$20 for one of the best laptops money could buy 20 years ago: is it worth it?

"It was a little worse for wear... but I wanted to nurse it back to health."

An interesting video for people who like vintage computers: the mid to late 1990s is not only a hinterland of general boringness between "vintage" and "modern", but the high point of Microsoft domination, when Windows was so crummy that to try and put it to use invites an instant headache. As a $20 thrift store find, though, a mid-1990s IBM Thinkpad seems a good find.

It was infested with malware, needed a new battery, couldn't even run Windows XP, and the hard drive sounded like "marbles rolling around in a teacup." Ah, but what wonders lurk in the back of the desk drawer!

Spoiler: You can play old DOS games or fool around with Linux.

(I found one on eBay, but will pass on it, as it's $200!)

P.S. I know many will disagree, but I found those old Thinkpads perfectly portable: imagine the battery life you'd get these days from a laptop nearly two inches thick! Read the rest

The world's littlest laptop is yours for $399, but is it the ultimate writers' gadget?

The GPD Pocket is a wee laptop with a 7" high-dpi touchscreen display and an enticing $399 price tag. It'll be light on power, with an Intel Atom CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, but promises about 12 hours on a charge and two USB ports, one of them type C.

There's a ThinkBook-style tracknipple in lieu of a trackpad. It'll run Ubuntu or Windows 10 and, somehow, they managed to sneak a headphone jack on there. Read the rest

Review: Lenovo Yoga Book

Lenovo's Yoga Book is the most striking personal computer I've seen in years. More than the original iPhone, or Sony's X505, or the Messagepad, here's technology that seems a few years ahead of schedule. It's compact, attractive and thinner than anything else that might be called a laptop. Imagine two hinged pieces of black glass, one of which glows with the internet and the other with Okudagrams, and you have the Yoga Book. Read the rest

Laptop has fake subwoofer

In this video, a mini subwoofer on the bottom of a laptop turns out to be a cosmetic divot impressed into the casing of a removable optical drive. The "subwoofer" is just a grill with a hole looking into the divot. Fans of the manufacturer have a range of superb excuses, such as it being a cleverly-disguised airflow structure. [via] Read the rest

New MacBook Pro "great for hackers"

Adam Geitgey offers an alternative take on Apple's new MacBook Pros, which were poorly-received when announced two weeks ago. Geitgey argues that, thanks to the finally-maturing USB-C ecosystem (and there being multiple USB-C ports), it's a miniature interoperative power-toy that hackers will love. For example, you can charge it with a drugstore power adapter: no more $80 bricks to lug around.

Universal sharing of accessories between devices is a hacker’s dream. It’s the exact opposite opposite of vendor lock-in. You can just plug anything into anything and it (mostly) works. ...

If you get any of the new USB-C compatible monitors (pretty much every vendor has at least one now), you only need to plug one single cable into your MBP: You can then plug all your other devices into your monitor and everything flows over one USB-C to your laptop — power, video, data and even sound. Your monitor is now your docking station and breakout box!...

I/O-wise, the new MacBook Pro is possibly the most open device Apple has ever built. There is literally not a single proprietary port on it. You get four universal high-speed ports that can each draw or supply power, send and receive data and transfer video and audio. It’s really pretty neat.

(Odd to think, though, that none of the clever mobile tricks he lists will work with iPhones, beacause iPhones don't use USB-C.)

I finally checked out the new MacBook Pros in person over the weekend. The 13" model with a function row is an almost-perfect laptop; if you don't need a cutting-edge mobile workstation, it has a lot of juice for such a tiny machine. Read the rest

Linux "lockout" tangle snarls Lenovo

After failing to install Linux on a recent Lenovo laptop, a Reddit user claims to have received a short reply from Lenovo's support team: "This system has a Signature Edition of Windows 10 Home installed. It is locked per our agreement with Microsoft." Read the rest

HacBook puts new Mac OS on old HP laptop

The HacBook Elite is a "fully-functional Mac running OS X for 1/3 the price," which is to say a refurbished HP EliteBook with OS X hacked to run on it. It only has an i5 CPU, 8GB RAM and a 1600x900 14-inch display—the claim this is equivalent to a 2013 MacBook Pro is eyebrow-raising, to say the least—but it's only $350, so you know what you're getting.

HacBook Elite ships with everything needed to start running the latest version of OS X. Once installed, OS X cold boots in 15 seconds and boots from sleep in 1 second. • Perfect for developing iOS, Mac apps • Dual-boot with Windows • Comes with iTunes, iMessage, App Store, etc. • Looks like a Mac.

Kinda.

My favorite part of the HacBook experience is the way the website imitates Apple's own, but all the images of text are blurry on high-DPI displays. The people who made (and would buy) HacBook don't even notice, but true Macolytes will get hives just looking at it.

Remember Psystar? Read the rest

HP's laptop is world's thinnest

HP's Spectre is thinner than all the others, and the company says that it is "more artisan than manufactured" in a promo video that touts its slim, jewelry-like design. The $1,170 laptop has an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory and a 13" display. It's 2.5 pounds: heavier than the 12" MacBook and Lenovo Yoga, but lighter than pretty much anything else and much more powerful than those machines. Read the rest

Dell's "business class" Chromebook gets good reviews

Dell's "business class" Chromebook is almost perfect, writes Wired's Scott Gilbertson. The release of this 13-inch model marks a shift from the low-end zone most ChromeOS laptops occupy, to the middle ground of "real" computers. It's $400-$900 and has all the trimmings, yet is more practical than flashy flagship models like Google's Pixel.

The Dell comes as close to the ideal Chromebook as anything I’ve tested. The catch is that you’ll pay for it. It’s probably best compared directly to the only Chromebook that’s more powerful and pricier—the Pixel. If you want a high-end Chromebook and don’t mind spending $900 for it, the Dell bests the Pixel in many ways, including battery life.

At Computerworld, JR Raphael prefers it to Toshiba's similar Chromebook 2

Dell's Chromebook 13 is a different story. The laptop has a carbon-fiber cover and an aluminum-magnesium body that work together to make the system stylish and approachable, as well as exceptionally sturdy. It's by no means at the level of build quality or design of a high-end system like Google's $1,000 Chromebook Pixel, but it's a really nice laptop -- and a meaningful step above every other system in the sub-$500 class.

Engadget's Nathan Ingraham says it has outstanding battery life and is the ChromeOS computer to beat.

Dell's Chromebook 13 costs a little more than the competition, but for that extra money, you get: hardware that feels like it's from a much more expensive machine, excellent performance, fantastic battery life and one of the best screens you'll find on any Chromebook.
Read the rest

Walmart's $150 Chromebook not awful, say reviewers

HiSense's amazingly cheap laptop is "a good, basic experience that doesn’t feel as slow as some past ARM Chromebooks have," writes Andrew Cunningham at Ars Technica. PC World agrees, writing that "it is now possible to buy an adequate computer for $149, a cash outlay many people can afford."

Matt Weinberger thinks that the design is surprisingly sleek for a low end machine "that's far more than I could have asked for" given the price.

CNET's Sarah Mitroff warns that the keys feel mushy, but says it's a promising pick for people who just want the cheapest decent laptop going.

One downside is that there's only one place you can get it. Read the rest

Thinnest gaming laptop

Gamers sick of bulky laptops should take a peek at the "ultra-portable" Razer Blade. Though not in the same cheesecutting league as a MacBook or Lenovo X-series, the slab is less than .9" thick and weighs 6.5 pounds, even with a 17.3"display and 2GB GeForce video card. At $2,299 and up, though, it seems crazy expensive. (The press release claims $1,799, but I couldn't configure it that cheaply at the site). Read the rest

Google's cheaper Chromebook: enough of a computer

The cheaper Chromebooks that Google introduced last month don't deserve credit for being a cheap way to read e-mail and surf the web: any smartphone meets that specification. But the $249 Samsung model I've been testing for the past two weeks also plausibly replaces a low-end laptop.

Retina display laptops expected at WWDC

It is the dumbest week of the year to buy a new Mac. [Ars] Read the rest

Asus ZenBook

The ZenBook, from Asus, is a Windows 7 "ultrabook" hewing closely to the MacBook Air's mold: an 11" or 13" display, teardrop shape, SSD as standard, and i5 or i7 processors from Intel. Previous challengers to Apple's popular laptop (and subnotebooks of yore) suffered from uncompetitive prices; this one, however, matches it at $999 for the base model -- albeit with a slower processor. Read the rest