When I reviewed the 270-euro Lenovo Ideapad Flex 10 recently I knew it would be a great candidate for an SSD upgrade. This fanless, touchscreen hybrid is the very model of a modern casual portable laptop but it was fitted with a really poor quality hard drive that was obviously holding the system back. After completing the SSD upgrade yesterday I can report that the difference is amazing. Applications are starting in half the time, the PCMark score is up 70% and the system works as it should. No more drive activity slow-downs and a huge lift in the user experience. I’ve done a lot of SSD upgrades over the years but this one is probably the most impressive.
The Lenovo Flex 10 has a 270-degree fold-back screen. Stand-mode is very useful.
I’ve dropped a MydigitalSSD BP4 in as a test (I had it from a previous test I did with an Acer V5) but you can shop around for a good deal. On Amazon.com there’s an offer on the 7mm 128GB Sandisk SSD that would be perfect for this. $69.99 is a great deal. [Affiliate link.]
Over 40X improvement in the very important 4K write speed. Superb result!
In a PCMark test the device scored 70% better. 1521 with HDD, 2579 with SSD. Application start-up times are drastically reduced. DriftMania started in 10 seconds compared to 21 seconds with the HDD. Lenovo Photo Show started in 5 seconds (11 with HDD.) Facebook, IE, Chrome and Paint also started about twice as quick. Battery life has probably been improved too but I haven’t tested it yet. Considering the heat that was generated by the HDD and the time it took to get things done there’s going to be a clear real-world difference in how much you can get done on this. Silent operation is a dream too. I’ve connected a USB3.0 docking station and I’m writing this with external screen, keyboard and mouse and it’s a very nice way to write.
Inside the Flex 10. RAM is soldered. No fans. Disk and WiFi module are easy to remove
How to upgrade to SSD on the Lenovo Flex 10
To do the upgrade you’ll need a USB recovery drive (create using Windows 8 tools on a 16GB USB stick or CDROM.) I chose to use an external USB 2.5-inch SATA adapter so that I could do all the imaging on a faster PC. Obviously you will lose your warranty and there’s a possibility of failure or breakage so take care and own the risk!
Reduce partition size on C: to bring total disk size into range of SSD. Use Windows 8 disk manager to shrink the volume. (Ideally do a system restore to factory setup beforehand.)
Remove back of Lenovo Flex 10. This is a little tricky. Two screws are hidden under the rubber feet and one has a seal that will need to be broken. You lose your warranty at this point. You can use a thumbnail to carefully prise the unit apart. It takes time and care, especially at the front corners, but it’s certainly not a sealed unit.
Remove hard disk. It’s an easy 4-screw removal process. (Note: You can upgrade the WiFi too. The basic 2.4Ghz single channel unit has good reception but would benefit from a dual-channel upgrade IMO.)
Put hard disk in 2.5-inch USB3.0 adapter.
Take Acronis TrueImage disk image of hard drive. (Took 40 minutes on a fast SSD-based Ultrabook using free 30–day trial.)
Remove drive from adapter and store with care
Insert SSD into adapter.
TrueImage disk copy the saved image to the SSD drive. (You might get an error saying it won’t boot but you can ignore that.)
Remove disk from adapter and install in Lenovo Flex 10
There are still clear limits with this setup. The Lenovo Flex 10 doesn’t have a powerful CPU and that shows itself when you start using browser-based apps. Google Drive and the associated productivity apps won’t be much fun (Chromebooks are way more suited to this) but I suspect the free Office Home and Student will be a far better experience. GPU and video decoding power is pretty good though so you’ll be able to watch 1080p videos and play Windows 8 RT games without any issues. XBMC and Openelec work well. Read my full review, or my summary review video for more detail.
I’m a huge fan of the 270-degree fold-back screen (more so than the 360-degree fold-back) and a huge fan of ‘lightweight’ computing. Based on what I’ve seen with the Flex 10 there’s scope for Lenovo to make a seriously useful Flex 11 with a quad-core Baytrail-M and a low-cost 64GB SSD. Until then though, this Flex 10 SSD upgrade has created an extremely well-balanced hybrid netbook that covers a wide range of activities. I’m keeping it.
It’s rare that a new offering in the ultra-mobile PC space races to the top of the charts so quickly but that’s what has happened with the new Acer Aspire Switch 10 over the last two weeks. The previous generation Iconia W510 is about to drop off the bottom of the top 10 so it’s perfect timing for Acer. They’ve got some competition though and there’s little information out there about the finer points of the device like disk performance and screen quality…apart from one that’s just been published by the good people at Tabtec.de.
HP’s 2-in-1 range is expanding with the HP Pro x2 410 which appears to be a variant of the HP Pavilion X2.
Official details aren’t yet available but HP does have a teaser page up which calls it a notebook. Reports from other tech news sites say it’s fanless, has an additional battery in the keyboard and weighs 3.43 pounds in total.
If Intel and friends can pull-off the dual-OS trick in a slick way they’ll have a valuable selling point and a ‘bridge’ between the app-gap in Windows and the consumer richness of Android. Ramos already have a set of Intel-powered Android tablets in China but the Ramos i10 Pro is said to be coming with a dual-OS option on a Baytrail core.
At the Intel Software Summit this week I had the chance to use the ASUS Transformer Book T100 for a day. I was very impressed at the performance level, quality and battery life but handed it back thinking it would work better as a productive device in an 11.6-inch version – as long as the tablet was the same weight.
You’ll find a lot of praise for the T100 out there both from professional reporters and owners. It’s the biggest selling laptop on Amazon.com (currently $379 for the 64GB version) and we’re seeing a lot of activity for it here on the site. It’s kicking off the 2-in-1 category nicely and will account for a lot of consumer Windows 8.1 sales. Developers take note. (My estimate is that it will sell 0.5 million units before the end of the year if ASUS can keep up with stock demand.)
To add to my previous hands-on then, I was impressed by the USB charging. A lightweight charger is a bonus although charging speeds are fairly slow. It will rarely need charging in the day though because after 8hrs of a ‘on’ at a conference (with about 4.5hrs screen-on) I had 40% battery free.
I also got the chance to test WiDi. It works!
I will say a word about the keyboard and touchpad. I felt that I was really back in that awkward netbook zone again as I used it. it was cramped and the touchpad was very basic. it’s a shame because this platform supports productive working. A boost to an 11-inch screen and a larger keyboard could be the answer for those wanting the best in dynamic-range. Obviously the Dell Venue Pro 11 is a hot contender here, and available very soon.
The ASUS T100 is the rare thing that is a bargain AND a ground-breaking product. ASUS’ price is so aggressive that it will, without a doubt, catalyse a big 2-in-1 device category just like it did with the netbook category. This time round though I feel it’s going to be a bigger, longer-lasting category. There’s no device size or specification restrictions this time round. Where netbooks peaked at about 50 million sales a year, I expect the 2-in-1 category to be much bigger and to last much longer. Developers, pay attention because there are already app opportunities related to the T100.
The ASUS Transformer Book Trio arrives in Europe soon. 999 Euro ( 839 pre 19% tax / 1133 US dollars) buys you a tablet and keyboard dock along with two processors, two operating systems, two drives, two WiFi modules and more. The tablet runs Android on a Clovertrail platform (not the latest BayTrail) and can dock to the keyboard where it can also act as a screen for Windows 8 on a Core i5 processor. It’s a multifunction device that needs careful consideration.
The Toshiba Z10T has officially launched in Germany. This pro-level detachable is due in Q2 with what we believe is one of the new low-power Ivy Bridge CPUs. It will go head-to-head with the Fujitsu Q702, the Lenovo Helix, Samsung ATIV 700T and, if it ever reaches the market in quantity, the ASUS Transformer Book.
It was a big and detailed review I admit but the Fujitsu Q702 is a complex bit of kit and even in 3000 words I missed out some detail about VPro and the security features. However, I know some of you want a quick way to asses the Fujitsu Stylistic Q702, either for work or your personal use so I’ve put together a video for you. The Fujitsu Q702 review video.
Of the laptop-like dockable Clovertrail tablets there are two that stand out. The ASUS VivoTab TF800 has a great keyboard, a stylish build and that all-important battery in the keyboard unit. The HP Envy is also up there and last week at CeBIT I had some quiet time alone with it thanks to the Intel booth. I really like it. I like it even more today as I’ve just found a price of $599 for the 64GB unit with keyboard.
After all the Clovertrail testing last week the plans to take a consumer tablet to MWC took a turn at the last minute. The Fujitsu Q702 turned up for testing and it bumped itself to the top of the list based on some amazing specs; the first and most important of which is a total 70Wh battery with 44Wh of that as a replaceable in the base. Hot-swap goodness!
Depending on your stance, this Fujitu Q702 is either a 11.6â€ ultra mobile PC â€“ a tablet that weighs 850gm and includes a full Core i5 platform, or an Ultrabook when docked.
At 1700 Euro this is not something you buy without thought but here are a few things that might tempt you.
Â Matt capacitive display with digitizer and pen (stowed on base)
3G (Sierra Wireless Gobi with GPS)
Fingerprint reader, VPro and TPM
Full SD, Full Gig E. Full HDMI, Full VGA, Four USB ports
Toshiba has made available their only Windows 8 touchscreen Ultrabook, the Toshiba Satellite U925T. This is a hybrid slider which also goes by the name U920T depending upon the region. Chippy got a great hands on of the U925T back at IDF 2012 in September and the design seems unchanged since then. This is one of a few hybrid Ultrabooks currently shipping with NFC.
Asus has prepared a full device assault to coincide with the launch of Windows 8. Tomorrow at 2PM EST the company will be unveiling their Windows 8 lineup at their Windows 8 touch teaser site. Though Asus is trying to tease the identity of the lineup (see icons below with no names) a quick look into the website source reveals the names of these devices: TaiChi, Transformer Book, Zenbook Touch, Vivo Book, and Vivo Tab (not that we couldn’t have guessed before!) [there’s also an AIO touchscreen desktop but that doesn’t really concern us!].