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Category: XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight

Celebrating one year of the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight

It’s been just over a year since we launched the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight by featuring our first device, the Google Pixel C. Spotlight has since become one of the most popular items at BenchmarkXPRT.com, and we thought now would be a good time to recap the past year, offer more insight into the choices we make behind the scenes, and look at what’s ahead for Spotlight.

The goal of Spotlight is to provide PT-verified specs and test results that can help consumers make smart buying decisions. We try to include a wide variety of device types, vendors, software platforms, and price points in our inventory. The devices also tend to fall into one of two main groups: popular new devices generating a lot of interest and devices that have unique form factors or unusual features.

To date, we’ve featured 56 devices: 16 phones, 11 laptops, 10 two-in-ones, 9 tablets, 4 consoles, 3 all-in-ones, and 3 small-form-factor PCs. The operating systems these devices run include Android, ChromeOS, iOS, macOS, OS X, Windows, and an array of vendor-specific OS variants and skins.

As much as possible, we test using out-of-the-box (OOB) configurations. We want to present test results that reflect what everyday users will experience on day one. Depending on the vendor, the OOB approach can mean that some devices arrive bogged down with bloatware while others are relatively clean. We don’t attempt to “fix” anything in those situations; we simply test each device “as is” when it arrives.

If devices arrive with outdated OS versions (as is often the case with Chromebooks), we update to current versions before testing, because that’s the best reflection of what everyday users will experience. In the past, that approach would’ve been more complicated with Windows systems, but the Microsoft shift to “Windows as a service” ensures that most users receive significant OS updates automatically by default.

The OOB approach also means that the WebXPRT scores we publish reflect the performance of each device’s default browser, even if it’s possible to install a faster browser. Our goal isn’t to perform a browser shootout on each device, but to give an accurate snapshot of OOB performance. For instance, last week’s Alienware Steam Machine entry included two WebXPRT scores, a 356 on the SteamOS browser app and a 441 on Iceweasel 38.8.0 (a Firefox variant used in the device’s Linux-based desktop mode). That’s a significant difference, but the main question for us was which browser was more likely to be used in an OOB scenario. With the Steam Machine, the answer was truly “either one.” Many users will use the browser app in the SteamOS environment and many will take the few steps needed to access the desktop environment. In that case, even though one browser was significantly faster than the other, choosing to omit one score in favor of the other would have excluded results from an equally likely OOB environment.

We’re always looking for ways to improve Spotlight. We recently began including more photos for each device, including ones that highlight important form-factor elements and unusual features. Moving forward, we plan to expand Spotlight’s offerings to include automatic score comparisons, additional system information, and improved graphical elements. Most importantly, we’d like to hear your thoughts about Spotlight. What devices and device types would you like to see? Are there specs that would be helpful to you? What can we do to improve Spotlight? Let us know!

Justin

Reflecting on 2016

The beginning of a new year is a good time to look back on the previous 12 months and take stock of everything that happened. Here’s a quick recap of a very busy year:

In 2016, the XPRTs travelled quite a bit. Eric went to CES in Las Vegas, Mark attended MWC in Barcelona, and Bill flew out to IDF16 in Shenzhen.

We also sent a team to Seattle for the first XPRT Women Code-A-Thon, an event we’re very proud to have sponsored and co-hosted along with ChickTech, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the number of women in tech-related fields. The Code-a-thon also served as inspiration for an eight-part video series entitled Women Coding for Change. The series explains the motivation behind the Code-a-thon and profiles several of the participants. If you haven’t watched the videos, check them out. They’re well worth the time.

Speaking of videos, we also published one about Nebula Wolf, the mini-game workload produced through our first collaboration with the North Carolina State Senior Design Center. That experience was promising enough for us to partner with another student team this past fall, which resulted in a virtual reality app that we hope to share with the community in the near future.

Of course, we also continued work on our suite of benchmark tools and related resources. We released TouchXPRT 2016 to the public, published the Exploring TouchXPRT 2016 white paper, and released the TouchXPRT 2016 source code to community members.

In 2016, we unveiled the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight, a new way for device vendors and manufacturers to share verified test results with buyers around the world. We put 46 devices in the spotlight throughout the year and published Back-to-School, Black Friday, and Holiday device showcases.

In the last quarter of 2016, we celebrated our most widely-used benchmark, WebXPRT, passing the 100,000-run milestone. WebXPRT is still going strong and is as useful and relevant as ever!

Finally, we ended the year with the exciting news that we’re moving forward with efforts to develop a machine-learning performance evaluation tool. We look forward to engaging with the community in the coming year as we tackle this challenge!

As always, we’re grateful for everyone who’s helped to make the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community a strong, vibrant, and relevant resource for people all around the world. Here’s to a great 2017!

Justin

The XPRT Spotlight Black Friday Showcase helps buyers find the perfect gift

Durham, NC—Principled Technologies unwrapped a free holiday shopping tool that gives consumers side-by-side comparisons of the season’s most coveted smartphones, laptops, Chromebooks, tablets, and PCs. The XPRT Spotlight Black Friday Showcase helps shoppers find the perfect gift by gathering the product and performance facts they need in one convenient place.

Principled Technologies tests the devices in the Spotlight using the industry standard BenchmarkXPRT tools: WebXPRT, MobileXPRT, TouchXPRT, CrXPRT, BatteryXPRT, and HDXPRT. In addition to the benchmark results, the side-by-side comparisons include photographs, device specs, and prices of all products.

The XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight debuted earlier this year, making it easier for consumers to shop for a new laptop, smartphone, tablet, or PC. Recent devices in the spotlight include the Google Pixel, Apple iPhone 7 Plus, ASUS Transformer Mini, Acer Swift 7, OnePlus 3, and Dell XPS 13. More devices come on line weekly; see the full list on the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight page.

Vendors interested in having their devices featured in the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight can visit the website for more details.

About Principled Technologies, Inc.

Principled Technologies, Inc. is a leading provider of technology marketing and learning & development services. It administers the BenchmarkXPRT Development Community.

Principled Technologies, Inc. is located in Durham, North Carolina, USA. For more information, please visit www.PrincipledTechnologies.com.

Company Contact

Eric Hale
Principled Technologies, Inc.
1007 Slater Road, Suite #300
Durham, NC 27703

XPRT Spotlight: making it happen

This week’s XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight features the Apple iPhone 7, one of the bigger launches in a year of relatively few big phone releases. We like to feature a wide array of devices in Spotlight, but events like the iPhone 7 launch are good opportunities for us to provide quick data for buyers who are considering taking the plunge.

As those of you who need to have the new hot device on the first day know, getting that device can be a trial. Even though we preordered our iPhone 7, last Friday I found myself standing in line at the Apple store for almost two hours. However, that was much shorter than the half-day-plus wait for those who hadn’t ordered ahead.

We also ordered an iPhone 7 Plus. We’ll feature it in Spotlight as soon as it arrives, but we don’t expect it to ship until October.

Have you waited in line for a popular device this year? We’d love to hear your story. As always, if there are any devices that you’d like to see in Spotlight, let us know!

Justin

Side by side

We’re making a big upgrade to the Spotlight: It will now let you make side-by-side comparisons of any of the devices we’ve featured. You’ll also be able to filter devices by type.

We’ve also added pricing information to the Spotlight. The price of a device can vary a lot, depending on the options you select. We give you the price we paid for the device as we tested it. Because prices can vary over time, we also give the date when we bought the device.

We think these changes will make the Spotlight an even more powerful tool for helping with buying decisions.

We also created a special page, the Back to School Roundup. It provides side-by-side comparisons of 13 of the hottest devices to help families and students choose the right ones for their educational needs. We include a range of device types—all-in-ones, Chromebooks, convertibles, laptops, and tablets—and operating systems—Chrome OS, OS X, and Windows.

Going forward, we’ll be adding more advanced querying features. Of course, we’ll also add new devices every week.

Check it out! And, if you have any ideas about how to make the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight more useful, let us know!

Eric

Smarter shopping for Windows 10 devices

Microsoft released the Windows 10 Anniversary Update for PCs and tablets on Tuesday. (The Anniversary Update for Windows 10 Mobile is rolling out on August 9.) Justin explained a couple of weeks ago how to run HDXPRT on current builds of Windows 10, and we have verified that those instructions work for the released version of the Anniversary Update.

We’ve also made sure that TouchXPRT runs with the Anniversary Update. When we uploaded the latest TouchXPRT version to the Microsoft Store, we checked the box to say it supports holographic devices. We expect it will work, but we don’t have a HoloLens available for testing. We would love to hear from anyone who has the developer version of the HoloLens about any issues and any tips for resolving them.

If you’re considering buying a Windows 10 tablet or phone, you should be using TouchXPRT to inform your decision. TouchXPRT 2016 is a Universal Windows application, compatible with Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile. Like all the XPRTs, it produces a simple “bigger is better” score. You can find TouchXPRT scores online and in the XPRT Weekly Tech Spotlight.

Of course, you can also download and run TouchXPRT yourself. It’s available in the Windows Store or from TouchXPRT.com. Knowing the TouchXPRT score for your device is a great way to set a baseline for your next purchase!

Eric

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