Five Cheaper Alternatives to the iPad mini

While remaining such an amazing product, the iPad mini is — in my opinion — grossly overpriced for its specs. It doesn’t make any sense that after introducing the higher end iPad 3 and iPad 4, Apple has gone backwards with the iPad mini, which, as some people would describe it, is a smaller iPad 2. For a starting price of $329 for the 16 GB version and going up by a hundred dollars for every 16 GB added, it is downright pricey for its own good. Given that there are other slates within its category that have more updated features and better design, it should be scared of these five alternatives detailed below.

Google Nexus 7

The stunning 7 inch flagship tablet from Google is a worthy contender from Google. In fact, it may be even better than the iPad mini, specs-wise. Case in point: the iPad mini houses an A5 dual-core processor, while the Nexus 7 has a Tegra 3 quad-core processor underneath. Additionally, the Google device holds 1 GB of RAM while Apple’s junior tablet only has 512 MB of RAM. This is not to say that the iPad is automatically slower, though. At the end of the day, the performance of any device still boils down to how inside and outside components work together to create a responsive and efficient computing device. But if these things matter to you when choosing a device, then it might be wise to make these facts known.
google nexus7

Kindle Fire HD

The HD tag alone makes the Kindle Fire HD a worthy iPad mini… dare I say it? Killer. It features 30% more pixels and 33% more pixels-per-inch than the iPad, meaning you’ll get clearer and sharper images. Specs-wise, it’s almost a truce between the two, but the Amazon device has more to offer when it comes to entertainment functions. On top of all these, the Kindle Fire HD is $130 cheaper than the iPad mini, so it’s pretty much a good deal.

kindle fire hd

Acer Iconia Tab A110

Another device trying to steal Apple’s thunder is the Acer Iconia Tab A110. With a tag price that’s exactly a hundred dollars lower than the baby iPad, this slate that runs on Jelly Bean arguably has more features than its contemporaries. First, it is one of those few slates in the tablet market that offers an expandable storage (starting at 8 GB, up to 32 GB) so users can get more room for movies, music, games, and more. Neither the Nexus 7 nor the Kindle Fire HD has a card slot; neither the iPad mini nor its bigger brothers have a card slot, either.

Acer iconia tab A110

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0

Years ago, Samsung went into the tablet scene with the highly successful Samsung Galaxy Tab with 7 inch display. Nothing from Apple’s arch-nemesis stands out, except maybe for the 10 inch tablets from its lineup. This South Korean company is also accustomed to releasing products without changing much of the hardware or the design of predecessors, so most people thought the company wouldn’t be coming up with something to challenge the iPad or iPad mini anytime soon. But enter the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, a thin and sleek 7 inch device with a back panel made of matte grey plastic. For some, it wins over the iPad mini for simple reasons: it’s cheaper, not particularly flashy, and most important, more comfortable to hold than the iPad mini.

samsung galaxy tab 270

Barnes & Noble Nook HD

Barnes & Noble definitely offers a head-turner through the Nook HD, with a price pegged at $199. Like the Kindle Fire HD, Nook HD promises a more immersive media experience that can put the iPad mini at the back of the pack. Given that it is slightly faster (1.3 GHz dual-core processor; 1 GB RAM) and considering that it bears other neat frills like dual stereo speakers and a memory card slot, the Nook HD holds so much promise, especially to those looking for a cheaper iPad mini alternative.

bb nook hd

Samsung Vs. Acer Chromebook: Which One Should You Buy?

Samsung Vs. Acer Chromebook: Which One Should You Buy?When it comes to the Google Chromebook, I would consider myself a semi-expert. I was one of the fortunate few who received the original Chromebook from Google for testing, called the Cr-48. Since the introduction of the final product, I have sat on the sidelines, waiting for the price of the Chromebook to reach a price point that all of those who used the Cr-48 agreed upon. The price point was between $200 and $250, which has finally arrived.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Chrome operating system, Google has evolved the OS from a simple browser experience into what now is more Android-like. Google has, over the past several years, changed, fixed, updated, revamped, and vastly improved on the user experience. The beautiful part about what Google is doing is that the company provides these updates for free.

During the past month, there have been two new Chromebooks introduced: one model from Samsung and another from Acer, and they share some commonality. Both come with a free 100 GB of Google Drive Cloud Storage for two years plus 12 free sessions of GoGO Inflight Internet offered by various airlines. Chris made an excellent observation in that these two freebies themselves just about pay for the cost of either of these two Chromebooks.

In addition, both the Samsung and Acer models have similar processors, the same amount of RAM, similar connectors including USB, HDMI, and VGA outputs, SD card readers, the same display resolution, and similar size and weight (Acer’s is half a pound heavier). However, the similarities end here and the Samsung model offers additional features.

The Samsung version is priced at $249 and the Acer at $199, but you get a better-featured unit from Samsung. The Samsung offers Bluetooth capabilities, comes with an SSD hard drive (Acer has a 320 GB ATA hard disk), and the biggest difference is in battery life. The Samsung offers 6.5 hours of battery power while the Acer offers just 4 hours of battery power. For those air warriors among you who plan on spending any time at the airport, that 2.5 hours could be critical if you need to complete an important work assignment or even when you are trying to complete the next level of Angry Birds.

Because of these differences, I believe that the Samsung Chromebook offers more value and performance features and is definitely worth the additional $50.

What do you think?

Comments are welcome.

Source: Google, Acer
Source: Google, Samsung

Acer Iconia Tablet is for Price Conscious Consumers

I recently wrote about how companies serious about entering into the crowded tablet market would need to compete against Apple by offering a less expensive alternative to the iPad. Acer, which is the number two computer company in the world (behind HP) has been offering less expensive alternatives in the laptop, netbook, and desktop computer market. When I see a company that can offer a full featured laptop computer in the sub-$400 price range, I had a feeling that Acer would be the first with a full featured tablet priced below an Apple iPad 2.

The Acer Iconia tablet computer is feature rich and includes the following:

NVIDIA Tegra 2 dual-core processor features a 1.0GHz processing speed, 1 GB DDR2 memory, 10.1″ WXGA high-definition touch-screen display 1280 x 800 resolution, 16 GB eMMC on-board memory, NVIDIA GeForce graphics with micro-HDMI output for connection to an HDTV, built-in 2.0MP webcam rear-facing 5.0 MP camera, digital media card reader supports microSD up to 32 GB, high-speed USB 2.0 port, built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless LAN, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, weighs only 1.7 lbs. and measures just 0.5″ thin, extended battery life up to eight hours, Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system

The specifications are impressive and priced at $449 at Best Buy. Acer seems to have a tablet that may just be able to compete against the Apple iPad — or can it? On Monday morning I took a ride up to our local Best Buy for a look-see at the Acer Iconia.

The unit is slightly heavier than an Apple iPad 2. Starting up the system is quick and is comparable with the Apple iPad 2. The Iconia worked great when I went to take a picture. All of a sudden the system froze and was unresponsive and forced a hard boot. To be fair, this was a demo model and had been handled by many customers. One can conclude that someone may have changed a setting or two, which could be the culprit for the freeze.

I found the Android Honeycomb operating system very responsive without any lag or slowdown. In fact I used the Acer Iconia on and off for about an hour without any issues. Google Android OS is comparable to the Apple iOS and works well. In fact, I believe Acer has a product that could be an alternative to the Apple iPad 2, since it is priced at $50 less.

My opinion is that the Acer Iconia is a viable alternative to the Apple iPad 2 and is currently priced lower.

Comments welcome.

Dell Inspiron Duo – Part Tablet And Part Notebook – Reviewed

Just before the holidays, I had spoken with a neighbor who was looking to buy a new computer. He mentioned his looking at both notebook and tablet computers, but was having trouble making up his mind. I briefly mentioned the Dell Inspiron Duo, and its part notebook part tablet design; I basically didn’t give it further thought about what he bought — until on Monday night when he called. Sure enough he had ordered a Dell Inspiron Duo several weeks ago and he knew I had a Cr-48. So we decided to swap computers for a day, which gave me the opportunity to review the Duo.

The first thing I had to do was put my prejudice aside regarding Dell computers. A decade ago I recommended Dell computers to all of my clients. But when Dell farmed out its technical support overseas, like others did, Dell lost its credibility. It became just ‘another PC maker’ and it was not offering anything new nor innovative. It also seemed to me that the quality of its hardware suffered. Again, Dell was no worse nor better than the others like HP, Compaq, and Acer to name a few.

Here is the first thing you must accept. Repeat after me: This is not an Apple iPad, this is not an Apple iPad. The Duo touch screen works fairly well. The only issue I noticed was that it appeared to me to be sluggish in performance. This could be a hardware issue since the little Duo comes with the Intel 1.5Ghz Dual-Core Atom processor. Windows 7 needs some extra horses, in my opinion. Also, I would prefer 3 GB of RAM instead of 2 GB, but that is just me.

Flipping from tablet mode to notebook mode is fairly simple. You just flip the screen and you are ready to go. But like with all touchscreen devices, this one is also a fingerprint magnet. For some of us, fingerprints aren’t a bother. But for me, I hate greasy fingerprints. I even keep my cell phone case and screen clean and free of fingerprints.

The Duo is also thick and heavy. Trying to hold the unit in one hand and use the touch screen with the other requires a good deal of strength. I had my wife try it and she thought it was heavy for holding in one hand, but worked just fine when placed on her lap or table.

I have another concern about the Duo. Since this is a brand new product and a brand new design, I wonder how long one could continue to flip the screen before developing problems? I think that waiting for the second generation of the Duo is advisable, unless you need the latest and greatest right now.

I think that Dell has a great idea and the Duo at $549 is reasonably priced for what you get. Yes, the notebook/touchscreen Duo could use a few additional hardware features, like more RAM, faster processor, better Web cam, and a media card reader. A future version of the Duo that addresses these concerns could be a winner, IMO.

If you own a Duo, please share your experience with us.

Comments welcome.

Source – Dell

Should You Wait Until 2012 To Buy A Tablet PC?

If you wanted to buy a tablet computer during most of 2010, you basically had one choice. You purchased an Apple iPad and that was that. But as we enter into 2011, we will have more choices. Samsung recently introduced their Galaxy tablet computer powered by the Google Android operating system. But starting in early 2011 other companies will be introducing their own tablet computers including tablets from Acer and possibly a new slimmed down operating system from Microsoft.

Here is my two cents and my reasons for suggesting waiting until 2012 before buying a tablet or other new device such as the notebooks featuring the Google Chrome operating system.

It is basically simple economic sense to wait until prices start to drop. Maybe not for Apple devices, but for the other gadgets featuring a different operating system such as Windows or Linux. The Linux machines would include both Android and Chrome operating systems from Google.

But what will really differentiate the different brands will be improvements in hardware and functionality. The devices will improve dramatically as competition increases, which will be a benefit for we the consumer and should result in lower pricing.

So why wait until 2012 to buy a tablet? By waiting about a year I believe you will get a better product, including better hardware, at a reduced price.

Comments welcome.

Would You Like To Be A Google Chrome OS Tester?

Today Google has announced that it is looking for people to join its pilot testing program and try out the Google Chrome OS. On the Web site there’s an application that anyone can fill out, and if you are selected, you will receive an unbranded notebook that will have the following features:

They do have 12.1 inch screens, full-sized keyboards and touch pads, integrated 3G from Verizon, eight hours of battery life and eight days of standby time. Chrome notebooks are designed to reach the web instantly, are easy to share among friends and family, and simply by logging in, all of your apps, bookmarks and other browser settings are there. Setting up a new machine takes less than a minute. And even at this early stage, we feel there is no consumer or business operating system that is more secure.

So I ventured over to the website and signed up. I have waited for the Google Chrome OS since the company announced the project. Being cautious as it is, it seems that Google wants user feedback before going public with the new OS. There are going to be a lot of folks who hope that Google fails, including the boys up in Redmond.

If Google Chrome OS is a success, this could be the start of what was described in the movie Casablanca as, ‘I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.’

Google states that notebooks from Acer and Samsung will be available during the first half of next year running Chrome as the OS. Other companies will be following with their own Chrome notebooks later in the year.

I am ready for a Web-based notebook computer. Are you?

Comments welcome.

Source – Google Chrome Blog

Signup page is here

The Mystery Continues Of What Google Chromium OS Will Be

Rumors are making the Internet rounds with suggestions that a new generation of computer using the Google Chromium OS is coming soon. Some have suggested that the new computers could become available in late November, and with others from HP and Acer coming our way in December, 2010. But it is also being suggested that Google will actually have its own branded netbook using its own OS.

It seems like we have been waiting forever for Chromium to become a reality, that I actually forgot about it. Well, not totally, but I have put the idea on the back burner. The world has been enamored with products from Apple, so Google is going to have a very tough act to follow. What is also unknown is whether Chromium will just be an overblown browser or a full featured OS.

We will soon find out what Google has in store for us.

We will also soon learn whether the wait has been worth it.

Ticktock, ticktock.

Comments welcome.

Source – DigiTimes

Can Asus Really Challenge Apple In The Tablet Market? Some Think It Can

For the past few years Asus has been expanding its business from motherboards and video cards to a complete series of notebook and netbook computers. Now the computer company is getting ready to challenge Apple and is coming out with its own tablet computer. The company is said to be reading a tablet computer that will be powered by Google Chrome or Android operating systems and also will provide a heavy dose of multimedia capabilities. In addition, the system maker is hoping to propel itself to the number 3 computer manufacturing spot by the end of 2011.

One recent article states:

Even as new projects beckon, Eee PCs remain a big focus. Asus says it continues to work on making the devices thinner, more reliable and more battery-efficient and is expanding the line, known for its casual, intuitive software, to be more business-oriented. “The netbook market is getting more mature, so segmentation is more important,” said Shih. “We’re trying to address more commercial customers.”

Asus now asks its employees to follow “human-centered design thinking” called STS across all its products. The approach stresses a transition from thinking about device features or “specs” to “scenarios,” meaning how a consumer will actually use the product. The strategy inspired Asus to bulk up its audio technology staff while developing its NX90 laptop, a sleek, aluminum-covered device meant to serve as a multimedia hub in a living room. These employees, known internally as the “Golden Ear Team,” fine-tuned the notebook’s audio-frequency software so that someone listening to classical music would be able to easily follow the strains of a violin, if desired.

After it conquers the living room Asus wants to place its products throughout consumers’ homes. “There will be many different form factors, depending on different scenarios,” said Shih. “We’re interested in making anything that can improve your life experience.”

With Asus and Acer pushing the envelope on development of computers and other devices, one can see how the folks in Taiwan are getting ready to replace such companies as HP and Dell here in the U.S. This shouldn’t come as any surprise since most everything else we now use in the U.S. is manufactured outside of our country.

Comments welcome.


Acer Boss – We Will Not Build iPad Like Tablet Computers

Once Apple announced its new iPad tablet computer, I was wondering if any other major computer company would build a similar device. Acer claims it has no intention of entering into the tablet computer market. Acer seems to be content with its business model in which it continues to concentrate on notebook and netbook computers as its bread and butter products.

The boss at Acer also stated that the company could build tablet computers since the company has the knowledge to do so. But Acer believes that tablets are only a niche market and doesn’t want to enter what it perceives as a low volume arena.

A recent article also states:

Apple is able to support the iPad through its iTunes ecosystem, while few other makers, including Acer, have comparable experience in operating an online store, Lin noted.

Historically, closed platforms are typically limited in terms of scale and are confined to niche markets. Apple has built is business out of carving its own niche, which means that while Apple could see success with devices like the iPad, other players are unlikely to be able to replicate its result simply by copying, Lin noted.

However, Lin said he believes the iPad is unlikely to impact the notebook/netbook markets as the two products target completely different consumer groups

Lin also cited research firm figures saying that Acer shipped about 31 million notebooks in 2009.

That last number is impressive. It appears that Acer is heading itself to the #2 position in computer sales if it continues its recent pace. As many of you may know, Acer also builds the Gateway and eMachines as well, which has increased its sale figures.

Comments, as always, are welcome.


Acer To U.S. Computer Companies – ‘We Will Bury You’

The founder of Acer seems to believe that U.S. computer brands may be gone in 20 years. His message has the same ring as when Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev made the famous statement ;we will bury you’ to the United States. What ever happened to Russia anyway? But that is another story.

According to the Acer founder the U.S. can not compete with the cheaper knock offs being made in Taiwan. He states that:

US computer brands may be gone in 20 years’ time due to an inability to produce the low-priced PCs the market demands, the Taiwanese founder of computer maker Acer was quoted as saying Tuesday.

“The trend for low-priced computers will last for the coming years,” said Stan Shih, high tech entrepreneur and founder of the island’s leading personal computer brand according to the Taipei-based Commercial Times newspaper.

“But US computer makers just don’t know how to put such products on the market… US computer brands may disappear over the next 20 years, just like what happened to US television brands.”

Acer outperformed US-based Dell as the world’s second-largest computer vendor last year and is likely to replace Hewlett-Packard, also of the US, as the No. 1 vendor in 2011, according to Taipei-based industry publication Digitimes.

I am somewhat confused. I thought that companies like Dell and HP had their computers built in Taiwan?  If that is the case, how will Acer be able to sell at a lower price? Is it because the American corporations are top heavy in management and love big fat bonuses? Just a thought.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


FYI – Acer Aspire Notebook – Recall

I spotted this on the N.Y. Times website for recalls and thought I would pass this on, since many of you own Acer computers.

PRODUCT: Acer Aspire-series notebook computers, manufactured in China by Acer America Corp. of San Jose, Calif. They were sold by, ABS Computer Technologies, D&H Distributing, Fry’s Electronics, Ingram Micro, Radio Shack, SED/American Express, Synnex Corporation, SYX Distribution, Tech Data Corp. and other stores around the country between June 2009 and October 2009.

HOW MANY: About 22,000

WHY: An internal microphone wire can cause a short circuit and overheat posing a risk of burns because the wire is under the palm rest. The company has received three reports of short-circuited computers, but no reports of injuries. The incidents occurred outside of the United States.

ADDITIONAL INFO: Call 866-695-2237 or visit or

The U.S. Prouct Safety Commission web site provided these models numbers that are being recalled:

Description: The recalled notebook computer models are the Acer AS3410, AS3410T, AS3810T, AS3810TG, AS3810TZ and AS3810TZG. The computer’s screen size is about 13.3 inches measured diagonally. Not all units are affected. Consumers should contact Acer to determine if their unit is included in the recall.

If you own one of these units may I suggest that you contact Acer ASAP.

Comments welcome.

Source N.Y. Times

Source CPSC

Acer Bumps Dell From The #2 Spot In Sales – But Who Are All Those ‘Others’?

Last year just before Acer purchased Gateway, the company stated that their goal for 2009 was to unseat Dell from the #2 spot. Acer has accomplished their goal with a surge in computer sales of 23% + from the third quarter sales figure they posted for 2008. Overall it seems that most companies, HP, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba showed increases in sales while Dell sales figure shrink by 6%.

According to one news agency they stated that:

Acer’s success is mostly attributed to consumer preference for low-cost mobile PCs, like netbooks, in recent months. Acer, obviously, has a slew of netbook offerings which have appealed to consumers. Loren Loverde, program director for IDC’s PC Tracker, said. “It’s a pretty amazing transition in market leadership by Acer. It’s reflective of the changes in form factors and channels and pricing–the way we’ve shifted to lower cost portables, particularly in consumer and retail, which is where Dell was not as strong.”

The third quarter sales results aren’t just good for Acer. For the first time in a year, PC shipments grew, meaning every manufacturer probably saw increased sales. The increase wasn’t fantastic, only 2 percent growth over a year ago, but these companies struggling to make do with ever thinner profit margins will be excited to see any amount of growth. Hopefully the boost can sustain them because IDC is expecting a 3 percent drop for this quarter.


There is one segment of the market that we rarely hear about and that is the ‘others’. These are the folks who build custom boxes and specialty computers, usually for companies. These system builders make up over 40% of the computer market.

Comments welcome,


Acer To Launch Google Chromium OS Netbooks In 2010

Acer is preparing to launch new Netbooks in 2010 which may use Google’s new OS Chromium. The announcement should not come as as any surprise, since Acer has been critical of Microsoft starting with Windows Vista. I originally wrote about Acer and its displeasure of Windows Vista back on July 26, 2007 [original post located here]. In that article Acer claimed that Vista was the worst operating system ever.

So Acer still may not be pleased with Microsoft and its new Windows 7 and is reflecting its opinion on choosing a Google OS. But will anyone buy it?

One recent article states the following:

Acer plans to launch a Google Chrome operating system-based netbook, which the company has been developing since mid-2009 in the second half of 2010, according to industry sources.

Acer chairman JT Wang also expressed his confidence that the company will be the first vendor to launch Chrome-based netbook in the market during a recent interview with Digitimes.

Acer was the first first-tier vendor to launch a Google Android-based netbook in the market. Although demand for the model was not as strong as expected, it did not dampen Acer’s willingness to develop netbooks with non-Microsoft operating systems.

I believe that last sentence says it all. Netbook sales using a non-Windows OS such as Linux has not been appealing. But this time the OS will have the Google name behind it, that almost everyone will recognize.

Would you buy a Netbook with Google Chromium OS instead of Windows?

Comments welcome.


Notebook Reliability – Asus The Best And HP The Worst – What Do You Think?

Reliability for notebook computers according to a publication by Square Trade rates Asus as the most reliable and HP the least reliable. So who is Square Trade? It is a company that offers warranties on computer systems and its results were based on 30,000 notebooks that required repairs. The chart below shows which computers it found to be the most reliable:

Highlights of the study include:

Looking at the first 3 years of ownership, 31% of laptop owners reported a failure to SquareTrade. Two-thirds of this failure (20.4%) came from hardware malfunctions, and one-third (10.6%) was reported as accidental damage.

Netbooks are projected to have a 20% higher failure rate from hardware malfunctions than more expensive laptop computers.

ASUS and Toshiba were the most reliable manufacturers, with fewer than 16% having a hardware malfunction over 3 years.

FWIW – I have owned Toshiba laptops as well as having repaired [software] problems on the systems, and I must agree that the company makes a very good product. But what about you? Who do you think makes a good laptop?

For the prices Apple charges one would think it would have a higher reliability rating.

Comments welcome.

Source – Square Trade in .pdf

Best Buy Isn’t Waiting For Black Friday – $249 Laptop Goes On Sale Today – But There Is A Limit Of 5 Per Store!

Yipes! I no sooner did I write about this and they are already sold out online. PLUS, Best Buy only has 5 of these computers per store.

We all suspected that this holiday season would be full of goodies and it looks like we will not be disappointed. Best Buy will be offering an Acer laptop computer, with a 900 Celeron processor, 2 GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard disk for only $249.00. This price reflects what Best Buy and others may have in store for us this holiday season.

According to a recent article it also states that:

This holiday, computing selection at Best Buy spans nine popular brands, and includes over 30 laptops, six netbooks, 17 desktops and four all-in-ones. The assortment, coupled with new technologies and promotional offers like the $249.99 Acer laptop, are intended to help both customers who want to upgrade their own gear with the arrival of Windows 7, and who have computing on their wish lists for holiday.

“For many of us, computers are the center of our digital worlds, and Best Buy is committed to remaining a valued partner in this space,” said Jason Bonfig, vice president of computers at Best Buy. “We promise a broad assortment of quality products at a variety of price points, all the major brands, and smart Best Buy Blue Shirts and Geek Squad Agents to help customers feel confident about the choices they’re making.”

Just last week Walmart introduced a laptop on sale for $299.99, but was only offered in limited quantities. So with Best Buy dropping the price to $249.99, it makes one wonder just how low prices will go.

Consumers now face another problem. With laptop prices dropping down to netbook pricing, which becomes the better deal? A notebook that has a built in DVD and faster processor or a netbook with just the basics?

Which unit offers a better value in your opinion?

Comments welcome.

PS I wonder when Amazon is going to introduce their low price deal?


Best Buy site for the Acer.