My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: November 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

US$299 Acer Chromebook C720P launched as the Second Touchscreen Chromebook - Affordable Google Pixel Chromebook clone that’s sure to please this Christmas

More Christmas goodies seem to be popping up this Thanksgiving Weekend, known commonly in the US of A as Black Friday. The Deals on Tech are crazy and it’s easy to get sucked into the hype. But a few deals are hard to ignore, especially for Jamaicans shopping online looking for that perfect under US$50 gift as stated in my blog article entitled “Great Gadget gifts for less than US$50 for you loved ones - Something Great for everyone that likes The Starving Games this Christmas 2013”.

So here’s another. Remember the US$279 HP Chromebook 11 that announced to the world that HP’s back in the Laptop Game with a Google Pixel Clone that’s a Milennial (ages 18 to 28) magnet as declared in my blog article entitled “US$279 HP Chromebook 11 is a great Christmas present for Millennials”?

Well, Acer has launched a US$299 Acer Chromebook C720P that’s making those looking for a great deal in the Laptop section feel rewarded, as this baby is packing Touchscreen as explained in “Hooray for cheapskates! Acer takes the wraps off $300 touchscreen Chromebook”, published November 27, 2013 By Konrad Krawczyk, DigitalTrends and “Acer to sell touch Chromebook at fraction of Google Pixel price”, published November 26, 2013 2:47 PM PST by Michelle Meyers, CNET News.
It’s a deal as not only is the US$299 Acer Chromebook C720P slightly cheaper than the US$279 HP Chromebook 11 that came out a month ago in October 2013.  However, the Acer Chromebook C720P is just ONLY the second touchscreen Chromebook to launch.

That is, since the February 2013 when the Google's $1,299 Chromebook Pixel made its debut as pointed out in “Acer's new touchscreen C720P Chromebook undercuts the Pixel at $299”, published November 26, 2013 03:22 pm By Chris Welch, The Verge and “Google's Chromebook Pixel elevates Chrome OS ambitions”, published February 21, 2013 11:01 AM PST by Stephen Shankland, CNET News.
In short, this is an amazing deal for an additional perk that currently on most higher-end laptops!

Acer Chromebook C720P – For Touchscreen, the Price is Right and beat HP Chromebook 11

So let’s get straight to it, as this is yet another reason why Chromebooks are the most popular Laptop option on Amazon! This is yet another great Chromebook deal and at this price it’s a magnet for Teenagers (ages 13 to 17) and Millennials (ages 18 to 28) being it’s only US$20 more than the US$279 HP Chromebook 11 as stated in my blog article entitled US$279 HP Chromebook 11 with stylings mimicking the Google Chromebook Pixel - Low-end Laptop with high-end specs and sub-US$300 pricing is a great Christmas present for Millennials”. 
The Specs of the Touchscreen Acer Chromebook C720P as listed in “Spec Sheet: Acer and HP's Chromebooks battle over price and power”, published November 29, 2013 07:30 pm By Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge tell the tale of the tape:

1.      Processor: Intel Celeron 2955U Haswell Processor
2.      Hard-Drive: 32GB SSD
3.      RAM: 2GB
4.      Screen: 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 LED backlit with Touch Screen
5.      Dimensions: 11.34 in x 8.03in x 0.75 in
6.      Weight: 2.76 lb
7.      Battery: 3950 mAh Chemistry: Lithium Polymer (Li-Po) with 8.5 hr
8.      Network connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi
9.      Ports: USB 3.0 connector, USB 2.0, HDMI-out
10.  Camera: integrated Webcam

Product offers:

1.      100GB of Google Drive storage for free
2.      12 free sessions of GoGo® Inflight Internet
Jamaicans wanting the Acer Chromebook C720P – Wi-Fi on the go is all you need

For Jamaicans apprehensive about Chromebooks, the following are worth noting, as this isn’t an ordinary laptop, as it has virtually limited Hard-Drive space. Instead, most of your work is stored in the cloud, hence Google’s generous donation of 100 GB of Cloud Storage on Google Drive.

The only drawback is the lack of 3G support. Still the sacrifice for the touchscreen was worth it, which may explain the US$20 price over the US$279 HP Chromebook 11. However, the lack of 3G Internet connectivity is a small worry as Wi-Fi can be easily had with the purchase of a MiFi from either Telecom Provider Digicel as noted in Ramano Park’s Geezam article entitled “WiFi On The Go: Digicel MiFi” or LIME as noted in Geezam article entitled “Crouching LIME Huawei E586 Mi-Fi – Hidden Dekal Wireless Dragon”.

Touchscreen is worth this slight, especially as the Google Chromebook Pixel weighs in at US$1,299 for the same feature and similar specs. So it’s a deal in more ways than one, as you can just save on 3G Internet by simply Wi-Fi Hopping!

Performance is also guaranteed to be fast and quiet as well as cheap on your pocket as it uses a low-Voltage Intel Celeron 2955U Haswell Processor with a whisper quiet 32 GB SSD (Solid State Drive). Cool as a cucumber this laptop; you can actually place it on your lap and it won’t cook you slowly.
And yes, like the US$279 HP Chromebook 11, it’s a Teenager (ages 13 to 17) and Milennial (ages 18 to 28), the US$299 Acer Chromebook C720P is a stocking stuffer that’s sure to please even the most discerning Computer Fanatic in your life! Here’s the links to purchasing this tough-feely US$299 Acer Chromebook C720P.

Here’s the link:

Ministry of Science and Technology yet to announce Tablet Contractor - 400,000 Tablets for E-Learning II Project in 5 years as Test Pilot to end June 2014

“We are going to ask, those of you, who can assist, (to do so) because remember some of you pay $15,000 and $20,000 for books…you’re not going to have to pay that anymore. So if you are asked to pay, for the year…about $5,000 for your own Tablet for the advancement of your youngster…that (won’t) be (such a bad proposition),”

Minister Phillip Paulwell speaking on Wednesday July 3rd 2013 at the Graduation Ceremony at New Forest Primary, Junior High and Infant School in Manchester

The JA$800 million E-learning Project II to supply 400,000 Tablets to a select number of thirty five (35) High Schools in the Inner City as explained in my blog article entitled “Minister Paulwell gives Parliamentarians and 20,000 Students in 30 Schools Tablets- Future in Science and Technology now rescued Indiana Jones and the Palace of Doom” is currently under way, albeit a Contractor hasn’t been identified.

This as the calls for Contractors to submit bids to supply the Tablets has yet to materialize in the media or even on The Jamaica Information Service as reported originally in July 2013 as stated in “e-Learning Jamaica seeks Tablet supplier”, Published Wednesday July 10, 2013, The Jamaica Gleaner.

That request for Contractors was made some four (4) months after Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Phillip Paulwell made the declaration on Thursday April 25th 2013 of his intention to spend the aforementioned amount on acquiring and distribution of the 400,000 Tablets over a five (5) year period. It’s now the end of November 2013 and STILL no news on the chosen Contractor!

Tablet Contractor still not mentioned – Ministry of Technology Silence of The Lambs

In fact, the last news on the E-Learning II Project from the (Government of Jamaica)’s official mouthpiece, The Jamaica Information Service is the article “E-Learning Jamaica Accepting Bids for Supply of Tablets”, published Friday, 05 July 2013 08:34 By Douglas McIntosh, The Jamaica Information Service. Currently, 30,000 have already been disbursed in September 2013 in an initial pilot programme which is slated to last for the Academic Year 2013/2014, ending in June 2014.

Most interesting of all is the Price: JA$5000 for a Tablet that heavily subsidized from prices which are typically JA$19,000 to JA$30000, based on prices I’ve seen in a few Computer stores in Half-Way-Tree. There are no shortages of Tablet Accessories; however, including Folio cases with a Keyboard attachment and Capacitive Stylus, as many Computer Retailers see to be anticipating a coming flood of inquiries and sales come next year when Tablet demand may begin to skyrocket.

What is known was what Minister Phillip Paulwell speaking on Wednesday July 3rd 2013 at the Graduation Ceremony at New Forest Primary, Junior High and Infant School in Manchester. The incumbent will have to supply Tablets at reasonable prices that are trackable, as a JA$5000 subsidized Tablet is an attraction to any thief. The technology built into the Tablets will have to make it possible to shut down the Tablets remotely, something fairly standard in Tablet that runs the Google Android OS.

The Tablets are also geared towards not being a distraction, suggesting that they will have software installed to block students going onto certain websites. Additionally, the Servers that provide Internet connectivity to the Wi-Fi Routers to be installed in the High Schools will have Internet content Filters to make it very difficult for students to abuse their access, guaranteeing the much hoped for results as it relates to improvements in Mathematics and the Sciences.

Benefit to Students – Cheaper e-books and renewed Mathematics and Science interest

The benefits to the students are clear: Cheaper Books and more student-centered learning, with the ability to take work home and Teachers/students to interact more via a Virtual Learning environment. E-Books also make the Tablets very attractive, being as they are cheaper than traditional books, albeit this may well be a precursor to e-book piracy in Jamaica as predicted in my blog article entitled “How to become an e-book Publishing House via e-book Piracy - Tablets in Schools sets the Stage for Rampant e-book Piracy”.

Already other schools are benefitting from initiatives led by Telecom Provider Digicel at Hampton high School in St. Elizabeth and Telecom Provider LIME at various Prep and Primary Schools as well as the UWI (University of the West Indies) as in the case of JC (Jamaica College).

Thus, based on what’s known on the ground thus far at these Schools, I expect greater improvements in Mathematics and Science subjects among students in the next five (5) years when this project gets off the ground. All that’s needed is a Contractor to supply the Tablets as per the Requirements of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining ……which they’ve yet to announce!