Starting at just $329 the 10-inch Dell Venue 10 Pro doesn’t look like anything special but take a look at the high-end package that’s available in the range. It comes with a nice-looking keyboard dock, full HD screen, 64 GB storage and it costs just $429 now at the Dell US site. There’s even a Wacom digitizer pen available for $34.99. Ooh! Do we have another Surface 3 competitor here?
Did you know that Intel makes own-brand tablets, laptops and 2-in-1s? I’ve had a couple and they’re pretty good. The latest is built on the next-generation Core platform codenamed Skylake which is due in late 2015. Nicole Scott from Mobilegeeks got a close look at the prototype at Intel’s developer conference in Shenzen and I’ve just taken a look at a PDF presentation describing what’s inside. It’s inspirational, and that’s the idea because these products aren’t targeted at consumers, they are early showcases that are meant to stimulate product designers and software developers into creating the next-generation PCs that you and I might want to buy in 2016. Read-on to find about E-ink, WiGig, USB-C, wireless charging and other new technologies that you’ll find inside the Skylake reference design and might find in your next 2 in 1 tablet.
Skylake, the next generation Intel Core platform, has been teased a few times and it has usually been in conjunction with Intel’s ‘no wires’ marketing and 2-in-1 designs. I expect the platform to form part of a new Core M range (probably before any other laptop or desktop versions) and for it to be a big step forward in both processing capability and features. WiGig is coming of age as is USB-C but there are other technologies like wireless power, NFC and RealSense that Intel want to push. In a presentation at IDF 15 last week Intel even highlighted E-Ink secondary screens.
E-ink secondary screen on a tablet.
You’ll see it demonstrated in the video below but before you take a look at that, look at some of the details that Intel presented to attendees at IDF. The presentation PDF (available here but you might have to go through the session catalog here first) is titled “Integration of New Technologies for 2 in 1 Detachable Systems” and although it doesn’t directly reference Skylake, it’s clear that Intel are talking about next generation high-end architecture in the presentation.
Processor block diagram. Likely to be Skylake.
Note wireless charging in base.
Intel sees USB-C playing a big part in docking connectors for tablet and keyboards. In theory this could lead to some level of standardization. You might be able to plug a wireless charging keyboard into a tablet with a small USB-C cable, for example.
USB Type C can be used for docking keyboards to tablets.
The tablet internals showing RealSense camera, 34 Wh battery and more.
This ‘showcase’ doesn’t look as tidy as the new Macbook does on the inside but then the new Macbook doesn’t have RealSense, WiGig, GPS and (given that there’s a fan) a laptop-class processor in a dockable tablet design. Finally, there’s the wireless charging and WiGi to consider…
WiGig – Critical to Intel’s ‘no wires’ strategy.
Wireless charging on a 2-in-1.
Nicole Scott from Mobilegeeks got to take a look at the real thing at IDF 15 in Shenzen. Take a look at the video below and read Nicole’s article here. Let us know what you think of these new technologies in the comments below. Which of the features do you want first and how much are you prepared to pay?
HP launched the Spectre X360 at MWC and as I’m here working with MobileGeeks I’ve had a chance to get some hands-on and look at the internals. It’s a beautifully crafted Ultrabook convertible from both perspectives and the big battery is going to give it battery life in the 8-10 hours range which means it’s a competitor to the current belle-of-the-ball, the Dell XPS 13.
The 11-inch Yoga got a significant upgrade when Lenovo launched the Yoga 3 11 this week. It’s a fanless Core M based convertible that now has a Full HD screen, a redesigned casing and hinge, has a power connector that doubles-up as a third USB port and it weighs just 1.1KG (2.4 pounds.) The starting price is $799 which, as we all know, means is will probably sell for a street price of $750 or even $699 with promotions. There’s no backlit keyboard and the battery is relatively small but for a convertible ultralight the Yoga 3 11 has to be high on the list.
An early sample of the 12.5-inch Asus Transformer Book T300Fa 2-in-1 has been reviewed by Ultrabookreview. The 812 gram fanless tablet (1.79 pounds) is not as light as the ASUS Chi but at around 600 Euro (based on one online pre-order price) it looks like a good value and yet powerful 2-in-1. A 1366×768 screen might put off those thinking about replacing a laptop for productive use but there’s a nice feature in the docking-keyboard drive-bay.
A few noteworthy take-aways from the review include the relatively slow eMMC disk speeds. They’re no faster than a $200 PC and should have been better. Having said that there’s a disk bay that can be used. It’s a USB-connected SATA interface and speeds, with the right SSD, should be better than the eMMC. Unfortunately that wasn’t tested in the review. The other slightly disappointing thing is the battery which, at 30Wh is small for a 1.6KG total weight. ASUS haven’t put a battery in the dock so you’re looking at around 5 hours of browsing on the tablet and less if you’re docked to the hard drive.
Core M performance is as we would expect with Ultrabook-level 3D performance and sub-Ultrabook CPU performance which is impressive on a fanless device. Weight still needs to come down though so for the best ultra-mobile PC experience on a 12.5-inch 2-in-1 you’ll have to wait for the ASUS Transformer Book Chi.
Rounding-off a series of Chromebook updates here on UMPCPortal are my thoughts on the Lenovo N20p Chromebook which is built around a design I tested recently in the Lenovo Flex 10. In my opinion it adds a lot of value to a laptop and is actually more suited to a laptops design than a ‘yoga’ style tablet-capable design. Like the Flex 10 the N20P has a 270-degree fold-back ‘stand mode’ touchscreen and comes with a basic set of specifications. Atom CPU, 2GB of RAM and 16 GB of eMMC storage.
Unlike the Flex 10 this Chromebook doesn’t have a touch-friendly user interface option and that, for the time being, could be seen as a big disadvantage. In practice though there are a lot of things you can do with a touchscreen in stand mode and web-browsing is an important one. When I did the in-depth Lenovo Flex 10 testing I found the unit to be more practical as a partner PC than a 7-inch or even 10-inch tablet without a stand. Magazine-style reader apps (I use Feedly) are great with coffee as is a Facebook or Tweetdeck ‘easel.’ Video applications work well too because this seat-back friendly mode brings the screen closer to the eye and, at full fold-back, has great stability. If you want to lift the screen to eye-height you’re also able to fold the screen to 180-degrees and prop up the unit to balance on the keyboard edge. Flex is good and worth paying a little extra for.
At current prices the Lenovo N20p is going to set you back about $60-$80 more than the cheaper Chromebook options which is a significant 25%-33% more than the cheaper ASUS and Acer options and, presumably because of the design, it’s a little heavier than, say, the ASUS C200. There’s a 34.8Wh battery inside which is OK, but not the biggest either.
Screen resolution is a basic 1366×768 and there’s no mention of wide-viewing angles in the Lenovo marketing materials. A USB 2.0. USB 3.0, SD card, headset and full-size HDMI port are on-board and there’s AC-capable WiFi.
Although there isn’t a perfect match between a 2-in-1 design and ChromeOS now the Lenovo N20p offers the consumer something that’s been missing from Chromebooks up until now – fun. As ChromeOS develops with new features and improved touch capability the N20p could evolve into an attractive secondary PC for home and holiday use. If the AccuType full-size keyboard is good, this might make a good conference or hotel PC. In the Education market students are going to be far more excited about this Chromebook design.
I’m not one to pass on rumours but I have always believed, since I tested the Switch 10, that an 11.6-inch version would be even better. An article at TabTec takes some previously unseen model numbers and predicts that an 11.6-inch Acer Switch, the SW5-111 and SW5-171, will arrive at IFA.
There’s literally no more information other than the new model numbers that were found on an Acer website but if you follow Acer’s model numbers it would make sense that an SW5-111 would be an 11.6-inch with Atom/Celeron and that the 171 would be running a Core CPU (I’d guess at a Haswell Y-series.) They would be a natural replacement for the Acer Aspire P3 range which runs on 2nd-generation Core.
If an 11.6-inch Acer Switch 11 to be launched there would need to be some improvements over the Switch 10 to make it interesting. A Full-HD screen, larger battery (or additional battery in keyboard) would be the first on the list. A good price would be expected too.
I’m at IFA (from 3rd Sept) so will be able to being you some more information then, unless Acer launches the Switch 11 beforehand.
NewsComments Off on Acer Switch, with an 11-inch screen. This rumour makes sense.
I’m testing the Acer Aspire Switch 10 for Notebookcheck.net right now and it’s going well. I prefer it to the ASUS Transformer Book T100 because of the better keyboard, mouse and screen but there’s one little issue – battery life. The Switch 10 has a 24Wh battery inside which is much less than the 34Wh battery of the ASUS T100 and less than half of what you got on the previous W510. Looking at the keyboard reveals that it’s quite light and has 8 exposed screws so naturally I took a look inside. What I saw was encouraging because there’s space, screw holes and an unused PCB header space.
We saw the Llama mountain 12.5-inch concept announced at Computex yesterday. Its 7.2mm fanless design is enabled by the new 14nm Broadwell-Y based Core M branded CPUs. Today at Computex Intel demonstrated a 10-inch version of that dockable tablet that weighs just 550 grams (1.21 pounds.) That’s as light as any Atom-based 10-inch Windows tablet we’ve seen to date. The thickness is just 6.8mm. This is a breakthrough. A Core-powered fanless tablet at a consumer-friendly weight.
This is only a reference design but it’s working and obviously something that OEMs will be working with to help them produce interesting 2-in-1 and tablet products for Q4 this year. We’re trying to track down some images of the Llama Mountain 10-inch design so check back for more info as we update.
In the same event today Intel also announced more details on RealSense sensors including RealSense Snapshot for depth-enabled photography. [concept video from IDF shown here.]
Intel also announced a new RealSense SDK, a new developer kit, new developer competition and a lot of applications that will be RealSense-enabled. More info on RealSense here.
The press release is here. No information was given on the next-gen Windows tablet platform, Cherry Trail.
I was a little surprised that ASUS didn’t mention the Transformer Book T200TA in the press event at Computex yesterday but at least it showed-up on the Asus booth today. This 399 Euro 2-in-1 should raise some eyebrows.
Mobilegeeks got hands-on and here’s a round-up of the specifications for you. Video below.