Tag Archive | "tablet pc"

Lenovo Thinkpad 8 (Z3795) testing update

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I bought a Thinkpad 8 last week. Why? This high-end Windows 8 tablet with LTE and 4GB got an update to the Z3795 CPU, has much improved performance over the original and was retailing in the UK for an absolute bargain price. Since I bought it I’ve done a lot of testing and a lot of travelling with it. I’ve also treated it to a hard case and a USB 3.0 OTG adaptor which says a lot about how I plan to use it.

Ivso hard case / stand for Lenovo Thinkpad 8

Ivso hard case / stand for Lenovo Thinkpad 8

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Windows 10 Build 10158 – Bigger steps needed for tablet users

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This post is out of date before I’ve even posted it. As I was finalizing this post, build 10159 appeared and I’m downloading it now. We don’t know what’s in the latest build yet but it’s said to be significant. I’ll update this post with anything that’s affected here and write a new overview after I’ve looked at build 10159.

The ‘beta’ tags have been removed from Store, Music, Maps, Edge and other apps in Windows 10 preview release 10158 and the old Windows 8.1 versions have gone. There are visual tweaks, support for Hello where users have the required hardware and Quiet Hours is back. The Battery indicator shows remaining and time-to-charge figures, the Photos app has been updated and the (desktop) Snipping Tool has a new delay feature. Microsoft Wi-Fi is coming. But there’s little here for tablet users.

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Official: Windows 10 to start rolling out July 29th

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Microsoft has set a date for Windows 10 updates. The free upgrades for Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs will be available on July 29th.

Windows 10 Logo

Windows 10 is coming on July 29th 2015

Microsoft is currently testing pre-release version 10130 as an insider preview but this announcement could mean that the next pre-release version will take it to ‘beta’ with no further feature changes. Cortana, Windows Hello and the Edge browser are just a few of the new features but major UI changes will also play a big part in whether users choose to upgrade.

There are questions, too, about which PCs in the mobile sector will actually be able to run Windows 10 as many of the tablets and low-end 2-in-1 PCs have small solid-state disks with some of them even having a locked Windows 8 restore partition. A WIndows 10 install is going to be difficult on devices with these restrictions which cover nearly all of the recent Windows 8.1 tablets. Expect manufacturers to capitalise on that limitation, and the new Intel Atom X5, as we move through Computex this week. [ASUS Transformer Book T100 HA has already been announced.]

Device not eligible for the free upgrade will need a license which, according to leaks, could cost $109 for a ‘home’ version.

Microsoft is aiming to have 1 billion Windows 10 devices (PCs, smartphones, Xbox) within a 3-year timeframe and combined with a push for Universal Applications is aiming to solve the critical problems of app store economics and quality.

For a look at a recent build of Windows 10 on an 8 inch tablet, take a look at the video below (via TheDigitalLifestyle) which shows the Toshiba Encore running Windows 10 release 10130. Microsoft’s release notes for this version can be found here.

Source: Microsoft Blog. Hat-tip: Cnet.

Windows 10 pen and touch improvements presented at Build.

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Microsoft Build 2015 starts 29th April

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.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 3 extended review and tips. It’s still worth it!

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After six months with the Surface Pro 3 I felt inspired to write a detailed review, and that says a lot about the product.

Surface Pro 3, and pen, review.

Surface Pro 3, and pen, review.

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Comparing the Surface 3 with the much cheaper Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2

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Everyone that has reviewed the Surface 3 so far has been fairly confident that it can be a laptop replacement. Actually it can’t until you buy the keyboard for it but in terms of performance it’s not bad. The issue is that the previous generation Atom arent that much slower. If you look closely at the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 (Windows version) you’ll see a product that makes the Surface 3 look way overpriced.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with Windows

I’m using the Yoga Tablet 2 as the Surface 3 comparison for a number of reasons. It’s got a 1920×1200 10.1-inch (not 10.8-inch) IPS screen, a stand (continuously variable) and it weighs 629 grams which is just 7 grams more than the Surface 3. There’s 2 GB of RAM inside and a 1.3-1.8Ghz Baytrail-T processor. The battery is a huge 34 Wh which is 25% bigger than that in the Surface 3. Storage is small at 32GB (compared to 64Gb and much more usable space on the Surface 3.) The port choice is comparable although there’s only one micro-USB 2.0 port. It doesn’t have AC WiFi, it’s only a 32 bit version of Windows and there’s no digitizer layer.

You can find all the information you need on the Microsoft Surface 3 here, and all the information you need on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 here.

In the USA there’s about $180 price difference. In Europe, where the Surface 3 is more expensive and the Yoga Tablet 2 is cheaper you’ll save yourself €250 and you’ll get the Bluetooth keyboard thrown in for the €349 total price saving around €380 over a base Surface 3 and keyboard. Half the price!

I do agree that the Surface 3 is unique and that nothing directly compares to it but if you’re looking at the entry-level model of the Surface 3 and are not interested in the digitizer then the Yoga Tablet 2 is the better value product.

I love the Yoga Tablet 2. The design is great, the screen pops and the keyboard is good (I had hands-on at MWC and CeBIT) and I like the battery hump because it’s a great way to hold the device. I’ve ordered it twice, and cancelled the order twice. I’m really close to buying one now just to compare in detail to the Surface 3 but you can see all the detail you need in this Notebookcheck review and I’m probably just looking for an excuse to buy it.

Surface 3

Surface 3

The other reason I won’t buy it now is because you’re going to see newer Atom X7 and X5-based tablets soon. While I don’t see much CPU and disk performance increases on a clock-for-clock basis we have to remember that the 14nm process used on the X5 and X7 frees up some Turbo Boost headroom. The Surface 3 can Turbo Boost to 2.4 Ghz meaning that Web activities are going to be noticeably quicker than on the classic 1.8 Ghz Atom Z3000-series.  4GB RAM is probably also worth waiting for…unless you need it now in which case there’s only one choice. The Surface 3 is unique when it comes to RAM and storage options and the excellent accessory range. Maybe we should stop comparing it to anything and just hope that it stimulates OEMs to launch a good range of competitors later this year.

You can find all the information you need on the Microsoft Surface 3 here, and all the information you need on the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 here.

Surface 3 Review units are out. Performance data is coming in.

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I’ve read a number of first impressions posts today that show the Microsoft Surface 3 (Intel Atom X7, Windows 8.1) has gone out to reviewers in the USA. A few more pieces of the puzzle have been slotted into place and there’s now a huge race to get the first full review out. Don’t expect the first reviews to be too in-depth (battery life tests might have to be added later!) but do expect some performance results and thoughts on-screen and keyboard. We’re also looking out for the Surface 3 eMMC SSD speed test results but in the meantime, at least we have the first performance test results and the battery capacity.

Surface 3 is being reviewed.

Surface 3 is being reviewed.

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Surface 3 with Atom X7 is just $499 and ultra-mobile.

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Bill Gates must be so happy today. The Microsoft Surface 3 has just launched with an Intel Atom X7 quad-core at $499 and with it, the TabletPC has reached a new landmark.

Surface 3 (4)

The Surface 3 takes the design of the successful Surface Pro 3 and squeezes it down into a 10.8 screen form factor and a 622 gram weight. This fanless Windows 8.1 (with free Windows 10 upgrade) tablet PC is also offering to do-it-all with the optional backlit Type Cover keyboard.  I think you’ll see a bunch of cheaper options during 2015 but, like the Surface Pro 3, the Surface 3 is going to be an item that has quality on its side.

Surface 3 side (4)

An LTE option is available ($100 more) and you can pick up 4GB and 128GB storage options too. There’s also a USB 3.0 connector and USB 2.0 (micro for charging and data) so you’ve got mobile power and connectivity options too. There’s no USB-C  port.

Surface 3 side

The storage will be eMMC based (Atom X7 doesn’t support SATA) so you won’t get the fast speeds of the SSD on the Surface Pro 3. It’s going to be fast enough for daily consumption use, but you never know the limits until you run the tests. The other missing data-point is the Surface 3 battery size in Wh. ’10 hours’ video playback isn’t really much to go on but I’ll guess at 35Wh and 7 hrs browsing at this stage given what I know about the platform and its predecessor.

The stand has three positions (not like the Surface Pro 3) and the screen resolution is 1920 x 1280 (3:2 ratio) which should help it in the hands. The Surface 3 is just 8.2 mm thick.

Microsoft Surface 3 comes with one year of Office 365 and 1TB of OneDrive storage.

Microsoft Surface 3 Specifications (base)

More specifications, notes, videos and images here in our database.

  • CPU type: Intel Atom x7-Z8700 quad-core 1.6 – 2.4 Ghz with Gen 8 graphics.
  • Fanless
  • OS: Windows 8.1 with free upgrade to Windows 10
  • Display Size: 10.8″ 1920 X 1280
  • Screen Type: LED-Backlit LCD, wide viewing angle. Touch with digitizer support.
  • RAM: 2 GB (4 GB option)
  • Flash 64 GB (128 GB option)
  • Weight (tablet) 622gm / 1.37 pounds
  • Size 267/187/8.7 mm
  • Size 10.5/7.4/0.3 inches
  • Physical Interfaces:DC-in. Displayport (Mini), Line-out / Headphone (3.5mm), SD slot (Micro), USB 2.0 (Micro), USB 3.0 (x1)
  • Wireless Interfaces: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0. LTE option.
  • Other: Accelerometer, Dolby Advanced Audio, Gyroscope, Microphone, Stereo speakers, Webcam 3.5 MP, Camera 8MP Auto-Focus
  • Optional: Backlit Keyboard, Surface Pen.

One has to assume that Microsoft are going to offer bundles with the dedicated Type Cover keyboard and Surface Pen in the future but for now you’re looking at a minimum of around $650 for that set-up and that means it’s not really a cheap option, especially if you think you might need (you probably will) 4GB of RAM. That option adds another $100 to the price.

There’s also the question of Cherry Trail performance.  Microsoft have chosen a high-end version of the X7 and with the right eMMC storage it shouldn’t be slow to respond but you won’t be running desktop games on this and video editing/rendering is not exactly going to be barrier-free.

If you want LTE you’ll need to budget for that ($699 with 4 GB RAM and 128 GB storage.) and you’ll have to wait until mid June in the USA. That’s 2.5 months away and a lot can happen in that time. Adding the pen and keyboard will take you up to over $850.

A list of 10-inch tablet PCs from our database.

The Surface Pro 3 has proven to be an incredibly versatile device and the ingredients seem to be there for the Surface 3 to be even better in the mobility department but at 10.8-inches the Surface 3 is a tablet-first device and won’t be as productive as the Surface Pro 3 with the keyboard. We all know the compromises that come with a 10-inch screen / keyboard.

If you add in a bit of discounting and look at the Surface 3 as a mobile tabletPC then it makes more sense. The weight is right, the battery life could be right and there’s bound to be a good community that builds around it.

Let us know your thoughts below. Were you hoping for an even smaller Surface? Waiting for a Surface Pro 3-M (with Core M) or are you waiting for a Surface Pro 4 with Broadwell-U?

Lenovo Miix 300. Solid spec’s on this budget 8-inch Windows tablet.

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I took a look at the Lenovo Miix 300 after it launched at MWC on Sunday and I was impressed to see such good specifications for a $149 Windows 8 tablet. There are a few things missing though.

Lenovo Miix 300 is low-cost but still has 2GB RAM

Lenovo Miix 300 is low-cost but still has 2GB RAM

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Low-cost 10-inch 2-in-1s start at $200. Here’s a market overview.

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I’m testing a new 10-inch detachable. The MSI S100 is one of a number of products in this expanding class and at $299 with a 10-inch screen and running an Atom CPU this MSI S100 is typical. The specifications might sound a bit netbook-y but these 2-in-1’s offer much more than the classic netbook. They’re more powerful, lighter and have longer battery life. There’s a touchscreen, smooth full HD platback and battery life that we could only dream of back in the day. There’s one problem that didn’t get solved though because the keyboards and screens are still too small for everyday productivity use. As there are low-priced options in the 11.6-laptop category now it leaves the 10-inch detachables to focus on mobility and tablet usage and it turns out to be an ideal combination for many scenarios from sofa-buddy to travelling-buddy.

MSI S100

MSI S100 10-inch detachable tablet and keyboard-case.

 

The ASUS Transformer Book T100 was one of the first successful devices in this category and it was a popular choice all the way from November 2013 through 2014. Versions included models with an extra hard drive, CPU variants, reduced RAM and various colours. There were even models selling with Windows 8.1 Pro which shows how wide the customer-base is. Prices for a 32GB/2GB T100 are well under $300 now but at CES in January ASUS launched a new model with a Full HD display, USB 3.0, faster processor and a slimmer design.  It will slot in above the existing T100 and pricing will start at $399. Meanwhile at the other end of the scale there are 10-inch Windows tablets with keyboard cases for under $200.

The T100 wasn’t the first 10-inch detachable – I’ve been a very happy owner of an early Acer W510 since 2012. It came with a keyboard that included an extra battery so as a video playback device it was superb and it still does duty on long journeys the car. I also have the Lenovo Miix 2 10 and as it came with Office 2013 it gets used for school homework via an HDMI-connected screen and USB-connected keyboard and mouse. The keyboard that comes with the Miix 10 isn’t good though. The MSI S100 that I’m reviewing for Notebookcheck  is a better option for typing than the Miix 2 10 and the pricing on the 64GB version is under  $300 making it very attractive.

Read more of my comments about 2-in-1 PCs in this Intel IQ article

Other options in the space include the Acer Switch 10, the HP Pavilion X2 10 (which is on offer at Amazon USA now for under $250) and the uniquely-designed full-HD one with a big 35Wh battery – the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 10. You’ll also find low-cost options under less well-known brands.

What can you do with a 10-inch detachable?

It’s a tablet, first, and when it only weighs 1.2lb it’s OK to hold for extended periods, to play accelerometer-driven games and to waste time watching YouTube videos or browsing the uch-improved Windows Store. The keyboard (sometimes with case) brings in a ‘stand’ mode and that great for seat-back videos. The Atom platforms inside these tablets all have no problem with 1080p videos, even at high bitrates. As a ‘newspaper’ or book the tablet weights are still a little heavy but they do make great sofa-buddies. And of course there’s the keyboard itself which introduces a traditional method of input and mouse control. Some of the keyboards are even good enough for long sessions of typing.

When it comes to work you’ll want to be sure that you only buy a product with 2 GB of RAM. 1 GB RAM might be enough for a good demonstration, some benchmarks or working on Windows Store apps but it’s not good enough for extended use, even with multiple tabs under Chrome. As for storage, 32GB is manageable but you’ll need to do your housekeeping. I can’t recommend 16GB of storage for any use cases at all.

If you’re looking at Microsoft Office usage, which is certainly possible, then try to ensure that the SSD speeds are good. The important figure to watch out for in reviews is the 4K write speed. Anything around 8-10 MB/s is good. Anything under 4Mb/s should be avoided for Office usage. Rotating hard disks are not recommended.

The Lenovo Miix 2 10 has a slightly more powerful processor (like the new ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi) than some of the other models in the low-cost 10-inch range and having switched between the Miix 2 10 and tablets using the lower-powered processor I can say that there’s a noticeable difference. The SSD on the Miix 2 is good too but that keyboard prevents me from recommending it as the best all-round solution in this category.

One of the big considerations for 2015 is Windows 10 and the boost it will bring to the Microsoft Store. Universal apps that run across a unified phone and PC store are going to change the way developers look at the platform and Microsoft will give it a big boost with a new range of included apps that include Office. These apps are likely to be more optimised than their desktop cousins and touch will be available as a ‘first-class’ input method. We expect to see a new range of exciting apps appearing through 2015 that will add to the, already improved, choice in the Microsoft Store.

For content creators there are definitely limits to the current Atom-based tablets. You’ll be able to run up a desktop video editing app but the experience won’t be very smooth. Simple 720p editing via something like Movie Creator Beta or Movie Edit Touch 2 which should be enough for social sharing. Simple photo editing is also no problem along with photo management and of course, creating documents, blogs, spreadsheets and presentations is always possible either with supplied Office software or with online offerings like Google docs. If you’re into more demanding creative apps, take a look at the Core-M range of mobile PC solutions. 

Music library management is best done online due to space limitations and both Google and Microsoft offer ‘lockers’ for your music. Free storage often comes with the product and Office 356 licences come with 1 year of 1TB upload capability.

Windows Store gaming

Windows Store gaming is getting better.

Casual gaming on Windows 8 is akin to what you’ll find on a smartphone but slightly more immersive due to the larger screen size. It’s nothing compared to desktop gaming with the latest 3D graphical games of course but there’s a lot of fun to be had. You’ll see a wide range in the Windows Store now. Starting with word games like the evergreen Wordament is no problem. Jetpack Joyride, a casual run-and-jump game is smooth on these low-end processors and if you’ve got yourself a 64GB SSD there’s enough space for a suite of the more detailed games. It’s not impossible to play some desktop games although the choice is going to be very restricted. Minecraft isn’t much fun and WoW only works on low settings, if you can find the space to install it. [Install WoW with an external SSD – Video]

Security and privacy are an important consideration and Windows 8.1 offers a range of security and privacy features. We always advise people to add the HTTPS Everywhere and Privacy Badger extensions to the Chrome browser and if possible add a power-on password via the BIOS. We also advise the use of a Microsoft account because on some devices it enables disk encryption. It also provides online password management, 2-stage authentication, login location-tracking and more. For a full review of the Windows 8 tablet security features, see this detailed analysis.

Battery life is important and those of you thinking about the 2-3 hours we used to get out of a 1KG netbook are going to be surprised. You’ll get about 5 hours of working time, 7 hours of light usage, from most of the 1.1-1.2 pound tablets out there. The HP Pavilion X2 10, one of the cheapest, has a 35Wh battery that might even get you up to 9 hours in some cases and don’t forget that they all support Connected Standby so you can run Windows Store apps in the background while the tablet is off. That’s 15 hours or more of music streaming or Skype standby. Versions with 3G should even allow you to use a Skype-in number for phone connectivity.

With prices on these low-cost 2-in-1 Windows tablets coming down every week and with more products filling the market there’s an incredibly rich mobile PC sector growing here. 10-inch 2-in-1’s are the perfect companion for out-of-office periods when productivity might be required but where entertainment and social networking, photos, videos and gaming are the number 1 thought. The quality and number of apps in the Windows Store has improved greatly and in some cases you’re buying an app that works across both phone and PCs. That feature is going to become even more prominent as Windows 10 for phones and PCs nears and as Universal apps create ecosystem for phone, tablet, laptop and desktop.

These new 2-in-1 PCs might be priced like netbooks and have specifications that sound like netbooks but they aren’t anything like them. The product and operating system has matured and there’s a lot of exciting flexibility and mobility across work, play and communications scenarios.

ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi_backYou can find all the current 10-inch dockable tablets through this link where prices start at $239 or you can go to our database and choose your own specifications.

So what’s my favourite 10-inch 2-in-1 right now? The HP Pavilion X2 10 has to be the best value at its current $240 price but the ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi has to be the most desirable. With the higher-power processor, USB 3.0, full HD display and amazing design, it just might be worth the higher price. I should have some more hands-on with it soon and my finger is already hovering over the pre-order button at Amazon Germany.

The MSI S100 is being reviewed for Notebookcheck.net

Surface Pro 3 hot-desking review.

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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

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

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

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.)

Summary

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 laptop dock

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.

Budget Windows 8 Tablets work well in ‘RT Mode’

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I’m testing a Point of View Mobii WinTab 800W budget Windows 8 tablet and it’s been a tough, slow process. The Wintab 800W is built on Intel’s low-cost reference platform that you’re going to see in a lot of $99 Windows tablet offers this quarter so what you see here applies to many other models. The issue is that with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage you simply can’t approach them as Windows PCs. Working in the desktop means running out of RAM and disk space quickly. Even Chrome is going to take up over 1GB  of disk space after you start using all the features and you’ll end up with this very quickly…

An empty disk on a 16GB Windows 8 tablet

An empty disk on a 16GB Windows 8 tablet

I’m testing the PoV Wintab for Notebookcheck and the process we use for benchmarking is focused on desktop apps. In some extra testing I focused on the RT / Modern ui of built-in apps and Store apps and the results were completely different. Turn off automatic Windows Updates (it’s a security risk but you can selectively download the security patches if you want them) and refrain from installing desktop apps. Switch to RT mode / Start Screen and everything suddenly becomes smooth and trouble-free. These budget Windows 8 tablets are, effectively, RT tablets. Advanced users will probably want to remove the recovery partition (5GB) and experiment and I’m sure that those users will be able to squeeze some impressive usage out of these tablets but for normal users, don’t bother.

Point of View low-cost  16/1 Windows tablet.

Point of View low-cost 16/1 Windows tablet.

My guide to surviving with 32GB of storage applies to 16GB tablets too so if you want to experiment, take a look here.

So here’s the video demo. In it you’ll see browsing with smooth zoom, music playing in Connected Standby, a 33 Mbps 2K video playing, maps and other apps running. In fact, everything a normal user would need is here. It’s an X86 Windows RT tablet.

 

The full review will be linked here when available. (Notebookcheck.net)



Top 10 Ultra Mobile PCs

Acer Aspire E11 ES1
11.6" Intel Celeron N2840
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10.1" Intel Atom Z3745
HP Pavilion X2 10
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Asus Transformer Book T100HA
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Acer Aspire Switch 10 E
10.1" Intel Atom Z3735F
Acer Aspire Switch 11 V
11.6" Intel Core M 5Y10c
ASUS T100
10.0" Intel Atom Z3740
Lenovo Ideapad Flex 10
10.1" Intel Celeron N2806
Dell Venue 11 Pro
10.8" Intel Atom Z3795
Teclast X98 Pro
9.7" Intel Atom X5 Z8500

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