Samsung updates Chromebook lineup with two new models


Samsung Chromebook 4

The last time Samsung fully refreshed its core Chromebook models was all the way back in 2016, but the electronics giant has finally gotten around to moving from the Chromebook 3 to the Chromebook 4. While the new notebook retains the same 11.6-inch form factor as its predecessor, a new Chromebook 4+ model with a larger 15.6-inch display has also been introduced.

The Chromebook 4 bumps the processor up to a newer Intel Celeron N4000, doubles the RAM and storage to 4GB and 32GB, and increases battery life to 12.5 hours, while retaining the same display resolution (1,366×768) and roughly the same weight (2.6 pounds versus 2.5 pounds) as its predecessor. The design has been given a bit of an overhaul as well, with a sleeker platinum-colored chassis and the addition of a USB-C port.

With the Chromebook 4+ Samsung has joined the mini-trend of full-size Chromebooks, though it still manages to tip the scales at just 3.75 pounds. It’s configured with similar components as its smaller sibling, but adds a second USB-C port and sports 1080p HD (1,920×1,080) screen resolution. Given its larger size (and similarly powered battery), the 4+unsurprisingly gets less battery life than the Chromebook 4, with Samsung claiming it gets 10.5 hours before needing recharging. 

Both new Chromebooks have been built to meet a number of military-grade standards for durability, such as drop and vibration protection and resistance to extreme temperatures, though spill resistance for their keyboards does not seem to be one of them. They both also feature Google Assistant built in to handle voice commands.

Samsung’s new Chromebooks are available immediately, with the Chromebook 4 starting at $229.99 and the 4+ priced from $299.99.  

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HP launches Chromebook x360 12b, 14b with Universal Stylus Initiative support


HP Chromebookx x360 12b and 14b

HP yesterday launched a pair of Chromebooks that support the new Universal Stylus Initiative (USI) standard for digital styluses. The Chromebook x360 12b and 14b are among the first devices supporting USI, which allows non-proprietary features to be used across different devices with the same stylus.

The idea behind USI works like this: With the purchase of a USI 1.0 stylus, you can not only use it with multiple USI-compatible devices from different manufacturers, but those devices will also support the use of multiple styluses. Google has built USI support into the Chrome OS, with HP being the first manufacturer to release a Chromebook taking advantage of it.

In terms of the actual laptops, they come with an Intel Celeron N4000 processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. The 12b ships with a 12-inch display with 1,366×912 resolution, while the 14b features a 14-inch 1,366×768 screen. Like other notebooks in the x360 lineup, these come with a 360-degree hinge to flip the screen over to allow tablet-like functionality.

Though USI support is the new Chromebooks’ most notable feature, neither actually comes with a stylus. Instead, you’ll be able to purchase a new HP USI-compatible digital stylus for $70 in November. The laptops will be available later this month, with the Chromebook x360 12b starting at $359 and the 14b at $379.

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Lenovo rolls out new IdeaPad laptops, Chromebooks, budget Android tablets


Lenovo IdeaCentre A540

It’s been a busy week for Lenovo, the world’s number 1 maker of PCs. It started the week announcing a refresh of some of its ThinkPad business laptops, and now it ends the week rolling out a bevy of systems designed for consumers’ computing needs.

At an event that jumps the gun on next week’s IFA trade show in Berlin, Lenovo unveiled new IdeaPad laptops, Chromebooks, an all-in-one PC, and its latest budget-priced Android tablets. We received a glimpse of the new Chromebooks earlier in the month when Lenovo released a teaser video about the new C340 and S340 models. The C340 lineup comprises a pair of convertible Chromebooks with 360-degree hinge and touchscreen, one 11 inches (and with pink chassis color option), and the other 15.6 inches that’s big enough to feature a full numeric keypad as part of its keyboard design. The S340 is a traditional 14-inch clamshell design with optional full HD touchscreen and a dark purple color choice option.

The S340 moniker is also used in the IdeaPad family of laptops, though the IdeaPad S340 is a new 13-inch value-priced notebook instead of a 14-inch system. The similarly sized S540’s stepped-up feature set includes double the base RAM and storage of the S340, a RapidCharge feature, and support for Windows Hello biometric login capabilities. Both new IdeaPads can be equipped with Intel’s latest 10-generation Core processors and Nvidia GeForce MX250 graphics and come in a trio of color options.

Lenovo hopes to resuscitate the waning Android tablet market with its Tab M7 and M8 models. Priced under $100, the 7-inch M7 provides basic specs (MediaTek quad-core processor, 1,024×600 display resolution), while the 8-inch M8 updates the processor (MediaTek A22 Tab), doubles the RAM to 2GB, and offers 1,280×800 resolution. Both versions come with Lenovo’s Kid’s Mode 3.0, which logs children under 12 into a special account with child-friendly apps and educational content.

Finally, the one very non-mobile launch is the IdeaCentre A540, a new all-in-one PC design available in 24-inch and 27-inch flavors. Its base doubles as a Qi wireless charging station, and a curved metallic pipe-like connection to the display adds a touch of industrial chic to its design. The A540 is available with either AMD or Intel processors inside, though only the Intel configurations offer AMD Radeon RX 560X graphics as an option. (You otherwise get the Radeon RX 540X as the GPU.) Though the base configs only come with 4GB of RAM and 128GB of solid-state storage, a maximum of 16GB and 1TB, respectively, is available (2TB if you prefer a hard drive to an SSD).  

Known starting pricing and availability for Lenovo’s new systems are as follows (per CNET):

  • 11-inch Chromebook C340: $290, September
  • 15-inch Chromebook C340: $430, October
  • Chromebook S340: $250, September
  • IdeaPad S540: $1,000, October
  • Lenovo Tab M7: $90, October
  • 24-inch IdeaCentre A540: $800, September
  • 27-inch IdeaCentre A540: $1,300, September

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HP adds AMD Ryzen processor options to Pavilion Gaming Desktop, Gaming 15 Laptop PCs


HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15

A day after Dell announced some new gaming desktops at the Gamescom 2019 trade event, another heavy hitting PC manufacturer has some gaming news of its own. HP is refreshing its Pavilion Gaming lineup with a continuing emphasis on offering AMD Ryzen processors as well as the usual Intel Core chips.

The company started adding Ryzen 7 processors as an option to its EliteBook 700 G6 business laptops earlier this summer, and it must be pleased enough with the performance gains to make the new Pavilion Gaming 15 laptop HP’s first portable gamer to feature an AMD processor inside. The base model will come with a Ryzen 5 processor, though you’ll have the option to upgrade to a Ryzen 7 chip instead. Likewise, the base configuration includes the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics card, but the GTX 1660 Ti is a step-up option.

The Pavilion Gaming 15 includes a 15.6-inch 1080p display, running at either 60Hz or 144Hz, at least 8 gigs of RAM, and up to 1TB of solid-state storage. It weighs in at 5 pounds and features green or purple accents on the HP logo and the backlit keyboard. Expect the new laptop to be available next month with a starting price of $799.99.

HP has also updated its Pavilion Gaming Desktop, giving it a bit of a face lift while also adding the latest components. The new chassis, complete with green or purple accents, is a bit more compact than its predecessor but provides plenty of upgrade options for DIYers, offering three drive bays and easy access to replace a power supply unit, graphics card or networking card. 

The Pavilion Gaming Desktop can be equipped either with a ninth-generation Intel Core or an AMD Ryzen 7 processor, with graphics card options going up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 and RTX 2060 Super or an AMD Radeon RX500. It also can be stuffed with up to 32GB of RAM and a choice of solid-state and hard drives. The new desktop will be available later this month with a starting price of $699.99. 

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Dell launches Alienware Aurora R9, G5 gaming desktops at Gamescom 2019


Alienware Aurora R9

Dell kicked off the Gamescom trade event in Cologne, Germany with the introduction of a pair of new gaming desktops that should appeal to gamers who can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars on their rigs.

The more eye-catching launch is the Aurora R9 from Dell’s Alienware gaming arm. It’s the first desktop to be built based around Alienware’s Legend industrial design, which was previously limited to laptops like the updated Area-51m. The company claims the Legend design principle allow the R9 to be slimmer while airflow is improved through the chassis, all while retaining the adventurous look that Alienware is known for. It will be available in a light or dark case color, and the front features Alienware’s usual animated lighting effects.

Inside, the R9 houses the latest ninth-generation Intel Core processors, though you may want to upgrade from the Core i3-9100 in the base configuration. You also get a wide range of graphics card options from AMD and Nvidia, starting with the AMD Radeon RX 560X and Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 and going all the way to dual Radeon RX 570X or GeForce RTX 2080 GPUs. The base model includes 8GB of HyperX Fury DDR 4 RAM, but you can add up to 64 gigs as well as choose overclocking options. You can equip the R9 with up to a 2TB hard drive or NVMe SSD in single drive options, or double that in a dual-drive option with both a 2TB hard drive and 2TB SSD.

The Aurora R9 is due to go on sale this week with a starting price of $969.99, though with upgrades it could quickly lose that mid-range price tag. Gamers with an even tighter budget may want to look at Dell’s new G5 desktop, the first in its G Series of what had been just gaming laptops. Starting at just $629.99, the G5 obviously lacks some of the bells and whistles of the Aurora R9, sticking to a traditional compact tower design, for instance, though with a few design flourishes like an optional clear side panel and optional blue LED lighting touches.

The base G5 comes with the same Core i3-9100 CPU and similar graphics card options as the R9, but you don’t get the premium RAM (or overclocking options). You’re also limited to 1TB solid-state drives instead of 2 terabytes, and your GPU option maxes out with the Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 (no dual-card choices). Like the R9, you can get up to 64GB of RAM, and there are dual-drive options up to a 1TB NVMe SSD plus 2TB hard drive. Of course, at that point you might look for a pricier desktop altogether, but at its sub-$700 starting price, the G5 could appeal to gamers heading back to school who prefers desktop gaming over the laptop variety.

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Samsung re-Arms Galaxy Book S laptop with Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx chip


Samsung Galaxy Book S

Lost in the hoopla of this week’s Galaxy Note 10 launch was the introduction of another Samsung device: the Galaxy Book S. It’s the latest in the company’s Windows 10 laptop lineup that separates itself from the pack by using Arm processors instead of Intel or AMD chips.

Why go with SOCs that are more common in phones and tablets than high-level notebooks? The recent review of the Galaxy Book 2 from ZDNet’s Chris Duckett provides some of the advantages behind the approach: Battery life borders on the “outrageous,” start-up is quick, and the integrated fingerprint reader is less annoying to use than those of competitors. However, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor also hobbles performance to the extent that you need to rely on Windows 10’s resource-light S mode to get stuff done. (It also didn’t help that it slashed the amount of RAM to 4GB compared to the original Galaxy Books’ 8 gigs.)

Samsung hopes to address some of these deficiencies in the Book S with Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 8cx Compute Platform, a 7nm system-on-a-chip that boosts performance over its predecessors to the extent that the company has been comparing it to an Intel Core i5-8250U. It retains battery life that can extend over 20 hours while integrating 5G connectivity. It also adds back that missing 4GB of RAM to give the Book S 8 gigs of memory, which should provide a bit of a performance gain. You’ll also have a choice of 256GB of 512GB of built-in storage, with a microSD card slot available if you need further storage capacity.

The Galaxy Book S fits all that into a very thin and light package, no surprise given the emphasis on mobility. It weighs in at 2.11 pounds, with a maximum thickness of just 0.46 inches. Though it features a traditional clamshell design, the laptop does include touchscreen capabilities with its 13.3-inch full HD display. Like its predecessors, it includes a built-in fingerprint reader that supports Windows Hello’s sign-in feature. 

One other way that the Book S hopes to differentiate itself is through its integration with Microsoft’s Your Phone app, which can synch calls, texts, photos, and more between the laptop and the Galaxy Note 10. Microsoft says it worked with Samsung developing the Galaxy Book S, and the Note 10 cellphone will have a Link to Windows 10 button to help establish the connection between devices.

 The Galaxy Book S will begin shipping this fall at a $999 price tag. Let us know in the comments section below if it’s enticing enough to buy right away, or if you’ll wait to see if the 8cx processor actually delivers the performance it promises.

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Best business laptops on Amazon Business

How Amazon Business differs from regular Amazon
Amazon Business offers numerous perks to registered business users. ZDNet breaks down all the ways your team can benefit from joining, which is completely free to do! Read more:

Whether you’re looking to buy a fleet of laptops for your team or a single ultrabook you can take on the go, you’ll want a robust business laptop that offers more than what you can get from a consumer notebook. Power, security, durability, and a premium typing experience are must-haves, and luckily for you, we’ve found the perfect systems that tick off all those boxes. The best part is you can get them all on Amazon Business.

Also: What is Amazon Business and how does it work?

Best business laptops

Note: Some of the items below may be eligible for special discount pricing on Amazon Business if purchased in large quantities.


Acer Aspire 5 Slim for $309

Given its low price tag for a basic Windows laptop, it’s no wonder that the Aspire 5 Slim is the most popular notebook on sale through Amazon Business. To drop its price point to near Chromebook levels, Acer eschews Intel’s Core processors for an AMD Ryzen 3 chip and provides minimal RAM (4GB) and storage (128GB SSD). You do get a full HD 15.6-inch display at least, but the Slim defaults to Windows 10 in S mode, which limits you to apps from the Microsoft Store and the Edge browser in the name of extending your computing time between charges. (You can switch to the full version of Windows 10 for free, however.)


Lenovo ThinkPad X390 for $1,039

A solid, traditional clamshell 13.3-inch laptop, the X390 offers the ThinkPad features business buyers have depended on for years: great keyboard, TrackPoint center button, all-day battery life, and an array of security options. In her review, ZDNet’s Sandra Vogel concludes that the X390 is “a solidly built small-format laptop that frequent travelers should find easy to carry.”


Chuwi AeroBook for $499

While not as cheap as some of its earlier notebooks, Chuwi’s AeroBook still comes in well under the price of most Windows laptops but isn’t shy about its MacBook-inspired design. With its 13.3-inch form factor and 256GB solid-state drive, the AeroBook is more about lightweight on-the-go productivity than powerhouse performance, especially given its outdated Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor. Nonetheless, ZDNet’s Alun Taylor says that the AeroBook is “is a great looker, well made, well-specified, and performs faultlessly.”


HP Chromebook 14A for $256

Chromebooks haven’t been nearly as successful in disrupting the business market as they have in education, but they still offer an affordable alternative for those who mostly make use of web-based applications rather than traditional Windows desktop software. HP keeps the price down on its Chromebook 14A by using a plastic chassis and including a low-res display and a mere 20GB of built-in storage, but compensates with ruggedized construction, solid keyboard, and 9-hour battery life. As Vogel points out in her review, “it does the job it’s meant to do very well — at an attractive price.”


Microsoft Surface Laptop 2 for $829

Microsoft hasn’t always succeeded with its forays into hardware (remember the Zune?), but it’s certainly hit with its Surface brand. While the Surface Pro tablet can be used as a convertible device with the addition of a type cover, the company realized that a dedicated notebook could appeal to business customers as well. Now on its second iteration, the Surface Laptop 2 gets a speed bump with eight-generation Intel Core processors and double the RAM of its predecessor. It retains the 13.5-inch touchscreen display and manages to weigh just 2.8 pounds.


Dell Latitude 5420 for $1,602

Not every business notebook is used in a coworking space or on a coast-to-coast flight. Dell’s Latitude 5420 is built for harsher conditions, able to withstand knocks, drops, and bumps thanks to its magnesium alloy case, eight bumpers, and water and dust resistance (meeting MIL-STD 810G and IP52 durability standards). You pay for that tough construction rather than robust specs — the base model includes an older Core i3 processor — though you do get a full HD 14-inch screen and an additional bay for a second battery. While our review refers to the 5420 as “a competent rugged laptop,” sometimes that’s just what you need to get the job done.


Acer Chromebook Spin 13 for $684

If you want to go upscale with a business-oriented Chromebook instead of the more budget-conscious HP Chromebook 14A, Acer’s convertible notebook may be your best bet. It’s packed with a 13.5-inch 2,256×1,504 touchscreen display, Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 64GB solid-state drive. The Spin 13 even includes a stylus to use to write or draw when you choose to be in tablet mode. Even if it’s well above the price of most Chromebooks, our review argues that “it’s hard to deny the sheer value for money offered by devices such as the Spin 13.”


Apple MacBook Pro for $2,499

A year ago, ZDNet experts were debating whether Apple was still worried about professional users of its Mac computers, but the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro update should assuage some concerns about that. By upgrading to ninth-generation Intel Core processors — including eight-core Core i9 CPUs — and more powerful AMD Radeon Pro graphics, Apple is giving the creative professionals who support the brand a major performance boost. There’s a hefty price to pay, but then again, that’s always the case with Apple. It doesn’t dissuade ZDNet’s Cliff Joseph from concluding that “thankfully, it’s…powerful enough to justify that price and ensure that it earns its keep when you’re on the road.”

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn a commission from some of the products featured on this page.

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Lenovo teases trio of new Chromebooks, including 15.6-inch C340-15 convertible laptop


Lenovo Chromebook S340

With a new video Lenovo is previewing a trio of new Chromebooks to add to its already successful family of Chrome-running laptops. Though they are largely updates to previous models, the latest notebooks add a couple of wrinkles that the PC maker no doubt hopes will help them stand out amid competing models.

The three new systems include the 11.6-inch C340-11 convertible, the 14-inch S340, and the 15.6-inch C340-15 convertible, the latter a size infrequently seen in Chromebooks. The first two replace the C330 and the S330, both of which move from MediaTek processors to Intel Celeron N4000 CPUs. In addition to the expected performance boost, the new versions each come with a special color option that will stand out compared to the standard monochrome designs: Pink for the C340 and a dark purple (pictured above) for the S340.

Both come with 4GB of RAM and either 32GB or 64GB of built-in storage. The C340 includes a 1366×768 touchscreen display, while the S340 offers a full HD touchscreen as an option, which could come in handy as the display can lay flat thanks to the S340’s 180-degree hinge. 

But the big news — literally — is the introduction of the C340-15, which probably will be positioned as a budget-friendly alternative to the Yoga Chromebook C630. Like the C630, it’s a 15.6-inch convertible with a 360-degree hinge and touchscreen capabilities. However, it appears to be equipped with 4GB of RAM instead of 8GB and tops out with an Intel Core i3-8130U processor option instead of the C630’s i5-8250U CPU. The C340-15 does include a full number pad for its backlit keboard, which the C630 does not offer.

As colorful as the preview video is, Lenovo did not include any pricing or availability information, so stay tuned for those details in the near future.

[Via Chrome Unboxed]

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