band, but whichever you choose it’s possible to change between straps easily by simply popping the “core unit” out and back in again. It’s a great system, but at the time of writing we were unable to find any accessories to buy other than the official Sony pink and white straps, for around £20 each. Given the focus on fitness, it would have been nice if Sony had seen fit to launch the SmartWatch 3 with a handlebar mount. It’s also somewhat surprising to discover that there’s no heart-rate monitor on the rear of the watch, a feature many of its non-sporty rivals include.

However, the SmartWatch 3 is water- and dust-resistant; its IP68 rating means it’s completely sealed against dust, and you can submerge it in up to a metre of water for 30 minutes. We wouldn’t take it swimming, but it should be fine in the shower or while doing the washing up.

The SmartWatch 3 also has its own GPS sensor – something other Android Wear watches lack. This allows it to – in conjunction with Sony’s Lifelog app – log your runs and rides independently, so you don’t have to take a smartphone out with you when you exercise.

Other practical touches include 4GB of flash memory (with 2.6GB free to use) for storing MP3 files for offline playback via Bluetooth headphones. There’s also NFC, raising the prospect of being able to pay for goods and services without having to whip either your phone or your wallet out of your pocket.

Our favourite feature, though, is the most prosaic of the lot: a standard micro-USB charging port, found at the rear of the watch beneath a rubber flap. While owners of other smartwatches will worry constantly about losing their fiddly magnetic or clip-on charger attachments, Sony SmartWatch 3 owners need only find the nearest standard phone charger. Frankly, this is something we’d like to become standard across all wearables.

Finally, as for software – well there’s nothing much to see here. The SmartWatch 3 runs plain Android Wear, which means it works just like any other Android Wear smartwatch, receiving notifications and Google Now updates via pop-up cards, and allowing you to issue various voice controls to set reminders and send messages. Plus, with the recent Android Wear 5 update, Google is gradually beginning to iron out the kinks, although in our view there’s still plenty of work to be done.

Sony SmartWatch 3: verdict

The Sony SmartWatch 3 is a good smartwatch, but we can’t help but feel that it could have been so much more. On the plus side, the built-in GPS and transflective display set it apart from the crowd, battery life is decent and it’s sensibly priced, too.

However, the poor screen quality when backlit and the lack of heart-rate monitor will put a sizeable dent in its appeal for many wearables fans. For now, that means only one thing – the LG G Watch R retains the Android smartwatch crown.

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