Showing posts with label Acer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acer. Show all posts

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Chrome OS in a tablet form factor

Acer released the first Chrome OS tablet: the Acer Chromebook Tab 10. The tablet is directed at education and supports a Wacom pen. I like the idea of a Chrome OS tablet and can realistically envisage it to be a laptop replacement (of course, many users may prefer a larger display). In contrast to the iPad Pro series, Chrome OS runs a desktop PC environment that also supports mobile applications via the Google Play store.

The problem with the Acer Chromebook Tab 10 is the high-end specifications that means a relatively high price for a device targeted at education. If these tablets are to be adopted in schools then it is important that vendors make the right compromise between pricing and specifications. For example, a good camera, long battery life and stylus support are necessary but a resolution beyond full HD is not. This is the first Chrome OS tablet and more affordable ones are a strong possibility.

Apple's recently released iPad with Pencil support is another attempt at gaining access in education. Apple aims to take on Chromebooks that are now gradually dominating the sector. Apple's size means that it will always have a place in education; however, what makes the Chromebook model a better fit is the simplicity of deployment and affordable hardware. The latest iPad may be priced lower relative to other iPad models but the pricing, after introducing the Apple Pencil and external keyboard, makes it a costly option even when compared to the high-end Acer Chromebook Tab 10.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Best budget tech of 2017

In late 2016, a number of vendors released entry laptops with 4GB rather than 2GB RAM. For example, we had the HP Stream 14 and the Acer ES11/ES13. Yet, these devices remained restricted due to their underpowered processors. For this reason, I found the Lenovo 110S with its more powerful quad core N3160 a better proposition in comparison to slower dual core N3350/N3060 laptops with 4GB RAM. The device serves the purpose of a secondary mobile laptop and comes with a one-year office 365 subscription. Lenovo recently updated the 110S with the 120S. The latter device, in its base configuration, comes with a weaker dual core Intel Celeron N3350 Processor, making the previous generation the better option. While technically released late 2016, I think the Ideapad 110S is the best entry-level laptop in 2017.

Beyond the entry-level but within the budget category, we have seen the release of a number of laptops with full HD screens, more powerful quad core processors, 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. The 14 inch Asus Vivobook L403 and the Acer Swift 1 13 are examples and both are capable primary laptops. Smaller vendors released similar laptops at lower prices but these devices need to be imported from China, leading to possible complications with after-sale support (on the plus side, I have noticed are now shipping laptops from warehouses based in Germany). Based on positive reviews, the Chuwi Lapbook 14.1 and Jumper EZBOOK 3 PRO are the pick of the bunch.


Amazon owns the budget tablet category. Cutting the right corners, Amazon delivered stand out tablets in the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10. The Fire HD 8 is a solid device, with very good battery life, that delivers what most users expect from a tablet. The Fire HD 10 surpasses expectations with a screen that compares with mid-level tablets. Beyond Amazon, Lenovo released the Tab 4 HD 8; the device is priced higher than Fire HD 8 but comes with a better screen, better cameras and more RAM.

Concerning e-readers, Barnes & Noble released the Nook Glowlight 3 but the device is only available in the US. It will be interesting to see what Amazon do with the Kindle Paperwhite in 2018. I expect Amazon to release a 6 inch Kindle Paperwhite 4 with incremental updates.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Acer Aspire ES11 Review: A good entry-level laptop let-down by its sub-standard battery life

The Acer Aspire ES 11, compared to other Windows entry-level laptops, stands out with its standard 4 GB configuration; in comparison the HP Stream 11 is only available in the UK in its 2 GB version. If HP released the 4 GB version of the HP Stream 11 then it would be, in my opinion, the better option with its significantly better battery life. Yes, on paper, the Acer ES 11 comes with a slightly better Apollo Lake N3350 processor but the difference is negligible in real world use. After using Acer's ES 11 for some time below are my main impressions:
  • I was attracted to the Acer ES 11 due to its Apollo Lake N3350 processor (I was previously underwhelmed with the HP Stream 14's Celeron N3060). After using the processor in the Acer Aspire ES11, I found little difference between the the Apollo Lake N3350 and Celeron Braswell N3060. For a smoother user-experience the Braswell Celeron N3160, Apollo Lake Celeron N3450 and Apollo Lake Pentium N4200 perform significantly better (many budget laptops now run with quad core versions of these processors).  
  • Laptops in this category offer adequate performance for everyday computing but expect some slugishness. None of these laptops are recommend as a primary computing device, so it makes sense to primarily consider the smaller and more portable 11.6 models. The HP Stream 14, while relatively lightweight for its larger form factor, comes with a poor display and low DPI (to be fair, poor screen quality is a broader issue with laptops in general. Vendors tend to over-price their laptop hardware and it is common to even find mid-tier laptops with 1366 X 768 screens). Acer also sell a larger 13.3 inch Acer Aspire ES13 that weighs 1.7 KG with near identical specifications. Again, the extra weight and larger form factor are not suitable for the purposes of on-the-go mobile computing.    
  • Relative to other devices in this category, the Acer ES11 comes with a nice matte display and the pre-installed blue light shield software is one of the better implementations of the feature I've seen. 
  • Considering the importance of portability in this category the Aspire ES11's battery is some way behind similarly priced laptops. Acer tends to over-estimate battery life and the advertised 'up to 8 hours' is considerably off; with battery saver on and mixed use, the more accurate estimate would be closer to six hours. In comparison the HP Stream 14, that I used and tested, advertised a more accurate 'up to 10 hours' (the HP Stream 11 is advertised with an even longer 'up to 10 hours and 45 minutes').
Overall, the Acer ES 11 is a good choice for a portable secondary computing device. Another possibility is the Lenovo's 110S; the 110S comes in different configurations but the 4 GB version, that also comes with 64 GB storage (double the storage compared to the Acer ES11), goes beyond the £200 threshold. This raises the issue if a low powered mobile device is worth the extra cost. In other words, once going over the £200 threshold it might be better idea to go for a better and more powerful budget option that can be used, by many users, as a primary device e.g. the Asus VivoBook L403. Another issue to consider is that refurbished Acer ES11 units are widely available and can be found as low as £115.