It’s a long way off from being a default option on Chromebooks but some models are now getting the Google Play Store which means Android app integration. Summary: Millions of local Android apps will come to Chromebooks. It breaks the browser-only model and is a somewhat negative sign for HTML5 apps but for some classes of user it’s going to bring an exciting new option to the notebook and laptop space.
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.
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.
Microsoft very briefly highlighted a new 9-inch HP Windows 10 tablet at their Computex keynote today.
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.
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 bought the 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.
New ground is being broken in the Windows laptop world today as HP announces the HP Stream 11 and HP Stream 13 low-cost Windows 8 laptops. Built around the Baytrail-M platforms we see an many recent Chromebooks (and possibly using exactly the same motherboard) these Windows laptops will go head-to-head with Chromebooks such as the ASUS C300. In order to sweeten the deal, which to many is already going to look attractive to many mainstream users, HP have announced that the Stream 13 comes with free 3G data. 200MB from T-Mobile won’t cover everyone’s needs but we’re sure that top-up packages will be available. The price: $249 with a 7hr 45 min battery life.
The HP Chromebook 14 was popular and well-received. Maybe it was because of the 14-inch screen but I think in general it was the build quality, the keyboard and the Haswell-architecture performance that did it. It was an all-round quality Chromebook. The new HP Chromebook 14 has an updated design, screen options and has switched from X86 to ARM in the processor department. Battery life is improved as a result.