If you fancy nabbing new tech by leveraging your Bitcoin wallet, another online retailer has just joined the fray. CEO Michael Dell alerted the masses via Twitter that his company would begin accepting the digital currency, claiming that the outfit is “world’s largest ecommerce business” to do so. The device maker is partnering with Coinbase to power its transactions, and those looking to snag a new Alienware rig will earn a discount when forking over Bitcoin for payment.
[Photo credit: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images]
- Michael Dell (@MichaelDell) July 18, 2014
Both Gartner and IDC appear to have some good news for the PC industry — the seemingly never-ending death spiral may have come to an end. While the two research groups don’t agree completely on the numbers, it does appear that after two years of stead and sizable declines, the PC industry is seeing shipments flatten out. In total, according to Gartner, 75.8 million computers were shipped in the second quarter of 2014, a negligible 0.1 percent drop from the same quarter a year ago. While IDC saw a much more sizable 1.7 percent fall in PC shipments, that’s still a far cry from the 7.1 percent decline it anticipated and the smallest it’s measured in two years.
Two years ago the netbook market imploded and tablets started eating into laptop sales. Since then shipments of traditional computers have been falling at an alarming rate. IDC doesn’t necessarily expect this to indicate a longer term trend towards flat PC sales. Basically, the worst may not be over yet. Despite impressive growth from major players like Dell, HP and Lenovo smaller companies are still seeing tremendous drop off. And the declines are particularly steep in markets like India where the most potential for growth is. Instead the improvements during the quarter were carried primarily by the US and Western Europe, which might not be able to keep the industry from declining further in the long run.
Computers have gone through nothing short of a renaissance in the decade since Engadget was born. When we started in 2004, desktops still ruled the roost; laptops were frequently clunky; and tablets were niche devices for doctors.
That state of affairs didn’t last for long, though. Netbooks briefly took over the world, bringing tiny laptops to the masses. Ultrabooks proved that slim machines could still be powerful. And just about the entire PC market has had to confront the rise and domination of touchscreen-enabled mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. In short, it’s pretty remarkable how much of a difference 10 years can make in tech.
2004: Sony VAIO X505
Notable specs: 1.1GHz Pentium M processor, 20GB hard drive, 1.73-pound weight, 10.4-inch (1,024 x 768) display.
Sony didn’t realize it at the time, but it was laying the groundwork for the next decade of laptops with the VAIO X505. The 10-inch system was so featherlight and slender that it was easy to take anywhere, much like a netbook or Ultrabook. If it weren’t for the astronomical $2,999 price tag, it’s possible it could have started a mobile-computing revolution.
2005: IBM ThinkPad T43
Notable specs: 1.6GHz to 2.13GHz Pentium M processors, 30GB or larger hard drive, 6-pound weight, DVD drive, 14.1-inch (1,024 x 768 or 1,400 x 1,050) display.
The ThinkPad T43 was the swan song for an era of computing when laptops were mostly for globe-trotting professionals. One of the last PCs to bear the IBM name before Lenovo closed its acquisition of IBM’s PC business, it represented everything good about the ThinkPad badge: It was fast, well-built and relatively easy to carry in a briefcase.
2006: Dell XPS 700
Notable specs: Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Extreme processors, dual 320GB hard drives, dual DVD drives, dual GeForce 7900 GTX graphics.
Dell had built up a reputation for high-performance PCs well before 2006, but the XPS 700 was the system to own that year if you wanted a gaming desktop from a major brand. Its aggressive design still holds up today, and it was often as powerful as custom-built rigs. It was a dream machine at a time when you still needed a giant tower for serious online gaming.
2007: ASUS Eee PC 701
Notable specs: 800MHz or 900MHz Celeron M processors, 2GB to 8GB solid-state drives, 2-pound weight, 7-inch (800 x 480) display.
The Eee PC 701 marked the official start of the netbook craze, which lasted until the iPad’s arrival in 2010. Its screen, speed and storage were very modest even when new, but it showed that you didn’t need a big, expensive portable just to check your email at the coffee shop.
2008: Apple MacBook Air
Notable specs: 1.6GHz or 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo processors, 80GB hard drive or 64GB solid-state drive, 3-pound weight, 13.3-inch (1,280 x 800) display.
The archetypal Ultrabook. While it wasn’t without its quirks, the MacBook Air successfully bridged the gap between ultraportables and full laptops. It was fast enough for most tasks, yet light enough that you’d hardly notice it in your bag.
2009: HP Firebird
Notable specs: 2.66GHz or 2.83GHz Core 2 Quad processors, dual 250GB or 320GB hard drives, DVD or Blu-ray drives, dual GeForce 9800S graphics.
While HP’s Firebird line wasn’t perfect by any stretch, it showed how efficient desktops had become. You could get a reasonably quick, ready-made gaming PC that both looked good and didn’t swallow up too much surface area. It’s arguably the prototype for the small-yet-strong Steam Machines that would follow five years later.
2010: Lenovo IdeaCentre A300
Notable specs: 2.2GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 500GB hard drive, 21.5-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.
Although the iMac is virtually synonymous with all-in-one computers, Lenovo’s sleekly designed IdeaCentre A300 was proof that Apple didn’t have a complete lock on the category. Rather than glom the computer on to the A300′s back, Lenovo tucked it away in the base. The result was a relatively subtle, stylish desktop that looked right at home in just about any environment.
2011: Samsung Chromebook Series 5
Notable specs: 1.66GHz Atom processor, 16GB solid-state drive, 3.3-pound weight, 12.1-inch (1,280 x 800) display.
Unlike the other PCs here, the Chromebook Series 5′s real revolution was its software — with Chrome OS, both Google and Samsung were betting that you only needed a web browser for most of your day-to-day computing. That was optimistic on a slow, Atom-based machine circa 2011, but the Series 5 helped launch a wave of stripped-down, affordable laptops that could do a lot without relying on conventional apps.
2012: Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display
Notable specs: 2.3GHz or 2.6GHz Core i7 processors, 256GB to 768GB solid-state drives, 4.5-pound weight, 15.4-inch (2,880 x 1,800) display.
Apple’s 2012 MacBook Pro redesign was just an iterative upgrade in some ways, but it was also a bellwether for where laptop design would go. It wasn’t just that extra-sharp Retina display that turned heads; this was also one of the first high-end, full-size laptops to ditch optical discs and hard drives in the name of both an easier-to-carry body and faster, flash-based storage.
2013: Acer Aspire R7
Notable specs: 1.8GHz Core i5 processor, 500GB hybrid hard drive, 15.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) adjustable display.
Windows 8′s touch-friendly interface prompted a flood of PCs that tried to be everything to everyone, and that’s epitomized in Acer’s one-of-a-kind Aspire R7. Depending on how you adjusted its multi-hinged display, the R7 could serve as a desktop, laptop or tablet. It wasn’t especially good at any of these, but it revealed how eager PC makers were to keep you from buying mobile tablets.
2014: Microsoft Surface Pro 3
Notable specs: Core i3, i5 or i7 processor, 64GB to 512GB solid-state drive, 12-inch (2,160 x 1,440) display.
If you want a system emblematic of the changes to PCs in the past 10 years, you only need to look at Microsoft’s latest flagship device, the Surface Pro 3. So long as you get its (practically mandatory) keyboard cover, it blurs the lines between tablet and laptop — it’s as useful for watching movies on the couch as it is for serious media editing at your desk.
Jon Turi contributed to this post.
Alienware is no slouch when it comes to cranking out high-end gaming PCs, but its approach to Valve’s Steam Machine project is a bit different. The company is looking to deliver a high-quality PC gaming experience to the living room, but the execution doesn’t sound much different from the experience that’s already available for other machines running Valve’s made-for-TV Big Picture Mode (BPM). The rub of the Alienware Alpha series is that the diminutive PC boots directly into BPM automatically after hitting the rig’s power button. The problem with that is two-fold: Big Picture Mode doesn’t do the best job of identifying which games are fully controller supported, and because Valve recently delayed its in-house designed controller (which essentially is a stand-in for a mouse), OEMs not delaying hardware of their own need to come up with work arounds.
In Alienware’s case, the company is shipping every one of its Alpha rigs with an Xbox 360 controller and customizing an interface to make BPM fully controller compatible. A version of that experience is already available with PCs running the Steam OS beta and connected to a TV; you still need a mouse and keyboard to do certain tasks like logging into Ubisfot’s Uplay service, though. We asked Alienware if it would be offering an upgrade (free or otherwise) to get one of Valve’s controllers when they actually ship, and were told that that was still too far out. We were told that it’s extremely difficult to answer that because “the company [Dell] doesn’t know when the Steam controller is going to be ready,” Alienware’s marketing manager Bryan de Zayas told us.
According to de Zayas, Valve’s Gabe Newell has said that Alienware’s product is the ideal Steam Machine. How so? Well, the Alpha has HDMI pass-through, it’s smaller than the other consoles, and has gigabit ethernet and fiber optic audio baked in. What’s more, the base configuration with an Intel i3 is $549 and Alienware promises games running on high settings at 1080p and 60 frames-per-second. We’ll believe that claim when we see it. Hopefully that’s this week at E3 2014.
Filed under: Gaming
For the last few years, we’ve travelled to Computex in Taiwan to see the latest flock of Ultrabooks, with the latest and greatest models providing the biggest news of the show. This year, though, the highlight of the show wasn’t one particularly great notebook or even one company — though ASUS did steal the show with its mile-long list of new products. Rather, it was a prototype from Intel that teased the next generation of ridiculously thin and light PCs.
You think your Ultrabook or iPad Air is thin, but you have to see Intel’s reference design to grasp the skinniness of 2-in-1 devices powered by the Core M-series of processors. We’ll start to see products integrating Intel’s new line of chips later this year, but just imagine how much slimmer high-powered laptops will be a few Computexes down the line. At a certain point, devices will reach peak thinness, and then the focus will shift to improving battery life and performance in such a compact package — and that’s when everybody wins.
Intel’s look at the future of mobile computing is probably the most significant announcement at a show that’s traditionally all about PCs, but this year’s Computex also shined the light on wearables. True, we didn’t see any hardware that rivals Google Glass or Pebble in features or sophistication, but several prototypes from smaller companies boast clever designs for gadgets that live on your head or wrist. A flexible-battery manufacturer demonstrated a strap design that doubles the life of your smartwatch, offering a solution to one of the biggest complaints about the most popular models. E Ink’s wraparoud-display prototype is also an interesting approach to the next generation of wearables, giving you a ton of space to display info on your wrist.
Computex may not be the “CES of Asia” in terms of high-profile product announcements, and much of the new tech we saw here in Taipei was evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of cool stuff to see. We’ve made it easy for you by breaking down our coverage just below — enjoy!
- Hands-on with the Liquid Leap: Acer’s first wearable tries to be everything to everyone
- Acer claims the Liquid Jade is the world’s ‘most compact’ 5-inch smartphone
- Acer shows off ‘Extend’ app allowing you to control your phone from your PC
- Acer claims its €79 Liquid Z200 is the cheapest branded Android phone
- With three SIM slots, Acer’s Liquid E700 is a phone for frequent travelers
- ASUS’ PadFone X goes global: still a 5-inch to 8.9-inch transformer
- ASUS’ Zenbook NX500 is a thin and light laptop with a 4K screen
- The ASUS MeMO Pad 8 is ‘the world’s lightest 8-inch LTE tablet’
- New Fonepads from ASUS offer 3G, extra processing power
- ASUS intros the Transformer Book T300 Chi, a super-thin hybrid laptop
- ASUS Transformer Book V is a Windows hybrid with a detachable Android phone
- Here’s a semi-professional 32-inch 4K monitor from ASUS
- ASUS Transformer Pad refreshed with front speakers, lighter keyboard
- Hands-on with ASUS’ Zenbook NX500: The MacBook Pro meets its match
- ASUS’ 20-inch ‘portable’ all-in-one PC has gesture controls and a carrying handle
- There’s no such thing as too many antennas for ASUS’ high-end router
- ASUS’ new Fonepads are solid tablets, but still awkward for making calls
- Up close with ASUS’ quirky Windows laptop/Android phone hybrid
- ASUS has two Steam Machines and one is incredibly compact
- ASUS’ Chromebook C300 is yet another well-made budget laptop
- ASUS crams 4K gaming into sleek and distinctive laptop
- ASUS introduces us to the ‘world’s largest’ curved LED monitor
- ASUS’ new external Blu-ray drive does 7.1 audio at a fair price
- ASUS shows off a 14-inch USB touchscreen monitor
- Asia’s biggest tech show is ASUS’ show
- Angry owl is angry: ASUS does a badass gaming headset
- Dell adds two budget Android tablets to Venue lineup, prices start at $160
- Dell’s new Inspiron 20 is a giant tablet for work and play
- Dell aims for the mainstream with its two new Windows convertibles
- HP’s back-to-school lineup includes lots of convertibles (and Beats products, too)
- HP hedges its bets, unveils a 14-inch laptop running Android (updated)
- HP’s Pro x2 612 laptop-tablet hybrid brings pen support, a sturdy keyboard
- Intel doubles down on tablets, says it will power 130 models this year
- Intel launches Core M processors for even thinner 2-in-1 PCs
- Intel’s Windows 8.1 Pro Broadwell tablet is thinner than the iPad Air
- Intel’s super-thin ‘Core M’ tablets will be cheaper than you think
- Intel: Where we’re going, we don’t need cables
- With seven different use modes, Toshiba’s Kirabook is a Lenovo Yoga on steroids
- Toshiba stuffs Windows into a 7-inch tablet, whether you want it or not
- Watch strap batteries could double the life of your wearable
- An up close look at the giant gaming PC that’s also a desk
- This $295 battery-powered unicycle could replace your Segway
- E Ink’s working on a smartwatch with a full wraparound display
- The PhoneStation uses your smartphone as a head-mounted display
Dell has been mainly releasing Windows Phone devices along with their Chromebooks. They haven’t released an Android tablet since October last year, now they finally have something to show us in the Android department. Those devices mentioned above are Dell Venue 7 and 8 tablets. Well, today Dell released a refresh for said devices.
Dell Venue 7 is a tablet with a 7″ IPS WXGA screen 1280×800 in resolution. The device is powered by a dual-core Intel Atom (Z3460) “Merrifield” chip clocked at 1.6GHz which is paired with a 1GB of RAM. Dell Venue 8 on the other hand features a full HD 8″ screen, 1920×1200 in resolution. It has a same processor as its smaller counterpart but at a higher clock-rate, it is clocked at 2.1GHz and it also sports a 1GB of RAM.
Both tablets have 16GB of inbuilt storage (expandable via microSD card up to 64GB) and a 4550mAh battery along with a 5MP main camera. Dell Venue 7 sports a 1MP front shooter while the larger of the two has a 2MP front-facing camera. Dell Venue 7 weights 290 grams and the 8″ version is somewhat heavier at 338 grams. Both tablets will run Android 4.4 KItKat out of the box.
Both Dell Venue 7 and 8 look rather good and even though specifications aren’t exactly up to par with some of the higher end offerings we can’t complain much considering the price which is $159.99 and $199.99 respectively. The devices will be available in black and red colour options and will be available on Dell’s online store starting July 1st.
Dell’s just announced two new Android models in its Venue lineup of tablets, and though the new Venue 7 and Venue 8 cost a bit more than their predecessors, they still top out at just $200. Don’t expect any radical changes from the Venue Android tablets announced late last year; the biggest differences include processor updates and a step up to Android 4.4 KitKat.
Dell’s Venue 7 — a 7-inch slate, as the naming convention suggests — supposedly offers a brighter viewing experience this time around, though its display resolution is still 1,280 x 800. Viewing angles and image quality are perfectly fine, though, especially for a tablet that costs $160. Dell only had a black version on hand when I got to check the product out, but the company will also offer the Venue 7 (and 8) in red. The requisite micro-SD card reader is on hand to supplement 16 gigs of on-board storage, and the whole package is super light, at just 0.64 pound.
The Venue 8, on the other hand, includes an HD (1,920 x 1,200) display and a slightly faster Intel Atom Z3480 processor for $40 more than the Venue 7. The 8-incher weighs a tad more, at 0.74 pound, and it sports a 2-MP front camera rather than the 1-MP unit on the Venue 7. (Both have a 5-MP shooter on the back.) Those differences aside, these devices are largely comparable, and they can be yours starting July 1st at Dell.com.
Filed under: Tablets
Here’s the thing about Computex, the big computer show going on in Taiwan this week: though lots of PC makers are announcing products here, they’re almost all focusing on the low end. It’s almost as if computer companies realize PC sales are on the decline, and have to slash prices! Take Dell, for instance: The company is here in Taipei showing off two Windows convertibles, which run the gamut from budget-friendly to solidly mid-range. Both devices — the Inspiron 11 3000 series and the Inspiron 13 7000 series — have a Lenovo Yoga-like design, with a screen that flips back 360 degrees into tablet mode (and Tent mode, and Stand mode — you know the drill).
The difference between the two (aside from screen size) is that the 7000 series runs on Intel Core i3/i5 processors, with a passive stylus and up to a full HD display; the 3000 series, meanwhile, maxes out with Pentium-series Bay Trail CPUs and a 1,366 x 768 display. Based on our quick hands-on time, though, even the lower-end 3000-series model seems well-built, with a comfortable keyboard. The 3000 series will ship June 19th for $450, going head to head with devices like ASUS’ Transformer Book T100. The more mid-range 7000-series edition won’t come out until September, with the price to be announced sometime closer to the on-sale date. Until then, we’ve got a mix of hands-on and glossy press shots above — check it out.