I’ve just completed a Windows 10 install on the low-cost Acer ES1-111M (AKA E11) laptop, my favorite fanless, lightweight, $200 laptop. Everything is working but you’ll need to grab some drivers from Acer to make sure it all works.
I installed from a USB stick as I did with the Acer Iconia W4 but accidentally booted from the USB stick and wiped everything out with a fresh install thinking it was an upgrade. Thank goodness that everything is now working, including camera and the Synaptics touchpad which appears to have been an issue for others.
This is my first laptop-based Windows 10 install (Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Intel NUC and Acer Iconia Tab W4 are the other devices I’m testing) so it will give me my first insight into how the desktop mode works on a small-screen laptop. The Aspire ES1-111M doesn’t have a touchscreen, comes with 32GB eMMC (soldered) and 2GB RAM (in a slot.) I’ve installed an Intel 7260 WiFi-N card which is more compatible than the stock WiFi card (Marvell or Broadcom depending on the model variant you buy.) This little laptop comes with a full size SD card slot, full-size USB 3.0 + USB 2.0 port, a full-size HDMI port and a Gigabit Ethernet port so if you’re hacking around building Linux-based routers or HTPCs, the ES1-111M is a great choice. It’s silent too!
16.2 GB of the 32 GB (29 GB formatted) eMMC is available after the Windows 10 (10130 ISO) install and a first round of updates. There’s no recovery partition so save a recovery image as soon as you have a stable build, especially if you wiped the Windows 8 recovery partition like I did.
Windows 10 install was problem-free (build 10130) but the touchpad wasn’t working. You’ll need to connect a mouse to complete the install. The Synaptics touchpad driver on Acer’s site didn’t help so I started working through the drivers for the ES1 that I found through the Acer Germany website. (Note that the Edge browser doesn’t work with their download page. I used Chrome.)
The important drivers are available here from the Acer Germany website. (I had problems with the Acer US website.)
Use these Acer ES1-111M drivers for WIndows 10 build 10130
Download the Chipset, DPTF, IO Drivers, MBI and TXE drivers. After installing these drivers there were no problems listed in the Device Manager and the touchpad was working.
[If Acer removes the drivers I’ve uploaded a zip file of the drivers I used here. Later builds of the Windows 10 preview might not need these drivers.]
Note that the Chipset driver took minutes to start up and while I was waiting, thinking it wasn’t working, I used compatibility mode to run the setup.exe file several times. Eventually two install windows popped up so I don’t know whether it just took a long time or whether compatibility mode worked. Try running the setup file as normal and waiting 5 minutes. If you don’t see an install windows, try compatibility mode. (Right-click on Setup and choose Troubleshoot Compatibility.)
As on Windows 8, I have some issues with the touchpad locking up, regularly, but I’ll need to check internal hardware and screws because I’ve taken the ES1 apart many, many times.
Testing will continue with a look at battery life, performance and other features but here’s the status so far. (Updating.)
Windows 10 tests on the Acer Aspire ES1-111M
Working: Gigabit Ethernet, webcam, touchpad, brightness, audio, Bluetooth (some issues in this build though), WiFI (Intel Wireless-N 7260 upgrade – works well), HDMI (extended display), keyboard.
Working with additional install: Microphone / Cortana: Install the Realtek audio driver from the Acer drivers site and make sure the Microphone Boost is set to +20.0 dB
Your feedback on Windows 10 is always welcome. Have you tested it? What do you think of the UI, the features? My preview review of Windows 10 is here.
The Acer Aspire Switch 10 V was the undisputed #1 most-popular product in our database over the last 12 months but its time might come to an end if the Switch 10 V model, with Intel Atom X5, takes over at a good price. The Switch 10 V comes with a Full HD 1920 x 1200 screen, a re-designed chassis and is built around the Intel Atom X5 processor. Mobilegeeks got a look at it in Taiwan today.
Finally. The Acer Switch 11 V gets some airtime at Computex and the 5 minute overview gives us the first information on availability. It was announced at an Acer event in April but there weren’t any details about availability and Acer have been quiet ever since. Don’t be shy, Acer, because this looks like a really nice Core-M based 2-in-1 and if the price is right it will certainly compete with the Surface 3. The latest information from Tech Reporter tells us that it will be available “sometime in July.”
Mobile gaming is coming to your hand. Acer have just announced the Acer Predator 8 tablet running on an Intel Atom X7.
Acer Predator 8 runs on Atom X7
It’s a rugged 8-inch tablet with 4 speakers and running Android on an Intel Atom X7 platform. Intel X7 is the highest-performing Atom platform and has a much-improved graphics capability over the Baytrail-T platform and should work well for the most demanding app-store games on Android. A rugged, high-performance Android tablet has other uses too so let’s keep an eye on this one for ultra mobile computing uses.
This is breaking news. We’re trying to get new information for you so check back here for more information as we find it.
The 11-12 inch screen size is perfect for mobile productivity and with processing power on the rise and design slimming down it gets more interesting every week. Intel’s Core M has a lot to do with the amount of activity in the sector and it might just be responsible for the new Acer Aspire Switch 11 V that got announced today. There aren’t many details available though as Acer only revealed that it would have improved ergonomics and more processing power. There’s one image available too.
Core M is a product borne of the feature that was Scenario Design Power (SDP) which itself was an extended ability to monitor and react to processor and product temperature by changing clockrates across CPU and GPU cores. I called it smoke and mirrors at the time because Intel never actually revealed what ‘scenario’ they were talking about. The scenario was actually a continuation of what Intel had done with the Ultrabook project. Touch, 2-in-1, responsive, mobile and, ultimately, fanless systems with Core-class features and enough power to cover mainstream users scenarios were to be the next generation consumer PC.
Early products based on the Y-series Core CPUs were poor. I remember testing the first Yoga 11S and seeing performance levels at half of what an Ultrabook could produce. A Fujitsu Q704 down-clocked by about 50% when you took it out of the keyboard dock to improve battery life and cut case temperature. A fanless HP Pro X2 410 was so sensitive to ambient heat that I could speed it up by pointing a desk fan at the rear of the tablet.
Like the Ultrabook project (which made us suffer with high prices before it finally worked out to be a game-changer,) the road to fanless has been rocky but were there now and Core M is exactly the marketing relaunch that Y-series and SDP needed.
Core M enables
Core M enables more than just new designs. It’s one of the smallest Core processors that Intel produce and with that comes cost reductions. It’s also a gift to designers as it reduces component count and allows flexibility in thermal design. It enables mainboards to sit close to other components. It reduces the need for big, expensive batteries.
In 2012 we were seeing 45 Wh batteries in Ultrabooks laptops but today’s Core M designs are based around a 35 Wh design and still offer over 5 hours of battery life. In 2007 it took 10-12 watts of energy to drive a web browsing experience. It’s now down to 5-6W now and if someone can work out how to cut the energy required by a screen backlight we’ll be down another 30%. Sealing a battery inside a casing also reduces the need for certified batteries casings and prevents people tinkering. Reducing support costs, shipping costs and storage costs are all part of the plan.
Ideally a consumer tablet is easy to hold and the tablet PCs of the past were a pathetic offering. The Samsung XE700 broke the mold in 2011 with a 826 gram 11.6-inch specification and since then we’ve seen 11.6-inch tablet weights come down to just over 700 grams. In the 10-inch space it’s reached 550 grams which is more than acceptable. As we move towards the removal of most physical ports, a further reduction in battery size, storage size and a slimming of the screen layers we’ll see larger tablets at the same human-friendly weight. With larger tablets comes more space to build a better keyboard and with Core M you reach a point where processing power is at the consumer PC level. Being able to deliver the perfect consumer tablet along with the most flexible operating system, the power to do everything and a keyboard that is as productive is possible is real 2-in-1. Bigger products generally command a higher price too so the 12.5-inch size we’re seeing are hitting the sweet spot in many ways.
The Acer Switch 12 shows us that there’s another generation to go before we hit all the sweet spots though. This low-cost design (plastics, styling, weight, size) is too heavy to be a consumer tablet but Acer have focused well on making this a very usable tablet in other ways. It’s a great laptop and if you have time you can think of some crazy ways to use it…
The digitizer brings in more tablet value and the removable wireless keyboard is simple but very, very effective. The Acer Aspire Switch 12 is a good product now and a true 2-in-1 that anyone would be happy to have as an office PC but just think about how the design could improve by being lighter and more stylish. This is a $699 laptop today with the power of a basic Ultrabook of 2013 that cost $999. You’ll see this at $649 or less soon and this time next year we’ll be talking about 20% improvements in power, battery life, weight and again, price. We might also be talking about a wire-free experience. That stand could turn into a removable WiGig breakout box.
A few years ago I bought an Acer W510. This Clovertrail-based 10-inch tablet was light but weak. It served well on holidays and I experimented with it as a desktop but for mainstream users it was far from the mark. Today we’ve reached a refinement called Core M that’s making 2-in-1’s extremely attractive as, well, a true 2-in-1. Windows 10 might just get the praise it needs too and if the Windows Store becomes a first-class citizen of the ‘apps’ world then the stars will align.
For me the stars have already aligned. I love the Switch 12 and I want to keep it. If I didn’t have a Surface Pro 3 here (on long-term loan from Intel) I’d probably order one. I’ve tested video encoding, gaming and I’ve seen some excellent AC WiFi speeds in my office. 20 MB/s file transfers from the local NAS? Yes please! It boots Ubuntu from a USB stick without issues and that’s a security bonus in my opinion. I love the ergonomic and presentation possibilities of the removable keyboard and digitizer. I adore the screen. Most of all I love how I can do everything I need without any noise whatsoever.
If you’re thinking about the Acer Aspire Switch 12 too then you need to remember that the ASUS Transformer T300 Chi is coming soon, for the same price. It’s likely to have a better keyboard and it will definitely have a lighter tablet. It will probably perform as well as the Switch 12 and it has a sensible clam-shell design. It looks a lot more stylish. The built-in stand on the Acer Switch 12 does it for me though and there’s one more thing you need to know. The Acer Switch 12 is more lappable than most laptops.
Update: The full review is now available. Go give Notebookcheck (and my review) some love!
Think about 2013-level Ultrabook performance with no fans, more flexibility and a good market-start price. The Acer Aspire Switch 12 weighs 1.1 KG…until you add the keyboard which takes you up to 1.4 KG. Because of the always-exposed screen Acer have done the right thing and provided a nice case but when you put the bundle together with the power supply you’re carrying over 2 KG. Despite the weight I like the Switch 12 for a couple of reasons. 1) It’s more stable on the lap than many other solutions because of the rear stand and mid-mounted screen. 2) It’s fanless and is returning performance scores well above what you’ll find with Baytrail-based solutions. There’s also a fast SATA-connected SSD inside which makes this one of the cheapest full-HD 128GB SATA SSD solutions out there. Add AC WiFi, USB 3.0 and a good keyboard that can be pulled away from the unit and you’ve got a productive setup. Comparisons must be made to the Surface Pro 3, Lenovo Yoga 3 11 and the HP Envy 13 X2 which is even more hot-desking focused.
A preliminary set of performance results, battery life figures, confirmation that there’s a digitizer and other information can be found over at Notebookcheck.net where I’ll be publishing the full review. Let me know if you’ve got any questions and I’ll try to get them answered in the full review.
The Acer Aspire Switch 12 – a Core M-based 2-in-1 laptop – is coming, and it starts at just $649. Promotional and hands-on videos are starting to appear in YouTube.
There’s one device I didn’t manage to get a good hands-on with at IDF and IFA last year and that’s the Acer Aspire Switch 12. I wish I had because I’m intrigued having read one of the first reviews, watched a number of videos and having just drafted a piece on hot-desking with the Surface Pro 3. The Switch 12 weighs 1.4KG in total which is above our 1.3KG limit here but as the keyboard is removable there’s an operating weight of well under 1300 grams. Still, you’re unlikely to be carrying this without the keyboard so it sits on the borderline.
Over the last three weeks I’ve been working with three laptops and a number of phones while travelling across the width of Europe. I sit down here now with just two items. The Nokia Lumia 830 and the Acer E11 are the perfect low-cost partnership for multimedia reporting, weighs just 1500 grams including cables and, thanks to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, work very well together. The total cost of the setup is just $500.
I had a feeling that the Nokia 830 and the Acer E11 would be perfect for the job I’ve done over the last three weeks. I’ve trained young journalists in Ukraine where their monthly salary is just $200 and they can afford a low-cost laptop once every 4 years on average. They need to be mobile, connected, secure and multimedia capable and their old netbooks, some even running Windows XP, are due for an update. Chromebooks aren’t capable enough for these journalists so the best option is an 11.6-inch Windows laptop. For images, audio and video the only entry-level option is the Lumia 830. I also had a Lumia 930 with me but it’s too high-end for the target audience and the quality of the photo/videography on the still 830 beats much of what is used from their existing smartphones. Android is popular mainly due to having the best choice of chat and social networking apps but the Lumia 830 offers all that they need. I also had a Surface Pro 3 and a Chromebook with me but neither of those fits the bill. While the Chromebook is the best option for writing articles from a public hotspot (with HTTPS Everywhere and the Zenmate extension turned on) it can’t handle local image management very well. It’s a no-go when it comes to video too. While the Lumia 830 can trim, sequence and re-encode video clips it’s highly possible that the modern journalist needs more. PGP email encryption and Pidgin Messenger with OTR are also no-go areas on a Chromebook.
This low-cost setup isn’t just about low-income mobile reporters though because it’s a capable set of equipment. It’s simply at a price bracket that wasn’t possible a year ago so it opens up mobile computing to a huge range of people including students, low-income families and people, like myself, that don’t like to overspend on equipment. At about $20 per month over a 2-year period, this $500 setup is something that can even be a secondary ‘on the road’ kit for those that don’t want to be taking their $2000 setup with them. It’s a holiday kit, a train kit, an exhibition kit and training course kit.
Nokia Lumia 830
I’ve been very impressed with the Lumia 830 over the last three weeks. The image and video quality is excellent even if it has noticeably lower quality than the Lumia 925 or 1020 that I’ve also had. There’s a little light bleeding and flaring from off-frame light sources in some cases but the colors seem quite honest and it’s more than good enough for online usage. The flash is slightly lacking so for low-light photography the 1020 would be better but having said that, I was quite happy with the results I had in low-light without flash.
Daylight images are also good enough for publication…
And here’s an HDR Photo Camera application shot…
Audio quality is good from the microphones and video stability is impressive thanks to the optical stabilizer – a unique feature at this price which makes the Lumia 830 the best full-HD smartphone video camera there is, in my opinion.
Phone reception is spot-on and, once I had tweeked a few settings, I was getting 36-48 hours out of a charge which is better than my Lumia 1020 did. Performance is good and I had no problems with Web browsing speeds although the sunspider 1.0.2 scores are not class-leading at 1200 ms. Sizing is perfect for me and I like the removable battery and accessable MicroSD card slot. The snap-on rear cover is a little fidgety though.
One area where the Lumias score highly is in mapping and nvaigation. Offline maps are perfect for mobile users without continuous data availability and Here Maps came into its own while checking that our driver was taking a direct route between towns that we visited during our training in Ukraine. Points of interest appeared to be reasonably up to date.
When using public WiFi I like to make use of a VPN service. I’ve used HideIPVPN’s UK tunnel service and it’s been great. VPNs aren’t stable on this Windows Phone 8 however. I often saw lock-ups while trying to reconnect to WiFi with VPN enabled although once it was working it was stable. Other aspects of security and privacy are controllable but it’s difficult to find all the setting hidden in the Windows 8.1 phone operating system.
I used the OneDrive photo sync capability on Windows 8 Phone and it integrates well with OneDrive usage on Windows 8 laptops meaning you don’t have to connect the phone to get photos once you’ve had enough internet connectivity for images to synchronize. Bluetooth file transfer works well for the occasional shot too and of course you can always connect the USB cable if you need to. It’s that flexibility that helps make Windows a bit more useful than Chromebooks in some situations.
Overall I am really happy with the level of value, performance and quality available from the Lumia 830 and Windows 8 Phone. Prices are around $380 in the USA but much cheaper in the EU with prices in some countries lower than 300 Euro (250 Euro for businesses that don’t pay value-added tax.) UK prices are a little high now at 270 pounds but I expect this to drop to euro pricing levels soon. The Lumia 925 is also dropping in price but given that future operating system updates may not reach that one (consider Windows Phone 10 in 2015) the Lumia 830 is probably the better choice.
Acer Aspire E11 (ES1-111M)
The Lumia 830 was launched as a ‘budget flagship’ phone but the Acer Aspire E11 is nothing more than an entry-level Windows 8 laptop. It’s light (1.2 KG, the same as a Surface Pro 3 with keyboard cover) and silent but it comes with a few compromises that you need to know about before buying. There’s only 32GB of on-board storage, a cheap plastic casing and a non-IPS 1366×768 screen. I don’t have a problem with any of those ‘issues’ but some might. I occasionally have an issue with the processing power though as the N2840 isn’t really ‘desktop’ capable. Office runs, PowerDirector 12 runs and browsing speed is totally acceptable but if you’re coming from a ‘Core’ laptop you’ll notice the difference. For bloggers and multimedia journalists it will mean that you’ll have to be careful about how you work with video. Fortunately there’s a video trimmer and simple video editor on the Lumia 830 that will help. Image editing on the Lumia makes sense too. The Acer E11 is good enough that it can be used as the place where all the media comes together and I’m happy to say that the keyboard is good enough for long sessions of typing. the touchpad, however, is a little temperamental. It’s locked up on me twice and responsiveness can tail off sometimes. Two-finger scrolling isn’t smooth. Clearly there’s a firmware or driver issue here that needs sorting out.
A full-size SD card slot (not deep enough to hide a card permanently) is provided along with two USB ports (3.0 and 2.0) and a useful Gigabit Ethernet port. A full-size HDMI port provides digital A/V output and Miracast wireless display is supported. Battery life is great – 9 hours in this typing situation. You’ll easily get 6 hour browsing out of this and about the same when watching H.264 videos using the Windows 8 Video player.
Unfortunately there’s no way to upgrade the storage (a more expensive model comes with a 500GB hard drive that could be swapped for an SSD but I’m happy with the extra security of a soldered SSD. I’ve enabled SecureBoot and added a BIOS password that should keep my data safe if the laptop is lost. The RAM can be upgraded after dismantling the mainboard from the casing. [Video unboxing includes mainboard removal here.] The plastic casing might look cheap but I get the feeling it’s quite rugged and it stays very cool.
The Acer E11 certainly has its limits and these can be obvious if Windows 8 is doing some background work with its anti-virus, updates or indexing but once that’s out-of-the-way (the first few days with the E11 were certainly worse than now, 4 weeks on) it’s a smooth experience and well ahead of the sort of laggy experience we had on netbooks of 2008-2010, thanks to a relatively fast eMMC SSD. Remember to keep the system clean of large files though and you might want to limit Windows updates to essential security items only.
100 GB of free OneDrive storage (2 years) was a welcome bonus and once you get used to using OneDrive you probably won’t run into storage issues. I’ve added a 32GB MicroSD card to the Lumia 830 and carry an extra card with me to be sure that I’ve got enough storage for my original source videos. A USB3.0 external SSD drive might be quicker when it comes to transferring data though.
I really like the Acer E11 but it’s not the only option at the $200 laptop price bracket. I’ve got an HP Stream 11 here (being tested for Notebookcheck) and it’s also looking like a good machine. The ASUS X205 is the other choice in this bracket. It runs a tablet platform and I believe it has disk encryption enabled although I haven’t been able to confirm that. It’s also a quad-core system and might be more powerful in some situations. Single core performance (applicable to web browsing) is higher on the E11 and Stream 11.
If you only have $250 per year to spend on computing and multimedia I can’t think of a better-value way to do it than with a two-year strategy and the Nokia Lumia 830 and the Acer E11. The Lumia offers some of the best 1080p video for the price and you really can do everything on the Acer E11 if you’ve got a little patience. If you don’t have much patience then it’s a big jump up to something with more CPU power. $150 more will take you up to the N3840-powered (4-core) Acer Aspire V3-112P. (with touchscreen.) If you’re ready to take a larger screen size (and weight) then the Acer Aspire V3-371 offers a Core i3 processor and a 13.3-inch screen but the price is well over $400. The other option at this price is the Lenovo IdeaTab Miix 2 11 tablet PC with 128GB of storage, a Core i3 and full HD screen. Again though, this is in a different price bracket.
For those that want an Android smartphone instead of a Windows smartphone you haven’t really got much choice because you really need to be looking at a phone with optical stabilizer. The LG G2 is an option but I haven’t tested it fully to be sure that it covers all the ground that the Lumia 830 does.
Stay tuned for my thoughts on the HP Stream 11 (with touchscreen.) The non-touch version of this has been popular at Amazon.com and first thoughts are that it might have a better keyboard and touchpad.
Thanks Nokia for the loan of the Lumia 830 and 930. The E11 was privately purchased.