When PC monitors made the mainstream transition to widescreen aspect ratios in the mid-2000s, many manufacturers opted for resolutions at a 16:10 ratio. My first widescreen displays were a pair of Dell monitors with a 1920x1200 resolution and, as time and technology marched forward, I moved to larger 2560x1600 monitors.
I grew to rely on and appreciate the extra vertical resolution that 16:10 displays offer, but as the production and development of "widescreen" PC monitors matured, it naturally began to merge with the television industry, which had long since settled on a 16:9 aspect ratio. This led to the introduction of PC displays with native resolutions of 1920x1080 and 2560x1440, keeping things simple for activities such as media playback but robbing consumers of pixels in terms of vertical resolution.
I was well-accustomed to my 16:10 monitors when the 16:9 aspect ratio took over the market, and while I initially thought that the 120 or 160 missing rows of pixels wouldn't be missed, I was unfortunately mistaken. Those seemingly insignificant pixels turned out to make a noticeable difference in terms of on-screen productivity real estate, and my 1080p and 1440p displays have always felt cramped as a result.
I was therefore sad to see that the relatively new ultrawide monitor market continued the trend of limited vertical resolutions. Most ultrawides feature a 21:9 aspect ratio with resolutions of 2560x1080 or 3440x1440. While this gives users extra resolution on the sides, it maintains the same limited height options of those ubiquitous 1080p and 1440p displays. The ultrawide form factor is fantastic for movies and games, but while some find them perfectly acceptable for productivity, I still felt cramped.
Thankfully, a new breed of ultrawide monitors is here to save the day. In the second half of 2017, display manufactures such as Dell, Acer, and LG launched 38-inch ultrawide monitors with a 3840x1600 resolution. Just like the how the early ultrawides "stretched" a 1080p or 1440p monitor, the 38-inch versions do the same for my beloved 2560x1600 displays.
The Acer XR382CQK
I've had the opportunity to test one of these new "taller" displays thanks to a review loan from Acer of the XR382CQK, a curved 37.5-inch behemoth. It shares the same glorious 3840x1600 resolution as others in its class, but it also offers some unique features, including a 75Hz refresh rate, USB-C input, and AMD FreeSync support.
Based on my time with the XR382CQK, my hopes for those extra 160 of resolution were fulfilled. The height of the display area felt great for tasks like video editing in Premiere and referencing multiple side-by-side documents and websites, and the gaming experience was just as satisfying. And with its 38-inch size, the display is quite usable at 100 percent scaling.
There's also an unexpected benefit for video content that I hadn't originally considered. I was so focused on regaining that missing vertical resolution that I initially failed to appreciate the jump in horizontal resolution from 3440px to 3840px. This is the same horizontal resolution as the consumer UHD standard, which means that 4K movies in a 21:9 or similar aspect ratio will be viewable in their full size with a 1:1 pixel ratio.
For the first time in several years, the notebook market has gotten very interesting from a performance standpoint. First, we had Intel’s launch of its Kaby-Lake Refresh 8th Generation processors which packed a true quad-core CPU into a 15W package. Then, we heard about AMD’s Raven Ridge which aimed to combine a quad-core mobile CPU with Radeon Vega graphics into that same 15W power target.
Even though the excitement over Raven Ridge may have subsided a bit after Intel and AMD’s joint announcement of Vega graphics combined with Intel CPUs in the Kaby-Lake G platform, that is still yet to be released and will reside in a significantly higher class of power usage.
So today we are taking a look at AMD’s Raven Ridge, what may be AMD’s first worthy entry into the thin-and-light notebook market.
For our Raven Ridge testing, we are taking a look at the HP Envy x360, which at the time of writing is the only machine to be shipping with these Ryzen Mobile processors (although more machines have been announced and are coming soon). Additionally, we also wanted to wait a while for the software ecosystem on this new platform to stabilize (more on that later).
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 25, 2018 - 12:12 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: wacom, convertible tablet, Chromebook, chrome os, apollo lake, Android, acer
Acer is bringing an updated convertible Chromebook to market in March with the Chromebook Spin 11 being available to consumers and not just through educational channels like the previous models. The 2.75-pound notebook with 360-degree hinge and 11.6” IPS display (1366x768) runs Chrome OS, supports Android apps, and is powered by “all day” battery life and Apollo Lake processors. Unfortunately, Acer is not using Intel’s latest Gemini Lake chips, but the Chromebooks do hit more budget friendly MSRPs as a result with the Chromebook Spin 11 starting at $349.
Acer’s updated silver colored Chromebook features a 360-degree hinge allowing it to be used in tablet mode, laptop mode, or anything in between. The hinge connects the top half with the 11.6” touchscreen and 1MP webcam to the bottom half which holds the keyboard, trackpad, I/O ports, and 5MP camera (intended to be used in tablet mode) along with all the internal battery and processing hardware. External I/O is fairly modern and includes two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C ports, two USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a headphone jack, and one micro SD card reader. Users can also opt for a Wacom EMR stylus to get pen input on the touchscreen display.
Internal hardware includes an Intel Apollo Lake processor of dual or quad core varieties that sit at 6W TDPs, either 4GB or 8GB DDR4 memory, and 32GB or 64GB of eMMC storage. The processor options include the dual core Intel Celeron N3350 (2.4 GHz), Intel Celeron N3450 (4 core / 4 thread at up to 2.2 GHz), and quad core Intel Pentium N4200 at up to 2.5 GHz.
The keys look fairly large and well-spaced for an 11.6” device save for the arrow keys which are squished into the bottom right corner. There appear to be two bottom firing stereo speakers as well. I am curious how much travel the keys have though.
The updated Chromebook Spin 11 is slated for availability in March for North America starting at $349 and in April at €379 for the EMEA market (Europe, Middle East, Africa).
Subject: Mobile | January 24, 2018 - 12:20 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: vega APU, vega 8, vega 10, swift 3, ryzen mobile, raven ridge, Lenovo, ideapad 720s, amd, acer, 2700u, 2500U
Last October, when AMD launched their mobile-oriented Ryzen Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics product line (Raven Ridge), they talked about several different notebooks that would be shipping with these new parts. However, up until now, there has only been one officially launched and shipping product—the HP Envy x360.
We have an article on the performance of the Ryzen 5 2500U and the HP Envy x360 coming very soon, but today Ryzen Mobile-enabled notebooks have become available to order from both Acer and Lenovo.
First, we'll take a look at Acer's offering, the Swift 3.
For anyone who might be familiar with Acer's current notebook offerings, the Ryzen Swift 3 will seem very similar. From the photos, it appears to be nearly identical to its 8th Generation Intel equipped counterpart. That's certainly not a negative though, as I have been impressed with the Intel variant during some recent testing.
|Acer Swift 3|
|Screen||15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS Display|
|CPU||Ryzen 5 2500U||Ryzen 7 2700U|
|GPU||Integrated Radeon Vega 8||Integrated Radeon Vega 10|
|RAM||8GB DDR4 Dual Channel (non-upgradable)|
|Storage||256GB SSD||512GB SSD|
|Network||802.11ac Dual Band 2x2 MU-MIMO|
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
48Wh Battery, "Up to 8 Hours Battery Life"
As far as specs are concerned, Acer seems to be checking all of the boxes. RAM will ship in a dual-channel configuration (although we don't know at what speed it will be running, likely 2133 or 2400,) but will not be user replaceable according to questions answered by an Acer representative on their Amazon listing.
Additionally, Acer seems to be the only notebook maker set to ship the Ryzen 5 2700U variant. Not only does the 2700U give users increased clock speeds of 200MHz at base speeds on the CPU portion, but the GPU sees a significant bump. The 2700U gets an upgrade from Vega 8 graphics with 512 stream processors running at 1100MHz to Vega 10 graphics with 640 stream processors at 1300MHz. This should provide a nice performance boost for the extra $200 Acer is asking.
The Acer Swift 3 is set to start shipping on February 9th from Amazon.
Next up is Lenovo, with their Ideapad 720S.
The only 13" Ryzen Mobile option to be announced, the Lenovo Ideapad 720S also shares a lot of design DNA with Lenovo's Intel counterparts.
|Lenovo Ideapad 720S|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5 2500U|
|Graphics||Integrated Radeon Vega 8|
|Memory||8GB DDR4-2133 (Single Channel)|
|Screen||13.3-in 1920x1080 IPS|
|Storage||512GB PCIe SSD|
|Camera||720p / Dual Digital Array Microphone|
|Wireless||802.11AC (1x1) + Bluetooth® 4.1|
|Connections||2 x USB 3.0
1 x USB 3.0 Type-C (DP & Power Delivery)
1 x USB 3.0 Type-C (DP)
|Battery||48Wh "Up to 9.5 hours battery life"|
12.0" x 8.4" x 0.5" / 305.9 x 213.8 x 13.6 (mm)
2.5 lbs (1.14 kg)
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Price||$1049 - Lenovo.com|
Disappointingly, the Lenovo Ideapad 720S will ship only in a single memory channel configuration. This will significantly affect the performance of the integrated graphics, as it is highly dependant on memory bandwidth. I wouldn't expect the memory to be user upgradable either; it's likely a single DIMMs worth of memory soldered onto the motherboard.
Curiously, although AMD listed a 2700U variant of the Ideapad 720S in their slides in October, those models have yet to be seen. However, we've seen this before from Lenovo where they start skipping a single SKU that is the most popular configuration and then filling out the rest of the options shortly after.
The Lenovo Ideapad 720S is available to order now directly from Lenovo, with an estimated shipping date or 5-7 business days.
At a price premium above the Acer Swift 3, the Ideapad 720S seems like a hard sell with lack of dual channel memory. However, for users who may be set on a 13" screen size, it appears it will be the only option.
Overall, I am excited to see more AMD-powered options in the thin-and-light notebook category, and I look forward to getting our hands on some of these new models soon!
Subject: Displays | January 16, 2018 - 03:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: acer, Predator X34P, 1440p, 1900R, curved screen, g-sync
The Acer Predator X34 was a 34" 21:9 aspect G-SYNC display with a 3440 x 1440 resolution. The newer model sports an updated panel to address the issues some people were having when the X34 hit its top 100Hz refresh rate. The X34P is able to be overclocked to 120Hz, not only to offer a faster refresh but also to ensure you do not see flickering at 100Hz. The curve is also more pronounced, however there is no HDR support. If you are looking for a decent gaming monitor and aren't concerned about the lack of HDR you can read more about it at TechSpot.
"For the past two years the Acer Predator X34 has remained one of the best gaming monitors on the market. I've been so satisfied with it since launch that that I've kept it as my personal monitor for both gaming and video production. But this new monitor from Acer, an upgraded version of the X34, is even better in almost every way."
Here are some more Display articles from around the web:
- AOC AG352UCG 100Hz G-Sync Monitor @ Kitguru
- VIZIO SmartCast M65-E0 4K UHD HDR Display @ Benchmark Reviews
- ViewSonic VP3268-4K @ Techspot
Subject: Mobile | January 9, 2018 - 04:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: acer, predator triton 700, gaming laptop, GTX 1080, 1080p, g-sync, i7-7700hq
The top end model which Kitguru reviewed will cost you well over $3000 but it is an impressive machine. Part of the cost comes from the G-SYNC IPS display, capable of up to 120Hz as well as the GTX 1080 Max-Q which powers it. The laptop features a mechanical keyboard and all of the I/O features you would expect, including a Type-C Thunderbolt port. The touchpad design may not be a strong point however, it is located above the keyboard, directly below the screen which may not be comfortable for frequent use. It is made of glass and reveals a fan and the GPU heatpipes, a nice visual look with a drawback; after extended usage that glass is hot!
"With its Predator Triton 700, Acer will be hoping that it has ticked all the boxes when it comes to building a portable gaming powerhouse."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
More Mobile Articles
- Lenovo Legion Y720 Laptop Reviewed @ OCC
- HP Envy x360 @ Techspot
- Xtorm XB202 DISCOVER 17.000mAh Power Bank Review @ NikKTech
- The Samsung Galaxy A8 2018 @ TechARP
- Huawei Mate 10 @ TechSpot
- Honor 7X @ The Inquirer
Subject: Mobile | January 8, 2018 - 04:46 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, CES 2018, acer, nitro 5, ryzen mobile, RX 560, Polaris, amd
Acer is showing off a new 15.6" gaming laptop at CES using both AMD's Ryzen Mobile processors and RX 560 discrete graphics cards. The Acer Nitro 5 is a stylized gaming notebook aimed at mainstream and casual gamers that are looking for a mobile platform for LAN parties and portable PC gaming.
The laser etched top cover and stylish chassis holds a large 15.6" 1080p display and webcam up top and a full backlit keyboard and trackpad on the bottom half. A large crimson red hinge accents the slate gray and black angular body. There is support for USB 3.1 with three USB Type-A ports and one USB Type-C, one headset jack, one HDMI output, one SD card reader, and one Gigabit Ethernet jack. Audio is handled by Dobly Audio Premium and Acer TrueHarmony powered speakers. There is a numpad and the trackpad appears fairly large, but the arrow keys are somewhat squished between the standard keys and the numpad. The WASD keys can be outlined with brighter backlighting and CPU and GPU temps can be monitored with NitroSense software though, so there's that (heh).
Acer did not provide exact specifications, but the Nitro 5 will be able to be configured with Zen-based Ryzen Mobile processors and Polaris-based AMD RX 560 graphics. It is not clear which specific Ryzen Mobile chips Acer will use or if the Vega-based onboard GPU will be able to be used with the discrete graphics active (perhaps in DX 12 games). The AMD chips are paired with up to 32 GB of DDR4 RAM and 512GB of PCI-E based SSD storage. In addition to the wired networking, the Nitro 5 also has dual stream 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
The AMD-powered Acer Nitro 5 will be available in North America in April starting at $799. EMEA (countries in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) availability is also slated for April starting at €1,099. It is nice to see AMD getting some design wins with Ryzen Mobile, though discrete mobile Vega would be a nice thing to see happen sooner than later.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 8, 2018 - 12:30 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: SHIELD TV, nvidia, hp, hdr, g-sync, DCI-P3, bgfd, asus, android tv, acer
Although their Keynote presentation tonight at CES is all about automotive technology, that hasn't stopped NVIDIA from providing us with a few gaming-related announcements this week. The most interesting of which is what NVIDIA is calling "Big Format Gaming Displays" or BFGDs (get it?!).
Along with partners ASUS, Acer, and HP, NVIDIA has developed what seems to be the ultimate living room display solution for gamers.
Based on an HDR-enabled 65" 4K 120Hz panel, these displays integrate both NVIDIA G-SYNC variable refresh rate technology for smooth gameplay, as well as a built-in NVIDIA SHIELD TV set-top box.
In addition to G-SYNC technology, these displays will also feature a full direct-array backlight capable of a peak luminance of 1000-nits and conform to the DCI-P3 color gamut, both necessary features for a quality HDR experience. These specifications put the BFGDs in line with the current 4K HDR TVs on the market.
Unlike traditional televisions, these BFGDs are expected to have very low input latencies, a significant advantage for both PC and console gamers.
Integration of the SHIELD TV means that these displays will be more than just an extremely large PC monitor, but rather capable of replacing the TV in your living room. The Android TV operating system means you will get access to a lot of the most popular streaming video applications, as well as features like Google Assistant and NVIDIA GameStream.
Personally, I am excited at the idea of what is essentially a 65" TV, but optimized for things like low input latency. The current crop of high-end TVs on the market cater very little to gamers, with game modes that don't turn off all of the image processing effects and still have significant latency.
It's also interesting to see companies like ASUS, Acer, and HP who are well known in the PC display market essentially entering the TV market with these BFGD products.
Stay tuned as for eyes-on impression of the BFGD displays as part of our CES 2018 coverage!
Update: ASUS has officially announced their BFGD offering, the aptly named PG65 (pictured below). We have a meeting with ASUS this week, and we hope to get a look at this upcoming product!
Subject: Mobile | January 6, 2018 - 06:21 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: xmm, ultrabook, thinnest, swift 7, LTE, Intel, CES 2018, acer
Acer took the opportunity today to announce several new notebook designs ahead of CES 2018. One of the more interesting and unexpected items is the newly redesigned Acer Swift 7 notebook.
Touted as the "World's Thinnest Laptop" by Acer, the Swift 7 comes in an impressive 8.98mm (0.35-in) thick. To put that figure into some context, consider that the Core M-based 12" MacBook which was praised for its thin form factor comes in at 13.2mm (0.52-in) at it's thickest point.
Currently, the information we have about the hardware of the Swift 7 is a bit sparse. While Acer states it will feature a 7th Generation Core processor, we don't yet know if this is referring to a 3.5W processor like the i7-7Y75, or a higher power 15W processor such as the i7-7500U. While I am desperately hoping that Acer has managed to integrate a 15W processor into this design, it seems likely to be using a Y-series part.
In addition to the i7 processor, the Swift 7 will be equipped with 256 GB of PCIe storage, as well as 8GB of LPDDR3 memory.
Even with its super-thin form-factor, the Acer Swift 7 manages to pack another surprise, the addition of built-in LTE connectivity. Unlike other connected Windows devices we have seen recently, the Swift 7 is opting for an Intel XMM Modem solution instead of Qualcomm's offerings. The Swift 7 will feature a built-in eSIM for a fast and easy subscription process to your carrier of choice.
In addition, Acer is also partnering with a company called Transatel to provide one month's worth of free trial LTE access (up to 1GB of data) for owners of the Swift 7. Transatel partners with carriers all over the world with their international data SIM service, meaning this connectivity will be available in 48 countries.
As you might expect, the "World's Thinnest Laptop" doesn't come cheap, starting at $1699 for the base configuration with availability set to begin in March.
Additionally, Acer also updated us on their previously announced Switch 7 Black Edition 2-in-1 device.
First discussed at the IFA trade show last year, the Switch 7 Black Edition is billed as the most powerful fanless 2-in-1 device. Not only will it feature a quad-core 8th Generation Intel processor, but Acer also is packing in an NVIDIA GeForce MX 150 discrete GPU cooled by their Dual LiquidLoop heat pipe design.
The Switch 7 Black Edition will be shipping later this month, with the earlier announced base price of $1699
Subject: Displays | December 9, 2017 - 03:19 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: acer, ips, professional monitor
Acer announced their PE320QK professional display several months ago, but it is now available. Before we get too far into the specifications, and there are some things that need to be discussed about them, the MSRP is $1199.99 USD, but it’s apparently above that in practice. The third-party seller on Newegg, TELeasy, is currently sold out at a listed price of $1330.17.
As for the specifications? Here’s where it gets interesting. First, the press release states that the PE320QK can do 130% of sRGB. This is nonsense. sRGB is a color space that you calibrate down into. You cannot cover more than it, because otherwise you wouldn’t be calibrated to it. Either your potential color space covers the whole gamut, or it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter what else it covers, just that it doesn’t miss anything inside the fenced-in area that the spec cares about. In fact, saying that it’s 130% makes me question whether it will end up less than 100% of the post-calibration gamut.
That’s not a concern that you want to have with a $1200 monitor.
The other issue is with the contrast ratio, although this is a number that every display manufacturer, especially TVs, screw with. It is listed as 100,000,000 : 1. Yeah… no. That number is meaningless. Again, it hasn’t meant anything for over a decade at this point, so I can’t really knock on Acer too much for this.
That said, the monitor is probably good. I just can’t quantify how and why from the information we’re given. I do like the light-hood flaps on the side, though.