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iPad Air (2020): Seven things you need to know about Apple’s redesigned tablet

The iPad Air (2019) has long been the sweet spot between price, performance, and features in Apple’s tablet line. Today, the company unveiled a new iPad Air that further cements its position as the best iPad for most people. 

It looks a lot like an iPad Pro
The new iPad Air (2020) takes some design cues from the much more expensive iPad Pro. It features the same flat-edged design with relatively thin bezels all the way around. Like the Pro, a more useful USB-C plug replaces the Lightning connector. 

This tweak to the Apple design language is likely to appear in the iPhone 12 as well.

It’s the first Apple product with the A14 processor
Typically, new A-series processors are introduced with the iPhone. This year, the iPhones are shipping a little later than usual, so the iPad Air is the first Apple product with the new A14.

The A14 is made on a brand-new 5nm manufacturing process and is Apple’s most advanced system-on-chip (SoC) yet. It is 11.8 billion transistors big, with four high-efficiency CPU cores and two high-performance cores.

Apple says this processor delivers 40 percent higher CPU performance and 30 percent faster graphics than its “7nm chip,” which we assume means the A13.

The A14 also features Apple’s most powerful Neural Engine ever, to accelerate machine learning (ML) code. With twice as many cores as the A13, it is up to twice as fast (11 trillion operations per second!).

It supports the Magic Keyboard and 2nd-gen Apple Pencil
The iPad Air (2020) is compatible only with the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil, the same one the iPad Pros use that charges by magnetic attachment to the edge of the iPad. The older Apple Pencil charges via the Lightning connector, which this version of the iPad Air doesn’t have.

If you have an Apple Pencil from an earlier iPad—the kind that charges with a little Lightning connector under the cap—you’ll have to buy a new second-generation Pencil to use it with the iPad Air.

The new Air also supports the same Magic Keyboard as the 11-inch iPad Pro, with its built-in trackpad and floating screen hinge design. 

It has Touch ID in the top button instead of Face ID
There’s no Face ID on this iPad, and with such thin bezels, there’s no room for a Home button. So Apple built an all-new Touch ID sensor and stuck it in the top button. Just touch that top button to use Touch ID for all the things you use it for today—unlocking the iPad, logging into apps, approving purchases, and so on.

It’s missing a few other iPad Pro features
While the new iPad Air definitely shares the iPad Pro’s looks, it definitely doesn’t have all of its features. It has a standard 60Hz display instead of a 120Hz ProMotion display. The iPad Air display has a resolution of 2360×1640, which is just a tiny bit less than the 11-inch iPad. You won’t notice the difference.

It also has upgraded stereo speakers, but not the same high-quality four-speaker setup and five-microphone array of the iPad Pro.

Finally, it features a single 12MP f/1.8 rear camera, while the iPad Pro has that camera plus a 10MP f/2.4 ultrawide camera. The iPad Pro also features a superior front-facing camera, and slimmer bezels all around.

It comes in five colors
You can get the new iPad Air in five colors:
Space Grey
Silver
Rose Gold
Green
Sky Blue
The Rose Gold color is an updated shade for Apple, with a more pinkish hue than the previous one.

It starts at $599 and is coming in October
Together with the new design and capabilities comes a new price. The iPad Air now costs $599 for 64GB of storage of $749 for 256GB. Cellular connectivity will cost another $130 on the base model or $100 on the 256GB model. The previous iPad Air started at $499 for 64GB, so this new design, performance, and feature set comes at a higher price.

Apple says the new iPad is coming in October, though Apple has not yet specified an exact date for preorders or shipping.

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How to Define Battery Life

Folks have been using rechargeable batteries for over 100 years but this marvelous power source is still poorly understood. The battery is a silent worker that delivers energy until it quits of exhaustion and old age. It is more prone to failure than most other parts in a system. Much is expected but little is given in return. With a shorter life span than the host device, battery replacement becomes an issue, and the “when” and “what if” are not well defined by the device manufacturer. Some batteries are replaced too soon but most stay too long.

A portable system works well when the batteries are new but confidence drops after the first packs need replacing due to capacity fade. In time, the battery fleet becomes a jumble of good and bad batteries, and that’s when the headache begins. Battery management mandates that all batteries in a fleet are kept at an acceptable capacity level. Packs that fall below a given threshold must be replaced to keep system integrity. Battery failure occurs most often on a heavy traffic day or in an emergency when more than normal service is demanded.

Batteries exhibit human-like qualities and need good nutrition. Care begins by operating at room temperate and discharging them at a moderate current. There is some truth as to why batteries cared for by an individual user outperform those in a fleet; studies can back this up.

Charging is generally well understood, but the “ready” light is misconstrued. Ready does not mean “able.” There is no link to battery performance, nor does the green light promise full runtime. All batteries charge fully, even if weak; “ready” simply means that the battery is full.

The capacity a battery can hold diminishes with age and the charge time shortens with nickel-based batteries and in part also with lead acid, but not necessarily with Li-ion. Lower charge transfer capability that inhibits the flow of free electrons prolongs the charge time with aged Li-ion.

A short charging time propels faded batteries to the top, disguised as combat ready. System collapse is imminent when workers scramble for freshly charged batteries in an emergency; those that are lit-up may be deadwood. (Note that the charge time of a partially charged battery is also shorter.) 

The amount of energy a battery can hold is measured in capacity. Capacity is the leading health indicator that determines runtime and predicts end of battery life when low. A new battery is rated at 100 percent, but few packs in service deliver the full amount: a workable capacity bandwidth is 80–100 percent. As a simple guideline, a battery on a two-way radio having a capacity of 100 percent would typically provide a runtime of 10 hours, 80 percent is 8 hours and 70 percent, 7 hours.

The service life of a battery is specified in number of cycles. Lithium- and nickel-based batteries deliver between 300 and 500 full discharge/charge cycles before the capacity drops below 80 percent.

Cycling is not the only cause of capacity loss; keeping a battery at elevated temperatures also induces stress. A fully charged Li-ion kept at 40°C (104°F) loses about 35 percent of its capacity in a year without being used. ( See BU:808: How to Prolong Lithium-based Batteries ). Ultra-fast chargers and harsh discharging is also harmful. This cuts battery life to half, and hobbyists can attest to this.

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The swiveling LG Wing phone is a radical cry for attention

If you thought LG’s gesture-based ThinQ phones, water droplet-inspired Velvet, and DualScreen cases were brilliant moves by a smartphone maker way ahead of its time, wait until you get a load of the Wing, a gotta-see-it concept phone that’s straight out of an episode of Westworld.

The Wing naming is quite literal: it’s the world’s first 5G swivel smartphone, as LG claims. When the second screen is rotated, it kind of looks like the phone has wings, with one horizontal screen on top of a smaller squarish one. It’s definitely unique, but looking at the photos LG has provided, it’s hard to see how using it will be comfortable or natural. The primary use seems to be watching movies or displaying pictures on the landscape and getting work done on the smaller one, as LG explains in its developer notes:
· Users can smoothly multitask between any two independent apps by utilizing both the Main and Second Screens.
· Developers are encouraged to take advantage of the Dual Screen’s “One App Extension Mode,” which allows additional app functionalities to be displayed on both screens.
· As both screens rotate following the phone’s orientation, comfortable use is ensured regardless of the direction of rotation.
· Users can pre-select certain pairs of apps to be displayed simultaneously.

The best use of the Wing seems to be upside down, with the landscape screen acting as a full-sized keyboard and the screen showing an email or text, but oddly none of LG’s marketing images show that combination. Rather, LG wants people to use the two screens independently, touting the device for “users who value portability and love multitasking.”

But it’s not for people who want the latest and greatest in speed and power. Like the Velvet, the Wing isn’t a flagship device when it comes to what’s inside it:
· Dimensions: 169.5 x 74.5 x 10.9 mm
· Processor: Snapdragon 765G 5G
· Display (main): 6.8-inch Full HD OLED (2,460 x 1,080)
Display (secondary): 3.9-inch Full HD OLED (1,240 x 1,080)
· RAM: 8GB
· Storage: 128/256GB
· Camera (triple): 64MP Wide, f/1,8 + 13MP wide, f/1.9 + 12MP ultra-wide (120 deg), f/2.2
· Camera (front): 32MP, f/1.9 pop-up lens
· Battery: 4,000mAh

You can still use the Wing as a regular phone, but at nearly 11mm, it’s a little thick (though not nearly as thick as the 16.8 mm Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2), and you’re not getting Quad HD resolution or a 120Hz refresh rate like Samsung’s newest phones. And with Android 10 onboard rather than the newly released Android 11, it’s already a bit behind the times.

But the Wing’s form factor does have its benefits. Swiveling the screen turns the phone into a camera gimbal of sorts, providing “the stability needed to capture clearer shots and smooth video footage in horizontal mode with one hand.” Additionally, the Wing brings features provided by an actual gimbal, including a virtual joystick for controlling the camera angle, a lock to reduce shakes and blurring, a “follow” mode for smoother videos, and “first-person view mode for capturing rhythmic and dynamic movements.” There’s also a pop-up selfie cam that’s smart enough to retract when dropped.

All said, LG’s is asking customers to put a lot of faith in the Wing. While it says it’s been rated to be “to be perfectly reliable even after 200,000 swivels,” extra moving parts on a smartphone generally aren’t ideal. Pop-up selfie cams have gone out of style as quickly as they arrived and never made it to flagships from Samsung and Apple likely due to the inherent breakability factor. And now there’s a whole other mechanism behind the screen to worry about.

We also don’t know how much it costs. While the 5G Velvet is competitively priced at $700 and less, the Wing might be much higher due to its design. We’ll find out when it officially launches “at a later date,” but even if it’s priced right, it’s still going to be a tough sell in the face of new iPhones, folding Galaxies, and the upcoming $499 Pixel 4a 5G.

The Wing seems like little more than a desperate attempt by LG to gain back some of the attention it’s lost over the years and maybe it’ll work. But it’s hard to imagine that it’s going to transfer into relevance.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Smartphone Battery for LG

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Logitech’s MK470 Slim Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo: A solid budget bundle

If you’re short on desk space and funds, Logitech’s MK470 Slim Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Combo can solve both problems. These lightweight and compact accessories can squeeze into the tightest of workspaces, and their extreme quietness will be appreciated by your open-office mates. Adding to that appeal is a modest $50 price tag.

Design
The MK470 keyboard measures 14.7 x 0.83 x 5.6 inches and weighs just over a pound. It is indeed slim, but durable nonetheless. Unlike with some comparably thin keyboards, I was unable to twist or bend the MK470’s hard plastic case.

The compact keyboard includes a full number pad, a dozen function keys, and hotkeys for everything from Home to LockPC. Most of the buttons work just as well on macOS as on Windows, though as the dedicated Windows key tips off, it’s explicitly designed for the latter.

The mouse also has a slim, low-profile design and weighs just 3.5 ounces. The top of it splits into two buttons, with a mechanical scroll wheel in the center.

Connectivity
Both the keyboard and mouse connect via a 2.4GHz wireless dongle that plugs into the USB port on your computer. All you have to do is remove the battery tabs from each device—AAA batteries are preinstalled—and they connect instantly without any software installation or configuration.

The combo includes an auto-sleep feature that puts each device into battery-saving mode when they’re not in use. Logitech says this extends the battery life to 18 months for the mouse and 36 months for the keyboard. Both devices reconnected instantly when I used them after a sleep period.

Typing feel
The MK470’s scissor keys are responsive and relatively quiet, emitting a barely audible click when struck. They deliver a satisfying bump at the bottom of the stroke, with a firm rebound.

Overall, the MK470 replicates the feeling of typing on a laptop. Even with the space-saving layout, the keys have enough distance between them to prevent your fingers from feeling cramped and to make key discovery easy.

Mouse
The mouse’s flat profile is an adjustment if you’re used to more contoured designs that fit snugly in the palm of your hand. Placing my fingertips on the mouse buttons positioned the mouse under the length of my index and middle fingers with no support for my palm. For quick tasks this clawlike position wasn’t an issue, but it grew uncomfortable and fatiguing for my hand after extended use.

The mouse tracked smoothly, though, over just about every surface I used it on, including a fleece blanket. As with the keyboard, the mouse buttons are whisper-quiet. 

Verdict
Quiet and compact, the MK470 Slim Combo is an attractive upgrade for your current setup whether you work in an open workspace or a small home office. The keyboard delivers a pleasing tactile experience for typists, and the mouse tracks and scrolls smoothly so you don’t compromise your productivity. For a budget bundle, the MK470 is hard to beat.

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Don’t Trash Your Old Computer: Here Are 10 Cool Uses For It

Your old computer may feel clunky and outdated when you’re ready to replace it, but there are still plenty of uses for it.

Instead of trashing it, turn your old machine into something useful like a file server or firewall.

But if you really think your equipment is completely shot, you can always recycle or turn it into a cool mod or art project.

We put together some cool ideas for squeezing the most out of your old computer. 

Make a media hub for all your content
Your computer may be old, but there’s a lot of valuable storage left in it. Wipe your hard drive clean and load it with all your favorite movies.

You can then hook it up to your TV with a VGA cable or use a wireless router to distribute video to any device in your house.

Go green and recycle
If your old computer is too old to salvage for anything practical, don’t just throw it away. There are several electronic recycling services that will make sure it doesn’t end up wasting away in a landfill. Click here to see where the EPA suggests you recycle.

Tip: Before sending your computer away for recycling, be sure to erase everything from your hard drive. Even though many recycling programs are trustworthy, you don’t want your data accidentally falling into the wrong hands. 

Help scientists find aliens
The scientists at SETI need all the extra computing power they can get to help them scan the skies for signs of intelligent life in the Milky Way.

With SETI@home, you can turn your old computer into a dedicated processing center for SETI and help them make sense of all that cosmic noise. Just download and run the application and let fate handle the rest. Who knows, maybe your old computer will be the one that finds a message from ET.

Help out with important research
IBM’s World Community Grid uses your spare computing power to help research in a variety of fields: clean water, cancer treatments, clean energy solutions, etc. Like SETI@home, you download a small application that runs in the background to help with calculations for various projects.

Turn your old computer into a homemade file server
By connecting your old computer to your home’s network, you can turn it into a file server for all your PCs. Use it to share files, print remotely, or as a secondary hard drive.

Set up is pretty easy with a router. Just make sure to clear out your hard drive to make space for everything you’ll need. CNET has some great tips to get you started.

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New Dell XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1 confirmed with Intel 11th Gen CPUs

Dell is set to release new XPS 13 and XPS 13 2-in-1 models with Intel 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs and Iris Xe Graphics. The laptops were first spotted in Intel’s 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPU announcement video to the press. 

After the event, a Dell rep reached out to confirm the launch of these new XPS laptops. Dell will reveal the full details of the new models at a later date, so we don’t have any pricing, availability or specs to share right now.

We were, however, sent a few teaser images of the XPS 13
Best laptops 2020
Best 2-in-1 laptops in 2020
Dell XPS 13 (2020) review

The upcoming XPS 13 looks similar if not identical to the most recent release. The edges are diamond-cut, giving them a reflective finish and Dell is sticking with the Arctic White deck, which we suspect will retain its predecessor’s stain-proof glass-fiber weave.

The brief glances we got of the XPS 13 during the Intel CPU event showed a bezel-less display and a keyboard that expands across the deck. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this upcoming XPS 13. Leaker WalkingCat posted a product video showing an XPS 13 in action. As Notebookcheck reports, you can see clearly see the black carbon-fiber weave on the deck, the slim bezels around the screen and the silver metal trim around the edges. 

We can’t say for sure but it looks like the XPS 13 will retain the same design as the previous model, which wouldn’t be surprising considering the early 2020 release was overhauled with thinner bottom bezels, a larger touchpad and a wider keyboard. 

We’re hoping to see similar improvements to the XPS 13 2-in-1, which Dell has chosen to keep under wraps. We’ll update you in the coming weeks as we learn more about the successors of some of our favorite ultra-portable laptops. 

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New Acer Swift laptops are powered by Tiger Lake CPUs — one has 18-hour battery life

Intel’s long-awaited Tiger Lake CPUs will power Acer’s newly updated laptops: the Swift 3 and the Swift 5. We’re eager to find out whether the processors’ performance will match the name of the product lineup.

The Tiger Lake chips, Intel’s upcoming 11th Gen processors, are four-core mobile CPUs that incorporate the new Willow Cove architecture that is built on a new “SuperFin” transistor, which promises better frequency speeds while maintaining high-power efficiency. 

Tiger Lake, packed with Intel’s new Xe graphics, will reportedly provide a “generational leap” in CPU performance — and a new fleet of Acer Swift laptops will house this buzzworthy processor.

The Acer Swift 3 with Tiger Lake CPUs
Acer will launch two iterations of the Swift 3 with Tiger Lake CPUs — the Swift 3 SF313-53 and the Swift 3 SF514-59. The former will sport a 13.5-inch, 400-nit, 2256 x 1504-pixel display and the latter will feature a 14-inch, 1080p display with ultra-narrow 0.2-inch bezels. 

The 13.5-inch Swift 3 will sport a durable magnesium-aluminum chassis. At just 2.6 pounds and 0.6 inches thin, the Swift 3 is svelte and slim. The 14-inch Swift 3 is also 2.6 pounds and is 0.7 inches thin.

Both Swift 3 models offer Thunderbolt 4, Intel Iris Xe graphics, up to 16GB of RAM and a fingerprint reader for quick-and-secure biometric authentication.

While Acer is keeping mum about the battery runtime of 14-inch Swift 3 for now, the company claims that the 13.5-inch Swift 3 will offer up to 18 hours of battery life. If we’ve learned anything from our piece on the egregious differences between vendor battery life estimates and real-world runtimes, we’re going to wait until we test the unit ourselves to get a more true-to-life figure on the 13.5-inch Swift 3’s battery-life endurance.

The Acer Swift 5 with Tiger Lake CPUs 
The Swift 5 is an ultra-thin, “performance-minded” laptop that features an antimicrobial, Corning Gorilla Glass touchscreen display. The screen is framed with ultra-narrow bezels on all four sides, providing a 90% screen-to-body ratio for an immersive viewing experience. Acer claims that the display covers 100% of the sRGB gamut and radiates 340-nits of brightness.

The Swift 5 is powered by 11th Gen Intel Core i5 and i7 processors. Thanks to Intel’s new Iris Xe chip, the Swift 3 can impressively manage video and graphics, according to Acer.

The Swift 5’s chassis, which is made of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum, is super lightweight and weighs 2.3 pounds. Its specially-designed hinge angles the laptop for better thermal performance and improved ergonomics while typing. 

The Swift 5 will adhere to Intel’s EVO (formerly Project Athena) high standards. EVO ensures that devices meet Intel’s strict criteria, including consistent responsiveness, instant wake, fast charging and long-lasting battery life. Acer claims that the Swift 5 can last 17 hours on a charge.

“Acer took meticulous care to ensure that all aspects of the design were elevated to match the best-in-class experience the Intel Evo platform provides to help our customers achieve more,” Acer Notebooks General Manager Justin Lin said.

Highly praised laptops such as the Dell XPS 13, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon and the HP Spectre x360 13 are all Project Athena-verified laptops, so the new Swift 5 will likely blow us away with its Intel EVO-verified performance. The Swift 3 laptops’ Intel EVO-verification certificates are pending.

The Swift 5 has a price tag of $999.99. The 14-inch Swift 3 will cost $699.99 while the 13.5-inch Swift 3 will set you back $799.99. The new Swift 3 and 5 will be available in November.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Acer Laptop Battery

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Lithium Ion Batteries: Is the Mystery Solved?

A recently completed scientific study will revolutionize the makeup of lithium ion batteries. It seems that what scientists have assumed is the slowest part of the chemical reaction in the battery is wrong, and it has been wrong for years. Batteries have been designed with the intention of increasing the speed of this reaction, thus speeding up the battery process, hopefully leading to increased voltage output. The mystery is as the chemical reaction time was decreased by new designs, the reaction times were not improved; this was especially true at high and low voltage use of the battery.

How a Battery Works
In a process long used, but perhaps not fully understood, current has been used to assist electroplating and the operation of batteries. The system involves an electrolyte base fluid, usually an acid that has a specially coated plate, usually with carbon, dipped into it. When voltage is applied, a current is developed by the ions from the fluid being attracted to the compound on the plate. When the current is stopped, the reaction reverses, with the acid attracting the ions back into solution. Eventually, the battery will wear out due to fluid loss or rusting of the plates in the battery. The electrodes are porous, meaning they have open areas in their structure that allow for the collecting of electrons in the material that makes up the electrode. The carbon does not change during this process. Lithium ion batteries make use of this process.

The Limiting Factor
In general, if you want to improve the reaction time of a chemical compound, you need to speed up the processes that show everything down. It was long thought the event that controlled the speed of these reactions in lithium ion batteries, the limiting factor, was the speed by which the ions travel from the solution to solid compound on the plate. There are a series of equations, Butler-Volmer equations, developed in the 1930s that can predict the time loss involved in this process. This allows a battery to be designed for optimal ion flow. Or, until recently, so it was thought.

The New Limiting Factor
It turns out this theory fails to predict the correct speed flows at parts of the lithium ion battery operation, and these are critical areas such as low and high voltage of the batteries. As lithium ion batteries have become more capable of generating higher voltages, the more the Butler-Volmer equations were out of line. Now, two professors at MIT, Peng Bai and Martin Bazant, have found out why. They have developed a method to measure the speeds of the transfers that occur during the reactions in the battery. It turns out that the ion transfer is not really the limiting factor in this reaction, although it can appear that way at some voltages. The real limiting factor is actually the electronic transfer between the solid layers of the plates. This is the transfer between the plate compound and the its coating. The transfer of ions in solution is almost instantaneous under all circumstances, so does not actually limit the battery in any way.

To truly design lithium ion batteries to reflect the actions at the atomic level, a new set of equations is needed. These reactions are described by the Marcus-Hush-Chidsey equations of electron transfer. This new information will be considered in all future lithium ion batteries and should lead to more efficient batteries that can produce higher currents. It could make battery charged cars much more of a reality than is possible at the current time.

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PC market surges as coronavirus forces working from home

As consumers sheltered in place during the second quarter, they bought PCs by the ton. Both Gartner and IDC research firms reported big positive swings in PC and Chromebook sales for the second quarter. Gartner reported a 2.8 percent year-over-year increase, while IDC reported a whopping 11.2-percent boost for the same period.

The two firms have long differed in methodology: IDC includes Chromebook sales, and Gartner does not. That’s significant, as U.S. consumers bought PCs and Chromebooks as students and workers alike weathered the coronavirus. IDC reported unit sales of 21 million in United States, calling it a “double-digit” increase (the firm did not release the exact figure).

Gartner said that worldwide PC sales (excluding Chromebooks or iPads) totaled 64.8 million units, up 2.8 percent from a year ago. Acer and Asus benefited most, reporting 23.6 percent and 21.4 percent worldwide growth, respectively, though they remained in fifth and sixth position in the overall table. But Lenovo is still the world’s leading vendor of PCs, Gartner said.

Gartner put the numbers in a cautionary context, as supply disruptions in Asia warped the market. “The second quarter of 2020 represented a short-term recovery for the worldwide PC market, led by exceptionally strong growth in EMEA,” said Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner, in a statement. “After the PC supply chain was severely disrupted in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the growth this quarter was due to distributors and retail channels restocking their supplies back to near-normal levels.”

Gartner warned that laptop sales would slow once everyone had bought what they needed. “Mobile PC growth was particularly strong, driven by several factors including business continuity for remote working, online education and consumers’ entertainment needs,” Kitagawa added. “However, this uptick in mobile PC demand will not continue beyond 2020, as shipments were mainly boosted by short-term business needs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In the United States, HP benefited most from the surge in demand, with Microsoft right behind. Gartner reported that HP’s sales jumped by over 20 percent. Microsoft demonstrated 15.2-percent unit growth for the period. That’s the fifth consecutive quarter of growth in PC sales for the United States.

“Strong mobile PC demand in the U.S. was driven by shelter in place rules enforced as a response to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Gartner’s Kitagawa said. “While some states eased restrictions during the second quarter of 2020, many businesses continued to prepare for a potential resurgence of the virus, resulting in strong demand for mobile PCs as a precautionary measure.”

IDC was even more enthusiastic about the present, but concerned about a future downturn. “Early indicators suggest strong PC shipments for education, enterprise, and consumer, muted somewhat by frozen SMBs,” said Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices and Displays at IDC, in a statement. “With inventory still back ordered, this goodwill will continue into July. However, as we head deeper into a global recession, the goodwill sentiment will increasingly sour.”

IDC gave the nod to Apple. which the firm said sold 36 percent more PCs than it had during the second quarter of 2019. HP, the current market leader, also performed well, with 17.7-percent sales growth.

“The strong demand driven by work-from-home as well as e-learning needs has surpassed previous expectations and has once again put the PC at the center of consumers’ tech portfolio,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, in a statement. “What remains to be seen is if this demand and high level of usage continues during a recession and into the post-COVID world since budgets are shrinking while schools and workplaces reopen.”

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The Chromebook Spin 713 is Acer’s high-end model for work or home

The Acer Chromebook Spin 713 takes the company in a new direction. Acer has sold vast quantities of inexpensive, basic Chromebooks for school and home use—and it announced a new one on Tuesday, at the company’s next@acer virtual event: the $260 Chromebook Spin 311. In contrast the Chromebook Spin 713, also announced Tuesday, is a far fancier product that will have a starting price of $630 when it ships in the United States in July. An enterprise version will start at $1,100. 

If you stopped reading there, you embody the big question about high-end Chromebooks: Who’s going to buy these things? Chromebooks gobbled up a fair chunk of the PC market by being simpler and super-cheap alternatives to Windows-based models. Some people are clearly ready for something a little better—the HP Chromebook x360 12b is selling well, for instance, at $360 on Adorama.

At higher prices, it’s harder to say that a Chromebook is a better deal than a like-priced Windows laptop. But vendors are trying: Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook, starting at $1,000, is another recent example. 

We don’t know how the Chromebook Spin 713 will fare. Based on the specs and the design information we have, however, it sounds like a nice laptop. Here’s everything we know. 

Intel Project Athena pedigree
The most notable aspect of the Chromebook Spin 713’s design is that it has a design. Most Chromebooks are anonymous plastic slabs. The Chromebook Spin 713 is the result of a partnership between Acer and Intel’s Project Athena, an initiative to encourage innovation in the design and performance of Intel-based laptops. Project Athena laptops have to meet standards for being thin, light, and long-lasting on battery, among other criteria. This is Acer’s first Chromebook to go through the program. The all-aluminum chassis has also passed the MIL-STD 810G spec, meaning it can withstand more bumps, shocks, and drops than the typical laptop shell.

Many Project Athena qualities bear out only in testing, which we haven’t had a chance to do yet with the Chromebook Spin 713. If and until we do, we can at least share the specs and a few photos provided by Acer, so you can think about how much you’d be willing to pay for a nicer Chromebook.

Chromebook Spin 713 features and specs
The Chromebook Spin 713’s spec list could hold up well against that of any midpriced Windows laptop. The 360-degree hinge means it’s versatile, too, functioning as a tablet, presentation display, or traditional clamshell laptop. Note that we have only the starting price of $630, and models with the higher-end options will cost more. 

CPU
The CPU options, all from Intel, are unusually broad for a Chromebook. At the lowest end, there’s a Pentium Gold 6405U, which we assume is the CPU for the lowest-cost version. Manage your expectations accordingly: This CPU can handle everyday tasks, but it will struggle with intensive web applications or games. 

All the other CPU options come from Intel’s 10th-gen Comet Lake Core CPU family, using Intel’s aged 14nm architecture but exercising higher clock speeds to boost performance. The specific CPUs available with the Chromebook Spin 713 are the Core i3-10110U, Core i5-10210U, Core i5-10310U, and Core i7-10510U. 

Memory
Again, you have some choices in memory, which is unusual and welcome. It looks like some lower-end models will offer 4GB of single-channel DDR4 SDRAM. Higher-end models will offer 8GB or 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 SDRAM. 

Storage
Lower-end Chromebook use inexpensive (and slow) eMMC, which is available for the Chromebook Spin 713 in 64GB and 128GB capacities. But take heart, Acer also offers SSD options, 128GB or 256GB PCIe NVMe.

Display
The Chromebook Spin 713’s touch display has a diagonal size of 13.5 inches, neatly splitting the difference between the portability that a smaller screen offers, and the greater productivity a 14-inch or larger one provides. The bezels are slender, another difference from lower-cost Chromebooks. The display is coated with Corning Gorilla Glass, and there’s even an antimicrobial option that’s suddenly interesting in a pandemic world.

The resolution is good at 2K (2256×1504), especially considering how many HD (1366×768) displays show up on cheaper Chromebooks. Even better is the 3:2 aspect ratio, which makes scrolling work documents far less tedious than it is on the more common 16:9 aspect ratio. 

The Intel UHD integrated graphics will suffice for mainstream productivity.

Connectivity
Acer didn’t specify connectivity, but a close look at the photographs suggests there will be HDMI, two USB-C, one USB-A, an SD card slot, and a SIM slot. There’s no dedicated AC charger port shown, so the laptop likely charges via USB-C.

Networking: Intel Wireless Wi-Fi 6 AX201, Bluetooth 5.0 
Battery life: Up to 10 hours from a 3-cell pack
Weight: 3.02 pounds
Dimensions: 11.83 x 9.25 x 0.66 inches

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