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Laptops

HP spices up its Spectre x360 and Envy 13 notebooks

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HP Spectre x360 tent

Anyone familiar with HP’s recent offerings knows just how great their designs are as of late, from the sexy Spectre 13 laptop to the unique desktop PCs launched during IFA 2016. Now, the Spectre x360 and Envy 13 are getting a refresh with the all-new design language and logo.

HP Spectre x360

HP Spectre x360 folded

All HP products with the “x360” branding have a rotating hinge, and the newest Spectre is no different. This lets you fold the display all the way back like other convertibles, but what’s truly special is the edge-to-edge display on the 13.3-inch model.

With 3.4mm bezels on the left and right sides of the screen, the space is well maximized, especially when in tablet mode. Sadly, the thin bezels don’t apply to the 15.6-inch variant, but it can be equipped with a 4K resolution, whereas the smaller one is limited to Full HD 1080p.

HP Spectre x360 top

Naturally, you’d think the battery lives would suffer, but HP claims the two convertibles can last up to 16 hours of balanced usage. That would take some magic to pull off, but the secret probably lies in the seventh-generation Intel Core i7 or i5 processor inside, along with non-power-hungry SSD storage and the option to go up to 16GB of RAM.

The price begins at $1,050, and that’s for the most basic variant. It’s a good deal, though, since every unit comes with a solid aluminum chassis, glass trackpad, and four built-in speakers designed by Bang & Olufsen.

HP Envy 13

HP Envy 13

The Envy 13 doesn’t have the cool bendy bodies of the Spectres, but it’s just as slim as the two convertibles — 14mm for the Envy, while the smaller Spectre is 13.8mm in height and the larger one tops at 15.9mm.

The 13-inch notebook is a little cheaper too, retailing for only $850, and it still has an all-metal body that weighs around 2.8lbs (about 1.27kg). The Envy 13 also has the advantage of having two full-sized USB 3.0 ports, along with one USB Type-C port. The Spectres are limited to a single USB 3.0 port, but have two USB Type-C ports (with Thunderbolt 3) in exchange.

HP Envy 13 folded

Everything else is up to par: seventh-generation Intel Core i7 or i5 processor, up to 16GB of memory, up to 1TB of storage, and Bang & Olufsen speakers.

The updated Spectre x360 convertibles are already available, and you can purchase an Envy 13 beginning October 26.

Laptops

Acer announces new Chromebook Spin 11 for a cheaper price

Fully compatible with a Wacom pen

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It’s a case of déjà vu. A year after the first one, Acer has announced the Chromebook Spin 11 for a second time. This time, it has better parts, a cheaper price, and more consumer-friendly availability.

Previously, the Spin 11 was launched exclusively for the education sector, offering the needed durability and flexibility for a student. The new Spin 11, however, packs more punch for a lower price. The announcements comes only a few weeks removed from Acer’s other announcements at CES 2018.

The new Chromebook Spin 11 (CP311-1H/CP311-1HN) comes in three flavors of processors — Intel Pentium quad-core N4200, quad-core Celeron N3450, or dual-core Celeron N3350. It’s a bit more than the previous model which came only with the N3350.

Acer also offers variability with storage and memory. It is available in either 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4 for RAM. Meanwhile, it offers 32GB or 64GB variants for internal storage.

It also comes with a 11.6-inch IPS display with a 1366 x 768-pixel resolution. Like the previous model, the notebook is fitted with a 360-degree hinge that allows for laptop, tablet, display, and tent modes.

The Spin 11 pushes the emerging trend for USB Type-C charging. While it does reduce variability, it will boast of an uptime that lasts “all day.”

Besides charging, it sports two USB-C 3.1 ports, two USB-A 3.0 ports, and a microSD reader for connectivity. Likewise, Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.2 round the laptop out for wireless connectivity.

However, the new notebook’s biggest upgrade is its compatibility with a Wacom EMR stylus, which comes packaged with the CP311-1HN model. It doesn’t require a battery and is resistant to trauma. Before the Spin 11, only a handful of hybrid notebooks came with a stylus.

The Acer Chromebook Spin 11 will start shipping out in March. It’ll come with a price tag of US$ 349.

SEE ALSO: Acer’s new Swift 7 is thinner than ever

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Laptops

Google lead designer reveals prototypes of Pixel 2, Home Mini, Pixelbook

A touch of human

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It’s not too often that we get a behind-the-scenes look at the drawing boards of premium hardware products, but when we do, it’s magical.

Ivy Ross, who’s the lead designer of Google’s latest devices, revealed the ideas and executions she and her team put into making their gadgets.

Published on The She Word (a series featuring the women of Google on the company’s blog), Ross discussed a variety of topics ranging from her early beginnings as a young designer to the aesthetics of Pixel and Home devices.

When asked what the most important design principle of Google’s hardware is, she had this to say:

Human. By that I mean friendly, emotionally appealing, and easy to fit into your life and your home.

She goes on to explain that three-dimensional and tactile aesthetics are important after spending so much time in front of flat screens. That’s why her design team puts so much emphasis on fabric materials.

Through images, the blog post also showed off the progress from multiple prototypes to finished product for Google’s most important items:

The visual progression of the Pixel 2 XL’s design is arguably the most interesting. You can see how the flagship phone went from a squarish panda to a more rounded one.

Ross became the head of design for Google’s hardware team in mid-2016, and has since made her mark as the company’s most human designer to date.

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Computers

Microsoft’s new patches may be harming your PC

The Meltdown and Spectre patches are duds!

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The Meltdown drama continues. Days after researchers confirmed the existence of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, big firms like Microsoft and Apple started issuing patches against the bug. Microsoft’s fixes, however, might be doing more harm than good.

Microsoft’s series of patches have been causing issues among those who installed it already. Users are reporting that the patches have caused their PCs to run slower than usual.

Surprisingly, Microsoft themselves have confirmed the reports. A wide range of devices are indeed slowing down because of the patches. The firm has also listed down the affected PCs, as described below.

First, PCs that run Windows 10 on newer processors like Skylake and Kaby Lake show “single-digit” but hardly noticeable slowdowns. Meanwhile, PCs that run Windows 10 on fourth generation or earlier chips will suffer from noticeable slowdown. Finally, those that run Windows 8 or 7 on older chips will be most hit by the performance issues.

The chaos doesn’t even stop there. Some users have even reported that their PCs have stopped booting entirely. In an open thread on Microsoft’s support forums, a user suffering from a bricked PC has been joined by a torrent of users who are suffering from the same issue.

As with the performance issues, Microsoft has issued a statement regarding the unbootable state. This time, they have pinpointed that AMD processors are to blame for the issue, citing a lack of documentation on AMD’s part.

Microsoft has since halted distribution of the erring security patch to AMD processors. Their support team is working to resolve the issue among those already affected by the issue. Meanwhile, Microsoft and AMD developers are working to put out a more stable fix for the Spectre flaw.

Despite the lack of workable fixes for the issue, Microsoft is assuring its users that harmful exploits have not been discovered out in the wild. Not yet, that is.

SEE ALSO: Newly discovered bugs leave two decades of devices vulnerable

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