Tag Archive | "core-m"

Lenovo Yoga 710 11 is one of the best subnotebooks.

I’ve had some time with a production sample of the Lenovo Yoga 710 and while I can’t bring you a full review there’s a lot I can tell you about it. The Yoga 710 is an 11.6-inch ultramobile Windows convertible (laptop-style with 360-degree hinge) running on a Core M CPU. Bloggers had unlimited access to it at CeBIT earlier this month and were able to draw a lot of conclusions. Here’s my summary review.

The Lenovo Yoga 710 is incredibly slick, has a great screen and the keyboard is working very well, at least for me. It’s Macbook-like for sure but not quite the fasion-piece and it’s likely to be offered at a lower price, according to reports.  For me it’s one of the most important subnotebooks of the year.


Note: All information here based on the pre-production sample shown at CeBIT.

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Acer Aspire Switch 11V 2-in-1 video review and opinion. (Great screen, limited performance.)

I have the Acer Aspire Switch 11V with me in the studio and have just posted the review video for Notebookcheck. It scored 76% in their review so let me tell you why it wasn’t a huge win.chippy aspire 11V

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Surface Pro 4. Engineering vs marketing = a two-size solution. (12 reasons.)

Surface Pro 3 and penIt seems that the world and her husband have written their thoughts on what could happen at the Microsoft Windows 10 event on October 6th. My thoughts on Surface Pro 4, anchored in engineering rather than floating with rumors, are here. The poll results so far say that 50% of readers, given the option of having both a 12-inch and 14-inch Surface Pro 3, want a silent 12-inch model based on Core M and a high-powered 14-inch model based on 6th-gen Core U-series processors. If that were to be the case on Oct 6th it means that a 12-inch Surface Pro 4 won’t out-perform Surface Pro 3 in high-power scenarios. But there’s enough ‘showtime’ potential in the new Core M to keep anyone happy. Maybe it’s time to take ‘Pro’ to a higher level?

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Surface Pro 4 – If there were two models…

Hopefuly you’ve seen the news that Microsoft has sent out invites for an Oct 6th Windows 10 event in New York. No-one doubts that we’re going to see Lumia, Surface and Band products along with an official launch of Windows 10 Mobile which makes it an extremely important event for anyone who reads UMPCPortal. Lumia, with Continuum, could form an important part of an entry-level ultramobile PC set-up. Surface sits at the very high-end of ultramobile computing solutions.

Surface Pro 3, and pen, review.

It seems certain that we’ll see a Surface Pro 4 with much the same sizing as the previous model but two questions remain unanswered. 1) Will it be fanless? and 2) Will there be a second, 14-inch model? The reason I ask the latter is that there have already been rumors about a 14-inch model and in a recent search I found screen covers for a 14-inch Surface Pro 4. If a 14-inch model is coming how can Microsoft position the two devices ? There’s a poll below and i’d like to see what you think would be the best constellation of Surface Pro 4 devices. But first, some thoughts on what’s possible and what it brings to a 12-inch and a 14-inch Surface Pro 4.

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IFA 2015 – One piece missing.

IFA 2015 was as fun and as busy as ever. I managed to get quality hands-on time with a lot of new ultramobile PCs (mostly without the pressure of press-event chaos) and had some great conversations, both public and private, with companies working in the sector. Thanks to Intel for their blogging facilities and an amazing party, Acer for the bright and spacious video-friendly booth and Microsoft for a good evening of networking. Having said that, I didn’t see what I wanted to see.

Deichkind perform at the Intel hall, IFA 2015

Deichkind perform at the Intel hall, IFA 2015

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Acer Aspire Switch 11V hands-on, video.

IFA 2015 has brought us a range of new and upgraded convertible PCs but the one that I’ve had at the top of my list for a while is the Acer Switch 11V which seems to offer just the right balance of features for a Core M 2-in-1. The problem is that Lenovo are launching the Miix 700 which might be an even better option because it uses the latest Core M generation. The Acer Switch 11V has taken so long to get to market that it’s still using the first generation. Acer might need to adjust some pricing on the 11V if they want to see it compete successfully.

Switch 11V


Acer have done a reasonable job of keeping the looks and plastics from feeling cheap but the Switch 11V isn’t a style-statement. Inside you’ll find a ‘proper’ SSD connected via a SATA port. Speeds aren’t known at this stage but expect it to outperform something like the Surface 3.  The performance of the Switch 11V can’t be determined by Core M model number because, as with all Core M builds, it depends on how well the Acer engineers have designed the internal airflow and heat-sinking. A full test will be needed to determine that.

I liked the keyboard but the trackpad needs longer term testing before it can be evaluated.

A 28 Wh battery inside the Acer Switch 11V is a little small when you compare it to the 41 Wh of the Lenovo Miix 700 and that’s going to really affect battery life. If you’re looking for an all-day battery-powered mobile PC solution the Switch 11V isn’t it.

Take a look at the video to get a good overview of the Acer Aspire Switch 11V.


Next-gen Core M launches to boost 2-in-1 market opportunities.

The next generation Core M processors, based on 6th-gen Core technology launched at IFA 2015 in Berlin today. The Core m range now splits into a familiar structure. Core m3 Core m5 and Core m7.

Intel Core M family

Intel Core M family

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Core M Compute Stick coming later this year, enables flexible streaming solutions.

A Core M-based Intel Compute Stick will be launched later this year and by including SATA storage and MHL it will solve a couple of issues that the current Atom-based stick has. Cedar City,as it is codenamed, and Windows 10 could make the ultimate streaming solution.


Intel's Core M Compute Stick coming  later in 2015

Intel’s Core M Compute Stick coming later in 2015

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Acer Aspire Switch 11 to get ‘V’ refresh later in 2015. Core M Confirmed.

The 11-12 inch screen size is perfect for mobile productivity and with processing power on the rise and design slimming down it gets more interesting every week. Intel’s Core M has a lot to do with the amount of activity in the sector and it might just be responsible for the new Acer Aspire Switch 11 V that got announced today. There aren’t many details available though as Acer only revealed that it would have improved ergonomics and more processing power. There’s one image available too.

Update: All specifications now available on the Acer Aspire Switch 11 V specifications and information page.

Acer Aspire Switch 11V. More details later in Q2 2015.

Acer Aspire Switch 11V. More details later in Q2 2015.


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Five brand new low-cost Core-M products from CeBIT 2015

I was working at CeBIT with Mobilegeeks on their Techlounge product last week. If you haven’t heard of them it’s because they’re big in German but not so big in English. I’ll explain more in another post but it meant that my focus was on creating videos (with the talented German, Rob Vegas) that would fill-in between the live sessions. In all we created around 25 videos in German and English and it was interesting to take a look at stuff I don’t normally look at. Curved monitors, for example. More interesting for me though were five Core M-based products that tell me one thing – Core M will move into the low-cost market.

Core M is built for low-cost. Its small die means, when yields are good enough, it’s cheap to produce but initial products, as always, tend to be a little more costly. Did you take a look at that Macbook yet? More mainstream are the Acer Switch 12 (reviewed here) and the UX305 which, at $699-$799 represent good value 2014-era Ultrabook performance without fans. But prices will drop further…

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Awesome Apple Macbook engineering, slightly out of my reach.

It’s easy to poke criticism at the new Apple Macbook because it breaks new ground for a laptop but we must pay respect to the incredible engineering and confidence that Apple are showing with this ultraportable. In reality there’s little to worry about with the Macbook, if you can afford it.

macbook 2015 details (3)

Apple Macbook USB-C USB 3.1 connector

Full specifications, videos, information in our Apple Macbook information page.

Macbook USB-C and USB 3.1 standards.

I use a range of ultra mobile PCs in my work and one thing is for sure, whatever ports I have available on my device I’m always carrying adaptors. USB-SD, USB-Gigabit Ethernet, USB-SSD, USB-HDMI, MicroHDMI, MicroUSB and others. If it’s not me using them, it’s someone else in my circle that needs them and you can guarantee that if I haven’t got them with me, I’ll need one of them. It’s why I’m not scared of the new Apple Macbook port choice.  The single USB-C port is, in my opinion, a good signal that we’re converging on USB standards for power, AV and data and beyond that USB-C port with USB 3.1 is a very similar, even more interesting moment. The WiGig dock, now seen on the HP Elite X2 might be $239 but it weighs 400 grams (0.92 lb) and provides all the ports you need. These will get cheaper, smaller and lighter and, if manufacturers don’t implement the vendor-lock feature in WiGig docking, can be universal. USB 3.1 ports will still be needed for fall-back (think of the crowded press room where WiGig would never work smoothly) but as both are coming from the same standards body they should co-work well.

By using USB-C connectors we’re doing two important things. 1 – removing space used for other ports. 2 – converging on a standard for charging and connecting. Both of these will bring improvements with more space for battery, lower costs, lighter weight and it will help to take us to the ‘no-fear’ all-day laptop and that means leaving the power brick at home. It might also generate a better market for WiFi and BT enabled products too. Displays, storage, cameras and keyboards can all work cable-free.

Apple have implemented USB 3.1 Gen 1 which only has a single 1080p 60 FPS max output capability but that won’t stop you being able to add DisplayLink solutions for the third screen if needed. The down-side of USB 3.1 AV profiles is that there aren’t any monitors out there supporting it so the cables you need are actually adaptors. They’ll always be expensive relative to a bulk HDMI cable.

Early pricing will indeed be high for a USB 3.0 converter or hub and the display adaptors but although you’ll need to add $100 to the cost of a Macbook for the adaptors, I’m sure they’ll reach half that price within 6 months.

The USB-C connector on the Macbook isn’t the problem.

Core M Processor

Again, there’s a lot of potential for complaints here. The new Macbook Air is going to offer a full Broadwell-U CPU which will be much more powerful. It’s going to be cheaper too, but not by much. An 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD Macbook Air with Core i5 is $1199. The Macbook is $1299 and it’s quieter, has a bigger screen with higher resolution, has a slightly bigger battery, should be more efficient and is lighter and smaller. Apple are including the 1.1 Ghz Intel Core M 5Y51 too which not only will be faster than the models commonly found on Windows Core M laptops (like the comparable Samsung ATIV Book 9) but you just know that Apple will have squeezed more out of the platform through better OS optimizations and, possibly, better thermal properties that Core M can really take advantage of. The fast SSD means you’ll have no problem editing full-HD videos although rendering highly processed clips will be a big task for the Core M CPU. If Quick Sync optimizations are available to the editing software and you keep edits simple you’ll have no problem. I’ve produced a couple of basic videos on Core M under Windows and it was painless. A 1.3 Ghz CPU option is also available and that should boost power even more. [If it’s the 6W ‘TDP-UP’ Core M version then expect a little warmth but it’s an indicator that there’s going to be good thermal headroom for the 4.5W TDP 1.1 Ghz Core M in the standard build.]

General performance is going to keep most desktop-style users happy. I use a 2012 Ivy Bridge Ultrabook as my desktop at home and it’s never caused me problems. That’s the sort of performance you can expect from Core M. Office, many, many tabs, background programs, anti-virus and music will run concurrently with no issues. 1080p video playback performance is going to be a delight on the new Macbook. 10 hours is claimed and I don’t see why not.

The Core M processor isn’t the problem with the Macbook.

Apple Macbook 12 2015 (8) (4)


Macbook Battery life.

The new battery inside the Macbook has a 39.7 Wh battery inside. In general, on Core M with a 12-inch screen at medium backlight, a laptop needs about 5W of power to drive a web browsing experience. I expect Apple to do better than this through better software and the new screen.  9-10 hours of web browsing, 10 or more hours of video playback, 3 hours of gaming and, if you’re a typist – and we’ll have to see just how good that keyboard is – expect to be able to use the keyboard for 15 hours straight in offline mode.  Only the Surface Pro 3 with Type Cover, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 (2015) and the Dell XPS 13 (2015) come close in terms of battery capacity / product weight.

Battery life is certainly not the problem with the Macbook.


Design and style is not a problem with the Macbook. That’s all I have to say!


Macbook Keyboard.

I can’t comment with any authority on the keyboard because I haven’t tried it but feedback from hands-on videos has been good even if you take into account the excitement  generated among journalists and bloggers at the launch event. This is one area where you need to focus on before buying a Macbook.

Maybe the keyboard could be a problem with the Macbook.

All Core M PCs listed here.


This is interesting. The large trackpad is not only going to be Apple-smooth in operation but it will now incorporate pressure response into software and will even give haptic feedback. Like the keyboard, this new, non-moving design will need some fingers-on but this feature, if well-integrated into software, could be a major advantage for Apple users. I doubt Windows laptops will ever catch-up to the Apple Macbook touchpad experience.

The touchpad isn’t going to be a problem with the Macbook.

macbook 2015 details (9)

Summary and opinion.

The Macbook is a real showcase for Core M. Not only is it fanless but it uses a tiny, highly integrated motherboard and a single data/power connector to give space for a relatively large battery in just 930 grams of weight. The only comparable product is the Samsung ATIV Book 9 but that’s not going to be a global product. In terms of ultra-mobile productivity, Apple have just stolen the show with the new Macbook.

I’m not an Apple fan but I’ve always been able to tip my hat to the Macbook Air which was a leader in mobile PC engineering. The Macbook breaks even newer ground and is so attractive as an ultraportable that it’s now only a matter of money that’s stopping me from buying it. I’ve paid $1200 for ultra mobiles before but times have changed. The Dell XPS 13 with Core i3 will be as powerful and productive at just $799. The ASUS UX305, also fanless on a Core M platform, is only 1.2KG with a 10% bigger battery at just $699. I can’t justify double the price for an engineering showcase and dongles.

It’s the price that’s the problem with the Macbook. If you can afford it though, I tip my hat to you too.

My notes on the differences between the Apple Macbook and the Samsung ATIV Book 9. Select an ultra-mobile PC from 100’s in our database.

Who wants the Acer Aspire Switch 12?

I’ve just finished a big in-depth review of the Acer Aspire Switch 12. It’s the first Core M product that I’ve had the chance to review and I came out of it with a very positive feeling about Core M and the products that it will enable. I also loved the Acer Aspire Switch 12 itself.

Acer Aspire Switch 12

Acer Aspire Switch 12

Leaving the smoke behind

Core M is a product borne of the feature that was Scenario Design Power (SDP) which itself was an extended ability to monitor and react to processor and product temperature by changing clockrates across CPU and GPU cores. I called it smoke and mirrors at the time because Intel never actually revealed what ‘scenario’ they were talking about. The scenario was actually a continuation of what Intel had done with the Ultrabook project. Touch, 2-in-1, responsive, mobile and, ultimately, fanless systems with Core-class features and enough power to cover mainstream users scenarios were to be the next generation consumer PC.

Early products based on the Y-series Core CPUs were poor. I remember testing the first Yoga 11S and seeing performance levels at half of what an Ultrabook could produce. A Fujitsu Q704 down-clocked by about 50% when you took it out of the keyboard dock to improve battery life and cut case temperature. A fanless HP Pro X2 410 was so sensitive to ambient heat that I could speed it up by pointing a desk fan at the rear of the tablet.

Like the Ultrabook project (which made us suffer with high prices before it finally worked out to be a game-changer,) the road to fanless has been rocky but were there now and Core M is exactly the marketing relaunch that Y-series and SDP needed.

Core M enables

Core M enables more than just new designs. It’s one of the smallest Core processors that Intel produce and with that comes cost reductions. It’s also a gift to designers as it reduces component count and allows flexibility in thermal design.  It enables mainboards to sit close to other components. It reduces the need for big, expensive batteries.

In 2012 we were seeing 45 Wh batteries in Ultrabooks laptops but today’s Core M designs are based around a 35 Wh design and still offer over 5 hours of battery life. In 2007 it took 10-12 watts of energy to drive a web browsing experience. It’s now down to 5-6W now and if someone can work out how to cut the energy required by a screen backlight we’ll be down another 30%. Sealing a battery inside a casing also reduces the need for certified batteries casings and prevents people tinkering. Reducing support costs, shipping costs and storage costs are all part of the plan.

Switch 12

Ideally a consumer tablet is easy to hold and the tablet PCs of the past were a pathetic offering. The Samsung XE700 broke the mold in 2011 with a 826 gram 11.6-inch specification and since then we’ve seen 11.6-inch tablet weights come down to just over 700 grams. In the 10-inch space it’s reached 550 grams which is more than acceptable. As we move towards the removal of most physical ports, a further reduction in battery size, storage size and a slimming of the screen layers we’ll see larger tablets at the same human-friendly weight. With larger tablets comes more space to build a better keyboard and with Core M you reach a point where processing power is at the consumer PC level.  Being able to deliver the perfect consumer tablet along with the most flexible operating system, the power to do everything and a keyboard that is as productive is possible is real 2-in-1. Bigger products generally command a higher price too so the 12.5-inch size we’re seeing are hitting the sweet spot in many ways.

The Acer Switch 12 shows us that there’s another generation to go before we hit all the sweet spots though. This low-cost design (plastics, styling, weight, size) is too heavy to be a consumer tablet but Acer have focused well on making this a very usable tablet in other ways. It’s a great laptop and if you have time you can think of some crazy ways to use it…


The digitizer brings in more tablet value and the removable wireless keyboard is simple but very, very effective. The Acer Aspire Switch 12 is a good product now and a true 2-in-1 that anyone would be happy to have as an office PC but just think about how the design could improve by being lighter and more stylish. This is a $699 laptop today with the power of a basic Ultrabook of 2013 that cost $999. You’ll see this at $649 or less soon and this time next year we’ll be talking about 20% improvements in power, battery life, weight and again, price. We might also be talking about a wire-free experience. That stand could turn into a removable WiGig breakout box.

A few years ago I bought an Acer W510. This Clovertrail-based 10-inch tablet was light but weak. It served well on holidays and I experimented with it as a desktop but for mainstream users it was far from the mark. Today we’ve reached a refinement called Core M that’s making 2-in-1’s extremely attractive as, well, a true 2-in-1. Windows 10 might just get the praise it needs too and if the Windows Store becomes a first-class citizen of the ‘apps’ world then the stars will align.

For me the stars have already aligned. I love the Switch 12 and I want to keep it. If I didn’t have a Surface Pro 3 here (on long-term loan from Intel) I’d probably order one. I’ve tested video encoding, gaming and I’ve seen some excellent AC WiFi speeds in my office. 20 MB/s file transfers from the local NAS? Yes please! It boots Ubuntu from a USB stick without issues and that’s a security bonus in my opinion. I love the ergonomic and presentation possibilities of the removable keyboard and digitizer. I adore the screen. Most of all I love how I can do everything I need without any noise whatsoever.


If you’re thinking about the Acer Aspire Switch 12 too then you need to remember that the ASUS Transformer T300 Chi is coming soon, for the same price. It’s likely to have a better keyboard and it will definitely have a lighter tablet. It will probably perform as well as the Switch 12 and it has a sensible clam-shell design. It looks a lot more stylish. The built-in stand on the Acer Switch 12 does it for me though and there’s one more thing you need to know. The Acer Switch 12 is more lappable than most laptops.

The Acer Aspire Switch 12 is very lappable!

The Acer Aspire Switch 12 is very lappable!

More information on the Acer Aspire Switch 12 in our mobile PC database here. All Core M products under 1300 grams are listed here.

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