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The best notebooks at Computex 2013

We round up some of the most interesting and elegant portable PCs from this year's event, from notebook hybrids to energy-efficient ultrabooks.

gadgets Updated: Jun 12, 2013 11:40 IST
Sony Vaio Duo 13 Ultrabook

We round up some of the most interesting and elegant portable PCs from this year's event, from notebook hybrids to energy-efficient ultrabooks.



Sony Vaio Duo 13 Ultrabook
The Japanese tech company describes the VAIO Duo's design as a ‘Surf Slider,' in other words, a clever hinge joining the screen to the keyboard that can fold and slide backwards upon itself so that the display can be either tilted at an angle in ultrabook mode or folded down over the keyboard, turning the device into a 13.3-inch Windows 8 tablet with stylus support.

As well as having a strong focus on design, the computer is also about ease of use. Detaching the stylus automatically launches a note-taking app, even if the device is in sleep mode.

Its front-facing camera is optimized for facial recognition so there's no need to log in in order to jot something down when inspiration strikes. Thanks to the latest generation of the Intel Haswell chip, Sony claims that the VAIO 13 Duo is good for 15 hours' use between charges. Sony is yet to confirm either official launch dates or prices for the computer.

Sony Vaio Duo 13 Ultrabook. Photo: AFP

Dell XPS 11
Using a completely different hinge set-up to arrive at the same conclusion, the XPS 11's screen can ‘spin' within its frame so that it can be used like a typical notebook or as a tablet.

The Dell also boasts a full HD touch screen and a solid state keyboard which looks strange but when in use feels very similar to the experience of typing on a Microsoft Surface TouchCover. Like the Sony, it supports stylus input but doesn't ship with one as standard. Dell is yet to reveal the device's starting price but has confirmed that when it ships later this year it will be with Windows 8.1 pre-installed.

Dell XPS 11. Photo: AFP

Asus Transformer Book Trio
A device that tries to be all things to all people and could well possibly succeed, the Transformer Book Trio is a Windows desktop and notebook and an Android tablet.

When the notebook is docked, it draws on a second, i7 Haswell processor (the fastest Intel makes) and a 750GB hard drive. When disconnected, it is a touchscreen Windows 8 notebook, and when the 11.6-inch display is detached, it automatically becomes an Android tablet with 64GB of storage and a full HD display.

Asus claims that it flicks between operating systems seamlessly and that files also automatically sync across device modes so that they can always be accessed. The Transformer Book Trio is expected to retail for around $1,350 when it launches later this year but Asus is yet to confirm final prices or options.

Asus Transformer Book Trio. Photo: AFP

Acer Aspire R7
Technically, this convertible notebook with its "Ezel Hinge" technology made its debut at a special event in New York in May. However, at Computex it was back again as a very limited-edition Star Trek version (only 25 will ever be made).

Offering a 15-inch full HD touch screen, the R7 has a display that can be tilted much like an old iMac's and can be pulled right up to the edge of the keyboard so that using the Windows 8 touch interface is easier and typing is clearer. Unlike the Dell and Sony, the R7's screen doesn't fold flat on top of the keyboard; rather it sits up at a slight, four-degree angle, which Acer claims makes viewing videos more comfortable.

However, this lack of total horizontal viewing, plus the computer's sheer size, makes one-hand use impossible. The other strange thing is that to make way for the Ezel Hinge, the R7's touch pad actually sits above rather than below the keyboard, something that could make use very difficult. However, for lovers of quirky design and of "Star Trek" there is currently no other computer that comes close. One will be coming up for auction on eBay on June 14.

Aspire R7 Star Trek. Photo: AFP

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