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Acer Aspire One 751: 11.6-inches, Atom Z520 & May launch

When Acer announced their 11.6-inch Aspire One netbook last month, they were pretty loose on the ultraportable’s full specifications.  Now the largest netbook the company offers has been listed on their German site, as the Acer Aspire One 751, confirming that Acer have used the Intel Atom Z520 processor paired with the US15W Express Chipset and up to 2GB of RAM.

That’s slightly different from the original rumors - when the netbook was believed to be the Aspire One 731 – that pegged the CPU as Intel’s Atom Z530.  Otherwise the specifications match what we’ve heard previously: an LED-backlit 200-nit display running at WXGA 1366 x 768 resolution, integrated WiFi b/g and optional Bluetooth 2.0+EDR and triband UMTS/HSPA WWAN.

Both 3-cell and 6-cell batteries are available, with runtime estimated at up to 8hrs with the latter.  Pocket-lint were on hand for a 751 launch event, and snapped these live photos of the netbook, which is set to hit the UK in May for around £349 ($518). 

Acer Aspire One 751 specifications (translated):

Aspire One 751

Breathtaking sights and sounds

The Aspire One 751 brings life into your favorite movies! It offers a perfect visual effects on the 11.6 “screen with a 1366×768 pixel resolution and a top-quality sound through the headphones with the very real discernible 5.1 channel surround sound.

Always ready

A unique charging enough for the battery of your 751 Aspire One with an endurance of up to 8 hours of supply. Do limitations in your applications through the latest, small but powerful processor. Save a big workload to files on the rugged hard drive and take part in multimedia events via the Multi-in-one card reader and optional Bluetooth.

The focus of attention

The shell in glossy ruby red, shell white, sapphire blue or black diamond certainly attracts all glances! Only 1 “thin, has the delicate shape of the Aspire One 751 a futuristic look. A look inside reveals the final, while you flat and clear Acer keyboard FineTip an even greater comfort for your input supplies.

The Acer Linking

Use the multi-functional interface for effortless navigation. To always stay in touch, you can sign up for the Wireless, Fast Ethernet or 3G connection (on selected models) to decide. The integrated Acer Crystal Eye webcam and digital microphone provides online chat of the highest quality.

Technical specifications

Operating System Genuine Windows ® XP Home Edition

Genuine Windows Vista ® Home Basic

Processor & Chipset Intel ® Atom ™ processor Z520, supports Intel ® 32 Architecture

Mobile Intel ® Express Chipset US15W

Memory channel with a single SODIMM slot

DDR2 667/800 MHz SDRAM memory interface design

SODIMM slot: Supports 512 MB / 1 GB / 2 GB SODIMM for total system memory up to 2 GB

Screen 11.6 “HD 1366 x 768 (WXGA) pixel resolution, high-resolution (200-nit) Acer Crystal Brite ™ LED backlight TFT LCD

16:9 aspect ratio

Drives 2.5 “HDD 9.5 mm

Multi-in-1 Card Reader

Audio Dolby ® Headphone

High-definition audio support

Two built-in stereo speakers

MS-Sound compatible

Integrated Digital Microphone

Communication Acer Video Conference:

Integrated Acer Crystal Eye webcam, supporting enhanced Acer PrimaLite ™ Technology

WLAN: Acer InviLink ™ 802.11b / g Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ® network connection, supporting Acer SignalUp ™ wireless technology

LAN: 10/100 Mbps Fast Ethernet

WPAN: Bluetooth ® 2.0 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate)

(Manufacturing option – not all models)

WWAN: UMTS / HSPA to 850/1900/2100 MHz and quad-band GSM / GPRS / EDGE (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), upgradeable to 7.2 Mb / s HSDPA and 2 Mb / s HSUPA, receiver diversity and supports Equalizing to 2100 MHz

(Manufacturing option – not all models)

Dimensions & Weight 284 (W) x 198 (D) x 25.4 (H) mm

1.25 kg with 3-cell battery

1:35 kg with 6-cell battery

Black diamond color

Sapphire Blue

Ruby

Mussel White

Battery & Power 30 W adapter with power cord

24.4 W 2200 mAh 3-cell Li-Ion Battery

• up to 4 hours of battery life

(actual duration depends on application and configuration)

57.7 W 5200 mAh 6-cell Li-Ion Battery

• Up to 8 hours of battery life

(actual duration depends on application and configuration)

Keyboard 86-/87-/91-Tasten completely Acer FineTip great keyboard with inverted “T” cursor layout

Multifunctional Touchpad Display:

• Circular-motion scrolling

• Pinch-action zoom

• Page flip

10 function keys, 4 cursor keys, 2 Windows ® keys, hotkey controls, integrated numeric keypad, international languages are supported

Power button with LED

Start Buttons with LED: Bluetooth ® *, WLAN / WWAN (* manufacturing option – not all models)

3x USB 2.0 ports

1x Monitor (VGA)

1x Headphones / speaker / line-out j

1x microphone-in-line

1x Ethernet (RJ-45) connection for Internet

1x mains connection

Productivity software applications:

• Acer Recovery Management

• Microsoft ® Works SE 9 with Office Home and Student 2007 Trial

• Google Toolbar ™

• Google ™ Desktop

• Google ™ Setup

• Adobe ® Reader ® 9

• Adobe ® Flash ® Player 10

• Microsoft ®. NET Framework 2.0

• Consumer-friendly Internet Explorer ® 7.0

• eSobi

• Carbonite Online Backup

McAfee ® Internet Security Suite (60-day trial version)

Windows ® Media Player 10

Acer GameZone

Communications Applications:

• Acer Video Conference Manager 4.0

• Windows Live Essentials ™ – Wave 3 (Mail, Photo Gallery, Live ™ Messenger, Writer)

Storage bag options

Additional Lithium Ion Battery

Additional power supply

External HDD

External optical drive

Warranty 1 year warranty including 1 years International Travelers Warranty (ITW)

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Fujitsu Fmv Loox C Culv 11.6

Fujitsu FMV LOOX C CULV 11.6-inch ultraportables debut

Fujitsu Japan have announced their first CULV based ultraportable, in the shape of the 11.6-inch FMV LOOX C.  The new notebook offers a choice of Intel 1.2GHz Celeron SU2300 or 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo SU9400 processors, paired with the GS45 Express chipset and GMA 4500MHD graphics driving the 1,366 x 768 display.Update: Fujitsu Europe have just announced the same CULV ultraportables as the Lifebook P3310, which will arrive in Europe, Middle East and Asia from November 9th in Ruby Red.  A second version, with 3G/UMTS connectivity, will arrive from November 23rd in black and silver.  Full press release after the cut.

There’s also 2GB of RAM, a 320GB hard-drive, WiFi b/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR as standard, together with Windows 7 and three USB 2.0 ports.  Other connectivity includes VGA, ethernet, a multiformat card reader and audio in/out.  The whole thing weighs 1.6kg.

Press Release:

Sleek Design and Value in Fujitsu’s LIFEBOOK P3110

Appealing design, connectivity and energy-saving components set LIFEBOOK P3110 apart

Munich, October 13, 2009 —

Fujitsu today announces availability of the new LIFBOOK P3110, a sleek, ultra-thin notebook delivering the perfect balance of style and performance. Well equipped for on-the-go computing, the LIFEBOOK P3110 offers an expanded screen width but is light enough to carry all day. Further attractive features are its long battery life and energy-efficient LED backlight display, perfect for working outdoors.

The LIFEBOOK P3110 has an appealing design with a premium high-gloss, scratch-proof lacquer coating, available in black, ruby red and silver. Weighing in at just 1.6kg, the LIFEBOOK P3110 offers comfortable working. With its high resolution 16:9 aspect ratio screen measuring 29.5cm (11.6 inches), the display fits both the regular field of vision and the original DVD format. An expanded screen width provides more real estate for running multiple applications, tool bars, gadgets and instant messaging.

Constructed from environmentally-friendly components with an ultra-low-voltage Intel® processor, the LIFEBOOK P3110 continues Fujitsu’s long-standing commitment to green IT and meets the demands of environmentally-conscious users. The energy-efficient LED display maximizes battery life and efficiency, meeting ENERGY STAR® 5.0 requirements. Total battery life of approximately six hours maximizes convenience for travelers who may have limited access to power.

The LIFEBOOK P3110 is well connected, making it easy to get online anywhere, anytime, even at locations where wi-fi is unavailable. Integrated pre-n WLAN, Bluetooth and an optional embedded 3G/UMTS module ensure constant connectivity, while integrated Bluetooth wirelessly synchronizes data between the LIFEBOOK and handheld devices. Sound and vision is also built-in, with the integrated 1.3 megapixel webcam and array microphone making the notebook perfect for video conferencing and internet calls.

Rajat Kakar, Vice President Clients Group at Fujitsu Technology Solutions says: “The LIFEBOOK P3110 is the perfect traveling companion. Its stylish design, long battery life, energy efficiency and built-in connectivity make it a must-have notebook for users who want mobility at a good value. There’s something for everyone in Fujitsu’s portfolio; our LIFEBOOK P3110 shows that our notebooks can be as individual as our users.”

The LIFEBOOK P3110 (the ruby red edition, without 3G/UMTS), is available across EMEA as of November 9, 2009. Black and silver models, and 3G/UMTS options are available from November 23.

[via Netbooked]

Acer Chromebook R11 Review: Touchscreen Chromebook

Our Verdict

The R11 is a decent, if unspectacular device. Having the option to position it in a variety of modes is fun, but the sometimes sluggish performance makes it hard to recommend to anyone who wants to do more than a couple of simultaneous tasks. If your needs are light and you value the flexible hinges though, it’s a nice machine all the same, but we’d still opt to wait for the 4GB alternative.

Best Prices Today: Acer Chromebook R11

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Price

$399.00

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Since the release of Windows 10 we’ve seen lots of laptops with touchscreens and hinges enabling them to be transformed into rather heavy, cumbersome tablets. The R11 from Acer takes this format and brings it to a Chromebook, with varying degrees of success.

Also see: Best Black Friday Laptop Deals

Of course this isn’t the first Chromebook with a touchscreen. Acer launched one in 2014 and we found it to be a fine machine (see our Acer C720p review) but the ability to angle the screen in a wide range of motion, from traditional laptop, around to fully flat against the back of the keyboard, makes the R11 here an interesting proposition that could appeal to a lot of users. Asus has also recently gone down this route with its C100P Flip device, so maybe we’ll see this space heat up in the coming months. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2024.

See also: Best Chromebooks 2024

Acer Chromebook R11 review: Price

With a list price of £229.99 the R11 isn’t overly costly, but you can  buy it in white from Currys for just £189.99. Of course Chromebooks are rarely expensive, except for the wonderfully exotic 2024 Chromebook Pixel. The touchscreen does elevate it above some of its competition, and the only direct competition around at the moment is the new Asus C100P Flip, which retails for £249.99, features a smaller 10.1” touchscreen, but can perform the same gymnastic feats as the R11.

If you don’t want these particular features then there are plenty of alternatives that can usually be found for a bit less. Toshiba’s Chromebook 2 is currently one of the best around, with a more spacious 13” screen, great performance, and available on Amazon for £199.

Acer Chromebook R11 review: Design

We’ve grown accustomed to Chromebooks being lightweight, slim devices, that instantly promote mobility. It’s a little surprising then to see how relatively bulky the R11 seems at first glance. There are no tapering lines in the chassis, such as those found on the old Samsung Chromebook or Dell Chromebook 11, instead the R11 is quite blockish, with only beveled edges in the keyboard section breaking the industrial-style design. The top section is also thicker than you might expect, but both of these factors to have a sensible cause, and that is stability for the touchscreen.

If you want to watch media on your Chromebook, but don’t want the keyboard sticking out in front, you can position the R11 in Display mode. This is where the screen is folded back until the keyboard is placed facing down on the table and the screen is standing up. It’s a subtle difference, but can mean that the screen is closer to you if space is limited. As you would expect, the keyboard and mousepad are turned off in this mode, but the touchscreen controls make it easy to access controls without having to flip it over.

The last mode is that of the Pad, or tablet, which has the screen folded completely flat against the back of the keyboard. ChromeOS makes good use of a touchscreen interface, mainly due to accessing everything through a web browser. It’s not a true tablet replacement though, as the 1.25kg weight and general bulk of the design makes anything other than brief stints of use uncomfortable, but in a pinch it could be a fun feature.

The screen itself is an 11.6in IPS display, running at a 1366×768 resolution. It’s bright, clear, and presents colours in an attractive fashion, but off-axis viewing angles curtail pretty quickly. Ports that decorate the chassis include USB 2.0, USB 3.0, HDMI, an SD card reader, plus a standard headphone socket. While Internally Acer has opted to fit an Intel Celeron N3050 1.6GHz CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a 16GB SSD for local storage.

Acer Chromebook R11 review: Performance

As we’ve seen on other lower end devices recently, a 2GB RAM allocation isn’t really going to cut it on the modern web. As far as we know, and judging by the listings on Acer’s US site, there should be a 4GB version of the R11 coming out, and we suspect that the shortcomings of this review model would be solved by the simple addition of that extra RAM. That’s not to say that this R11 isn’t worth buying. If you tend to work on one thing at a time, or simply want to stream YouTube videos, movies, or listen to music, then this machine can do that very well.

One standout feature the R11 can boast is its battery life. In our looped video test the device held out for a very impressive nine and a half hours, which would get you through a majority of long haul flights. It’s enough for several days of occasional use between charges.

Specs Acer Chromebook R11: Specs

Intel Celeron N3050 Dual-core 1.6 GHz / 2.16 GHz with Burst 2MB cache 2 GB RAM 16 GB eMMC SSD storage 11.6″ IPS display, 1366 x 768 resolution, with 10-point multitouch capabilities 802.11 ac Bluetooth 4.0 USB 3.0 x 1 USB 2.0 x 1 HDMI x 1 3.5 mm jack SD card reader Integrated stereo speakers HDR webcam 3-cell Lithium-ion battery 19.2 x 294 x 204 mm (H x W x D) Weight 1.25 kg 1 year Manufacturer’s guarantee

Acer Chromebook 714 Review: So Close To Greatness

Acer Chromebook 714

The Acer Chromebook 714 has the makings of a great Chromebook. Unfortunately, the middling display and faulty space bar hold it back from true greatness.

This device is no longer widely available. The Acer Chromebook 714 is now unavailable to buy from most retailers. If you are looking for an alternative device, check out our list of the

The Acer Chromebook 714 is now unavailable to buy from most retailers. If you are looking for an alternative device, check out our list of the best Chromebooks you can buy and the best Chromebooks under $300

If there’s any company with a lengthy Chromebook resume, it’s Acer. The company has made Chromebooks for eight years and counting, the latest being the Acer Chromebook 714.

When Acer unveiled the Chromebook 714 earlier this year, the company positioned the laptop as a business-oriented option. That said, how well does it hold up in the consumer world, and is it worth picking up for those not in business? Welcome to our review of the Acer Chromebook 714.

What I like about the Acer Chromebook 714

There’s plenty to like about the Chromebook 714:

Performance: For context, I used the Chromebook 714 as my primary work machine. I usually had between 15 and 20 tabs open at any given time, with YouTube and Spotify sometimes in the background throughout the day. Even with this workload, the Chromebook 714’s Core i3 processor and 8GB of RAM had no issue keeping up.

Long-lasting battery: Acer rates the battery for up to 12 hours of use. While I didn’t get that far with the Chromebook 714, it lasted me from 9:00am to 5:30pm every day with a 20% charge still in the tank. Another hour of lighter usage checking my emails, going through Reddit, and wedding prep drained the remaining bit of battery. If battery anxiety is something you get, you can relax with this laptop.

Great build quality: I absolutely loved the aluminum build of the Chromebook 714. The minimal design and darker aluminum give it a professional look. The keyboard deck barely flexed, the hinge let me open the laptop with one finger, and there were no signs of fingerprints.

Trackpad: Even with the slight rattling, I’d argue the Chromebook 714’s trackpad is the best on a Chromebook. The Gorilla Glass-covered surface meant my fingers glided across it. It also meant the trackpad was responsive to all of the supported gestures, which include pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scrolling, a three-finger swipe up to show all windows, and a two-finger swipe to the left and right to go back and forward, respectively. The large size only seals the deal.

What about the Acer Chromebook 315?

The Acer Chromebook 315 is the Chromebook 714’s larger, cheaper cousin. It’s notable for being one of the first Chromebooks with an AMD processor, but it’s generally nice to see a Chromebook with a 15.6-inch display. Unfortunately, it’s not nice to use the Chromebook 315.

Where do I even start? The display bezels reminded me of 10-year-old laptops, the 15.6-inch Full HD display itself was dim with washed-out colors, the keyboard was mushy and shallow, and the space bar often didn’t register a press.

The biggest issue was performance. The Chromebook 315 configuration featured the dual-core AMD A4-9120C processor, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. Simply put, there wasn’t enough horsepower to keep up with my daily workflow.

The Acer Chromebook 315 is decent, but there are better options for less.

It wasn’t all bad. The trackpad was responsive and recognized all of the gestures, the battery lasted me all day, the $299.99 price tag for this configuration is tempting, and the 3.97-pound weight makes the Chromebook 315 surprisingly light for a laptop its size.

I readily admit I’m not the target audience for the Chromebook 315. If you stick to less-demanding tasks and don’t want to spend too much money, the $299 Chromebook 315 is a decent buy. Just remember there are better options for less, such as the excellent Lenovo Chromebook C330.

Should you buy the Acer Chromebook 714?

There are plenty of affordable Chromebooks available, and that’s not a bad thing. With price points ranging from $499.99 to $799.99, the Chromebook 714 isn’t for those who are buying on a budget.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition Review: Paint It White

The Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition gives a great gaming laptop a glamorous look, but you pay a premium for the gorgeous eye candy. And the keyboard backlighting is atrocious.

Acer’s Predator Helios 300 Special Edition adds a touch of class to the bang-for-buck $1,100 gaming laptop we fell in love with earlier this year.

This laptop ships with a matching mousepad, mouse, and earbuds, and Acer gave the Special Edition a faster processor and blazing-fast 144Hz display upgrade. But the base black-and-red Predator Helios 300 received the same internal upgrades—and it costs significantly less on the street. At $1,400 on Newegg, can the Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition still be considered an appealing bang-for-buck gaming laptop? Let’s dig in.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition specs, features, and price

Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The Special Edition remains largely the same under the hood, delivering plenty of power for 1080p gaming. Here’s what’s inside:

CPU: Core i7-8750H

GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060

RAM: 16GB DDR4/2666

Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD

Wireless: 802.11ac Wi-Fi

Display: 15.6-inch 1920×1080 144Hz IPS

Ports: 2x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, HDMI, SD card reader, ethernet, headphone jack, lock slot

Weight: 5.95 pounds

Dimensions: 15.4 x 10.5 x 1.1 inches

Webcam: 720p

Price: $1,400

The 1080p display also received an upgrade, going from 60Hz up to a buttery-smooth 144Hz, though the GeForce GTX 1060 GPU inside won’t be able to push most games anywhere near that fast. If you don’t mind bumping graphics settings from Ultra down to High to gain more speed, it’ll be a welcome upgrade, though, and the IPS display offers wide viewing angles. The Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition’s screen shines brighter than its predecessor, too, rated for up to 300 nits compared to the 230 nits we measured on the standard model.

I wish the keyboard backlighting were brighter, though. And better.

Brad Chacos/IDG

Brad Chacos/IDG

Ah, it’s much better with the backlighting off completely.

Melissa Riofrio/IDG

Flipping the laptop over reveals an abundance of ventilation to help the heavy-hitting gaming hardware stay cool. A few simple Phillips screws are all that’s keeping you from the storage and memory lurking inside the Special Edition. That’s a good thing, because like the standard edition, the Helios 300 Special Edition’s Achilles Heel lies in its scant storage capacity. You only get 256GB of SSD storage in the laptop, or about enough space to hold two or three of today’s bloated AAA games and your Windows install. Acer also includes a moderate amount of bloatware on the Special Edition, not counting its PredatorSense app, which further eats into your available storage.

Melissa Riofrio/IDG

Replacing the Special Edition’s SSD and memory is easy-peasy.

Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition performance

Storage capacity aside, the Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition packs hardware with some serious game. To see how it handles, we’re comparing it against similarly priced laptops in a bevy of benchmark tests, including the $1,500 Dell XPS 15 9570 with a Core i7-8750H and a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti; the $1,200 Dell G7 15 7588 (phew!) with an 8750H and a GTX 1060 Max-Q; and Acer’s older Helios 300 with a quad-core Core i7-7700HQ processor. The Dell XPS 15 isn’t technically a gaming laptop—it’s more of a mainstream workhorse with a splash of gaming on the side. 

Brad Chacos/IDG Brad Chacos/IDG Brad Chacos/IDG

But Cinebench’s benchmark runs in a short duration. The file we encode in our CPU-intensive HandBrake test (which uses an older version of the software) takes around 45 minutes on a quad-core processor, or as you can see from these benchmarks, just over a half-hour on the new breed of Intel hexa-core chips. HandBrake loves the extra hardware inside Intel’s 8th-gen chips.

Brad Chacos/IDG

Here, you see the difference the Special Edition’s GTX 1060 makes, because it packs the same Core i7-8750H processor as the Dell duo. It leaves the Dell XPS 15 and its GTX 1050 Ti in the dust and clocks in a bit ahead of the Dell G7 15’s more energy-efficient (read: slower) GTX 1060 Max-Q. The older, slower quad-core chip in the previous Helios 300 drags its score down to the Dell G7’s level despite packing the same GTX 1060 as the Special Edition.

But let’s get to the actual games! We compare laptop gaming performance at 1080p resolution to standardize results across the board, using the in-game benchmarks included with each title. We rely on older titles, as newer games frequently receive updates that can wreak havoc on performance comparisons.

Brad Chacos/IDG Brad Chacos/IDG Brad Chacos/IDG

The GTX 1060 inside the Special Edition easily clears 60 frames per second across the board, and the overall results show how your graphics card is usually the main differentiator in games. The older Helios 300 keeps pace with the newer Special Edition despite having a much slower CPU, while the lesser-powered GPUs in the Dell laptops don’t quite. The Dell G7’s energy-efficient GTX 1060 Max-Q is only a hair behind, though. 

Brad Chacos/IDG

The Special Edition disappoints when it comes to battery life, though. Despite having the exact same battery capacity of the older Helios 300, it died nearly 3 hours sooner than its predecessor our battery run-down test (which consists of looping a 4K video in the Windows 10 Movies and TV player with audio at 50 percent until the machine gives up the ghost). The Special Edition only lasted 3 hours and 47 minutes total, and I ran the test multiple times to confirm it. The Dell G7 and its GTX 1060 Max-Q lasted 100 minutes longer, and the Dell XPS 15 lasted a whopping 14-plus hours total (though it’s not really a dedicated gaming laptop).

You can probably chalk up the vastly decreased battery life to the vastly increased CPU core count and display speed, and the fact that the original Helios 300’s screen is exceptionally dim—it can’t even reach the 250 to 260 nits we standardize around in our testing. But seeing where Dell’s 8750H-equipped laptops lie, the showing from Acer’s Predator Helios 300 Special Edition is…not so special.

Should you buy the Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition?

It depends on how much value you put in aesthetics.

Melissa Riofrio/IDG

That cost chasm makes otherwise acceptable drawbacks in the Helios 300 less palatable in the Special Edition. The scant 256GB of storage is a disappointment in both models. Chunky bezels, some plastic design materials, and a relatively dim display aren’t major compromises when you’re getting the Helios 300’s stellar gaming performance at a just-as-stellar price. When you’re paying an extra $300 for a new paint job, though, the details matter. And the Special Edition’s white keyboard with white backlighting is awful.

Melissa Riofrio/IDG

The mouse and mousepad that ships with the Acer Predator Helios 300 Special Edition. It also comes with earbuds.

One Class, One Day: Sar Doctoral Students Get Physical

Class by class, lecture by lecture, question asked by question answered, an education is built. This is one of a series of visits to one class, on one day, in search of those building blocks at BU.

As doctoral candidates in physical therapy, students in Sargent College’s Neurological Systems II have studied anatomy, but until this second-year lab course, the only humans they’ve worked on have been each other. So it is with a certain timidity that a group of the students begin asking volunteer Peter Banhazl, 57, of Wayland, Mass., about his multiple sclerosis.

A gentle, six-foot-tall bear of a man, Banhazl smiles and waits for the students, all women, to pipe up. Section instructor Alissa Leonard (SAR’04,’09) folds her arms and surveys the group. Based on Banhazl’s responses, they must surmise the specific nature of his MS—which can take several forms—and work with him hands-on to assess how he might benefit from physical therapy.

Several beats pass before the questions come.

“Peter, what was the first episode that made you think something was wrong?”

“It was around 1982,” says Banhazl, who knows the drill well after four years working with a succession of students. “My wife, Terrie, and I went skiing, and I got an earache and couldn’t stand up. I kept falling,” he says, gesturing across the room to his wife, Terrie Banhazl (SAR’77), who has a degree in occupational therapy. “A few weeks later I was playing racquetball at the club, where I was the second best player, and Reuben Finkelstein, who was way down in the ranking, beat me. I was concerned. I went to a hospital—this was in California—but that was before MRIs, and a CT scan didn’t show anything.”

Another student asks if Banhazl’s decline has been steady.

“Over years, not days and months, it stayed with me that I had something wrong,” he answers, “but it was so minor over time. I was almost like a crazy person. I was 30, I was in shape, and yet I knew there was something. And they couldn’t find anything.”

“And what year was…”

“The Reuben Finkelstein incident?”

After the laughter subsides, Banhazl describes finally being diagnosed with MS in 1987, when an MRI at Newton Wellesley Hospital revealed little dots on his brain that were the telltale “multiple scars” that characterize multiple sclerosis. But there were no medications at the time. (Today, several drugs are available to help treat the disease.) “There was literally nothing for them to do, just wait and watch you disintegrate,” Banhazl says.

Known around Sargent simply as Neuro, the class for PT students in BU’s three-year doctoral (DPT) program is taught by Lisa Brown, a clinical assistant professor of physical therapy. In the lab, Brown’s class of 47 students splits into two groups, each working with a volunteer. The yearlong course is broken into a fall sequence, when students work with stroke victims, and a spring session, when they work with people with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and MS sufferers like Banhazl. With hints from the instructor and Banhazl himself, the group concludes, correctly, that Banhazl suffers from a form and stage of the disease known as secondary progressive MS.

MS affects people differently, so right off the bat the students can’t assume anything about Banhazl’s condition. A so-called autoimmune disease like arthritis, MS is caused when the body’s own immune system goes on the attack, targeting the fatty sheaths encasing the nerve cells that make up the brain and spinal cord—the central nervous system.

Brown’s students are entering physical therapy at a time when an aging population means their skills will be in great demand. “In the case of someone like Peter, PT can help with his daily function,” says Duncalf. “We’re not waiting for him to get better, but we can help him manage his day-to-day life.”

There is no cure for MS, whose range of symptoms includes weakness, tremors, tingling, numbness, loss of balance, vision impairment, and even paralysis. But physical therapy can help, and even reverse, some of the later symptoms of the disease with exercises to strengthen muscles, improve balance and coordination, increase mobility, and ease pain. Physical therapists are themselves teachers; after several sessions they might send patients home with a program they can do on their own.

“I’ll usually prod them to ask important questions,” says Banhazl. “I help them diagnose me. They just studied the subject in class, and now have a real person to study.” He will give the students a verbal nudge if he feels they’re missing something. The caliber of the students is an inspiration, he says, calling them “the brightest of the bright. They’re so smart and focused. It’s comforting.”

“Something I really like about him is he is completely honest,” says Sara Grandall (SAR’12), another class member. “He makes us brainstorm and also gives us a sense of what he’s really willing to do in therapy.” (Banhazl admits that his stationary bike has become the proverbial coatrack.) Duncalf describes him as “super-helpful—he knows when to answer questions and when to hold back, and he is willing to have students practice on him over and over again. He seems completely comfortable.”

“Physical therapists beat the crap out of people with MS,” says Banhazl, who willingly submits to all manner of prodding, including students bending his legs as if he were a rag doll to test his mobility. “That’s their job,” he says. “They can’t fix it, so they look for ways to make your life better by making your body stronger and looser.”

“I think Peter is really inspiring,” says Duncalf. “There are two ways you can go with an MS diagnosis. You can sit and feel sorry for yourself, or you can do whatever you can to help yourself.”

One way Banhazl is helping himself, the students say, is by giving back. “It gives him a little more purpose,” Duncalf says.

Susan Seligson can be reached at [email protected].

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