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Laptops, Tablets, eReaders

Acer Presents Tough Chromebook 11 N7

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Acer Presents Tough Chromebook 11 N7

CES 2017 has Acer present a Chrome OS-powered notebook able to take a beating-- the Chromebook 11 N7 is compliant with the US MIL-STD 810G military standard, making it tough as nails.

According to the company the notebook can withstand up to 60kg of downward force on the top cover and resist falls of up to 1.2m. It also features corners able to take the blunt foce off impacts, while the keyboard is in spill-resistant rubber and can drain up to 0.3 litres of liquid. As a result of such reinforced casing, the notebook weighs around 1.35kg.

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Razer Presents Triple-Display Laptop

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Razer Presents Triple-Display Laptop

Razer upholds its CES tradition of showing off unusual concept PCs with Project Valerie, a version of the Blade Pro gaming laptop only featuring three 17-inch displays. Yes, you read that right.

For the full triple-display experience one needs to slide two full-size screens from the size of the main monitor, creating a crazy widescreen display. The displays are top-notch, being 4K IGZO panels complete with Nvidia G-Sync and Surround technologies to ensure immersive multi-display action in 12K resolution.

Of course, such capabilities require a hefty machine-- the Project Valerie prototype seen at CES is twice as thick as the Razer Blade Pro, and weighs 5kg. But such dimensions also ensure the laptop has enough power to drive a VR headset, while the monitors can handle the full Adobe RGB colour space.

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An eReader One Can Draw On

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An eReader One Can Draw On

The reMarkable might look like an unremarkable ePaper tablet, but it hides an interesting trick up its sleeve-- one can draw on the 10.3-inch "Canvas" display, making it a combination of electronic device and paper notepad.

According to the makers the display has a paper-like surface and a low latency of 55ms, meaning it can handle writing or drawing with the included Marker stylus without noticeable delay. This makes it superior to similar devices seen in previous years, whose displays failed to handle the capabilities of a regular piece of paper and a pen.

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HP's Tough Laptop for Schools

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HP's Tough Laptop for Schools

HP announces a laptop it claims is "tested to military field standards"-- the ProBook x360 11 Education Edition, an 11-inch convertible laptop aimed at the educational segment featuring a rugged build.

The military standard mentioned by the company is MIL-STD-810G, a standard covering a wide array of resitances, including drops of around 75cm and liquid spills on the keyboard. Construction is in hard industrial rubber, and Gorilla Glass displays come as an optional extra.

Being a convertible device, the ProBook x360 features touchscreen and active pen support, together with a hinge offering 4 different usage modes. An "explorer mode" dual-camera system allows users to take videos in tablet mode while viewing what is being recorded in real-time.

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IDC: Premium Drives Q3 Tablet Market

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IDC: Premium Drives Q3 Tablet Market

According to IDC Q3 2016 tablet shipments reach 8.2 million in W. Europe-- a -6.7% Y-o-Y decline, with the quarter trending towards the expansion of hybrid/detachable devices and tablets aimed at the commercial market.

In fact, hybrids see solid 48.4% Y-o-Y growth, while the commercial segment is up by 13% Y-o-Y. Hybrids tend to have higher prices, and as a result the number of devices in the €600+ price band sees 66.7% Y-o-Y growth, making 10.6% of the total Q3 2016 market. It also lead to revenue growth of 4.8% Y-o-Y to €2.5 billion, despite the aforementioned shipment decline.

"The increasing penetration of detachables, particularly in the commercial space, is sustaining tablet market value despite the contraction in volume," the analyst says. "The offer available in the market continues to grow, along with enterprises' increasing interest in technologies that fit their mobile strategies. As a result detachables, particularly those with the performance and security to meet enterprise standards, are continuously gaining traction and this is boosting demand for premium devices."

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Asus Water-Cools GX800 Laptop

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Asus Water-Cools GX800 Laptop

Laptops are supposed to be designed for mobile computing, but ASUS ROG clearly missed the memo with the GX800-- a bigger and more powerful sequel to the GX700 featuring a bulkier water cooling module.

The GX800 is a super-sized gaming laptop, with an 18.4-inch 3840 x 2160 resolution display promising to cover 100% of RGB colour space. Inside is an Intel Core i7-6820HK CPU, a 45W TDP 4C/8T number normally running at 2.7/3.6GHz. However, the addition of the grandly named Hydro Overclocking System boosts the clock to 4.2GHz, while the DDR4 RAM inside the machine gets clocked as high as 2800MHz.

Powering the graphics is a pair of GTX 1080 GPUs overclocked to 1961MHz, making for a machine with a 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra score of 10395. G-Sync support is included, while the keyboard is a MechTAG number with mechanical switches, 2.5mm key travel, 100% anti-ghosting and 30-key rollover. Storage comes through x3 M.2 NVMe SSDs in RAID 0 configuration.

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Three New iPad Pros for March 2017?

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Three New iPad Pros for March 2017?

According to Barclays analysts citing Asian supply chain sources Apple plans to launch 3 iPad Pro models on March 2017-- refreshed versions of the 9.7- and 12.9-inch models, and a bezel-free 10.9-inch version.

As detailed in a research note obtained by MacRumors, the bezel-free design allows the 10.9-inch iPad Pro to be the same physical size as the current 9.7-inch tablet, meaning it has an edge-to-edge design and and possibly no Home button. Speaking of the smaller iPad Pro, the analysts add the 9.7-inch model will be relegated to "low-cost" status together with the 7.9-inch iPad mini, a device not getting a 2017 refresh.

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IDC: Hybrids Lead Declining Tablet Market

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IDC: Hybrids Lead Declining Tablet Market

IDC reports the global tablet market remains on a slump-- Q3 2016 shipments total 43 million, a -14.7% Y-o-Y decline, even if the market does see a Q-o-Q increase of 9.8% as larger vendors preparing for the holiday quarter.

In the meantime low-cost (sub-$200) hybrid tablets shipments see an all-time high, the result of vendors such as RCA flooding the market. However such devices deliver a low-cost experience, and can prove detrimental to the market in the long run as customers can consider such devices as disposable, rather than potential PC replacements.

"Beyond the different end-user experience delivered by low- and high-end tablets, we're witnessing real tectonic movements in the market with slate companion devices sold at the low-end serving a broader platform strategy, like Amazon is doing with Alexa on its Fire Tablets, and more expensive productivity tools closer to true computing and legitimate notebook replacement devices that should manage to keep average prices up," the analyst adds.

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MacBook Pro Gets Touch Bar in 2016 Update

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MacBook Pro Gets Touch Bar in 2016 Update

Apple announces the next generation of MacBook Pro-- one featuring what the company calls a "Touch Bar," a slim multi-touch display located just above the keyboard, replacing the function keys.

The Touch Bar is an interesting addition, since it automatically provides app-specific commands. For example, Mail has it display buttons to create new messages, replying or moving an email to the trash, while in Safari it allows users to preview tabs, switch between tabs and go to a favourited site, all without need for mouse or trackpad commands. The Touch Bar is also customisable, and as such one can add features or buttons as required.

Another MacBook first is a Touch ID sensor-- a sapphire crystal-covered number located on the right of the Touch Bar. It is powered with a new chip, the T1, and promises to keep fingerprint data safe as well as allow users to switch between multiple profiles with a simple touch.

On the hardware side, the new MacBook Pro comes in 13- and 15-inch versions, and is described as the thinnest yet at 14.9mm. The 13-inch version carries a 2.9GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB RAM and Intel Iris Graphics 550 GPU, while the 15GB ups the spects to a 2.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM and a Radeon Pro 450 GPU. Both offer 256GB of SSD storage, as well as a larger Force Touch trackpad and connectivity via x4 Thunderbolt/USB-C ports.

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