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: General Tech | December 31, 2017 - 11:24 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: google, ChromeOS, chrome os
As far as I can tell, this feature has not been confirmed by Google, and everyone cites Chrome Unboxed rather than testing on their own Chromebooks. That said, Chrome Unboxed has a video of the feature in action, and I don’t have a Chromebook of my own, so I’ll just label this as a rumor even though I’m confident that it is true.
The feature? Android apps will soon be able to run in the background on Chrome OS. It is apparently possible using the beta channel Chrome OS 64, but that doesn’t mean it will land in Chrome OS 64 stable. This pushes Android (the app platform) significantly closer to a desktop-style platform, albeit when hitching a ride on Chrome OS.
I’m curious how much control will be given to Android developers, though. It seems like Google would want apps to do things like reduce their workloads when unfocused. If so, would they bring this feature to Android proper? Or would it be a Chrome OS-specific feature that developers need to specifically target?
Either way, it looks like Google is working on it.
Subject: General Tech | October 5, 2017 - 02:35 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: pixelbook, google, convertible tablet, Chromebook, chrome os
Google is dipping its Chrome toes into high end Chromebook territory again with the launch of a new thin and light convertible tablet called the Google Pixelbook. The 12.3” notebook is constructed of premium aluminum and glass components and packs 8th Generation refreshed Kaby Lake CPUs, up to 16 GB of RAM, and up to 512 GB of solid state storage. The Pixelbook has a Yoga-style folding multi-touch display and measures less than half an inch think (10.3mm) and weighs a smidge over 2 pounds (1.1kg).
The Pixelbook has a classy two tone metal and glass design with straight lines and flat edges save for the front edge that has rounded corners. On the inside, the top half is dominated by a 12.3” touchscreen with a resolution of 2400x1600 (Google did not reveal the panel type but did note that it has enough brightness to be used outdoors), paired with a webcam. The display and Wi-Fi antenna area are covered with glass. The bottom half features a backlit keyboard and trackpad that uses almost all the available space of the 12.3” Chromebook.
Internally, the Pixelbook is powered by an Intel Kaby Lake (refresh) processor (in i5 or i7 SKUs), from 8 GB to 16 GB of RAM, and 128 GB, 256 GB, or 512 GB of SSD storage depending on the model you purchase. Google has set up the Pixelbook so that it can automatically pair with a Pixel smartphone for tethered data on the go. The battery in the Pixelbook is rated for 10 hours and has a quick charge feature that offers up to 2 hours of usage on a 15-minute charge.
The display is multi-touch, and users can optionally purchase the new (Wacom developed) active electrostatic Pixelbook Pen for $99 and use the AI-powered handwriting recognition and Google Assistant functionality with the stylus. Google claims the pen has 2,000 levels of pressure sensitivity and 60-degrees of angular recognition, and thanks to machine learning, 10ms response time.
Speaking of Google Assistant, the Pixelbook features a Google Assistant key on the keyboard where the Windows key normally resides. The pen can be used to highlight text and interact with the AI assistant as well.
The Google Pixelbook is available for pre-order now at the Google Web Store and Best Buy and will be up for purchase by October 31st. The base model with an i5, 8GB of RAM, and 128 GB of SSD storage is $999. Moving to 256 GB of storage gets you to $1199 and upgrading all the specs to an i7, 16 GB RAM, and 512 GB NVMe SSD pushes the price to $1699.
The high-end Chromebook is a bit of an odd market, but the primarily web application-based Chrome OS continues to inch towards being able to take advantage of the local processing power with the ability to run apps not only from the Chrome Web Store but also run Android applications and store and run more stuff (like media and document creation) when offline. No doubt the Pixelbook looks classy, but it is putting itself in the same territory as iPad Pros and Surface products (Surface Books and Surface Pro tablets) as well as most of the premium ultrabook and thin and light laptop and tablets running full versions of Windows.
What are your thoughts on the new Pixelbook? Would you buy one?
Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2016 - 12:52 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, Chromebook, chrome os, CES 2016, budget, acer
CES 2016 has seen its share of high end product unveilings, but in addition to its premium hardware, Acer is launching a very budget-friendly PC in the form of the Chromebook 11. The new Chromebook 11 is a surprising product that does not compromise aesthetics in order to hit it’s $179 price tag.
Running Chrome OS, the budget 11.6” notebook features an aluminum alloy top cover with crosshatch pattern that helps to give it a more high end look. The rest of the laptop is plastic though The Verge claims that the build quality feels nice with a comfortable keyboard and a body that does not flex while typing. The top cover and hinges are a metallic silver while the bottom and area surrounding the keyboard is white. The keys are black with white lettering, and the package (at least from the photos) looks like it belongs to a more expensive laptop! A webcam sits above the display and a large trackpad is nestled below the keyboard. It measures 0.73 inches thick and weighs 2.42 pounds. Acer claims it can withstand corner drops from a height of 60cm (just under 2 ft).
The Verge got hands-on time with the new Chromebook at CES 2016.
The left side of the Chromebook 11 holds the DC power input, HDMI output, USB 3.0 port, and a SD card slot while the right side has a SIM card slot, headphone jack, USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington lock slot.
The Chromebook 11 had me excited, but it is not perfect. Acer did not compromise looks, but compromises had to be made somewhere and in the case of the Chromebook 11 it is, unfortunately, in the display which has a mere 720p resolution. That is the big drawback in this notebook, made slightly livable due to it having a matte finish with enough backlight that it can be used outdoors.
Internally, Acer is using a quad core Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal flash storage.
The Chromebook 11 will be available at the end of January starting at $179 in the US and 229 Euros across the pond.
I think this would be a good PC for younger students or as a second PC. I was excited about this for $179 while reading about it, but it was tempered by the revelation that the display resolution is stuck at 720p which isn’t horrible but I was expecting a bit more there (at least give me 1366x768...). What do you think about Acer’s newest Chromebook?
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2015 - 12:47 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, hdmi stick, hdmi, chromebit, chrome os, asus, arm
Small form factor PCs are big this year, and Google is about to get into the game with its own HDMI dongle PC running Chrome OS. Google has partnered with Asus to release the Chromebit CS10 which is now avaialble for $85.
The small stick PC weighs 75 grams (2.6 ounces) and will come in black, orange, and eventually blue colors. The Chromebit is about the size of a flash drive with an HDMI port on one end, DC power input on one side, and a single USB 2.0 port on the other end. A removeable cap protects the HDMI output. It is small enough that you can toss it into a bag or tuck it behind a monitor or kiosk permanently. Asus includes an AC power adapter (18W, 1.5 amps) and a flexible HDMI connector (or a short extension cable depending on the region) along with velco stickers in the box.
The Chromebit CS10 is powered by a quad core Rockchip 3288-C SoC featuring four ARM Cortex A17 CPU cores and a Mali T624 GPU. The SoC is paired with 2GB of LPDDR3 memory and 16GB of eMMC storage. Connectivity includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 radios along with the USB 2.0 port. Users can hook up a bluetooth keyboard and mouse and use the USB port for extra storage, or hook up even more devices using a USB hub.
So far, reviews are positive and generally state that (for example) while the Rockchip ARM processor is no racehorse, it is good enough for basic web browsing, media streaming, and document editing.
Of course, the Chromebit runs the Chrome web browser, but it also can run any of the apps from the Chrome Web Store including Netflix, Office, and any number of free games. Asus is aiming the Chromebit at digital signage, kiosk, thin clients for schools, and for on-the-go travelers.
The Chromebit CS10 is available soon (it is listed as out of stock on Newegg and has not shown up on Amazon or other sites yet) for $85 in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and Taiwan. Business customers can further purchase the ability to use the Chromebit in a locked down single-app kiosk mode for $24 per user, per year from CDW.
- Intel Compute Stick Review
- Kangaroo is a Pocket-Sized Battery-Powered Windows 10 PC
- Google Chromecast coverage
Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2015 - 01:34 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: core i5, Chromebook, chrome os, broadwell-u, acer
Acer is adding an updated Chromebook to its education-focused C910 lineup. The new Acer C910-54M1 ups the hardware ante by incorporating a Broadwell-U based Intel Core i5 processor which will make this the fastest Chromebook on the market (for what that's worth).
This new C910 remains aimed at schools and businesses with a sturdy frame, large (for a Chromebook) 15.6" (up to) 1080p display, and eight hours of battery life. Below the display sits an island style keyboard and a large trackpad. Except for the arrow keys, Acer was able to use "regular" sized keys and did not shrink the shift or backspace keys which can be annoying. A webcam and two large upward facing speakers are also present on the C910.
External I/O includes:
- 1 x USB 3.0
- 1 x USB 2.0
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x SD card reader
The port selection is about what one would expect from a Chromebook, but the inclusion of USB 3.0 is welcome for accessing external storage.
Internally, the C910 Chromebook is powered by a dual core (four threads with Hyper-Threading) Broadwell-U Core i5 5200U processor clocked at 2.2GHz base and up to 2.7GHz Turbo Boost with a 15W TDP and 3MB cache. This particular processor includes Intel HD Graphics 5500 clocked at up to 900 MHz. Other hardware includes 4GB DDR3 memory and a 32GB SSD. Wireless hardware includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Acer's new Chromebook is big and powerful, but will the increased hardware provide a noticeably better Chrome OS experience? Intel (naturally) seems to think so with its push to get Core i3 processors into Chromebooks last year. The Broadwell-U Core i5 should be just as fast (maybe even a bit faster with smoother UX and graphics) while sipping power. The alleged eight hours of battery life is impressive as well considering. The downside, because of course there always is one, is pricing. The C910-54M1 will be available in April with a 1080p display for $500.
At that price point, it is squarely in budget Windows notebook territory as well as high end convertible (e.g. Bay Trail) tablet territory. It will be interesting to see how it ends up doing compared to the other options which each have their own trade offs.
Are you interested in a Chromebook with a Core i5 processor?
Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2014 - 02:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: chrome os, chrome, google, Android
Last week, we reported on Google's App Runtime for Chrome (ARC) beta release. Its goal is to bring apps from the Google Play Store to ChromeOS through an Android stack built atop Native Client. They are sandboxed, but still hardware-dependent for performance. Since then, vladikoff on GitHub has published ARChon, a project which brings that initiative to desktop OSes.
Image Credit: ARChon Project
To use Archon, you will need to use an x86-64 version of Chrome 37 (or later) on Windows, Mac, or Linux. This project is not limited to the handful of ARC-compatible apps that Google officially supports. The Android apps need to be converted into Chrome extensions using a tool, also available, called chromeos-apk. In fact, the example app is an open source version of the game, 2048, rather than just the four launch apps from Google.
Whether Google intends to offer this, officially, with their Chrome browser is the most interesting part for me. I would prefer that everything just works everywhere but, failing that, having a supported Android platform on the desktop without dual-booting or otherwise displacing the host itself could be interesting. And yes, Bluestacks exists, but it has not been something that I would recommend, at least in my experience of it.
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 13, 2014 - 05:52 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: google, chrome os, Android
To some extent...
This is not the entire Google Play Store; in fact, it is just four Android apps at launch: Duolingo, Evernote, Sight Words, and Vine. According to a Google spokesperson, via Ars Technica, the company built an Android platform on top of Native Client, which is their way of sandboxing (a subset of) native code for use in applications which require strict security (such as a web browser). Android apps can then see and use those platform-dependent Android APIs, but be kept at two arms-lengths away from the host system.
From the app's standpoint, code will not need to be changed or ported. Of course, this is sound in theory, but little bugs can surface in actual practice. In fact, Flipboard was demonstrated at Google I/O under this initiative but is curiously absent from launch. To me, it seems like a few bugs need to be resolved before it is deemed compatible (it is dubbed "Beta" after all). Another possibility is that the app was not yet optimized for a Chromebook's user experience. Claiming either would be pure speculation, so who knows?
Android apps using App Runtime for Chrome (Beta) are available now at the Chrome Web Store.
Subject: General Tech | May 6, 2014 - 03:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, Chromebox, Chromebook, Chromebase, chrome os, Bay Trail
Intel hosted an event on Chrome OS today where the company discussed its partnership with Google and announced new Chrome devices based on the company's latest generation Haswell and Bay Trail processors.
Intel continues to work with Google to develop the Chromebook and the company sees potential for Chrome OS devices to expand to additional markets outside of consumer and education. Specifically, Intel and Google are pushing into the commercial markets by working with OEMs to put together devices aimed at corporate customers as productivity machines, video conferencing boxes, and drivers of customer kiosks and digital signage.
In addition to the expansion to new markets, the existing consumer and education markets continue to grow with the use of Chromebooks in schools doubling versus last quarter with 10,000 schools now employing the Google-powered hardware. Consumers have also pushed Chromebooks to the top six of Amazon charts with the Acer C720 having 4.4 out of five stars and over a thousand customer reviews.
Chrome OS is not only expanding into other markets but to additional form factors in the form of Chrome Boxes and Chrome Bases which are small form factor desktop systems and All-In-One devices powered by Chrome OS respectively. The second half of this year will see the number of Chrome OS devices expand from four design choices by four OEMs to twenty design choices from at least nine OEMs.
The upcoming Chrome OS devices will be powered by new processor options from Intel in the form of conflict-free Intel Haswell Core i3 CPUs and Intel Bay Trail SoCs. The Haswell Core i3 option is an upgrade over the Pentium and Celeron "Entry Level Haswell" parts and offer increased performance in offline computing tasks, app switching, and multi-tasking. The Bay Trail parts will enable passively cooled (fan-less) Chromebooks with around 8 hours (up to 11 hours+) of battery life while still offering up acceptable performance for watching videos or working with documents. Intel further claims that the Bay Trail powered Chromebooks will be thinner at less than 18mm and up to 15% lighter than existing models.
An 11.6" Chromebook powered by an Intel Haswell Core i3 processor coming later this year.
Intel showed off several new Chrome OS products that will be coming later this year. The new Chromebooks include Haswell i3-powered laptops from Acer and Dell for $349, the Lenovo N20 Chrome and N20p Chrome powered by an Intel Celeron (Bay Trail) SoC, and the Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design which CTL will bring to market later this year. It was also revealed that the already-announced Lenovo ThinkPad Chromebook with its Yoga-style hinge will actually use a Bay Trail SoC.
The Intel Education Chromebook Reference Design is a platform designed by Intel that other OEMs can take, tweak, and bring to market. It is a clamshell-style laptop with a rotating camera and ruggedized chassis aimed at students.
Intel's reference platform is a ruggedized clamshell laptop aimed at students.
Laptops and tablets dominated the show, but the company did unveil a tiny new Chrome Box from HP (slated for availability in June) that can sit behind a computer display or be used to drive digital signage and customer kiosks.
Further, Intel demonstrated a new Chrome OS form factor with what it calls a "Chrome Base." The first Chrome Base is coming from LG later this month as a 21" All In One computer running Chrome OS for $349.
Chrome OS in general is expanding from traditional clamshell laptops to larger screens and alternative form factors (desktop, tablet, convertible, et al), and when asked about the future of touch on Chrome OS and the overlap between Android and Chrome OS Caesar Sengupta, VP of Product Management at Google, explained that the company feels that touch is a key aspect in the computing experience and that Google is interested in supporting and improving touch on Chrome OS and evaluating customer use on alternative form factors. Further, Mr Sengupta stated that Google is focusing on Chromebooks, Chrome Boxes, and the new All In One Chrome Bases with physical keyboards for Chrome OS while Android is focused on mobile phones and touch-based tablets. As OEMs introduce more touch-friendly and acrobatic hinged Chrome devices, there is likely to be some overlap, but ultimately decisions affecting the directions of the two OSes will be based on customer demand.
Google also used the event to announce that within the next few weeks users will be able to play movies and TV shows offline using the Google Play Movies Chrome app.
Overall, the event demonstrated that Chrome OS is growing at a healthy pace. Devices using the cloud-friendly operating system will be in 20 countries by the end of this year (versus 9 currently), and the new x86 processor options will enable a smoother user experience and faster application performance. I am genuinely interested to see where OEMs are able to take Chrome OS and what it is able to do as Google continues development of the software.
If you are interested, you can watch a recorded version of the live stream on the Intel website.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Chrome device news as the hardware gets closer to release.
Subject: Mobile | March 3, 2014 - 05:58 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Samsung, exynos 5, chromebook 2, Chromebook, chrome os, arm
Samsung is bringing a new Chromebook to market next month. Coming in 11-inch and 13-inch form factors the new Samsung Chromebook 2 offers updated hardware and more than eight hours of battery life.
The Chromebook 2 will be available in 11.6” and 13.3” models. The smaller variant will come in white or black while the larger SKU is only available in gray. The lids use a soft touch plastic that resembles stitched leather like that found on some Samsung smartphones. The 11.6” is 0.66-inches thick and weighs 2.43 pounds. The 13.3” model is 0.65-inches thick and weighs 3.09 pounds. The 11.6” Chromebook 2 has a 1366x768 display while the 13.3” Chromebook uses a 1920 x 1080 resolution display.
Internally, the Chromebook 2 is powered by an unspecified Exynos 5 Octa SoC at either 1.9GHz (11.6”) or 2.1GHz (13.3”), 4GB of DDR3L memory, and 16GB internal SSD storage. Internal radios include 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Samsung rates the battery life at 8 hours for the 11.6” Chromebook and 8.5 hours for the 13.3” Chromebook.
Beyond the wireless tech, I/O includes one USB 3.0 port, one USB 2.0 port, one HDMI, one headphone output, and one micro SD card slot. This port configuration is available on both Chromebook 2 sizes.
Samsung is launching its Chromebook 2 in April at $319.99 and $399.99 for the 11.6” and 13.3” respectively. This new Chromebook is coming to a competitive market that is increasingly packed with Bay Trail-powered Windows 8.1 notebooks (and tablets) that are getting cheaper and Android tablets that are getting more features and more powerful thanks to new ARM-based SoCs. I'm interested to see what platform users start gravitating towards, is the cloud-connected Chrome OS good enough when paired with good battery life and a physical keyboard?
Are you looking forward to Samsung's new Chromebook 2?