The rugged sibling to the standard Galaxy S6 is exclusive to AT&T in the US. It has the same goodies inside, including the extremely fast 2.1GHz Exynos octa-core CPU, 3 gigs of RAM, a heart rate monitor and Samsung's best in class rear 16MP camera. The Active is water and dust resistant, and you can submerge it up to 3 feet deep for 30 minutes. It's also designed to withstand drops, something the glass and metal Galaxy S6 and S6 edge cringe at. Even better, battery capacity is significantly higher at 3500 mAh, though alas it's not removable.
The Dell Inspiron 13 7000 is a versatile 2-in-1 Windows Ultrabook. Sure the form factor is versatile, but we mean the variety of price points and options. For as little as $530 you can get one, though you'll have to make do with the lowly Pentium CPU, a 1366 x 768 IPS display and a 500 gig HDD. For $999 you can get our Inspiron 13 Special Edition configuration with a Core i7-5500U, a 1920 x 1080 display, 8 gigs of RAM and a 256 gig SSD. The Dell supports an optional active pen for note takers, artists and the occasional math whiz.
Smartwatches are getting all the attention lately, but there's another very popular category: the sports watch with GPS. Garmin's latest high end model is the Fenix 3, and we look at the Sapphire model that unsurprisingly adds a sapphire crystal that's less likely to scratch. The Fenix 3 is a multi-sport watch for you fitness types that engage in a variety of exercise types including running, biking and even swimming.
Here's something different from Lenovo, the LaVie Z and the LaVie Z 360. Yes, they're still unassuming matte black rectangles like most ThinkPads, but these are wafer thin and are currently the lightest 13.3" laptops on the market. The non-touch LaVie Z weighs less than the 12" Retina MacBook, while the touch model with 360 degree hinges weighs the same as the tiniest MacBook. NEC developed both LaVie Z models, and we first saw an NEC-branded LaVie Z (never sold in the US) in 2012. NEC now brands it as a VersaPro and through a joint venture with Lenovo; Lenovo sells it around the world as the Lenovo LaVie Z. That partnership began a few years ago and extends to 2026, so the LaVie Z models aren't a one time venture.
Apple's refresh of their portable big Mac, the 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina display was minor if you're interested in the base model with integrated Intel Iris Pro graphics. But the next step up with dedicated graphics has piqued interest because Apple finally refreshed the GPU, and did so with one no one had ever heard of- the AMD Radeon R9 M370X. Apple claims it's 80 percent faster than the outgoing NVIDIA GT 750M graphics, and we put it through a barrage of OS X and Windows benchmarks to see just how much faster it is. Is it faster than the 750M? Other improvements and additions include blazingly fast PCIe SSDs that are up to 2x faster and the switch to Apple's likable Force Touch trackpad.
The Dell XPS 15 has come a long way since its introduction in 2012 as a 15" Retina MacBook Pro competitor. Along the way it chilled, dropped the DVD drive and lost weight. While some might lament the loss of the optical drive, the lighter weight and cooler running temperatures are just what this reviewer ordered. The XPS line is Dell's high line, thus the XPS 15 is well outfitted in aluminum, magnesium alloy and carbon fiber on the bottom. It's as rigid as a brick, but at 4.44 lbs. and 0.3-0.7" thick, it's the antithesis of brick. It doesn't come cheap though; the base 1080p model with a Core i5 and an HDD is $1,600. The UHD 4K display model with a quad core i7 is $2,149, and our maxed out model with 16 gigs of RAM, a 512 gig SSD and the 4K display is $2,550. All models have dedicated NVIDIA GT 750M 2GB DDR5 graphics for some gaming, photo editing and video editing oomph.
The new Microsoft Surface 3 is an interesting tablet, and you could call it Surface Pro 3 Lite. It runs full Windows 8.1 and it has a strikingly good 10.8" high resolution display that supports both touch and the optional N-Trig pen. It too has a Type Cover keyboard with backlighting that will set you back $130 and it has the same port selection as the Pro model. But inside we have the lower power Intel Atom X7 1.6 GHz CPU, 2 or 4 gigs of RAM and eMMC solid state storage. As you might guess, it's smaller, lighter and quieter than the Pro 3, but it's also slower and less powerful. But not everyone needs max horsepower in their tablet-sorta laptop hybrid, so the Surface 3 has its place among classy Windows 8.1 tablets (a market that's more marked by a race to the bottom than going for high end design).
The no-contract, unlocked GSM ZenFone 2 is available in two versions for $199 and $299. Both have 5.5", 1920 x 1080 full HD IPS displays, a good 13MP rear camera, front 5MP camera, dual band WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth, NFC and a microSD card slot. They're powered by Intel CPUs and the $199 model is clocked at 1.8 GHZ, has 2 gigs of RAM and 16 gigs of storage. The $299 has a 2.3 GHz Intel CPU, 4 gigs of RAM and 64 gigs of storage. That's pretty nice for the price. The US ZenFone 2 is available from Amazon.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T450s is the quintessential modern ThinkPad: a matte black rectangle that's tough enough to go anywhere with all day battery life and a dreamy keyboard. It's modernized--no 2" thick hunk here, even if it's not as slim as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The T450s ("s" is Lenovo's slim line designation) weighs 3.5 lbs., which isn't heavy in the least for a 14" business Ultrabook. You still get the expected ThinkPad spill-resistant keyboard with drain holes, magnesium alloy, carbon fiber and a strong inner roll cage, despite the relatively light weight and bigger than average screen (most Ultrabooks are 13.3"). As you might guess, the ThinkPad T450s replaces last year's ThinkPad T440s and refreshes the line with Intel 5th generation CPUs.
Is this the perfect smartwatch? Nope. Is there a perfect smartwatch and will there ever be one? Probably not. But the Apple Watch is one of the most comfortable and fun to date. It's also fairly useful for those who want messages and informational feeds at the flick of a wrist and would rather not pull a phone out of pocket a hundred times per day. The Sport Watch starts at $350 with a comfortable and hypoallergenic fluoroelastomer band that's available in 5 colors. Then there's the stainless steel "Watch" that starts at $550 (price varies by band) and the $10,000 and up Watch Edition with an 18k gold casing. We look at the Sport model in this review.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X250 is unsurprisingly the successor to the ThinkPad X240. This is a business Ultrabook with a 12.5" display and it runs on Intel Broadwell 5th generation ULV CPUs with Intel HD 5500 integrated graphics. Unlike many consumer Ultrabooks, it's built to handle the bumps of travel and it is relatively serviceable and upgradeable. The 3 lb. X250 has an excellent keyboard, a revised trackpad and is available with displays up to 1920 x 1080 IPS (your choice of touch or non-touch). Like the ThinkPad T450s we recently reviewed, the ThinkPad X250 has Lenovo's Power Bridge battery system with both an internal 3 cell battery and your choice of a 3 or 6 cell removable battery. That 6 cell battery affords remarkable runtimes.
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