The Intel-based ultra mobile PC era is coming to an end. The next generation of Intel SoCs for Windows and Android phones and tablets has been cancelled, signalling a departure from the 5-10 inch mobile PC space. Core M could fill-in but it looks very much like Intel are stepping away from this market. We’ve covered this for over 10 years at UMPCPortal so it’s a hard-hitting story for this website and all its fans. What’s the future for ultra mobile PCs?
Huawei just launched a product that’s got style, a thin bezel and fingerprint-unlock. There’s a USB port too.
I’m not talking about the Mate 8 that I’m testing right now I’m taking about the Huawei Matebook that just launched at MWC. It’s a 2-in-1 running Windows 10 on the latest Core M platform.
Huawei Matebook launched at MWC 2016
It’s actually a 12.9-inch tablet that starts at $699 (Core 3, 4 GB, 128 GB SSD) and you can add a keyboard that costs $129. A pen costs $59 and if you want to attach a monitor you’ll need an adapter. Huawei will sell you one for $89.
This fanless tablet has no stand and includes a 33.7 Wh battery, smaller in size to the battery in the Surface Pro 4, Lenovo Miix 700 and Spectre x2, all of which I’ve tested recently. It will certainly be powerful enough for office work, Minecraft and basic Full-HD video editing. The latest Skylake Core M platforms are truly as fast as a Surface Pro 3 for most tasks but don’t expect to reach the claimed 10-hours of battery life under normal conditions.
It’s interesting that a 12.9-inch Windows 10 tablet should launch at MWC and it’s interesting that Huawei, a company that has made a good name for itself in the smartphone market recently, should launch a Windows PC product. Isn’t it significant, however, that Huawei haven’t launched a Windows phone that can utilize Continuum?
How does a phone company position the pricing of a tablet PC? Huawei has chosen to go high-end here with a Core m5 version (8GB, 256GB) that costs more than the equivalent Lenovo Miix 700. It looks a lot slicker, yes, but that’s a huge price for a Core M-based PC. Are Huawei thinking of bundling and carrier deals here?
The usual suspects got their Surface Pro 4 devices before anyone else and have been allowed to publish their reviews. I think you can skip many of them to be honest but one stands out. No, it’s not my review (I was 6 months behind the curve with my Surface Pro 3 review,) it’s the Anandtech review. It’s jam-packed with good information.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?