For cheap, off-the-grid entertainment, OTA digital TV is the only way to get live information onto a tablet. I took a DVB-T receiver from Terratec, installed the driver and the TV software along with a codec pack on a Delland it’s working very well. According to tests, one charge should run for the full length of a footballl game, including extra time and penalties. It’s perfect for the up-coming World Cup!
I’m using the DVB-T standard Terratec Cinergy DT USB XS which is a USB-connected receiver and from the image above you can see it has two antennas. It’s connected via a USB adaptor so you’ll need to make sure you‘ve got one of those. (MicroUSB to USB female connector.) As I’m testing approximately 500 meters from the local DVB-T transmitter I can operate it with no antennas attached, indoors but most people are going to need some sort of antenna. The cheaper USB sticks only have one antenna and may not be good for the edges of reception areas so you’ll need to be aware of that but there are a few with integrated antennas which would be practical if you’re in a good reception area.
The receiver doesn’t auto-install on Windows 8 so I downloaded the latest drivers and the Terratec DVB Viewer software. Unfortunately there’s a third step due to lack of MPEG-2 support in Windows 8.
The problem and solution for MPEG-2 on Windows 8
Windows 8 doesn’t include the required MPEG-2 codecs like Windows 7 did so you’ll need to install a codec pack which is always a bit risky but I’ve found what appears to be an ‘honest’ and simple codec pack with easy installation and setup in the Shark007 basic codec pack. Install the standard 32-bit codec pack and remember to ‘skip’ the freeware offers. For configuration choose the Shark007 SUGGESTED settings. If you’re running a 64-bit system you’ll probably need the 64-bit extensions but I haven’t tested that.
The Terratec viewer software is for desktop only and isn’t very finger friendly but scanning of the local frequencies here was straightforward and resulted in 34 channels being found. Unfortunately this receiver won’t pick up DAB (radio) or the new DVB-T2 standard but the quality is fine for this 8-inch tablet and casual usage.
Quality of the streams on DVB-T is ‘standard definition’ 528×576 25fps MPEG-2 at about 2.5Mbps with an MPEG2 audio channel. (DVB-T2 offers high-definition streams.)
Under normal viewing conditions on this Z3740D-based tablet the CPU is using 17%. In aircraft mode (no WiFi needed for this) and with full screen brightness I was seeing 5.6W of power usage which, on this 19Wh device is going to give you 3hrs 20 minutes of viewing time. Let’s say 3hrs to be safe.
The Terratec software I’m using here allows TV to be recorded to disk at a rate of about 20MB / min which means you’ll have no problem recording a few hours of something for later playback.
The Dellis a great tablet PC for this TV activity due to its bright, high-contrast IPS screen and loud speaker. It’s mono, but it’s still the best speaker you can get on a low-cost 8-inch Windows tablets.
DVB-T and DVB-T2 won’t work for everyone but if you’re in a good reception area it’s a good, simple, off-the-grid solution for entertainment.
It’s a brave reseller that breaks what we assume would be an NDA in order to gain the SEO advantage so hats-off to Brack in Switzerland who give us the first real detail about the Acer Aspire Switch SW5. This Baytrail-T based 2-in-1 is clearly on the production line and looks to be the upgrade to the W510 that we had running on Clovertrail last year.
First the bad news. 1366×768 is the given display resolution. It’s probably right too as the price is, for 64GB storage, a very very cheap 370 Euros; 50 euros cheaper than the ASUS. Acer may have taken a look at the popularity and gone for the kill.
At this price you can’t expect a battery in the keyboard dock and the CPU is the Z3745 which is the 64-bit upgrade to the Z3740 found in the current ‘mainstream’ tablets.
Clearly these aren’t final press images that the site is displaying.
Acer Aspire Switch SW5 specifications:
- CPU: Intel Atom Z3745
- Screen: 10.1-inch 1366×768
- OS:Windows 8.1
- Storage: 64GB (expect 32GB too)
- Connetivity: Micro-HDMI, Micro-USB2.0, headphone port, MicroSD card reader
- Wireless: 802.11n (expect a and g too), Bluetooth 4.0
- Battery life: 8hrs video playback.
- Other: Mic, Stereo speakers, compass, acceleromter, ambient light sensor.
- Weight: 585 gram (We assume that’s for the tablet as it’s about the same as the current W510 tablet)
- Size: 162,6 x 177,1 x 8,9 mm
- Keyboard dock included.
Acer have an event in New York on April 29th where we’re likely to see the launch of the Acer Aspire Switch SW5 and, possibly, an updated Acer W7 running a Core CPU or high-end Baytrail-T. Acer Switch SW7?
With only 2/9 touch PCs updated here, 1 installing as I write, 1 downloading and 5 failures that need re-trying I suspect that there’s quite a bit of throttling and control going on by Microsoft today. I’m behind 1 IP address and after trying concurrent installs I’ve dropped back to a one-at-a-time method and it seems to be working now. I advise you do the same if you have multiple PCs
The Dell, Lenovo and Acer W510 have updated successfully and all three are booting to Modern, as expected. Non-touch PCs will now boot to desktop.
I’m not a fan of integrating the mouse controls on the Modern UI but because they are hidden when using touch, it’s not an issue. The start-screen search box is a good idea. A Control Panel shortcut now appears in the Modern ‘Change PC Settings’ menu and you can pin Modern apps to the desktop taskbar – a first step in cross-environment integration but remember there’s no floating Windows Store apps in the desktop yet and no changes to the Start Menu. They are coming in a future update. Newly installed apps are easier to find in the Modern apps list now.
For those of us lucky enough to have Connected Standby-capable devices, you won’t see the Power icon on the Start screen.
Just in case you think it’s not worth updating because you’re on a tablet, think again. If you don’t update you’ll eventually lose the ability to update in the future. This update is obligatory.
A new ‘Disk Space’ menu item is a good start in providing users with 16, 32 and 64GB SSDs easier ways to control disk usage but there’s a lot more that could go in there. A shortcut to the ‘Disk Cleanup’ option for a start.
Here’s a video update from my home office this morning. Let us know what your experience was in the comments below and if you’ve had problems, let us know which device it was.
Miix 2 8 and Miix 2 10, and Thinkpad 10. It makes sense, right? The Thinkpad 10 is due to launch next month if the news is correct. Expect something to challenge the HP Elitepad 1000 and Fujitsu Q584 and something that could have all the great qualities we’ve already seen on the Thinkpad 8 but with more processing power, more RAM, an optional keyboard and a lot of business options. Yes, pricing is going to be on the high side but if they can engineer something lighter than the competition, this could be the one.
The Lenovo Thinkpad 10 news comes via Tabtech.de who have picked the news up from the forums over at TabletPCReview where multiple references have been obtained. How about this, found at a reseller website:
Lenovo10 (20C1000M) 10.1″ FHD, Intel Atom Z3795 1.6GHz, 4GB RAM, 128GB Flash, Integrated Graphics, 802.11 abgn / BT 4.0/3G LTE, fingerprint, Micro SD, SmartCard, Digitizer + Pen, W8.1 PRO 32.
Apparently the WWAN, smartcard reader and fingerprint reader will be options but no-one is really sure at this stage. The Win8.1 32-bit OS looks strange considering the Elitepad 1000 runs 64-bit on the same CPU.
The Z3795 on 64-bit Windows with 4GB RAM should turn in some nice performance figures. With a clock that’s running from 1.6-2.4Ghz it should beat the Baytrail version of the Z3770 that we’re testing in the Dellright now.
It’s great to see some competition in the 10-inch tablet space but as many people in the forum thread are highlighting, even theis not generally available yet. The Thinkpad 10 could go to special project requirements first before you see it in the reseller channels. We’ll see what we can do to get some more information over the next weeks.
In our fifth 8-inch Windows Tablet review we’re taking a look at the Acer . Acer were the first to bring an 8-inch Windows 8 tablet to the market but the W3 really wasn’t at all an impressive device. The W4, however, looks a whole lot better and performs a whole lot better thanks to the upgrade from Clovertrail to Baytrail. We’ve also got 3G on board which makes it one of the first 8-inch Windows tablets to have the feature. Read-on for the full Acer -821P 3G 32GB review.
Acer-821P 3G 32GB Specifications, Package Contents
Specifications, Images, links, videos, comments and more information can always be found through our database on the Acer Iconia W4 information page. We have the 32GB model here which comes with 2GB RAM.
In the box you’ll find the charger and charger cable along with a microUSB to USB host adaptor. None of the other 8-inch Windows tablets come with this adaptor.
Acer W4 unboxing and overview video.
Our unboxing and overview video is available here.
Build and ports
Where the Delland Lenovo Miix 2 8 have an attractive build, the Acer has more functional look. It’s thicker, has more ports and buttons and a slightly raised screen. There are advantages related to all those features but weight is not one of them. At 430 grams / 15.2 Oz this is one of the heaviest of the 8-inch Windows tablets.
The additional HDMI port puts it inline with the Toshibaas one of the more desktop-friendly devices and one that you can get some real value from the included Microsoft Office package with. Admittedly this won’t be an advantage to many owners but we must not forget that these 8-inch Windows tablets are the cheapest way to get and run Microsoft Office Home and Student on a new PC. More attractive to the average user is the larger battery. 19Wh is up there with the best. Detailed battery life report below.
One note for people wanting to dock the unit via USB: Portrait mode docking is difficult due to the USB port placement on the bottom of the device. The HDMI port is on the right though so screen and Bluetooth keyboard and mouse is possible.
Fit and finish of the plastics around the device seems to be OK although the plastic looks like it might scratch easily. Having said that, this demo model was in very good condition.
The following key features are included in the Acer Iconia W4
3G (HSPA+ 21Mbps max download) with Micro-SIM card slot.
Connected standby (or InstantGo as it’s now known) is a screen-off state similar to that on Android and IOS devices. Windows Store applications can remain active and connected while the tablet goes into low-power mode that can last for days.
Camera The 5MP auto-focus rear camera is nothing special. A front-facing camera has low-light performance good enough for video chats.
GPS. A GNSS GPS receiver is included in this model.
Security: As with other Baytrail-T tablets there’s full-disk Bitlocker encryption available when you use a Microsoft Live account to log into the device (Encryption keys are held in your MS account.) Secure boot is standard and we haven’t yet investigated any boot/BIOS settings that might disable this. We have not checked the BIOS for user configurable Secure-Boot and password options.
Miracast: This wireless display technology is available in all the 8-inch Windows tablets and can be used to project a screen or extended screen in FullHD to a display with Miracast capability or an attached Miracast receiver. Demo video here. Miracast receivers can be bought for as low as $25 now.
Two matched Bluetooth keyboard options exist for the Acer Iconia W4. You can see these in a video here.
Specifications, Images, links, videos, comments and more information can always be found through our database on the Acer Iconia W4 information page.
Compared to the screen on the old W3, the screen on the W4 is in a different league. In fact, we think it’s one of the best screens we’ve seen on a Windows 8 tablet. The Dellhas it beat but it’s on par, if not better than the Lenovo Miix 2 which is the next-best. Viewing angles are great and brightness is good. We noticed an occasional flicker, maybe once every minute or so, that occurs in low brightness levels and a slightly shaded band towards the top of the screen in portrait mode. The band is not something we would worry about (and only found after close scrutiny.) The flicker could be related to the non-standard build we’re testing but be aware of it if you buy one.
The weight of 430 grams is noticeable, as is the thickness but despite that we found it comfortable to use. There are no sharp edges around the device and the power key is tucked away nicely on top in portrait mode. We liked the feel of the mechanical windows button.
As for speed and power we didn’t notice any differences to the other devices which is not surprising as technically, these 8-inch Windows tablets on Baytrail-T (Atom Z3740) are all very similar.
Speaker ports (stereo) were just OK. The mono speaker of the Dell Venue 8 Pro is better.
In terms of software, every time we test a Windows 8 device the range of modern/RT apps gets better. This time round we’re testing after the announcement of Windows 8.1 Update which will be available a day after this review is published. Google Plus, Drive, Music and other Google services aren’t that easy to use on the OS yet but we’re hoping that Windows 8, or maybe 9, reaches a point were it makes sense for Google to support it and port their apps over. As yet though, there’s very little Google support.
Desktop usage is, as with other 8-inch tablets, a little difficult and on the Acer W4 we didn’t feel that the touchscreen was as responsive to our finger when trying to hit small Windows buttons. Closing a full-screen app, for example, often required multiple attempts.
The MicroSD card slot and SIM card slot (micro) are not covered.
The rear camera is an auto or touch-focus 5MP unit without LED lamp and the front is a simple 1MP cam that is actually OK for indoor Skype sessions. Neither have high quality optics. Two sample images are shown below and you can see a lot of grain on the indoor image. The 5MP cam is recommended for bright outdoor images only.
Images are 2560×1920 (5MP) and are Geo-tagged.
Specifications, Images, links, videos, comments and more information can always be found through our database on the Acer Iconia W4 information page.
The immediate worry about the $99-$129 entry-level Windows tablets is around the issue of quality. Low-cost Chinese ODM tablets won’t be the best tablets around but at least the performance won’t go down. You’ll still get Windows 8 on a Baytrail-T processor and because of that, the mid-range tablets at $200-$350 will have to get better. In this article we look at what could happen and the likely specifications.
The good news for everyone is that the Microsoft license cost for Windows has gone which means the $25-$50 charge (that we often get quoted by Windows tablet ODMs) falls away for all tablets in the 7-8-inch range. (10-inch tablets don’t get the advantage.) Intel is also enabling cost savings through improvements made in the new Baytrail-CR processors that save space (shown in this video) and board component count. That board-size reduction means you might see $100 tablets with a 7-inch screen so lets look in detail at the specifications you might get for $100.
- Windows 8.1 Update (Not RT on Intel, yet.)
- Minimum 1GB RAM, 16Gb eMMC storage (1-16 build enabled by the 60% reduction in image size for Windows 8.1 update.)
- 7-inch screen allows cheaper components to be sourced from existing tablet markets and saves energy.
- 1280×800 resolution likely based on last-gen 7-inch Android tablet screen availability.
- Cost Reduced Baytrail-T. CPU-World reports on the new Baytrail-T parts. The Atom Z3735E is the budget offering running at current 1.33Ghz-1.8Ghz speeds but only supporting 1GB RAM and a 32-bit memory bus. CPU-World reports that this is only for Android so the next model up is the Atom Z3735D which looks perfect for the job. A single-channel memory controller supports up to 2GB of RAM and there’s a slightly lower processor burst speed. The non-D version supports dual-channel memory up to 4GB but there’s no need for that in the low-cost tablets.
- Although 1GB RAM is the minimum required we might see a few manufacturers trying to differentiate with 2GB RAM.
- In terms of ports expect only the minimum. 1 USB 2.0 port for charging and data along with a headphone jack.
- MicroSD slots are a must-have when offering only 16GB of on-board storage but you might even see that missing on the cheapest tablets.
- Rear cameras are going to be unlikely but a front-facing cam is probably going to be a (Microsoft+Skype) requirement.
- In order to reduce costs in creating and testing images, a 64-bit CPU and image is likely.
- Lower cost plastics are going to be obvious.
- Finally, due to energy savings of having a 7-inch screen and a smaller board build it’s likely that battery size will drop. 13-16Wh (we currently have 16-20Wh) is likely.
In summary you’ll get a less rugged tablet with less battery life than some of the current models but it’s possible we’ll get smaller 7-inch tablets too which could be attractive to some. You’ll still be able to do this too…
A $99 or even a $150 tablet creates a problem for the mid-range. Prices for current models will not be sustainable so two things will happen. We’ll see a price drop on devices that have todays specifications and because there needs to be a technical advantage over the low-end, the specs will be boosted. Intel has already told us that we can expect a 15% performance increase on CPU and GPU operations and taking a look at that CPU-World article again you can see the interesting Atom Z3775 with a 14.6-2.38 clock, boosted GPU and 4GB RAM capability sitting below the high-end Z3795 that we’ve already seen on the Elitepad 1000, the first 64-bit Baytrail tablet to hit the market. The ‘Cost Reduction’ changes seen on the lower-end products are also likely to be there as a space-saving advantage which means either lower-cost or, more likely, more flexibility in size, ports and battery . USB3.0 might be used to differentiate the mid-range products if there’s no cost difference or port space issues.
Naturally all the devices will be 64-bit to help OEMs and ODMs reduce the costs of creating and testing images and in some cases, but not all, we’ll probably see 4GB RAM which aligns the product with expectations on a ‘real’ PC.
HMDI ports will continue to appear on some models as manufacturers mix and match their options.
Finally, we’re hoping that we’ll see a 1080p 7-inch Windows tablet on a mid-range offering but it could be that the engineering and component requirements push this into the $300-plus ‘high-end’ space.
Plently of options exist for high-end manufacturers that want to try and knock the Thinkpad 8 off its perch and Intel has already teased ‘New Experiences’ relating to security and immersive gaming. Given the fact that a dual-camera tablet was presented on video at IDF and that there’s going to be space available if the processor mainboard becomes smaller, it’s highly likely that security and immersive gaming are related to Realsense camera technology. See this article for demonstrations that Intel have already made with the Realsense technology.
Apart from Realsense, this is what OEMs have to play with…
- High-end CPU (although thermal limits might prevent that in this generation of 8-inch tablets.)
- Digitizer layer.
- 1080p screens.
- 4GB RAM.
- Larger battery.
- Best engineering and materials.
- Business-focused accessories (although given the short lifetime of these products, accessories could be limited and/or expensive.)
- Biometric security (possibly related to Realsense.)
- USB3.1 and USB Power Delivery. (2015)
Given the costs of developing new hardware for this fast-moving market we don’t expect a huge number of products appearing in 2014. Waiting for 2015 and CherryTrail might be a better bet for high-end products. See you at CES 2015 for those but do keep an eye out in 2014 for a Lenovorefresh. 4GB RAM, faster CPU and, if possible, a digitizer layer. We live in hope!
As we followed IDF yesterday we heard about a $99 tablet price target. We assumed it was for Android tablets but no, Intel are targeting their low-end Baytrail solution for Windows tablets at that price point. Intel are also increasing marketing and promising some new and improved features that could include Realsense 3D sensors for high-end Windows tablets.
Hermann Eul, corporate VP and GM of the Mobile and Communications Group at Intel explained in his keynote yesterday that by lining up low-cost SKUs (processor models) up with the removal of Windows licensing costs (announced at BUILD yesterday) they could enable Windows tablets “even down to $99 or $129. “As we speak we have more than 90 tablet designs coming to the market” spanning from below $100 to $500.
Full keynote video below.
The announcement was made during a segment in which Hermann highlighted the ‘4X’ campaign which aims to increase tablet sales to 40 million this year across the Android and Windows range.
Clearly Intel don’t expect the $100 segment to include too many $99 Windows tablets in 2014 but if the Windows Store takes-off as it may do after Universal Apps become possible, why not more? It’s likely to be down to differentiation. Low-performance ARM-based platforms will be cheaper so there’s an opportunity to drop $20-$50 for higher performance and perhaps the extra USB functionality.
We can’t read too much into the perceived split in the mainstream and premium segment but 50:50 seems about right. 20 million Windows tablet sales in total for 2014? Yes, we can see that happening as the products are already selling very well.
The low-cost products are likely to come from partners in China. Intel were happy to show who they’re working with as local country partners.
In the slide are listed: Livefan, Telcast, iWork, ramos, Aigo, Vido, onsa (sp?), Neso and two brands we can’t translate. In 2014 Intel are going to set a target of getting 20 ODM partners to produce 60 global designs via the Intel Turnkey Program which includes references designs, tailored software and other support packages.
Intel also announced they will provide marketing campaigns for this segment and will market to both consumers and IT decision makers. Intel will also help by using their existing distribution channels.
Realsense for Tablets?
Update: Video below
Finally, for the mainstream Windows tablet segment that closely matches the coverage we have here at UMPCPortal, we see that not only is Baytrail-T being updated for CR (cost reduced) versions now but there are also performance improvements coming later in the year too. An estimated 15% performance improvement along with ‘new experiences’ in the area of security and immersive gaming. We can’t help thinking that is related to Realsense when we look at the icon.
A depth-enabled camera features in the early part of the presentation. This feature would require Realsense on board so again, it looks like Realsense is coming to tablets this year. Watch the video below It’s amazing.
It looks like we’ll be busy here at UMPCPortal in 2014. We’ll continue to focus on the mainstream and high-end of the Tablet PC and mobile PC market and bring you more details about the technologies and capabilities as soon as we can.
Although Intel are updating the current Baytrail D/M range, we’re looking forward to a 14m version and an all-round update for Windows tablets and mobile PCs. That update was previously thought to be CherryTrail but it turns out that Braswell is in the mix too.
At IDF in Shenzen Intel announced Braswell for ‘Entry Systems.’ Given that the presentation was given by Intel’s PC Client Group this means that it’s likely be the replacement for Baytrail-M and D that we see in low-cost PCs and tablets today. E.g. the Medion Akoya P2212T
Braswell is a 14nm product presumably using the Airmont Core although this wasn’t confirmed in the IDF presentation. Coverage of Braswell in the press release was very brief…
In a brief preview of Intel’s future roadmap for PCs and mobile devices, Skaugen said the effort to bring innovation to the value space will continue in earnest with the next-generation 14nm SoC, code-named Braswell.
In his presentation, Kirk Skaugen had this to say.
“Today I want to announce the codename of the next generation Atom microarchitecture-based PC called Braswell. It will be a leading 14nm nanometer technology delivering an even lower bill of materials cost and higher performance.” We assume Kirk meant SoC and not PC in that announcement.
Braswell may also be targeted for Chromebooks
Braswell’s size, highly-integrated design and efficiency will allow manufacturers to produce lower cost devices by reducing design time, bill of materials and the size of the battery needed.
CherryTrail-T remains the ‘high-end’ of the next generation Windows CPUs and we’re likely to see this on tablets at the start of 2015 with a few products possibly making it to market for the December holiday period.
The Intel Developer Forum in Shenzen has just come to a close and I’m trawling through some interesting slides that were presented in the sessions. There’s a few articles queued-up but here’s one related to Android that is stimulating my thoughts about the future and battling with a very positive attitude I have about Windows following day 1 of BUILD.
Intel have set up a new Android-on-Intel site at 01.org and the latest AOSP build, 4.4 KitKat, is available for download.
First, here’s the relevant part of the IDF day 2 press release:
Intel’s broadening focus on Android includes a new, comprehensive device developer program that will be rolled out over the next few months. As part of the program, a device developer resource portal is available today as a one-stop shop for all Intel resources, including source code, documents and specs for Android on IA. Intel Build Tool Suite for Android will also be available in the coming months to automate the configuration and customization of Intel firmware and operating system images for new devices. Local resources such as builder training events, local support teams for developers and academic programs to train tomorrow’s designers are offered through the program.
Intel also released Android KitKat 4.4 with a 64-bit kernel optimized for IA. With this release, the company ported, validated and tested the Android Open Source code on IA, taking on the work that developers typically would need to do on their own. This release will provide the ecosystem with 64-bit kernel support for development of next-generation devices. Fisher said Intel will regularly make Android code for IA available as part of the company’s effort to speed up the device development process and improve quality.
As you can see, Intel are increasing efforts to court device and product manufacturers and to encourage them to put Android on the i86 platform. From Baytrail to Core-based PCs there’s some interesting possibilities out there.
The latest download available is Android (open source project) 4.4 which has been built for two specific pieces of hardware. The Dell XPS 12 and the Intel NUC (*1) which means there’s not much flexibility for us tinkerers but as time moves on, the builds will improve and become more generic so we’ll be able to start hacking together our own dual-boot systems. I’m particularly looking forward to a Baytrail-T build that could go on the 8-inch Windows tablets and the resulting community that would build around that considering the number of 8-inch Windows tablet sold recently.
A company that’s already doing this is iConsole.tv We spoke to Christopher Price about Android on Intel back at MWC and I came away thinking that gaming could be a great reason to boot into Android. I contacted Chris again today and he had some interesting comments about the Android build:
“The Android-IA build is strictly for developers. Really this is about giving the community (startups and big companies alike) the tools to build the next generation of Android platforms and services for users on Intel processors. Ordinary people really shouldn’t use it – it lacks most of the user functionality that makes Android enjoyable. It’s big news, but it’ll be a few months before it trickles into tangible stuff for geeks and ordinary people alike.”
Having downloaded Android 4.2 and run it up as a live USB image on my Ultrabook here I can confirm it’s sparse. Naturally the Google service layer is missing but it would have been nice to see an alternative store installed. Maybe Microsoft/Nokia can give Intel a hand with the service layer through the Nokia-X project. It sure would be interesting to see a competitor to Google in the Android space although seeing as Android is a trademark of Google, that would probably result in the Open Handset Alliance exploding!
(*1) Does anyone know what the “NUC with Intel Centrino N2840” is? It’s mentioned on the download page. I assume they mean the Celeron N2820 NUC available for $140 shown on the right? I’m ordering one for testing here as soon as it’s available.
It was a long opening keynote at BUILD today but totally worth watching all the way from start to finish. There were exciting announcements across-the-board and when I say across-the-board I mean announcements that affect cross-Windows compatibility. The unified Store took a huge step forward today. Windows 8.1 Update is detailed as is Windows Phone 8.1 which is coming in new devices from may and then rolling out after that to other devices. You’ll also hear the superb news that the Windows 8 license free will be dropped for all Windows Phones and PCs up to 9-inch screen. This will really help the Windows tablet market develop. Finally you’ll see the demo of a RT version of Office built for touch.
You can find more detail in our posts here but we do recommend you watch the video, if only to see Satya Nadella putting in a great performance as new CEO of Microsoft.
Intel’s developer forum for China kicked of today in Shenzen. We weren’t able to attend but we’ve been following it closely. Much of the news related to mobile and tablet PCs is to be found in the forum session PDFs and we’ve already seen how Intel are launching a back-to-school initiative based around new Celeron and Pentium Baytrail-M CPUs and have published details of USB3.1.
Most of the 35 minutes keynote is focused around the ecosystem in China but it includes info on the 40 million tablet target, news about Realsense (Lenovo S440 with integrated Realsense demonstrated,) Edison (now on Atom) and SoFIA, the integrated 3G/Atom platform for Android (and possibly Windows) tablets and phones.
“Our strategy is simple. If it computes, It does it best with Intel” says Brian Krzanich.
The video is embedded below and follows a breakdown of the announcements relevant to mobile computing. Stay tuned for more because the day 2 keynote will focus on PC and software.
You’ll hear about desktop but later in the video [09:15] Brian starts to talk about the PC; Innovative form factors and innovation in the interaction between the PC and the operator.
“We set a goal. 40 million tablets. A 4X growth.” for 2015 the target is even bigger.
“…a natural place for us to go.’ Internet of Things. Brian talks about the new groups within Intel for wearable’s and IoT and an intention to grow 20% year-on-year on the machine side of IoT. He also talks about the changes that were made to Edison. Originally Edison was to be based on Quark and would be SD-card sized. That plan has changed. Edison is now Atom based which gives it a GPU and more power but it’s a little bigger. Based on user feedback that change means dual-core Atom, 30 I/O ports, “A full computer.” They’re on schedule to have development systems in the middle of the year with production systems in the second half of the year.
[15:00] Accelerating Growth Opportunities. At [16.05] Brian demonstrates RealSense.
Brian then shows us the Realsense board that will be integrated into products. A Lenovo Thinkpad S440is shown with Realsense integrated into the frame. [17:31] Brian says that this system will be in the market in the holiday season.
[18:48] Brian talks about the Atom smartphone and tablet with integrated 3G SoFIA 3G.
A development board is shown…
…along with a working SoFIA phone running Android. This product should be in the market by the end of this year and then LTE will be added to the product family.
[21:11] Intel’s first CAT 6, Multimode LTE and TD-LTE solution…
Clearly these are only for smartphones and perhaps some low-cost Android 3G/LTE tablets.
The latter part of the video focuses on Internet of Things, Intel’s gateway solutions products, a couple of IoT and Realsense demos and the announcement of a Smart Device Innovation Centre in Shenzen along with the Intel Capital Smart Device Innovation Fund.
“Intel and China can accelerate growth together.”
Just live on YouTube is a 3.5 minute overview of the Windows 8.1 Update. The free update is coming to all Windows 8.1 users on April 8th and includes many changes for keyboard and mouse users, changes to taskbars and the ability to run the new Universal Apps in the desktop window. There’s a new Start menu too.
You can find out details in our Build coverage available here.
The Microsoft press release is available here.
The Microsoft Blog has a post about the announcements here.
The Microsoft Experience blog has a post here.
Microsoft have announced that Windows devices with screens less than 9-inches will now have zero license cost.
This is a great announcement that follows all the other amazing announcements made in the opening keynote at BUILD today.
The 8-inch tablet prices should now drop by $25-$50. (Current license cost.)
Other announcements include a new start menu and the ability for Windows Universal apps to run on the desktop with the Windows 8.1 update which will be available on April 8th.
Update: That new Start menu and desktop-based Universal apps will come in ‘an’ update. Not ‘this’ update.
Universal apps will change the developer economics.
Office on Modern was demonstrated as were new development tools and languages that reduce the cost to port. We also saw that Windows 8.1 Update 1 will introduce changes that will appeal to keyboard and mouse users.
BUILD has just started and already there’s a huge amount of news to consider. We’ll be tracking detail over the next few days so stay with us at UMPCPortal for all the important mobile PC-related news.
Microsoft BUILD press releases and blog posts:
It’s not the launch announcement that we were hoping for but at least Microsoft are being public about progress on their touch-focused Office for Modern applications. At the opening keynote today we saw a demonstration of progress, and it looks good.
Microsoft were keep to demonstrated fluid and speedy operation, a deep set of features, compatibility and a touch-friendly interface. Unfortunately we didn’t catch information about availability.
Changes are saved in Skydrive / Onedrive in order to give an unlimited amount of undo capability. Pen input is also supported. Bill Gates will be happy about that!
, the project name for this Office package, has been talked about before but the BUILD audience still seemed very responsive about the progress shown.
We’ll keep you updated when we get more information about Office for RT / Modern.
Microsoft BUILD press releases and blog posts:
At the opening keynote of the BUILD developer conference in San Francisco today Microsoft announced something that will completely change the way application development is approached for Windows 8 Phone and Windows 8. Windows Runtime is now going to be supported across both Phone and Modern to allow cross-platform development. Visual Basic tools have been updated to support the new cross-device development mode.
Update: Universal apps coming to Xbox. The Windows dev economy just tipped!
In a live demo at BUILD a Windows Phone 8.1 variant was added via a new shared node in Visual Studio, in just a few minutes.
The biggest part of the announcement made by Microsoft is that the Store is going to show the multi-platform apps and will allow a cross-platform single-purchase model.
This is a huge, huge announcement that opens the doors to cross-Windows development by reducing the cost to port to almost insignificant amounts of effort and by offering value to consumers through a buy-once, use everywhere model.
Microsoft BUILD press releases and blog posts:
I’d like to highlight this very interesting presentation given at IDF Shenzen because it covers all the important elements that USB3.1 is going to bring to PCs. It’s not just about the Type-C reversible connector because it includes power delivery, higher speed and an AV class of connectivity.
For years we’ve been using USB as a peripheral bus and in the mobile PC community it’s become one of the most useful single-cable data connections. Through technology from companies like DisplayLink we’ve also been able to connect 1080p screens and through adaptors we’ve been able to connect to Gigabit Ethernet, SSD drives and all the usual keyboard, mouse, USB and audio components. Since last year I’ve been testing a Belikin single-cable USB Display Dock that’s now become a permanent fixture in my two office locations. Transparent, easy, fast. USB3.1 is going to offer features that make that single cable dock even better. [Video below.]
Let’s start with the new USB3.-1 type-C connector. It’s smaller and easier to use. Because it’s small it helps thin PC designs and because it’s pluggable in any orientation there’s no more of that three-attempt craziness. It also supports power charging. Yes, power over USB up to 100W which means true single-cable docking. The Type-C connector has so many advantages that it has every chance of being rolled-out quickly and that means great opportunities for modular, Windows-based ultra-mobile PCs in 2015, assuming the next-gen Intel platform supports it. How about a lightweight power-delivering CPU-less notebook dock?
There’s improved electromagnetic and RF mitigation and Gen2 10Gbos capabilities built-in to the new cables and connectors and docking support using the power-delivery (PD) interface option.
PD is something we’ve had demonstrations of before and we had hope that something would happen in 2013 but as we enter Q2 of 2014 we’re still not seeing it in products. The power-delivery standard allows up to 100W which is way more than your mobile PC is going to need in a docked scenario.
At least the new USB power icons have been approved:
Finally there’s a new AV class of USB connectivity which supports high-definition displays and HDCP.
We’re currently trying to find out if this is a formalization of DisplayLink IP into the new AV standard. As yet there doesn’t seem to be much detailed information about where the conversion technology is coming from. We’ve got a call out to DisplayLink on this.
Timescales for products are still a bit in the air but the final USB 3.1 specification review has been completed and the final specification is due to be published in the middle of this year.
Finally, here’s a test I did with the Belkin USB 3.0 dock which shows the need for USB Power Delivery.
Source: Intel PDF
We’re focusing on mobile PC solutions here at ‘Ultra Mobile PC Portal’ but always have a quiet eye on the emerging and complex areas of Internet of Things, In-Vehicle-Infotainment as well as areas that affect UMPCs such as USB3.1, WiDi and. A number of detailed and revealing PDFs are now available from the Intel IDF Shenzen content catalogue that I would recommend you download and glance through if you’re working in any of these areas.
Here’s a list of PDFs available now. The list will update tomorrow with day 2 presentations.
For more PDFs covering other topics, check out the session list here.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is not something we really cover here because most of the hardware you’ll find is headless – that is it doesn’t have any way to drive a screen. Take the Intel Edison board for example; It’s tiny, but runs using Intel Quark which doesn’t have a GPU. That’s not much good for display-oriented personal computing. The Minnowboard Max, however, runs an Atom (latest generation Baytrail-I series) E3815 single core at 1.46Ghz or (for dual-core 1.33 Ghz operation) the Atom E3825. Both have a GPU and HDMI on-board. The ‘open-hardware’ product, including memory but not including storage, starts at $99 making it perfect for project-based ultra-mobile computing.
This is not a system you’ll be running Windows on as it’s not strictly a PC but Android 4.4, Debian and Yocto builds are going to be made available.
MinnowBoard MAX is a compact, affordable, and powerful development board for both professionals and makers. The open hardware design allows for endless customization and integration potential. It is a platform with diverse strengths that will empower developers to innovate in the deeply embedded market.
The product was announced at EE Live yesterday, is planned to be available in June and you can find out more information here.
In related news, it looks like Edison has been re-designed to run using Atom so maybe it will have a GPU after-all. We’ll keep an eye out for further information for you.
Following recent hints that new versions of the Baytrail-M processors would be launched Intel have confirmed by publishing details of the new student-focused platform ahead of IDF. It’s called BTS’14 and it’s aimed at lowering the cost of Android and Windows tablet and 2-in-1 products.
A number of Pentium N3000 CPUs will be launched which include improved CPU and GPU frequency over previous Baytrail-M parts and support for Intel Quick Sync, the hardware video encoder usable through the Intel Media SDK. A set of Celeron N2000-series CPUs will also feature Intel Quick Sync support, increased memory speed over previous models and in some cases a CPU clock boost.
CPUs known to be under the new BTS’14 banner are:
- Intel Pentium N3530 processor. 2.17Ghz-2.58Ghz. GPU 896Mhz. 7.5W TDP
- Intel Celeron N2830 processor. 2.17Ghz-2.42Ghz. GPU 750Mhz. 7.5W TDP
- Intel Celeron N2930 processor, 1.83Ghz-2.16Ghz. GPU 854Mhz. 7.5W TDP
- Intel Celeron N2807 processor. 1.58Ghz-2.16Ghz. GPU 750Mhz. 4.3W TDP
Support is also being added for lower-cost eMMC SSDs and SDIO-connected WiFi modules.
BTS’14 aims to lower the number of components used in a PC build and therefore to lower the cost of a PC design. A proof-of-concept design has been made, along with a white paper for NDA holders. No target pricing was given but at the last IDF Intel talked about the $399 detachable. One can only assume that the price target is lower now. This slide shows the specifications of the fanless 11.6-inch Android tablet concept.
Looking at the 11.6-inch Android tablet specification above one can’t help thinking that Dual-OS and a keyboard dock is involved somewhere.
Source: IDF Session presentations.
32GB SSDs are popular on some of the lower-cost Windows 8 tablets and 2-in-1’s but after the operating system is installed and the device is updated that 32GB partition can leave just 10GB free. As time goes by, increasing storage usage will eventually leave you with an unusable Windows 8 PC. To make that space more manageable there are things you can do to increase the capacity and to reduce the rate at which that space is used. Please also note that there is an important security-related caveat.
- Remove the recovery partition
- Install a MicroSD card for file saving and Skydrive offline files. (Note security info below.)
- Save images, documents and music to MicroSD by default
- Save files to Sykdrive and sync to MicroSD card
- Clean the drive of unwanted temporary files.
- Remove unwanted programs
By moving files to a MicroSD card you remove any password or login protection on those files. If your device is lost or stolen, any data on the MicroSD card is readable. For users with Windows 8 Pro, Bitlocker can be used to secure those files. The standard disk encryption feature in the basic Windows 8 build with Windows 8 tablets (InstantGo-enabled) will only encrypt the main drive.
Remove recovery partition.
Use the Windows 8 ‘Create a recovery drive’ function to create a back-up of the recovery partition and at the end of that process, confirm to delete the recovery partition. To access the function, press [Windows-Key] and [S] and type “create”. Select ‘’Create a recovery drive” and continue with the helper. You’ll need an unused USB stick of 8GB or more. At the end of the helper you’ll see an option to delete the recovery partition. Select this option and the recovery partition will be deleted to save 4-5GB of space.
Keep the USB stick safe and remember that it will only work as a restore drive with the device that you created it from (although you can use it as a boot drive for any Windows 8 PC.)
Install a MicroSD card
Take advantage of removable storage buy installing a MicroSD card. We recommend 32GB as a minimum for long-term usage and look for a Class 10 MicroSDHC card or, if your device supports it, a MicroSDXC card.
Install a MicroSD card into your Windows 8 device and format it as NTFS by right clicking on the drive in your File Explorer and selecting Format. Be careful to only format the MicroSD card!
Change default location for saved files.
After installing the MicroSD card it makes sense to set it up as integrated storage space by using the Windows 8.1 option to store all user files on that removable drive. (Under PC and Devices in the Windows 8 system settings.)
Save documents to SkyDrive.
An alternative to storing saved files to MicroSD is to store them to Skydrive.
If using SkyDrive / OneDrive do not choose the option to have all stored files available when offline as this takes up space on the main drive.
Move Onedrive/Skydrive cache folder to the MicroSD
If you wish to have SkyDrive files saved for offline use then add a MicroSD card, make a folder called Skydrive and Move the location of the Skydrive folder.
Change default location for downloads
By using the same method as for the SkyDrive / OneDrive folder the location of downloads can be changed. Move the download folder onto the MicroSD card.
Clean your drive
Care must be taken with installs and the drive must be regularly cleaned using the disk tools provided.
To access the Windows 8 disk cleaning tools right click on the drive in the explorer window and select Properties. From there, select Disk Cleanup.
After a short while the cleanup process shows a list of file types that can be deleted and their respective total sizes. There’s also an option to Clean up system files. Click that button and wait for the analysis to complete.
In the resulting tablet you can select all the options and it won’t affect the current running state of the PC. It will affect some Recycle Bin contents that could have been restored, some debug files, log files and other potentially useful files. If you have selected your files you can proceed to delete them by clicking on OK.
Remove unwanted programs
There’s another option in this window called ‘More Options’ Clicking through and selecting Programs and Features tells you which Windows desktop applications are taking the most space. If there are programs you aren’t using any more it’s always good to remove them (for space and security reasons.) You can also access this feature through the ribbon bar in file explorer under ‘This PC’. Select ‘Uninstall or change a program.’
Finally you’ll want to see how much space the Windows Store apps are using. You do that by pressing [Windows Key] and [S] or by going to the search bar and typing “App Sizes.”
Given that the Windows Store apps are relatively small it’s unlikely you’ll find anything huge in that list unless you’ve installed graphics intensive games or some other advanced software. Select any programs you want to delete. You can also do this by right-clicking on the program in the Start screen.
Tip: Use the Windows 8 TreeSize Touch app to track down large files.
Finally you might want to look for large files you’ve downloaded or that haven’t been detected by the other methods. Take a look at Windows TreeSize Touch where you’ll be able to track down any large files. E.g. Movies and videos, large downloaded zip files etc. There’s also a way to do this in the file explorer by selecting ‘’the ‘Search Documents’ field and adjusting the Search Tools.
Do you have any other ideas for saving space on a 32GB drive?
Why aren’t these space-saving features enabled by default on Windows 8.1?
Preserving disk space on a 32GB Windows 8.1 device is not easy at all and Microsoft need to offer better tools for this. Ideally they would be located under the Modern UI. Even simple things like automating the view of directory sizes would be helpful. We have heard that the Windows 8.1 Update will enable to OS to run in 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage so we look forward to seeing just how Microsoft have achieved that and whether options will be available for existing users to reduce their main drive usage.