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Posts tagged ‘Acer’

13
Oct
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How would you change Acer’s Aspire R7?


Head into the basement and dust off that Jerry Goldsmith CD, because this week, How Would You Change is looking at Acer’s Aspire R7. With a hinged display, the laptop hybrid could fold down to a tablet, or be used with the screen essentially floating over the keyboard, a mode known internally as the Starship Enterprise. When we dumped it into Sarah Silbert’s lap, she found that the only thing not to like was the slow CPUs, which Acer replaced a few months after. But what about you? Did your inner Trekker win out and compel you to buy an R7, and if so, what did you like, what did you hate and what would you have changed? All you need is a tall ship, a star to steer it by and to head on over to our product forums.

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Source: Engadget Product Forums

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9
Oct
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Apple is now the fifth-largest PC maker in the world, if you ask IDC


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Apple is historically a small player in the PC world compared to many of its peers, but it may have just entered the big leagues. IDC estimates that the company jumped to 6.3 percent market share in the third quarter of the year, making it the fifth-largest PC builder worldwide — a feat it hasn’t managed in decades. It’s still no major threat to heavy-hitters such as Lenovo (20 percent), HP (18.8 percent) and Dell (13.3 percent), but IDC believes that a combination of slight price cuts and improved demand in “mature” markets like North America have helped it grow in a computer market that’s still shrinking.

With that said, the crew in Cupertino probably isn’t breaking out the party streamers right away. Gartner contends that ASUS claimed the fifth-place spot with 7.3 percent, and that Apple only sits in the top five in its native US. So what gives? In short, it’s a difference in methodology; Gartner and IDC don’t have official shipping numbers from everyone, and there’s enough wiggle room in their estimates that it wouldn’t take much for the rankings to change. As precise as these figures may be, you’ll get a better sense of how Apple fared when it posts its fiscal results (and real shipping numbers) in a couple of weeks.

IDC worldwide PC market share, Q3 2014

Gartner's worldwide PC market share estimate, Q3 2014

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Source: IDC, Gartner

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24
Sep
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Acer Chromebook 13 review: long battery life, but performance falls short


Acer Chromebook 13 review: long battery life, but performance falls short

After years of getting little respect, Chromebooks are finally on the rise (at least in schools), which means every major PC maker is trying to get in on the action. That includes chip makers too, like NVIDIA. Though the company previously shied away from Chrome OS devices, it’s now pledging to power a whole range of different Chromebooks with its Tegra K1 chip, each of them promising long battery life and more graphics muscle. The Acer Chromebook 13 is the first of the bunch, and while some of you might be Chromebook’d out, we were actually excited. Here was a $300 laptop boasting at least 11 hours of battery life, a 1080p display option and enough horsepower to clobber Intel at things like gaming and rich websites. As it turns out, it was all just a little too good to be true.

Hardware

Looking at the Chromebook 13’s spec sheet, you’d assume design was the main place where Acer cut corners. And you wouldn’t exactly be wrong. The machine is fashioned entirely out of plastic, with certain parts, like the bezels and bottom side, actually feeling a bit rough to the touch. Next to the Samsung Chromebook 2, which sports a fake-leather lid, this is clearly the cheaper of the two. Acer’s model is also about a quarter-pound heavier, at 3.31 pounds and 0.71 inch thick, versus 3.06 pounds/0.65 inch for the Chromebook 2. If you want something as light as a 13-inch Ultrabook, you better be prepared to pay an extra $100 for the Samsung.

Still, compared to Acer’s older Chromebook, the C720, this is a marked improvement. Whereas the 11-inch C720 is small and cramped, like a netbook, this 13-incher is broader, with a more spacious keyboard and a wide touchpad to match. The design is simpler, too. Yes, it’s plastic, but the all-white look is at least clean and modern-looking. Also, not that the lid and palm rest pick up scratches easily, but if they did, they’d be all but invisible thanks to the white paint job.

Even if Acer’s design here is on the plain side, it’s all worth it when you see the display. For all the scaling-back Acer did with the rest of the chassis, the screen here is quite nice for a Chromebook, especially one this size. What we have here is a bright, 1,920 x 1,080 display with a matte finish that allows for some relatively wide viewing angles, especially from the sides. Even so, there’s only so much you can dip the lid forward before the panel starts to wash out. This, I’m afraid, is a problem across all Chromebooks — even on models with sharper, 1080p screens, I’ve yet to see one with truly good viewing angles. Chalk it up to PC makers trying to keep hardware costs down, I guess.

As I hinted earlier, the keyboard here is nice and big — a perk of choosing a 13-inch Chromebook over an 11-inch one. That means all of the major keys (Shift, etc.) are amply sized and easy to strike without looking. That said, the keys don’t seem to have much more travel than they did on the C720, which means I once again found myself having to re-type things after my key presses didn’t register the first time. Even so, I found it usable, and I think you will too. On a brighter note, the touchpad is nice and big, and responds well to both single-finger tracking as well as multi-touch gestures like pinch-to-zoom.

Around the edges, the Chromebook 13 has all the same ports as competing devices, which is to say it sports two USB ports, an HDMI socket, a full-sized SD card slot and a headphone jack. You might not know it at first glance, though: Whereas most machines stack all the ports along the right and left sides, the Chromebook 13 has a USB and HDMI port tucked around on the back, out of sight. So, it might seem at first like Acer was stingy — that it could only be bothered to include one USB port, a memory card slot and an audio port. But that’s just the extent of what you can see when the machine is in front of you.

Performance and battery life

SunSpider v.1.0.2* Google Octane Mozilla Kraken*
Acer Chromebook 13 (NVIDIA Tegra K1, 2GB RAM) 609ms

7,051

4,816ms

Lenovo N20p (Celeron N2830, 2GB RAM) 567ms

7,288

4,287ms

ASUS C200 Chromebook (Celeron N2830, 2GB RAM) 483ms

7,198

4,291ms

Acer C720 Chromebook (Core i3-4005U, 4GB RAM) 289ms

14,530

2,113ms

Acer C720 Chromebook (Celeron 2955U, 2GB RAM) 342ms

11,502

2,614ms

Dell Chromebook 11 (Celeron 2955U, 4GB RAM) 340ms

11,533

2,622ms

Toshiba Chromebook (Celeron 2955U, 2GB RAM) 324ms

11,307

2,626ms

*SunSpider and Kraken: Lower scores are better.

To recap what I said in the very first paragraph of this review, the Acer Chromebook 13 is the first Chrome OS device to make use of an NVIDIA Tegra chip — specifically, the quad-core K1 processor already used in some tablets. To hear NVIDIA tell it, the chip is better than Intel’s Bay Trail processors (the ones inside most Chromebooks) in every way possible. That’s not quite true. In single-thread JavaScript tests like SunSpider, Mozilla Kraken and Google Octane, the Chromebook 13 performs in line, if not slightly worse than, Bay Trail Chromebooks like the Lenovo N20p. In daily use, it cold-boots in nine seconds and can sign off in about four — not bad for a Chromebook, but not exceptional, either.

NVIDIA, for its part, doesn’t deny the less-than-impressive JavaScript results, though it’s quick to suggest some WebGL tests instead that are more likely to showcase Tegra’s graphics muscle. Indeed, in an animated Gangnam Style video (don’t ask), Acer Chromebook 13 runs between 50 and 60 fps, while the Lenovo N20p’s Bay Trail processor could barely crack 24 fps. (I used Google Chrome’s built-in frame-rate counter.) In the benchmark Oort Online, the Chromebook 13 scored an average of 4,007, compared with 1,300 for the N20p. In this 3D Earth model, Acer peaked in the high 50s, with frame rates mostly hovering in the 30s and 40s; with the N20p, frame rates stayed in the 20s and 30s, depending on how fast I spun the globe around. Finally, in NVIDIA’s own multitasking test, which involves running a Google Sheets macro with music streaming in a different tab, I saw a 21 percent improvement in speed on the Acer Chromebook 13: 46 seconds, down from 58 on the Lenovo N20p.

This would be a good time for me to back up and put all that in plain English. What it comes down to is this: The Acer Chromebook 13 does well on some tests, particularly the ones that NVIDIA itself recommends. Otherwise, its performance falls in line with the very Bay Trail-powered machines that NVIDIA claims to beat. Either way, the Chromebook 13 doesn’t feel faster than other Chrome OS devices in real-world use. It doesn’t feel slower either, but that’s not saying much, given that Chromebooks generally aren’t known for their stellar performance. On the plus side, the machine stays nice and quiet, and it runs cool. Ultimately, if you buy the Chromebook 13, it should be because of the price, the 1080p screen, the long battery life — not because you’re expecting superior computing power.

Battery life

Acer Chromebook 13 10:07
ASUS C200 11:19
Dell Chromebook 11 8:37
Samsung Chromebook 2 (13-inch) 8:22
Toshiba Chromebook 8:15
Acer C720 Chromebook (Intel Core i3) 7:53
Acer C720 Chromebook (Intel Celeron) 7:49
Samsung Chromebook (2012) 6:33
HP Chromebook 11 5:08
Chromebook Pixel 4:08 (WiFi)/3:34 (LTE)
HP Pavilion 14 Chromebook 3:35
Samsung Chromebook Series 5 550 3:23
Acer C7 Chromebook 3:16

NVIDIA’s performance claims may have fallen short, but the battery life here is just about as long as promised. On the 1080p model, which is rated for up to 11 hours, we got 10 hours and seven minutes of continuous video playback. That’s admittedly a grueling test, too, so I have no doubt that with a lighter workload and more conservative brightness settings, the machine could’ve made it to the 11-hour mark and then some. If you go with the lower-end Chromebook 13, which has a 1,366 x 768 display, you can expect up to 13 hours of runtime, according to Acer. I unfortunately didn’t get to benchmark one of those, so I can’t vouch for that particular performance claim. If it’s true, though, that would make it the longest-lasting Chromebook on the market.

Software

Though we’ve been reviewing quite a few Chromebooks over the past few months, the software experience hasn’t changed much in that time. If you’re just tuning in, though, here’s a quick primer on what to expect. Chrome OS has slowly gotten better at letting you do things offline — users have long been able to use Gmail and Google Drive without an internet connection. Recently, too, Google made it so that you can watch Google Play movies and TV shows offline — a useful feature if ever you find yourself on a long plane ride. Other recent improvements include pinch-to-zoom, better file management and the ability to upload photos to Google+ in the background. Speaking of G+, the Acer Chromebook 13 comes with 100GB of free Google Drive storage — a standard perk for Chromebook users.

Configuration options and the competition

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The Chromebook 13 starts at $280 and is available in four configurations. The lowest-end edition has a 1,366 x 768 display, 2GB of RAM and a 13-hour battery. Step up to the $300 mark, and you actually have two options at that price: a 1080p screen with 2GB of RAM, or a 1,366 x 768 display with 4GB of RAM. If you want it all — a full HD screen with four gigs of memory — you can have it, for $380. Oh, and by the way, in case you’re wondering, almost all of these configurations have 16GB of built-in storage (the high-end one has 32GB).

As for everything else on the market, well, I’m not really helping you if I list off every single option. But I can recommend a few notables. First of all, if you’re looking for something on par with the Chromebook 13, its most obvious competitor would be the 13-inch Samsung Chromebook 2, which also has an ARM-based chip and a 1080p display. With its sharp screen, comfortable keyboard and relatively premium-looking design, it still ranks as one of my favorites.

The problem is that it costs $400, which is getting into “cheap Windows laptop” territory. And at that price, the performance isn’t quite as robust as some competing models. If, like me, you think even an ARM chip is good enough for basic tasks, you might actually like the Acer Chromebook 13 I’ve been reviewing here: It offers similar performance, with an equally sharp screen, except it costs $100 less. It’s not quite as polished-looking, but again, it’s not ugly, either.

SONY DSC

Soon enough, though, Samsung and Acer won’t be the only ones selling full HD Chromebooks. Toshiba, for one, is about to ship its own Chromebook 2, which will start at $250 ($330 if you want the 1080p resolution). That will include an Intel Bay Trail chip, which means performance is likely to be slightly better than Acer’s or Samsung’s offerings, but battery life could be shorter (or not — we’ll see). It looks promising, but I haven’t tested this one, so I unfortunately can’t confirm how well it performs.

If performance is a concern — meaning, you’re worried an ARM chip won’t cut it — all roads lead back to Acer. The company’s C720 Chromebook is one of our favorites. For one thing, it’s among the only ones offered with a Core i3 chip, which delivers noticeable (albeit fairly modest) performance gains. At the same time, it’s one of the best-value machines we’ve seen: For $199, you can get it with an Intel Haswell-series Celeron CPU that still delivers decent performance. The only thing to keep in mind with either model is that the battery life will be several hours shorter than on the Chromebook 13. So, it depends a lot on what your priorities are: maximum performance or top-notch battery life? Acer earns both of those honors — just not with the same machine, unfortunately.

What about Windows machines?

Finally, you might be wondering what kind of Windows PCs you’ll find at this price — $300 is technically “cheap Windows laptop” territory, too. By and large, the machines you’ll find at this price will have larger, 15-inch screens with either an Intel Celeron processor or an AMD E-series chip. In other words, the performance should be on par with many similarly priced Chromebooks. That said, there are a few systems at this price that are just as small and portable as the Acer Chromebook 13, if not more so. These include the 11-inch Lenovo S215 ($349), the 11-inch Acer Aspire ES1 ($250-plus) and the HP Pavilion 10z Touch ($250). For the money, you get a 1,366 x 768 screen and around 500GB of built-in storage.

In a similar vein, HP is about to start shipping the first laptop from its “Stream” series, which aims to take on Chromebooks in the form of a cheap notebook that runs Windows, but has very little local storage. The first model is a 14-incher priced at $300. This, too, has a 1,366 x 768 display and makes use of an AMD chip. I’m not saying I recommend it, especially for three hundred bucks, but it could be tempting for someone who wants a budget machine that can still run desktop Windows apps.

Wrap-up

The Chromebook 13 isn’t everything Acer and NVIDIA promised it would be, but somehow, it’s still a worthwhile product. Though its performance isn’t much better than the Intel Bay Trail machines it claims to beat, the battery life is nearly best in class, reaching 10 hours even with a full HD screen. Speaking of the sort, this remains one of the few Chromebooks out there with screen resolution greater than 1,366 x 768. Yes, the viewing angles could be better, but then again, that’s true of every Chrome OS laptop, so it’s hard to really fault Acer for that. Most importantly, though, with a price starting at $280 (or $300 for the full HD version), it’s easy to forgive many of the machine’s flaws. Even with merely average performance, this feels like a fair price for what it is: a Chromebook with a sharp screen, long battery life and a spacious, comfortable keyboard.

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13
Sep
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Engadget Daily: Sony’s dwindling empire, Acer’s selfie sombrero and more!


It’s Friday, folks. You made it. But before you checkout for the weekend (i.e. Destiny-filled all-nighters), take a look at all our news highlights from the last 24 hours.

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12
Sep
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Fashions fade, but Acer’s selfie sombrero is forever


Once the Earth has burned and all that remains is humanity’s high score floating on the arcade cabinet of the universe, aliens will wonder what the 2010-2020 generation contributed to culture. Googly-eyed academics will scrub through countless Twitter posts, news programs and songs to reveal that, for some reason, we were all obsessed with documenting our own faces with relentless abandon. Acer’s contribution to our mutually assured destruction vanity is to team up with fashion designer Christian Cowan-Sanluis, who adapted his trademark pink glitter suit and visor hat into something more selfie-appropriate.

The fashionable headwear now accommodates an Acer Iconia A-1 840 tablet, while the static drop-down visor has been ditched in favor of a sombrero peak that spins all the way around your head. Of course, this is nothing more than some attention grabbing for London Fashion Week, and it doesn’t hurt for a traditional PC maker like Acer to borrow some much-needed glamor. The company is even allowing ordinary (okay, not that ordinary) members of the public to try on the Selfie-Hat if they make an appointment through the company’s service. Except there’s no details on who to speak to in order to get such an appointment, so presumably if you don’t know already, you’re clearly not fash enough, dahling, to warrant a go. At the same time, Cowan-Sanluis has also knocked up ten tablet cases that resemble the original, clad in the designer’s now trademark sparkly pink. Meanwhile, a gargantuan snot beast from the planet Piscium B will read this story in horror, exclaiming that “most of them aren’t even that good looking!”

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Via: Pocket-lint

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3
Sep
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Acer realized that ‘touchpad above the keyboard’ thing was a bad idea


It takes a big company to admit it made a mistake. It also takes a big company to admit it copied its rival’s design. Sure enough, Acer has done both of those things today, which makes the Taiwanese firm, we don’t know, extra bold, or something. Here at IFA in Berlin, the company is showing off a redesigned version of R-series convertible laptop, whose touchpad used to sit above the keyboard, but has now returned to a more normal spot. Meanwhile, Acer also announced the Aspire R14, a notebook with a 360-degree hinge that even Acer admits is similar to Lenovo’s Yoga series.

Starting with the R series (now called the Aspire R13), it has the same form factor as the original, which is to say it has an easel-like hinge allowing the screen to pop out and hover over the keyboard, kind of like an all-in-one desktop with an articulating screen. Now, though, the screen size is 13.3 inches, not 15.6, making it far more portable than the original. Additionally, of course, the touchpad has moved to a more natural spot below the keyboard. That, Acer says, is a concession to customer feedback; users apparently couldn’t get used to having the trackpad at the top of the keyboard deck.

Similar to the older R7, the R13 will come standard with 1,920 x 1,080 screen resolution, and will be available with an optional digitizer for pressure-sensitive pen input. Here, however, you’ll also be able to get it with a 2,560 x 1,440 screen, just like Acer’s high-end S7 Ultrabook. Under the hood, it runs your choice of Core i5 or i7 processors, along with up to 1TB of storage and up to 8GB of RAM. Battery life is rated at eight hours, assuming you have the 1080p display and not the higher-res one. Look for the R13 in October for $900 and up, with European and Asian availability to follow in November for €900.

Meanwhile, the Aspire R14 is basically the same “Yoga” design PC makers have been copying all year long: a 360-degree hinge that allows the screen to fold back into tablet mode (and tent mode, and stand mode…). Think we’re being harsh? Even an Acer executive volunteered to us that the design is similar to Lenovo’s line of convertibles. Truth be told, there isn’t much different about the design here, except that the specs run a bigger gamut than what most other brands are offering. You can get it with an Intel Pentium processor, for instance, or you can go all the way up to Core i3, i5 and i7. Some of the higher-end models will also have discrete NVIDIA GeForce 820M graphics, an optional pen digitizer, up to 1TB of storage and up to 12GB of RAM — something you won’t find on a Lenovo machine. It’s expected to go on sale in mid-October, starting at $600 here in the US and €500 in Europe.

Finally, wrapping things up, Acer announced the Aspire Switch 11, an 11.6-inch laptop/tablet hybrid with either a low-powered, quad-core Intel Atom Z3745 processor or a heavier-duty Core i5 CPU. Depending on which you get, it either has a 1,366 x 768 screen, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (that’s the Atom-powered-model) or a 1080p display, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD (that’d be the Core i5 version). Meanwhile, Acer will continue to sell its older Switch 10, now with a higher-res 1080p screen option. The Switch 10 is available this month starting at $330 or €330, and the Switch 11 will follow in October for $400/€3400.

Dan Cooper and Ben Gilbert contributed to this report.

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3
Sep
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Acer’s trio of new tablets includes a $150 Windows slate


Acer's trio of new tablets includes a $150 Windows slate

Acer’s taken more than a passing fancy to Chrome OS of late, but at this year’s IFA, the company’s showing a rekindled love for its affordable tablet range. Its first new slates since the beginning of the year come in two sizes, with the more portable 8-inch form factor also offering a choice of platform. The Iconia One Tab 8 runs Android 4.4 KitKat on a quad-core Intel Atom processor (the Z3735G, if you’re interested), with an 8-inch, 1,280 x 800 IPS display up front. Otherwise, it’s got most of the standard features you’d expect on a tablet, like a pair of cameras and microSD slot for storage expansion. Now picture essentially the same hardware configuration, but instead running Windows 8.1 with Bing, and you’ve got the Iconia Tab 8 W. Successor to the Iconia W4, the Tab 8 W also boasts up to eight hours of battery life and one free year of Office 365. Whether you prefer Google or Microsoft’s OS, both 8-inch slates will launch next month in Europe for €150, and in the US in November for $150.

For bigger appetites, Acer’s also announced the Iconia Tab 10 today — its first 10.1-inch tablet without a keyboard companion since last year’s Iconia A3. Opting for a quad-core Mediatek processor running Android 4.4 KitKat, the full HD (1,920 x 1080) IPS display is lovingly covered with Corning Gorilla Glass. The larger slate also makes room for a micro-HDMI port to compliment the WiDi standard, and will be available this month for €199 in Europe and $199 in the US.

Dan Cooper and Ben Gilbert contributed to this report.

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2
Sep
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What you can expect at IFA 2014


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IFA is one of the largest consumer electronics trade shows in the world, and it’s also one of the most unique. The annual show, held this week in Berlin, has a knack for announcing new washing machines, sewing machines and kitchen appliances alongside the latest smartphones, smartwatches and tablets. Here at Engadget, we’re primarily focused on the latter (though who doesn’t love a free fruit smoothie sample from time to time?), and there’s a lot to cover. Let’s head straight into what new gadgets and devices we can expect to see announced at this week’s event.

Smartphones

Before 2011, very few companies launched smartphones or tablets at IFA. Only a handful of phone makers bothered showing up with new devices, and in most cases they were mid-range at best. That all changed after Samsung launched the Galaxy Note at the show — and turned the practice into an annual IFA tradition. Now, as the company prepares to release its fourth large-screened flagship phone in as many years, several manufacturers have followed and now use IFA as a launching pad for the latest and greatest gadgets.

Samsung has made it no secret that it plans to follow precedent and announce the next entry in the Note series, thanks to a series of teasers leading up to this week’s unveiling. It’s done a fantastic job of preventing major leaks, however; nobody knows for sure what it looks like, because the company’s managed to keep images and specs of the Note 4 close to its chest so far. Chances are, Samsung won’t be ready to ship the device for a few more weeks, which would follow the same pattern set by the Galaxy S5 this spring.

The rumor mill is pretty dry for other Samsung phones. We’ve seen recent reports that Samsung has filed a trademark with the USPTO for something called the Galaxy Note Edge, but we can’t take this as a guarantee that the company will introduce such a product at IFA. We’re also excited to see the Galaxy Alpha, which is a sleek device with a metal frame that was officially announced a couple weeks ago.

Whereas Samsung has done a fantastic job at keeping quiet about its upcoming Note phone, Sony’s the complete opposite. Unless the company has something new up its sleeve, we’ve likely seen its entire holiday roadmap. At IFA, plan on seeing the Xperia Z3 and Z3 Compact: As you might expect, the former is the flagship, while the latter is a smaller version. If the rumors are true, the Z3 Compact will be just as close in specs to its larger brother as the Z1 Compact was. This is fantastic news, because it means that users who prefer smaller screens won’t be forced to endure midrange hardware.

Microsoft Devices — y’know, Nokia’s phone division — will also come to Berlin with at least one or two smartphones. The company hasn’t been shy about showing it off internally to employees, as we’ve heard several reports indicating that Stephen Elop has been proudly talking up the devices at recent town hall meetings. The higher-end of the two is the Lumia 830, which will be the most affordable PureView-branded device. If the leaks are accurate, we can expect the 830 to look similar to the 930 and come with a 10MP camera. There’ll also be a “selfie phone,” presumably the Lumia 730, which will focus on bringing a solid front-facing imaging experience to mid-tier buyers.

LG’s already announced most (if not all) of its product lineup, which includes the G3 Stylus. It’s a less-expensive version of the G3 that comes with a 5.5-inch qHD screen and — you guessed it — a stylus. We may also see the Gx2, a followup to a device that landed exclusively in Asia last year, and a couple of low-end L-series devices designed for emerging markets.

IFA will house several other manufacturers, so there will be plenty of other smartphones on display. Acer, ASUS, Alcatel OneTouch, HTC and Lenovo will all be there, so be on the lookout for some of their wares. Lenovo’s made the most noise from this group, thanks to its Vibe X2 teaser mocking Apple’s iPhone event invites. (And yes, that is indeed a lollipop in the teaser.)

Smartwatches

Smartwatches have been around in at least some capacity for several years — it all started with Microsoft SPOT and has continued on through Sony, Pebble and others — but people didn’t seem to notice or care until Samsung came out with a “mainstream” product known as the Galaxy Gear. The Android-based watch came out alongside the Galaxy Note 3 at last year’s IFA. It’s amazing how much can change in twelve months: Samsung is showing off its sixth watch, LG will have its second on display, Sony will have two more and ASUS will join the party with its first.

Both Samsung and LG officially announced their watches last week — curiously, within just a few minutes of each other — and the two devices are completely different from each other. The Samsung Gear S is a Tizen watch that comes with a curved display and built-in SIM slot, so you can either pair it to a phone or use it as a phone. On the other hand (wrist?), LG’s newest Android Wear watch steers closer to a truly classic look thanks to its circular display. It’s called the G Watch R, and despite the clunky name, it’s got enough chops to give the Moto 360 some tough competition.

Sony hasn’t made any announcements yet, but the leaks for its watches, the Smartwatch 3 and SmartBand Talk, are just as prominent as the company’s phones. The former is a squarish Android Wear watch, while the latter is a fitness band with E-Ink display and a mic. Finally, ASUS’ first watch will be an Android Wear device called the ZenWatch, and the company will reportedly sell it for under $200, which will be aggressively priced against its competitors.

VR and everything else

A few months ago, we broke the news that Samsung was working on its very own virtual reality headset called the Gear VR, and reported that it would likely launch at IFA. Sure enough, plenty of leaked images and renders have followed; given the number and strength of the rumors, we’d be surprised if Samsung didn’t release the product at this year’s show.

There’ll also be a few tablets, but they seem like much more of an afterthought. Sony’s leaked Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact is a horrible name, but looks like a good 8-inch tablet; Huawei’s got a Mate 7 tablet inbound; and per tradition, ASUS will have at least one or two tablets there.

Finally, expect to see some news on the chipset and Chromebook fronts. For the former, Intel is planning to introduce hardware — likely tablets and laptops — running its new Core M chipset based on Broadwell architecture. Additionally, Qualcomm teased a new HTC smartphone with a 64-bit processor inside. As for Chromebooks, at least a couple new models from Acer and Toshiba will pop up, although we wouldn’t be surprised to see a few other options showing up.

As always, these are simply a few products we expect to see at the show, and let’s face it — events like this hardly ever go exactly as planned. There’ll be new TVs and Smart Home products, and we’re sure a new washing machine or two. We’ll be liveblogging Samsung’s and Sony’s product launches, and we’ll be there to cover everything else that happens in Berlin, so keep our event page bookmarked!

[Image Credit: Getty Images (washing machines), Ausdroid (Z3 Compact), Sammobile (Gear VR)]

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29
Aug
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Which cheap tablets are worth buying?


MeMO Pad 7 and 8

A few years ago, tablets were poised to replace laptops as the computing device of choice. That never happened, as we’ve largely stuck with laptops and phones as our daily drivers, with tablets relegated to a secondary role. If you don’t use a tablet that much, it certainly seems wise to avoid dropping a lot of cash on one. But a lower price often means compromises, and too many compromises means you won’t be using the tablet at all. To figure out how many corners you can cut when it comes to purchasing a sub-$200 tablet, we’ve gathered opinions from across the web, from our own reviews to the opinions of other trusted critics. Which cheap tablets balance performance and price to still deliver a good experience? When is it worth spending just a little bit more money? And which deals are too good to be true?

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26
Aug
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Back to School 2014: The 10 best tablets


By design, tablets are less about work and more about play — though you’ll find some notable exceptions in our roundup of top slates for the back-to-school season. Among them are Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3, which features a keyboard case that makes typing on the go bearable, and the ASUS Transformer Book, which also gives you hardware keys via a bundled dock. Of course, there are still plenty of slates made for enjoying your downtime. Click through the gallery below to see them all, and don’t forget to check out the rest of our guide!

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