Microsoft impressed the tech-loving world with a world class presentation launching the latest generation Surface Pro tablet and the company's first laptop, the Surface Book. The Surface Book is actually a 2-in-1 convertible that is a fully functioning laptop with a 1.6 lb. tablet that pops off.
Surface Pro 4 gains improvements like a slightly larger display, Skylake Intel 6th gen processors and a Type Cover with a fingerprint scanner for Windows Hello. This is our first look, and we'll have full reviews of both products around the October 26 launch date.
After a wave of first gen smartwatches that were largely ugly ducklings, it's suddenly a race to win the beauty pageant, at least for Motorola, Huawei and LG. We recently reviewed the Huawei Watch and called it at the time, possibly the best looking Android Wear watch yet. The Moto answered with the 2015 Moto 360, and it's every bit as good looking as the Huawei Watch. Thanks to Moto Maker you can get it gold, silver or black (there's rose gold for the ladies), select a bezel color and pattern and pick from a variety of bands. It starts at $249 for the 42mm and $299 for the 46mm.
For an "s" year, the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus offer significant improvements over the last generation of this extremely popular phone family. The size and look remain the same, though there's a new rose gold color that blushes pink. The 4.7" iPhone 6s and 5.5" iPhone 6s Plus sport newer and significantly faster Apple A9 CPUs with double the RAM for a nice performance boost. Both front and rear cameras are much higher resolution and Apple's finally joined the 4K video recording bandwagon. The casing is more rigid and the Touch ID fingerprint scanner recognizes your fingerprint nearly instantaneously. Lastly there's 3D Touch for new interactions with the touch screen. Not bad for an off cycle year.
The Toshiba Portege WT20 might look like another Surface Pro competitor, and it certainly is that, among other things. More important to Toshiba is that it's the more affordable alternative to the well-received though perhaps not high volume selling Portege Z20t. In fact, the WT20 is essentially the base model Z20t minus the keyboard dock and active digitizer/pen support. The WT20 sells for $899 and that nets you a 5th generation Intel Core M CPU, a fanless design, 4 gigs of RAM and a 128 gig SSD. It has a 12.5" 1920 x 1080 touchscreen display. The tablet has dual band Intel AC7265 WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1, a front 2MP camera and rear 5MP camera.
Another year, another Moto X. For 2015 things get really exciting with the Moto X Pure Edition (Moto X Style overseas); it's a much more powerful phone than anything we've seen under the Moto X, G and E labels, and it's much bigger. The Moto X Pure Edition has a 5.7" QHD display and a fast Snapdragon 808 CPU with 3 gigs RAM. Other goodies include a microSD card slot, 21MP rear camera, and the usual Moto Maker customizable backs, trim and colors. This is an unlocked phone that works on all major US carriers (GSM and CDMA) with a starting price of $399.
So you like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S but you figure it's last year's model and you have a hankering for a 4:3 aspect ratio that's easier to read on? Then you're in luck: the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 models are the refresh with a faster CPU and lighter TouchWiz skin, and 4:3 aspect ratio Super AMOLED displays. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is available in two sizes: 9.7" and 8". We look at the 9.7" model in this review.The tablets move up to the Exynos Octa 7 CPU family with 32 or 64 gigs of storage and 3 gigs of RAM. TouchWiz with Android 5.1 Lollipop are on board as is a slim 5.9mm design.
Last year's iPad mini 3 wasn't exactly an exciting refresh. This time Apple gives us upgrades we can sink our teeth and money into: a new, faster A8 CPU, double the RAM and a better Retina display. As ever, the starting price for this 8" tablet is $399, with higher storage capacities and optional cellular 4G LTE available if you're willing to pay more. The iPad mini 4 runs iOS 9 with support for Apple's new multi-window multitasking and floating video in a window.
The Dell Inspiron 15 7000 4K is the more affordable counterpart to the Dell XPS 15. Like the XPS, you get a classy aluminum chassis with a matte black keyboard rest, an excellent backlit keyboard and now with the 4K UHD model, an optional super high resolution display. Beyond the significant price skew, there are important differences: the Inspiron runs on Intel ULV 15 watt Ultrabook CPUs vs. the XPS 15's quad core 47 watt CPU. That means you don't get breakneck performance with the Inspiron 15, but you do get less heat and longer battery life thanks to the lower power CPU. The Inspiron has AMD Radeon R7 M270 graphics and it's available with your choice of HDD or SSD and up to 16 gigs of RAM. The price runs from $660 to the $1,449 model we look at in this review.
The fifth generation Samsung Galaxy Note goes high style with a glass and metal design that matches the Samsung Galaxy S6. Undeniably the best looking Samsung phablet to date, the Galaxy Note 5 is also faster, has an even better display and some of the best cameras you'll find on a phone. Like the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the new S6 Edge +, the Note 5 runs Android 5.1 and TouchWiz on the 2.1 GHz octa-core Exynos 7420 CPU with 4 gigs of RAM and fast UFS 2.0 storage. It has a 5.7" QHD Super AMOLED display, fingerprint scanner, heart rate monitor and the venerable S Pen, but it loses the removable battery and microSD card slot that were staples of previous Note models.
The ThinkPad Yoga 15 is a big screen Ultrabook that weighs 5 pounds and is 0.84" thick. It has the usual sturdy ThinkPad build and matte black finish with an aluminum lid. The Lift n' Lock keyboard is a dream to type on and it retracts and locks when you swivel the 360 degree display hinge from laptop to the other modes (tablet, tent and presentation). Clearly there must be a market for giant convertibles since Dell also makes a 15" Inspiron 2-in-1 and HP has ventured here as well with the Envy x360. For a relatively rare treat in an Ultrabook with a ULV Core i5 CPU, the Yoga 15 has NVIDIA GeForce 840M graphics for a little gaming oomph.
Android Wear, and smartwatches in general, haven't been great looking products. They're closer cousins to Casio sport watches than timeless timepieces befitting their sometimes hearty price tags. Huawei, a new player in the game, changes that with their very attractive Huawei Watch: it has a nicely designed round stainless steel casing and a pleasing selection of leather, stainless link and stainless mesh bands. There's even a black stainless model and a rose gold (not pink!) model that will set you back some serious change. Though it's not cheap, you get some nice perks like 316L stainless steel and a sapphire crystal over the display.
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