CES 2014: Hands-on with some of our favorite computers, from Chromebooks to tabletop PCs
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CES 2014: Hands-on with some of our favorite computers, from Chromebooks to tabletop PCs

9:47 /

Computers are always a big part of CES, and 2014 is no exception. CNET's Dan Ackerman and Scott Stein show that there are still plenty of new systems to see, from innovative new ideas to refinements of current favorites.

Hey, I'm Dan Ackerman here at CES 2014 with Scott Stein, and one of the traditions we always do here every year Scott is a round up of the best laptops and other PCs from the show. Obviously, computers are really the big the category of CES. -It's a tradition. -And now, you know, this year it sort of feels like, you know, they don't have that surprise of the tablets and convertibles in the same way, but there does a new thing that's coming out. -Actually, we have Windows 8 for the first time. -Yeah. -A lot of people doing the hybrids' things that change shape and form. Before that, you had Ultrabooks, even before that netbooks. So this year, I don't think there's a big kind of computer sim. I think we're seeing a refinement, a lot of things that we saw before. -Yeah, it was like, you know, it's like price-- you know, or really maybe taking some of those ideas and like you said refinement a couple times a little more viable. Speaking of refining actually, we have a refinement of one of our favorite laptops/hybrids from last year. This is the Yoga 2. -Oh yeah. -The Yoga obviously was one of our big hits last year. Yoga 2 Pro came out in the fall of 2013. That was a very expensive, very premium system. This is the Yoga 2 minus the Pro, so it's a little bit more affordable. And what they do to make it more affordable is they take out that super high-res 3200 x 1800 screen just goes to back regular 1080p. -And it's a little bit thicker, but you still get an awesome hinge. Look at that, they bend all the way back. -Yeah. -And this is the 13-inch version. I think it's a bit under $1000. There's two kind of premium. What I really like a lot is that they have an 11-inch version of the Yoga that has Intel Pentium chip so you trade down a little bit there, but that sort of $549. And to get this really great mechanical [unk], it's fantastic. -Well, you know, it actually feels more like the IdeaPad line before the Yoga. You know if you look at-- if you ever shopped for an IdeaPad and there was like mid-range models kinda has that feel, but then they incorporate that hinge, you can imagine like you'll start seeing this with more laptops. Feels like you touch across more laptops, maybe all laptops will start becoming convertible like that. -That's kind of a big secret. I've actually seen a couple of these things this week that have this style of hinge on it. -Yeah. -Some of them have been announced, some of them haven't, but I think people are figuring out in that hybrid space. This is one of the designs that actually work because it doesn't mess with that laptop form factor. -We don't lose anything, so like why not throw that in. It's like, you know, if you can't do that and it's not a really crazy experimental design which is there for you and the price is reasonable so we're not paying up for it. -Let me show you real fast. -It's nice. -The four ways they wanted you to use in a regular laptop and they have kind of the table tent like this-- -That's the one I'm least-- way to use. I would probably not use tape measure display like restaurant specials. There's been hide things underneath. -Then they have the kiosk, which I think is actually kind of cool 'cause you just view-- -I love that-- Yeah. -like this like you're playing a movie, you're doing a presentation. Keyboard's out of the way, but you can still manipulate the touchscreen and then, of course, there's the tablet mode and you still have the keyboard at the back there. Some people find that really weird, but it's deactivated. It's not a deal killer for me, but I'd love for someone to come up with one that like-- kind of like, you know, makes the keyboard just a few sets. -[unk]. Yes. -Or you have-- He has liked a keyboard cozy underneath. Don't keep any liquid-- You don't want liquids on your desk anyhow, but you know it's just like something you don't want any smuts on your desk. -But I love the Yoga line and I love that they have the more expensive Yoga 2 Pro and now they're slightly more reasonable Yoga 2. -That's great how affordable those are becoming. It's nice. -That's a great segue way 'cause speaking of affordable-- -Here we go. -everybody likes Chromebook. That's like one of the hot topics right now. -I thought this was a MacBook looking at it from behind and the keyboard and I just got this like MacBook feel-- -It is great especially the keyboard. It's very much like a [unk]. -A silver and the keyboard. -At that angle, then you crossed over and [unk] is different. What is this? And yet, it is only $279 because this is the Toshiba Chromebook. -Yeah. -That's the only name, just Toshiba Chromebook, so it's a 13-inch Chromebook and we haven't seen a 13-inch Chromebook before, which is crazy to me. We've seen some 11-inch models as we've been most of them. -Yeah. -A couple of 14s, but nothing right here in the middle in the switchback. -Well, it feels exactly like, you know, kind of like an Ultrabook, but you know, plastic-type field but it reminds of the Chromebook pixel. It reminds me of like an affordable version of that type of level of laptop, but in a super budget area if you wanna explore it. You know, the idea of like a full Chromebook experience if you wanna buy that for like simple browsing, it's not bad. And in 279, you know. You know, it's gonna be kind of plasticky, but it still actually looks and feels better than a lot of the heavy Chromebooks I've seen and I like the screen. It's not too big, not too small. We always say that the 13-inch laptop is really the ideal size because it's big enough. You can work on it all day, but it's small enough that you can actually put it in your bag and carry it with you, you know, at least three or four days a week so that 13-inch size in the middle, it's got an HDMI output. -Yeah, it's got a lot of output so [unk] HP Chromebook. -Actually, I'm using there two USB 3 and HDMI, SD card slot so you got lots of them. -I remember I tried using a Chromebook for like a week or two, and it was a little bit of a struggle. I didn't do every single thing I wanted it to do, but it wasn't as that as I thought it would be. -If you're blogging you're living only in a web environment like even the stuff that we follow here at CNET, you can totally do it as long as you're not too dependent on advanced photo work. -Uh huh. -You know, you could do that too, but yeah, for your basic stuff it's very functional. -As long as I had the idea having internet connection, yes. Otherwise-- -There is offline-- offline elements, but it's-- I feel very worried. You can cache Google docs. It feels like a leap of faith. -Yes. -I've never lost anything. It's a sense that you're still in a browser environment. Get a little better with offline apps, a little better with that, but it is a largely-- you have to be connected. -And if there is any kind of stress test for whether you can stay online reliantly, it's definitely here at CES where there are so many signals and so many problems that-- -Customer fingers. -You have to carry three hot spots with you just to get one signal. -Yeah. -Actually, they built an AT&T Wi-Fi. Alternately, it's fantastic for me or not. Sometimes, it's my savior. -And on the very high end of the scale opposite the low end is a new addition to one of your favorite laptop lines, Scott, and that's the Samsung ATIV Book 9. This is just called ATIV Book 9 2014 Edition. It's a 15-inch version-- -So not called Plus or Lite or anything like that? -I don't think it's a Plus or Lite and that-- and you reviewed the 13-inch version-- -Yes. -the Book 9 Plus and you loved it. Why do you love it? -That's right. Well, I love it because it was-- it was thin. It had a tremendously high resolution screen. The price wasn't too off of what you're paying for equivalent products like that and just the design and performance were great, and the battery life is great. And that line of Book 9, before it was series 9, those have been a great line of products. There's been experimentation. Remember the 15-inch series 9. It came a little while ago. I mean, it's bigger. I love the compact disc, but still you got the design here is, you know, largely the same. I would say the port design is the same too. -Yeah, like having a super big touchscreen on a super slim laptop. You don't really see that too often even now. This doesn't have the super high resolution screen that the 13-inch version has that. I think it's just a 1080p screen. -Really? -But it's also only gonna about 1200 bucks. -Okay. -So, if you're gonna compete kind of what Apple on that over a thousand dollar, you know, price area, you really have to be super premium and I think this Book 9 Series is one of the few guys that actually does that. They have some new audio decoding hardware and I hear that's kind of have interest to audio files that works very nicely with uncompressed audio files, kind of like lost lists at track files. And if you bought something like-- I don't like-- like that Beetles MP3, Apple came out a few years ago, you get the regular MP3 files and you get the at track files-- -Okay. -which are like a 24-bit files and not a lot of computer could have been placed of those. I think that's kind of cool. -I kinda wish that high resolution screen, although looking at it I don't notice that the difference is there. I mean, it looks-- you know, from this distance, it looks good and it looks very sharp. -Well, maybe that will be the plus edition that will come out later. And one of my favorite things of this year is that it's one of my favorite things from last year and that was displayed guy right here. This is the Lenovo Horizon II, [unk] to the Horizon 27. It is a 27-inch, what I call a table-top PC. It's basically a gigantic tablet because it's got a battery in it and then you could put this kickstand up and the keyboard and mouse, it's like an all-in-one PC. -Okay. -The Lenovo actually has a table stand right now. We've got it sitting down there, but you can actually roll around on, it's like a kitchen cart. -Yeah, look at that. You're trying to-- -You put a slot and rolled around all over the place. We took it off so you can play with here. So what the thing allows you to do is stand up like this, [unk] one PC, then you push out and the hinge goes down. Here we go and then it kicks into the special mode called Aura. It's like a software overlay that Lenovo came up with. That's good for the sort of this table top thing. And in the office, whenever we have a table-top PC, we put them on the couch, we put them on ornament's tables. People just wanna come over. It's very sci-fi like. They wanna like manipulate photos and move stuff around. -Yeah, this is like where you're having like a situation room where we're like all gonna stand around and kinda like manipulate that. -It's like-- -I don't wanna gonna manipulate on this, but I wanna manipulate things. -Put something and it's kinda like the original product called Surface Microsoft Pad. -Right. -That was a big table-top PC and then they're using it for something else. So, here we're into it now. I can take a photo right here and I can move it around and I can spend it and I can even go into games and do that around. Let's do a little, yeah, Air Hockey. -Right. -And it comes with this little paddles and a couple of the games' accessories. Let's see if we can launch the Air Hockey game and that will give us a fun little [unk]. -It's thinner. It's still-- still heavy. I mean, you don't wanna carry this around. -It's 15 pounds. -This is-- Last year, it was 18 pounds. -Yeah. -You still don't wanna carry around. You can't go from room to room at least. -No. It is definitely thinner than last year. All right. So, I'm gonna count you very quickly to a one-point game of Air Hockey. -Let's do it. -We're gonna go classic. -This is unfair. -This is unfair, that's right. I'm letting you win the first one. That we're gonna make it interesting. -Yeah. -Here we go. Put your panel in the little circle. Okay, ready. Here we go. Hey, don't score yourself-- -I just did it. -Here we go. -You win. -Let me win. -That says you were the better Air Hockey player than me. Thank you Scott. I appreciate that. -My pleasure. -And that is pretty much our collection of a lot of these favorite PCs that we're seeing here at CES 2014 so far. -Yeah. -So, thank you Scott Stein. I'm Dan Ackerman. -Sure. And I'm Scott Stein. -These are our best PCs of CES 2014.

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