Buying Guides

How to pick the perfect Yoga

It's been years since a new computer product line has built a recognizable brand name as fast as Lenovo's Yoga. You'd be hard-pressed to find someone on street who could tell you what "Inspiron" or "Portege" means, but a surprising number of laptop shoppers I've spoken to know that Yoga is shorthand for a laptop that folds into a tablet, with a few stops in between.

Part of the reason comes from the original Yoga's launch, just after the release of Windows 8 in 2012. The sharp-looking hybrid was featured in … Read more

Top laptop and tablet picks for Cyber Monday

While Black Friday 2013 had its fair share of deals on PCs, Macs, and tablets, the Monday after is feeling a bit thin by comparison. Maybe it's because holiday shoppers have been tuned in since early the previous week and throughout the weekend, or that the whole idea of a separate event called Cyber Monday is simply outdated (who even says "cyber" any more?).

Keeping that in mind, I've scoured the big online retailers and deal sites looking for Monday bargains that are worth a serious look. Unfortunately, most of the laptops I've seen are … Read more

Acer updates ambitious Aspire R7 hybrid

The Acer Aspire R7 was an ambitious laptop/tablet hybrid that fell short in actual usability, despite an interesting experimental design.

When first reviewed in May 2013, this 15-inch laptop won praise for being reasonably priced and for its sturdy "Ezel" hinge, which allowed the screen to flip over backward or fold down like a tablet. Except that the tablet mode didn't fully fold down flat -- because of the curved hinge, it stayed propped up a bit on its top edge. Add to that a touch pad that was repositioned above the keyboard, and you had … Read more

Apple releases OS X Mavericks for free

Mac users can have Apple's latest Mac operating system, OS X Mavericks, for free, the company announced Tuesday at an event in San Francisco.

"Today we're going to revolutionize pricing," Craig Federighi, Apple's chief of iOS and OS X, said. The software is available today.

Apple introduced the system in June at its developers' conference. The company touted its extended battery life, tabs, and tags, while demonstrating new features in Safari, Maps, and iBooks.

Federighi reiterated the new features at Tuesday's event. A 13-inch MacBook Air with Mavericks gets up to an hour more … Read more

Acer adds a low-cost all-in-one hardly bigger than a laptop

Powerful desktop replacement laptops with 17-inch and even 18-inch screens are common, while most all-in-one systems we see have 23-inch or 27-inch displays. Acer finds some common ground with the just-announced Acer Aspire ZC-605, a 19.5-inch all-in-one that the company calls, "compact, comfortable, and affordable."

At $599, the ZC-605 is certainly at the lower end of the desktop all-in-one prince range. And with a 19.5-inch display, it's hardly larger than some of the bigger laptops we've reviewed.

On the positive side, there's a full 1TB HDD, two USB 3.0 ports (and two … Read more

Don't buy a new PC or Mac before you read this

Editors' note: This article was originally published June 27, 2013, and was updated August 22, 2013, to reflect that many more systems are now available with Intel's latest processors, with still more to come later this year.

Before swiping your credit card on a new ultrabook, all-in-one, or convertible, you're going to want to dive a little deeper into the spec sheets. That's because the latest Intel CPU upgrade, introduced in June and code named Haswell (but officially known as "fourth-generation Core i series") offers significant battery life improvements in the laptops we've tested … Read more

Acer's budget Z3 all-in-one comes to the U.S.

PC maker Acer has already brought a couple of new products to the U.S., including the Predator AG3 gaming desktop and a new version of the budget Aspire M5 touch-screen laptop. Now an inexpensive-but-stylish all-in-one desktop is joining the lineup.

Previously announced at Computex, but only for international shoppers, the Aspire Z3-605 all-in-one is now officially coming to the U.S. This 23-inch system is reasonably sharp-looking for a budget AIO, and one welcome feature is the built-in hooks that can bundle cables out of the way, so it doesn't look like you have a tangle of wires … Read more

Best 11.6-inch laptops and hybrids

One of the most surprising things about the Windows 8 era has been the revival of 11-inch laptops. After a couple of years of seeing very few PCs with smaller displays, we've reviewed half a dozen 11.6-inch systems in the past two months alone.

This is especially interesting to me, as ultraportable laptops, with their 11-inch screens (along with a few 10- and 12-inch stragglers), have had a very uneven history.

Ultraportables were once, typically, extremely expensive brag-worthy laptops that could cost $2,000 or more, back when miniaturization and thermal issues were much more difficult to navigate … Read more

Cell phone buying guide

Cell phones have become the most crucial personal technology purchase you can make. Not only are these devices full-fledged miniature computers in their own right, they're getting smarter with each product generation. If you're looking for a new handset right now, start with the Samsung Galaxy S4 or the HTC One. The Galaxy S4 offers all the power you'd expect from a high-end Android device in an ultraslim package. The HTC One, meanwhile, is the most gorgeous smartphone we've ever held, yet also manages to match the S4 in terms of speed and performance. No handset, … Read more

Liquid nitrogen-cooled Haswell chip hits 6.5GHz

TAIPEI -- The CPUs in most computers are usually cooled using a combination of fans and heatsinks. PC enthusiasts have gone one step further by using liquid cooling as shown in the rig above. This allows them to push the processor to run beyond its normal operating speeds so as to achieve better performance without overheating the chip.

Professional overclockers, however, use subzero cooling to achieve extreme processing speeds. In most setups, liquid nitrogen is used to chill the processor and has to be topped up regularly, while Vaseline is applied to the surrounding microchips. This prevents them from short-circuiting … Read more