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06/04/2017

ASUS ZenBook U500V Battery

At the rear are HDMI and VGA video outputs, a combined eSATA/USB 2 socket and Gigabit Ethernet.If A-List awards were handed out on looks alone, the amusingly named Netgear Nighthawk would have things sewn up before we'd even taken it out of the box. Its flat, angled sides, shark-like nose and tail fin-shaped antennae make it look like something out of a James Bond film.Despite its outlandish looks and name, the Nighthawk has a humdrum job to do, which is to provide wireless access to your home network and internet connection. This task it carries off with considerable aplomb.There's no built-in ADSL modem, just a Gigabit WAN port, so ADSL users may need to factor in an extra £15 or so for an external modem, but on every other count, the aggressive-looking Nighthawk is as fast as they come. It supports dual-band concurrent 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks and has four Gigabit ports at the rear, as well as a single Gigabit port for the internet connection.Along the front edge of this router is a USB 3 port for shared storage, and there's another USB 2 port on the rear should you wish to plug in another drive or share a printer across your local network.Netgear's marketing describes the Nighthawk as a 3×3 MIMO stream AC1900 router, the fastest available. This is effectively a totting up of the maximum link speeds on both 802.11ac and 802.11n networks. You won't see Windows report a 1,900Mbits/sec connection: over 802.11ac, its maximum is 1,300Mbits/sec, and over 802.11n it will connect at up to 600Mbits/sec. As with other 600Mbits/sec 802.11n routers, you'll only see the top speed when connecting with a TurboQAM-enabled adapter.Whether you're connecting with a TurboQAM-enabled adapter or not, though, this is one seriously quick router. Over 802.11ac from our 3×3 stream PCI Express card, it registered an average of 68MB/sec; not the fastest we've seen, but quick enough to make large backup jobs and file transfers over wireless a distinct possibility.

Where this router really shines, however, is in its consistency and speed at long range. Moving to a distance of 30m from the router, with a wooden wall in the way, we saw 802.11ac speed fall by only 34% to 45MB/sec. Its 3×3 stream 802.11n performance in the 30m test is outstanding, with a score of 13.4MB/sec.Asus was among the first manufacturers to jump on the 4K monitor bandwagon, and back in October 2013 it led the charge with the wallet-crushing £3,000 Asus PQ321QE (web ID: 384841). At that price, needless to say we weren’t entirely convinced, but the encounter did leave us hankering for an affordable version, and that’s exactly what Asus has delivered with the PB287Q – a 28in 4K monitor for only £600. Could our Ultra HD dreams have come true? See also: The 9 best monitors from £200 to £2,000It’s fair to say we weren’t expecting much from this “budget” 4K monitor, but we found it hard not to be impressed. The combination of a 28in panel and 3,840 x 2,160 resolution means it’s immediately necessary to crank up Windows 8.1’s scaling settings to keep text and icons at a usable size, but the flipside is that the PB287Q serves up unearthly levels of sharpness.Viewed alongside a 27in, 2,560 x 1,440 (WQHD) monitor, the increase in clarity is dramatic.

Where the individual pixels on the WQHD panel become visible at around 8in, you have to almost press your nose to the PB287Q’s semi-gloss panel to see them. In practice, and from normal viewing distances, the PB287Q’s 157ppi pixel density and rich, saturated colour reproduction are enough to make images and photographs look almost as solid and pin-sharp as fine-quality print.Such a high pixel density isn’t entirely impractical in everyday use, either. As the 4K resolution makes it possible to view an 8-megapixel photo in its entirety, you can simply lean closer to the screen to view fine detail, much as you’d pore over a physical print or photograph. And while a lack of vertical screen space is an issue on many 16:9 monitors, that’s simply not the case here.The massive resolution delivers an embarrassment of screen real estate, making it possible to scatter several applications across the screen without the desktop becoming overly cluttered.Surprisingly, though, the Asus PB287Q works its magic with a mere TN panel. This panel technology has traditionally been the reserve of budget monitors and cheap laptops, and its telltale traits –mediocre colour fidelity and poor viewing angles – are usually easy to spot.However, as Asus has employed a 10-bit TN panel, the PB287Q is capable of reproducing far more delicate transitions between colours than its budget namesakes. As a result, several members of the PC Pro team mistook the PB287Q for an IPS monitor. The sheer vibrancy of the onscreen images and the decent viewing angles were enough to trick some pretty experienced eyes.X-Rite’s i1Display Pro colorimeter isn’t so easily fooled, but the Asus PB287Q still turned in a good all-round performance in our barrage of screen tests. The panel covers 90.3% of the sRGB colour gamut; the white LED backlighting serves up more than enough brightness for any office or domestic conditions, peaking at 288cd/m[sup]2[/sup]; and a contrast ratio of 855:1 is respectable by any standards. Only the colour temperature is significantly off-beam, with the PB287Q’s 6,982K result well wide of the 6,500K ideal.

Colour fidelity isn’t the match of the best monitors we’ve reviewed, but isn’t unusably bad, and we suspect many people will struggle to pinpoint the panel’s weak spots. We measured an average Delta E deviation of 2.89, and that figure is principally due to a peak Delta E spike of 7.89 in the darker blue hues. According to our tests, the PB287Q is fairly accurate across the rest of the colour spectrum.Indeed, by far the most obvious deficiency is the panel’s reproduction of darker tones, which results in a loss of detail in darker photographs or movie scenes. If colour accuracy is crucial to you, there are two choices: spend more on a professional monitor, or shell out on a colorimeter such as the X-Rite i1Display Pro and calibrate the display properly.While viewing angles are better than any TN panel we’ve tested before, the PB287Q still isn’t up to IPS standards. Colours darken and shift in tone only slightly when viewed from the sides, but vertical viewing angles remain limited. Tilt the screen back and onscreen images swiftly darken; tilt it too far forward, and the reverse happens, images lightening and highlights becoming blown out.Backlighting is another area where weaknesses lie.

We measured the panel’s brightness across 15 points on the screen, and noticed a maximum variation of 22% across the whole panel, with a noticeable dark spot on the middle and upper-left portions. This is markedly inferior to professional-class monitors, which routinely deviate by less than 10% across the whole panel.One area where the Asus comprehensively bests the IPS opposition is in response time. This has long been a strength of TN panels – one of the reasons for the technology’s enduring popularity with gamers – and the PB287Q is no exception to that rule. In our pixel-response tests, the Asus handled fast-moving onscreen items without excessive smearing, even at its default settings.Asus’ Trace Free feature makes it possible to dial in more overdrive (essentially overclocking the individual pixels by increasing the voltage supplied), thus improving the clarity of moving items. This works well up to 60% of the maximum setting, at which point the side effects of the overdrive function – of which a visible halo around the edge of moving items is the most noticeable – begin to become distractingly visible.The Asus PB287Q is a great performer, but it’s also highly practical. The monitor is perched atop a large square base and adjustable stand, both of which are well designed.

The stand rises up and down by 150mm, tilts back and forth and pirouettes into portrait mode, and the large square base does a good job of keeping the monitor from wobbling around on the desk.Broadwell will see the current Haswell microarchitecture shrunk to 14nm, but Intel has struggled with production problems. The Broadwell processors were originally planned to enter mass production in late 2013, but last autumn the company admitted that it was suffering from poor yield in test production runs, with a higher rate of defects than expected.I can guarantee for holiday, and not at the last second of holidayI can guarantee for holiday, and not at the last second of holiday In a conference call with analysts last month, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said he expected the chips to be with partners in the second half of this year.Now, in an interview with Reuters, Krzanich suggests it will be the back end of the year before we see the processors inside PCs. I can guarantee for holiday, and not at the last second of holiday, Krzanich said.However, he admitted that it will likely miss the lucrative back-to-school market in late summer. Back to school - that's a tight one, he added. Back to school you have to really have it on-shelf in July, August. That's going to be tough.

Broadwell is expected to provide a fillip for the tablet and laptop markets, in particular, with Intel claiming that it offers a 30% improvement on battery life compared to Haswell.Adobe pushed Lightroom towards the photography mainstream with a huge price cut for the launch of version 4 last year. There’s nothing as dramatic with the release of Lightroom 5, but Adobe is further broadening the appeal of its raw processing and workflow suite.Cannily, it has recognised that photographers are increasingly taking SSD-based MacBooks or Ultrabooks on shoots, which don’t have the disk space for vast libraries of raw files. To address the problem, it has provided a clever way to allow photographers to keep full-resolution photos on external drives, while retaining the ability to edit these photos while travelling: Smart Previews.These are high-resolution copies (up to 2,540 pixels on the longest edge) of raw or JPEG files, stored in Adobe’s DNG format. Typically, they consume less than 1MB of disk space each, a tiny fraction of the 25MB or more raw files swallow up. You can set Lightroom to automatically create Smart Previews of every photo imported into its catalogue, or create them on demand for each batch of photos imported.When you’re sitting at your desk with the disk drive connected, any edits will be made on the original, full-resolution file; take the laptop out and you can perform edits on the Smart Previews, which are synced with the original files the next time you re-attach the external disk drive.

This synchronisation worked flawlessly in our tests, not only with raw files stored on external hard disks, but also on NAS drives (as long as you use network drive mapping). The DNG copies are of sufficiently high resolution to apply the vast majority of edits with confidence; you have to zoom in to 100% before you begin to notice the difference between Smart Previews and full-resolution files.The only time we felt nervous about Smart Preview edits was when trying to fudge the effect of sharpening and noise reduction on high-ISO images, where there were more visible differences between the previews and the full-resolution images.Adobe has once again beefed up the photo-editing tools in Lightroom. The biggest improvement comes in the form of the Advanced Healing Brush, a near replica of Photoshop’s Content Aware Fill tool. This allows you to brush around irregular shapes, such as dog walkers ruining a landscape, and clone them out. It’s a great deal more flexible than the circular Healing Brush in Lightroom 4, but it’s erratic.

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