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Best MacBook Pro 15 alternatives

 

As much as some of us may deride the MacBook Pro’s awful keyboard, annoying Touch Bar and over-reliance on USB-C connections, its balance of screen quality, weight, battery life and performance has no Windows-based peer. But once you plop price on the other side of that scale, things look somewhat different.

And that’s OK. Because most people don’t need that balance. For instance, the MacBook’s screen is great for creatives because of its wide gamut with accurate Adobe RGB colors. But color accuracy is a niche the bulk of MacBook buyers don’t need to squeeze themselves into. You may only care about sRGB or plan to plug into an external display. Maybe you plug in wherever you go and don’t care as much about battery life. Or maybe you just want the most powerful portable available to use as a desktop replacement.

Windows laptop screens also have a bright spot on the horizon: Samsung’s started production on 15-inch OLED displays. OLED delivers true blacks, which results in a high contrast, and it has the wide color gamut and accuracy that will allow for more competitive laptops on that front.

And one nice thing about Windows laptops is the variety. In this case there are 14-inch laptops that are slightly smaller and lighter than the 15-inch MacBook Pro, but not quite as small as the 13-inch model, for less money.   

Best overall alternative

Asus ZenBook Pro 15

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Zenbook is the closest equivalent to a MacBook we’ve found, though it doesn’t look anything like one. It’s roughly the same size and weight, with a color-accurate 100 percent Adobe RGB 4K display — and therefore a higher pixel density than Apple’s Retina — and discrete graphics. While it performs well, it still lags behind the comparable Core i9-8950HK MacBook, though that might be attributed to the difference in memory configurations. Its big weakness is battery life. But it costs ,300 compared to ,100 for an equivalent MacBook, and it will most likely outperform the entry-level 15-inch MacBook at around the same price. The second-screen touchpad seems gimmicky, but it might feed any Touch Bar nostalgia you’re feeling.

Best comparable design

Razer Blade 15

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If you’re drawn to a MacBook Pro for its featureless-slab aesthetic, Razer’s your Windows go-to, especially now that the company’s offering a model in Mercury White. It’s priced similarly to the entry-level MacBook Pro model and should provide a similar level of performance. But the white version of the Razer only comes with a 1,980×1,080-pixel screen and is limited to an i7-8750H processor, relatively small 512GB SSD and 16GB RAM. It also weighs 0.5 pounds more. 

If you’re willing to go black, you can get a 4K 100 percent Adobe RGB screen (I haven’t tested it for accuracy, though) and a GeForce RTX 2070 for ,900. That’s more expensive than the comparable MacBook configuration (around ,700), but it’s far more gameworthy. Battery life is pretty meh, however, and with the 4K screen is likely even worse.

Best for battery life and light weight

Lenovo Yoga C930

Angela Lang/CNET

With roughly the same insides, the C930 is ,600 vs. the 13-incher’s ,300 or the ,400 base configuration of the 15. It’s also a convertible, which is more flexible, and has better battery life. The performance won’t match that 15-inch base configuration, however. You can opt for the 4K display over the default 1,920×1,080-pixel screen in order to get Retina-beating pixel density, but it will cost another 00 and tank the battery life.

Best performer as a desktop replacement

Alienware Area-51m

Sarah Tew/CNET

This lacks the elegant design of the MacBook, but if you need raw power in a desktop replacement, this 17-inch behemoth can be configured to outperform the top-end MacBook Pro. You can get a desktop-class i9-9900K processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080, 64GB RAM and 3TB storage (2TB SSD). That will run you ,150, though. 

Starting at a more modest ,330, you can still get a desktop-class octo-core i7, RTX 2070, 16GB and 1TB SSD. That should still deliver comparable performance to a ,500 MacBook, and you can add a boatload of connectors. It’ll handle games well too. The Alienware only has an 1,920×1,080 display, which is kind of sad. It’s intended to be run while plugged in — with two AC adapters — so it doesn’t matter that a 4K display would sap the already sad battery life.

Best budget option

Matebook Pro X

Sarah Tew/CNET

You can save a lot of money by dropping to 14 inches. The Matebook Pro X delivers performance equal to the last-generation top-end MacBook 15 but at ,300 (discounted from ,500) costs less than the cheapest Retina MacBook 13. The 3,000×2,000-pixel screen delivers better-than-Retina pixel density, accurate sRGB color and the laptop is thinner and lighter than a 15-inch MacBook. Plus, battery life is decent.

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5 ways Apple can make the next MacBooks better than ever

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The next Apple product launch is locked in for Sept. 12. New iPhones and Apple Watches are a near certainty — convincing photos of both have been leaked — and a new iPad Pro with a big Face ID redesign seems likely too. With all of that, will Apple even have time to showcase the new MacBook laptops and desktops that are rumored to be waiting in the wings, too? Or will the company follow-up with a smaller Mac event in October, as it sometimes does — or maybe even just opt for a ‘no stage event’ release, as it did with the recent MacBook Pro updates?

The short answer: We don’t know. But looking at the Mac lineup, the high-end is in pretty good shape, and it’s the laptops for the rest of us that need serious attention.

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The company has followed through on its promise to address the needs of pro-level users. Even if video editors, photographers and animators didn’t get everything they wanted, the latest MacBook Pro laptops, released in July, offer Intel Core i9 processors, True Tone screens, and new RAM and storage options. The iMac Pro desktop is barely 9 months old, and Apple has already pledged a new replacement for the ‘trashcan’ Mac Pro in 2019.

But for the rest of us, things are a jumble of outdated and confusing options. The ‘entry-level’ products aimed at average consumers have been untouched since early 2017 or earlier. The once-mighty 99 MacBook Air was the go-to laptop on college campuses and coffee shops for years, but today it lacks a truly modern screen and processor. Macs have never been budget laptops, but that doesn’t mean Apple can’t show the rest of us a little love.

To that end — whether these updates come on Sept. 12 or later — here’s my five-point plan for making the MacBook mainstream again.

Bring the latest keyboard fix to everyone

People have mixed feelings about the super-flat keyboards currently on every Mac laptop (except the old-school MacBook Air), and the issue with small debris causing stuck or broken keys are real – we’ve seen it in action. The latest MacBook Pro laptops stealthily added a thin membrane under the keyboard to block crumbs and dust. But it’s only on the most expensive laptops that were just updated for 2018, not the cheaper, no-Touch Bar Pro or the 12-inch MacBook. So if we’re sticking with this keyboard design, roll out the fix across the board.

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Get flexible on ports

Now that Apple is no longer selling its one pre-2016 15-inch MacBook Pro, only the ancient Air and Mac desktops now have USB-A — the old-school rectangular USB port — HDMI and other legacy ports. Everyone else is stuck with USB-C, which has many positive attributes (it’s small, reversible and can handle power, data, video and accessories), but can also be a gigantic pain point for those of us living in the real world, where you sometimes run into a USB memory stick, a mouse with a USB connector, or a display or TV set you need to connect to via HDMI. I say this every six months or so, but I hope Apple considers sneaking a USB-A or maybe even an HDMI port back into the mix. A microSD slot would also be welcome — and would definitely fit on slim Apple laptop bodies where full-size SD wouldn’t.

Banish low-res screens (and giant bezels)

The 13-inch MacBook Air is still a pretty great laptop. The keyboard and touchpad are excellent, the size and design mostly hold up, and even the older processor isn’t a big deal for everyday computing. But that low-resolution 1,366×768 display, surrounded by a huge silver bezel, is a major eyesore in today’s world of nearly bezel-free 4K screens. For a thousand-dollar laptop, it’s unconscionable.

It’s fine if upgrades like True Tone are reserved for the Pro models, but Apple needs to have Retina screens across its entire computer line — period.

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Embrace the 99 consumer

The current laptop options for mainstream MacBook buyers aren’t always pretty. There’s the aged MacBook Air, which has been stuck in a time loop for years, but at least is still available for under ,000. After that, it’s the entry level (non-Touch Bar) 13-inch MacBook Pro or the 12-inch MacBook, both of which start at ,299, despite being very, very different machines. That means, unless you’re cool with a low-res screen and old processor, there’s basically nothing in the MacBook line for high school/college students, starving artists or everyday folk who could stretch their budgets for a great 99 laptop, but just can’t justify 00 more. If the rumors of an updated MacBook Air (or Air-like) laptop with a Retina screen, updated design and newer components, all for the same price as the classic Air — are true, it’s hard not to imagine that being a gigantic hit.

Meanwhile, a refreshed 12-inch — newer Intel chips and a second USB-C port, please — could keep its ,299 price, since paying a premium for ultra-portability makes sense. And if that new 99 model has enough decent upgrade options — spend up for more RAM, bigger SSDs — maybe that single no-Touch-Bar Pro model just fades away. (It always felt like that should’ve been the MacBook Air successor, anyway.)

Take the plunge on touch

It may never happen, but I still say adding touchscreens to MacBooks is a winning idea. The technology has already become standard in even budget Windows laptops, where it’s a genuinely useful extra. It’s also a generational thing. Every kid I know instinctively reaches out to MacBook screens and wonders why nothing happens when they tap or swipe. And Apple already has a touchscreen on some Macs — it’s the Touch Bar on the MacBook Pro. It may only be 60 pixels high, but it’s a color OLED touchscreen in all but name. The touchscreen barrier on MacBooks has been broken, so you might as well go all the way.

Bonus idea: Hit reset on the Mac Mini

For a product that hasn’t been updated in four-plus years, the humble Mac Mini may be Apple’s secret weapon. I see these small desktops in recording studios, home theaters and many other places you’d need to run audio or video software without the bulk and expense of an iMac or MacBook Pro. And at 99, it’s the least-expensive way to get MacOS access. But, dated hardware and old ports mean it isn’t as useful as it once was. A recently rumored update to a more powerful, more flexible, and maybe even smaller Mac Mini would be welcome news to podcast producers around the world, to name just one group that would love a modern Mini option.

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Best Chromebooks for students

 

Google’s Chrome operating system excels at the basics. It’s great for getting stuff done like email, working in documents and spreadsheets and browsing the Internet. But it’s also well-suited to entertainment tasks like watching movies, listening to music and browsing the Internet. And it’s doubly true if you’re already immersed in Google’s ecosystem, which extends from apps such as Gmail and Google Docs to the Pixel phone or one of the company’s smart home devices.

From my perspective, Chrome has two major advantages over the competition: It’s free — insofar as anything online is free — and it’s simple. In contrast, you’ll need to shell out at least ,199 to get a current-generation Apple laptop with its gold-standard MacOS operating system. And though you can get a very entry-level Dell or HP laptop for about 50, you’re stuck with Windows and all of its licenses, patches, and updates. Blech!

There are a handful of things that a Chromebook can’t do, however. You can’t install Photoshop, Steam or any other Windows- or Mac-dependent application. If you’re in a niche field of study that requires esoteric or highly technical applications — or non-web based software for exams — you may need to think twice. Otherwise, you should be pretty well set up working with Google’s increasingly vast library of Android apps in addition to all of the online apps and services that run through your browser. 

Whether you’re looking for an ultraportable, convertible or traditional laptop for a kid in elementary school or a college student, there are plenty of solid Chromebook options in the 00 to 00 price range and some exceptional ones that start between 00 and 00. Bottom line: Any one of the Chromebooks highlighted below should do the trick for most students.

A sturdy, affordable performer

Lenovo Chromebook 500e

Sarah Tew/CNET

Lenovo has a whole lineup of Chromebooks designed for classroom use, starting at 79, that are worth a look. We tested last year’s top-of-the-line model, the 500e Chromebook, and found it to be durable and surprisingly capable for its 29 price — a great choice for a younger student. 

It works both as laptop and tablet, with a touchscreen, decent keyboard and solid battery life. It also has two webcam and comes with the stylus included — which is not always the case with other two-in-ones and tablets. The second-gen model, which costs 0 more, features a newer Intel processor and twice as much RAM (4GB), but is otherwise much the same as its predecessor.

Big display, big battery life, bargain-bin price

Acer Chromebook 15

James Martin/CNET

If you’re looking for a bigger display, the Acer Chromebook 15 delivers with a 15.6-inch IPS touchscreen. And it’s reasonably affordable, starting at around 50. In addition to the super-size screen, it also has great battery life, loud speakers, a backlit keyboard and enough power to get you through the basics. That noted, Asus, HP and Lenovo now also sell 15-inch Chromebook laptops in the same approximate price range that are worth a look. 

Lenovo Yoga Chromebook Laptop

Lori Grunin/CNET

Speaking of bigger Chromebooks, the Yoga Chromebook is an all-aluminum, two-in-one convertible that can be configured with either a full-HD or ultra-HD-resolution 15.6-inch touchscreen. It starts at roughly 80 and includes a backlit keyboard as well as some pretty high-test components: an eighth-gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory and 64GB of storage. 

A killer Chromebook 2-in-1

HP Chromebook x2

Sarah Tew/CNET

HP’s x2 is a terrific laptop with a great detachable display, a keyboard that’s comfortable to type on and surprisingly peppy performance. It’s not exactly cheap, starting at 40, but it doubles as a fabulous standalone tablet — thin and lightweight, responsive to touch and stylus and perceptive to orientation. 

Plus — and this is a big one — it comes with stylus and keyboard included at a time when many premium hybrids insist you buy them separately. If you can live without the few remaining apps that require Windows or Mac OS — and trust me, most of you can — the Chromebook x2 is your jam.

The Amazon bestseller

Asus Chromebook C434

Sarah Tew/CNET

In January, Asus announced the Flip C434, which starts at 69. It replaced the company’s Chromebook C302 — a breakout hit that was long the top-ranked bestseller in Amazon’s two-in-one category. The C434, which has a new brushed-aluminum design, features a larger 14-inch FHD display and twice as much RAM and storage as its predecessor, in addition to more powerful Intel processor options.

Google’s pricey, homegrown Chromebook

Google Pixelbook

James Martin/CNET

Google makes its own Chromebook, of course. The Pixelbook is a sleek convertible that works as both laptop and a tablet. Among its standout features is the sharp, bright touchscreen and blazing fast, lag-free performance courtesy a selection of higher-end Intel processors that are about as powerful as you’ll find in a Chromebook. But the Pixelbook is also quite expensive, starting at 99, and that doesn’t include the Pixelbook Pen stylus, which will tack on an additional 9. 

Introduced in 2017, the Pixelbook is a little long in the tooth now, and we expect Google to deliver a revamped version at some point in the near-term. For now, however, Google is running a promotion for students that slashes 10% off of all Pixelbook models.

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Acer looks to boost education sales with new Chromebooks

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Acer is introducing four new Chromebooks for students. 

On Wednesday, the computer maker unveiled a new suite of 11.6-inch laptops for education customers: the Chromebook Spin 511, the Chromebook Spin 311, and two called the Chromebook 311 (one featuring an AMD chip and the other powered by Intel).

Acer designed the laptops to be extra durable, for students at K-12 schools, the company said in a release. They feature a reinforced design and shock-absorbing bumper that can handle downward force of up to 132 pounds and drops from heights of up to 48 inches, according to Acer.

The Chromebook Spin 511 provides all-day battery life and enables highly graphical classroom projects to run smoothly so tasks are performed quicker, Acer said in the release. Priced at 80, the machine can be used in four different display modes (tablet, notebook, display and tent). The screen glass is scratch, odor and stain resistant, and a stylus can be purchased with the machine, Acer said.

As its name suggests, the Chromebook Spin 311 is also a convertible model, with 360-degree hinges. It starts at 50. The other two Chromebook 311 models are traditional clam shell designs. The Intel-powered 311 comes with a spill resistant keyboard and can be bought with either a touch or nontouch display. It starts at 00. The 311 with the AMD processor costs 80.

The new Chromebooks all come with Google Play at launch, giving students access to Android and Chrome apps.

Acer is displaying the laptops at the BETT show from Jan. 23 to Jan. 26. 

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Samsung’s faster, cheaper 4TB SSD enters mass production

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Samsung has announced mass-production of 4TB consumer SSDs, aimed at improving storage for laptops and other devices. 

Samsung hasn’t released official pricing for the in-production drives, but its 4TB 860 Evo is currently selling for over ,000. By comparison, you can get a 4TB mechanical drive for 00. 

The new SSDs are the first to use 4-bit quad-level cell (QLC) technology and the 4TB version uses a total of 32 128GB chips. Performance is on a par with the older 850 Evo drives at a 540MB/s read speed and 520MB/s write.

Samsung says its new technology avoids the problem of memory cell increases from three bits to four, which would typically reduce efficiency by as much as 50 percent.

Samsung plans to introduce 1TB, 2TB and 4TB SSDs later in 2018 in the laptop-friendly 2.5-inch form factor.  The company will also offer M.2 NVMe SSDs for enterprise this year.

Samsung says it also hopes to use the technology to produce 128GB memory cards for smartphones.

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MacBook Air 2018: All the rumors on specs, price and Oct. 30 debut

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The rumor mill strikes again. As widely predicted, Apple will hold an event on Oct. 30 after introducing the iPhone XSiPhone XS MaxiPhone XR and the Apple Watch 4 just last month. 

Coming up next, according to the rumors: a new iPad Proa new set of AirPodsa more compact HomePod — and a new MacBook Air. 

For months now, we’ve been tracking a series of credible reports about Apple’s plan to unveil a new version of its entry-level laptop before the end of the year. Sources suggest that this will not be yet another incremental spec bump but a total makeover that includes a high-quality Retina display, USB-C ports and modern Apple hallmarks like Face ID. 

In short, a MacBook designed to recapture public attention amid a cluttered landscape of sub-,000 laptops that now includes Chromebooks and convertibles.

Apple

For now, the 99 MacBook Air remains more or less the same device Apple introduced in fall of 2010. The current model, released in August 2017, is nearly identical to its 2015 predecessor save for a microboost in the speed of its antiquated Intel CPU and a belated doubling of RAM. A major makeover is long overdue. 

We’re collecting all the rumors circulating about the new machine here. This roundup will continue to be updated on an ongoing basis, so check back often to see breaking news and details about the 2018 MacBook Air. 

Rumor: A new MacBook Air coming Oct. 30

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The date is now official: Apple has sent invitations for a ‘special event’ on Oct. 30 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. According to Apple’s website, the event will be streamed live.

There have been persistent rumors about an imminent MacBook Air announcement during the past year and the timing of the upcoming event could be just right. Apple has often debuted new Macs in October — and the event may also include a new or updated iMac and/or Mac Mini, too. (The company is reportedly also working on a refresh of the Mac Pro but won’t release it until sometime in 2019.)

Rumor: Support for Touch ID

Amid a slew of predictions published by Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (as reported by MacRumors), one is that the new ‘lower-priced’ MacBook will have Touch ID — the fingerprint authentication system that first debuted on the iPhone 5S in 2013. Touch ID first migrated to the higher-end MacBook Pro lineup in 2016 and is featured on the new Pro models that debuted in June

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Rumor: A 12-inch model?

One of Kuo’s reports has muddied the water about the size of the forthcoming MacBook. Though his wording is ambiguous, he seems to suggest that Apple may actually replace the current 12-inch MacBook with a new model. This conflicts with previous reports — including a DigiTimes article describing Apple’s plans to debut a new 13-inch model during the first half of 2018 and Bloomberg’s recent report describing a low-cost device that would ‘remain about 13 inches.’ 

Rumor: Retina display, finally

Bloomberg has reported that Apple plans to update that ‘low-cost’ MacBook with a high-resolution Retina screen. This bolsters an earlier reporting by DigiTimes that describes a new MacBook with a ‘slim design’ and a Retina display in addition to a more contemporary Intel CPU. The newest Bloomberg information also suggests that the new model will have slimmer bezels. It’s hard to imagine Apple unveiling a new MacBook Air equivalent that doesn’t have all of this, at the minimum.

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Price: ,000 — or less?

Bloomberg reported in March that a ‘new, cheaper MacBook laptop is in the works and likely destined to replace the MacBook Air at a price less than ,000.’ Likewise, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that the 2018 model will be even ‘more affordable’ than the current MacBook Air. More recently, however, DigiTimes reported that Apple has developed a new ‘entry-level’ MacBook that will run a new Intel CPU and will cost ,200.

The current entry-level MacBook Air, with 128GB of hard-drive capacity, starts at 99, £949 or AU,499. The 256GB version costs ,199. Third-party retailers now routinely discount the Air to 50 or 00, and its low price is key to its popularity.

 

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Best Black Friday 2018 deals at Staples: 0 Fire TV Cube, 9 laser printers and more

Staples does much more than simple office supplies, and for Black Friday, the retailer has traditionally pushed both work-related and personal tech devices. A few notes before we begin:

  • Most of these discounted prices should be available to order on Thanksgiving Day, and picked up or purchased in-store starting at 7 a.m. local time on Friday Nov. 23. 
  • That means the direct links below won’t reflect the planned sale prices until (in most cases) Nov. 22. 
  • CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured on this page.

With that, happy shopping!

Amazon Fire Tablets, 9-9

Sarah Tew/CNET

Most of the Fire line is deeply discounted. The 8-inch is probably the best overall value in terms of features and performance. If you’re buying for a child, the Kids Editions are actually worth a bit extra for the better warranty and tons of included subscription content. 

See at Staples Amazon fire HD 8 review

Amazon Echo Dot, 4

Does anyone buy an Echo Dot at full price? Probably not, as they’re on sale so often. This price even beats the usual 9 discount that rolls around periodically on Amazon. Note that this is for the latest, improved version of the Dot, too.

See at Staples Amazon Echo Dot review

HP Pavilion 14, 69

This basic, but decently outfitted 14-inch laptop has an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive. Some similar Core i3 models are 0 or so less, but I think an i5 CPU is worth the extra investment. 

See at Staples

Lenovo Flex 6 2-in-1, 29

Sarah Tew/CNET

One of the better two-in-one deals, even when it’s not on sale, I always like that the Lenovo Flex line is almost as good as the higher-end Yoga line, with a similar 360-degree hinge, but at lower prices. 

See at Staples

HP Pavilion 15, 99

A decent step-up laptop, this has an Intel Core i7 CPU, 24GB of RAM, including Intel Optane RAM, and 1TB of (probably platter-based) storage. 

See at Staples

Canon imageClass MF244DW laser printer, 9

Once you switch to a laser printer, you’re never going back. This basic monochrome model also includes a flatbed scanner, and you find far fewer hassles in using and replacing toner than in an inkjet printer. 

See at Staples

Amazon Fire TV Cube and Stick, 4-9

Sarah Tew/CNET

The current 4K streaming stick from Amazon is occasionally on sale for around this price, although it’s still a good deal. What’s more interesting is the steep drop for the new 4K-ready Fire TV Cube, which mixes streaming video with Alexa-powered voice apps.

See at Staples Amazon Fire TV Cube review

Google Home Hub, 9

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Many shops will reportedly have the latest Google smart home device for 0 off the usual price. This is a screen-centric version of a smart assistant, which can display weather, photos, YouTube videos and more.

See at Staples Google Hub review

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Google Pixel Slate: Rumored specs, features, leaks, price, release date

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With one day to go until Google’s launch event scheduled for Oct. 9, we’ve heard just about every last detail about the company’s forthcoming Pixel and Pixel XL phones. And the rumors about a new convertible tablet also continue to pile up. 

The rumored Google Pixel Slate is said to include a front-facing and rear-facing camera with advanced camera technology, a fingerprint scanner and a new keyboard cover with a magnetic clasp and kickstand — similar to Microsoft’s Surface Pro, which was itself recently refreshed

 

The reports about the Chrome tablets have been preceded by an abundance of extensive, detailed information about Google’s rumored Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL — including photos and videos published by Russian bloggers and more photos and information gleaned from a Pixel 3 XL that was apparently left in the backseat of a Lyft. Google hasn’t confirmed anything about any of these reports about the phones or tablet.

But the company has invited media to an event in New York City on Oct. 9. In addition to introducing new tablets, new phones and perhaps other devices, Google is expected show off a new wireless charging stand and the latest version of its Android operating system, known as Android Pie, which features new AR capabilities and upgrades to its voice assistant. 

 

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Again, Google hasn’t formally anything beyond the date of its event. Everything here remains squarely in the category of rumor.  But we’ve collected what we think we know about Google’s forthcoming tablets and convertibles below, and we’ll continue to update this article regularly with news and rumors. 

 

Rumor: One or two new Chrome tablets

We don’t know whether Google is developing one, two or perhaps more new Chrome tablets. That noted, the codenames Nocturne and Atlas have been mentioned by multiple sources. They could be the same device, two separate devices or completely made-up. The Chrome Unboxed article posits that one of them could be a Surface Pro-like tablet with slim bezels, a high-resolution display and an attachable keyboard. But we’ve also seen photos of what looks like a lower-end convertible tablet.

 

Rumor: One will be called the Google Pixel Slate

An Android Police reporter says that one of the new Chrome OS tablets, codenamed ‘Nocturne,’ will be called the Google Pixel Slate. Sounds plausible. And the reporter is credible.

Rumor: Two cameras and new photo capabilities

A number of sources report that Pixel Slate will have two cameras — one front-facing, one rear-facing — and Google’s Camera app, which uses computer processing to produce the Bokeh effect. We’ve heard that Google’s upcoming Pixel 3 smartphones could come with a ‘Top Shot’ mode to capture and identify the best photo, and it’s possible that this feature could find its way on to the Slate, too.

Rumor: Fingerprint scanner

According to new leaked images, the Pixel Slate may come equipped with a fingerprint authentication sensor, which would be a new feature for Google’s Chrome OS. 

Rumor: Intel Core i7 CPU onboard

Chrome Unboxed, which has been trafficking in Google tablet rumors for months, reports that the Phone Arena blog has found purported specs and benchmark results for the Pixel Slate. GeekBench’s Android benchmarking app shows multiple results for a variety of ‘Google Nocturne’ machines running an array of Intel processors — including a dual-core eighth-gen Core i7-8500Y — and, in some cases, 16GB of RAM. The benchmarks also show that the Slate will have between 8GB and 16GB of RAM.

Rumor: The full Android Pie experience

The same Chrome Unboxed article notes that the ‘Nocturne’ GeekBench instances show a Google machine running the newest version of the company’s mobile operating system, Android 9 — currently available only on Pixel phones as well as the OnePlus 6 and the Essential phone. If Google unveils a new flagship tablet on Oct. 9, it’s quite possible that it would run the newest version of its OS. 

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Rumor: Conventional Chromebook design

Previously, Chrome Unboxed had published images of what it said was a Facebook ad showing a sleek Google tablet with very slim bezels — consistent with what we’d expect to see from the second edition of the premium Pixelbook. Frankly, the images looked a bit like stock photography — and a few weeks on, we haven’t seen additional images or information that suggests a high-end device. Instead, we’re seeing more leaked photos of convertible tablets that look a whole lot like those we’ve seen before in the budget Chrome OS convertible-tablet category. Of course, there could be more than one device in the pipeline.

Rumor: Round keys

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Previously, Chrome Unboxed published a video showing a ‘Surface Pro type of detachable’ connected to a distinctive keyboard. The section of keyboard shown includes a few volume buttons, some number keys and one or two other keys — all of which appear to be perfectly round. Apart from those circular keys, however, the tablet’s design is consistent with the newer images we’ve seen.

Rumor: It might also run Windows

The developer community has been trading rumors about ‘Campfire,’ an update to Chromebook firmware that would allow people to securely boot the systems into Windows 10 in addition to Google’s Chrome OS. XDA Developers first noticed it mentioned within references to Google’s own Pixelbook, but has since seen enough code variations to imply that it will probably be supported for other manufacturers as well. Plus, the code changes are happening quickly enough that we might see it become available for Google’s big announcement scheduled for Oct. 9.

 

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Razer unveils Stealth laptop and gaming accessories in Quartz Pink

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For eons, true romantics have honored Valentine’s Day with the three traditional gifts: flowers, chocolates and ultraportable gaming laptops. Just in time for this year’s celebration, Razer has announced a limited-edition lineup of pink hardware that includes its sub-3 pound Stealth model and a variety of accessories. 

The ,599 Razer Blade Stealth Pink Quartz edition comes with a 13-inch display, 8th-gen Intel Core i7-8565U processor, Nvidia GeForce MX 150 GPU (as well as an integrated Intel graphics module), 16GB of 2,133MHz memory and a 256GB SSD. Apart from the new color, this machine looks identical to the middle-of-the-road configuration Razer has been selling since December, when it updated the Stealth with an even more compact design, slimmer bezels, a bigger touchpad and a more understated look. The price roughly converts to £1,210 and AU,235.

Razer’s ,399 base configuration, which does not come in Quartz Pink, comes without the Nvidia GPU and only 8GB of RAM.

Razer also announced Quartz Pink editions of an array of gaming peripherals including:

  • Razer Huntsman Quartz Keyboard, 49.99 (€159.99)
  • Razer Seiren X Quartz streaming microphone, 9.99 (€109.99)
  • Razer Kraken Pro V2 Quartz headset featuring new an improved headband, ear cushions and mic, 9.99 (€79.99)
  • Razer Base Station Chroma Quartz headset stand, 9.99 (€74.99)
  • Razer Basilisk Quartz Mouse, 9.99 (€69.99)
  • Razer Goliathus Extended Quartz Mouse Mat, 9.99 (€59.99)
  • Razer Raiju Tournament Edition Quartz Controller for PS4, 49.99 (€149.99)
  • Razer Phone 2 Quartz Case, 4.99 (€29.99)

All of the Razer Blade Stealth Quartz Pink edition products are now available for a limited time in the US, China and Canada. 

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The company also announced that its Razer Blade 15 Advanced laptops, updated to include RTX graphics at CES, are now available for purchase in the US, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Germany, China and the Asia Pacific region. The laptops start at ,299. 

And finally, RazerCare Elite protection plans are now available for all Razer Blade laptops; the service starts at 99 and includes three years of repair coverage including accidental damage, 24 hour phone support and free two-way shipping on all repairs.

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Blackmagic eGPU Pro sounds spooky, makes Mac graphics faster

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Blackmagic’s next Apple Mac graphics accelerator, the Blackmagic eGPU Pro, will feature an AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 graphics processor.

The unit is designed for Macs with a Thunderbolt 3 port — such the new Apple MacBook Air — and Blackmagic says it has 22 times the graphics performance of a 13-inch MacBook Pro.

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The tall desktop device was designed in collaboration with Apple and is extruded from a single piece of aluminum, Blackmagic says. It features a ‘unique thermal cooling system that’s been designed to perfectly balance the airflow and dissipate heat more efficiently,’ or what otherwise looks like a small chimney.

The eGPU Pro is designed to accelerate professional creative software such as DaVinci Resolve, as well as 3D games and VR.

The Blackmagic eGPU Pro features:

  • AMD Radeon RX Vega 56 GPU
  • Two Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • DisplayPort with support for 5K displays
  • HDMI 2.0 port
  • 85W of charging power
  • Four USB 3.1 connections

The Blackmagic eGPU Pro will be available in November for ,199 from apple.com. UK and Australian availability are yet to be confirmed, but that price converts to about £940 or AU,700.