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This week, we spent some time testing Lenovo’s Thinkpad X1 Nano – the company’s thinnest and lightest ThinkPad, weighing less than two pounds. As usual, slimming things down comes with some tradeoffs, and Cherlynn Low tells us where the X1 Nano might leave you hanging. We also played with the Poly Effects Beebo, an ambitious virtual modular synthesizer in the form of a guitar pedal that Terrence O’Brien says is no more difficult to use than a smartphone. And Nicole Lee let the Amazon Echo Show 10 rotating display follow her into her kitchen to find out if this new (and somewhat spooky) feature is worth paying $ 250.
Lenovo’s Thinkpad line is known for its reliable performance, great keyboards, and long-lasting batteries. The new company X1 Nano, which has a refreshed design and improved display, is notable for weighing less than two pounds and for being one of the first laptops to meet Intel’s Evo certification. Cherlynn Low found a lot to like about the $ 1,399 laptop, namely its 2.1GHz 11th Gen Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, physical webcam shutter and 16:10 display.
The X1 Nano is almost identical to the X1 Carbon, and like all Thinkpad laptops, it meets military standards (MIL-STD-810H), which makes it quite durable. The screen is a 2K panel that supports Dolby Vision and tops out at 450 nits of brightness, but lacks touchscreen capabilities. It also has Dolby Atmos speakers, which Cherlynn found surprisingly strong, and four 360-degree microphones meant to improve audio quality during video conferences. However, in this case, the trade-off for getting a light and thin laptop is battery life: Cherlynn was able to squeeze around 9 hours from this machine.
Poly Effects actually released the Beebo earlier this year, but the company recently merged the firmware with its other modular pedal, the Digit. This, according to Terrence O’Brien, created a great pedal that is essentially a virtual modular synthesizer in a guitar pedal format. The Beebo has a 5-inch touchscreen, which puts it on the smaller side, and Terrence said that if you can use a smartphone, you’ll probably be able to figure out this device.
In testing, Terrence said it was a versatile and complex touchscreen guitar pedal that was easy to navigate with a bright interface and attractive little icons. However, he found some of the mods to be a bit inconsistent and ended up using the amp sim, booth sim, and convolution reverb mods the most. The only glaring hole in the range is the lack of a looper. That being said, he found joy in experimenting with the Beebo, and despite its bugs, he found quite unique and powerful gear.
3rd Generation Amazon Echo Show 10 move with you
Nicole Lee admits she was skeptical of the news Amazon Echo Show 10. The device is different from previous models in that it has a screen glued to a swivel base, which allows it to rotate and follow users so that its screen is always visible. It’s also pricey at $ 250, making it more of an investment than the $ 130 Echo Show 8. However, after testing it out in her kitchen, Nicole says she found the swivel feature more useful than she thought (albeit a little scary at first).
The Echo Show 10 has a 6.7-inch base and a 9.9-inch display, which means it takes up a lot of space – plus it needs room to rotate. Nicole said she finds the best for watching videos because you will never miss an important moment with the screen always in sight. She used it a lot to follow recipe instructions as she could keep track of things while moving around the kitchen to grab ingredients or wash her hands. The Echo Show 10 was smart enough to keep her and her husband in the frame and refocus on her when he left the frame. But in practice, pan and zoom functionality was inconsistent at times, and as an Amazon device it lacked functionality with some Google apps like YouTube and Nest cameras.
Outside, the MSI GS66 Stealth doesn’t look that different from last year’s model. It still has the same slim and sturdy aluminum frame, a weight of 4.6 pounds, a solid selection of ports, an LED-backlit keyboard, and a large trackpad. However, it now includes NVIDIA’s new RTX 30 series GPUs and a 2K display, making it one of the first gaming laptops with such a panel. That happy medium between a 1080p screen and a 4K screen provides a crisp picture and the upgraded GPU delivers a fast refresh rate that allows for smoother gaming.
Devindra Hardawar took the new model for a ride and was pleased with the results of its battery tests, an area where many gaming laptops fail. The GS66 Stealth lasted 8 hours and 25 minutes in our benchmark test, an hour longer than last year’s model. However, it’s not necessarily every gamer’s dream machine – he found the keyboard a bit soft when typing, and the 1440p resolution isn’t the most ideal for video streaming. Plus, like most gaming laptops, the GS66 Stealth gets pretty hot on the underside. But by far the biggest downside was the fans, which were loud enough that Devindra recommended using a helmet while pushing the machine to its limits.