You'll still have to wait a few more days before you see them in stores or for sale online, but we've been lucky enough to sit down with a handful of Vista systems ahead of Microsoft's January 30 consumer release date. While most vendors are still putting the finishing touches on their refreshes and introductions, HP and Toshiba are the first two manufacturers to get us working units for review. And Shuttle just got us its latest home theater PC. HP served up a Pavilion tablet and a totally unique all-in-one desktop, while Toshiba's first Vista laptop is a beautifully crafted convertible tablet.
The HP and Toshiba models show off the new features you'll see from Vista-based systems. Both of HP's units, the Pavilion tx1000 and the TouchSmart PC IQ770, feature a touch screen that doesn't require an active stylus; any old ballpoint pen, or more simply your finger, will do. Toshiba's Portege R400 features a couple bits of unique laptop technology: an OLED status panel along the system's front edge (the Asus W5Fe on display at CES puts Vista's SideShow feature to even better use) and an LED-backlit LCD screen, which produces a bright screen and what we thought would be long battery life. (Sony's VAIO TX line also uses an LED-backlit LCD, and it proudly holds the CNET Labs record for longest-running laptop on a single charge.)
For its part, the Shuttle XPC X200M earns points for it attractive and slim chassis, an important consideration for a system bound for the living room. It also proves that a system of average specs--including a laptop processor, 1GB of memory, and integrated Intel graphics--can run Vista Home Premium with Aero and Flip 3D turned on. We wouldn't call it a dynamo from the scores it posted in the labs, but it'll run Vista with all the bells and whistles you'll want to show off to the person sitting next to you on the couch.
It's too early to make broad generalizations about Vista's effect on overall performance and, in the case of laptops, battery life, but we can say we expected the Toshiba Portege R400 to run longer and faster than it did. The HP systems fared a bit better in the Labs, but neither did much more than meet expectations. Once the floodgates open on January 30 and we begin to test more Vista-based systems, we'll begin to form an opinion on just how resource-intensive Vista is. What's more exciting than benchmark results, however, are the new forms that we'll see desktops and laptops take, not to mention new applications we'll see that will let you take advantage of all of Vista's new features. Stay tuned.
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