Connect with us

Hardwares

PIXEL SLATE’S $200 PROBLEM: ITS ‘MUST-HAVE’ KEYBOARD IS SOLD SEPARATELY

Published

on

I watched Google’s reveal of the much-leaked Pixel Slate with great interest. This was a sharp-looking Chrome OS device, with a great screen and the promise of excellent front-firing speakers. Sure, $599 felt like a lot for a quasi-Chromebook (unless you’re the even-more-expensive PixelBook), especially one that starts with an Intel Celeron processor — but I firmly believe Chrome OS can be premium and doesn’t have to be restricted to only budget PCs.

Almost every shot of the Pixel Slate showed it connected to its folio keyboard, itself a great example of high-end design with its round keys and big touchpad. It was not until the very end of Google’s Pixel Slate announcement that the ugly truth was revealed. That $599-and-up price didn’t include the keyboard, which runs an extra $199 (or a 33 percent premium).

035-google-pixel-slate
The new Pixel Slate and its keyboard.Sarah Tew/CNET

And if you want a stylus, that’s an extra hundred bucks on top of that. All-in, for just the lowest-end configuration, it’s a minimum of $899. That’s dangerously close to premium Windows laptop territory, where you could swing a MacBook Air or Dell XPS 13. Want to go to the top-end Core i7 model? That will take you to $1,599 before you add those accessories, per Google’s extended price list:

  •  $599 (4GB RAM, 32GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® Celeron processor)
  •  $699 (8GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® Celeron processor)
  •  $799 (8GB RAM, 64GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® CoreTM m3 processor)
  •  $999 (8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® CoreTM i5 processor)
  •  $1,599 (16GB RAM, 256GB SSD, 8th Gen Intel® CoreTM i7 processor)

But Google isn’t the only offender padding your bill with sold-separately keyboards. I’ve reviewed nearly every Surface tablet Microsoft has ever released, and like a broken record, I bemoan the $129-and-up clip-on keyboard, which is even more of a must-have. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Surface Pro in the wild without a keyboard.

microsoft-surface-pro
Trust me, the Surface Pro works much better with its keyboard cover.Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple is another habitual offender. If there’s any doubt that the iPad Pro is primarily pitched as a screen-and-keyboard laptop replacement, just recall the company’s own “What’s a Computer?” TV spot.

 

The Smart Keyboard for the current iPad Pro is $159, plus $99 for the Pencil stylus, making the full package price just north of $900. Having used iPads of various types for productivity and content creation tasks many times previously, I can safely say a keyboard is a must-have for anything more involved than Tweeting.

I’ll even give all these companies a break on the stylus issue. Not everyone needs or uses one, and even though they shouldn’t be $100 a pop, it’s one place where you can cut a corner and still feel like you’ve got an all-day, every-day machine.

The end result is an online or real-life shopping trip that can end up being a lot more expensive than you bargained for after falling in love with an advertisement for one of these two-in-one devices. Until these companies wise up and put their keyboard accessories (often the most impressively designed part of the ecosystem) in the box with the product itself, we should all look at these starting prices as having a huge asterisk next to them.

 

Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL: What you need to know about Google’s new smartphones

Google’s Oct. 9 event: Pixel 3, new Chromecast, Pixel Slate and more

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Laptops

LENOVO YOGA BOOK C930 REVIEW

Published

on

We had some reservations about the Lenovo Yoga Book last year when we reviewed it, as the ambitious hybrid tablet introduced some rather intriguing concepts – most notably, ditching the classic physical keyboard for a razor-thin, touch-sensitive one. With this year’s successor, Lenovo has revamped its peculiar keyboard implementation, replacing it with a new e-ink screen, while also giving its light-weight laptop the necessary upgrade to a more formidable processor. At a whopping $1049.99, the Lenovo Yoga Book C930 finds itself in a totally different competing market – so it’ll be interesting to find out if it’s any better than the alternatives in this price range.

In the box:

  • Lenovo Yoga Book C930
  • Lenovo Active Pen
  • Wall Charger
  • USB Type-C Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Microfiber cloth
  • SIM removal tool

 

Design

Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review
Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review
Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review
Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review

Recycling the same futuristic design that we saw introduced with last year’s model, the Lenovo Yoga Book C930 looks just as intriguing. For a hybrid, it’s incredibly lightweight and slim, making it the perfect companion when you want to mix pleasure and productivity while being on the road. And because it’s part of the Yoga family and features that eye-catching hinge, it can be used in three different modes – laptop, tablet, or tent.

What’s new here is that the Lenovo Yoga Book C930 features a dynamic e-ink screen, which acts as the keyboard and trackpad when it’s used in the traditional laptop mode. Indeed, this touch-based experience isn’t for everyone, and we find ourselves operating at a slower pace compared to when using a physical keyboard. However, we feel as though our rate of typing could be increased if there was an auto-correct option, but it’s only available when using the usual Windows on-screen keyboard. And finally, since it’s an e-ink screen with no backlighting, typing in the dark is nearly impossible.

Display

As for the C930’s main display, it’s a 10.8-inch QHD 2560 x 1600 IPS display that looks substantially sharper than what was put in with last year’s model. There’s very little distortion when looking at it from slight angles, which is great, and it’s complemented by its ability to produce rich and vibrant color tones. It may not be the brightest screen around in its size range, but we find that it’s still more than usable for reading.

Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review
Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review

Speaking of that secondary e-ink display, it’s even more suitable for reading because it doesn’t strain our eyes when staring at it for longer periods of time, which is a characteristic of e-ink displays in general. However, it’s fairly limited in what it can do because for now, it’s mainly reserved for note-taking, drawing, and viewing of PDF files. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support any e-book file formats – so to that degree, it doesn’t replace a true e-reader.

Nevertheless, the e-ink display here is useful in the way that it replicates the paper-meets-pen experience, so if you’re apt to that more than typing, the option is here with the included Lenovo Active Pen, which has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. And even though there’s technically no placeholder for the Pen within the Yoga Book C930, it features a magnetic connection that keeps it firmly tethered to the casing when it’s not being used.

Interface and functionality

The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is only being made available as a Windows 10 offering. We wouldn’t miss having an Android-based option since Windows 10 has significantly more potential for productivity. What’s nice is that the C930 bridges the tablet and laptop experience, seeing that we can quickly go from using it in traditional laptop mode to full tablet mode by swiveling the display. Even better is the fact that it can do just about anything! From surfing the web to editing video and even some gaming, the Lenovo Yoga C930 offers the same level of versatility that other Windows based hybrids offer.

The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is only being made available as a Windows 10 offering - Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review
The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is only being made available as a Windows 10 offering - Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review
The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is only being made available as a Windows 10 offering - Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review
The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is only being made available as a Windows 10 offering - Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review
The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is only being made available as a Windows 10 offering - Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review
The Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is only being made available as a Windows 10 offering - Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review

While Lenovo’s convertible can indeed perform the same functions and tasks as other laptops, it isn’t necessarily as effective at those. Because of its unique dual-display configuration, there are some challenges to using its e-ink display for typing. It gets the job done, offering a subtle vibration feedback when keys are pressed, but it can’t match the convenience we get from traditional laptops and hybrids with physical keyboards. There’s still room for improvement to enhance the typing experience, such as adding auto-correct based on contextual clues in what we’re typing.

Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review

Adding to its productivity value, you can actually switch the e-ink screen from its keyboard mode to either the pdf reader or sketch pad at any time by pressing the corresponding icons in the top right area. It’s useful in the way that you can be reading something with the main display while also jotting down notes using the e-ink display. And speaking of that, if you flip it into tablet mode with the e-ink facing upwards, the main screen will power down and you can save more power by using the e-ink screen by itself. Furthermore, you can leverage the Windows Ink Workspace app with the Lenovo Active Pen to draw sketches, add stick notes to the desktop, and more. The e-ink screen doesn’t support additional apps or software, and there’s no indication that it will offer any support down the road either.

If you’re willing to invest more patience into adapting to its unique keyboard, you may be surprised by its utility.

Processor and Performance

Even with a super skinny frame, inside the device there’s room for a generous 256GB SSD that offers enough storage out of the gate. There’s expansion courtesy of a microSD card slot, but it’s annoying that it isn’t easily accessible because it requires a SIM ejector tool to access.

Camera

Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review

Lenovo chose to slap the Yoga Book C930 with only a single 2MP camera that’s placed above the main display – reserving it mostly for video chatting and whatnot. Gone completely is the “main” camera from last year’s model, which means that you won’t be able to properly snap photos. We’re not particularly bummed by the omission, but we can understand how others may feel compelled to using a tablet to snap photos when there’s nothing else around.

Image Quality

Not surprisingly, there’s nothing too great with the performance out of the 2MP camera. We wouldn’t even bother using it for selfies either, since its shots are muddy-looking in general. For Skyping or video chatting, it certainly is good enough to use, but that’s about the extent of its usefulness. Given how the fingerprint sensor has replaced the “rear” camera that came with last year’s offering, it’s a compromise we’re willing to agree with.

Battery life

You wouldn’t expect something so thin and light to deliver outstanding results when it comes to battery life, but that’s the reality with the Lenovo Yoga Book C930. In our day-to-day experience, its battery delivers enough longevity to provide an entire day’s worth of basic productivity, which consists mostly of email replies, surfing the web, listening to music, and light word processing. When it comes to heavier things like video editing, we easily get 6 hours of heavy usage from a full charge. If you’re the kind to periodically use a laptop, this is something that’ll easily get you through a weekend.

Conclusion

Lenovo Yoga Book C930 Review

With this year’s model, Lenovo enhances the Yoga Book to make it even more functional. Switching to an e-ink display that transforms from a dynamic keyboard to a canvas for all of our note-taking and drawing needs, this Windows 10-powered hybrid offers significantly more functionality than its Android predecessor. But then again, its superiority is reflected by its higher price of $1049.99.

In the space right now, the Lenovo Yoga Book C930 is unlike anything else, which – combined with its pricey cost – can make it a tough sell over other comparable models. Take for instance the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 that starts at $899 sans keyboard (+$129.99 for the keyboard). The Surface Pro 6 offers the better 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor. However, the Yoga Book C930 is an option worth considering because it bridges the tablet and mobile laptop experiences together – just as long as you have some patience in learning and acquiring a taste for its keyboard.

Continue Reading

Mobile Phones

HUAWEI CFO FREED ON $7.5 MILLION USD BAIL, TRUMP MAY INTERVENE

Published

on

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, whose arrest in Canada two Saturdays ago increased tensions between the U.S. and China, has been freed on bail. The amount of the bail agreed to by the judge was $10 million Canadian Dollars,  the equivalent of $7.5 million U.S. Dollars. According to Bloomberg and CNBC, the bail was met by her husband and four former colleagues who together pledged cash and home equity. Meng was jailed based on a U.S. warrant for her arrest after an investigation allegedly found that she had defrauded banks to help Huawei do business with Iran. That action would be in violation of U.S. sanctions against the country. The U.S. charges that Huawei used a small Hong Kong based tech firm called Skycom to do business with Iran.
The U.S. had requested no bail for the executive, who still faces extradition to the states. As part of the bail agreement, Meng will surrender her passport, wear a GPS tracking device, and will have a security team beside her whenever she goes out (paid for by Meng). Police will also make unannounced visits to her residence. Her family does own homes in Vancouver, where she was arrested.
UPDATE: President Donald Trump told Reuters today that he would intervene in Meng’s case with the U.S. Justice Department if it helps the U.S. close a trade deal with China, or if it serves national security interests.
The arrest threatened talks between the U.S. and China to end a trade war between the two countries. In addition, the U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, was chewed out this past weekend by China’s Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng. Le also threatened Canada by warning of “grave consequences” if Ming wasn’t released.
Ming is the daughter of Huawei’s founder. Despite being called a national security threat by the U.S. government, the company is the leading provider of networking equipment and is the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world after Samsung.

Continue Reading

Hardwares

USERS RATE ‘CREEP FACTOR’ IN NEW PRIVACY-SECURITY PRODUCT GUIDE

Published

on

Today’s Linux platform accommodates a number of really good financial applications that are more than capable of handling both personal and small-business accounting operations. That was not always the case, however.

Not quite 10 years ago, I scoured Linux repositories in a quest for replacement applications for popular Microsoft Windows tools. Back then, the pickings were mighty slim. Often, the only recourse was to use Microsoft Windows-based applications that ran under WINE.

Classics and Fresh Faces

The best of the Linux lot were GnuCash, HomeBank, KMyMoney and Skrooge. In fact, depending on the Linux distro you fancied, those four packages often comprised the entire financial software lot.

In terms of features and performance, they were as good as or better than the well-known Microsoft Windows equivalents — MSMoney and Quicken. Those Linux staples are still top of the class today. Their feature sets have expanded. Their performance has matured. However, Linux users now have a few more very noteworthy choices to chart their personal and small business financial activities.

In a change of pace from the usual Linux distro reviews, Linux Picks and Pans presents a roundup of the best financial apps that make the Linux OS a treasure trove for your financial needs. These Linux apps are tools to handle your budget, track your investments, and better organize your record-keeping. At a bare minimum, they will help you become more aware of where your money goes.

One development with the growing catalog of money management software for Linux users is the cost factor. Just because an application runs on Linux does not mean it is free to use. The lines have been blurring between open source products and Linux packages with free trial periods or reduced features unless you pay to upgrade. This software roundup includes only free, open source products.

If you are looking for an app only to track your checking and savings accounts, you will probably find the applications in this roundup a bit too advanced. For maintaining your bank account registers, you can find a variety of spreadsheet template files for LibreOffice Calc and Microsoft Excel on the Internet. Yes, you can get Microsoft Office apps for Linux now! They are cloud-based, and you need a Microsoft log-in such as a free Outlook.com mail account.

Cash In with GNUCash

GnuCash is an advanced financial program and one of the few money apps that an accountant using Linux would relish. It is a powerhouse personal and small business finance manager. It comes with a steep learning curve, though.

It is a double-entry accounting system. GnuCash tracks budgets and maintains various accounts in numerous category types. It has a full suite of standard and customizable reports.

GnuCash has the look and feel of a checkbook register. Its GUI (graphical user interface) is designed for easy entry and tracking of bank accounts, stocks, income and expenses. The easiness ends there, however, if double-entry accounting is not your comfort zone.

If you do not have an appreciation for formal accounting principles, be sure you spend considerable time studying the ample documentation. Learning to use GnuCash is not overly difficult. It is designed to be simple and easy to use. Its core functions, though, are based on formal accounting principles.

For business finances, GnuCash offers key features. For instance, it handles reports and graphs as well as scheduled transactions and financial calculations. If you run a small business, this app will track your customers, vendors, jobs, invoices and more. From that perspective, GnuCash is a full-service package.

There is not much that GNUCash cannot do. It handles Check Printing, Mortgage and Loan Repayment, Online Stock and Mutual Fund Quotes and Stock/Mutual Fund Portfolios. Create recurring transactions with adjustable amounts and timelines. Set an automatic reminder when a transaction is due. Or postpone a scheduled payment without canceling or entering it before the due date.

The latest stable release of GnuCash is version 3.3. Most Linux distributions come bundled with a version of GnuCash. Often, it is not the most current version.

Feel at Home with HomeBank

Compared to GnuCash, HomeBank is a much easier personal accounting system to use. It is designed for analyzing your personal finance and budget in detail using powerful filtering tools and charts, and for those purposes it is an ideal tool.

It includes the ability to import data easily from Intuit Quicken, Microsoft Money or other software. It also makes importing bank account statements in OFX/QFX, QIF, CSV formats a snap.

Also, it flags duplicate transactions during the import process and handles multiple currencies. It offers online updates for various account types such as Bank, Cash, Asset, Credit card and Liability. It also makes it simple to schedule recurring transactions.

HomeBank is more than a simple ledger program. It uses categories and tags to organize transactions.

For example, this app handles multiple checking and savings accounts. Plus, it automates check numbering and category/payee assignment.

HomeBank can schedule transactions with a post-in-advance option and makes creating entries easy with transaction templates, split-category entries and internal transfer functions. It also offers simple month or annual budget tracking options, and has dynamic reports with charts.

The current version is 2.2, released Oct. 10, 2018.

Welcome Uncle Skrooge

Skrooge resembles Quicken with its dashboard-style graphical user interface, or GUI. It looks less like a banking ledger. The design is much more user-friendly. Skrooge goes where the other financial apps don’t.

The tab structure gives Skrooge a more appealing look and feel. Each task — such as filtered reports, ledger entry and dashboard — remains open as a tab line along the top of the viewing windows under the menu and toolbar rows. This keeps viewing open tabs one click away to see the Dashboard, Income vs. Expenditure report, various pie categories, etc.

Skrooge is no slouch when it comes to features. One of its strong points is the ability to grab data from other money applications so you do not have to set it up from scratch.

It imports QIF, QFX/OFX and CSV formats. It can handle exports from KMyMoney, Microsoft Money, GNUCash, Grisbi, HomeBank and Money Manager EX.

Other features include advanced graphical reports, tabs to help organize your work, infinite undo/redo even after a file is closed, and infinite categories levels. You also get instant filtering on operations and reports, mass update of operations, scheduled operations, and the ability to track refund of your expenses.

Skrooge also automatically processes operations based on search conditions and handles a variety of currencies. It lets you work with budget formats and a dashboard.

The latest stable version is version 2.16.2 released on Nov. 4, 2018.

Easy KMyMoney Doubles Down
KMyMoney makes using double-entry accounting principles. It could very well be the Linux version of Quicken that actually is easier to use.

The user interface has a look and feel that is familiar and intuitive. This money manager is one of the original made for Linux.

The KDE community developed and maintains this money manager app. Although it is a part of the KDE desktop, KMyMoney runs fine in most other Linux desktop environments.

It supports different account types, categorization of expenses and incomes, reconciliation of bank accounts, and import/export to the “QIF” file format. You can use the OFX and HBCI formats for imports and exports through plugins.

What gives KMyMoney an edge, at least where usability is concerned, is its friendly user interface. It is a comprehensive finance-tracking application that does not require an accounting degree to use effectively.

Even if you have no prior experience with money management software, KMyMoney is a win-win solution. The interfaces used in most other Linux finance and banking tools are much more cumbersome. KMyMoney has a much lower learning curve.

KMyMoney is a capable and useful tool for tracking bank accounts and investment results. Not much effort is needed to set it up and learn to use it efficiently.

Oddly, it is as if the Linux version is a separate product. You cannot get it from the main website. The Linux version is available on Sourceforge.net.

The latest release is version 4.6.4. Get KMyMoney here.

Grisbi Masters Simple Entry Accounting
Grisbi Finance Manager is functional and uncomplicated. It is an ideal personal financial management program.

Much of the credit for that assessment is due to the accounting entry method that relies on debiting one account and crediting one account. It is populated with an impressive set of home finance features, including support for multiple currencies.

The feature set focuses on best practices for handling Accounting, Budgeting and Reporting. You can create multiple unlimited accounts, categories and reports.

One of the essential features that work is Grisbi’s clear and consistent user interface. Another design feature that makes Grisbi work so well is its customization. You can tailor transactions lists, trees, tabs, and a lot more to your use.

Grisbi uses a tab-based interface for its menu system. This makes the controls easy to operate. It is built around using multiple accounts, categories and transactions. You can back up and archive your records effortlessly, and use the built-in scheduler and file encryption tools.

Importing and exporting data has an Achilles’ heel: You cannot export to non-QIF and non-CSV formats. Real-time updating is a drawback as well. You can’t. There is no local help file, and an account is unrecoverable if the user forgets the password.

My only real complaint about using Grisbi is the unnecessary challenge to learning how to get the most out of it. Do not bother downloading the 259-page Grisbi manual unless you are fluent in French. For speakers of other languages, that makes for a steep learning curve. You are totally on your own.

The current stable edition of Grisbi is version 1.1.93, released in December 2017.

Buddi Does It Simply
If you crave simplicity but demand budgeting awareness from your money management software, Buddi could be the hands-down banking tool for you. It is a personal finance and budgeting program.

Buddi ignores the complications of other features that make more in-depth money applications harder to use. It is aimed at users with little or no financial background.

Buddi’s user interface is based on a three-tab concept built around your accounts, your budget and your reports.

Buddi runs on any Linux computer with a Java virtual machine installed. The only drawback with this software is its legacy nature. The latest version, Buddi 3.4.1.14, was released on Jan. 14, 2016.

Use Money Manager EX for Lightweight Reliability
Money Manager Ex is easy-to-use personal finance software. Use it to organize your non-business finances and keep track of where, when and how your money goes.

Money Manager includes all the basic features you need to get an overview of your personal net worth. It helps you to keep tabs on your checking, credit card, savings, stock investment and assets accounts.

You can set reminders for recurring bills and deposits. Use it for budgeting and cash flow forecasting. Create graphs and pie charts of your spending and savings with one click.

Two factors make this application an unbeatable personal finance tool. You do not have to install Money Manager EX. Instead, run it from a USB drive. It uses the nonproprietary SQLite Database with AES Encryption.

Several features make Money Manager EX intuitive and simple. It has a wizard to simply create accounts and start to use the program. You can use multiple currencies for each account to have more flexibility.

Categories tell you the reason for an expenditure or income received. Clear displays show all expenses and income. You can divide and highlight them with different status indicators. You can search, filter and sort by every field to have a clear understanding of bank accounts at any time.

Special transactions can be set up in order to have the transaction entered into the database at some future date. They generally occur at regular intervals based on a schedule.

Budgeting and Asset tracking are easy to do with Money Manager Ex. You can undervalue or increase every asset value by a specific rate per year, or leave them unchanged. It is a snap to set up a budget for any time interval.

One of the best features in this lightweight money management application is the ability to store all related documents to every element type (transaction, account, asset) so you always have quick access to invoices, receipts and contracts.

The latest stable release of Money Manager EX Desktop is 1.3.3.

Bottom Line
These seven money manager applications for Linux offer a wide range of features and user interfaces. Some are good starting products for users with little or no experience with this category of software. Other titles give you all of the tools to manage your household and your small business.

I deliberately avoided ranking these Linux products. I also suspended the usual star rating for each one in this roundup. All of them share two things in common. They are all free open source applications. They are all stable and very workable, depending on your money-tracking and management needs.

Some of them are easy to set up and use. Others are more involved and can be frustrating if you are not familiar with accounting procedures.

Want to Suggest a Review?
Is there a Linux software application or distro you’d like to suggest for review? Something you love or would like to get to know?

Please email your ideas to me, and I’ll consider them for a future Linux Picks and Pans column.

And use the Reader Comments feature below to provide your input!

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending