Acer’s C910 chromebook s a sight for my aging eyes.. For the last three weeks , I've been slipping in and out of California Studies classes, coffeeshops and university libraries putting this addition to my book bag through its paces.
The C910 has one of the best display screens i’ve yet seen on any 15-inch screen chromebook.
The C910 isn’t dainty, it weighs 4.85 pounds, has a 2.2 Ghz dual core Intel processor, only 4GB of RAM, but includes a 32 GB SSD drive
This new Chromebook is well built, measuring 15.1 x 10.1 x 1.0 inches and hits the scales at 4.85 pounds.. Don’t think for a second that this notebook is “Rubenesque.” After toting it around Southern California for a week it's become a welcome replacement for the 13-inch chromebook I’ve used for the last year.
The size and weight of Acer’s C910 could be off putting to users of lighter Chromebooks. But charge this portable, fire it up and you may come around to its heft and overall performance.
I wanted to review this portable for a simple reason: My eyesight isn’t that of an eagle-eyed 20 year old, and its 15.6 inch widescreen makes using this for extended periods in dimly lit spaces keeps eye strain at bay.
Acer’s C910 is driven by an Intel i5 5200U processor and Intel 5500HD graphics chip, plus a 32GB SSD. It’s quick to boot up and its graphics performance is robust enough for the types of graphics files engneering anda rt student use as part of their regular coursework.
I really like the 15.6-inch screen because it has enough real estate to open and size a Google docs document on one part of the screen so that I can take notes on a graphics images diplayed on another part off the screen.
Like many new Chromebooks, Acer’ C910 has good external connectivity. In Addition to requisite USB 2.0 sockets, an SD card slot and an HDMI connector. it also has a rock solid 802.11AC WIFi and dual band Mimo antenna.
There are two very noteworthy pluses to the fit and finish of this Chromebook; It's pebbled plastic case which helps keep it clutched safely in your hand, And I like its rounded edges, because they don’t snag on my inside seams of my raggedy ass book bag.
Overall, after totting this Chromebook around for three weeks, I’ve come to believe it’s built like a tank and should hold up to years of service moving easily from any bag to any work surface without worrying about mechanical wear and tear.
The battery life in my real world tests has consistently been more than 7.5 hours, even when I’ve been on Youtube listening to music videos real loud.
I believe this Chromebook is well suited for anyone whose interests encompass graphics intensive applications such as engineering and/or science, or the arts. It’s 15.6 inch, 1920 by 1280 pixel, screen was the prescription I needed to cure eyestrain associated with my use of chromebooks equipped with 12 and 13 inch screens.
Acer Chromebook 15 C910-54M1 has a suggested retail price of $499.
The price of this notebook is in line with other top of the line chromebooks , but its basic performance and rock solid construction make it a safe buy, outweighing concerns about its carry weight.--Jim Forbes on 1 May 2016.
Anyone tracking emerging virtual/augmented reality technologies last week may have seen this category’s first real Simpsons “D’Oh“ moment when a senior Microsoft HoloLens marketing maven admitted that in the rush to push sexy entertainment titles and other content opportunities the world’s most well-known PC software supplier may have been initially blinded to the value of the commercial market for VR software.
Microsoft’s observation points out one of the most glaring errors in the VR market: although entertainment software and content libraries may be sexy, they don’t pay the bills like commercial software does.
There is and has always been a bifurcation in the design philosophies that shape entertainment and commercial software. The former most often taxes the capabilities of hardware, whereas the latter is designed to run on industry standard hardware configurations.
Since the advent of Window 3.1, Microsoft has pushed the boundaries of existing hardware, going so far at one point to introduce and support a hardware accelerator card that improved the performance of 8086-based desktops.
There are two other companies whose past strategies can be used to examine how to launch new technologies such as virtual reality. The most important of these is Apple Computer, which pundits believe is still a long way away from a VR announcement. The other company is Sony which is using its PlayStation platform and a new headset to leap into VR/AR.
Both companies have been able to separate past and current products through the use of intensely loyal brand advocates.
My major criticisms of VR and AR is this: its advocates aren’t getting down in the weeds and talking about the increased costs of accessing and implementing the technologies, and the actual market for VR and AR content could be adversely effected by the cost of hardware.
It’s for these reasons I think we’re about to see hardware makers announce, launch and actively market hardware aimed specifically at VR and AR; and headset makers will be forced to bundle content to gain traction. Of the two technologies, VR may have the lowest entry price and could see the first major wins with commercial software running in real estate “viewing centers” where prospective home buyers can use VR to “walk through” multiple properties.
Although there’s no shortage of commercial and educational applications where VR will be in wide spread use, there is a catch in the recipe for success. The catch : there may be more opportunity than there is specialized talent needed to edit and code new content.
I never ever thought I’d write this but now may be the perfect time to be a film school or animation student. Oh Dear! –Jim Forbes 9 March, 2016.
Chinese personal electronics maker HTC this week began taking orders for its $799 Vive virtual Reality headset, booking orders for more than 15,000 units in less than 10 minutes.
HTC’s VIVE’s orders brought in more than $11 million in revenue, according to published reports.
The massive rush to buy the $699 HTC virtual reality headset in being interpreted by some of VR’s proponents as solid proof that Virtual Reality is the next big thing,
What’s missing so far are reports and estimates of who is buying the new technology. In previous technological gold rushes, in addition to early adopters many first purchasers have been to hardware and software developers plus technical marketing and other specialists performing competitive analyses.
More VR systems will appear before the end of this summer, including Oculus Rift’s (Facebook) first product and perhaps Avegant’s Glyph personal theater. Further down the road Google is expected to introduce its second VR/personal theater product, which according to published reports that have appeared over the last several weeks, is now under development.
Microsoft is also in the mix at the high-end with its $3,000 HoloLens, which is expected to begin shipping at the end of March.
AS s products begin to appear, acquisition and system hardware overhead could become issues. Secondarily, standalone systems could become more popular than headsets and other display technologies that require a tethered cable between a headset and hardware.
I believe virtual and augmented reality devices will ignite a Gold Rush in wearable computing, but I’ve lived through enough technological revolutions to know there will be big losers and winners in the race to easily mined riches. Like the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, some of the real fortunes will be made by technology companies that mine the miners. And from that category I believe we’ll see huge advances in Interface, usability, gesture control and other technologies. I’m not going to be among the first purchasers of any high end VR system. I have a kid headed back to college. But eventual I’ll buy a system, and when I do, I’m hoping for immersive historical content. That will be me, huddled in my fluffy jacket in a corner of my office looking at an inside view of the Donnor Party as I snack on some Barbecue ribs in North San Diego County.—Jim Forbes on 2 March, 2016
Virtual Reality has become an important part of the personal kit of our military as thy load out their personal possessions prior to forward deployment in conflict zones.
As a veteran who deployed to a combat zone a long time ago, it’s hard not to imagine the written or memorized matrix of personal items that go overseas with ground troops:
Extra tooth brushes and rags for cleaning your assigned weapon? Check.
Nonstandard gun lube and rifle cleaning supplies? Check
Laptop computer loaded with Skype? Check.
Ear buds? Check.
Extra cans of your favorite dip or snuff (just in case the nearest PX doesn’t have it)? Check
Large screen GSM cell phone? Check.
32 GB micro SD cards loaded with entertainment content? Check.
Google cardboard head set dissembled into its flat components? Check.
VR shooter games? Check?
Leather Goddesses of Phobos on an extra SD card? Check.
Extra $10, $20 or $5 dollar bills (poker money) hidden securely in your ditty bag? Check.
All of this is to make the point that basic VR doesn’t need to be costly. And for the first time ever, enlisted war fighters are among the first group of users to adopt new computer technology. The force that’s driving adoption is Google $25 Cardboard headset and free or inexpensive VR software that can be down loaded from Google’s PlayStore.
The example above is being overlooked by most VR hardware suppliers and touts who think people will stampede to buy multi-hundred dollar VR headsets. For VR to take off it has to be inexpensive enough to conform to a wide scale, mass market model. Once a consumer becomes a true believer, they're more likely to become a buyer of multi hundred headsets, or computers configured for VR.
there are other, equally important infrastructure plays that need to appear in VR. Most importantly is software that lets any studio building VR titles, to adapt existing content for VR, has to appear.
It’s not Sandhill venture capitalists looking for a niche that will drive this. It’s Hollywood movie, music and animation studios who will make it happen. You don’t need to be an Oscar winner to understand that the studios can lock up competitive technologies now by investing in startups that play to the VR content development market.
There is a VR example of being too early to market. That demographic market is Japan, where Sony launched its VR headset more than two years ago. To date, the headset has not been widely adopted, although it is beloved by up-market gaming enthusiasts.
In VR there are some critical questions that still need to be answered:
Who is the target market for these systems?
How sensitive is the target market to pricing, and what software needs to be bundled with VR headsets to push them into the mainstream?
And finally what kind of baseline performance will be required in hardware that powers VR headsets?
If basic questions such as these are not answered, in a collapsing bubble investment environment, some players in the VR space risk suffering the fate of Momenta Inc in the earliest days of pen computing, or any of the legions of digital photo frame and USB radio startups.
I’m hopeful VR does take off. You can bet that the next smartphone I buy will be a model that’s positioned for VR. The promised technology was important enough today that it was a factor in my buying a top of the product line new Microsoft Surface Book two months ago.
And so, Mike Edelhart and Chris Shipley, we're once again on he barricades of another revolution.
But for now, Google is in the driver’s seats and some of it strongest supporters are young enlisted guys with Google cardboard headsets on their noggins, playing games and VR content in tents in and neart conflict zones. This post is for technically savvy terminal lance corporals preparing kits prior to deployment. I was once a /x\ too.—jim forbes, east of Camp Pendleton, CA on February 2,2016.
With universities shut down for the winter break, I asked a college instructor friend if he would be willing to swap 2-in-1 portables for a couple of days.My machine is a Microsoft Surface Book. with the optional NVidia graphics processors, his is a brand new Lenovo Yoga 900. I’ve been anxious to test the yoga 900 since they became widely available through retail late last month. I like the Lenovo’s yoga 900 $1,199 basic configuration: An 2.5 GHz Intel Core i5 processor a 256GB SSD, 13.3- inch screen, 8GB of RAM in a rugged 2.8 pound package.
Yoga may have the best port expansion of any Windows 1, 2-in-1 portable.it has two USB Type A sockets, One USB Type C for video out, one USB 2.0 DC Power socket plus a card reader and audio combo jack I believe that,along with battery life, screen resolution is critical to the usability of any 2-in-1 hybrid notebook. the yoga’s QHD 3.200 by 1,800 pixel screen delivers bright colorful displays that can be viewed easily from different angles. I honestly prefer the Microsoft Surface Book’s 3,200 by 2,000 pixel screen which is a better fit for me when I use topographic or aerial maps as I trek through historic sites in CA’s Gold Country, or the gold fields in the Angeles National Forest here in Southern California. Battery life is very good,I routinely used the yogga 900 for about 8.5 hours between charges. Yoga’s battery life is one of its biggest selling points. In tablet mode,I had more than enough battery life to watch extended feature length movies, compared to about 3 hours of battery life for my Surface book in tablet mode. The yoga 900’s fit and finish is top shelf. to use Yoda in it tablet mode, you fold the screen over the system case. I have no concerns about the hinge used on this device, it’s very sturdy and smoothly transitions the screen from notebook to tablet mode. The compact case of this portable is very rugged.
i’ve always like Lenovo’s keyboards and was a first hand witness around 1995 through 2001 into how much research and usability testing this company puts into keyboard design.Yoga 900’s keyboard is slightly different than ones used on the company’s ThinkPad and other lines. It’s keys have a layer on their tops. Although I made numerous typos on this notebook, i’m handicapped and blame myself for the errors, not the Yoga’s keyboard. With pricing of $1,199, Yoga 900 costs half as much as a comparably configured Microsoft Surface book. The newest member of Lenovo’s Yoga family is built like a tank, has exceptional performance and is versatile enough to rise to any of the challenges 2-in-1 portables face in corporate deployment, academia or specialized uses away from office settings.--Jim Forbes on 1/25/2015
Microsoft is driving multiple new standards for 2-in-1 computing with its latest 2-in1- portable, the Microsoft Surface book portable. I’ve wanted to review the Microsoft Surface Book since I first heard about it late this summer. Surface book is a four-member family of high performance portables with detachable 13.5-inch 2000 by 3000 pixel screens that can be used as tablet computers. The entry-level Surface Book costs appx $1,499. It comes with 8GB of memory an I5 processor and a 256 GB SSD. The most expensive Surface Book is about $2,300. Microsoft uses I7 processors, SSD storage capacity and an NVidia graphics chip to differentiate members of this 2-in-1 notebook family. The unit I reviewed is the second least expensive member of the Surface Book family. It comes with 8GB of memory, the 256 GB SSD and an NVidia graphics chip. I paid $2,053 (including taxes) for the unit at a Microsoft retail store here in San Diego. The unboxing experience was very good, with one exception: I believe Microsoft needs to do a better job explaining where and how the magnetic power cable connector plugs into the upper right side of this portable family’s system case. Some experienced Windows notebook users may be perplexed by the magnetic power cable connection. The very good news is that magnetic connectors help prevent machines from being pulled to the floor, if someone trips on the power cord. The large Bento-like box shipping container is extremely sturdy. I suggest storing The total time it took me to put my surface book to work—including an operating system update was under 20 minutes, much less time than I’ve spent getting other portables up and running Microsoft advertises a battery life of 12 hours when Surface Book is uses exclusively for streaming video. The longest I’ve been able to use my new Surface book running office productivity applications without recharging has been 9.25 hours. It needs to be noted that the battery on this notebook cannot be recharged indefinitely and eventually it will fail to charge (replacement can be done at any authorized Microsoft retail store or most computer repair service shops. Although there are much less expensive 2-in-1 convertible notebooks, I chose the Surface book for two specific reasons: 1. my need for an ultra-high resolution screen (its 2000 by 3000 pixel screen resolution and, 2, its detachable Windows tablet screen. Microsoft’s Surface book has the horse power to plow through virtually all computing tasks including high res photo editing and image processing and it’s just as adept when it comes to mainstream office productivity applications. Surface Book has two USB 2.0 ports and an SD card reader. The external video connector on this portable is called Surface Connect. Weighing 3.3 pounds, this new portable is a tad on the heavy side, when compared to other brand name 2-in-1 laptops such as those made by Lenovo. I have absolutely no concerns about the mechanical features of Microsoft’s new Surface Book. I’ve released and reattached the tablet screen scores of time and it locks as securely today as it did when I bought it.
Anyone who relies on a computer for graphics applications will quickly appreciate the “Surface Pen” electronic stylus that’s included with the unit. The stylus used by Microsoft on Surface Book attaches magnetically to the case and I have yet to have it come off as I slip this notebook in and out of its padded sleeve. It’s the perfect accoutrement for a notebook that’s as capable running engineering drafting programs and mapping software as it blasting through the creation and display of pixel gobbling Power Point decks.
There is a downside to the Surface Book that may be a deal killer for some: although there is an audio jack on the upper right corner of the tablet/scree: There is no USB or other expansion capability on the screen/tablet, . I wanted this new notebook because its architecture is highly suited to my avocational interest (locating 19th and 20th century gold prospectors’ campsites and trails) using overhead imagery and topo maps of the gold fields in northern and here in Southern California. The combination of the Surface Book’s core logic and NVidia graphics processor coupled to this portable’s ultrahigh res display is perfect for these tasks. The graphics processor on Surface book is mounted mounted on the motherboard in thesystem case, which means it doesn’t kick in when the screen is used as a standalone tablet. I was surprised by how much I liked the Surface book’s keyboard. The keys have sufficient travel to provide positive feedback and the track pad cursor controller pad is centered on the bottom of the system case, a design feature that minimizes users accidentally initiating cursor controlled actions. The design of this portable has a pronounced gap between the screen and its keyboard. Because of this, I recommend anyone who buys a Surface Book carry it in a padded sleeve with a flap that can be secured shut. With entry pricing of about$1,499.00, Surface Book is up to one third more expensive than portables such as some Lenovo 2-in-1 notebooks. However after using this portable for more than a week as both a portable and a wide screen high res tablet, I have reached a conclusion: Microsoft has a potential home run and category standard in the Surface book family. If you’re out gold prospecting on the American or San Gabriel rivers and stumble on someone hunched over dude puzzling out map locations on a small silver colored notebook, there’s a good chance it will be me with my brand new Microsoft Surface Book. –Jim Forbes on 11/18/2015.
Over the last six months I steadily reached the conclusion that most of the tablet computers. I had acquired or reviewed didn’t pass muster.
Screen size and brightness is an issue for me. I often tried and failed to use a tabltet in dimly lit lecture halls and conference rooms.
I'm an aging boomer so the ability to see information displayed on tablets with 10-inch or smaller screens became a factor in my growing impatience with the form factor.
But the experience hasn’t really changed my belief that tablets computing could become an important part of the IT and personal computing landscape.
Based on industry reports, I decided I would buy a new portable iby December. I begYan my search by looking at hybrids from Asus,Hewlett Packard Microsoft and Lenovo. my minimum requirements were 12 inch screen, current generation Intel processors, plus 8 GB of memory on the system board and the ability to upgrade SSD storage to 512 GB.T
My particular usage model requires battery life with minimal power conservation of eight hours. My passions are California and it’s gold rush history, and when I’m out camping I take my notebook, and use it to store digital photographs and digital content.At night, I’ve been known to watch a movie I’ve stored on my portable.
Any 2-in-1 portable I buy has to be rugged enough to survive being carried deep into the Sierra and San Gabriel mountains, so fit and finish plus durable construction were factors I used to winnow my purchase decision.
I have to fundamentally believe that the mechanicalS on any hybrid I buy will work as well next month as they do the day I unboxed the notebook.
There were a couple of platforms i thought could work. Microsoft’s Surface family was high on my list, as was a Lenovo Yoga family members. I’ve carried Lenovo computers longer than any other label and in nearly 20 years, I’ve never had one fail. plus I’ve successfully resuscitated various Thinkpads using the blue “heal thyself” button several times over the years (including once on a butt numbing flight from Tokyo to Dublin).
In the end I wrote a check to Microsoft for a shiny new Surface Book.Even though Lenovo’s Yoga 900 is less expensive and Microsoft is a relative newcomer, it was Surface Book’s construction and great performance that clinched the sale.--Jim Forbes on 16 November, 2015.
the Virtual reality headset and software space could crack wide open wide open next year. Companies like Oculus, acquired by Facebook last year for two billion are just the tip of the iceberg.
While VR unicorns gambol through the market there are a handful of other companies in this space that could carve out their own market niches at the expense of companies like Facebook,Microsoft, Sony or other marquis entities.
Avegant in Redwood City, CA is one such startup. Intel Capital has led two rounds of financing swelling the company’s coffers with more than $20 million.I heard about Avegant several months ago when it received its most recent of financing and was able to hear and see this company's pitch at Intel Capital’s Global Summit confab here in San Diego last week.
Avegant’s primary technology is the Glyph headset. Glyph is much different than other VR hardware I’ve seen demonstrated or described. it provides an experience with video and audio that has been designed to accommodate individual tastes and preferences. WHat makes Glyph substantially different from other headsets is the ability to personalize the clarity ,focus and position of its lenses.
the audio quality of Glyph has the potential to pull you right into any entertainment experience.
Hey it doesn’t take much to kick off my Seventies music jones. As I interacted with Avegant's Glyph I instinctively thought how incredible it would be to experience a Tower of Power, Doobie Brothers or other arena music group ‘s performance using it.
While other virtual reality hardware concerns flail about chasing matrix check boxes items, Avegant is rolling towards its big showing at CES early in 2016 and production validation benchmarks.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a startup drop into the launch groove,but Avegant seems cocked,locked and ready to launch.By all means check this company out at http://avegant.com and if you really dig it, preoder your glyph headset now.
Meanwhile, I’m ready to jump back into my streaming Tower of Power concert and wishing I could watch it with a headset that delivers audio as good as anything you’ll see seated center front and a virtual reality experience that makes you jut get on down with your own bad little self.--Jim Forbes on 11/10/2015.
It’s been a long time since I was surprised by an all-In-One computer out of the box experience. but, Acer’s new Aspire Z3-719UR54 has ended my dry spell, this is Acer’s new top of the line all-in one and it runs Windows 10.The Acer Aspire Z3-719UR54 is a top of the line all-in-one desktop.
Acer supplied me with a standard configuration: an Intel Core i5-4590T processor that zips along at 2.0 GHz but can boost its speed to 3.0GHz, a full 8GB of DDR3L dual channel memory; a 1TB SATA hard disk drive. The new Acer AIO has a 23.8 inch screen that’s driven by Intel’s HD 4600 graphics controller. As provided me for this reviewr the purpose of this review, the Aspire Z3 -719UR 54 costs $899.
This AIO has a configuration that makes it useful for corporate offices,student dorms, or home offices.
I like the fact that this AIO doesn’t scrimp on expansion ports .It has three USB 2,0 ports and two USB3.0 ports, HDMI in plus audio input and out jacks are built into the system case. A DVD. multi optical drive also part of this system.
The Aspire Z3-719UR54 may be the best designed AIO Acer has ever produced.The system case is mounted on a pedestal, and the touch screen has 25 degrees of elevation.
The first thing I did when I set up the Acer Aspire Z3-719UR54 was see how it worked as a video conferencing platform. Its HD 1080 pixel camera captures crisp images and this system’s 23.9 inch screen (which has two stereo microphones built into its bezel makes video conferencing a great application.
The performance of this system is well above average, particularly running graphics and processor intensive applications. The same attributes, also make a very good entertainment PC
The stunning graphics capabilities of the new Acer All In One is made possible by Intel’s new HD46000 graphics processor which has the horsepower to fill a 1920 by 1080 pixel screen display to its edges while rendering crisp images.
I do have a couple of criticisms of this machine. First, I believe that all AIO manufacturers need provide keyboards with greater tactile feedback;Secondly, while the volume of this system’s speakers are acceptable for front on experiences it could be louder.the audio quality, however is above average.In fact I was surprisedb y Acer’s True harmony technology, which is part of this system’s underlying architecture.
There is o doubt in my mind that the Windows 10 operating system contributes to the performance and outstanding usability of this all-in-One desktop. Running Windows 10, boot up times are shorter and other features mhelp improve the performanc and capabilities of touch interface technologies.
The Acer Aspire Z3-719UR54 is one of the best All in ones i’ve reviewed in the last several years. At $899 it compares very favorably to Lenovo’s flagship A740 AIO, which has a much larger 27-inch screen but with a near $1,800 price tag costs almost twice as much as the new Acer.--Jim Forbes on 09/04/2015.