Friday, December 30, 2016

Acer R13 Chromebook

Review of the Acer R13 Chromebook

The Good:
Awesome display
Great battery life
Very lightweight
Keyboard action
Best when used for what it was designed for

The Bad:

I've heard good things about a chromebook so I decided to see how good they really are. I decided I wanted one that will last (software and hardware wise) so I chose the Acer R13. It's one of the a very few currently that support the Google Play Store. There isn't a stable build so you have to configure it with the beta option. You can google how to enable it. I'm going to wait until there is a stable build before I enable it. I want it work well when I enable it which will come sometime this year.


It definitely has a premium feel to it but is light enough to carry around. The base is a machined aluminum and it reminds me of the MacBook Pro. Acer placed the R 13's USB Type-C port, HDMI port, USB 3.0 port and microSD card reader on the Chromebook's left side and the headphone jack and lock slot on its right side. That Type-C port is used mainly for charging, but it also supports USB 3.1 data transfer and DisplayPort monitors. 

The micro SD slot acts as additional storage which you will eventually need since it only has a 32gig hard drive. I suspect as memory gets even cheaper, it'll go up approaching a normal laptop storage capacity. What would be good is if Google decides that you can integrate that sd slot memory for onboard memory like you can on Andriod 6.0 phones.

The R13 can be used in a standard laptop configuration or a touch pad configuration. It has a touch screen display that is responsive enough but it works best as a chromebook. You can even lay the touchpad configuration on a flat surface as the keys are sunken into the body so you don't scratch your keys.

Key are responsive and offer a very nice tactile touch. The keyboard and touch pad is not as nice as a Macbook Pro but then again, I didn't have to shell out over a grand, just $350 at

Battery life it top rate since the Chrome OS doesn't really tax the processors. It's been going 3 days without a charge  for about 4 hours a day and still has over 50% battery life.

The display is a full 1080p and it is fantastic. Chrome OS does not play all mkv files well but it can play some. It will be able to play any file when you enable google apps. Having the full Google Play library really makes for the short comings of Chrome OS. All you will need to do is download the VLC app.

Camera and Speakers
The R13 comes with a 0.9 megapixel camera. Come on 0.9M? What is this 2004? I'm not sure why they skimped so much on the camera. It is functional but just barely. Skype calls for the people on the other end will be not great.

The speakers are located under the chromebook and one on the side. It doesn't sound well at all when used in the laptop configuration but sounds decent when put in the tablet configuration.

This is a great chromebook. I guess when you start going up in price, you expect more functionality, like a laptop. When you try to use it as a laptop, it has its shortcomings. The key is going to be how well Google integrates the play store and how stable it will perform. Then it can be a great tablet as well as a chromebook and when that happens, this is a fantastic deal at $350. If it's just a chromebook, then it's a good deal.

CPUMediaTek MT8173C Core Pilot Quad-Core ARM
Operating SystemGoogle Chrome

Hard Drive Size32GB

Display Size13.3
Native Resolution1920x1080

Graphics CardIntegrated Imagination PowerVR GX6250 Graphics

Wi-Fi Model802.11AC WiFi featuring 2x2 MIMO Technology (Dual-Band 2.4GHz and 5GHz)
BluetoothBluetooth 4.0

Touchpad Size4.1 x 2.4 inches
Ports (excluding USB)USB 3.1 with Type-C
Ports (excluding USB)USB 3.0
Ports (excluding USB)Headphone
Ports (excluding USB)HDMI
USB Ports2
Card SlotsmicroSD
Warranty/SupportOne Year International Limited Warranty
Size12.8 x 8.9 x 0.6 inches
Weight3.2 pounds

Specialized Rock Hopper Comp (2015)

Review for 2015 Specialized Rock Hopper Comp

The Good:
Great Starter Bike to grow with your skills
29" Tires
Great handling 
Local Bike Store
Great Price

The Bad:
Mediocre components 
Terrible seat
High seat post

After 27 years, it was time for a new bike. My 1994, Univega chromoly frame bike with 21 inch wheels just could not handle the trails. It was rough riding on that bike. It has served me well but it had outlived it's usefulness.

I wanted a bike under $1000 and narrowed it down to either a Cannondale or Specialized. Both great names in mountain biking which I knew would be around should I have issues in the future. I almost bought a bike on Craig's List however, after visiting 3 bike stores, I bought one from a local bike shop (LBS) near where I live. 

The clincher was that I was able to get a 2015 model for $150 off, plus lifetime warranty on the frame (which would not apply to bikes bought on Craig's List) and the local shop offered FREE lifetime tune ups!! (usually $60 each time)

I knew I was going to be really hard on the bike so the lifetime warranty was really important. I've read on the forums that Specialized is pretty good about honoring their warranty. You will have to pay for assembly. I didn't really like any of the 2016 colors and was really happy to find that I could get a 2015 plus and extra $150 off. The best times to buy a mountain bike is Sept-Oct (when new models have arrived and the shops are trying to get rid of the older models) and in Jan-Feb (when there is almost no mountain bike activity). Nov-Dec is when people buy bikes for Christmas. 

I'm not a bike mechanic nor do I claim to be one on the internet. I may eventually get into fixing it on my own but right now, I don't have much time or interest in learning how to fix my bike. I wanted something that was virtually maintenance free. 

I decided on the Comp version of the Rockhopper due to the geometry of the rear fork pictured below. 

I have not metal stress test to prove my theory other than how it rides. Think about coming on a hard landing. The stress point of the torque and weight stress is in the elbow above instead of it all coming into one joint like most hard tail bikes. This reduces stress on the frame and translates into a more stable bike. 

The seat they provide was really uncomfortable for rides longer than 30 minutes. I purchased a new seat that I will post a review on later. The seat post is a bit long. I guess I have long legs for someone who is 5'8" because I need to cut the post to make it just a few inches longer. 

I had to take the bike into the shop for an adjustment due to the shifter setting not being set properly. It should be free fix since I bought the bike a few months ago and if it's not, it's covered under the yearly free tune up (love it). 

It handles the rough terrain very well and soaks up almost all bumps. Where it could be better is in rough downhills. Granted it is a hard tail so I can fully understand why people like full suspension bikes. I think it does a decent job on those jarring down hills for a hard tail. It's wide handle bar makes steering a breeze and really comfortable for long rides. 

The 29 inch wheels make a huge difference. I don't even really need as many gears due to the large tires. The tires it did come with are fantastic. They are rough on the streets but that is what you would expect from mud/snow tires. 

Brakes a first rate. Very biting with little fad. the crank gears are something less to be desired. This would be my first upgrade if I did one. I probably wouldn't upgrade unless I broke the frame and had to reassemble the entire bike. 

I know I'm going be very hard on this bike. I've been on about 10 rides so far and it's handled everything I've thrown at it like a champ. Let's hope this bike will last another 27 years.