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Category: Education

The 2019 XPRT Spotlight Back-to-School Roundup

With the new school year approaching, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve just published our fourth annual XPRT Spotlight Back-to-School Roundup! The Roundup allows shoppers to view side-by-side comparisons of XPRT test scores and hardware specs from some of this year’s most popular Chromebooks, laptops, tablets, and convertibles. After testing the devices in our lab using XPRT benchmarks, we’ve provided performance scores as well as photo galleries, PT-verified device specs, and prices. Parents, teachers, students, and administrators who are considering buying devices to use in their education environments have many options. The Roundup helps make their decisions easier by gathering product and performance facts in one convenient place.

The Back-to-School Roundup is just one of the features we offer through the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight. Every week, the Spotlight highlights a new device, making it easier for consumers to select a new laptop, phone, tablet, or PC. Recent devices in the Spotlight include the Dell G7 15 Gaming laptop, the HP Stream 14, the ASUS Chromebook Flip, the OnePlus 7 Pro phone, and the 2019 Apple iPad Mini. The Spotlight device comparison page lets you view side-by-side comparisons of all of the devices we’ve tested.

If you’re interested in having your devices featured in the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight or in this year’s Black Friday and Holiday Showcases, which we publish in late November, visit the website for more details.

If you have any ideas for the Spotlight page or suggestions for devices you’d like to see, let us know!

Justin

Engaging AI

In December, we wrote about our recent collaboration with students from North Carolina State University’s Department of Computer Science. We challenged the students to create a software console that includes an intuitive user interface, computes a performance metric, and uploads results to our database. The specific objective was to make it easy for testers to configure and run an implementation of the TensorFlow framework. In general, we hoped that the end product would model some of the same basic functions we plan to implement with AIXPRT, our machine-learning performance evaluation tool, currently under development.

The students did an outstanding job, and we hope to incorporate some of their work into AIXPRT in the future. We’ve been calling the overall project “Engaging AI” because it produced a functional tool that can help users interact with TensorFlow, and it was the first time that the students had an opportunity to work with AI tools. You can read more details on the Engaging AI page. We also have a new video that describes the project, including the new skillsets our students acquired to achieve success.

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Finally, interested BenchmarkXPRT Development Community members can access to the project’s source code and additional documentation on our XPRT Experiments page. We hope you’ll check it out!

Justin

AI is the heartbeat of CES 2019

This year’s CES features a familiar cast of characters: gigantic, super-thin 8K screens; plenty of signage promising the arrival of 5G; robots of all shapes, sizes, and levels of competency; and acres of personal grooming products that you can pair with your phone. In all seriousness, however, one main question keeps coming to mind as I walk the floor: Are we approaching the tipping point where AI truly starts to affect most people in meaningful ways on a daily basis? I think we’re still a couple of years away from ubiquitous AI, but it’s the heartbeat of this year’s show, and it’s going play a part in almost everything we do in the very near future. AI applications at this year’s show include manufacturing, transportation, energy, medicine, education, photography, communications, farming, grocery shopping, fitness, sports, defense, and entertainment, just to name a few. The AI revolution is just starting, but once it gets going, AI will continually reshape society for decades to come. This year’s show reinforces our decision to explore the roles that the XPRTs, beginning with AIXPRT, can play in the AI revolution.

Now for the fun stuff. Here’s a peek at a couple of my favorite displays so far. As is often the case, the most awe-inducing displays at CES are those that overwhelm attendees with light and sound. LG’s enormous curved OLED wall, dubbed the Massive Curve of Nature, was truly something to behold.

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Another big draw has been Bell’s Nexus prototype, a hybrid-electric VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) air taxi. Some journalists can’t resist calling it a flying car, but I refuse to do so, because it has nothing in common with cars apart from the fact that people sit in it and use it to travel from place to place. As Elon Musk once said of an earlier, but similar, concept, “it’s just a helicopter in helicopter’s clothing.” Semantics aside, it’s intriguing to imagine urban environments full of nimble aircraft that are quieter, easier to fly, and more energy efficient than traditional helicopters, especially if they’re paired with autonomous driving technologies.

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Finally, quite a few companies are displaying props that put some of the “reality” back into “virtual reality.” Driving and flight simulators with full range of motion that are small enough to fit in someone’s basement or game room, full-body VR suits that control your temperature and deliver electrical stimulus based on game play (yikes!), and portable roller-coaster-like VR rides were just a few of the attractions.

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It’s been a fascinating show so far!

Justin

XPRT collaborations: North Carolina State University

For those of us who work on the BenchmarkXPRT tools, a core goal is involving new contributors and interested parties in the benchmark development process. Adding voices to the discussion fosters the collaboration and innovation that lead to powerful benchmark tools with lasting relevance.

One vehicle for outreach that we especially enjoy is sponsoring a student project through North Carolina State University. Each semester, the Senior Design Center in the university’s Department of Computer Science partners with external companies and organizations to provide student teams with an opportunity to work on real-world programming projects. If you’ve followed the XPRTs for a while, you may remember previous student projects such as Nebula Wolf, a mini-game that shows how well different devices handle games, and VR Demo, a virtual reality prototype workload based on a room escape scenario.

This fall, a team of NC State students is developing a software console for automating machine learning tests. Ideally, the tool will let future testers specify custom workload combinations, compute a performance metric, and upload results to our database. The project will also assess the impact of the framework on performance scores. In fact, the console will perform many of the same functions we plan to implement with AIXPRT.

The students have worked very hard on the project, and have learned quite a bit about benchmarking practices and several new software tools. The project will wrap up in the next couple of weeks, and we’ll share additional details as soon as possible. Early next year, we’ll publish a video about the experience.

If you’d like to join the NC State students and hundreds of other XPRT community members in the future of benchmark development, please let us know!

Justin

The 2018 XPRT Spotlight Back-to-School Roundup

With the new school year approaching, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve just published our third annual XPRT Spotlight Back-to-School Roundup! The Roundup allows shoppers to view side-by-side comparisons of XPRT test scores and hardware specs from some of this school year’s most popular Chromebooks, laptops, tablets, and convertibles. We tested the devices in our lab using the XPRT benchmarks and provide not only performance scores, but also photo galleries, PT-verified device specs, and prices. Parents, teachers, students, and administrators who are considering purchases for use in their education environments have many options, and the Roundup can help make their decisions easier by gathering product and performance facts in one convenient place. We’ll continue to add devices to the Roundup, including the new Microsoft Surface Go, as they arrive over the next few weeks.

The Back-to-School Roundup is just one of the features we offer through the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight. Every week, the Spotlight highlights a new device, making it easier for consumers to select a new laptop, phone, tablet, or PC. Recent devices in the Spotlight include the Acer Chromebook Tab 10, the 2018 Samsung Chromebook Plus, the Intel Hades Canyon NUC mini PC, and the OnePlus 6 phone. The Spotlight device comparison page lets you view side-by-side comparisons of all of the devices we’ve tested.

If you’re interested in having your devices featured in the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight or in this year’s Black Friday and Holiday Showcases, which we publish in late November, visit the website for more details.

If you have any ideas for the Spotlight page or suggestions for devices you’d like to see, let us know!

Justin

The XPRT Spotlight Back-to-School Roundup

Today, we’re pleased to announce our second annual XPRT Spotlight Back-to-School Roundup, a free shopping tool that provides side-by-side comparisons of this school year’s most popular Chromebooks, laptops, tablets, and convertibles. We designed the Roundup to help buyers choosing devices for education, such as college students picking out a laptop or school administrators deciding on the devices for a grade. The Roundup can help make those decisions easier by gathering the product and performance facts these buyers need in one convenient place.

We tested the Roundup devices in our lab using the XPRT suite of benchmark tools. In addition to benchmark results, we also provide photographs, device specs, and prices.

If you haven’t yet visited the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight page, check it out. Every week, the Spotlight highlights a new device, making it easier for consumers to shop for a new laptop, smartphone, tablet, or PC. Recent devices in the spotlight include the Samsung Chromebook Pro, Microsoft Surface Laptop, Microsoft Surface Pro, OnePlus 5, and Apple iPad Pro 10.5”.

Vendors interested in having their devices featured in the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight or next year’s Roundup can visit the website for more details.

We’re always working on ways to make the Spotlight an even more powerful tool for helping with buying decisions. If you have any ideas for the page or suggestions for devices you’d like to see, let us know!

Justin

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