Acer held a massive press conference today in Manhattan to unveil its new product lineup. BetaNews was there, live, at 4 World Trade Center. The views from the 60-something-th floor were magnificent, but even more awe-inspiring to a tech nerd like me, were the Acer products.
Acer is one of my favorite manufacturers because it focuses on value. Not only are the company's computers beautiful and powerful, but affordable too. While the company kept its focus on the affordable segment with Windows, Chromebooks and Android products, it also introduced its new Predator gaming computers. The star of the show? A small gaming-tablet running Google's mobile OS.
If you haven't responded to either of our most-recent buying polls—Apple Watch and Chromebook Pixel—it's not too late. Preorders for the timepiece start April 10. The laptop is available now, but with long-wait ship times. I purchased the higher-end Pixel, which review is underway. Whether or not one of our writers will test the smartwatch is uncertain.
Polls of this nature are meant to gauge what a specific audience, BetaNews readers, plan to do. Often what respondents would like to buy isn't what they do. For lots of reasons: Budget; spousal or partner objections; availability; competitive pricing; early product reviews; and more. Results better reflect your intentions as the sample size increases. So, please, take a few seconds to answer each poll, if you haven't already.
Google got me. Not because I didn't get the joke but for how far it actually goes. Perhaps you saw the April 1st post, "Re-rethinking computing", which introduces the project from a "rogue team of engineers...Today, we’re excited to announce a way to make your Chromebook self-browsing". Of course, it's an April Fools gag.
I first saw the post on my Nexus 9 tablet while exercising on the stationary bike. Later, thinking to post a quickie to Google+, I pulled up the URL from synced History on Chromebook Pixel LS. On the N9, I had clicked the post's last link, which did nothing special but when opened on the Pixel took me to the Chrome Web Store with option to install the self-browsing extension. Now that was unexpected. What to do, what to do?
Last year Google introduced support for Android apps on its Chromebook lineup. Since the announcement, we have seen several popular apps arrive at the Chrome Web Store, including Duolingo, Vine, and Flipboard, but the number of such ported apps has been pretty low so far. In an effort to lure in more uber-apps like VLC and others to Chrome OS, the company announces at an event, that it is opening the ARC program -- previously only accessible to select firms -- to all developers. The move will foster the growth of apps at the Chrome Web Store.
The Mountain View-based technology company last year at its developer conference I/O introduced support for Android apps on Chrome OS-powered laptops. The company had showcased a native client extension called “App Runtime for Chrome (ARC)” that runs Android apps on a Chrome OS-powered notebook almost natively through a sandboxed Dalvik VM.
If my calendar showed April Fools' Day instead of March 31st, I would think the big Google announcement was a joke: $149 Chromebooks, with one model available from Walmart? I know some of these laptops sell for $199. But $50 less and models from Haier and Hisense?
Meanwhile, ASUS will, in summer, start selling something for even less: Chromebit, a $100 candy-bar size carry-all computer. Plug it into a HDMI-compatible display (like your TV), and your Chromie lifestyle is even-more mobile. The company also will release Chromebook Flip, a tablet-convertible wannabe, sooner. Someone tell me: This isn't a Foolie prank?
Last year I wrote about my big move to Google's computer operating system, Chrome OS. At the time my plan was simple -- use a Chromebook for the summer since I work from my porch and wanted something light and small to move around with me. The 15.7 inch Windows laptop wasn't going to cut it and, for obvious reasons, I wasn't moving a desktop outside, especially with a porch that seems to face the rain in every summer storm.
Though the time of my move hadn't occurred to me, the subject came up today in our newsroom. Joe Wilcox urged me to write about my experience, while my colleague Brian Fagioli tried mightily hard to get me to change to a new Chromebook. He called my HP 11 underpowered and implored I get the new Toshiba. Throwing money at a problem I don't have is not in my DNA. What I have works fine and I see no current reason for unnecessary expenses.
Because some BetaNews readers think Chromebook is a joke, I realized the necessity of getting out our Pixel buying poll before April Fools' Day. So here we are. Google released the second-generation Chromebook Pixel on March 11. The high-end laptop costs less than its predecessor (one model for under $1,000), but many potential buyers will question—and they should—the wisdom spending so much on a computer with browser user interface meant to be mostly Internet-connected.
Chromebook Pixel isn't for everyone—probably not most people. But our readers aren't most people. Many of you live on technology's cutting edge, and some bleed because of it. The laptop could be for you, and it most certainly is for me. I bought the high-end LS model on launch day and took delivery on Friday the 13th. I will have much good to report in my forthcoming review. But what works for me may not for you. So let's look more closely at the computer.
My family plays musical computers today, as mom receives my wife's Toshiba Chromebook 2—to replace the end-of-life original Microsoft Surface RT. Last week, my beloved took possession of my Google Pixel after I received the newer model, released on March 11.
While writing the above paragraph, my mother phoned to let me know the laptop arrived. "Oh do I like this Toshiba! This can't be a 13-inch screen. It seems so much bigger". The reaction is more than just because of the move from the RTs 11.6-inch panel. Among the Chrome OS category, the Toshiba's screen is exceptionally bright, and crisp, setting it apart from every model other than Google's own.
When it comes to computing, I am rather platform agnostic. Quite frankly, I can jump between multiple operating systems to achieve my goals. While Windows is my go-to for heavy lifting, I often use Chromebooks too for lighter work, such as writing and web surfing.
Earlier this year, Acer announced the Chromebook C910 -- a commercial grade laptop running Google's Chrome OS. The 15.6 inch screen met the needs for many, since Chromebooks often have smaller displays. Today, Acer announces that the C910 is getting a refresh, with an optional 5th generation Intel Core i5 processor. With this CPU, the manufacturer claims that it is the world's fastest commercial Chromebook.
Two computers of note have been announced or released in recent days -- the 2015 version of the Chromebook Pixel and the redesigned MacBook -- that feature an all-singing, all-dancing USB-C port. It transfers data, it powers, it makes coffee, it doesn't matter which way round you insert it, and it practically guarantees an orgasm (OK... maybe we got a little carried away).
It’s a progression of USB technology, and one that has been well-received, at least in principle. Who could be responsible for this marvellous technology feat of design? Blogger, Markdown inventor, and owner of Daring Fireball, John Gruber seems to be under the impression that it's an Apple invention. But he's wrong.
The second of three Friday 13ths was definitely a lucky day. Near Noon, FedEx delivered the Chromebox Pixel 2015, which I set up late afternoon. Nearly 24 hours later, time is right for some immediate reactions before my eventual full review. My perspective presented here is two-fold: General first impressions for anyone combined with what are the benefits for existing Pixel owners. For many of the latter group, I say this: Consider your budget and needs wisely. What you've got may be more than good enough.
For everyone else, I will contradict the majority of reviewers, and even Google. Pixel is not a computer for developers or limited number of laptop users. Anyone shopping for a quality notebook that will last years should consider the new Chromebook, most certainly if looking at any MacBook model or Windows PC, such as Surface Pro 3. Everyone living the Google lifestyle who can afford a laptop in this price range should consider nothing else. Now let's get to the drill down, point by point. There are 13, for no other reason than my receiving the laptop on the unluckiest day.
Two new laptops launched this week, both pioneering USB-C and packing 12-inch displays. The likenesses stop there, and the distinctions can't be overstated. One computer you can buy now, the other comes next month. Should you consider either? My primer will help you decide.
Apple unveiled the new MacBook, which measures 1.31 centimeters at its thickest and weighs less than a kilogram, two days ago. Sales start April 10. This morning, Google launched the second-generation Chromebook Pixel, which is immediately available for purchase. Both laptops adopt USB Type-C for power and, using adapters, hooking up to other devices. USB-C puts both computers at the bleeding edge for charging and connectivity, But their approach to ports couldn't be more different.
Yesterday, commentary "Do Chromebooks matter anymore?" popped up in my social network feeds. Preston Gralla rightly wonders, when looking at how the laptops have fallen off Amazon's top-seller lists, IDC shipment forecasts, and what happened with netbooks. While being a Chromebook fan, I must admit to similar misgivings.
So today, I emailed Stephen Baker, NPD's vice president of industry analysis: "Are Chromebooks just the next netbook wave? Low-cost, lean configurations, and education adoption all look similar to me. Do you see any parallels to suggest Chromebook is little more than the next netbook and it's headed for the same destination: Short-term appeal that vanishes? Or is there longevity here, based on sales numbers?" His answer is reason for this post.
Last year, I disputed ridiculous assertions, based on widely misquoted NPD data, that 2014 would be "year of the Chromebook". It wasn't. But that designation does belong to 2015—at least in the United States. Measures: Number of new models; adoption by K-12 schools; and overall sales, which are surprisingly strong. Read carefully the next paragraph.
Through U.S. commercial channels and retail, Chromebooks accounted for 14 percent of laptop sales last year, according to NPD, which released data at my request. That's up from 8 percent in 2013. Commercial channels, largely to educational institutions, accounted for about two-thirds of 2014 Chromebook sold. Year over year, sales soared by 85 percent, and the trajectory continues to climb.
Education is a very important market for computer manufacturers and other technology companies. Just yesterday, Microsoft announced a huge deal with the New York City Public Schools, to offer Office 365 to all of its students and teachers for free.
Today, Dell is presenting new hardware to the education segment; new laptops and tablets running Chrome OS, Android and Windows. By offering a diverse range of form factors and platforms, the manufacturer can gain access to many school systems and classrooms.