The tablet market hasn’t seen the turnover that smartphones have enjoyed, but there’s still a steady stream of new and improved slates coming out. However, this time around we’ve only seen fit to add a couple of new devices to our buyer’s guide tablet listing — for the time being, at least. If you’re still in the market for one, or looking to trade up, we’ve still got you covered. You can peruse the entire list in our official guide or head on down to the gallery below for a quick tour of the best options on the market.
Thought Acer’s Aspire Switch 10 tablet was a true jack-of-all-trades? It’s already outclassed. The PC maker has officially revealed the Aspire Switch 12, a 12.5-inch sibling that’s a little more flexible. On top of the tablet, laptop, display (screen facing out) and tent (upside-down) modes from before, the new Windows slate adds a fifth desktop mode where the keyboard is detached. Yes, if you don’t mind the small screen and keyboard, this latest Switch can do its best impression of an all-in-one.
Whether or not you need that shapeshifting ability, you’re definitely getting more under the hood. The larger tablet packs a much sharper 1080p screen, a speedier Core M processor and either 60GB or 120GB of solid-state storage; despite the more demanding components, you should still get about eight hours of battery life. You’ll also get micro-HDMI video output and micro-USB 3.0 for peripherals. The Switch 12 is a tangible upgrade, then, although you’ll have to be patient to get your hands on it. Acer only ships the 12-incher to North America in early 2015, and it hasn’t divulged pricing so far.
Acer’s CB5-311-T9B0 Chromebook is now on sale at Amazon for only $250! The computer comes with a 13.3″ Full HD screen, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage, an NVIDIA Tegra K1 Quad Core 2.1 GHz Processor, and an NVIDIA Kepler GPU. If you purchase from Amazon’s website, the Chromebook is Prime eligible, so you will receive your new computer in two days with free shipping.
However, keep in mind that this is the base model. The 32 GB storage and 4GB RAM version is not on sale and is still $380.
Chromebooks are increasingly becoming better and better computers on the hardware side, yet they are retaining their attractive value. Acer has always had the best value Chromebooks, so go check out the CB5-311-T9B0 at the link below:
Come comment on this article: Acer Chromebook 13 on Sale at Amazon
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.
Source: Engadget Product Forums
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.
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.
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||
|Lenovo N20p (Celeron N2830, 2GB RAM)||567ms||
|ASUS C200 Chromebook (Celeron N2830, 2GB RAM)||483ms||
|Acer C720 Chromebook (Core i3-4005U, 4GB RAM)||289ms||
|Acer C720 Chromebook (Celeron 2955U, 2GB RAM)||342ms||
|Dell Chromebook 11 (Celeron 2955U, 4GB RAM)||340ms||
|Toshiba Chromebook (Celeron 2955U, 2GB RAM)||324ms||
*SunSpider and Kraken: Lower scores are better.
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.
|Acer Chromebook 13||10:07|
|Dell Chromebook 11||8:37|
|Samsung Chromebook 2 (13-inch)||8:22|
|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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.