I don’t know how Lenovo did it but they have. The Lenovo X1 Tablet keyboard is amazing, and an engineering highlight. It’s got that classic Thinkpad feel of silky key-tops and solid, confidence-inspiring mechanics. There’s a touchpointer, mechanical mouse buttons and a touchpad. There’s even a backlight. Video overview, including the Lenovo X1 tablet itself, below.
Remember the revolutionary HP note-taking device teased back in June? It’s just been launched in the USA and it’s called the HP Envy 8 Note. It’s an 8-inch Windows 10 tablet with digitizer layer, unique HP note-taking software and a big keyboard that acts as a cover.
HP Envy 8 Note
A 1920 x 1200 screen, Atom X5 CPU and stylish design set it apart from other 8-inch tablets although if you choose the keyboard you’ll end up carrying something completely unique in the market today. Acer tried it with the W3 a few years back but this looks better executed.
While the package price of $429 (available November 9th in the USA) seems attractive you need to note that at that price its only coming with the Atom X5 8300 and 2GB of RAM. You’ll be able to buy the tablet and pen for $329 though. There’s a Verizon LTE option which, according to the press release, seems to be included in the setup but will need a contract to use. That’s obviously going to be different if the HP Envy 8 Note reaches other countries. As an upgrade from the HP Stream 8 with Datapass this could be a good option, especially if we see other configurations.
The keyboard is netbook style but has 1.5 mm key travel, soft rear, pen holder and tablet holder. It’s a Bluetooth keyboard so don’t expect an expansion or extra battery to be included. Unfortunately we don’t have a weight for the keyboard yet but a total tablet+keyboard weight of well under 1 KG / 2.2 pounds isn’t unreasonable.
There’s a MicroSD card slot, micro SIM slot and audio headset port. The HDMI port that some are looking for, is missing and the Micro USB charge port only supports USB 2.0.
I went into the Apple keynote and an expected iPad Pro yesterday via Microsoft Edge on a Surface Pro 3. It was fun to take screenshots of the live stream, annotate them and share them via Universal apps. Connected via Gigabit Ethernet I was sure of a smooth Internet experience and I even had a webcam connected in case I wanted to dive into a Google hangout. The flexibility of the Surface Pro 3 just can’t be beaten.
It’s just minutes after Apple have announced the iPad Pro and I have a feeling that most of you will have heard the news already, but here’s a lot more detail. A 12.9-inch 2732 x 2048 screen with an A9X CPU inside. The iPad Pro has ‘desktop class’ performance. Clearly the Surface Pro 4 has competition.
The 12.9-inch screen has a 4:3 ratio and variable refresh rate to save battery life. 2732 x 2048 5.6 million pixels
The new A9X CPU (ARM architecture) has “desktop class” performance although Apple also say that it’s faster than 80% of small laptops. (Quote: Faster than 80% of portable PCs.)
Battery life: 10 hours (Apple: Web, video and music usage.)
4 speakers give 3x the audio volume as the iPad air 2.
The iPad Pro is 6.9mm thick and weighs just 1.57 pounds which is an impressive 712 grams.
iPad Pro Keyboard accessory:
iPad Pro Smart Keyboard mechanics.
Apple also announced the Apple Pencil which is a digitizer pen with angle and pressure sensitivity. Charging is via the lightning port on the iPad Pro.
Update: Apple have more information on the Apple Pencil here.
Annotation during the live event via Windows Edge on Surface Pro 3.
iPad Pro Pricing and availability.
The starting price is $799 for a 32 GB WiFi version. A 128 GB version will be available for $949 and there’s an LTE 128 GB version for $130 more. [That sounds a lot to pay for LTE – Ed.] There’s no 64GB version.
The iPad Pencil costs a shocking $99 and the keyboard, a critical part of the iPad Pro that needs lots of testing before it’s recommended, costs $169.
At the high-end the iPad Pro with keyboard and pen costs $1347.
The iPad Pro will be available in November. (USA and other regions.)
The Vaio Z Canvas 12 is an amazing bit of engineering. It’s a 1.2 KG / 2.66 pound tablet with stand and keyboard cover which doesn’t sound like anything different…until you learn that this beast will run a K-series quad-core 47 W Haswell processor. Holy smoking tablets Batman!
There’s no name for this product but given the history of Toshiba Write tablets it could be that this is going to launch as the Toshiba Write convertible. It was teased on stage at the Microsoft press event here at IFA a short while ago and it we’re told that information will be available over the coming weeks.
Toshiba pen-enabled 2-in-1
The tablet looks incredibly thin and we were led to believe that it’s based on a Core m processor. The rest is speculation based on what we see here. 12.5-inch screen?
We’ll have to wait and see what Toshiba launch over the coming weeks but the question is, why not now?
USI, the Universal Stylus Initiative, have just delivered a progress update at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco. The specification for the inter-operable active stylus standard is expected in Q4 2015 and will include a 1-year battery life target , vendor extensions and a legacy mode. Presentation slides are available online.
If you want a high-end UMPC with options and matching accessories the new HP Pro 8 608 G1 should be right up there on the top of your list. The specifications read like a wish-list that starts with the latest Intel Atom X5 8500 CPU and this picture is the perfect introduction…
The HP Pro 8 608 G1 is primarily for business markets like logistics, retail and blue-light industries but there’s nothing here that would look out-of-place in a coffee shop. The specs are really impressive given the small dimensions of the tablet. How about the 7.86-inch capacitive multi-touch, BrightView White-LED UWVA (2048 x 1536) screen with Gorilla Glass 4, a 4:3 Wide Aspect Ratio and up to 450 nits brightness. Phew! A USB-C port (USB 3.0 adapter available) with AC WiFi (Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265, WiDi capable) and 3 cellular 3G/LTE options add up to top-of-the range connectivity and there’s NFC and GPS (I assume with the cellular modem option only) along with the usual set of movement sensors.
Don’t worry about RAM and storage because the HP Pro 8 608 G1 one goes up to 128 GB storage and 4GB RAM and you’ll be able to order it with a range of operating systems, including Windows 10. A 15W charger is included and the screen has a digitizer layer. The digitizer pen is an option.
The Micro SD card slot is expandable up to 2 TB according the official HP Pro 8 608 G1 spec sheet which also shows that the tablet has array mics, dual (2 + 8MP) cams and stereo speakers. A TPM module means you’ll be able to run Bitlocker disk encryption.
Battery capacity: 21 Wh. HP quote 8 hours video playback so expect 6 hours Web working.
Weight starts at a very impressive 340 grams but you’ll need to add to that if you’re getting a loaded LTE-capable model. Retail listings show 420 grams max. The weight of the travel keyboard case is significant though. 713 grams is twice the weight of the tablet and will take you up to 1 KG (2.2 pounds) in weight which ends up more than a Surface 3 which has the Atom X7 inside. Look again at the accessory list and you’ll find a Bluetooth keyboard case that weights just 115 grams which means you’ll can put a system together for under 1 pound in total weight.
Size: 137 x 207 x 8.35 mm (5.39 x 8.14 x 0.33 in) which is 30 mm less tall than the Thinkpad 8 with just a small increase in width. (132/236/8.8 mm) That’s the advantage of a 4:3 aspect ratio and should make the tablet more orientation agnostic.
HP Pro 8 Bluetooth keyboard K4U64AA
I’m struggling to think of anything that’s missing here, apart from an Intel X7 CPU which could offer higher processing power. The Atom X5 8500 runs from 1.44 Ghz to 2.24 Ghz but an Atom X7 8700 would run up to 2.4 Ghz. Having said that, if there’s no thermal headroom in the design, putting an X7 inside is pointless. The X5 should give you a reasonable desktop experience covering heavy web browsing, Office, photo editing and even basic full HD video editing.
If you’re wondering about native video output then you’ll have to re-think around USB-C which will add cost. Alternatively there’s a docking station with HDMI out, Gig-E and a USB port. Charging and data will be possible through either a Y-cable or separate 18W charger that connects to a docking port.
Hp Pro 8 608 port layout
HP Pro Tablet 608 and accessory prices, availability.
All this high-end technology, options and accessories is not going to come cheap. Looking around at retail prices though I am seeing a 4GB RAM / 64 GB model with 3G (HSDPA+) for 680 Euros (€571.43 pre-tax is about $625) and according to Liliputing the base model will be available for $430. I’m seeing a 128 GB / 4GB non-cellular model (P2C14UT#ABA) for $591.04 in the USA with availability in the next week and there’s an offer on the high-end version with LTE for just over $600. [Search Google for “hp pro 608 P2C14UT”] On the HP website you’ll find model P2C14UT with 4GB RAM, 128 GB storage and Qualcomm Gobi 4G for $599 although there’s a disclaimer on that price.
Guide retail pricing for HP Pro Tablet 608 accessories:
Portable docking station: $250
HP Active pen. N9D47AA : $55
HP USB-C-to-USB-3.0-Adapter N2Z63AA: $25
Bluetooth keyboard case K4U64AA: €90 (Higher than expected. No US pricing found.)
HP Pro 8 travel keyboard M1E79AA : €60 – €75 (Suspiciously low pricing. No US pricing found.)
USB-C Y cable (USB 3.0 and power) N2Z65AA: unknown price
HP Pro WiDi, Miracast adapter F7W95AA: unknown price
The HP Pro 8 608 G1 is the first tablet I’ve seen that competes with the trusty Thinkpad 8 and with 4GB and USB 3.0 offers much better productivity than the cheap 8-inch tablets we’ve been seeing up until now. I have a request out to get a review sample and am looking forward to it. In the meantime, check out a hands-on by Brad Linder of Liliputing.
Among the many well-presented and informative sessions at BUILD last week was one on pen and touch input, DirectInk and APIs in Windows 10 that will improve the experience, reduce latency and make it easier for developers to add ‘ink’ capabilities to Windows 10 applications. With around 15 million pen-enabled devices in customers hands and increase in the number of pen-enabled tablets available it currently represents a niche opportunity for developers but with these changes in Windows 10, Microsoft’s acquisition of N-Trig and the low-cost Surface 3 the opportunity could grow significantly.
An updated Dell Venue 11 Pro 5150 (5130 in some areas) with a high-end Atom CPU, 64 Bit Windows and Full HD screen has appeared. This is the closest I’ve seen to the Microsoft Surface 3.
Dell Venue 11 Pro 515 with 64-bit Windows
The high-end Atom CPU is the Z3795 which has Turbo Boost to 2.4 Ghz, just as the Surface 3 does and seeing as the Atom X7 and Z3000 series have similar per-clock CPU power there shouldn’t be much difference in CPU-related benchmarks (<10% based on reports so far.) The X7 will probably pull clear with GPU benchmarks. SSD speeds will be close and there’s even a USB 3.0 port on the Dell. That’s rare for products based on the Z3000-series.
Click for the Dell USA sales page. [This is not an advert.]
64-bit Windows is important because it means the 64-bit bootloader is far more compatible with alternative Linux builds than the Z3xxx series products that only have 32-bit Windows bootloaders. It’s available, with a slim keyboard, for $499 in the USA – the price of the Surface 3 tablet, without keyboard. There’s a similar product available in Europe which also works out cheaper than the Surface 3.
Consider the following before ordering the Dell Venue 11 Pro 5150. Firstly I have requested a review sample of this product (and the Surface 3) so i’ll be able to update you on all the performance figures and answer questions with authority soon. In the meantime, consider the following:
10.8 inch screen on Dell is the same ‘size’ as the Surface 3 but the Surface 3 is a 3:2 ratio screen with 1920 x 1280 resolution. 200 more pixels in the vertical (landscape mode.)
Keyboard options on the Dell mean you can get a power-keyboard that is lap-able and includes an extra battery (for about 50% more battery life.) The keyboard weighs as much as the tablet though. The Slim Keyboard option has a fixed angle and no backlight. It weighs 11 ounces taking the total weight of the product to about 2.2 pounds / 1 KG.
A docking station option is available for both. A folio case is also available for the Dell.
The stylus option for the Dell is cheaper than the stylus option for the Surface 3 but I can’t comment on pen performance as I haven’t tested the Dell stylus.
The Dell Venue 11 Pro 5000 has HDMI video output. The Surface 3 uses the DisplayPort standard, which is arguably better for multiple displays (Chaining.)
At 1.57 pounds 770 grams the Dell Venue 11 Pro 5000 tablet is much heavier than the Surface 3 and this could be the most important difference between the two. The Surface 3 tablet weighs just 1.37 pounds / 622 grams. You will notice this difference a lot when holding the tablet for long periods.
The Dell Venue 11 Pro 5000 does not include a year of Office 365 / 1TB storage upload. The Surface 3 does.
No AC Wifi on the Dell. AC Wifi on the Surface 3.
Screen quality on the Dell 5130 was reported to be good. It should compete with the good screen quality on the Surface 3.
The Dell has an NFC sensor. (The Surface 3 doesn’t.)
Graphics performance on the Surface 3 will beat the Dell by an estimated 30-50%.
The (removable) battery on the Dell is bigger than that in the Surface 3. (32 Wh vs 27 Wh) This explains a lot of the thickness and weight difference.
LTE options available on both Venue and Surface. (Location dependant.)
Micro SD card slot on Dell requires a pin to open. (It’s meant to be tidier and slightly more secure.)
The difference between the Surface 3 and the Venue 11 Pro 5000 is minimal. I like that there are 2 keyboard options on the Dell and at this point I lean towards the Dell as the better option. But that’s me, what are your thoughts? 3:2 vs 16:9 is a big discussion as is the tablet weight.
It was last September when my Ultrabook screen went blank and never came back. I was gutted; Not only because it was my favourite PC but because I was half-way through reporting on the IFA trade-show and I had a flight to the IDF conference 2 days later. Thanks to Intel Germany I flew out with a Surface Pro 3 and the more I use this incredibly well-designed tablet PC, the more I like it. It’s not my main PC though and I thought I would take the time to explain where the Surface Pro 3 fits into the life of someone who is literally surrounded by touch-screen tablets, laptops and mini PCs. The Surface Pro 3 has taken on the important role of being my hot-desking PC.
Hot-desk setup with the Surface Pro 3 and Belkin USB 3.0 dock
The Surface Pro 3 is a powerful lightweight Windows tablet PC with touch and digitizer but I find myself loving the Surface Pro 3 simply because it’s a lightweight mobile PC that I can dock at home and in my co-working office [A big shout out to my Coworking Bonn buddies] and one that I can use for meetings, in the coffee shop and in the bus home if I need to. Apart from the lack of 3G/4G the Surface Pro 3 is one of the most ultra-mobile, work-anywhere PCs I’ve ever used.
Let me start by reviewing the Type Cover keyboard. This bouncy slice of mechanics feels strange, unlike any keyboard I’ve ever used and yet it’s productive. It has a backlight too! It snaps willingly to the tablet and is the perfect demonstration of how a tablet can turn into a laptop. Almost. The biggest issue with this setup is the area required to hold it stable. A laptop requires the area under keyboard; The Surface Pro requires an extra 200 mm behind it for the stand. It’s this huge area that will cut your productivity over a standard laptop if you rely on ‘lap-toping.’ I tried it for a few keynotes and press events and wasn’t happy with stability. Despite that the stand is worth having and after 4 months using the stand I don’t have any sign that the mechanics are wearing out.
The Surface Pro 3 is an expensive hot-desker. $780 buys you a Core i3, 64GB, digitizer-capable tablet but if you don’t need the pen-layer you might not be getting best value for your money. Prices for Ultrabooks have come down recently and a when I look at devices like the Dell XPS 13 (2015 version with Broadwell) I see more battery life, a bigger screen, a better keyboard and more processing power for the same money and just 10% more weight. The Core-M mobile PCs are looking good too. The Lenovo Yoga 3 11 and ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi are around the same weight and the Acer Aspire Switch 12 is entering the market at just $699. There’s no digitizer on the Acer Aspire Switch 12 and it’s not as powerful as the Surface Pro 3 but it’s much cheaper and arguably more suited to being docked as you can use the Bluetooth keyboard and pointer. Many of these Core M options are fanless too and that makes a difference in a quiet office.
Surface Pro 3 with Type-Cover keyboard
The Surface Pro 3 isn’t loud in normal use but I occasionally hear the sound of a working background process or a heavyweight web page. When I’m rendering my 1080p videos the fan gets almost embarrassingly loud in my co-working office but one can’t moan when it crunches through transcoding with such speed. Quick Sync has come a long way since I first tested it with a 1st-generation Ultrabook in 2011. Handbrake (with Quick Sync support) can now crunch a 1080p 50 FPS 30Mbps file down to 720p at over 200 frames per second!
At this point I should note that I don’t have a digitizer pen but as I have other devices with a digitizer I know that I rarely use such a feature. The only time I really wanted a pen was when I was using the Surface Pro 3 as a whiteboard over Miracast to an Actiontec receiver on a projector. It would have been nice to use One Note as a whiteboard but as it turned out, my finger wasn’t bad either.
While I’m normally mains-power connected I have had reason to worry about battery life. The Intel Developer Forum proved to me that you won’t get through a day without a charger and that, unfortunately, adds weight to the overall package. This is significant as the Ultrabook I was using previously could get through a day meaning that the 1.4KG was all I needed. 200 grams of power supply brings the total tablet/type-cover/power weight to 1.3KG. Looking at the ‘powercfg’ battery report I see that the battery hasn’t worn in the last 4 months at all which indicates that Microsoft have used a good quality battery.
The port choice on the Surface Pro 3 needs consideration. A Mini-DisplayPort is provided for video output and although DP is generally the most flexible it’s not that common to find it on mainstream monitors or projectors. I’m using a DisplayLink video connection (over USB 3.0 via the docking station) which solves that problem but it reduces the quality of graphics and video playback and requires some work from the CPU. That’s not an issue for office-usage but it needs to be mentioned. The docking station also solves the issue of available USB ports. One port isn’t enough for hot-desking if you don’t have a USB hub or USB docking station. Finally there’s the issue of using a MicroSD card slot if your camera uses SD cards. Again, a USB adaptor is required.
Disk performance – Surface Pro 3
Speakers OK for background music.
WiFi performance good.
Looking forward to Windows 10.
Magnetic power connector good.
Display colors and brightness is excellent.
Connected Standby works but isn’t as efficient as it should be.
Bitlocker encryption (full disk encryption) enabled.
Miracast works (tested with Actiontec ScreenBeam Pro.)
Great disk performance.
Useful USB charging port on the power adaptor.
Satisfactory 1080p editing (for short, simple YouTube projects) and rendering speed using Cyberlink Power Director 12 and Intel Quick-Sync rendering hardware.
No NFC. (I have used it extensively for photo transfer in the past.)
I could use the Surface Pro as my only PC and it makes a fantastic hot-desking solution if you’re prepared to set up a USB 3.0 dock or DisplayPort screen and USB hub but there are two major considerations. 1) The Surface Pro 3 isn’t the best hot-desking solution at the price. Many Ultrabooks would be better as they would offer a better keyboard experience, more ports and larger battery life for a similar weight. The new Dell XPS 13 2015 is the one to watch. 2) The surface Pro 3 isn’t the best casual tablet. It’s too heavy and large.
Where the Surface Pro 3 shines is in flexibility and quality. The Surface Pro 3’s digitizer enables annotations, hover-actions, projected white-board and a digital canvas and there are times when I really wish I had the stylus. [I don’t have it because the SP3 was given to me by Intel without the stylus.] The Surface Pro 3 can handle 1080p video editing. The Surface Pro 3 is a quiet desktop. The Surface Pro 3 can be used in more places than the average laptop. Finally, the Surface Pro 3’s quality is always a pleasure to have to the point where I’m proud to be using it in my co-working space and whenever i’m on the road. It will be my working ‘laptop’ when i’m at MWC and CeBIT in March.
Surface Pro 3 on a Belkin USB 3.0 dock
Surface Pro 3 hot-desk details
Belkin USB 3.0 Dual Video docking stand for Ultrabooks [Amazon.com link]
MyDigital SSD USB 3.0 external SSD (256GB – often used for windows File History) [Amazon.com link]
DVI-connected Full HD monitor (LG Flatron M227WDP – Not excellent quality!)
Gigabit Ethernet connection from docking station
Logitech MK270 USB keyboard and mouse with long battery life. (RF, not Bluetooth) [Amazon.com link]
Alternatively, without the docking station and monitor I would use a mini USB 2.0 hub, USB Gigabit Ethernet adaptor and a cheap laptop stand.
Surface Pro 4
I’ve written about future Surface Pro platforms before where I highlighted a number of routes to the next Surface Pro products. A smaller, lighter, fanless Surface Pro is possible with Intel Core M or there’s the possibility to improve the SP3 all-round by using a fanless Skylake platform later in 2015. Having a fanless option with wireless charging and WiGi would showcase Skylake well and I think this is the most likely scenario for Surface Pro 4. The Skylake option is something that could be demonstrated in Q3 for Q4 availability. Here’s a rundown of the options.
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 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. Fanless.
13.3-inch Broadwell – Too heavy for a tablet with a 15W TDP Browdwell although ‘TDP-Down’ configurations could be used to reduce this.
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 but ‘wire free’ is likely to be one of the showcase features.
Microsoft Surface Pro 3 information including videos, articles, gallery and specifications available here.