TIME Computers

Hands On: Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro and ThinkPad Yoga 14

Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

Two years ago, when Lenovo first debuted the IdeaPad Yoga 13, it was one of the most exciting 2-in-1 hybrids to herald the coming of Windows 8. Though the operating system still has people cringing, the hardware remains innovative and useful and has improved with each generation.

No surprise then that the two new Yogas, the Yoga 3 Pro and the ThinkPad Yoga 14, are pretty impressive. With the Yoga 3 Pro, Lenovo redesigned and improved upon the hinge mechanism. The ThinkPad takes a cue from the Carbon X1 design, fitting a 14-inch screen into a 13-inch body and adds discrete graphics to boot.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

When most people think of ThinkPads, they envision boxy business machines that embody durability but don’t always have the most eye-catching designs. Over the past few years, Lenovo has worked to change that perception, and laptops like the Yoga 14 are the result. You’ll still get the durability features such as a magnesium alloy frame, and of course that great ThinkPad keyboard. However, the design is slim, sleek, and attractive. At 4.1 pounds it’s not feather-light, but it’s still light enough for ultra portability.

Another reason to take a look at this model over the Yoga 3 Pro is that the ThinkPad has the Lift and Lock keyboard. As you bend it around past 180 degrees, the keyboard not only shuts off, but the deck of the laptop rises up so the keys are flush with it. This helps to keep the keys from popping off when you’re in tablet mode.

On top of that, this is a very powerful machine for being so thin and light: 4th generation Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, NVIDIA Geforce 840M graphics, and a 1TB hard drive with a 16GB SSD cache for speedier wake and overall performance of the operating system.

The 14-inch touchscreen has a full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and is bright, colorful, yet not too reflective or prone to glare. Wide viewing angles mean you aren’t confined to one sweet spot for viewing images and video — important for a multi-mode 2-in-1. In my hands-on time, I noted how responsive it is to touch and that there’s not too much bounce in the hinge. The keyboard isn’t as deep as some ThinkPads, but felt great to type on. The large touchpad is also very responsive and didn’t make me feel like I would always need to reach up and touch the screen.

If you need powerful performance as much as you need versatility, this ThinkPad may be the Yoga for you. And at $1,199, the price isn’t bad, either.

However, the 4.1 pound weight is a little above the ultrabook weights that many people are used to. The Yoga 3 Pro ($1,349) is only 2.62 pounds and half an inch thick. That’s not even the best part of the new design.

lenovo-yoga3-pro-hinge
K.T. Bradford / Techlicious

In order to make the laptop thinner, Lenovo redesigned the hinge from the ground up. The inspiration came from watchbands, and it features six points of articulation. Once you put it at an angle, the hinge stays. Yet it’s also just as easy to move the screen and keyboard deck as before.

Check out our hands-on below:

The Yoga 3 Pro doesn’t have the Lift and Lock mechanism that the Thinkpad does, so exposed keys are still a bit of a problem. Other than that, the design looks and feels really good. With convertibles, the large screen size can make using it as a tablet a little unwieldy. That’s less of an issue when the entire machine is this thin and light.

Inside, an Intel Core M-70 processor (made for ultrathin systems) runs the show, backed by 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and integrated graphics to support the 3200 x 1800 resolution touchscreen. This model comes with two USB 3.0 ports and an extra USB 2.0 port that also doubles as the power port. A clever way to include an extra USB slot without adding bulk.

Both of the new Yoga 2-in-1 laptops have several things that make it easy to recommend them, so it mostly comes down to a choice between more power and durability or lighter weight and a higher-resolution display. Either way, both models will be available by the end of October.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME gender

Microsoft’s Leadership Is Less Than 20% Female

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya NadellaSpeaks At Company Event
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks to students during the Microsoft Talent India conference in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The company released diversity numbers just days before CEO Satya Nadella was lambasted for dissuaded women from asking for raises

Microsoft’s leadership is only 17.3% female, according to diversity numbers the company released Oct. 3, while women make up less than 30% of the entire company as a whole.

Those numbers are coming under new scrutiny after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was the target of severe backlash Thursday night after he suggested women should rely on “good karma” for promotions instead of directly asking for a raise.

“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” Nadella said at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing on Thursday. “That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women [who] don’t ask for a raise have. . . . It’s good karma. It will come back.”

Nadella apologized hours later in a tweet and a longer email to Microsoft staff, saying the comment was “inarticulate.”

According to the diversity numbers, women make up almost 45% of the non-tech jobs at Microsoft, but only 17% of the tech positions.

MORE: Microsoft’s CEO Tells Women It’s Bad Karma to Ask For a Raise

 

TIME Companies

Microsoft Skips Windows 9 and Goes Right to Windows 10

The skip is to emphasize the company's effort to move forward

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft is trying to soften an unpopular redesign of Windows by reviving features from older versions while still attempting to nudge desktop users into a world of touch screens and mobile devices.

The company on Tuesday gave an early preview of the new Windows 10 software, which it aims to begin selling by the middle of next year. Although the current version is called Windows 8, Microsoft says it’s skipping ahead to Windows 10 to emphasize its effort to move forward.

“Windows 10 represents the first step in a whole new generation of Windows,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s operating systems group.

Windows 8 was introduced two years ago as an answer to the growing demand for mobile devices. But many users hated it because its tablet-like design and controls weren’t a good fit for many devices using keyboards and mice. Sales of personal computers continued to fall.

With Windows 10, Microsoft is trying to regain the loyalty of longtime PC users, while reaching out to consumers and businesses that are increasingly adopting touch-screen smartphones and tablets.

Analysts consider the success of the new Windows crucial for Microsoft and new CEO Satya Nadella, who must show that Microsoft can embrace mobile devices without sacrificing the traditional computing experience.

The new system will be a blend of the old and the new. For instance, it will have various controls that are familiar to users of older Windows systems, such as a start menu to quickly access apps. But this start button will also open a series of tiles that resemble what’s found in Windows 8.

Analysts said that more gradual transition is important if Microsoft wants to persuade users to upgrade.

“This is what Windows 8 should have been,” said Carolina Milanesi, a veteran tech analyst at the research firm Kantar Worldpanel. “Here they are doing the right thing.”

Microsoft executives signaled they got that message on Tuesday. They stressed repeatedly that using the next version of Windows won’t be a challenge for businesses or consumers who have continued to use Windows 7 or even earlier versions.

The new software seeks to offer “the familiarity of Windows 7 with some of the benefits that exist in Windows 8,” said Joe Belfiore, a Microsoft executive who oversees Windows design and evolution.

He compared it to buying a new car with a more powerful engine and a better audio system, without having to “learn a new way to drive.”

Windows 10, for instance, will suggest new ways to use or navigate through files, without forcing users to abandon the old way, Belfiore said.

“We’re designing the experience so that as you use it, the things you already know are familiar and present, but new value is presented to you at a rate that’s easier for you to ingest,” he said.

The effort drew tentative praise from several industry experts.

“They desperately needed to find a way to bridge that experience. I just wish they’d done that with Windows 8,” said Rob Enderle, a tech analyst with the Enderle Group.

Milanesi said that while many businesses resisted upgrading to Windows 8, they can’t avoid touch screens as younger workers are accustomed to using phones or tablets as their primary computing device.

Windows 10 will also be designed to work on a wider range of computing devices.

Microsoft currently has three main systems — Windows 8 for traditional computers and tablets, Windows Phone 8 for cellphones and Xbox for its gaming console. By unifying the underlying systems in Windows 10, software developers will be able to create apps for the various devices more easily. Consumers will also be able to switch devices more easily and avoid having to buy the same apps multiple times.

That doesn’t mean the apps will always look the same. Developers will still be able to adapt apps for the various screen sizes, but won’t have to start from the beginning for each version.

User interfaces on the various devices may also differ, even as they share underlying technologies. For now, Microsoft plans to keep the current Xbox interface on the game console.

Enderle said Microsoft’s effort to create a single platform should help lure more developers to write apps — something the company needs to boost usage of Windows tablets and phones.

Windows is the most widely used PC operating system in the world, but it is steadily losing ground as more people turn to smartphones and tablets, which primarily run on operating systems from Microsoft rivals Apple and Google. That’s why Nadella wants to create one system that will run on all devices.

“It’s certainly an ambitious goal, but it’s also a little early to tell how it will work,” said Michael Silver, a tech analyst at Gartner.

Apple and Google have both rejected Microsoft’s approach of unifying the various systems, preferring to keep systems for PCs and mobile devices separate.

Microsoft also touted new security and management features for business customers, which represent a lucrative market for the company. Almost half of all PCs are used in the workplace, according to Gartner.

While a “technical preview” version of the software is being released this week, Microsoft said it won’t be ready to talk about new consumer features until next year.

Microsoft declined to say how much the new software would cost or how it will be distributed. Analysts have speculated that the company might be considering a subscription model — as it has with Office software — rather than selling each new version of Windows separately.

TIME Gadgets

SanDisk 512GB Memory Card: Big Storage, Big Price

sd-sdextremePRO-512g
SanDisk

SanDisk has announced a memory card with roughly half a terabyte of storage. If you’re reading this on a laptop, that might be as large or larger than your entire hard drive. If you’re reading this on a phone, it’s definitely larger than your phone’s entire storage — probably at least 10x as much. SanDisk touts the card as “the world’s highest-capacity SD card on the market.”

The “SanDisk Extreme PRO SDXC UHS-I Memory Card 512GB” — just rolls right off the tongue, no? — carries a retail price of $800 and is targeted at professional photographers and videographers. If you’ve got $800 to burn and need a significant storage bump for your computer, though, this could do the trick. (It won’t work in smartphones: this is a full-size card, not a microSD card.)

Adorama has it for $729 with an estimated late-September ship date. B&H also has it for $729 but the ship date isn’t until mid-October.

[SanDisk]

TIME Companies

A Look Back at Apple’s 6 Biggest Product Releases

In anticipation of the iPhone 6, here are Apple's finest moments introducing the world to products that would change it forever

On Sept. 9, tech giant Apple will at long last unveil its newest gadget, the highly anticipated iPhone 6. The company has plenty of experience in building up hype and then pulling off a presentation that convinces the crowd they’re watching the future unfurl before their very eyes. Go back through the years, starting in 1977 with a young Steve Jobs ushering in affordable personal computing with the Apple II, to his successors showing off cutting edge computers that fit in your pocket with the latest iPhones. Whether it’s convincing a West Coast Computer Faire crowd that floppy disks and the mouse are worthwhile ideas, or presenting a button-sized professional-grade camera, Apple’s releases never disappoint.

Correction: This post incorrectly reported the Apple II was introduced in 1984 at Harvard University. The Apple II was unveiled in 1977 at the West Coast Computer Faire.

TIME Big Picture

If the World Was a Village: Tech Edition

Earlier in the year I wrote an article called Computing’s S-Curve. We are on the path to connecting the planet via pocket computers. This is so incredibly significant that it’s difficult to overstate.

In many of the presentations we give at Creative Strategies, we emphasize that we are still early in the technology age. We point out that the first 25 years of computing were focused on bringing computers to business. The next 25-plus years will be focused on bringing computers to every person on the planet. Much of this is driven by Moore’s Law.

When presenting to more PC-focused audiences, this is a favorite slide for emphasizing the role Moore’s Law plays in bringing computing to the masses:

chart1
Ben Bajarin / Creative Strategies

We still have a long way to go but as Benedict Evans points out, this opportunity to connect the planet is hugely beneficial from humanity’s standpoint.

So where are we when it comes to connecting the planet today? Using a range of statistics I gathered, I made a chart showing a few of my favorite data points, asking, “If the world was a village of 100 people, how many would be using what technology?”

Ben Bajarin / Techpinions

What strikes me about these statistics is that only one of them is over 50%. The mobile phone (not smartphone) is in use by 63% of the global population. Many of these mobile phone users have multiple subscriptions, which is why the latest data from the ITU pegs total mobile subscriptions at nearly 7 billion.

What makes mobile phones — with 63% percent of the global population owning one — interesting is that by 2020, those will all be smartphones. To help drive that transition, we now have smartphones that cost $33 and we will have $10 smartphones by 2020.

Yet, we still have a long way to go. I made this chart using some new data from the TNS Connected Life survey:

Ben Bajarin / Creative Strategies

This chart shows the percentage of smartphone users and non-smartphone users in each of these large global markets. I’ve added their respective population as well in order to see the opportunity for growth and scale.

As we embrace this shift, we realize how valuable these mobile phones are, particularly to those in emerging markets. Internet-connected mobile phones have given rise to the WeChat businesses, Instagram businesses, Facebook businesses and more. People like to argue that you need a PC to do work. Tens of millions of consumers (and growing) in emerging markets prove this wrong every day.

As we empower billions of new consumers with pocket computers ubiquitously connected to the Internet, it is bound to have an impact on the economies of these emerging markets. Economists estimate that bringing connectivity to a market can increase the GDP of that region anywhere from 1-3%.

The Internet has been one of the most critical and disruptive inventions of our era. Bringing the Internet to nearly everyone on the planet may be even more disruptive when all is said and done.

Connecting the Planet, Reshaping Industries

Mobile’s impact will be widespread. Note this chart from Chetan Sharma Consulting.

There are 14 global trillion-dollar industries; mobile has the potential to invade, change and impact them all. In this white paper, Chetan argues that we are entering a new era of connected intelligence. He is correct, and it will be driven by two fundamentals: the connecting of the planet via mobile devices and the connecting of nearly everything else to the Internet.

When we state that the technology industry’s best days are ahead, it is for the above reasons and more. While we explain that the next 25-plus years will be focused on bringing computing to the masses, the next 50-plus years will be spent bringing computing to nearly everything.

This article was written by Ben Bajarin and originally appeared on Techpinions. Bajarin is a principal at Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to the Big Picture opinion column that appears here every week.

TIME Computers

Acer Chromebook 13 Impresses with Long Battery, Spacious Screen

Acer’s Chromebook 13 is arguably the best Chromebook for the money right now.

For $300, you get a 13-inch high-resolution screen — it’s 1080p in a sea of Chromebooks with 720p screens — and battery life that can hit 10 hours before needing to be recharged. Those are the two biggest selling points.

Battery life is real-deal here. I’ve been using the Chromebook 13 off and on as a secondary machine for the past week and have recharged it twice. I even took it with me on a four-day weekend and left the charger at home. The feeling was equal parts exhilarating and anxious, like riding an edible roller coaster made largely of ice cream sandwiches. If you’re doing basic stuff, you’ll probably be able to squeeze 10 hours out of this thing. If you’re hammering on it, expect about eight. Acer promises up to 11 hours, so hitting anywhere in the 8-10 range is pretty good.

The 1920×1080 screen is uncommon in a $300 machine and it’s a big selling point on its own, but don’t expect to be blown away. Viewing angles leave a bit to be desired and the matte panel — though pretty good outdoors — makes everything look somewhat lifeless. I kept wanting the screen to be great, but that burning desire kept getting quietly and fairly snuffed out by the $300 price tag.

What you’re getting from the screen, basically, is more space on the dance floor. Here’s a 72op Chromebook (on the left) up against the Chromebook 13’s 1080p screen:

720vs1080
Doug Aamoth / TIME

The trackpad and keyboard are both hits in their own right, too. The trackpad especially: it’s buttery-smooth for two-finger scrolling, rivaling the gold-standard MacBook trackpads. The island keyboard is plenty spacious, with the keys having Goldilocks-like travel: not too shallow, not too deep. Each keypress elicits a satisfying thump.

Under the hood, Acer’s installed a mobile-ish Nvidia Tegra chip, the first of its kind in this type of machine. The promise is great horsepower with minimal tradeoff to the battery. Battery life is a definite win here, though I’d say horsepower merely falls into the “good enough” to “pretty good” range depending what you’re trying to do. Chromebooks are appealing as secondary computers for people who use computers a lot or as basic computers for people who need something for browsing the web. If you’re looking for either of those things with this machine, you won’t be disappointed; if you want to use this as your primary computer and you’re going to load up a bunch of browser tabs, you might want to consider dropping an extra $80 for the next model up — which features double the RAM and double the storage — or spend a bit more for a mid-range PC.

And like any $300 computer, build quality isn’t going to be anything spectacular. The Chromebook 13 is Acer’s most solidly-built and best-looking Chromebook yet, though it’s still ensconced in white, smudge-magnet plastic and there’s a meaningful bezel surrounding the screen. The machine travels light, though, at 3.3 pounds and shares a similar length-and-width profile as a 13-inch MacBook Air, with a thickness of 0.7 inches:

CB13vsMBA
Doug Aamoth / TIME

Various quibbles aside, Acer’s Chromebook 13 has it where it counts: long battery, high-resolution screen, great trackpad, great keyboard and a very manageable travel size. The processor holds it back ever so slightly, but the day-long battery life should easily counterbalance that for most people.

Couple quick notes before we wrap up:

  • Toshiba’s got an impressive 13-incher launching in early October. For $30 more, you get an Intel processor, double the RAM and a 1080p IPS screen that ought to look better than the Acer’s matte display. Battery life for the Toshiba will be shorter though, with the company promising up to nine hours — which will likely mean around 7-8 hours in the real world. And Acer’s known to cut prices pretty aggressively when needed. The Chromebook 13 is still a safe buy right now, but if you’re looking for a little more horsepower, a better screen and are willing to give up a few hours of battery, it might be worth it to wait to compare the two once they’re both on the market.
  • There’s a $280 version of this Acer Chromebook that features a 720p screen and up to 13 hours of battery life. I’d argue that the extra $20 for the 1080p screen is absolutely worth it, but if you’re looking to squeeze every last minute out of your laptop battery, the $280 model is worth a look.
  • There’s a $300 version with 4GB of RAM (the regular version has 2GB) available at select retailers. That should be a no-brainer if you frequent one of the establishments listed at the bottom of the product page.
TIME Gadgets

The Best Laptop Under $500 for Fall 2014

Acer E5
The Acer E5 offers respectable power for just shy of $500 Acer

With a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive and full-sized keyboard, the Aspire E 15 has plenty of power.

A search for laptops under $500 turns up a wide range of choices, starting with smaller, netbook-like hybrids and moving up to full-size, mainstream PCs with budget price tags.

Assuming you want a full-featured PC, chances are that you’re looking for either a small, ultra-portable, low-power secondary machine or a full-sized computer that’s basic yet reliable. Since the criteria for each are different, a final choice comes down to one thing: Which laptop is the best value for your money?

To evaluate the best laptops under $500, I didn’t just look at price; I also considered performance, design, brand reliability and reviews from professionals and consumers. A handful of promising contenders emerged, including the Acer Aspire E 15, the Lenovo Yoga 2 11, the Acer Aspire Switch 10 and the Asus Transformer Book T100.

If you’re looking for a laptop to use as a main computer, my top pick is the 15.6-inch Aspire E 15. But if you’re in the market for a small machine, the 10-inch hybrid tablet Acer Aspire Switch 10 gets the nod. Both do well in the areas that matter most: smooth and speedy performance, sturdy and streamlined design, comfortable keyboards and good battery life. However, they are very different machines meant for different workloads.

The Acer Aspire E 15: Best laptop as a main computer

When shopping for a budget 13- to 15-inch laptop to use as your main computer, you’ll have to make some compromises: plastic casing instead of metal, HD displays instead of full HD or Retina-like resolution (often without touchscreens), slightly heavier and thicker designs instead of feather light and sleek. Most of these are acceptable trade-offs for the price; when it comes to internal hardware and performance, you should accept the least compromise possible.

During my initial search for sub-$500 laptops, I found solid models from HP, Dell, Asus and Lenovo that are as easy on the eyes as they are on the wallet. The models with the highest ratings ran on less powerful AMD or Intel processors (Core i3, Celeron, Pentium). Most also offered less RAM than my top pick. While this can be acceptable in a budget laptop, you should always get the most powerful processor and largest amount of RAM you can afford.

Solid power and performance

This is the primary reason why this Acer Aspire E 15 is my pick for top mainstream laptop. The $499 model (E5-571-563B) is powered by a fourth-generation Intel Core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM, which should keep it speedy for several years, even as programs and websites become more complex and take up more resources. The E 15 also comes with a 1TB hard drive — not an SSD (another compromise), but large enough to hold a sizable media collection as well as all your documents and other files.

The E 15 performed smoothly in my tests, switching between dozens of open tabs in Chrome and Firefox without lag while streaming music in the background. HD videos played without lag or hitching, and the system’s integrated graphics handled less intense games just fine. The E 15 ran spreadsheet macros at a respectable rate for a laptop with a spinning hard drive, opening even large Word documents in seconds.

The E 15 has plenty of ports, including VGA, Ethernet and three USB ports. The only thing you might expect to see that isn’t here on this model is an optical drive.

Full-sized keyboard and energy-saving monitor

Another area where you shouldn’t compromise too much (even on a tight budget) is a laptop’s keyboard. A good external mouse can replace a less than stellar touchpad, but if you need an external keyboard, you lose the point of using a laptop. The Aspire E 15 has a standard Acer keyboard with square, island-style keys that spring up as you type and don’t require heavy fingerfalls to register. Because this is a 15-inch system, you get not only get a full-size keyboard but a full number pad to the right as well.

The comfortable typing experience is matched by a responsive but not overly sensitive touchpad. It’s wide and tall, giving you enough area for executing gestures to bring up Windows charms and making up somewhat for the lack of a touchscreen. If you spend most of your time in desktop mode, you’ll barely miss using touch.

For a laptop with a 15.6-inch display, the E 15 is relatively light (5.5 pounds) and just 1.2 inches thick, so it slides into backpacks and briefcases easily. Most people keep laptops this size on their desks, but the E 15 is not so heavy that it’s a pain to take on trips or to class. When you do, expect to get six to seven hours of normal use. I tested the E 15 on the balanced power setting with the screen at 75% brightness and I didn’t need to plug in until past the six-hour mark. With energy-saving features active, it should last even longer.

The screen is one of the E 15’s weak points. At this price, I don’t expect an extremely high resolution, but 1366 x 768 feels low for a display of this size. Other than that, the colors, saturation and brightness are all eye pleasing and you can set the screen at almost any angle without seeing any distortion of colors or contrast.

Options, options

Acer promised that the Aspire E laptop line would be all about choice, and you’re likely to find several configurations in stores and online. They’re all mostly identical on the outside but give you a choice of different processors (both Intel and AMD), non-touch or touchscreen control, matte or glossy displays and a few different colors. I recommend the Aspire E5-571-563B, currently $499.99 on Amazon, with the best balance between price and performance.

There are a few Aspire E models that cost less and have less powerful hardware. I don’t recommend a model with anything less powerful than an Intel Core i3.

Reviews are limited, but good

The E 15 is new, so there aren’t many reviews out yet. The majority of owners who reviewed it on Amazon left positive feedback, citing its speedy performance, lightweight design and large amount of RAM and hard drive space for the price. The only major gripe is the lack of optical or DVD drive, which came as a surprise to some due to a misleading product shot.

The Acer Aspire E 15 may be a budget laptop, but it is not cheap. Even at $498, you won’t have to compromise on performance or power, nor will you have to settle for a bulky, heavy, ugly machine.

The Acer Aspire Switch 10: Best portable laptop

Aspire Switch
Acer

As light as the Aspire E 15 is for its size, it’s still not the kind of computer you want to carry with you for long periods of time. If you’re looking for an affordable and portable laptop, try the $379 Acer Aspire Switch 10. This 10.1-inch tablet hybrid runs full Windows 8.1 with a keyboard dock that turns it into a laptop with a simple snap.

The hybrid convertible tablet market is full of worthy contenders right now, including the 10-inch Asus Transformer Book T100 for $379 and the 11.6-inch Lenovo Yoga 2 11 for $499. While the Switch 10’s performance is slightly better than both in all but one area, what won me over is the keyboard dock’s versatility and superior typing experience.

As with most hybrids, the Switch 10’s screen/tablet portion attaches to the keyboard dock to make a clamshell laptop. It can also attach backwards for presentation mode or tent mode, similar to the Lenovo Yoga 2, which has a 360-degree hinge. I’m a fan of the Yoga’s design and versatility, but at 11.6 inches, I find it too big to use effectively as a tablet. The Switch 10 detaches from the keyboard to become a true slate.

Comfortable keyboard and robust processing power

Still, you’ll likely spend most of your time using the Switch 10 as a laptop with the dock attached. The keyboard is classic Acer, made small enough to fit with the 10.1-inch display. The square keys are not cramped or undersized, providing enough space between keys to keep you from accidentally hitting two at the same time. That’s the biggest advantage the Switch 10 has over the Transformer Book T100’s surprisingly cramped and uncomfortable keyboard; otherwise, these two hybrids are very similar, both in design and internal hardware.

The Switch 10 has a newer processor and thus earns slightly higher scores in benchmarks, but both perform about the same when executing real-world tasks. The Intel Atom processor is faster than you might expect if you associate this brand with netbooks from three years ago. The Atom doesn’t choke streaming HD video any more, and it handles switching between dozens of tabs and a handful of running programs without becoming sluggish. However, the Atom processor is not designed for intense usage such as graphics-heavy games, compiling code or video editing beyond a quick trim.

Battery life is light

The Switch 10 falls short of the T100 in battery life, lasting about five to six and a half hours on a single charge. The T100 can last up to 12. Acer equipped the Switch 10 with a very lightweight A/C adapter, so carrying it is not a burden; the Transformer T100 can charge off the same micro-USB cord as your phone.

If you’re more interested in the tablet side of the experience and don’t think you’ll use the keyboard much, the T100 is a good pick, but if you’re looking for a laptop first and tablet second, the best keyboard experience matters — so go with the Switch 10.

The Acer Aspire Switch 10 with 32GB of internal storage is available on Amazon for $309. If your budget allows, I suggest the 64GB version, currently $388 on Amazon.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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TIME Aging

You Asked: Can Computers Really Ruin My Eyes?

Illustration by Peter Oumanski for TIME

You spend most of the day staring at a computer, and your tablet or smartphone lull you to sleep at night. What does all that digital screen time do to your eyes?

From sore eyes and blurred vision to headaches, doctors have a catch-all term for any screen-induced discomfort: “Computer vision syndrome,” says Dr. Joshua Dunaief, an ophthalmologist and macular degeneration researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Dunaief says the specific causes of computer vision syndrome (CVS) are numerous, from improper reading glasses to an overly bright screen. But in most cases, any eye issues you’re experiencing stem from two root issues. Either your eyes are dried out, or they’ve become too fatigued to see properly.

“There are tiny muscles inside your eyeball that change the shape of your eye’s lens in order to bring whatever you’re seeing into focus,” Dunaief explains. After hours of sitting in front of your computer screen, those muscles can grow tired from focusing on a single fixed point. “In some cases, those muscles become so fatigued that your eyes can no longer focus,” Dunaief adds. He says research has also shown that when reading or working online, people tend to blink less. That can lead to dry eyes, tearing, or a burning sensation, he says.

While you’re not powerless to combat these problems (more on that in a minute), Dunaief says these issues are typically short-lived—meaning they go away within a few hours if you abandon your computer. But are there any serious, long-term dangers associated with digital screens?

“Possibly,” Dunaief says. “There’s evidence that bright light can damage your retinas irreversibly. That might mean staring at a computer screen that is very bright could damage your eyes.” He says there’s also some experimental evidence indicating regular exposure to computer-strength light could be damaging in similar ways.

Sitting too close to your computer screen (or holding your cell phone very near to your face) could also potentially lead to some vision problems, explains Dr. Joan Portello, an associate professor and researcher at the State University of New York School of Optometry. “A lot of people don’t realize this, but when you’re viewing something really close, that’s when your eyes are working the hardest—much harder than when you’re looking at something far away,” Portello explains.

Both she and Dunaief say there’s some evidence that students who spend many hours hunched over textbooks tend to become nearsighted. (Some Chinese schools have started employing metal desk bars to keep kids from lowering their heads too near to their study materials.) “Kids who play outside a lot tend to have better distance vision,” Portello adds. “And heavy computer use could turn out to cause some similar issues to this close textbook reading.” Like Dunaief, Portello says it’s too early to say how bad long-term computer use is for your eyes.

One thing is crystal clear: Computers aren’t going anywhere. So what can you do to safeguard your sight? First and foremost, proper eyewear is essential—especially if you’re older than 40, when reading small print tends to become troublesome for most people, Dunaief says. “Your reading glasses aren’t made for your computer,” he explains. Ditto for your regular spectacles. “An optometrist can fit you for glasses made specifically for computer use that will make things easier on your eyes.”

Dunaief also recommends dimming your computer screen and moving it as far away from your eyes as comfort and readability allow. Enlarging the font, closing blinds, and turning down the lights in your office to prevent glare can also help keep your eyes safe, he explains.

Portello says eye drops or artificial tears can help, as long as you consult with your eye doctor first about which type will work best for you. She also recommends sticking to the 20-20-20 rule. “Every 20 minutes, look away from your screen at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds,” she advises. Why? This gives your eye muscles a rest and helps ward off fatigue and strain. Focusing on something even farther away is just as good, she adds. “And while you’re at it, try to blink as much as you can to keep your eyes moist.”

TIME Big Picture

The Future of Tablets? Market Segmentation

The tablet market is one that has greatly polarized many who follow the technology industry.

The initial debate centered around whether the tablet would kill the PC. Then, the tablet market began to slow from its once triple-digit annual growth rates to much more modest single-digit growth rates. The market for tablets is still growing in terms of annual sales, just not as much as it did in 2011 and 2012.

The tablet remains an important product and it will continue to evolve, but one trend we see happening may shed some light on what we can expect for the future of tablets.

It appears the tablet is segmenting. This is something our firm has been highlighting for some time in our tablet presentation:

tablets
Creative Strategies

We are starting to see tablets being built for kids, tablets being built just to consume content and media, tablets that can replace PCs, and now with the latest entrant from Nvidia, we see tablets being specifically built for hardcore gamers.

The market appears to be segmenting. Part of this has to do with the diversity of the pure-slate form factor. The design itself opens up the possibility that, through software, tablets can appeal to a wide range of use cases. This is what makes the tablet form factor so exciting.

Segmentation in many markets is not new. Specifically in the PC market, desktops and notebooks are examples of purpose-built segmentation. PC gaming machines are another example of segmentation. So it isn’t surprising that we’re seeing segmentation in the tablet market as well.

People often criticize segmentation without realizing that these are very good business moves. The Nabi kids tablet, for example, sold nearly two million units in the U.S. during the holiday quarter last year. Nvidia’s creation of the Shield tablet may be an even smarter move still. The hard core PC gaming market may not be the largest one but it is still lucrative. DFC Intelligence estimates there are upwards of 270m core PC gamers.

However, to target these segments, companies have to truly understand the market they are building for and make products uniquely tuned to fit their needs. The Nabi tablet includes custom software for kids. They offer a range of tablets targeting at different age groups and create custom experiences just for those age groups.

The Nvidia Shield tablet has a hardcore gaming processor and can stream games over a Wi-Fi network from the gamer’s computer to the tablet, which can in turn connect to a TV. By giving gamers access to all their PC games in mobile form on a tablet, Nvidia has custom-built experiences for its tablet that check the necessary boxes for serious PC gamers.

I expect more segmentation to come as hardware manufacturers discover parts of markets that are underserved or not served at all. Ultimately, this segmentation is what can continue to fuel the tablet market. There are all types of every day use cases for tablets: Many will be general purpose like the iPad, but many will target certain verticals like the ones I mentioned above. Despite anyone’s opinion on the tablet market, I remain bullish on its future.

Bajarin is a principal at Creative Strategies Inc., a technology industry analysis and market-intelligence firm in Silicon Valley. He contributes to the Big Picture opinion column that appears here every week.

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