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HP reveals five new Chromebooks made for home-schooling

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CES 2021 might be over, but that isn’t stopping companies like HP from revealing new products. Today, HP announced a collection of new Chromebooks meant primarily for education, whether those Chromebooks are for teachers or students. Given that there’s seemingly no end to the pandemic in sight, these Chromebooks are being positioned as machines that are good for blended or remote learning.

The star of today’s announcements certainly seems to be the HP Chromebook 14 G7, which comes equipped with a 14-inch display and an “ultra-wide HD webcam,” that we’re assuming is a 720p camera given that HP didn’t say otherwise. The Chromebook 14 G7 is targeted primarily at teachers who are holding classes remotely during the pandemic, as it’s outfitted with “multiple HDMI and USB-C” ports that allow teachers to hook up additional displays.

For students, we saw HP announce far more Chromebooks today. The most notable student-focused Chromebook announced today is the HP Chromebook x360 11 G4 EE, which is quite the mouthful. This one uses Intel Celeron processors and has an 11-inch screen, but also has the 360-hinge we see in 2-in-1 laptops. The Chromebook also supports the USI Garaged Pen as an optional accessory, has a damage-resistant touchscreen, and features a design that can resist “minor drops and spills.”

HP also announced the Chromebook 11 G9 EE and the Chromebook 11MK G9 EE today, with 11 G9 using an Intel processor and the 11MK G9 using a MediaTek MT8183. There are some similarities between the two – such as an 11-inch display and the same resistance to minor drops and spills we saw in the 11 G4 – but there also some differences as well. For instance, the 11 G9 has the option for an HD IPS anti-glare touchscreen, while the 11MK G9 once again has that 360-degree hinge and four usage modes.

Finally, we have the Chromebook x360 11MK G3 EE, which is a little more of a mystery than its counterparts because HP hasn’t gone into much detail about it. We do know that this Chromebook will offer a 360-degree hinge (just as the name suggests) and that it’ll use a MediaTek CPU, but beyond that, we’re being left in the dark for now.

In fact, detailed specifications and pricing details weren’t available for any of these Chromebooks today, so we’ll be waiting on HP for that information. We do have some idea of when these Chromebooks will launch, with the x360 11MK G3 EE and the 11MK G9 EE launching later this month, the 11 G9 EE and the 14 G7 arriving in February, and the x360 11 G4 EE releasing in March.

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Google just added an insanely useful desktop search shortcut

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Google has quietly rolled out a new search shortcut for desktop users that is deceptively useful during the workday. As of now, users can press a single key on Google’s search results page to pull back open the search field, updating the search term without ever lifting a hand to use the mouse or trackpad.

The new feature was ‘announced’ by a small message box desktop users see in the bottom corner of their search results page, as first spied by 9to5Google; it reads, ‘Press / to jump to the search box.’

When you press the ‘/’ button, your cursor moves to the text field at the end of your search query, enabling you to quickly remove and add terms or scroll down through the suggested search queries. The shortcut key only works when you’re on the search results page, not the home page.

This is ultimately a very small change, but one that proves insanely useful when you’re often using Google for work or school. The amount of time saved by avoiding the mouse entirely adds up over time, not to mention getting you to the search results you want faster.

It’s unclear whether the feature is now available for all Google Search users on desktop or if it is rolling out more slowly. Our own test of the new shortcut found that it worked, though we never saw the shortcut notification on the search results page.

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Amazon may start asking even more of its delivery drivers

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Amazon is reportedly set to trial a new home assembly service for larger items, where delivery drivers would also put together furniture, appliances, or other larger items. The move, which is said to be planned for just a handful of markets as the online retail behemoth gauges popularity and feasibility, could make home shopping even easier, though there are concerns that delivery drivers themselves may face impractical expectations.

Online shopping has surged during the pandemic, and Amazon has seen a considerable share of that extra business. Its subscription plan Amazon Prime, for example, surged by 50 million members in the space of a year, bringing the total to 200 million.

The retailer’s ambitions, however, go beyond dropping items off at the doorstep. While you can currently schedule the delivery of a particularly large item, and even have it left in a specific room, Amazon is said to be preparing an even more hands-on service. The assembly option would see the delivery person actually put the item together in the home, Bloomberg reports.

According to people familiar with the plans, they say, Amazon is looking to trial the premium service in Virginia and two other unnamed markets. Unlike Amazon Home Services – which offers recommended local contractors booked through Amazon’s system – assembly and installation of the purchases would be handled by the company’s own delivery staff.

Still, there’d be a limit to what could be offered. Amazon Home Services, for example, includes options for tasks like installing electric car chargers, something which would be beyond the remit of a delivery driver. Instead, it’s suggested, Amazon sees it more around doing basics like putting together sofas and living room furniture, or installing a straightforward appliance like a washing machine or dishwasher.

Amazon has declined to comment on the leak, but according to Bloomberg there’s some consternation among the company’s delivery drivers about just what might be expected of them. The retailer has already faced criticism about working conditions for delivery staff, with accusations of grueling workloads that leave them little time for bathroom breaks. Among the concerns were just how long Amazon managers might allot for assembly and installation, and the safety of spending extended periods inside customers’ homes during the pandemic which has helped make online shopping so popular.

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Dogecoin goes up and Robinhood goes down

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Some things in life you can count on, and it seems like Robinhood crashing just when the finance market is getting interesting is one of them. The popular finance service – which has seen particular success with first-time and novice investors – has been suffering several periods of downtime during volatility in crypto trading, particularly Elon Musk’s favored Dogecoin.

The cryptocurrency has certainly had a bizarre week – and, for that matter, an equally bizarre few months. Initially begun as a joke, the so-called “meme currency” gained traction when Tesla founder Elon Musk began pumping it on his Twitter account.

This past week, meanwhile, DOGE has surged in price. Although individual coins are still worth just a handful of cents, their value has shot up by almost 200-percent. Combined with the ease of entry, it’s left some holders with a huge return on their initial purchases, which were often made when Dogecoin was only a cent or two.

Problem is, you only see those returns when you sell, and that’s been tricky if you opted to purchase via Robinhood. The service has been encountering periods of downtime which just so happened to coincide with some of DOGE’s peaks over the past day or two.

“We’re experiencing intermittent issues with crypto trading due to heightened volumes,” Robinhood has warned on its support site at several points over the past 24 hours. “Because of this, some crypto trades may not execute right now.”

Within the past hour, Robinhood said that it had restored crypto trading “for most customers.” As for those who aren’t in that group, there’s only an apology to tide them over. “To anyone still affected, we’re sorry for the interruption,” the company added. “We’re working to restore service for everyone as soon as possible.

It’s not the first time Robinhood has left investors floundering. During the GameStop stock surge earlier this year, users suddenly found that they were unable to buy the volatile $GME stock. The limits were subsequently extended to other shares, including AMC. Robinhood defended its decision with an explanation of the mechanisms behind trading, but not before the moves caught the attention of lawmakers who have called for an investigation into whether it acted appropriately.

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