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Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 12:16

Is it too early to be worrying about Windows 10 and how the changes will affect touch and mobile users? I don’t think so. The test and feedback program starts today (October 1st, see preview.windows.com) and as a touch-focused user that was very happy with the clear split between sandboxed, touch-friendly RT apps with sharing and always-on capability and the desktop as my productive, mains-powered space i’m now looking at a mash-up that could be more confusing than ever. In my eyes Microsoft has re-positioned touch and mobility back down the list of priorities and put a big question-mark over the future of touch-focused apps on Windows PCs.

A summary of the announcements from yesterday can be found in my summary here but in essence, all you need to know is that Microsoft are bringing back the single-desktop environment and allowing the RT apps (to be known as Universal apps) to float into it. Think about this…

Why develop Universal apps?

Skype will have a touch-friendly cut-down application and a desktop application that can run side-by-side on the desktop. One will be sandboxed and allowed to run when a PC is in Connected Standby/InstantGo and the other is the fully featured desktop app. Where will Skype go from here? Facebook will be fun too. You can choose the RT app, the IE desktop web site or the IE Metro web site. Evernote will have an app, a desktop app and a browser app. Not only is this confusing for users but it also brings up the question about future development of Universal apps. Why develop an RT/Universal app that will sit on a desktop and compete with the other app you’ve written?

Microsoft are going to have to promote Universal apps hard if they want the Store to work on Windows 10 PCs. The only place they can really start today is by encouraging developers to make Windows Phone apps (which will also be known as Windows 10) that are Universal apps that can run on the desktop but will those developers bother to consider a 2K screen layout? Microsoft will have to prove to developers that the economy for Windows Universal application development is going to improve drastically before the developers make any moves.

Above: Windows 10 Universal Apps on the Desktop.

Above: Windows 10 Universal Apps on the Desktop.

Universal apps ready for the desktop limelight?

Will floating RT apps onto the desktop make them more popular? If so, the economy for Universal apps changes for the better but if not, if users discover cut-down versions of their favorite apps and games, they might ignore Universal apps altogether even if they do bring better security, better sharing, better battery life and better touch user interfaces. Universal apps may not be fit for putting in front of desktop users. If they’re not good enough they’ll suffer, regardless of security advantages. In terms of software development for Windows, the financial planning just got a little harder. It’s very possible that Universal apps become 100% reliant on the Windows 10 phone market.

Microsoft’s message to developers today is nothing more than this: “The most important thing you should take from today’s announcements is that the best way to prepare for Windows 10 is to keep building universal Windows apps.” [Source.]

Touch second?

In the launch event yesterday Microsoft spoke primarily about desktop and business users. Microsoft did, however, mention a feature called Continuum. It’s not yet built into the preview version of Windows 10 and all it looks like is an auto-sensing UI feature. If you’ve got touch you’ll get a full-screen start page as you do now. Applications started from that screen will then float onto the desktop where you’ve got keyboard and mouse-focused controls. Is that a Continuum, or a hybrid?

Snapping Windows together will definitely become a hybrid. Do I really want an old, non PPI sensing Windows dekstop app floating next to the Skype Universal application?

“We’re not talking about one UI to rule them all – we’re talking about one product family, with a tailored experience for each device.” [Source]

Continuum is where touch users will need to focus over the next 6-8 months but I suspect the first previews won’t really tell us much about the feature.

Windows 10 feedback

My first feedback to Microsoft would be this: Allow me to turn off desktop apps. Allow me to go into a Universal applications mode where the DAM (desktop activity moderator – as found on Windows systems with Connected Standby) hides and pauses all desktop activity leaving me with an efficient, secure, sandboxed, touch-friendly selection of apps. I don’t want a RT-style build with a desktop that is completely disabled though. I think the education market would appreciate this too – Chrome OS owes part of its success to sandboxing.

Respect to Microsoft for listening to customers feedback and offering up a preview program that will steer the final features and user-interface of Windows 10 but I worry that the 2-in-1, tablet and touch users are going to be under-represented. If you’re in that boat I encourage you to download the preview and give your feedback to Microsoft so that we can continue to have touch and mobility as first-class considerations in Windows 10.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, connected standby, software develo..."
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 17:54

At last. Microsoft have just announced the name of the next version of Windows and to everyone’s shock it’s going to be called Windows 10.

Windows 10 Logo

Windows 10 Logo

I’ve been following the live blog at The Verge and hundreds of tweets coming out of the event and it’s already clear that Microsoft is going to be focusing on business with Windows 10. A familiar look, security and management is being promoted which, for those of us into touch, is a worrying start.

As was previously rumored, Store-based Universal apps will be sandboxed and will run on the desktop. At this point we’re getting a little bit more worried about the touch UI that was Metro.

Microsoft appear to have implemented a new multi-desktop feature which allows the user to grab apps from another desktop and there’s an unexpected update to the command line. You can now CTRL-C, CTRL-V among other keyboard shortcuts

Touch users…

“We want to support those Windows 8 users who have touch machines and getting a lot of benefit out of them.”

Some edge swipes are still there, there is scrolling and pinch support. The charms bar was shown in a demo but apparently that might change.  The task view (swipe from left) will be removed and replaced with a desktop-style task switcher.

2-in-1 users can benefit from a new feature that Microsoft are calling Continuum which changes the look based on the input method being used.

Touch users can now breath a sign of relief. Here’s the Start screen on a touch-enabled device.

Windows 10 Start screen for touch users.

 

Above image via The Verge

Preview versions of Windows 10 under the Windows Insider Program  will appear at http://preview.windows.com

Windows 10 is said to be shipping “later in the year” 2015 which is later than expected. “At our Build conference in April, we’ll share more about Universal apps.” Of course we already heard about universal apps at this years BUILD.

Finally, in a Q&A it was confirmed that the new smartphone operating system from Microsoft will also be called Windows 10 but won’t have a desktop.

That wraps-up the first information we have about Windows 10. More will filter through over time so stay tuned!

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, build, continuum, universal apps, ..."
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Date: Tuesday, 30 Sep 2014 12:48

The HP Stream 7 and HP Stream 8 have been launched and the cheapest version will cost just $99.Both models come with just 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage . That’s all I’m going to tell you right now.

Hp Stream 7 advertising

Above: HP Stream 7 advertising

What can I say? Having had a bad experience with 1GB RAM on the Toshiba Encore 2 WT8 I just can’t get excited. I’m also confused about why manufacturers think this is a good idea? The platforms are likely to have been developed, tested and approved by Intel leaving HP and others to build the casing but there are major issues that will affect user perception of Windows tablets. Windows Desktop will slow down to a crawl after you’ve opened a number of browser tabs and a few apps as the Pagefile works overtime to switch data to and from memory. 16GB of SSD becomes a major issue after a short time unless you know all the tricks that can help keep it in order.  Without a microSD slot though some of the tricks won’t even be possible.

Thank goodness there’s a 1280×800 screen with wide viewing angles on both of these tablets but that’s not enough for me to recommend them.  Yet…

Will Windows 9 bring cheap Windows tablets to life?

Windows does need a cheap tablet option but it won’t happen with Windows 8.1. Late today Microsoft will be talking about Windows 9 and we hope to see better support for small form factor devices and low-end platforms. The ability to turn off the desktop and have an RT-style default might be a help too and if we could just have support for Windows Phone 8 apps, that could solve the problem.  The Cortana assistant and a notification center will help too. Windows 9 should be a free upgrade on small-form-factor devices (it’s already free) so here’s hoping.

Until then, unless you have a specific need, a specific single task or RT-based need, be careful with these low-end Windows 8.1 tablets.

More information:

Mike Cane often highlights low-cost Windows tablet news on his blog.

HP Stream 7 site at HP.com

Hands-on with the Stream 8 and Stream 7 by Liliputing.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, hp, low cost tablets, tablet pc"
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Date: Thursday, 25 Sep 2014 12:47

This, my lightbook-loving friends, is going to be a big seller in Q4 of 2014. The Toshiba CB35-B3340 is a 13.3-inch laptop with a full-HD screen, SSD, Skull Candy speakers, a 51 Wh battery and it weighs just 3 pounds – 1.36KG. The price? $330. It’s a nice product for entry-level consumers but it’s a problem for Microsoft.

Toshiba CB35

 

The Toshiba CB35-B3340 is a Chromebook and Chromebooks based on a Baytrail-M SoC with just 16GB of SSD are cheap to produce but this one from Toshiba is well-designed, has a good keyboard and is the best I saw over the last month of  touring IFA and IDF events. Skull Candy speakers hint at a consumer-focus and not classroom-focus but Toshiba hasn’t cut corners on battery life or ports. This Chromebook will give you 9 hours of usage, say Toshiba. I understand it has a 51Wh battery inside so I don’t doubt that. In fact, i’d expect over 10 hours of offline video viewing.

The question is, why can’t this be a Windows laptop? Well, Toshiba have a similar product in the CL-10B (video) but at 11.6-inch it’s not the same. The reason could be that a lot of similar-sounding products in the Windows laptop market are selling for $700 or more. Given that a Windows with Bing license costs nothing I can’t see any reason that this can’t be a Windows laptop other than product separation. That could be an issue for Microsoft because Chromebooks just took 18% of the sub $300 laptop category. In the $300-$400 space this Chromebook is a bargain.

Windows 8 tablets are racing to the bottom in price and specs, Ultrabooks are fading away and cheap Windows laptops have positioning to contend with. The 2-in-1 segment will get a boost from Core M soon but it won’t take effect until 2015. With no word on Cherry Trail products, it looks like it will be a very very tough quarter for Microsoft.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, chromebook, market, toshiba"
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Date: Monday, 22 Sep 2014 13:22

Surface Pro 3 is an amazing piece of engineering. Even with the keyboard it’s one of the most powerful self-contained PCs by weight and with 5-6 hours of working battery life, fast storage and a digitizer it doesn’t cut corners. We’d all like to see a full SD card slot and for it to run a little cooler under load but unless you’re really doing a lot of ‘lapping’, it’s a true notebook replacement. Now that the Intel Core M has been launched we have an idea of what’s possible for 2015. Core M or Broadwell-U are highly likely to be in the Surface labs already as Microsoft try to work out where the next super-tablet should be positioned but there are other options too. Could Cherry Trail play a part in Surface Pro’s future?

Wistron-Core-M.jpg

 

Mini or Maxi?

Intel Broadwell and Core M architectures bring improvements in efficiency, better Turbo Boost and power control (to allow a reduction in device thickness) if required. There’s a new GPU (Generation 8) and improved support for 4K video workflows. New audio hardware with post-processing capability improves battery life and features. If you want more details, check out my overview and product previews at Ultrabooknews.

What can Broadwell do for Surface Pro?

At best, Core M (AKA Broadwell Y-series) can only match the performance of U-series SoCs found in a Surface Pro 2 and 3 so although it would allow a lighter, fanless design, or a 13.3-inch screen at the same weight, it wouldn’t offer the same long-term performance.Where it might fit is in a 7mm thick 10-inch tablet weighing just over 1 pound, A good design upgrade to the Surface 2 Pro.

A true Surface Pro 3 laptop-replacement upgrade, a Surface Pro 4, would need Broadwell-U series but at 15W TDP (rumored) that wouldn’t enable any fanless or lighter designs. A faster GPU, and improved media hardware codecs might be interesting, but not groundbreaking. Surface Pro 4 may have to wait until Skylake, the next generation, available at the end of 2015.

Cherry Trail is Lite

The third option would be an updated Surface 2 (an upgrade from the ARM-based Surface 2)  based on Cherry Trail  where designs could range from 8-inch to 11.6-inches and stay light and fanless. Processing power would not be laptop-class but the improved GPU on this platform could offer some gaming possibilities. The problem here is that ARM-based tablets would compete. Cherry Trail and Windows 8/9 would need to offer significant advantages. If it could, it would fit very well if the Surface Pro 2 was discontinued. It would also clear  space for a 7-8-inch Lumia. Windows 9/RT phablet or Surface Mini. Let’s take a look at the available X86 platforms (where only Intel is offering leading-edge technology today) and consider where they might fit across three different types of Surface Pro.

Core M Llama Mountain

Potential Surface Mini platforms

  • 7-8-inch ARM based RT/Phone 9. Could also be a Lumia-branded tablet.
  • 8-inch Cherry Trail (Atom) – Lots of competition. 8-inch Windows segment trending to lower-cost  and quality.

Potential Surface Pro 2 platforms. (to replace Surface 2 and Pro 2.)

Naming could be difficult here. A Surface Pro 4 would imply better performance than Surface Pro 3. A Surface Pro 2 Plus, or Mini, or Light perhaps?

  • 10-inch Cherry Trail (Atom) – lots of competition at this CPU performance level. 10-inch not ideal for productivity or high mobility but this is a big improvement over the current Surface 2 and leaves Surface Pro 3 as the flagship laptop-replacement.
  • 10-inch Core M – Potential to be the most powerful 10-inch tablet in the market. Laptop-replacement CPU performance. Fanless. Could be expensive for the 10-inch category. Untested market. Not as powerful as Surface Pro 2 or Pro 3 but close. Would be a great Windows 9 showcase.
  • 11.-6 inch Cherry Tail (Atom) – Relatively unique product. Could be very light  and fanless  (<600 grams) and compete on price in this segment.
  • 11.6-inch Core M – The first fanless 11.6-inch tablet PC design with laptop performance.  Not as much performance as Surface Pro 3 but close, so it might compete unnecessarily.
  • 12.5-inch Core M – Would compete directly with Surface Pro 3. Not expected.
  • 12.5-inch Cherry Trail – Surface Pro 3 Light would not be a laptop replacement but would support the accessory ecosystem of the Pro 3 and serve as a lower-cost Pro 3 and flasgship for light and fanless tablets with good-enough processing power. Would be a flagship Windows 9 product. Weight must be kept to 600 grams / 1.3 pounds.

Potential Surface Pro 4 platforms.

Given that the Surface Pro 3 appears to be selling well and that it launched in May and is only just available in many countries a replacement would have to wait until at least Q2 2015. Waiting until Q4 2015 would open up options with the next generation Core – Skylake. Here are the options.

  • 11.6-inch Broadwell-U – Performance boost and battery life improvements over Haswell-U but not a huge change. Smaller screen might not fit customer expectations.
  • 12.5-inch Core M – Performance boost and battery life improvements over Haswell-U but not a huge change. Lighter build. Cheaper cost might not be enough for a flagship model.
  • 13.3-inch Core M – A bigger Surface Pro but with no CPU performance improvement over Surface Pro 3.
  • 13.3-inch Broadwell – Too heavy for a tablet with a 15W TDP Browdwell.
  • 12.5-inch Skylake – A significant performance improvement over current Surface Pro 3. Could offer a fanless version. Not enough is know about the platform at this stage.

We’ll all have our personal favorites but in terms of broad appeal the 11.6-inch or 12.5-inch Cherry Trail tablet (fanless, very light, lower cost) Surface Pro could be the best option if the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 is phased out. It would not directly compete with an existing Surface Pro 3 in terms of performance and could be cheaper, lighter and fanless. In a 12.5 inch version it could be the a Surface Pro 3 ‘lite’ and use existing peripherals.

In terms of Surface Pro 3 replacement, it’s a difficult choice and I don’t see any obvious option. Waiting until Q4 2015 might give Microsoft a Skylake (6th generation Core) option

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "Report, broadwell, core-m, microsoft, mi..."
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 10:01

There’s ‘value’ and there’s ‘cheap.’ The Toshiba Encore Mini falls into the latter group and even at $119 it’s got too many issues to be recommended for most types of user.

en-INTL-PDP-Toshiba-Encore-Mini-WT7-C16MS-16GB-CWF-01825-Large

The Toshiba Encore Mini was one of the first devices I got hands-on with at IFA earlier this month and although it was an attractive size it was immediately clear that it had cut many corners. The screen, a non-IPS panel of just 768×1280 resolution, is terrible. Even my eyes, old and tired, saw jaggies and poor viewing angles.

And then there’s the specifications. The Z3735G CPU is acceptable but it’s coupled with just 1 GB of RAM which might work OK for the RT/Modern environment but you’ll run into problems as soon as you attempt to used the desktop. Given the low resolution and the RAM issue the Encore Mini might as well have desktop disabled so that RAM can be saved for the Modern environment. In fact, perhaps this should be a $99 Windows RT device? The 13 Wh battery is the smallest I’ve ever seen on a Windows PC.  This is a 5-hour tablet, not a 10-hour tablet.

On the positive side the Encore Mini is just about the cheapest Windows PC in the world and comes with one year of Office 365 and 1TB of One Drive storage included. You could potentially run a DisplayLink monitor from the USB port, connect a keyboard via Bluetooth and charge it from a solar panel. Products like the ASUS Eeebook X205  and the Acer ES1/E11 notebook are cheap but consider that these $199 options are 66% more expensive and that could be the difference between having a PC or not.

I’ve got a set of images on my broken Ultrabook that i’ll recover next week but you can watch the video below and see everything you need to know. The price will make this a stand-out offering as one of the cheapest ‘PCs’ on the market but please, check out the video before buying. Rarely am I so negative about UMPCs but there’s no place for this tablet in the developed Western markets and even in developing markets I would suggest caution.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "Hands On"
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Date: Wednesday, 17 Sep 2014 07:43

It had to happen on #13 right? On my recent 14-day tour of IFA and IDF (Berlin, San Francisco) I prepared myself with four devices. One Windows laptop. One Chromebook. One smartphone and one featurephone. What I didn’t plan for was a total failure of the main Windows laptop. Chromebooks don’t work as a fallback laptop.

Ultra Mobile Reporting Kit

Everything had gone very smoothly with my Haswell-based Ultrabook. The platform has great battery life (in this case, all-day working without a charge) and 1080p video editing and rendering for my (admittedly basic) YouTube videos. Photo editing (for blogs) is easy and there’s enough space in a 128GB SSD for a two-week session. When your Ultrabook fails, however, you’ll need a backup. I’m usually equipped with a second, lower-powered Windows laptop or tablet but this time I only had the Lenovo N20p Chromebook. While that has battery life, a quality browser, good WiFi and a keyboard that won’t drive me crazy it can’t handle video editing. When you’re producing up to 15 videos for YouTube per day you need local processing.  Lesson learnt. A Chromebook is not a fallback solution.

The silver lining to this story is that Intel helped me out at the last-minute with the loan of a Surface Pro 3. The back-story is that I was sponsored by Intel to go to IDF so Intel Germany stepped in. I thank you! While the Surface Pro 3 doesn’t have an SD card slot (so annoying) and isn’t a ‘lapable’ solution (it works, but it’s not easy) and the keyboard feels a little bouncy it’s the lightest Core i5 PC I’ve ever used.  2.45 pounds for a Core i5 ‘laptop’ with backlit keys and a 42 Wh battery. Wow! That’s some engineering. It’s an ultra mobile desktop-capable PC!

The 12.5-inch screen wasn’t a problem although I did notice some desktop apps having tiny text due to the high PPI. It was a little stubborn with returning from standby though and got extremely hot when rendering videos. Connected Standby is out-of-spec too. Microsoft want to see less than 5% drain over 16 hours in CS mode. The Surface Pro 3 was returning 5% in 5-10 hours although I admit I didn’t reset it to factory settings before starting to use it.  The keyboard is perfect…for what I was doing. It’s a little bouncy but I got used to it and felt comfortable after a short time. I was using a German layout which has a tiny left-shift key and it kept catching me out but I see that the QWERTZ layout doesn’t have that problem. I can’t complain. The only think I will mention is the hinge. It looks complex and it looks very vulnerable. It works, but for how long?

Moving on to the Nokia Lumia 1020p I have to give it 10/10 for casual photos. I picked up the excellent  Shoulderpod S1 while I was at IFA and I was planning to pick up the Lumia 1020 grip case too but on the third day of the event I dropped the 1020 and the screen smashed. It’s limping along now until I decide whether to stay with Lumia (830 perhaps?) or move to Android where there’s some very interesting progress being made in smart photography.

broken lumia 1020

 

The Lumix FZ150, now nearly three years old, still does a great job as an all-round blogging camera. The OIS is stable, close-up video works well, an external mic helps in loud situations, the zoom helps in press conferences and the swing-out screen is something I couldn’t do without. I tested the FZ1000 at IFA and wow, that’s #1 on my list as a camera upgrade. I also tested a cheap LED lamp. This CN-160 (aff.) is available under many brands and having tested it (thanks to broadcast journalist Guy Degan) I’ve ordered one. Update: it just turned up in the post.

Summary

The Ultrabook platform (Haswell  U-series CPU with SSD) is superb and every mobile reporter working with media should use it. Quick-Sync video processing will save you time and battery life and a 50+ Wh battery will give you all-day action. The Surface Pro 3 with Core i5 and a Surface Pro Cover keyboard, and a good USB3.0 SD card adaptor is one of the lightest options. I’ve used the SP3 for a week and I’m impressed although the lack of SD card slot is a real pain.

Chromebooks work well as companion laptops and I will continue to use my Lenovo N20P around the house but I won’t be taking a Chromebook as a backup laptop again. It’s got a keyboard, yes, but it hasn’t got the capability you need if you’re working with digital media.

As for the Lumia 1020, recommended! Great photos, videos and audio are possible and it processes media well for online use (it’s not the best at natural colours but it ‘pops’ well online) although I still reach for my bridge camera when I’ve got an event to cover. The Lumia 1020 also has a little problem in that it’s reached ‘peak effectiveness’ for social photography and videos. Where does Microsoft go next with Lumia because if they don’t add a zoom soon, devices like the Lumix CM1 could take over.

Did I use the Nokia 808 on this trip? Yes, as an audio recording device, MP3 player and backup phone and cameraphone. I suspect it will stay in the kit bag.

Mobile Reporting Kit #14 will be assembled in early 2015 for CES, MWC and CeBIT. I have a feeling that the Surface Pro 3 will be replaced by an Ultrabook (I’m looking at that ASUS UX305)  and I’m hoping I can get hold of a Lumix FZ1000 camera which would be a big improvement on the 3-year old FZ150 I have. As for the phone, I’m remaining open-minded. While the Lumias are fantastic cameras and mapping devices, there’s still a lag in choice of applications. I will be working with Android on the Dell Venue 8 7000 next month so I’ll make a choice after I’ve used Android again.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, blogging, IDF 2014, ifa2014, mobil..."
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 22:10

In an Intel-led Core M benchmarking meeting today I saw a set of controlled benchmarks from a 6W TDP Core M product. The tests were performed in an 685 gram 12.5-inch Llama Mountain reference tablet with a machined aluminum rear casing that is optimal for this design. We also saw a copper-based rear casing that can handle a lot more thermal energy but you won’t see that happening in consumer products. The benchmark scores we saw were more than I had expected.

P1200986

 

Over at Ultrabooknews: Intel Core M Overview, benchmarks and product Previews

 

Three benchmarks were run, once, on a rested system in a warm room.

Sunspider: 119ms at 2.8 2.6 Ghz.  (Surface Pro 3 with Core i5 is 113ms at 2.4Ghz Turbo)

P1200969

3DMark Icestorm unlimited: 48230

P1200972

Cinebench R11.5 – 2.65 (Surface Pro 3 with Core i5: 2.77)

P1200973

 

Note that these are the scores from a high-end 6W TDP Core M 5Y70. The 4.5W TDP Core M SoCs won’t perform this well and in a product with a less-than-perfect thermal design there could be heat issues that prevent Turbo Boost reaching these high levels.

GPU performance needs to be further tested and long-term gaming could impact Turbo Boost capability.

This is the best you’ll see from Core M at 2.8 2.6 Ghz but it’s important to remember that this is best-of-Core M right now. I’m going to be pushing to get the new Lenovo Helix 2 in for testing so at that point we’ll get our first real-product results.

Tip: Check out the Surface Pro 3 review at Notebookcheck.net for a controlled set of performance figures.

Disclaimer: Intel have paid for my attendance at IDF this year.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "Report, benchmark, core-m, IDF 2014, int..."
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Date: Thursday, 11 Sep 2014 14:38

I was asked for my opinion on the price of the Dell Venue 8 7000 just after it was announced and all I could think of was the nice looking Lenovo Tab S8 which is very similar, for about $199. After handling the Dell Venue 8 7000 I now see a product worth much more than that. The amazing OLED 2K screen is punchy and sharp. The 6mm thin design is light and stylish and the 3 additional Realsense snapshot cameras offer some interesting options for photographers. In this video you’ll see some of those features being demonstrated.

P1200852

After talking to a number of people about the Dell Venue 8 700 I know know the following.

  • It will be available in November.
  • There will be an LTE version. (Intel 7260)
  • It runs on Merrifield (Intel |Z35xx-series)
  • The screen is  2K resolution OLED
  • The base configuration will be 2GB RAM and 16GB storage
  • An SDK will be released but it’s looking like early 2015 before developers can create apps

 

Youll find out more in the video after the images…

 

Dell Venue 8 7000Dell Venue 8 7000 (1)Dell Venue 8 7000 (2)Dell Venue 8 7000 (3)Dell Venue 8 7000 (4)Dell Venue 8 7000 (5)Dell Venue 8 7000 (6)Dell Venue 8 7000 (7)

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "Hands On, 8-inch, Android, dell, realsen..."
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Date: Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 07:34

Mobilegeeks got the best video of the Dell Venue 8 7000 at the Intel Developer Conference today. (This Android tablet launched earlier today, here’s my coverage.)

dellv87000

 

A reminder of the specs.

  • 2K resolution screen (Ultra HD(

  • Edge to Edge screen.

  • 8.4 inch screen

  • 6mm thin.

  • 2GB RAM

  • MicroSD

  • 16GB SSD

  • Realsense ‘snapshot’ capability

  • Early November availability

I’ll write no more. Please just watch the video.

 

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, Android, dell, realsense"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 16:50

From the Intel press release.

Michael Dell and Krzanich previewed an upcoming Dell tablet with first-of-its-kind photo capabilities. The new Dell Venue 8 7000 Series with Intel® RealSense™ snapshot is the world’s thinnest tablet and will be available in time for the holiday season. Intel RealSense snapshot is an enhanced photography solution that creates a high-definition depth map to enable measurement, refocus and selective filters with a touch of a finger. It will introduce new capabilities and new ways of using the tablet, opening up a new creative horizon for developers to come up with apps that change how consumers engage with their photos.

 

Blackburn_wide_nr

Updating from the keynote, live.

This 8-inch Android tablet will come with Realsense and a context sensing SDK from Intel which includes cloud-based context services.

P1200705

 

P1200713

Prototype shown on stage (see below for live images)

 

P1200718

 

P1200720

 

  • 2K resolution screen (Ultra HD(
  • Edge to Edge screen.
  • 8.4 inches.
  • Realsense snapshot
  • Early November availability
  • 6mm thin.

Price was not given.

Given the dimensions this has to be a Baytrail–based tablet. Update: Moorefield platform is being used here.

During Intel CEO Brain Krzanich’s keynote today at the Intel Developer Forum, Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell, previewed the upcoming Dell Venue 8 7000 Series – the first tablet with Intel® RealSense™ snapshot and the world’s thinnest tablet, measuring only 6mm in thickness. Intel RealSense snapshot is an enhanced photography solution that creates a high-definition depth map to enable measurement, refocus, and selective filters with a touch of a finger. It will introduce new capabilities and new ways of using the tablet, opening up a new creative horizon for developers to come up with apps that change how consumers engage with their photos.   For example, consumer can change the focus of a photo to different objects or foregrounds in editing.  Objects within the photo can also be measured.  The Android-based tablet is powered by the Intel® Atom™ Z3500 processor series and will be available in time for holiday.

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We’re at IDF14 and will try to bring you more details as soon as possible.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, dell, photography, realsense"
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Date: Tuesday, 09 Sep 2014 15:51

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The Intel IDF 2014 keynote is about to start. Core M, Realsense, Perceptual Computing, 2-in-1 are keywords I’m expecting to hear a lot over the next hour and I’ll be noting significant announcements here on this ‘live notepad’ as I go along. Refresh to update on mobile technology announcements.

Above: Core M laptops and 2-in-1’s, probably the same as we saw at IFA.

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Follow the hashtag #idf14 for updates over the next 3 days.

Intel predicting 50 billion X86-based ‘Internet of Things’ devices in 2020.

Brian starts with IOT announcements. Opening Ceremony and Fossil smart wearable products..

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Intel announces that Edison, the tiny dual-core single board computer will be around $50 and is ready to go to retail now.

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Intel continues with IoT (calling it “wearables for machines”) and standards. Open Interconnect Consortium and Industrial Internet Consortium are announced.

[Data center segment.]

Newsflash.

  • Michael Dell and Krzanich previewed an upcoming Dell tablet with first-of-its-kind photo capabilities. The new Dell Venue 8 7000 Series with Intel® RealSense™ snapshot is the world’s thinnest tablet and will be available in time for the holiday season. Intel RealSense snapshot is an enhanced photography solution that creates a high-definition depth map to enable measurement, refocus and selective filters with a touch of a finger. It will introduce new capabilities and new ways of using the tablet, opening up a new creative horizon for developers to come up with apps that change how consumers engage with their photos.

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Source;

Note that the Dell Venue 8 7000 has Realsense snapshot and not the full Realsense capability set.

Back to the keynote…

Skylake, next generation core will be launched in 2015.

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Wireless power and WiGig demonstrations on stage.  (The audience was impressed with the demo.)

Doug Fisher shows new reference design for an Android tablet which include certification and GMS access before going to the manufacturer. Intel commits to providing software updates within 2-weeks of AOSP updates.

Doug Fisher announces Open Interconnect Consortium. Open source and royalty free interconnect software.

Launched on stage – Dell Venue 8 7000 Android tablet with Realsense. (Details here.)

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Keynote ends.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, IDF 2014"
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Date: Saturday, 06 Sep 2014 14:59

Off the top of my head I think this is the lightest 10-inch 2-in-1 PC that I’ve ever seen.  The HP Pavilion X2 is a Baytrail-T quad-core tablet with a 1280×800 screen and a 34Wh battery which is going to give you a reasonable battery life. There’s a full-size USB port, MicroHDMI, MicroSD and charging port and the keyboard isn’t bad either. This UMPC will launch at $330. My tip: A version might be available with 1GB RAM. Avoid that and go for 2GB RAM and 32GB storage. Total weight: 800 grams, 1.75 pounds.

 

HP Pavilion 10 X2 (7)

P1200544      HP Pavilion 10 X2 (5)
More images here.

 

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "Hands On, 10 inch, hp, lightweight, pavi..."
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Date: Saturday, 06 Sep 2014 14:15

Toshiba have just launched two low-cost 11.6-inch Windows laptops that hit the same price brackets as their new Chromebook 2 which tells us one thing – no-one really knows how the $200-$300 Windows vs Chromebook market is going to play-out. Do they have overlapping audiences or are they well separated? The Toshiba Satellite CL 10-B is obviously targeted at this market with a specification list that only differs from  Chromebooks by virtue of the fact that it runs Windows. 11.6-inch, Baytrail-M, small SSD. The Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 adds a 360-degree hinge. I took a look at both of these Windows laptops at IFA and here are two video overviews.

 

Toshiba Satellite CL10-B

Toshiba Satellite CL-10B (8)
Full photoset here.

This basic Windows laptop is going to be a ‘sub 300’ product says Toshiba and we’ve subsequently heard that it will launch at 260 Euros. It still might be able to compete against the cheaper ASUS Eeebook X205 because in my opinion it’s slightly better built than the X205 and has a better keyboard but it could also have upgrade possibilities as it’s based on the SATA-capable Baytrail-M platform. With a battery capacity of  26Wh (unconfirmed) a TFT screen with a 1366×768 resolution, 2GB RAM and 16GB storage it’s got baseline specifications. Weght:1300 grams.

Toshiba Satellite Radius 11

The Satellite Radius adds a 360-degree rotating screen to the mix. It’s still a non-IPS screen and the specifications are much the same as the CL-10B apart from a larger battery and a 500GB drive. Of course the weight and price is higher. Price will play a major role in the success of the Radius 11 as it’s competing against the Lenovo Yoga 2 11 and other low-cost Yoga-like hybrids. Weight: 1500 grams.

Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 (2)
Toshiba Radius 11 photo set here.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, 11.6-inch, ifa2014, toshiba"
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Date: Friday, 05 Sep 2014 16:36

Seconds after I made this video at an IFA press event this ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi was taken away. it shouldn’t have been there but my video camera had already been rolling.

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The ASUS Transformer Book Chi has a really lightweight screen but it’s quite wide. The keyboard is great and the hinge and dock seem high quality. The casing too. I’ll jut leave you to enjoy the video…

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "Hands On, asus, chi, core-m, ifa2014, tr..."
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Date: Friday, 05 Sep 2014 15:50

Intel just announced, or rather, just launched Core M. 8 products were highlighted.

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On the slide: Acer Aspire Switch 12, ASUS Transformer Book T300FA, HP Envy x2, ASUS Transformer T300 Chi, Lenovo Thinkpad Helix 2, ASUS Zenbook UX305, Wistron N-Midas.

Update: I had seconds to get pics of the 8 Core M laptops before they were pulled off the stage. Can you match the devices to the product names?!

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Core, at 4.5W TDP is going to enable fanless computing and finally, thin and light powerful tablets.

In my opinion we’ve just entered a more difficult world of performance testing as from what I’ve seen, 50% of the performance of this platform relies on Turbo Boost which hinges on thermal design. I look forward to going deep and getting hands-on ASAP!

Here’s the Lenovo Helix 2 that I had hands-on with earlier today. (For Notebookcheck.net)

I’ll try and track down the other devices after the keynnote.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, core-m, ifa2014, intel"
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Date: Friday, 05 Sep 2014 15:05

Hand-made using walnut and oak the Alpentab is quite the unique product. Alpenelectronics, an Austrian company, is taking local wood and crafting cases for an OED Windows 10-inch tablet. The result is expensive, but special. I got some hands-on at an IFA event yesterday, spoke to the creators and found out that they’ll be making a Core i5 edition alongside the Atom Z3000-series that I saw. In addition, Alpentab will be making a special edition version with a wooden keyboard and wooden mouse .Can you imagine the hours of work that it will take? It’s no wonder that you’ll be paying around 4500 Euros for it. Even the basic tablet will set you back 800 Euros.

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If you’re al all interested you’ll want to watch this video, in which you’ll see the development directors contact details and the specifications.

 

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, 10-inch tablet, alpentab, wood"
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Date: Thursday, 04 Sep 2014 14:48

This is the competition for 8-inch Windows tablets in the consumer space, and it’s good. Thin, fast, full HD and coming with an LTE voice and data option for an extra 50 Euros.  The Lenovo Tab S8 runs Android KitKat on an Intel Atom Z3745 quad-core CPU.

I had an overnight session with the Lenovo Tab S8 before the Lenovo press event at IFA today and I was really impressed with the value-for-money. Like Windows 8 tablets it’s not something you’ll slip into your pocket but  it’s thinner and lighter than any Windows 8 tablet. The Full HD screen looks bright and punchy and there’s a familiar user interface.

 

Lenovo Tab S8 (6)

 

In terms of performance browsing felt really fast although it seems it’s attributable to the LTE I was using at the time. A Peacekeeper score of 1055 is slightly less than we see on Windows and that could be due to browser capabilities although I did use Chrome for the test. Sunspider came in at 668 ms and the Octane Score was 5406.

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The 8MP camera my not be up to the standards of the latest smartphones but it’s not bad and it beats most Windows 8 tablet cameras I’ve tested. There’s an FM radio and, in the LTE version, voice calling, SMS and of course, data. The dual front-facing speakers are loud and clear.

There’s no HDMI port but you’ve got the standard MicroSD, MicroUSB and headset ports.

Lenovo Tab S8 (15) (1280x855)

There’s no substitute for a full review to find out if the Lenovo Tab S8 is as good as it seems but when it comes to consumers, maybe that’s not the point. The specs are good, it looks good, Android is good and when that full HD screen is popping at the local mall it’s going to look irresistible at $199. The jump to LTE at 250 is something I’m considering myself given that there are few Windows LTE options available and none at this price.

While ‘adventurers’ know and care about the difference between Windows and Android when it comes to your average consumer, the Lenovo Tab S8 is going to be a lot more appealing. Here’s my Lenovo Tab 8 image gallery. The video is embedded below…

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "Hands On, 8-inch, Android, ifa2014, leno..."
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Date: Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 12:54

ASUS has just launched the EeeBook X205, a n 11.6-inch Windows laptop featuring ‘long’ battery life and a full-size keyboard for just €199. It weighs just 980 grams.

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Running the Baytrail platform (Z3000-series as seen in the cheap tablets) it’s undercutting even ASUS’ own cheap Chromebook, the C200. In the model I got hands-on with there was only 1GB of RAM. ASUS specifications show 2GB RAM. I hope it’s the latter because 1GB RAM is not enough (as I found out in my review of the Toshiba Encore 2 WT8 at Notebookcheck

The keyboard isn’t the best quality but it’s big and was stress-free in my 5-line test. There’s no touch and of course it’s a sealed unit. Note that you’re likely to find soldered RAM and eMMC storage inside so don’t expect to be able to do any DIY upgrades.

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This isn’t the first ASUS laptop that’s retailed for this price but it’s the first that isn’t constrained by a 10-inch screen. Multiple colour options could turn this into a big seller in the next quarter.

ASUS Eeebook X205 (4)ASUS Eeebook X205 (6)

ASUS Eeebook X205 (10)

In my hands-on I saw an 18Wh battery which is really small for an 11.6-inch laptop and won’t give 12 hours battery life for the average user. It’s possible I was handling a non-final build though so let’s hope for a bigger battery in the final version.

More images from the session in this gallery.

Author: "Chippy" Tags: "News, asus, eeebook, low cost laptop"
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Date: Monday, 01 Sep 2014 22:56

Every August I get myself organized for IFA and IDF, the two most enjoyable and informative events on my circuit. CES in Las Vegas is fun but there are more relevant products and information for me at IFA and  IDF, the Intel Developer Forum. This years tour is 14 days long so once again I need reliable kit. In 2013 I took an Ultrabook, a 270-degree rotating touchscreen netbook-style laptop and two Nokia phones along with my bridge camera. This year I’ve got the same line-up but with three different computing devices. I’ve dropped my Acer W510 and replaced it with, no, not the Acer Switch 10, but a Chromebook. The two Nokia phones are also different.

Lenovo N20p Chromebook (10)

The Chromebook I’ve chosen (I bought it, it’s not a loaner) is the Lenovo N20p shown above and I chose it because since I reviewed the Lenovo Flex 10 I’ve been a huge fan of 270-degree fold-back screens. It permits lay-flat mode (ever used that in bed or to raise the screen up in a seat-back scenario? If not, you should) and the really useful, casual and coffee-table friendly tablet-stand mode.

Lenovo N20p Chromebook (9) Lenovo N20p Chromebook (6)

The Lenovo N20p Chromebook won’t be with me during the working day but it will be my travel companion. Films (most carried on the MyDigitalSSD PocketVault USB3.0 SSD drive) and consumption of RSS/Magazines/podcasts should be the main scenarios (the latter will be an interesting challenge for a cloud device while in the air) but I also expect to use offline Google Drive to write the occasional blog post.

I expect the N20p to be my consumption device in the evenings while the Ultrabook crunches videos and images. With 7-8 hours (measured) of video battery life and an estimated 6 hours of casual web browsing the Lenovo N20p is likely to be well-used over the next 14 days.

Moving on to the smartphones I’ve got the Nokia Lumia 1020 (bought very recently) with the Xenon flash and 42MP sensor. I expect to be able to get some good low-light photos and some quick videos. It’s got all the maps on it, my music, podcasts, RSS feeds and of course, Twitter, Skype, Facebook and Whatsapp for messaging. In the background will be a Nokia 808 running 2G with no data connection a multi-SIM card (same phone number as on the 1020) It’s simply my back-up phone (it will last over 7 days without charge in this scenario) and backup camera if everything else goes wrong. Talking of cameras I’m still using the Panasonic Lumix FZ150. I didn’t upgrade to the FZ200 but having read some reviews on the FZ1000 I’m close to buying something new in the telephoto camera/video department. Why a bridge camera? It’s light and it’s good enough for online photography and video in almost any light. I’ll stress that again – I’m creating news content for online usage, not creating 4K documentaries.

The usual paraphernalia will go with me. A USB power pack, Bluetooth headphones, cables and cards and as with last years tour (mobile reporting kit 12) it won’t be a lightweight kit. Perhaps the Lumia 1020 and the Ultrabook would be enough on their own but for a 14-day tour that would be too risky.

There’s one thing I want to highlight about my year-old Haswell-based Ultrabook. The battery isn’t as strong as it was and although I’m still getting 6+ hours out of it, it’s going to be a risk if I don’t take the power adaptor. Remember this, if you’re thinking about an all-day PC, it might not be ‘all-day’ a year later.

Stay tuned for IFA and IDF reporting across the UMPCPortal, Ultrabooknews and my new site, Chromebookworld.

The lightest off-grid reporting kit of 2014.

Here’s a kit I’ve been having fun with this summer. I’ve dropped the Nokia 808 for the Lumia 1020 (I didn’t have the 1020 until recently) but that Acer W4 (3G version) with the Microsoft Wedge keyboard and Changers solar panel and storage is about as light, as capable and as efficient as it gets right now. If you’re thinking about an ultra-mobile and ultra-light kit this weighs just 1.4KG (ignore the additional stand as it’s included in the Wedge keyboard cover.

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History of Chippy’s Mobile Reporting Kits.

  • V12 (Sept 2013) is here.
  • V11 (Jan 2012) is here.
  • V10 (August 2011) is here.
  • V9 (Nov 2010) is here.
  • V8 (May 2010) is here.
  • V7 (Feb 2010) is here.
  • V6 (Jun 2009) is here.
  • V5 (March 2009) is here.
  • V4 (Sept 2009) is here.
  • V3 (Feb 2008) is here.
  • V2 (Sept 2007) is here
  • V1 (March 2007) is here.
Author: "Chippy" Tags: "Report, chromebook, idf14, mobile journa..."
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