Acer’s new Chromebook 315 hits CES 2019 with custom AMD processors

Acer just introduced the Chromebook 315 during the CES 2019 trade show in Las Vegas. Scheduled to arrive this quarter, it will be the company’s first Chromebook based on an all-in-one “APU” processor manufactured by AMD. Acer typically guns for Intel-based processors in Chromebooks, but the company chose custom APUs for this model to better support Chrome- and Android-based apps. APUs (standing for “Accelerated Processing Unit”) combine a CPU and GPU in a single chip.

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Acer’s Chromebook 315 will rely on two seventh-generation AMD A-Series APUs: The A6-9220C and the A4-9120C. These APUs weren’t pulled directly from the shelf, but instead revised to consume less power. That means they enable a longer battery life and produce less heat, making them a great fit for ultra-thin laptop designs. The tradeoff is that you’ll see lower CPU core speeds versus AMD’s original off-the-shelf APUs released in Q2 2017.

Here’s a comparison between the tweaked “c” variants and AMD’s stock A-Series APUs:

  A6-9220 A6-9220C A4-9120 A4-9120C
Process node: 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
CPU cores: 2 2 2 2
Threads: 2 2 2 2
Base speed: 2.5GHz 1.8GHz 2.2GHz 1.6GHz
Maximum speed: 2.9GHz 2.7GHz 2.5GHz 2.4GHz
Graphics cores: 2 3 2 3
Graphics shaders: 192 128 128 128
Graphics type: Radeon R5 Radeon R5 Radeon R3 Radeon R4
Base speed: 655MHz 720MHz 655MHz 600MHz
Maximum TDP: 15 watts 6 watts 15 watts 6 watts

These tweaked APUs will power an IPS-based 15.6-inch screen with a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution. Acer will offer versions with touch (CB315-2HT) and without touch (CB315-2H). You’ll also see up to 8GB of system memory and up to 32GB of storage. Given you’ll likely consume most of that storage with Android apps, Acer threw in a microSD card reader to store music, videos, images, and other files.

Acer Chromebook 315

In addition to the card slot, the Chromebook 315 will include two USB Type-C ports (5Gbps), two USB Type-A ports (5Gbps), and a microphone/headphone combo jack. A full-size upward-facing speaker will reside on each side of the keyboard, providing crisp audio versus the annoying muffled audio typically heard with downward-facing speakers. The touch-capable version will feature a backlit keyboard, whereas the non-touch version won’t have any backlighting. Rounding out the multimedia aspect is an HD webcam with an 88-degree field-of-view.

“The Chromebook 315 features a stylish IMR top cover and palm rest that are durable and light enough for moving around the home or office,” the company said in a pre-show press release. “It can speed through demanding apps, while running multiple tabs and extensions, all during a battery life of up to 10 hours.”

Acer Chromebook 315

Acer also notes that parents can easily manage the Chromebook 315 using Google’s Family Link Android app for mobile. With this free service enabled, children can’t install apps and extensions from the Chrome Web Store, view violent and sexually explicit sites, or use incognito mode. There’s nothing parents need to install on the Chromebook itself, as all restrictions are controlled through the child’s Google Account.

Read: What is a Chromebook and what can it do?

Acer’s upcoming Chromebook will measure 0.79 inches thick and weigh a mere 3.79 pounds. It won’t be available until sometime during the first quarter of 2019 sporting a starting price of $280.

The new Acer Swift 7 Windows 10 notebook

In addition to its new Chromebook, Acer also announced a new Windows 10 laptop, the Swift 7. The 14-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touchscreen notebook has very thin bezels, allowing it to have a 92 percent screen-to-body ratio. The body of the notebook is also very thin at just 9.95mm and is incredibly light at just 1.96 pounds, as it is made of magnesium-lithium and magnesium-aluminum alloys. The display is also covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 6 for extra protection.

Inside, the Acer Swift 7 has the 8th generation Intel Core i7-8500Y processor and can support either 8GB or 16GB of RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of onboard storage. The battery life is supposed to last up to 10 hours on a single charge. The power button on the laptop doubles as a fingerprint reader so you can log onto Windows 10 as you power the notebook up, via Windows Hello. It has a push-to-open camera for webchats and video recording that can be closed back inside the notebook when not in use.

The Acer Swift 7 won’t be available for a little while. It will go on sale in April in Europe starting at €1,799, and also in China starting at ¥14,999. It won’t be available in the US until May, for the starting price of $1,699.

New LG TVs will use AI to better the picture and sound based on content

High-end LG televisions come with the ThinQ branding, which signifies built-in AI features. Although previous LG TVs have included Google Assistant built in and newer ones are now featuring Amazon’s Alexa too, LG will debut a new type of AI-powered television at CES 2019.

According to an LG press release, the company’s newest flagship TVs will use a new algorithm to offer enhanced picture and sound by analyzing source content as well as optimize content by recognizing ambient conditions.

In other words, if you’re watching an action film with loud explosions and big, bold colors, the TV will respond to that and alter the picture and sound to accommodate. The TV will do likewise for sports games, TV shows, video games, concerts, etc.

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This new AI feature is powered by the company’s second-generation Alpha 9 Gen 2 intelligent processor which will power LG’s Z9, W9, E9, and C9 series OLED TVs. The optimization algorithm was built using a database of over one million visual data.

In addition to using the visual image depicted by the TV, the processor uses the TV’s ambient light sensor to measure light levels in the room, automatically adjusting brightness to compensate as needed. No more adjusting brightness on sunny days!

LG will be showing off its new TV lineup at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, which starts in a few days. Stay tuned for more info on these and other LG product releases.

NEXT: CES 2019 — What to expect

Asus’ education-focused Chromebooks should withstand some abuse

Asus

  • Asus announced four new education-focused Chromebooks.
  • The four Chromebooks include the CT100, Asus’ first Chrome OS-powered tablet.
  • Asus will announce pricing and specific launch dates in the coming months.

With CES 2019 right around the corner, Asus unveiled four new rugged Chromebooks which include the company’s first Chrome OS-powered tablet.

Starting with the tablet, the CT100 features a 9.7-inch display with QXGA resolution (2,048 x 1,536), a USB Type-C port, the hexa-core OP1 processor, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and a 35Wh battery. As a nice bonus, the tablet features a built-in stylus to use on the display.

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The tablet also features a 2MP selfie camera and 5MP rear camera. Finally, the CT100’s rugged build helps it withstand drops up to 100 centimeters (~39 inches).

Moving to the Chromebook C204, the laptop features a 180-degree hinge to lay it flat, an 11.6-inch display with HD resolution (1,366 x 768), Intel’s dual-core Celeron N4000 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, up to 32GB of storage, and a 50Wh battery.

Again, the C204’s rugged build helps it survive falls up to 120 centimeters (~47 inches) when dropped flat and up to 80 centimeters (~31 inches) when dropped on its sides. Finally, schools can outfit the C204 with either a non-touch or touchscreen anti-glare display.




Next up is the Chromebook C214, which features a few differences relative to the C204. The 360-degree hinge turns the C214 into a hefty 2.6-pound tablet, though the smaller 45Wh battery cuts down the runtime a bit.

Schools can outfit the C214 with either the Intel Celeron N4000 or N4100 processor. Schools can also configure the C214 with an 11.6-inch display that supports Wacom EMR and Gorilla Glass 3. The resolution remains the same as the display on the C204.

Finally, the C214 goes up to 64GB of storage and puts the outward-facing camera on the bottom-right corner of the palm rest area.

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Last up is the Chromebook C403, which sports a 180-degree hinge, 14-inch display with HD resolution (1,366 x 768), Intel’s dual-core Celeron N3350 processor, up to 4GB of RAM, up to 32GB of storage, and a 45Wh battery that should deliver up to 11 hours of use.

The C403 also features two USB Type-C ports and two regular USB ports.

The C214 and C403 will launch sometime during the spring. The C204 goes on sale “later this year,” while Asus remained quiet on the CT100’s availability. We might learn more about pricing and availability during CES 2019.

NEXT: How to setup Chromebook parental controls