Edifier R1280T Review: A Simple, Excellent Desktop Speaker Upgrade

Laptops and desktops often get the short end of the stick when it comes to audio: the former because of space constraints, the latter because pack-in accessories tend to be of low quality. If you want an upgrade for either, these Edifier speakers will do nicely.

The R1280T is a set of fairly conventional bookshelf speakers, with lots of capability concentrated into two chunky wooden satellites with no subwoofer. With a street price of $100 and standard analog inputs, it’s a set that makes a serious upgrade for your desk’s audio without breaking the bank or adding too much bulk or complexity.

Want to upgrade your basic desktop speakers without getting into checkbook-busting audiophile territory? The R1280T is a rock solid upgrade pick.

While the fairly simple setup is unlikely to please audiophiles looking for wall-rumbling power or painstaking precision, they’re a marked improvement over the dusty old 2004-era Logitech set found on many desktops.

Covering the Basics

The powered bookshelf speakers boast 4-inch primary woofers and a dedicated tweeter in each unit, sharing 42 watts of power between them. Inputs are simple: two RCA audio jacks, both of which are constantly active. The right speaker holds adjustment knobs for master volume, bass, and treble, with no screen of any kind.

The connection panel is similarly Spartan, with double RCA inputs and the speaker wire jack for the left unit. The only other control is a power switch. The only indication of a more modern make is the included remote, which is spare, with only volume and mute controls. Oddly the adjustments for treble and bass aren’t available on the remote.

edifier, speakers, bookshelf, computer speakers, r1280t

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Lenovo’s Latest ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga Slim Down and Style Up

The ThinkPad line is full of workhorses, and Lenovo’s most adamant customers like it that way. But even a workhorse can wear some fancy tack. Such is the case with the latest high-end ThinkPads, the newest updates to the X1 Carbon flagship and X1 Yoga convertible unveiled at CES.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon (7th Generation)

The 7th-gen ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s new aesthetic touches mean it finally looks the part: the cover, usually a soft-touch plastic or similar finish, now shows off the carbon fiber weave of the ultralight frame beneath. It’s subtle—almost too subtle to see in the photo below. But Lenovo’s representatives say it’s so that the “Carbon” branding aligns more visibly with what customers expect, from similar applications in sports cars and high-end bicycles.

The carbon fiber allows it to be astonishingly light for a 14-inch machine at under 2.5 pounds. Even so, Lenovo managed to include options for fingerprint authentication, CAT-16 LTE wireless, and a battery quoted for 15 hours of normal use. (As always, take that estimate with a grain of salt.) The screen, often a low point of the ThinkPad line, looks brilliant: the one we tried had a 4K panel with 500 nits of brightness. Users who don’t need that sharpness can opt for a 1080p screen with a new power-efficient 400-nit mode.

Lenovo is particularly proud of the new speakers integrated into the keyboard deck, certified for Dolby Atmos and packing tweeters and woofers. While they aren’t booming by any means, they’re a notable improvement in clarity and range over last year’s version. The PrivacyGuard feature detects prying eyes with the webcam, alerting the user to people who might be peeking at their TPS reports. If you’re worried about remote spying, a hardware shutter cover carries over from the older design. And of course, it comes with the latest 8th-gen Core processors from Intel.

The new ThinkPad X1 Carbon will be available starting in June, with a base price of $1709.

ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Generation)

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga, now in its fourth revision, is much more substantially updated: it uses a full aluminum alloy body. This allows Lenovo to shave all of its dimensions and combined with the ultra-thin bezels, it’s now among the smallest 14-inch laptops around. It’s odd to see the normally utilitarian brand wrapped up in something so, well, trendy, but the simple body looks good with the classic keyboard and design elements.

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Lenovo Introduces Two 43-inch Ultrawide Monitors: One for the Gamer, One for the Office

Ultrawide monitors are all the rage, and now even bigger versions (Megawide? Magnawide?) are becoming surprisingly common. Lenovo is unveiling two 43.4-inch wide monitors here at CES, one in the business class ThinkPad lineup and one in the LEGION gaming sub-brand.

The monitors are designed with the intention of replacing a dual-screen setup, and with a resolution of 3840×1200, they’re the equivalent of dual 24-inch monitors side by side. Naturally, they’re curved with a 1800R factor to make all that screen real estate easier on the eyes. HDR and 450-nit peak brightness, a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz, and 4-millisecond response time are spec headlines, but there are some excellent extras outside of the main panel.

The inputs are varied, including double HDMI, DisplayPort, and USB Type-C with 90 watts of power output to charge your laptop. The displays come with an integrated USB hub, too, with two ports and a headphone jack that are right beneath the center of the bottom bezel. Not using them? They fold up into the body when not needed—a very classy touch. An optional Harman Kardon speaker bar integrates into the sturdy central column of the stand.

Both monitors can use an optional Harman Kardon soundbar and have fold-up USB ports.

Lenovo’s software allows for easy picture-in-picture, plus virtual monitor spaces to more effectively manage windows on the wide space—a branded version of a DisplayFusion trick. Both panels will support AMD’s FreeSync 2 for smoother gameplay, though the exclusion of NVIDIA’s G-Sync on such expensive monitors is a bit of a let-down. Speaking of which: the ThinkVision P44w, with pre-configured color certification and a three-year warranty, will be available in April for $1300. The LEGION Y44w, sans certification and with a 1-year warranty, will go for $1200 at the same time.

For those who want a tighter package and demand NVIDIA G-Sync, Lenovo is also offering the LEGION Y27gq. It’s smaller at 27 inches, with the popular QHD (2560×1440) resolution for a good balance between framerates and sharpness. The panel is rated for 240Hz of refresh, four times the typical 60fps target for most games, with a response time at half a millisecond. (Yes, .5ms.) You’ll need an absolute unit of a gaming PC to take advantage of it.

That makes the price a little more understandable: at $1000, it’s among the most expensive 27-inch gaming monitors on the market. Lenovo is hoping some neat extras, like a subtle and stable stand, ultra-thin bezels, and a fold-out hook for hanging your gaming headset, will make up the difference. While this model dispenses with USB-C connection—not a popular one for gamers, anyway—it can use the same detachable speaker bar as the larger monitors. It will hit the market in April.

Withings Announces Move Hybrid Watch with ECG Tracking, Plus A Bluetooth Blood Pressure Cuff

Apple made a splash last year when it announced that its newest Watch would record an electrocardiogram (ECG), on top of a normal pulse. Withings, makers of analog smartwatches, is now following suit—for a fraction of the price.

Announced at CES 2019, the Move ECG expands on Withings’ hybrid watch design, with a conventional analog watch face covering a Bluetooth-connected activity tracker and remote notification gadget. The new design adds triple electrodes, one hidden beneath the watch’s body and two integrated into the side. When the user pinches the designated spots on the bezel, they can activate an ECG scan, which takes about thirty seconds. The results are synced to the Withings app on iOS or Android, giving a much deeper and more complete look at cardiovascular health than a simple pulse reading.

The Move ECG can do all of the other activity tracker stuff, too: step and sleep tracking, exercise detection, estimated calories burned, and discrete notifications, plus elevation and 50-meter water resistance. The new device will launch in the second quarter of 2019 for $130.

If you don’t need the ECG feature, the “Regular” Withings Move will cost just $70, with a wider selection of colors at launch in February, and a customization tool available online later this year. The online tool will even allow you to upload your own photos to use for the watch’s face. For those who like their customization a little more low-key, standard 18mm watch bands will work with both Move models.

Withings is also announcing its first connected “cardiovascular monitor”—a fancy blood pressure cuff. The BPM Core can record blood pressure and heart rate, and it has the same ECG monitor as the new watch, all automatically syncing data via Bluetooth. From the Withings app on Android or iOS, the data can be shared easily with any doctor. Withings says the cuff is just as precise as the cuffs you’ll find in a hospital and is currently going through the certification process at the FDA and CE (European Union). It’s landing in the second quarter for $250.

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Acer’s Bodacious Predator Triton 900 Convertible is Among the First RTX Laptops

Following NVIDIA’s announcement of RTX-powered laptops at CES, Acer showed off its first design, and it’s a doozie: the Predator Triton 900 features a 17-inch 4K touchscreen that folds down on a boom hinge, technically making it a massive “convertible.”

This no-holds-barred gaming laptop comes with the top-of-the-line RTX 2080 GPU, paired with Intel’s latest Core i7 8th-gen processor, up to 32GB of RAM, a pair of solid-state drives in RAID 0 configuration, and a built-in Xbox wireless controller module. The enormous body is nearly an inch thick, with a backlit keyboard on the very front of the bottom half (the better to show off the display) and trackpad to the right for more ergonomic use in gaming if you have no mouse handy.

A touch in the corner of the touchpad activates a 10-key mode, for those who prefer their keyboards full-sized. The onboard speakers are supplied by Waves Audio, and a clear window above the keyboard lets the user peek at the integrated liquid cooling system.

But the star of the show is the screen. In addition to its 4K resolution it’s rated for NVIDIA’s G-SYNC smoothing technology, it can fold back on itself. So if you have the room, you can connect a full keyboard and mouse directly in front of the laptop. It’s not the traditional “convertible” form factor, but it covers the same laptop-tablet-presentation viewing options. Neat.

The Predator Triton 900 will go on sale in the US, Europe, and China starting in March. It won’t come cheap: the MSRP starts at $4000 USD for the base configuration. Expect that price to climb even higher quickly if you want the most powerful components.

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