Acer was holding its annual press conference on Wednesday, a few hundred yards from Central Park, where we were. The opportunity for the Taiwanese giant to reveal to us – at the rate of the announcements – all of its plans for the coming months, but also to present its new laptops , or should we say the new iterations of already well-known products.
However, beyond certain predictable announcements, two major trends will have marked the conference – and probably the audience of Jason Chen (the CEO of Acer): on the one hand the shift of the firm towards the world of education and on the other, the accentuation of its efforts in Gaming , a real growth lever for Acer in recent times.
We also feel that in general a new dynamic seems to animate the group for a few years. The imperative need to modernize and put an end to a somewhat dull brand image is palpable – the remarks made by some Acer officials go in this direction – and to achieve this dual objective, what better than to target youth?
It is with this in mind that the group is counting both on the launch of overpowered bikes intended for players (we will talk about it in a dedicated article), and on the marketing of terminals mainly designed for the school environment – a story that our kind heads blondes grow up with an Acer machine (preferably) in their hands or under their little fingers. Of these, which we will talk about here, a majority worked on Chrome OS. Google's operating system was also very well represented on the stands of Acer's double showroom , more than a quarter of the available space.
Chromebook Tab 10, the rival of the low cost iPad?
Two machines have caught our attention. The first is a tablet: the Chromebook Tab 10 (announced a few months ago and whose launch is now imminent); and the second a hybrid machine: the Chromebook Spin 13 (also available in a 15-inch version). Announced with great fanfare on Wednesday noon, the latter presents itself for the time being as the most powerful Chromebooks on the market. Note, however, that its 15-inch version is oddly less well equipped, especially in terms of screen and processors (we will stay here on a Full HD IPS panel and Intel Pentium, or Celeron, depending on the variants).
But let's start with the Chromebook Tab 10, the first tablet under Chrome OS claims the manufacturer. We had the opportunity to take it in hand and to think only good at first sight. Quite thick, stocky one might say, the Acer tablet can make fun of being sufficiently reinforced to withstand the assaults of the less careful of the kids.
However, it is through its technical sheet that the lady attracts attention. There is a pretty 9.7-inch IPS panel with a definition of 2048 x 1536 pixels (something between Full HD and 2K), rather bright and contrasting. Everything is powered by an OP1 processor (developed by Google and Rockship) supported by 4 GB of RAM in LPDDR3. The brand also announces up to 9 hours of autonomy – we can therefore reasonably expect 5 to 7 hours of endurance. The hair in the soup will however come from storage since it will be necessary here to be satisfied with 32 GB, fortunately expandable via a Micro SD port.
From our point of view, the terminal could actually hit the mark in schools, in particular through its support for a stylus (hello the “low cost” iPad). However, we are missing the retail price to express ourselves more precisely on the possible relevance of a Tab 10 for Mr. and Mrs. everyone.
Spin 13, the beefy Chromebooks
In the Chromebooks department, the other darling of high school was, as we have said, the Spin 13. It too is equipped with an IPS touch screen (13.5 inches for 2256 by 1504 pixels), but it naturally benefits from significantly higher-end specifications. There is an à la carte data sheet, focused on 8th generation Intel processors (i5-8250U or i3-8130U to choose from), up to 16 GB of RAM and 32, 64 or 128 GB of storage (in memory eMMC). It is ultimately quite little, but remember that this is a machine intended for nomadic use, essentially.
When we got to grips with the device, however, it was its general appearance that struck us. Very compact and with a much less rectangular format than what we are used to finding on this type of machine, the Spin 13 adopts a slightly different screen size and more “square”, which is not to displease us. This is also a format that the device shares with Chromebooks 13 (very similar visually, the two devices are also quite difficult to differentiate from one another at first glance).
It will of course be necessary to see what the bike is worth in the context of a possible test, but a priori the experience is very fluid and Chrome OS carbides without the slightest hitch (with the new i3 and i5 low consumption, Acer did not take too much risk on this point). The device will thus be able to titillate Google's PixelBook on its own playing field. And that's interesting, especially since the launch price will be 800 euros in our latitudes. It is clearly not cheap, but it is still less than the device of the Mountain View firm, sold for its part from 1000 dollars. It remains to be seen if Acer will succeed in seducing the masses with this bike under Chrome OS.
Swift 3, healthy refreshment
On the Windows side, the manufacturer is on the other hand in the classic by being content to upgrade some of its best known references. This is the case of the Swift 3, which always benefits from a covering mainly made of striated metal for a rather elegant result, but not really original. The novelty is the happily under the hood since Acer decided to stick there, again, 8 th generation Intel processors (Core i3-7020U, i3-7130U, i3-8130U, iE-8250U, according i7-8550U models) and up to 16 GB of DDR4.
Eager to always leave more choices for customers, the brand also offers a generous technical sheet, to say the least, eclectic, particularly in terms of storage and screen. Depending on the model, we can thus find Full HD or Utra HD panels (IPS in both cases) and benefit from a maximum of 500 GB of SSD in NVMe or SATA format and 500 GB, 1 TB or 2 TB of HDD.
Another novelty on this famous Swift 3, the presence of a screen with thinner borders and compatibility with Intel Optane technology. We will also have the opportunity to talk about it again in another article this time dedicated to Gaming- oriented products that Acer has presented. Note that for the moment no price has been communicated for the Swift 3. We can reasonably expect 500 to 700 depending on the model.
On the other hand, connoisseurs may wonder what happens to the Swift 5. Well it was also present in New York, but only halfway. If it was a question of the terminal during the conference, its hardware upgrade for more frilly performance, a “borderless” design with a larger screen and still small proportions, Acer did not see fit to us. let take control of the device. A dummy demo was on display… but that's it. Suffice to say that we ultimately do not know more about the terminal than after leaving the conference, and that's a shame.
Also among the disappointments, the lack of refresh for the Swift 1, the small thumb of the line presented last year by the firm. Offered at a great price (less than 500 euros in France), the PC could boast of a far from ugly Full HD IPS panel, an Intel Pentium supported by 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB SSD , all in a brushed metal frame.
It would have been interesting to find a new version of this unpretentious device, but with an almost unbeatable equipment price ratio. All the more so given the educational aspirations of the Asian giant this year.