Sunday, 23 December 2012

Review: Sony DSC RX-100

Sony hopes to challenge the big boys with its little compact.
WE have heard a lot of good things about Sony's latest compact camera, the DSC-RX100.
The camera has powerful features and it'll be interesting to see how it fares in a world dominated by DSLRs and mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (MILCs).
It is impressive just how much Sony managed to cram into such a small frame. The body itself is made from aluminium which gives it a solid look and feel.
The camera is designed such that it gives users easy access to manual controls. For instance, the control ring that wraps around the lens can be customised to do just about anything such as focusing, zooming, adjusting aperture and changing ISO settings.
There's also a function button for quickly adjusting settings like ­exposure compensation, white ­balance, d-range optimiser and ­creative filters (of which there are 13).
MORE CONTROL: The dial around the RX100's lens is invaluable for making fine adjustments on the fly.MORE CONTROL: The dial around the RX100's lens is invaluable for making fine adjustments on the fly.
However, it lacks some features found on larger MILCs like an accessory port and electronic viewfinder (which can come in handy when outdoors).
The RX100 also doesn't have built-in WiFi which is disappointing because this is just the type of camera that would benefit from being able to upload photos directly to social networking sites.
Also, while the metallic body is cool, it's a little hard to hold and a bit ­slippery.
Features aplenty
The RX100 features a 20.2-megapixel sensor, a fast f/1.8 Carl Zeiss lens, an ISO range of 125 to 6,400, and is capable of shooting at up to 10fps (frames per second) in continuous shooting Speed Priority mode.
The RX100 has enough creative options to satisfy ­experienced users with the usual PASM modes on the mode dial, as well as two Intelligent Auto modes to help less experienced photographers.
RICH COLOURS: The 3in screen on the back acts as your viewfinder and you have a number of controls on the back to tweak the camera settings to your liking.RICH COLOURS: The 3in screen on the back acts as your viewfinder and you have a number of controls on the back to tweak the camera settings to your liking.
Sony also has included features like Sweep Panorama, an easy way to take a panoramic scene without the need for a ­tripod or editing in Photoshop afterwards.
There are also Picture Effect filters like tilt shift, partial colour and soft focus but we are most impressed with the illustration and watercolour filters, which we have not seen in other cameras of the same class.
The two effects take a bit of processing after each shot but the results are quite pleasing, as it gives pictures an artistic makeover.
Speed demon
The camera's startup time is incredibly fast. From the moment you turn it on, the RX100 is ready to take a shot and almost instantly gets a focus lock on a subject.
It still can't beat the speed of a DSLR but it's good for situations when you want to snap a shot ­quickly.
HANDY: The RX100 can be charged using a microUSB cable just like most smartphones which is convenient.HANDY: The RX100 can be charged using a microUSB cable just like most smartphones which is convenient.
The same can be said of the camera's lightning quick autofocus which worked well in most situations although it was a bit inaccurate in dimly lit areas.
Again, it's not as fast as a DSLR but impressive nonetheless for a compact camera.
But what took us by surprise is the image quality - the photos turned out sharp with great colours and dynamic range.
The combination of its wide-aperture lens and large sensor allows the RX100 to shoot great looking bokeh (blurred backgrounds) photos and perform well in low-light situations.
Not only are the images crisp and sharp but the ISO performance is worlds apart from that of a regular compact camera.
At ISO 1,600, for instance, the images are clear of noise with little softening. For most compacts, the image would have turned out blurry and looked like a mosaic painting.
The camera also offers the option to shoot in RAW format for those who like to tweak their images to the max.
Just like most modern cameras, the RX100 is capable of recording videos in full HD in AVCHD format. We found the video quality to be acceptable but it's definitely isn't as good as the RX100's photo taking capabilities.
The built-in stereo microphones do a decent job but if you want to capture speech clearly it would be next to impossible in a noisy environment.
There is also the option of recording in MP4 format although this lowers the video resolution to 1,440 x 1,080 which is no longer full HD.
In terms of battery life, the RX100 shot about 300 photos on a single charge. Interestingly, it is charged over microUSB, the very same way most smartphones are, so it's easy to keep it powered.
Last shot
Smaller than a MILC, the RX100 offers great ­performance and will serve well as a secondary ­camera for DSLR owners who travel often.
The combination of solid design with a fast lens and great picture taking capabilities makes it a perfect ­compact for serious photographers.
ODD: The RX100's HDMI port is strangely located on the bottom of the camera.ODD: The RX100's HDMI port is strangely located on the bottom of the camera.
Another thing going for it is the control interface which makes it easy for shutter bugs to tweak ­settings on the fly.
However, it's not perfect. For instance, the HD video recording capability could have been better.
It's also not cheap - it's priced close to entry-level DSLRs and MILCs.
But if portability is ­paramount then the RX100 is well worth the price of admission.
Pros: Great photo quality; compact size; smartly designed controls for manual shooting.
Cons: Pricey; HD video recording not great.
DSC RX-100
Prosumer compact camera
SENSOR: 20.2-megapixels (5,472 x 3,648-pixels)
VIEWFINDER: 3.0in LCD (1,228,800-dots) TFT LCD
LENS: 28-100mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.8 (wide) - f/4.9 (telephoto)
SHUTTER SPEED: 30 sec - 1/2,000sec
ISO RANGE: 100 to 25,600
SHOOTING MODES: Auto, Auto Advanced, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Three Custom modes, Smart Auto, Sweep Panorama, Picture Effect
VIDEO MODE FORMAT: AVCHD (1,920 x 1,080 at 60 fps) or MPEG4 (1,440 x 1,080 at 30 fps)
BATTERY: Lithium-ion NP-BX1
INTERFACE: MicroUSB port, micro HDMI out
OTHER FEATURES: Face detection, Control Ring, Flash
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 102 x 59 x 36mm
WEIGHT: 240g
PRICE: RM2,499
RATING: 4 stars
- Chong Jinn Xiung (The Star)

Review: Toshiba Satellite U840W

Take a walk on the wide side with Toshiba's Ultrabook.
Toshiba has always been one to push the envelope when it comes to notebooks - the company was one of the first to release ultra-thin notebooks (Portege R100) years before Ultrabooks (or Apple's MacBook Air) ever saw the light of day.
The Satellite U840W is another one of these - instead of thin, however, this Ultrabook goes wide.
While most notebooks go for a 16:9 aspect ratio, the U840W goes even wider, going for a 21:9 aspect ratio that's wider than anything out there.
Why 21:9, you ask? Well, the reason is that the U840W is made to be a media player, with a screen that will fit the anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) aspect ratio of some movies.
In fact, many of of the U840W's features are skewed towards making it a mean movie-watching machine - for example, the speakers are high-quality Harman Kardon - with one notable exception that I will get into later in the review.
Wide and proud of it
THIN IS IN: Being an Ultrabook, the Toshiba Satellite U840W is relatively thin and light.THIN IS IN: Being an Ultrabook, the Toshiba Satellite U840W is relatively thin and light.
Anyone looking over my shoulder when I turn on the Satellite U840W will immediately notice the unusually wide screen. Indeed, the screen is the most prominent feature of this Ultrabook.
The width of the screen means that the resolution is a little odd - at 1792 x 768-pixels, the aspect ratio definitely takes some getting used to when you're not watching movies.
For example, when viewed fullscreen, webpages look like they have too much space at the side and not enough vertically.
However, it's actually not too bad if you open two windows side by side, although the amount of text that can be viewed vertically is still quite limited.
Toshiba actually has a small utility called the Split Screen that integrates into the toolbar to quickly resize your Windows into a 2/3 and 1/3 split, similar to how Windows 8 displays two screens at once in the Windows 8 Modern UI.
This differs from the normal Windows 7 behaviour where dragging a window to the far left or right of the screen will resize the window to fill half the screen.
The keyboard is well-spaced and chiclet style, although the key travel could be better.
There are three USB 3.0 ports on the device, and like most Toshiba notebooks, one of the USB ports is a Sleep & Charge port, which allows you to charge your smartphone or other USB devices even when the notebook is off.
The touchpad is large, clickable and supports some multi-touch features like two-finger scrolling.
The whole thing is done up in an understated, dark brown and dark brushed metallic finish which looks quite good.
Movie maestro
The U840W's primary function is as a media player and as such, it fulfils this function quite well.
I tested the notebook by playing back a variety of HD content and it handled them all without a hiccup.
The audio from the Harmon Kardon speakers are particularly notable. The audio is loud and bass is good, and because the speakers are spaced on either side of the keyboard, the stereo soundstaging is pretty good as well.
My one complaint is that the screen is a TN (Twisted Nematic) panel, which means that viewing angles are not that great vertically - tilt the screen even a little further backwards and the screen becomes almost unviewable.
USEFUL: The keys on the Toshiba Satellite U840W are backlit.USEFUL: The keys on the Toshiba Satellite U840W are backlit.
Since the U840W is meant to be a media player, it would have made more logical sense for Toshiba to go for an IPS LCD panel which has much better colour fidelity and viewing angles.
Battery life is very good though and I managed to play movies back to back for about four hours (with backlight set to reasonable levels) before the low battery warning flashed.
For surfing webpages and watching a bit of video, you can probably stretch it to about five or six hours.
You have to hand it Toshiba for trying something different with this Ultrabook - the ultra widescreen aspect ratio is actually quite good when you use it for watching anamorphic widescreen movies.
As a productivity tool, it's about the same as any Ultrabook in its class. It has pretty decent battery life and is powerful enough for most productivity applications out there.
SLEEK: The Toshiba Satellite U840W's brushed metal finish looks very elegant.SLEEK: The Toshiba Satellite U840W's brushed metal finish looks very elegant.
However, no talk of productivity apps would be complete without mentioning that the 21:9 aspect ratio of the U840W does affect how much information you can see vertically, which means most documents, etc. won't feel as comfortable to look at on the screen.
Pros: The 21:9 aspect ratio is great for watching movies; Harman Kardon speakers are great; good battery life.
Cons: Aspect ratio is not great for Internet browsing and word processing; TN panel has very limited viewing angles.
Satellite U840W
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i5-3317U (1.7GHz)
DISPLAY: 14.4in (1,792 x 768-pixels) LED back-lit
GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 4000
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi 802.11b/g/n, 10/100/1000 Ethernet port, Bluetooth 4.0
PORTS/SLOTS: Three USB 3.0 ports, SD card, HDMI, headphone/microphone combo jack
BATTERY: 54-watt 4-cell
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OTHER FEATURES: Built-in webcam, backlit keyboard
DIMENSIONS (W X D X H): 9.4 x 4.31 x 2.8cm
WEIGHT: 1.59kg
PRICE: RM3,999
- The Star

Review: Samsung NX1000

An entry-level camera it may be but this model is not short on features.
IF YOU have been looking for a DSLR-like camera with the functions of a smartphone and a budget price, look no further than the Samsung NX1000.
The NX1000 - an entry-level addition to the NX family - boasts rich images and fantastic colours thanks to its 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor, as well as functions aimed at those who cannot live without social media.
The fact that it comes in black, pearl white as well as baby pink is a testament that Samsung values both form and function.
And in terms of function, this baby is definitely no lightweight (though physically it does seem scarily light, at least until you attach the lens.)
Stylish shooter
The camera's plastic body puts it a level below the NX210's metal one but this featherweight is awesome for people who would like to stuff it in a handbag and carry it around.
Size-wise, the lens does make the camera a little clunkier than the super slim ones in the market but with a picture quality that far outstrips those models.
NIFTY: The camera has built-in WiFi to enable speedy picture uploads.NIFTY: The camera has built-in WiFi to enable speedy picture uploads.
Plus, it has built-in WiFi for uploading your pictures directly to Facebook, Picasa and other sites which makes the extra space taken up in your bag more than worth it.
However, you might not want to type long captions for your photos because the camera's keypad is rather unweildy. It's the type where you have to scroll through letters to select one.
You can also link the camera to your Android smartphone and use the phone as a remote viewing device.
So, you can place the camera somewhere out of arm's reach and use your phone screen as the display.
The i-Function button (i-Fn), found on side of the lens allows you to make quick adjustments to your picture.
NEAT: You can also link the camera to your Android smartphone and use the phone as a remote viewing device.NEAT: You can also link the camera to your Android smartphone and use the phone as a remote viewing device.
Aperture, ISO, white balance, shutter speed, exposure compensation and iZoom are all accessible by just pressing the button, and can be adjusted by turning the focus ring on the lens. Talk about convenience!
Also, there is a shot-to-shot delay - this isn't a problem if you're taking stationary objects, but if you were to be on a safari tour around the savannah, this might be a bit of an issue. Minor, but there nonetheless.
For those who like to play around with effects, there is quite a range to pick from: Fish eye and Panorama are only part of 10 Smart Filters and there's also a Selective Colour function, ensuring that your pictures will definitely not be boring.
Parting shot
Overall, there are many reasons to like the Samsung NX1000. For an entry-level model, it's packed with premium features that will surely satisfy users.
You also get high-quality photos with ease of sharing just like on a smartphone.
PLEASING: For an entry-level model, it's packed with premium features that will surely satisfy users.PLEASING: For an entry-level model, it's packed with premium features that will surely satisfy users.
Although there are a few issues but these are minor.
At RM1,999, the NX1000 is for those who want something that's not too pricey but still packed with features.
Pros: Affordable; packed with features; stylish.
Cons: A little plasticky.
Mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera
SENSOR: 20.3-megapixels CMOS
VIEWFINDER: 3.0in LCD (307,200-pixels)
SHUTTER SPEED: 30sec - 1/4,000sec, plus B
ISO RANGE: 100 to 12,800
SHOOTING MODES: SmartAuto 2.0, Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Lens Priority, Magic, WiFi, Scene, Movie
VIDEO MODE FORMAT: MP4 (H.264) with AAC audio
BATTERY: 1,030 mAh BP1030 lithium-ion battery
INTERFACE: USB 2.0 High Speed, WiFi, HD Video out, PictBridge Compliant, DPOF Compliant, Remote Control, Mini HDMI out
OTHER FEATURES: Mobile Link, Smart Link Hot Key, Social Sharing, e-mail, Remote Viewfinder, Cloud, Auto Backup, TV Link, geotagging with optional WGS84 GPS module
DIMENSIONS (W x H x D): 114 x 63 x 38mm
WEIGHT: 222g (without battery)
PRICE: RM1,999
RATING: 4 stars
- Lim May Lee (The Star)

Monday, 19 November 2012

Review: Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Android to be reckoned with

Samsung's follow up to its popular Galaxy Note is bigger, badder and better.
When Samsung first announced the Galaxy Note last year, it received mixed responses. With a screen that was 5.5in big, it was far bigger than a conventional smartphone and too small to be considered a tablet.
Fast forward one year, and the Note is a commercial success, having sold over 10 million units worldwide and garnering a huge fan-base as one of the most popular "phablets" (phone/tablet hybrid) to ever hit the market.
Samsung wasted no time in coming up with a successor, and here we have the Galaxy Note 2 - an even faster, stronger, and bigger device than its predecessor.
Oversized phone or undersized tablet?
The 5.5in Super AMOLED screen is impressive with excellent colour and good viewing angles.
For a device with a screen that is bigger than the oversized Note, the Note 2 surprisingly fits better in the hand. This is because it is taller than the Note but the width is smaller, thus making it easier for the hand to grasp.
At 183g, it is considerably light for a phone of such gigantic proportions. However, it is still heavier than an average phone and some might feel tired after prolonged use of the Note 2.
For a device that is priced above RM2,000, the plastic build quality of the Note 2 is a turn off. However, looking beyond the materials used, the device feels solid.
It comes with a 1.6GHz Cortex A9 quad-core processor along with a whopping 2GB RAM. With that much horsepower, along with the latest version of Android 4.1 Jellybean, the user interface is buttery smooth.
With Jellybean, Google aimed to eliminate lag and the results can be seen with the Note 2. Connectivity options include WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, and micro USB. NFC (near field ­communication) is also available, which allows huge amounts of data to be transferred just by touching the Note 2 with other NFC enabled devices.
The 16GB of internal memory that the Note 2 comes with is enough for an average user but for those who prefer more space, there is a microSD slot that can handle up to 64GB more of memory.
If there is one area where the Note 2 truly impresses, it will be in the battery department. Sporting a 3,100mAh battery, it is second only to Motorola's Razr Maxx's 3,300mAh.
Unlike most smartphones in the market today which require charging every now and then, it can last over a day of moderate usage while being connected to 3G at all times.
This is a huge improvement over the other star that Samsung released earlier this year, the S3.
For those who are worried that the Note 2 is too big to be used for messaging with one hand, there is the one-handed operation mode.
This moves the keyboard to the side of the phone, depending on whether you're left or right handed. One thing that we weren't pleased about was that it is hard to reach the two soft keys beside the home button when using the Note 2 with one hand.
rear view.rear view.
Multimedia powerhouse
The Note 2 boasts an 8-megapixel rear camera that takes shots with almost zero shutter lag. Pictures taken are decent enough as they appear crisp and clear on the screen.
The video camera records high definition videos up to 1080p. It also has the ability to capture pictures at almost full resolution while recording videos. This feature works as advertised, and doesn't affect the quality of the video as video playback quality was excellent.
One thing that benefits greatly from the large screen is the gallery, as there is enough space on the left of the screen for a list of the albums to be displayed. This makes it easy to skip from album to album and also makes it convenient when moving files from one place to another.
NICE: The Note 2 has a video camera that records high definition videos up to 1080p and the ability to capture pictures at almost full resolution while recording videos.NICE: The Note 2 has a video camera that records high definition videos up to 1080p and the ability to capture pictures at almost full resolution while recording videos.
The Note 2 comes with video pop up play feature, which allows ­videos to be minimised and moved around the screen so that the users can multitask.
Similarly, there is also the Internet pop up, which is a mini Internet browser that works the same way as a video pop up. Very handy in ­situations such as when you are browsing Facebook and want to explore a link.
Improved S Pen
ONE of the main features of the Note is its stylus. Dubbed the S Pen, it is no ordinary stylus - a function button on the stylus allows it to conjure up a list of cool tricks.
Being the third device in the Note series after the original Note and the Note 10.1 tablet, it has an S Pen with a new design.
It is longer and shaped more like a pen compared to the original, thus making it more ergonomic to hold. Thanks to popular graphics tablet maker Wacom's digitiser technology and the S Pen's 1,024 pressure points, the more pressure you apply when using the stylus, the thicker the lines will appear.
The S Note app is also a signature of the Note series. There are a number of new additions such as shape match and formula match.
With shape match, any shapes that are drawn out will be corrected to be as geometrically perfect as possible while with formula match, users can write out any mathematical equations and the system will use the Wolfram Alpha search engine to give the answers.
There is also a pop up S Note, which is a much condensed version of the app. This can be very useful at any point in time when notes need to be taken, especially during a telephone conversation and a message needs to be written down.
USEFUL: The S pen has a function button on the stylus that allows it to conjure up a list of cool tricks.  USEFUL: The S pen has a function button on the stylus that allows it to conjure up a list of cool tricks.
Another innovative use of the S Pen is gestures, whereby swiping up with the sytlus and the function button pressed brings up a quick command page. From here, you just have to write out predetermined gestures like @ followed by the name of someone in your contacts list and you will be directed to composing an e-mail to the person.
Aside from the long list of ­predetermined gestures, you can also create your own gestures and assign it to any settings or apps of your choice, thus opening up a huge window of possibilities.
A neat trick that has been added is Air View - if you hover the S Pen a few millimeters away from the screen, a pointer will appear, just like a mouse cursor.
This opens up an array of functions, such as hovering above albums and videos to catch previews of them. There are websites which require the mouse cursor to be moved over certain objects for menus to pop out, and this can be done on the Note 2's browser. It also works well as a guide for better precision when writing or drawing.
Samsung has also introduced the S Pen Keeper feature which will notify users when the S Pen is detached and moved away from the Note 2. This is an innovative move to help prevent ­misplacing the pen but it didn't work all the time during our tests.
One of the more useful things about the Note 2 is the Multi Window feature. Users have the ability to open up to two different apps at the same time and have them both sharing the screen. It works smoothly without any lag, with the only downside being that only a handful of apps are ­supported by this feature.
Commonly used apps like the Internet browser, Facebook, Youtube and Maps apps work with this ­feature.
There was an instance when I was with a kid who really wanted to watch some Sesame Street ­videos on YouTube while I wanted to browse the Internet, and Multi Window helped to make it a ­win-win situation by allowing both to be done at the same time.
Smart Rotation is another ­innovative addition. The reviewer tends to use the phone while lying down and the auto rotation always gets in the way, rotating even when it isn't intended to.
The only solution before this was to disable the auto rotation but now with Smart Rotation, the front camera acts as a sensor to detect the orientation of the user's eyes, and rotates accordingly. This does work, but requires sufficient ­lighting for the camera to detect the eyes.
EASY ON THE EYE: Web browsing was less strenuous for Quek thanks to the large 5.5in screen.EASY ON THE EYE: Web browsing was less strenuous for Quek thanks to the large 5.5in screen.
Similarly, the eye detection is also used so that the screen doesn't dim while the user is looking at it through a feature called Smart Stay.
Final note
With a predecessor that managed to defy early criticism and gain worldwide popularity, the Note 2 was announced to much fanfare. Does it live up to the high expectations? We have to answer that with a resounding yes.
With 2GB RAM coupled with quad-cores and Android Jellybean, the Note 2 is one of the smoothest devices in the mobile market now.
It is unfair to ­penalise the Note 2 for being big. One of the main reasons most users get attracted to the Note 2 is because of the big screen. Penalising the Note 2 for being large is akin to someone buying a Hummer and complaining that it is too big.
Having said that, the market for phablets isn't as matured as that for conventional smartphones, and some will not be willing to carry such a big device. But for those who don't mind a device that is not only big in performance but also in size, then the Note 2 is definitely one of the better choices in the market at the moment.
Pros: Multi Window; impressive battery life; improved S Pen and S Note; OS runs smooth thanks to fast processor and lots of memory.
Cons: May be too big for most people's liking; a little plasticky.
Galaxy Note 2 (GT-N7100)
Android 4.1 (Jellybean)
Processor: 1.6GHz Cortex A9 quad-core processor
Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100
Camera: 8-megapixel with LED flash (back), 1.9-megapixel (front)
Display: 5.5in (1,280 x 720-pixels) Super AMOLED touchscreen
Memory: 16GB Internal memory, microSD slot (up to 64GB), 2GB RAM
Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, NFC
Features: Multiscreen, Smart Stay, Smart Rotation, S-Voice, Air view, 1080p full HD video recording and playback, stylus (S Pen)
Battery: 3,100mAh lithium-on
Size: 151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm
Weight: 183g
Price: RM2,299
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia Electronics, 1-800-88-9999
Editor's Rating
Users' Rating
Dimensions (WxDxH)151.1 x 80.5 x 9.4mm
NetworkGSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 850/900/1900/2100
Operating SystemAndroid 4.1 (Jellybean)
Display5.5in (1,280 x 720-pixels) Super AMOLED touchscreen
Camera8-megapixel with LED flash (back), 1.9-megapixel (front)
ConnectivityBluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, NFC
Memory16GB Internal memory, microSD slot (up to 64GB), 2GB RAM
ContactReview unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia Electronics, 1-800-88-9999

- Donovan Quek (The Star)

Review: Latitude E6230

Travel light with this feature-packed Dell notebook.
ONE thing that users of ­laptops at the workplace can agree on is that ­carrying those heavy devices around can be a real pain, be it for ­meetings and presentations or from office to home.
The introduction of Dell's sleek E6230, the latest in its Latitude E series, reduces the weight of the problem, literally.
Despite being the smallest offering in E series, the compact E6230 delivers a decent punch in terms of build quality and ­performance.
Durable design
The E6230 looks and feels tough, thanks to its tri-metal casing made up of anodised ­aluminium back, magnesium alloy corners, and steel hinges along with a powder-coated base. It isn't going to win the prettiest laptop of the year award but it sure feels solid.
Upon opening the laptop, you will notice its 12.5in screen, which has a 1,366 x 768-pixel resolution. Although it is not the best screen in the market, the display is clear and crisp with its anti-glare coating.
The notebook measures 30.9 x 22.6 x 2.5cm - it felt ­comfortable to use while placed on the lap. Radiation and health-risk ­matters aside, it also didn't get unbearably hot. This is good news for those who need to use the laptop in tight spaces or while commuting.
ACCESSIBLE: The Latitude comes with a number of ports.ACCESSIBLE: The Latitude comes with a number of ports.
It has plenty for ports, ­including a HDMI out, two USB (2.0 and 3.0) ports, a VGA port, a USB/eSATA combo port and audio jack.
Connectivity options for this model include WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, a Gigabit Ethernet port and Bluetooth 4.0.
Our review unit came with an extended battery that protruded from the back, giving it a ­peculiar look.
One thing that users will notice missing is an optical disc drive - those who still want one will have to purchase an external drive.
Under the hood
Our review unit came with an Intel i53320M processor that runs a 32-bit Windows 7 Professional operating system. It also has 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard disk drive.
The device has enough ­horsepower to feel speedy and it takes around 25 seconds to boot up from the time it is switched on. It doesn't just start up fast, it also launches applications smoothly with minimal lag.
Despite using HDD as a means of storage, the device is almost silent in operation even when loading data.
On the software front, the E6230 comes equipped with the usual set of utilities, including a Trend Micro security agent and Dell's Mobile Broadband Manager.
There are a number of ­enterprise management and security features, ­including ­support for Intel's vPro ­technology and fringerprint ­sensor for authentication. There is also Dell's ControlVault, which stores security keys and credentials.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and the E6230 is definitely not just about work. With the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000, this laptop is able to somewhat handle ­multimedia tasks such as basic photo and video editing. However, the ­system starts to lag when ­performing such tasks heavily.
We didn't get to test any full-fledged graphics intensive games on the device, but the laptop managed to handle online Flash games without any hitches.
It also played games on Google Chrome, such as Need for Speed World without any problems. As this model is going to be targeted for office use, it is ­commendable that it can handle such games smoothly.
There weren't any problems watching high-definition (HD) movies. The frame rate was respectable and the colours were also vivid. There was hardly any noticeable lag when watching 1080p HD movies.
For a laptop that is mainly primed for getting work done, we found the speakers to be acceptable. It was loud enough and the bass was satisfactory.
One area where the E6230 really made us happy is with its keyboard, which is a joy to use.
Typing is a real pleasure - the keys have nice tactile feedback and are well spaced out, which is good news for a model that is built for office use.
The function buttons on the laptop are easy to get a hang of and it also comes with three dedicated buttons for sound control.
A PLEASURE TO USE: The keys have nice tactile feedback and are well spaced out, which is good news for a model that is built for office use.A PLEASURE TO USE: The keys have nice tactile feedback and are well spaced out, which is good news for a model that is built for office use.
The keyboard also has a backlit mode with four levels of brightness that helps typing in poorly lit environments.
In terms of battery life, our review unit came with a six-cell extended battery which ­managed to last around four hours of Internet surfing on a single charge.
However, it dropped ­significantly to slightly below two hours when engaging in battery-hungry activities such as watching movies or playing games.
Final analysis
The Latitude E6230 is a ­laptop designed for the mobile workforce and it performs the way you would expect it to.
We have no major gripes with this sleek device, aside from the less than ­spectacular battery life even with a protruding extended battery.
With all that said and done, the Latitude will appeal to those who are always on the go. It's a laptop that gets the job done without trying too hard to be fancy.
Pros: Durable; runs smoothly; ­backlit ­keyboard is comfortable to use.
Cons: Battery life not ­stunning.
Latitude E6230
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i53320M processor (2.60Hz)
DISPLAY: 12.5in HD (1,366 x 768-pixels) LED-backlit
GRAPHICS: Intel HD Graphics 4000
CONNECTIVITY: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Gigabit Ethernet port, Bluetooth 4.0
PORTS: One USB 2.0 port, one USB/eSATA combo port, one USB 3.0 port, 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC), Smart Card reader, HDMI out, VGA out, docking connector
BATTERY OPTIONS: Lithium-ion cell
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 Professional 32-bit
OTHER FEATURES: Backlit keyboard, noise reducing array microphones, HD webcam
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 30.9 x 22.6 x 2.5cm
WEIGHT: 1.38kg
PRICE: RM4,550
Review unit courtesy of Dell Sales Malaysia Sdn Bhd, 1-800-88-0301
Editor's Rating
Users' Rating
Other FeaturesBacklit keyboard, noise reducing array microphones, HD webcam
Dimensions (WxDxH)30.9 x 22.6 x 2.5cm
ProcessorIntel Core i53320M processor (2.60Hz)
Memory4GB RAM
Display12.5in HD (1,366 x 768-pixels) LED-backlit
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 4000
Storage500GB HDD
ConnectivityWiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Gigabit Ethernet port, Bluetooth 4.0
I/O PortsOne USB 2.0 port, one USB/eSATA combo port, one USB 3.0 port, 4-in-1 card reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC), Smart Card reader, HDMI out, VGA out, docking connector
BatteryLithium-ion cell
Operating SystemWindows 7 Professional 32-bit
ContactReview unit courtesy of Dell Sales Malaysia Sdn Bhd, 1-800-88-0301

- Donovan Quek (The Star)