All about laptopsAt CES 2012 in Las Vegas, CNET's Scott Stein, Dan Ackerman, and Molly Wood take a tour of the many new laptops being released and how they stack up with the MacBook Air.
Hello, everyone. I'm Molly Wood. Welcome to CNET Live at CES. We're here on our CNET stage in the South Hall right above the Starbucks. If you're watching this live on your phone somewhere in Vegas, get over here. We have a great audience out here and I'm very excited because right now we have Dan Ackerman and Scott Stein on stage for what we're now calling... The Laptop Talk Show. The Laptop Talk Show are now annual. Our 2nd annual. Yes, our 2nd annual Laptop Talk Show and the best thing about this is that the drool factor on our stage right now is extreme. Every kind of cool, sexy, gorgeous ultrabook that you've been hearing about being announced at the show in blog form is here live on the stage. You guys are basically just gonna run through them... and see what's cool. And we'll see what's sticks. I feel like that we'll just take the sort of ultrabook approach, right? To CES is... It's a whole... it's a great ultrabook showdown basically... There are all bunch of laptops around. These are all shootout. Yeah. It is. Yeah, ultrabook shootout. So let's talk a little bit about that category for the few people who don't know. There are maybe watching at home who were having kind of... I mean, it's actually slightly... it's hard... harder. It's hard to explain and getting harder to explain, right? What an ultrabook is. Yeah, the category is a blurred event. So before, it was a, you know, you had... it was a like MacBook Air. You know, you got the flash storage. It's thin, 13-inch laptop. And then you have 11 inches and now you have 14 and 15 inches and some of those have full hard drives, no longer SSDs. Some have optical drives. Some have graphics. What's the difference? A lot of them are thinner and sexier kinda cool. They're gonna be running those new processors later in the year. Eventually, time to Windows 8, so it's a revolution of laptop, really. So the real question remain is why ultrabooks? Why do you think Intel decide... 'cause Intel decided, right? Let's create this category. Let's give it a name. Once everybody get this behind of set of general principles... 'Cause you got to create fads. In the last kind fad that they were behind sort of the netbook. We're gonna have those Intel out of netbooks. They sold well for a while, but then they kinda tapered off. They gotta come up with something else and you know the term ultra doesn't really mean anything. It's like super thin. They could have maybe come up with something more descriptive, but if they can get a fad going behind it, everyone goes, I want a MacBook Air, but I want it to run Windows and then everybody gets behind it and the next you knew you can't buy a thick laptop anymore. Right. Which is actually not good, really. Is actually... yeah. We'll talk about that. I have no problem with that. Anybody who didn't get the memo. I have one manufacturer in mind, but it seems like, you know, we're seeing announcements or at least promises from almost anybody. Anyone who's not getting the memo about ultrabooks? Speaker 2: Some people are a little later than others. Dell for example has their 1st ultrabook here this week even though everyone else has had them for a couple of months now, so at least they're getting into it. Seems like everyone has stepped forward or something. Toshiba? Yeah. I didn't see... no. I have got a... up there hello... Does Toshiba have one? Our friends from Toshiba are very near. Oh, perfect. Okay. Good. As I was in their booth yesterday thinking, all of these laptops are really big and square... Everything looks awfully thick in there. Yeah. So is it about design? What's the... or what is the single most important factor in terms of the value proposition for me, the buyer? What it is that makes an ultrabook something I need. I think we're so spoiled like having many things that are thin and light and easy to take with you to work, to home, to the coffee shop. I think that's the key differentiate about that. So it's just size and weight? That's big deal for me. And I think maybe you wanna look at price too because one of the things that you... unless you're using super cool and you're gonna beat say like the MacBook Air. If you can get a little under that price and offer something we say like for $899. I'm beating it out on specs and there are some like that. I think it's another thing to look to. That was one of the problems of the first ultrabooks, that they were $1,299, 1$,399, same price as the MacBook Air. $2,000, all of... yeah. Well, a little bit less, but you can't make something that's just about as good a MacBook Air and just about as expensive. The thing for me too that I think has the most promise for consumer is the solid-state drives. I think and you know not everyone has have that life changing experience of realizing that you when you open your laptop lid, it wakes right up and you can start doing things immediately. I feel like when people see that happen, they realized that it means you can just have a laptop anywhere in the house, open it up and start going. I mean I think they're great. That's a huge benefit. Everyone is hot, they maybe more reliable, you have less moving parts to break down, but as Scott always points out that. I like having a lot of storage and maybe I'm old fashioned, but you know sometimes you wanna store a lot of stuff, so I appreciate the movement now that you see a lot of these ultrabooks, they're going to the old fashioned magnetic card drives. You're getting up to 500 GB, maybe even a terabyte. I know, it's maybe an... I'm not waiting anymore. No more waiting. It's a little more hybrid and little bit SSD and a little faster starting, but yeah, if you can deal with the 128 or you wanna pay for the 256. But yeah, a lot of people can get a lot of stuff done on those and keep things intact. How long is it gonna be before those solid-state drives tried to come up in capacity at affordable prices? Keep waiting. : Things like that should be happening, right? Yeah. I've waited a couple years. There is like a law about that? Oh, it's processing. Now you can get. Now you can get what you got. There's more... I know. Maybe, I feel like next year should be. This year seems like 128. I'm hoping that next year will be maybe a 256... Yeah. This year you can get a 128 for like $799 in one of these 13-inch ultrabooks. Right. That's a pretty good price. Well, and let's be honest, you can get like a an external terabyte for... Oh sure... 70 bucks these days you know or even network attached storage for a $100 bucks for a terabyte. I've got stack of them. I have been... I've been okay with that in my little back up system. Exactly. Yeah. All right. Let's... enough. Enough chatting. Enough philosophizing. Let's get the point. Let's look at some stuff. Let's get to the gadget point. All right. What do we have? We're gonna go kind of in order. Looks like you've got three and Scott's got three. I'm gonna start off... Go, go, go. With the... with the Dell XPS13. Now, Dell was of course a little to the ultrabook party, but they took their time, but they've got a 13-inch system right here that's part of their high-end XPS line. You know it's super thin. It's not quite as... as super fancy as some of the other ones, but that's because it's sort of meant to be that consumer business hybrid crossover system where you can get it and take it home, but you can also ask your IT Department to get it because they have an IT version like a TPM chip and other stuff like that. And it's got a rubberized bottom, if you feel that, that's kind of cool. Yeah, that's nice. And it's super thin and what I like is the footprint. It's a little bit smaller than some of the other 13-inch ultrabooks, it's... it's closer to what you find a 12-inch screen system in. So... so it's a little bit... a little bit more petite and still super thin. I gotta say to right off the back. I am really struck by the similarity to MacBook Air. They're just really... they're not even pretending not to be making a MacBook Air clone. It really looks like it and frankly, I consider that a plus. I think everyone stopped pretending in the... in the last couple of months like last year. They kinda do, yeah. Okay. Fine. Here it is. And I'm glad they did. I mean it's you know... it's the perfect size, it's the perfect shape. Get it done. Nice machine. And then we something a little bit more extravagant. Yeah, now, something that does not look like a MacBook Air per se, but no better timing with all the Gorilla glass top. Yes. This is the HP Envy Spectre 14 and it is covered in glass. There's Gorilla glass on the front. It's on the back. Also, on the palm rest and on the track pad. And it has a very iPhone 4 type look on that side profile on the lid. And it's... you see it's heavier... it's heavier, it's thicker 'cause... It is heavy. It's a 14-inch and so that's the beginning of a blurring of the line. It's thinner than other Envys though and it has the beats audio in that little audio analog wheel on the side like on the new Envy revisions that came out in December. Spectre. I know. Nice screen and the backlit keyboard and it's expensive. This is one of those top end lines. This is $1,399. Yeah. It's coming out February 8th and so this is kind of in that beginning to blur that line in the ultrabook category. It looks like... I mean, I've heard some people ask about the glass. What's gonna happen if you... Do you feel confident having glass on the back of your laptop lid? I don't know. Someone came out with the Lance or something like a sharp object, but I mean, if you drop it, I... That happens. Right. He has an exciting life. Home jousting. A lot of jousting. If... I mean if I drop it, I'd be worry, but honestly if you dropped any laptop, there will be problems. So I don't know, I haven't gone through like dropping laptops on the floor to find out, but I mean it feels nice and sturdy and sleek and it's very different than the HP Folio 13, their other ultrabook which is in that small business type category. It's kind of the no non-nonsense sensible one. And then it's also like $899. So it's right in that sort of you know a lot of specs for your... for your back... for your bunk category and this that sleeker kind of a design. And I think it's probably the single best looking laptop I've seen here this week. It's really. It's very beautiful although I'm starting to see a lot of fingerprints already on the outside of that glass. And it's gonna... it comes with cotton gloves. Oh. There you go. That you can handle with it. It's gonna support NFC too. You know, we haven't seen it in action. What could go wrong? But yeah, I know. Cool all right? That's beautiful. You mentioned our friends over at Toshiba? I did, yeah. They need to get those. They need to just lock like the boost of those. Speaker 2: They have done... at one point ready... ready to buy this yet. This is a 14-inch ultrabook prototype that they have, so you'll see this later in the year hopefully and hopefully they'll look just like this. And again, it's got the bigger the screen. It's still pretty thin. It's not as thin as those 13 inches, but what they're trying to do is they're trying to say, we can take that 13-inch ultrabook and give it a 14-inch screen later on this is gonna be a 15-inch screen and those become machines that you can use at work all day. A 13-inch, great for traveling, great for that you know couple of hours on the coffee shop, airport lounge, whatever. But all day every day, you're not gonna use a 13, you need a 14 or 15, so once you get up to this size, then you have something that's almost as thin and light that you can actually just use as your full time machine and that's what ultrabooks have until now. I think it's down to rehab and not been able to do. I feel like I'm skeptical with that though. The idea that you have a 14 or 15-inch machine to work on because... Your hands will get tired. Your eyes won't... Can't you just have a monitor and a keyboard? Oh, then you gotta get like a docking station and plug stuff in. Who does that? Yeah, that's true. I agree. It's clunk, it's a clunkier solution, but at least for me, it allows me to have a tiny laptop. That is true. I don't know necessarily where it's going to slide and left the sea. And I think right now, there's not. Also, maybe just go... everybody knows what the MacBook Air is doing and it's just a simple as an Apple doesn't have a type of product that moment that fits into that category, so if it will go away, I don't... you know, what is that exactly. And they're definitely are people who want the keyboard, I think is probably that big part of having that bigger laptop. Yes. That's the thing with bigger keyboard. Yes. And that really... this is a very Toshiba design sensibility that seems to be what they, you know, you got the differentiating queues. Right? The HP Envy line. Very design centric machines, always have then. Really beautiful. Toshiba really does this brushed aluminum. We've seen that on some of their tablets and some of their other laptops and then of course Dell just looking like a Macbook Air. Why not? Now, one of the bigger ultrabooks and we also have one of the smaller ultrabooks right here. It's completely the opposite direction. That's big. That's heavy. Yeah. So the Acer Aspire S5, which should made a lot of waves. I love this line. Acer upped it's game with this. The size, I mean, I feel like with the Samsung Series 9 last year, this kind of like inheriting that direction... Yeah... as suppose to the S3 that was last year that was, you know, little more in that gray or silver, not as sexy. This is, you know, much more razor thin design, 15 mm, Onix black and it's got that... this is the sports car feature of the show. Okay. I love this. Let's watch this. This is the magic flip or if you press the button here and then... It's like a spoiler that comes up automatically? It pops up. It reminds of the (Dolorian?) or something and then you have access to all the ports in the back including Thunderbolt. This is gonna be one of those next gen ultrabooks. So... So does that mean it's seems like there's weird caging this around IV Bridge. Right? Didn't you say? Yes. Okay. So it does Thunderbolt which means it must have Intel's IV Bridge. Right? And then what happens? Right. Nobody wants to talk about it. You say, there's and IV Bridge laptop ready to go. And if the chip, we do not speak it's name. Right. It's so socially awkward. They just walk away. But it's a clear interfere. It's a good thing. I mean, it's... I think the more you have Thunderbolt in devices, we talked about Thunderbolt on, you know, Apple products and how many peripherals you have. But if it shows up across a ton of laptops, I think they'll start seeing Thunderbolt peripherals that are kinda interesting. Yeah. I love the sort of the curve and very sense of Series 9 that's kind of curved to closure there. This is... It feels good. This feels good. Yes. As soon as you take this. Now, my only concern is, with this little motorized thing here. That's how they got so thin by hiding the ports... And make it go in. It is another mechanical part... It is. That you know is... from the (??) or the more moving parts you have, the more I get worried but it looks really cool. So and can you make it come down when the laptop is resting? It does. It brings the point out. So it does sort of like... Apparently yes. Let's see what happens. I've actually haven't seen this. It's like the sport shocks. Look at that. It got a little... Look at that. It is cool. All right that's cool... rising hill. Raise it up, you get a little clear ins in your laptop there. I don't know if everybody wants rear ports but maybe I'm wondering if that's in the future for something like a dock up. I'm just guessing Yeah. But I... you know, some people do like to tuck that stuff out. You can close it up and we have a close up here. There you go. That's hot. Oh, it's totally not gonna do that when I'm working. But that's were the ones that's not gonna be out till later in the year, maybe with Windows 8. I don't know. Obviously, with whatever the current generation at the time of Intel Jets. So a lot of the ultrabooks that were seeing are things we won't be able to get right away. They're gonna like 2nd half of the year but not really as specified release date. Right. And some of them right now which leaves Scott's excellent point that... Yo. which ultrabooks are the ultrabooks and what exactly do you find... find them in. I mean, I think you got the first generation and I think you're also seeing some of these laptops or continuation of the first generation but it seems like by the end of the year, you're already gonna get that 2nd generation. Right. So you're... it's kinda like believing edge and some of them we're seeing here are kind of like first gen plus and other ones are second gen that everyone is not telling the full details. I guess, something is coming out soon but you know that Ivory with Windows 8 are coming. Right. It's maybe out of date in 6 months and that's kind of a danger. Yeah. Yeah. This like February 8 and some of them are like towards the end of the year. And now, Microsoft tries to medicate... mitigate that a little bit. At least in their, you know, they said all of these devices that you see here are gonna be upgradable to Windows 8 which nobody want's to. I know really right. Intel thought. I felt like, at least in their press conference, they were helping nobody out. They were just like, every good is happening in the end of 2012, maybe later. Yeah. It was a preview trailer. I mean. If you're Dell right? If you got this coming out in or HP, you're thinking like that's a lot. The solution for you. The problem is answered. Just buy one now and then also buy one later and then everybody is happy. Oh, 'cause you're 'cause you're sleeping in a bag of money. That's right. Okay. See, You gotta... That's what they would like you to do. You know, are they gonna redesign some of the ultrabooks in the future that they'll be able to more touch of the plain gesture based is that gonna manifest and will change design a little it. A touch of ultrabooks. Yeah. What do you say on that. I'm intrigued by the idea with touch like, if we only we have one here. If we only we have one right here and this is probably one of the more buzz down products of the show. Yeah. This is the Lenovo Idea Pad Yoga and of course Idea Pad is Lenovo's consumer product line and they actually do some really interesting creative stuff there. You maybe used to like Thinkpads which are very kind of button down and sort of a business like but I really like the Idea Pads. And as you can see, this guy is already running Windows 8 in this like kinda prototype system that we have here. Looks like a laptop. Okay. And you know what, we've seen convertible laptops that turns into tabs with the screen swivels around and folds out. And this guy, you take the screen, you fold it back, you keep folding, you keep folding, you keep folding. Oh, it's almost hard to watch right because you just think you see that hinge breaking but it's... the first time you'll open it, it's like a... and there it is. It is right exactly like okay, okay. Tell me how I got myself into \Fruit Ninja and I don't know how that happened but you can hold it like this like a tablet and if you're worried about the keyboard when you fold it in, the keyboard deactivates. So you're not gonna hit any keys by doing that. You'll just get all the on-screen stuff. You give that a feel. Touch. Oh, that's heavy also. So that's your touch screen. Now, see, I'm gonna... no. This is too distracting, I don't wanna play but that's not... it can also do... it can have other configuration. Right? You can fold it different way. That's why they called the Yoga and you can kind of tilt it, it looks like. Yeah, it's hand. I don't know if... stand it up like that. I don't know why you would ever do this. Yeah, yeah. If you have like a little, like narrow edge of your table and you wanna display like photos or something. I don't know. I like the... I know exactly why recipes in the kitchen. Yes. This kind of you flip it around. I like this mode. It sort of makes it like an all in one where you kinda stand it up like that. Yes. That's nice too. Either of those... like a key off mode. I think would work for like a kitchen computer kind of experience. Yeah. You can take like a bluetooth keyboard and sort of stand it up like that. That is very nice. You're right. Yeah. I mean, convertible laptops always come off a big gimmicky although this one definitely seems to have potential for a variety of situation. Well, probably that sender inch that rotates, it's like a weak points. So here you should have 2 regular hinges so it's not gonna wobble back and forth and the thing that I think is probably the most interesting sort of design images. If you're look in right here, there's a little bit of a leathery cover here over the palm rest and it's... So you can lay it down, it's not gonna get thorn. It's just ever so slightly higher than the keys. When you put it down like this, the keys don't actually touch the surface. They're not gonna get scratched up. They're not gonna get scuffed and the connection that get it. That's a good detail. This is another one of the ultrabooks that's gonna be out till later of the year. As you can tell, it has Windows 8 on it so we're gonna have to wait for that but I'm pretty excited about it. And how confident are you in this one? 'Cause we've seen some Idea Pad bigger issues. Well, once I'm in out of this... this feels awfully sad. I believe this... yeah. This feels, you know, it feels very functional. Yeah. Fells very functional, feels very real from looking at it. As far as weather, this type of Idea takes off. That's a question. But it seems like Windows 8, if it's ever going to be a time to have that convertible table laptop that we keep seeing, I feel like for years, maybe Windows 8 and that UI that's finally or touch friendly, like a ton of stuff. We've been testing interviewing Windows tablets for years before the iPad came out and nobody was ever really able to make them work right. Now, the Windows interface just wasn't build for it. Now with Windows 8, at least now the possibility that they kinda have of a touch friendly interface that people will be able to get into and the hardware will work with. And now, I'm a believer in touch screen laptops and I would be surprised if there ultrabooks and Windows 8 ended up leap frogging Apple on that department. What do you think their... do you see a touch screen laptops coming from them anytime soon? That's a good question. Apple, I don't know. If the answer is continually no but the answer has been no on them on many friends for products then some they'll appear. But why unless an awful like an IOS or certainly can. It feels like they're moving in a direction where they can get there. They already have that multi-touch interface and gesture interface built in and they keep experimenting. I feel with bridging the gap between that and the language of the iPad, they're different. But I feel like it seems like it's on... it's gonna way to happen. Yeah. I want it. Because big Touch Pads have been training people to use gestures and touch for years and they just have to take that in Doctor Nation they've been doing and transfer it up here. I was using a Macbook Pro a couple weeks ago and I've been using my iPad 1 and I found myself absent-mindedly just reaching up and trying to scroll using 2 fingers. Oh, I do that all the time. I was like, wait a minute, it doesn't work like that. My son does it all the time. He's, you know, he's super attune to the iPad usage and every time he comes to my laptop he just starts pushing the... but that has become sort of a natural human interface motion especially with a small laptop. You know how the Gorilla arm problem? I feel like it's got a fuse at some point. I mean, just seems like IOS and OS 10 are getting to that point, maybe it's OS 11. You know, it's that juncture point and I feel like Windows 8 is already seeing that and seeing... saying like let's just start getting that fusion going because the devices are gonna start believing together. Yeah. Kinda surprising that they might get there first considering the Apple push behind touch screens. Yeah. So it's interesting that we didn't plan it this way but all of the laptops on our laptop talk show are ultrabooks and shows you that I think this is getting to be the super main stream and I think by the end of the year, if your laptop is not this thin, you're just not gonna be in the game. You'll be miserable, that's what you're gonna be. Like why I'm the only one here with a backache? You know. We don't even talked about the most important trend among all utrabooks which is the rise of the dusty pink color. That's clearly the most important trend. Rose golds, I love it. Rose gold ultrabooks. Does the Asus... I'm so predictable. You likes 21 and I feel like Samsung Series 9 has one that's all the jewel as well, bedazzle. They have jewels one but they also have that kind of rose gold look, yes, which is actually, that is very elegant. I really like that a lot. And that's when they came out a couple months ago 'cause I believe that they knew about it except for the color but, right, that comes a lot. Oh, no, no, no, no. That... see that's like too far. It looks flesh color there. I don't like that one. That looks flesh colored. Yeah. It looks like there's skin under there. I don't like that. It puts the lotion on its skin. That's not... no. Long with the new flesh. But the rose gold on the back is really pretty. I like that a lot. Yeah. I like that better. All right. So this is an existing product that has now been reskinned. A new color. Yes, if you will. Well, these are silver. Maybe that's the next step. You get all candy colored ultrabooks. You know, our Editor-in-Chief, Lindsey Turrentine actually has been saying that, that she is hoping that we will actually see a little bit more color on the floor. That's an area of customization. A lot of conservatism here. There's a lot of you know, people right now, people do is cases and things like that but yeah. This is... I know. It's the one in black. Everything else is in shades of gun metal. I know. Rose gold is really standing out. All right guys. Thank you very much for the parade of laptops. We will of course be back next year with another edition of the Laptop Talk Show and I'm pretty excited. Stay right here though because coming up, Brian Cooley is taking the stage to talk in depth with a buyer. That is a big part of the show that we often don't talk about that, that electronic buyers come here to make long term purchases for their stores. So we have one of those buyers on stage. I think it's gonna be a really interesting conversation. A lot of times, we only frame CES in terms of what the media is interested in but this is gonna be a great look at. In fact, what the other function basically of CES, the other function of that show core. That's coming up. Finny Stan is gonna be on our stage at 2:00 and then we're continuing the celebrity parade with our web and tech panel at 5:00. We have Marissa Meyer from Google, Alma Warrior from CISCO, and then we also have Katarina Fey who is the co-founder of Flickr and the founder of the Hunt. It's gonna be a jam packed day right here at the stage. Don't go anywhere either on the live stream or you know, keep your butts on a comfy seats. We'll see you in a little bit.