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Assault on batteries

LaptopsPC Advisor aims to bring you an eclectic mix of interesting new hardware and useful software. Every so often we come across a product that falls below an acceptable standard of quality or value, but it's no less deserving of review. It can be as important to know what not to buy as it is to know what you should be placing high on your wish list.

I'd like to draw your attention to some very special products that slip effortlessly into the ‘what to buy' - or, at least, the ‘what you should really know about' - category. And these products demand superlatives.

For starters, laptop manufacturers are finally catching on that a key aspect of a portable is that it should keep working for a useful amount of time away from the mains. Some brands now advertise 'all-day computing' - that's around 8 hrs life, provided that you don't do too much with them.

For me, the 'all-day' clock should start ticking when I first log on, until I put the laptop to sleep at night; perhaps something more like 16 hrs. And I'm not talking about running the PC with wireless connectivity turned off and a screen so dim I can barely see the desktop.

With the help of its large yet beautifully discreet strap-on battery, HP's executive 13in-screen Envy comes nearer than any portable before it to my definition of a laptop you can use all day.

We've also reviewed the fastest desktop PC to ever enter our Test Centre. This sub-£1,000 machine has been keenly engineered to be almost quiet enough to sit in your lounge as an uber-fast media centre and games console. To see how a little liquid-cooling goes a long way in a fast and quiet, overclocked system, read our CryoPC Nano review.

If it's gaming or advanced graphics technology that turns your head, you'll also need to know about the fastest consumer graphics hardware ever made.

ATI is on a roll at the high end of graphics cards tech. It has followed one of the quickest single-chip cards money can buy by shoe-horning two such engines into a single card. Click here to see how the incandescent Radeon HD 5970  is rewriting the score books on 3D gaming performance.

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