10 years ago today I posted a set of blog posts about the need for a 5-7 inch mobile internet device. The Carrypad Journal covered the early days of the Windows tablet, the growth of consumer tablets and the evolution of mobile productivity. It’s a pleasure to be writing about a very intresting new product from HP today. The HP Elite X3.
My full review of the HP Pro Tablet 608 G1 is now available on Notebookcheck. It scored 78% which is good, but, not that good. The docking station and USB-C port, screen and build quality are excellent but there’s one thing that’s not quite right.
Among a long list of announcements from HP today was the HP Spectre 12 X2 detachable which spins a now-familiar design into ‘an irreplaceable companion’. HP’s take on the Surface Pro design includes the Core M processor, 12-inch Full HD screen, two USB-C ports and of course a keyboard and pen. It looks good and it’s well-priced but it will go right up against the Lenovo Miix 700. It has other competition too.
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.
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.
The tablet was shown very briefly along with the new HP Pavilion 10 X2 but there’s not much information, or even images of it. HP call it ‘revolutionary’ in their blog, but that’s about all they’re saying.
The HP Pavilion 10 X2 tablet / keyboard case hasn’t been out for long but it has been a popular device in the UMPCPortal database. Maybe it was because of the very light total weight and good price. The updated HP Pavilion 10 X2 has a new hard-docking keyboard and has been updated with an Intel Atom Cherry Trail processing platform and USB-C. Like all the new tablets we’re seeing at Computex this is running Windows 10. It’s looking like a great ultra-mobile PC solution.
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.
I’ve tested this before but it needs to be done again. A sub-$200 8-inch Windows 8 tablet with external Full-HD screen, Gigabit Ethernet, a 256GB SSD, external sound module and USB keyboard and mouse all driven over one UBS 2.0 link. I’m using the HP Stream 8 here.
Belkin DisplayLink and HP Stream 8
Here’s the display set-up I’m working with now. IE11 (Modern) on the left with Bing News on the right on the main screen. On the tablet screen I have Tweetium running.
I’ve just bought a HP Stream 8 with 3G and the first video and first-impressions are ready for you. The video is below and if you’re interested in a truly mobile PC (that is a handheld PC with mobile internet) then you’ll need to watch this and think about this new class of sub-$200 3G-enabled Windows tablets. It’s an incredible deal when you think about it because it was only a few years ago when we were forced to pay many hundreds of dollars more for a 3G/4G-enabled PC. Manufacturers only had cellular options on business-class devices and those options were always $100 or more. The HP Stream 8 not only has 3G included but includes a small amount of data free every month. 200MB goes quickly on a PC but you can add more or put your own SIM card in and really start to enjoy the benefits of Connected Standby. Using a Skype-in number, this tablet could be a phone. Using a turn-by-turn navigation program, an always-online navigation unit. It’s a mobile hotspot, a great social networking tool and when Windows 10 launches there’ll be a whole new life injected into it. It comes with one year of Office365 Personal, 1TB of OneDrive (1 year uploading, always available) and 60 Skype call-out minutes per month.
I’ve just ordered the HP Stream 8 5900ng 8-inch Windows tablet because of an amazing European 3G deal. The HP Stream 8 5900ng includes an unlocked 3G module and comes with 200MB of Europe-roaming data per month for 2 years. You can top-up on a regular or one-off basis. According to information on the HP Germany website, USA is included from the 1st Feb 2015. Is this the ultra-mobile PC deal of the year? My company just paid €149 after entering an offer code and taking into account the sales-tax rebate. Office 365 is also included in the deal. Even without Office 365 this the best 3G-enabled ultra-mobile PC deal I’ve ever seen in Europe.
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.
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.
Mike Cane often highlights low-cost Windows tablet news on his blog.