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Tools of the Trade: January 2021

By Michael Castelluccio
January 1, 2021

1. DELL XPS 13 9310

 

2020 ended with the strongest growth of PC shipments in a decade, and one of the more notable was Dell’s XPS 13 9310 late 2020 edition. The successful XPS line has a confusing array of models, including two excellent lightweights in 2020 (the 9300 and 9310). Here we’re looking at the end-of-the-year 9310. The 13″ ultraportable now offers the new 11th Generation Intel Tiger Lake processor. The Verge declared the earlier 2020 version the best Windows thin-and-light laptop. The screen is 1,920 × 1,200 and almost bezel-less, creating 16:10 display proportions, which is a 91.5% screen-to-body ratio featuring additional height. The laptop weighs 2.8 lbs. and is only 0.58″ thick. The touchpad is almost 20% larger than previous models, and the keyboard is edge-to-edge with keys that are 9% larger. The body is machine-milled aluminum with palm rests of woven-glass fiber with an open texture. The XPS 13s have a wide variety of configurations beginning at 8GB RAM and 256GB solid-state storage, topping out at 32GB RAM with a 2TB solid-state onboard drive. Visit the Dell website and search XPS 13 9310. www.dell.com

 

 

2. MICROSOFT SURFACE LAPTOP GO

 

As the worlds of work and school retreated home in 2020, there followed a need for additional computers. Among the new offerings, the Microsoft Surface Laptop Go is small, light, and cheap, starting at $549.99. An ultraportable that’s smaller and lighter than a MacBook Air, it’s 10.95″ × 8.1″ × 0.62″ and weighs only 2.45 lbs. The screen has 10-point touch support and a modest 148 ppi (1,536 × 1,024). At the top of the screen there’s a 720p front-facing video camera. The power button doubles as a fingerprint reader for signing in. The 10th Generation Core i5 Ice Lake Intel Chip is fine, but you might consider boosting the basic memory from the entry-level 4GB RAM and 64GB flash storage drive to 8GB RAM and 128GB storage with the optional solid-state drive. www.microsoft.com

 

3. BOOX NOTE AIR

 

The BOOX Note Air, from Onyx International, is the thinnest digital e-ink notepad tablet with front lighting. It offers digital note taking, a sketch pad, an e-book reader, a PDF editor, and Android internet in a 10.3″ e-ink tablet. The sturdy aluminum body weighs only 14.8 oz., and the front light has 32 levels of adjustment and CTM warm and cold levels. The HD Carta screen is 1,872 × 1,404, which produces sharp 227 dpi text and images. The included stylus is capacitive touch with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The beneficiary of a long evolution, this version has an octa-core CPU, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, running on Android 10.0. You can read and annotate more than 20 file formats including PDF, PPT, ePub, Mobi, TXT, DOC, HTML, and more. With Android apps you can also load and read works protected by digital rights management. www.boox.com

 

4. APPLE MACBOOK AIR

 

The newest version of Apple’s thinnest and lightest notebook, the MacBook Air now has CPU speeds that are 3.5 times faster and GPU speeds up to 5 times faster with a new M1 processing chip. Even the speeds for the Neural Engine’s machine learning are now up to 9 times faster. The chip is the first Mac chip made by Apple, and it has 16 billion transistors. And yet the battery for the new Air has up to 18 hours of life. A new macOS called Big Sur has been developed to maximize the advantages of the new M1 chip. The 13.3″ Retina display has a resolution of 2,560 × 1,600. Memory options are 8GB up to 16GB RAM, with 256GB up to 2TB onboard storage. www.apple.com

 

Michael Castelluccio has been the technology editor for Strategic Finance for 26 years. His SF TechNotes blog is in its 23rd year. You can contact Mike at mcastelluccio@imanet.org.


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