I was very sad to read news on Friday that Lenovo was getting out of the small screen tablet market. It turns out, however, that it’s not true. Lenovo issued a press release yesterday stating that they “are not getting out of the small-screen Windows tablet business.” In addition to that they stated that they will have a new 8-inch and a new 10-inch Windows tablet ready for the holidays.
This is great news because it supports my theory that 8-inch Windows tablets haven’t done badly at all. While I believe that the innovation will be focused in the 10-13-inch tablet space over the next years the Dellpopularity, recent announcements from Microsoft and my own experience tells me that the 8-inch tablets aren’t bad at all. At $225 the Dell Venue 8 Pro is an absolutely brilliant tablet and as I cycle through them in my daily use, I can’t say that any of them are bad.
While new models are in the pipleline Lenovo did say that theis now longer for sale in the US. The is out of stock right now too so let’s hope we get that one back on the shelves soon.
Info via GigaOM
I recently wrote about what a late-2014 high-end 8-inch Windows tablet could offer. I talked about Intel’s Realsense camera technology, 3G, USB3.1, 1080p screens and AC WiFi. A digitizer and additional access security could be interesting too but is there a market for these high-end features in the 8-inch sector? Could Microsoft create a market with a Surface Mini and a really special technical feature?
8-inch tablets are bobbing-along at the $200 price-point now and the excellent Dell Venue 8 Pro is just $224 today at Amazon.com. At the high-end the Lenovo is still $413 which is nearly double the price for very little more in terms of speed or power. The Dell VP8 is the #43 best-selling computer, tablet or accessory at Amazon.com which is pretty impressive. The Lenovo Thinkpad 8 is at #1828, which isn’t that impressive.
Clearly there isn’t a huge audience for high-end 8-inch tablets with a lot of bells and whistles so is there any reason to make one?
The3 appears to have launched well and it too is a niche, high-end product but it’s getting a lot of traction in terms of search traffic, news and review articles and good feedback from owners. After one month on Amazon.com there are 23 customer reviews with an average rating of 4.3 and It’s the #154 most popular computer, tablet or accessory which is really very good for what is a niche product. Why is that?
Firstly the3 has set a new bar in terms of engineering. They’ve cracked the 800 gram mark, reached an impressive level of thinness and still managed to design a tablet with a good battery life, at least for a powerful tablet like this. Secondly, it’s a Surface. Surface has become a quality brand and is getting netter all the time. Microsoft continues to market the brand and products heavily across many types of media. Could the same engineering, branding and marketing make a Surface Mini a success?
A Surface Mini, or indeed any high-end 8-inch Windows tablet, will have to fit with a high-end brand so it doesn’t have to be cheap. It also needs to match that higher price in terms of perceived quality, more importantly, in terms of breaking new ground with a new feature. That ‘new feature’ could be an issue in the 8-inch space because smaller tablets are bounded by tighter pricing. Then there’s the question of limited physical space in which to innovate.
Brand + Quality + Feature
We know Surface has the brand quality and that Microsoft can give us some great engineering but what can they pull out of the hat in terms of new features. I’ve done some brainstorming and come up with a set of features that could be possible given pricing and sizing constraints. Not many of them are really that interesting from a marketing perspective but some are worth further consideration.
- Battery life – There’s very little scope for a unique feature here in 2015.
- WiDi – It’s useful but there aren’t many people that even know what it is and how it can be used.
- USB3.1 – A point upgrade, as seen by the customer.
- AC WiFi – Not exactly a deal breaker if it’s not there at this stage.
- Type cover keyboard – There’s little scope or demand for creating a good typing experience within the limited space.
- Super-thin design – Sure, shave 0.5mm off but it won’t look much thinner than a Lenovo Miix 2.
- Screen size. Do users want a 5 or 7-inch Windows tablet? Given the huge competition in this area it’s a risk not worth taking.
- Digitizer – 8-inches is not really the best place to put a digtizer, adds thickness and reduces space for battery.
Given that Nokia camera technology is now under the control of Microsoft and that other companies, like Intel, are looking at depth-sensing cameras for new photographic experiences, security, gaming and gesture control there’s an exciting possibility that a high-end 8-inch tablet could break new ground by being the smartest camera ever. The hard technology is there to make an optically-stabilized sensor that might even have some zoom capability but it would need some very special software to make it work well. Is this something that consumers would be interested in or is there too much competition in the established smartphone sector?
Isn’t it time to finally get an outdoor-readable screen with low-power properties in a reader-focused device? 8-inch tablets are great for reading both book and web-based content but the screens are terrible outdoors. Pump up the backlight and you’ll use your battery charge quickly too. I’m not aware of any screen technology that’s quite ready to transform the outdoor experience and battery life in 2015 so maybe it’s something that’s going to come with flexible or folding screens. While we’re talking about screens, how about some waterproofing too? There’s a lot of scope for change in screen technology.
Connector-less tablet / processor-less tablet.
Intel want to make a connector-less tablet after Broadwell products have launched. You might see something at IDF in September but it won’t be a final product. WiGig is the technology that would be used and it can enable remote docks that offer completely transparent local wireless experiences. Someone could even make the first procesor-less tablet. Instead of having the CPU in the tablet and the connectors in the dock, why not put the CPU in the dock and run the screen and touch layer over WiGig? This would completely transform the tablet design and enable incredibly light builds with extremely long battery life. They wouldn’t be usable without the dock but there’s nothing stopping the dock from being small too. It could clip on to the back of the tablet.
Give us your feedback in the poll below and if you think there’s a ‘feature’ just over the horizon that would be perfect for a high-end 8-inch Windows tablet, let us know in the comments below.
What a pleasure it was to test and review the Acer Aspire Switch 10 for Notebookcheck.net over the last three weeks. The Acer is a low-cost 2-in-1 that’s up against a product that has been selling like hot-cakes and yet it pulls through.
It’s cheap and capable and it’s a great showcase for Windows 8 and Intel’s Baytrail-T processor
The Aceris essentially a Windows 8 tablet weighing just 580 grams (1.28 pounds) but for just 338 Euros / $380 it comes with a good dockable keyboard, a great screen, good speakers and enough processing power to enable real PC productivity.
The battery life isn’t as good as its main competitor but with nearly 5 hours of 1080p playback and nearly 6 hours of good quality WiFi surfing it’s not bad.
If you’re looking for a low-cost 10-inch tablet that’s light and adaptable for simple productivity, entertainment and connectivity the Acerand the Asus Transformer should be at the top of your list. My favorite is the Switch 10 but you should watch this video first…
I have a history of testing simple, fast and efficient video editing software and two years ago I settled on an Intel platform with Quick Sync hardware. Quick Sync is simply a hardware acceleration layer for video encoding and processing and it works extremely well on Ultrabooks. It also works on Clovertrail and Baytrail-T Windows 8 tablets and 2-in-1s (also a few Baytrail-M processors) but the problem there is that the desktop applications are just a bit too heavyweight. I’ve tested a number of Windows 8 ‘RT’ apps but it wasn’t until last week that a re-tested Magix Movie Exit Touch and found a big step forward. Version 2 is fast, touch-friendly and works perfectly for YouTube video sequencing up to 1080p.
The basic version is free but you won’t be able to title, trim with accuracy or output to 1080p but that’s OK because if it works well for 720p videos for you it’s going to be worth paying the 2.49 euros for the full version.
Import multiple clips, photos to a timeline. Apply various transition effects, add an additional audio track, stabilize videos, add title and export to 320, 480, 720 and 1080p in H.264 or WMV formats. Upload videos to YouTube. Use on-device camera or import videos from external cameras.
I tested Movie Edit Touch 2 on a Clovertrail tablet (Acer W510) and it crashed every time but when I tested on a cheap LenovoI was impressed to see fast 720p rendering of videos taken with my Nokia 808. Using the Lenovo with five 720p clips, an image, crossfades and titling across 30% of the video I saw an export rate of 4X (50 seconds for a 200 second video.)
The 720p render resulted in an H.264 file with a 197kbps 2-channel audio and a 9Mbps video rate which is a little high for on-the-go YouTube uploads in 720p but good for local playback. A 480p export was done in 37 seconds and resulted in a 2Mbps file rate which could be perfect for quick video uploads to YouTube while still leaving the option for a high-quality output at a later stage.
Using the built-in camera to record some 1080p clips I pasted 4 of them on the timeline along with 3 photos. Two titles and an audio mix were overlaid onto most of the video. The 90 second video rendered to 360p (1 Mbps rate) in 24 seconds, 480p (2 Mbps rate) in 28 seconds, to 720p (Mbps rate) in 34 seconds and 1080p (18 Mbps) in 52 seconds.
A stabilized 480p render took 6 minutes which is 4X longer than real-time. Quality of stabilization is good although it’s unusable due to the introduction of black frames into the render. This must be a bug. The stability of the app is questionable too. We saw crashes on YouTube upload and crashes on rendering which appear to be random. The app re-starts after being sent to the background (project is saved.)
There are quicker ways to produce videos by simply taking a one-shot video on a good smartphone and uploading to YouTube. Theor is good too but if you want to sequence and title some higher quality videos from external sources and quickly publish a titled track with your intro and outro added to the timeline this is a lightweight, low-cost and fast way to achieve it. Given that it’s version 2 it also looks like Magix are actively working on it unlike other video editing programs we’ve seen in the Windows 8 Store.
At last there’s a good starting point for Windows 8 video editing that doesn’t require a desktop application. . Given a good quality internal cam the process is even quicker. Take a look at this video I (very) quickly put together using video captured, scene-by-scene, into Movie Edit Touch 2.
- Stability (app does not run in background.)
- Saving project can take a long time.
- Audio annotation capability.
- Import images direct from cam. (Currently only imports videos taken from built-in cam.)
- Stabilization bug introduces black frames.
- Ability to choose a rendering bitrate could help. E.g. 3Mbps 720p for a fast YouTube upload.
Note: All testing done with H.264 source files and H.264 rendering.
Have you considered using a Windows 8 tablet for video editing. At under $250 a Windows 8 tablet and Movie Edit Touch 2 could be an essential addition for anyone on the road, for journalists, bloggers and others that want a simple fast editing suite without external camera restrictions.
I’m testing the Acer Aspire Switch 10 for Notebookcheck.net right now and it’s going well. I prefer it to the ASUS because of the better keyboard, mouse and screen but there’s one little issue – battery life. The Switch 10 has a 24Wh battery inside which is much less than the 34Wh battery of the and less than half of what you got on the previous W510. Looking at the keyboard reveals that it’s quite light and has 8 exposed screws so naturally I took a look inside. What I saw was encouraging because there’s space, screw holes and an unused PCB header space.
The bottom casing has been designed to fill a space delimited by 6 unused screw holes. The red arrow points to an unused space on the PCB which has been designed to include a header connecter. The bottom case has about 3mm of space which is very tight, but not too tight for a slim 20-25Wh battery pack. There’s also the possibility that a slightly different bottom casing could be designed with another 1-2mm of space.
The Acerkeyboard has been designed to include a battery option so the question is, will Acer use to offer a different product or is it an option that was canned in the design stage?
Acer, if you’re listening, please take the option and provide us with that battery. The Switch is, in my opinion, better than the, but the small tablet battery is the Achilles heel.
How much would you pay for the battery option that would make it the true replacement to the Acer W510 and a unique product?
Android L, ART and Chromebooks. If you use Windows products, these Google products might make you sit up and take notice soon because Google have just announced important enhancements that connect theand Android world.
There was plenty of news from Google IO’s keynote yesterday and the big news was Android L, the codename for the next generation of Android. A developer preview is available now and when it launches for customers it will include changes that enhance the experience for users and, more importantly, increase investment in professional app development for this space. It could draw developer resources away from the Windows Store just as things were getting interesting there.
Android L details are still emerging but thanks to the keynote yesterday we now know that a new user interface layer called Material Design, new security features based on Samsung Knox and ART, the new Android runtime that replaces Dalvic will be included.
ART improves on Dalvic by pre-compiling code at install-time rather than during runtime which speeds-up the startup of apps and improves performance and battery life by reducing runtime CPU usage. There’s a useful intro to ART here which proves it’s being developed for i86 Android too. We assume those 2-in-1 runtime developers like Bluestacks and Console OS are also going to migrate to this model. More importantly it looks like Google are going to develop ART for Chromebooks meaning you’ll be able to run Android apps on a .
Don’t expect Android apps to run on Chromebook immediately or without porting work; The wording of the announcement that Android apps are coming to Chromebook left a lot of questions . “This is a difficult challenge technically” says Google.
It’s likely that ART is being developed with ChromeOS in mind but that the hardware extraction layer needs to be refined on that platform before apps can be used. Security, user sessions and graphics capability is vastly different on a Chromebook. There’s a mouse and keyboard too which means may have to be ported or even submitted to another store before they can run on the Chromebook.
“Our goal is to bring your favorite Android applications in a thoughtful manner to Chromebooks.”
In a demo we saw Evernote running on a smartphone and then in a window on a Chromebook. “We have ported that Android application…” says Google indicating that yes, apps will need to be changed for Chromebooks. Vine was also demonstrated.
Like Windows Phone and Windows 8 there’s going to be a close connection and cross-pollination of apps between Android phone and Chromebook which means developers may put more resources into the bigger screen and embrace more expensive application projects. Now that Drive, Slides and Sheets support Microsoft Office docs natively there’s a more difficult choice for Windows users. Being able to run native apps with local data storage on the Chromebook also changes they way we should look at these devices and knowing that they offer some of the highest processing power per dollar in the market today means the Windows-based offerings will have to step up the game. The potential here is absolutely game-changing for Microsoft.
Related: Microsoft just released an Android handset under the Nokia brand with Microsoft service layers.
Let’s move on to screen mirroring. It was announced as a new capability for Chromecast and it also has a Trojan-horse element.
It’s useful to be able to use Miracast on a PC for wireless screen mirroring and audio transmission but the adaptors are expensive or no-name products. Android 4.4 already includes Miracast so it makes sense that the newly announced Chromecast screen mirroring feature is based on Miracast and it means Windows PC users (at least users with recent products) potentially get a $35 Miracast option – with Android inside. There’s still a question mark over what Chromecast screen mirroring really is so we look forward to more details on this. If it’s true, Windows users may be buying Android without realizing it and that build could evolve into Android TV.
Let’s assume you’re using Windows on a PC, but you buy a Chromebook because, well, it’s a powerful and cheap way to use the Web and your 4-year old Windows laptop is just old, slow and very boring. Then you pick up a Chromecast which just happens to be the next model with Android TV inside. We’re speculating here but if that’s the case you’ve just got yourself into a situation where you’re getting into Android apps on the TV that can be run on the Chromebook. You’re fully into the Google ecosystem for just $235, without an Android phone. What’s the next step? An Android phone and tablet?
Be excited about what’s happening here but be aware of the timescales that could go way into 2015 before we get a choice of integrated products. It could take even longer than that before Chromebooks get any major selection of Android / ART apps. When it happens though it will bring important enhancements across all Android-based products. The application ecosystem could get even more investment and the Chromebook could get native apps. If you’re prepared to commit to the Google way of life you’ve got an exciting choice coming up. That Windows / Android dual-OS option is looking more and more important.
Back at MWC we spoke to MMV CEO Christopher Price about dual-OS tablets, Ultrabooks and desktops. At that time they were public about iConsole.TV - an Android build designed to run games on high-power PC platforms. The idea of high-end gaming power is interesting but the more interesting topic for us was the promise that they were “building the first Android desktop PC.” [Watch the video here.] MMV have officially launched that project and it’s called Console OS. It’s going to be a true instant-switch dual-OS options for Windows PC owners.
Console OS is a part-completed dual-boot Android build that has the aim of being a complete desktop-capable fork of Android for X86 . The project has launched on Kickstarter where you can support and influence the project. If the project is successful we could see a true hypervisor-controlled instant-switch Android build in 2015.
The Kickstarter project is mainly geared towards building Console OS Pro – a version with hypervisor-based switching, service layers, maps and stores. This version will also, eventually, include OpenGL4.0 support and a Windowing system. Console OS will also be available to everyone soon as a basic dual-boot version.
Neither version will ship with the Android application store or Google service integration but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It’s up to MMV, OEMS and Google to solve that issue and there’s obviously going to be money directed towards teasing OEMs into the project. Unofficial Google solutions are likely to appear but the hope is that Google would eventually come to their senses and support this commercially led project. The Amazon store is has already been tested and MMV will also build a Console Store that will include enhanced apps. MMV are also promising to allow you to import applications from your existing Android devices.
Other Cosnole OS Pro features:
- Toggle between native and modified user-interface.
- Ten-Second toggle between Windows and Android.
- The Hypervisor looks like it will be based on Xen and include XenGT graphics virtualization technology.
- 2 apps can be run side by side (on both versions)
- ‘Industry licensed’
- Secure-Boot supported
- Gaming OpenGL 4 will be supported in 2015
- ASUS will be one of the first products to get a tailored build
- Kickstarter supporters will be able to vote on which devices get priority in the tailoring process.
I’ve taken a close look at the project and spoke to MMV and I think it’s one of the best dual OS projects yet. Where Bluestacks, the AMD-funded project, runs inside a Windows-based runtime and others from Insyde and AMI haven’t really got off the ground this is not only a good technical solution but a well-organised project. Choosing to go through Kickstarter means it gets a good amount of free marketing too.
So why would you want Console OS? The free, dual-boot version may not interest too many people outside the early-adopter class but I think many will be interested in testing games on devices like theand even some more powerful Ultrabooks. The Pro project is going to be the more interesting one for the mainstream though. There are going to be device-specific issues that will limit the audience at first but by choosing popular devices first – and the is a perfect example – they should improve their reach quickly. Ultimately the OEMs need to pick up Console OS to make it truly successful and that success really does ride on being able to get a full Store and quality service layers into the product. Google is obviously the first choices but let’s not forget that Microsoft have a full Android stack in the Nokia X project.
MMV have published a list of competing Android X86 options and features.
Here’s the list of devices that will get tailoring treatment from day 1 although it must be noted that there could be issues and changes. Sensors, 3G, multitouch, digitizers and other hardware will need open-source drivers before they are supported.
- Dell: , XPS 12, , and XPS 15, ,
- Intel: Next Unit of Computing (all NUC models except for 847DYE)
- Lenovo: -inch, -inch, IdeaPad U430p, , Yoga 2, Yoga Pro 2
- Sager: NP2740
- Sony: , & 13
- System76: Galago UltraPro
- Toshiba: Protege R30 & Z30, Tecra A50, Z50 & Z40
- And, of course, all of our own iConsole-branded hardware like iConsole Unit 00 (and more, new hardware coming later this month)
Support for additional systems will be steered by OEM backing and by the community.
Console OS release timescales
Console OS Developer Release 1 within about 30 days of the Kickstarter’s conclusion (Est. September) After the initial launch the Kickstarter funds will be used to build out support for the devices that are voted for.
MMV expects Console OS (Pro) 1.0 around December, 2014 with the goal of giving OEMs something to ship in time for new x86 tablets and convertibles this winter to ship in stores.
We’re in touch with MMV and looking forward to early testing. Expect more coverage from us soon.
Although I wasn’t at Computex last week I covered it like a hawk both here and at Ultrabooknews. Yesterday I went through the complete video recording of the Intel mobility keynote and it was well worth it. If you have any interest in mobile computing at all you should watch the whole video, embedded below. The first part of the video is about gaming, AIO and 4K monitors. There’s some impressive stuff going on there but that’s not what I want to focus on. Skip past that (about 12 minutes in) and it’s tablets, 2-in-1s, RealSense, WiGig, wireless charging, Llama Mountain and even a new Acer 2-in-1 that will come at a $199 price point, possibly. Here’s some detail, background and thoughts on what I saw.
Llama Mountain and the Core-M announcement (made in the Day 1 keynote) were the main topic of discussion on most sites covering the events but I noticed a few additional points worth highlighting. Core-M at 10-inch will have “about twice the performance of an arm tablet.” By saying that, Intel have admitted that their Core-M brand is in the same fighting ring as ARM. That’s not good for Core in my opinion. Core-M is a re-branding of the Y-series Core i3/i5/i7 that we’ve seen before on Ivy Bridge and Haswell. It’s down clocked with tight ‘Turbo’ controls and it gives designers an easier and cheaper way to work with Core in the mobile PC arena. Interestingly for my websites is that it bridges the two by crossing over both Baytrail and Core U-series () solutions. What’s not exactly clear here is whether Core-M is just Broadwell Y-series or whether it will cover some high-end Atom products too. If it does it will be quite the trick. Personally I think it’s just Broadwell Y for powerful tablets and 2-in-1s. Note that this is not just a Windows play. Android is included and I suspect Chromebooks/tabs too. The Llama Mountain 10-inch reference design with Core-M at 550 grams is impressive. We’ve seen Clovertrail and Baytrail-based 10-inch tablets at this weight but not Y-series. I have a Y-series Haswell fanless tablet here and it’s heavy so this is a great step forward. 600 grams is the maximum I think that any tablet (of any size that targets consumers) should be. Llama Mountain is impressive and inspiring and Intel should turn this into a developer kit item (and of course, give them away at their developer conference in September!)
One product that really opened my eyes was this. Intel say that this Acer product, which I’m sure is a 2-in-1 due to the frame controls, will come to market for $199. $199 for a 2-in-1? They’ve just launched the Switch 10 at …but wait a minute. This is the Switch 10! Did Kirk accidentally pick up the wrong device on stage? How can they make it cheaper than most cheap 8-inch Windows tablets? The lowest cost netbooks cost $199. This can’t be right? If it is right, it might even be wrong to do this from a business perspective.
I was hoping for WiGig news at Computex but I wasn’t expecting Intel to put their weight behind it like this. Intel wants to be “number 1 in WiGig silicon in the world” TX/RX. WiGig (more info) is important and could enabled CPU-less tablets if it works out as planned. “…We’ll build reference designs to eliminate all cables from Ultrabook and 2-in-1 PCs.” This is something Intel are planning post-Broadwell and it not only allows a tablet to be thinner but it could save a lot of costs. Get an integrated WiFi/WiGig card inside and you save a lot of port, space and design costs. Waterproofing becomes easier too. Expect some sort of demo mid-late next year. Intel’s WiGig silicon is known as Maple Peak. WiGig docking is coming in the first half of 2015. (Actually it’s already available from Dell but I think Intel is referring to docks made with Intel inside.
On WiDI – the consumer-grade screen mirroring and extending solution – Intel highlighted a new product from Actiontec. Screenbeam Mini 2 is looking like the Chromecast of WiDi solutions and it’s badly needed. Current solutions are big , expensive and problematic. The Screenbeam Mini launched in Taiwan during Computex and is on sale there for about $US 50. It needs to be cheaper in my opinion but maybe this version 2 is going to reduce the price. My Actiontec ScreenBeam testing here.
It’s noteworthy that Intel said that WiDi is the “best Miracast experience. ” They’ve taken second row on wireless display. I don’t like wireless charging. It’s very lossy and that goes against the grain when it comes to by focus on efficient computing. However, having seen the 20W charging pad working with an Ultrabook I may be about to change my mind. The Dell was demonstrated with wireless charging too and it’s all under A4WP standards.
Also worth seeing is the RealSense live beautifying webcam demo. Check it out in the video.
When I reviewed the 270-euro Lenovorecently I knew it would be a great candidate for an SSD upgrade. This fanless, touchscreen hybrid is the very model of a modern casual portable laptop but it was fitted with a really poor quality hard drive that was obviously holding the system back. After completing the SSD upgrade yesterday I can report that the difference is amazing. Applications are starting in half the time, the PCMark score is up 70% and the system works as it should. No more drive activity slow-downs and a huge lift in the user experience. I’ve done a lot of SSD upgrades over the years but this one is probably the most impressive.
The Lenovo Flex 10 has a 270-degree fold-back screen. Stand-mode is very useful.
I’ve dropped a MydigitalSSD BP4 in as a test (I had it from a previous test I did with an Acer V5) but you can shop around for a good deal. On Amazon.com there’s an offer on the 7mm 128GB Sandisk SSD that would be perfect for this. $69.99 is a great deal. [Affiliate link.]
Over 40X improvement in the very important 4K write speed. Superb result!
In a PCMark test the device scored 70% better. 1521 with HDD, 2579 with SSD. Application start-up times are drastically reduced. DriftMania started in 10 seconds compared to 21 seconds with the HDD. Lenovo Photo Show started in 5 seconds (11 with HDD.) Facebook, IE, Chrome and Paint also started about twice as quick. Battery life has probably been improved too but I haven’t tested it yet. Considering the heat that was generated by the HDD and the time it took to get things done there’s going to be a clear real-world difference in how much you can get done on this. Silent operation is a dream too. I’ve connected a USB3.0 docking station and I’m writing this with external screen, keyboard and mouse and it’s a very nice way to write.
Inside the Flex 10. RAM is soldered. No fans. Disk and WiFi module are easy to remove
How to upgrade to SSD on the Lenovo Flex 10
To do the upgrade you’ll need a USB recovery drive (create using Windows 8 tools on a 16GB USB stick or CDROM.) I chose to use an external USB 2.5-inch SATA adapter so that I could do all the imaging on a faster PC. Obviously you will lose your warranty and there’s a possibility of failure or breakage so take care and own the risk!
- Reduce partition size on C: to bring total disk size into range of SSD. Use Windows 8 disk manager to shrink the volume. (Ideally do a system restore to factory setup beforehand.)
- Remove back of Lenovo Flex 10. This is a little tricky. Two screws are hidden under the rubber feet and one has a seal that will need to be broken. You lose your warranty at this point. You can use a thumbnail to carefully prise the unit apart. It takes time and care, especially at the front corners, but it’s certainly not a sealed unit.
- Remove hard disk. It’s an easy 4-screw removal process. (Note: You can upgrade the WiFi too. The basic 2.4Ghz single channel unit has good reception but would benefit from a dual-channel upgrade IMO.)
- Put hard disk in 2.5-inch USB3.0 adapter.
- Take Acronis TrueImage disk image of hard drive. (Took 40 minutes on a fast SSD-based using free 30–day trial.)
- Remove drive from adapter and store with care
- Insert SSD into adapter.
- TrueImage disk copy the saved image to the SSD drive. (You might get an error saying it won’t boot but you can ignore that.)
- Remove disk from adapter and install in Lenovo Flex 10
There are still clear limits with this setup. The Lenovo Flex 10 doesn’t have a powerful CPU and that shows itself when you start using browser-based apps. Google Drive and the associated productivity apps won’t be much fun (Chromebooks are way more suited to this) but I suspect the free Office Home and Student will be a far better experience. GPU and video decoding power is pretty good though so you’ll be able to watch 1080p videos and play Windows 8 RT games without any issues. XBMC and Openelec work well. Read my full review, or my summary review video for more detail.
I’m a huge fan of the 270-degree fold-back screen (more so than the 360-degree fold-back) and a huge fan of ‘lightweight’ computing. Based on what I’ve seen with the Flex 10 there’s scope for Lenovo to make a seriously useful Flex 11 with a quad-core Baytrail-M and a low-cost 64GB SSD. Until then though, this Flex 10 SSD upgrade has created an extremely well-balanced hybrid netbook that covers a wide range of activities. I’m keeping it.
My predictions about the 7-inch Windows tablet space are coming true. The smaller Baytrail-T (refresh) platform simply allows a smaller motherboard which means a smaller screen which means lower backlight power/cost and finally a smaller battery. The mathematics continue into plastic costs, shipping costs and storage costs and then you end up with something like the Toshiba Encore 7. Good for markets that need it but bad for markets that want higher quality and better features.
Ndevil have un-earthed a 7-inch Windows 8 tablet that takes us back to where we started in 2006. Admittedly it’s at about 1/8th of the cost, 1/4 of the size and with an OS far more suited to the product but it’s still a worrying sight. Meet the Toshiba Encore 7-inch Windows 8 tablet running on Windows 8.1 with Bing.
The Toshiba Encore 7 may, or may not reach the markets. Information is thin on the ground right now and guestimates of $150 seems to have come out of thin air (I’m looking for sources but can’t find any) but with a 1024×600 TN screen (really?) there’s no reason that this can’t be $100. I just don’t see Toshiba as the right people to be doing this. I also see it damaging the mid and high-end space where professionals have been looking for mobile PCs.
From a professional mobile PC standpoint I’m not excited about this product at all so I hope it remains ring-fenced into geographical areas that can benefit from it. It probably will.
We saw the Llama mountain 12.5-inch concept announced at Computex yesterday. Its 7.2mm fanless design is enabled by the new 14nm Broadwell-Y based Core M branded CPUs. Today at Computex Intel demonstrated a 10-inch version of that dockable tablet that weighs just 550 grams (1.21 pounds.) That’s as light as any Atom-based 10-inch Windows tablet we’ve seen to date. The thickness is just 6.8mm. This is a breakthrough. A Core-powered fanless tablet at a consumer-friendly weight.
This is only a reference design but it’s working and obviously something that OEMs will be working with to help them produce interesting 2-in-1 and tablet products for Q4 this year. We’re trying to track down some images of the Llama Mountain 10-inch design so check back for more info as we update.
In the same event today Intel also announced more details on RealSense sensors including RealSense Snapshot for depth-enabled photography. [concept video from IDF shown here.]
Intel also announced a new RealSense SDK, a new developer kit, new developer competition and a lot of applications that will be RealSense-enabled. More info on RealSense here.
The press release is here. No information was given on the next-gen Windows tablet platform, Cherry Trail.
I was a little surprised that ASUS didn’t mention the Transformer Book T200TA in the press event at Computex yesterday but at least it showed-up on the Asus booth today. This 399 Euro 2-in-1 should raise some eyebrows.
Mobilegeeks got hands-on and here’s a round-up of the specifications for you. Video below.
Transformer Book T200TA specifications.
- Atom Z3775 CPU
- 32 or 64GB SSD storage
- 2GB RAM
- Ports: MicroSD, microUSB. microHDMI, separate charging port, headset port
- 1366×768 11.6-inch touchscreen
- 5MP camera
- 38Wh battery
- Weight: 750 grams
Image courtesy Mobile Geeks. More images in their article.
- Large trackpad
- USB3.0, USB2.0, Ethernet port.
- Hard drive access port.
- 500GB optional hard drive in keyboard
- No battery in dock
- 750 grams keyboard (Inc.500GB drive)
Prices start at 399 Euro.
- Previous article o the T200TA
Source: Mobile Geeks. (German)
Our good friends at Mobilegeeks have just had hands-on with the Emdoor EM-i8080 ‘Windows 8 with Bing’ tablet. 1GB of RAM, 16GB SSD and a Z3735G processor.
The Z3735G is a 4-core CPU running at 1.33Ghz to 1.8Ghz which isn’t bad. There’s little in terms of disk space though – 2GB available to the user on the system shown in the video below although we’re sure the device will ship with a few more than that.
Emdoor i8080 specifications.
- IPS touchscreen (1280×800)
- MicroSD slot
- Micro USB
- Power port
- Mini HDMI port
Wait! That’s a unique combination of separate USB, HDMI and charging capability there.
- Stereo speakers
- 355 grams
- 18.5Wh battery
Mobilegeeks say that this is a $100 tablet but I can’t confirm a source for that yet. Bear in mind that prices given at Computex are generally finger-in-the-air trade prices. In a recent post at WPCentral the price band for the i8080 was shown as $120-$140
Have a look at the video below. What do you think?
$399 buys you 1.7KG of 14-inch Android smartbook. Maybe this isn’t something for ultra-mobile computing fans but it will be worth tracking the HP Slatebook 14 to see how it’s received in the market. The unique specifications and a ton of local apps (and a ton of great games) will differentiate it from Chromebooks and cheap Windows laptops.
Video and gallery below.
64GB of storage is good (16 and 32GB also listed in the specifications) and when you pair that with 9 hours battery life, the dynamic OS that many many people know and love from their smartphones, a fullHD touchscreen, three USB ports, a MicroSD slot and HDMI you have indeed got something unique. We assume the Nvidia Tegra 4 processor is fanless too. Try getting FullHD on 14-inches with an SSD in the Windows PC world for $400!
- Android 4.3 Jelly Bean
- Display: 14.0-inch diagonal FHD BrightView WLED-backlit Display (1920×1080) Touchscreen Brightness: 270 nits
- Nvidia Tegra 4 mobile processor with quad-core CPU (1.8 Ghz) GPU (Fanless)
- 2GB 1600MHz DDR3L SDRAM
- Storage: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
- Size: 0.63 in (H) x 13.54 in (W) x 9.45 in (D)
- Front-facing HD Webcam
- WiFi: 1×1 802.11b/g/n WLAN and Bluetooth
- 1 x USB3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, MicroSD slot, HDMI 1.4b, headset port.
- Beats Audio
- 32Wh battery
We note that there’s no 3G/4G so getting those SMS’ back for Whatsapp could be a problem!
Update: It’s clear to see space for a module and SIM card slot in an internal image we found.
Is everyone jumping on the Lenovo Yoga bandwagon now? Dell has just announced the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 and the Dell Inspiron 13 7000. One comes with Atom and starts at $449 on June 19th. The other will be a larger Core-based unit that will be available later in the year.
This Laptop-first design has been appealing to many over the last few years and having reviewed three Yogas I can see why. It’s not the tablet mode that’s important, it’s the flexibility. Lie-flat screen and display modes are the two likely to be used most after the laptop mode but yes, if you want to have a brief flirt with a heavy tablet, go ahead. Choice is the key here.
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Specifications
- 11.6-inch display has only a 1,366×768 resolution, but it’s an IPS screen.
- ‘Up to’ Intel Pentium quad-core processors. (Baytrail-M.)
- 4GB RAM.
- 500GB hard drive.
- 43 Whr battery (Dell quote over 8hrs Mobile Mark on a Celeron dual-core version.)
- SD card slot, 3 x USB, HDMI.
Parallels will be drawn with the Lenovo Miix 2 11 which is already out there with similar specifications so we can see why Dell are offering 20GB of Dropbox and facial recognition software included in the package
Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Gallery
It’s that spinning hard drive in an ultra-mobile configuration again. Fingers crossed for an easy upgrade path because the rest of the specs and the design look great.
Dell Inspiron 13 7000
The information on the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 is a little thinner but it’s a September product so that could be the reason why. Dell aren’t waiting for Broadwell though because a 4th-gen Intel Core processor will be found inside. It’s another indicator that Broadwell-based Ultrabooks and tablets won’t be around until 2015. The sreen is a FullHD resolution and there’s information from reporters out in Taiwan that there will be a built-in stylus. Is that it behind the SD card slot? If so we have a Thinkpad Yoga competitor on our hands.
Port layout looks the same as on the Inspiron 11 with three USB, HDMI and SD slots. Some reports are talking about options on the screen and keyboard backlight so we’ll have to wait until after summer before we’re sure about what we’re getting. Pencil-in IFA 2014 for the launch event!
Inspiron 13 7000 Gallery
Images courtesy of Dell inc.
How do you solve the problem of Google not allowing Dual-OS on a laptop? You do what Asus has just done with the Asus Transformer Book V (five) 5-in-1 laptop/smartphone which was demonstrated at the Asus press conference in Taiwan today.
Looking a bit like the Asus Padfone products which allow you to dock a phone into a screen and keyboard module the Transformer Book V5 does a similar thing but allows you to dock an Android phone into the back of a WIndows Notebook thus allowing the user to either view the phone as a small window or to go full-screen for a full Android laptop experience.
The feature only works between the two specially developed devices and it looks like there’s not much in terms of sharing. For example it’s not clear if you can use the LTE on the phone from the Windows OS. Does the laptop charge the phone? Can you drag and drop files between the two devices or even share storage?
Video demo below.
The laptop comprises a ‘HD IPS’ 12.5-inch touchscreen and runs Windows on an unspecified ‘next generation’ Core processor. There’s a very simple set of ports available.
- Up to 1TB drive
The phone has a 5-inch screen and runs Android 4.4 on an Intel Atom quad-core CPU, has ‘up to’ 128GB of storage (possibly with MicroSD?) and a 2500mah battery.
Watch out for a bit of smoke and a few mirrors here because while the demo looks great the integration between the two devices might not be as deep as you think. This simple integration could be exactly what some people are looking for, at the right price. Engadget have some more info on the specs and they look relatively high-end.
Update: MicroHDMI on tablet.
Transformer Book V
Transformer Book V is the world’s first five-mode, three-in-one converged laptop that features a Windows and Android laptop and tablet as well as an Android smartphone, making it an incredibly flexible device able to excel in any usage scenario. Its revolutionary and elegant design comprises a laptop with a detachable 12.5-inch screen that becomes a separate tablet and a 5-inch smartphone that docks into the tablet.
As a laptop, Transformer Book V includes a full QWERTY keyboard and touchpad, and runs both Windows 8.1 and Android 4.4 KitKat. A dedicated hardware button provides instant and seamless switching between the two operating systems. The laptop features a next-generation Intel® Core™ processor providing high performance for an efficient and productive user experience. The 12.5-inch HD IPS display has sharp graphics and rich, vibrant color, and touch support adds additional convenience and functionality when using Windows 8.1. Transformer Book V comes with ample storage of up to 1TB for apps, documents, media and more.
As a tablet, Transformer Book V also works as a standalone Windows 8.1 tablet and an Android 4.4 KitKat tablet when the phone is docked. Switching between the two systems only takes a tap on the screen. Access to the Google Play Store and Windows Store provides a massive amount of apps and games to choose from, making Transformer Book V a highly-mobile entertainment and productivity powerhouse. Its built-in storage of up to 128GB offers plenty of room to store those apps along with movies, photos, music and more.
As a phone, Transformer Book V runs Android 4.4 KitKat, and is the world’s first 5-inch LTE smartphone powered by an Intel® AtomTM quad-core processor, giving it unparalleled performance when running apps, playing games or browsing the internet. Its Long-Term Evolution (LTE) support delivers a superior internet experience with network speeds that are up to four times faster than 3G. Transformer Book V comes with a 2500mah battery that provides up to 10 hours of web browsing time.
Transformer Book V combines the power of a laptop with the mobility of both a tablet and smartphone, and provides the flexibility to run a wide range of apps. Together with the easy ability to switch between modes and share data between devices, Transformer Book V delivers an unparalleled user experience.
Three hours after this article is posted ASUS will hold a press conference at Computex Taiwan. You’ll see a number of products launched and one of them is probably going to be this new ASUS Transformer Book T200TA – an 11.6-inch tablet weighing 750 grams running quad-core Baytrail that’s been leaked.
Mobilegeeks have published the news that came via research at online retailers. As usual one of them had jumped the gun to get the lead on SEO which is a shame because the ASUS press event was shaping up to be pretty exciting ‘blend.’
The 11.6-inch ASUS Transfomer Book T200A tablet runs on an Intel Z3775 (Baytrail-T 1.46-2.39Ghz.) 2GB of RAM won’t impress those looking for a productivity-focused 11.6-inch 2-in-1 and the 1366×768 display resolution will look poor even to many consumers.
There’s a hard disk in the keyboard base (optional, probably connected via USB3.0) and a total weight of about 1.65 KG so this isn’t a lightweight 11.6-inch 2-in-1. Charging is via a separate DC-in port and there’s an HDMI and USB 3.0 port. 32 or 64GB SSD (eMMC) options that indicate that this is going to be a consumer focused 2-in-1.
The price is the deciding factor here. A German site talks of a 399 Euro (inc. taxes) price so if that’s true and if there’s a comfortable keyboard, good battery life and a year of Office 365 we could be looking at another big Widows 8.1 2-in-1 seller.
Further specifications revealed include a 38Wh battery, microSD and microUSB 2.0 port.
We’ll get full details at 6am GMT. (0800 Berlin. 1400hrs Taiwan)
Update: Hands-on and more specifications and information here.
The HP Split X2 is one of a confusing range of 13-inch 2-in-1’s from HP that includes the Spectre X2, Split X2and Pavilion X2 13. Each offers a slightly different specification and design. HP have just made it a little more confusing by re-launching the Split X2 as a new fanless 2-in-1 with Baytrail and Core CPU options.
It’s possible that this new HP Split X2 simplifies the range of HP 2-in-1s by offering all the options under one banner but as we don’t see an SSD listed, we hope not. Yes, the SSD has been replaced with a hybrid hard drive (which also removes the hard drive option in the keyboard.) There’s a new hinge design which allows the ports to be re-positioned on the rear of the unit. You’ll find an HDMI port, two USB ports, headset port and a power port there which is more in style with a true docking station and looks like it will provide more stability for wider screen angles and laptop usage.
HP haven’t listed full specifications but for $599 (starting June 29th in the USA) you get a 13.3-inch tablet that weighs 2.45 pounds (1.11KG) and is 0.53 inches thick (13.5mm.) Battery life is quoted at a rather poor 5.25 hours although there’s a keyboard dock with battery available.
Again, it’s fanless so that’s a step in the right direction [I’m testing a fanless 11-inch HP Pro 2-in-1 right now.] and there’s up to 8GB RAM available. A full range of Baytrail and Haswell options are rumored. At this stage we can’t confirm the screen resolution but the previous HP Split X2 had a full HD screen option so we expect that to be carried forward.
We’ve pinged our sources out in Taipei and hope to have more details, pics and videos soon.
Computex 2014 has started. We’re covering it from afar this year and not only are out screens loaded up with Twitter, Google and RSS searches but we’re also in direct contact with teams from Notebookcheck, Mobilegeeks, Laptopmag, Tabtec, Newgadgets and more. It’s going to be a busy 3 days (at least) so here’s a rundown of what we’re focusing on from major PC brands along with other things we’ll be be looking out for in the ultra-mobile PC space.
ASUS have already teased their ‘next incredible thing’ (in which ‘thing’ turns into ‘thin’ in the teaser video.) More interesting is the blender video that shows an , a tablet and a phone being blended. Could this be a modular laptop? 2-in-1 powered by a phone – an Intel-based Android phone that also runs Windows? I don’t know but I’ll be watching the live stream at 1400 local time on Monday June 2nd,, soon after this article has been posted.
HP. Microsoft teased a tablet in a recent tweet and it looks like it’s got HP design characteristics. Here’s a picture I made of the back of the HP Microsoft tweet. We’re not aware of any HP press event at Computex but there could be announcements and invitation-only events.lined-up with the
Samsung – We’ve seen some news about Samsung SSDs that go up to 1TB in size and use ‘vertical 3D NAND’ but we’ve not seen any event information. Samsung have been quiet in the Windows PC market recently so maybe it’s time for a new range of Windows tablets, 2-in-1’s and Ultrabooks? Or maybe they will wait until IFA in September as they often do. Taiwan is not a place that South Korean companies use as their launchpad.
Lenovo – There’s not much to say about Lenovo’s Computex activities because there’s no press event, no teaser and no rumors. Lenovo don’t even have a stand at Computex so don’t hold your breath for Lenovo announcements.
LG – They’ve just launched the flagship G3 smartphone and they don’t have a booth at Computex so maybe we won’t see too much from LG at Computex.
Dell – A thin news story from Digitimes claims that Dell will make announcements at Computex despite not having a booth there. Tablets, notebooks and Chromebooks could be included. [Source]
Toshiba – Toshiba have just announced the Encore 2 range of 8 and 10-inch tablets based on the updated Baytrail-T platform. We’re sure you’ll see this either at the Intel or Microsoft events but don’t expect much more because Toshiba don’t have a stand at Computex.
Fujitsu – This Japanese company looks like it’s staying away from Taiwan but of course, we’ll keep an eye out for anything disruptive coming from their press channels.
Acer – No press event. Acer have chosen to launch some products before the event (Acer Iconia 8 Android tablet on Intel Z3745 quad-core for example) but we’re also expecting some Windows PC announcements. We’ll probably hear a bit more about the Switch 10 but also watch out for Acer at the Intel and Microsoft events. (Update: We’ve seen a leaked press release but we’re holding back until the embargo has finished.)
Intel – Expect a big presence from Intel at Computex as it’s an extremely important event for them. They have a booth (the press normally get invited for a preview tour so watch our for news from that) and they will also hold the opening keynote: 1400 (2pm) on Tuesday. While the opening keynote will focus heavily on the local ecosystem in Taiwan there’s usually stuff going on between the lines and in the background that is worth paying attention to. The live webcast with be here. More important for us is the Intel Mobile & Personal Computing Satellite Event that will run on June 4th at 1230 local time. “Hermann Eul, vice president and general manager of Mobile and Communication Group, and Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group, will co-host the event to provide details and plans to reinvent mobile communications and personal computing.” This event won’t be streamed live but will be recorded for online replay after the event. [Source] We’re expecting to hear about Broadwell-based Ultrabooks and 2-in-1’s that are fanless and have Intel RealSense integrated.
AMD – Watch the ifitcanreachspace website for AMDs big announcement at Computex. According to reports you might see an Ultrabook-style APU launched. [source] but we also expect more. AMD have a press event planned for 10am on Wednesday the 4th and we’re hoping to see some tablets and 2-in-1s along with notebook processing platform announcements.
Microsoft – This could be big. On the 4th June (Wed, Day 2) at 1600 (4pm) Microsoft will hold a keynote event. Expect to see the Toshiba Encore 2 devices being showcased along with some even cheaper Windows 8 tablets. We could see a few new PCs being launched too so stay tuned. The #msftcomputex hashtag on Twitter could get lively.
Other ‘watch’ topics for Computex 2014
Low cost tablets will feature at Computex, I have no doubt about that. Wait until the big announcements are out of the way and then you’ll see a wave of brands announcing low-cost Windows 8 and 10-inch tablets that may also run Android.
FIDO (Fast Identity Online) will show their vision of the future of authentication. You’ll see biometrics (fingerprint, eye and iris scanners, voice and facial recognition) and existing solutions and standards, such as Trusted Platform Modules (TPM), USB Security Tokens, embedded Secure Elements (eSE), Smart Cards, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and Near Field Communication (NFC.) I find this an interesting area and will be paying close attention. [Press release] The FIDO alliance includes ARM, Samsung, Lenovo, Google, Synaptics and others.
I’ve just finished the full review of the Lenovo Flex 10 for Notebookcheck.net. Check it out for a very detailed look at performance and features. Below you’ll find my overview review video and some personal opinion on the Flex 10 which I think is a very interesting package for around $320 / $300 Euro
The Lenovois very much a 2014 netbook with its 10-inch screen and ‘value’ components but it adds two really useful features you would never find in a netbook of 2008. It’s completely fanless and it’s got a 270-degree fold-back touchscreen and ‘stand’ mode. Comparing it to a 2008 netbook it looks similar until you get the fact that touch can be really useful on a laptop, especially when it has this stand feature.
Overall we’re looking at a good build, good keyboard, acceptable 3-7hrs (5hrs video, 4hrs WiFi working) battery life and CPU performance that is about 2X what we were getting from a Netbook in 2008. The graphics power is about 4x as good in the same comparison and as you would expect from any consumer computing device today, video playback performance is excellent.
Corners have been cut on the non-IPS screen which is a weak-point compared to tablets of the same price but it’s OK for casual use. The big problem though, and this should not be a problem in 2014, is the hard disk. It’s slow and can lock-up the system if you’re not careful. The first few days of use were terrible as Windows 8 updated, cached, indexed, scanned and installed. 320GB is useful if you want to carry a big bunch of HD videos and a full much collection but with the mainstream getting used to streaming services and 32GB smartphone storage a 64GB SSD would have been a much better choice. Even a cheap one.
The question of an SSD upgrade hack will be raised at this point and I can’t say if it’s possible yet. It’s certainly not an easy-one to get apart but I suspect it’s possible. You’ll find a 2.5-inch SATA drive inside so slotting-in something like the MyDigitalSSD BP4 53GB ($60) should be easy once you get the unit open. The difference in usability performance should be very, very noticeable.
I tested XMBC on this (Openelec via USB stick) and it was good (Video demo below.) Thinking about this as a fanless Linux box opens the mind.
Forget any desktop gaming on the Flex 10. The GPU has about the same performance as the 8-inch Windows tablets on Baytrail-T but that slow hard disk means installation and start-up take forever. I gave up on that side of things and concentrated on Windows Store apps where the experience is much battery. Check out the full review for gaming tests. Tip: This is a great Wordament device!
Speakers are poor and the trackpad is small and I accept that one could say that the Flex 10 has too many compromises but at 280 Euro (local street price including 20% tax – about $300) this is a great, flexible touchscreen netbook. I can’t find another netbook that offers so much usability for so little money. Touch, stand-mode, video performance and free Windows Office Home and Student. That HDD is an issue though (performance and ruggedness) and if you are thinking about the Lenovofor some disk-heavy work please check reviews carefully and look out for SSD upgrade hacks. If you’re thinking of Linux, a fast USB3.0 stick install might be the way to go and for XBMC, it’s as good as you need right out of the box. For kids, the breakfast table, holiday and hotels it fits perfectly but again, be careful of that spinning, fragile, disk.
Now, Lenovo, you have a great design here with the Flex 10. Please go away and make a Flex 11 with IPS screen, quad-core Baytrail-M with Quick-Sync support, a 64GB SSD and 34Wh battery for $399 and as long as you keep it light I think we’ll be even more interested.