Acer, if you haven’t heard, recently held its Next@Acer event in New York City, where it showed off a bunch of new laptops, PCs, and mobile devices that are slated to hit stores.
With a flurry of possibly desirable consumer products in its arsenal — from a Windows 10 convertible with a liquid-cooling system to a super-durable Chromebook to a smartphone with a 5,000mAh battery — Taiwan’s Acer indeed seems hell-bent on clawing out of the hole it has dug for itself in the wake of the PC’s decline.
And from what we’ve seen and heard during the event (Acer provided a live-steaming video feed from the show floor), the company could be headed in the right direction on the road back to the big leagues.
That said, here are five upcoming Acer products that have caught our fancy the most.
Acer Liquid Zest Plus
If you can get past the awkward naming convention — to which many other phone makers are guilty of — Acer’s 5.5-inch Liquid Zest Plus might be a decent choice for road warriors who prefer the convenience of a massive 5,000mAh cell, rather than carrying around a portable charger or extra battery.
Even more impressive is that the device includes fast charging over a wired charger and a 13-megapixel rear camera that combines three autofocus technologies: laser, contrast detection, and phase detection. The Liquid Zest Plus also has a sub-$250 price tag, bringing it within the reach of mainstream users.
Acer Switch Alpha 12
The Alpha 12 is a hybrid-tablet-slash-Surface-rival that comes with a keyboard dock and a built-in kickstand for use as a laptop. Unlike similar machines, however, it packs liquid cooling into a fan-less design to keep its sixth-generation Intel Skylake processor running cool.
The tablet is slated for release sometime in June. The base model starts at $599 (P28,000), though the price doesn’t cover the magnetic keyboard attachment. Pricing for the latter has yet to be announced.
Acer Aspire S 13
Measuring just 14.5mm at its widest point and weighing 3 pounds, the S 13 is yet again proof that notebooks could be made thinner and lighter than ever before.
Sure, it’s not as attractive as the latest HP Spectre, nor does it have copper accents — the S 13 is, in fact, a boring white slab with moderately sized bezels. But it also has a starting price that’s hard to ignore for a notebook this portable: $699 (P33,000).
Couple that with a 13-inch 1080p matte display — touch optional — a sixth-gen Intel Core i series CPU, up to 8GB of RAM and 512MB of SSD storage, USB 3.1 Type-C and USB 3.0 ports, and battery life that lasts up to 13 hours, and you’ve got a rather compelling package.
Acer Chromebook 14 for Work
Acer is the world’s leading manufacturer of Chromebooks — machines that run Google’s Chrome OS — having been a big supporter of the category over the years, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it would go to great lengths to create a rugged Chromebook that can survive the elements and impact from a 4-foot drop onto a hard surface.
Like other Acer laptops on this list, the Chromebook 14 for Work is powered by the latest Intel Skylake processors that allow for faster speeds and improved graphics performance while maintaining decent battery life. It will be available next month with a $349 (P16,500) starting price.
Acer Predator 17X
The Acer Predator 17X joins a very short list of gaming laptops built for high-end VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. This behemoth of a not-so-easily-portable VR rig — it weighs in at 10 pounds and is about as thick as powerful laptops get — carries a desktop-class Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics card so you can be certain it will play games in virtual reality nicely, something we can’t say about many machines priced beneath it.
That brings us to the price, which is, as you’d expect, cringe-inducing: The Predator 17X will sell for $2,799 (P130,000) when it goes on sale in June in the U.S.
But pricing aside, a laptop with this kind of feature set will only appeal to a very niche audience — in this case, VR developers who’d be willing to spend thousands of dollars to work from anywhere without lugging around a bulky desktop computer.
Honor 10 Unboxing and Hands-on
Huawei P20 with a cheaper price tag
Huawei’s sub-brand is making a name for itself with the launch of its flagship phone to the world, the Honor 10.
The phone sports the same features as the pricier Huawei P20: Kirin 970 with neural processing chip enabled, the latest EMUI 8.1 software based on Android 8.1 Oreo, a fingerprint sensor in front, and dual cameras. Two of the biggest differences are the lack of Leica branding and inclusion of a headphone jack — all in a cheaper price tag.
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Vivo unwraps X21 World Cup Edition
It’s less than a month until the 2018 World Cup in Russia and FIFA’s official smartphone sponsor is pulling out all the stops before kickoff. After announcing the much-awaited launch of the retail model of the Vivo APEX concept phone, Vivo is treating fans to what the company dubs the Extraordinaire Edition of the X21. And as expected, it has World Cup extravaganza written all over it.
Based on the box alone you can already tell that this edition of the X21 is not just any other smartphone from Vivo. Unlike the less appealing white boxes we’ve encountered recently, this one is adorned with the 2018 World Cup pattern and an embossed silhouette of the X21 with the World Cup and Vivo logos front and center. There’s also a hint of the in-display fingerprint sensor, a feature pioneered by Vivo that hasn’t rolled out to any other smartphone but the X21.
The special edition X21 comes in two variants — painted with Russia’s colors, either blue or red. The World Cup pattern is a little bit more pronounced in these glass backs and it’s making me sing “Waka Waka” in my head. Wrong song, I know. 😂
Does it not make you go zamina mina éh éh? As far as specs go, it’s the same X21 that launched earlier this year: 6.28-inch AMOLED display, Snapdragon 660, 3,200 mAh battery, 6GB of memory, and 128GB of internal storage, a pair of 12MP and 5MP main shooters, and a 12MP camera up front for selfies.
Flipping the phone around, you get a Russia 2018 wallpaper and a custom Dusha typeface throughout the entire interface. Notice that the phone has a smaller chin bezel thanks to the futuristic under-display fingerprint sensor.
What’s a special edition smartphone without a custom icon pack? I love how the settings icon in this theme looks like a football! It’s subtle design choices like this that makes special edition phones more premium; it’s well thought out and is not just a gimmick.
Speaking of design choices, boy am I ready to see these squads on the pitch! Vivo is also offering custom shells and I’m definitely copping that Argentina case (the blue one) to match my kit. The designs are based on popular teams’ colors, clockwise from bottom left: Brazil, Argentina, Portugal, and what looks like Egypt but is supposed to be Germany — we’ll save the discussion for why it should have had a gold trim instead of white for another time.
The most important question that needs an answer is, did Vivo just predict the Top 4? We’ll find out soon enough. There are also custom themes based on the four teams so it matches your case and your team spirit. They will be available for download on the Vivo theme store.
The best part: Unlike Samsung’s Olympic edition phones, both variants of the X21 will not be exclusive to athletes and officials only. The X21 Extraordinaire Edition will retail for CNY 3,698 (US$ 579), and the blue variant will be on sale starting May 26, and red on June 1.
Samsung Galaxy A6 Hands-on: Repackaging the older series
A combination of the Galaxy J7 Pro and Galaxy A8
The latest midrange phones of Samsung are finally hitting the stores, but they got us a little confused. Since the introduction of the Galaxy A series, it has always been the family of upper-midrange Samsung phones with a premium design. In 2018 though, Samsung is blending the Galaxy A and Galaxy J’s designs; the result is the new Galaxy A6 phones. There’s a regular and a better plus variant, but let’s check out the former first.
This is the Galaxy A6: A phone with a 5.6-inch Super AMOLED display and an 18.5:9 aspect ratio or Infinity Display, as Samsung calls it. The resolution of the display is underwhelming at just 1480 x 720 pixels or 294ppi, but it’s still pretty sharp. The Infinity Display of the Galaxy A6 doesn’t curve to the sides unlike with the Galaxy S9 flagship, yet the bezels are minimal.
We have the usual sight in the front including the 16-megapixel f/1.9 selfie camera paired with its own LED flash, earpiece, and sensors. There’s no branding on the face of the phone so when the display is turned off, it looks sleek and clean on the table.
Too bad it doesn’t have the Always On Display feature, even though it has an AMOLED screen.
Having the loudspeaker at the side has now been a staple among Samsung midrange phones. It’s a much better placement than on the bottom since you don’t cover or muffle it when viewing in landscape orientation. This is ideal for watching videos or playing mobile games.
Those who dislike making a choice between a microSD card or secondary SIM card will be glad to see the triple card slots of the Galaxy A6. There are two card trays inside the phone: one for the main nano-SIM card and another for the second nano-SIM and the microSD card.
The body of the phone is mainly made up of aluminum with U-shaped antennas similar to the Galaxy J7 Pro’s frame. To be honest, the Galaxy A6 can easily be mistaken for the Galaxy J7 Pro if not for the rear camera. Speaking of, the Galaxy A6 has a 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear sensor inside an area shared with the fingerprint sensor. Thankfully, it’s identical to the Galaxy A8’s and Galaxy S9’s placement.
Going further into the internals of the Galaxy A6, it’s powered by an Exynos 7870 processor — the same silicon the popular Galaxy J7 Prime had back in 2016. The processor is getting old, so we’re hoping Samsung will use a newer one in their next release.
Good thing the bigger Galaxy A6+ has the latest Snapdragon 450, or else it’ll be just an under-powered midrange phone.
The variant we have here has 3GB of memory and 32GB of storage, but there’s also a 4GB/64GB combo available in select markets.
The Samsung Galaxy A6 with the 3GB/32GB configuration retails for PhP 16,490 in the Philippines while in India, it goes from INR 21,990 up to INR 22,990 depending on the variant.
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