ASUS and Toshiba have a problem. They both launched 8.9-inch 1KG dockable tablets in Q1 2015 and before they got them to market the processing platform was upgraded and a shiny new product appeared. Microsoft’s Surface 3 runs on the brand new Atom X7 processor and clearly there’s going to be a run of new products leading up to Computex and ‘back-to-school’ period that will use X5 and X7 Atom. Why on earth would anybody want an ‘old’ Baytrail-T based tablet now?
Microsoft’s Surface 3 runs on a new Atom X7 processor.
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.
Pay attention mobile computing fan, because the Intel Atom X3, X5 and x7 are looking good! Intel have just released more details at MWC.
We heard about the new Intel Atom naming scheme last week and it was fairly clear that Intel would be using the new designations on the 14nm Cherry Trail range of processors. Those processors (Z8000-series) are actually going to slot into the x5 and x7 ranges with Sofia (C3000-series with integrated 3G and/or LTE) sitting in the Intel Atom x3 slot. While all ‘x’ ranges could include Windows products it’s the x5 and x7 that will interest us more as the Cherry Trail architecture leans towards more productive, feature-full tablets and 2-in-1s. Intel have announced that 6 partners have products coming in the first half of 2015.
Here’s a round-up of the product types that Intel are aiming at.
Intel has revealed today that Cherry Trail comes in three variants. The Z8700 series will fit into the x7 range as the performance option with Z8500 and Z8300 dropping into the middle-range.
It’s not clear if x7 will also include more features than x5 but if you look at the key features that Intel are highlighting on Cherry Trail it would make sense if x7 were to host them.
RealSense is going to appear in both R100 form (post-processed selective focus, special effects as seen in the Dell Venue 8 7000) and R200 with real-time depth imaging. Intel Pro WiDi is highlighted too which means business-class WiDi (with more security features) comes into the Atom range. True Key is a facial recognition security feature that we suspect is only enabled by RealSense. We’ll check that for you over the coming hours and days.
The x5/x7 block diagram shows us that we’re still going to be stuck with eMMC as the storage interface but there’s a new audio processor which should improve battery life on video playback as it does on Core M products. HDMI 1.4b (4K/30 fps) is supported as are internal displays of up to 2K resolution.
The GPU gets an upgrade to Generation 8 and it looks like we might be into smooth Minecraft territory…
Those performance figures were based on the following products:
One the unanswered questions is battery life and TDP. We should be able to track that information down for you at MWC where we’re expecting to get hands-on with one or two demo systems and maybe even a product from the vendors listed above. In the meantime, here’s the round-up slide for Intel Atom x5 and x7:
Intel says that there are 50 Baytrail design wins under development and believes that 10 Baytrail systems will be on the shelf by Black Friday, 29th November 2013, but that most of those will be Android tablets.
Third-Quarter results were announced by Intel yesterday and while we won’t go into financial details, it’s interesting to hear the relevant earnings call comments from the new CEO Brian Krzanich:
There are about 50 design wins on Baytrail. (We assume across all versions.)
“About half” of the 50 design wins are 2-in-1 devices. (later clarified to be 20-25 design wins.) We can assume that most of those will be Windows 8.1 devices.
Up to half of the design wins will be BayTrail Tablets on Android.
8-10 systems on shelf by Black Friday, most of those being Android tablets.
It stands to reason that if 50% of the devices will be running Android and about 40% are 2-in-1’s which we assume will be running Windows 8.1 then that doesn’t leave much space for pure Windows 8.1 tablets. In fact the one’s we’ve seen so far, the Dell Venue Pro 8, Toshiba Encore, Acer Iconia W4, HP Omni 10, Sharp Mebius Pad and Lenovo Miix 8 could be all we see for a while.
If our poll is any indication, most of the interest is in the 2-in-1’s so it’s exciting to imagine what could be coming in that area. The Fujitsu Q584, ASUS T100, Dell Venue 11 Pro and HP Pavilion X2 cover four of the major brands but you can be sure that Acer is working on something along the lines of the P3, that Lenovo will update the Lynx at some point and that Microsoft’s rumoured Surface Mini is likely to be built on Baytrail. There’ll be a number of re-branded OED devices too. The major company that hasn’t made any significant Windows tablet announcements in this space yet is Samsung. It’s difficult to imagine that they would hold-back until 2014.
The ASUS Transformer T100 will be available from Friday (18th October – Windows 8.1 official launch day. Windows 8.1 upgrade downloads start tomorrow, the 17th.) and we’re also expecting the two Dell Venue Pro products to be available during the first weeks of November.
As for Baytrail-M products , the information we have points to Q1 2014 for those as 64-bit drivers and firmware are finalised. Baytrail-M is unlikely to be used for 8-inch tablets but do expect 2-in-1s, larger buy paxil online tablets and even some laptops to appear using the platform.
Today at IDF 2013 in San Francisco, Intel is announcing it’s next-generation of low-power Atom, Pentium, and Celeron processors, codenamed ‘Bay Trail’. Intel says that Bay Trail processors will be suitable for tablets, laptops, AIO desktops, and “sleek mobile devices.”
Intel has just launched Silvermont, the new architecture core for Atom-based platforms. Silvermine will be used in the Bay Trail platform that will replace Clovertrail for Windows 8. Intel promises significant improvements in efficiency and products for the holiday season.
Notebookitalia took some time to get a demo of the Lenovo IdeaTab Lynx at a CES 2013 yesterday evening and the video reveals that it’s shipping now and will be available in Q1. The Ideatab Lynx is still listed as ‘coming soon’ on the Lenovo USA web site.
CES 2013 has kicked off and this year I’m in the studio reporting across the handheld and Ultrabook PC space. For UMPCPortal that means ‘Clovertrail’ and ‘Bay Trail’, the latter being important as it’s the first time the Atom platform will get a new architecture.
Clovertrail has brought the handheld PC space alive again and we’ve reported a number of times on Clovertrail-based products over the last three months. As the only PC platform that’s Connected Standby capable it’s a huge step forward and although the current designs use at least 10-inch displays there’s potential here for 8.9-inch and even 7-inch display Clovertrail devices.
During CES we’ll be looking for information on the Lenovo Ideatab Lynx, Fujitsu Arrows QH55J, Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet2, Dell Latitude 10 and the HP Envy 2. Naturally we’re looking out for new devices based on Clovertrail too. We’ll bring you the news as we find it.
Moving on to Bay Trail then, it’s the next generation, 22nm-based Atom architecture and it’s a big change. Leaked roadmaps mention a 2014 availability (1st Quarter) so don’t get too excited just yet but some of the details are very interesting. You’ll see a higher TDP but don’t worry because there’s a lot more on-board here including a variant of Intel’s graphics unit. A move away from PowerVR means better control over drivers and hope for Linux fans!
The SoC is known as Valleyview-T (where Clovertrail used a Cloverview SoC) and it will offer up to 4 cores. Display support will be improved above 1920×1080 and the graphics could be much more powerful. We expect huge improvements in media encoding and decoding efficiency and speed. Storage will still be eMMC based but USB3.0 support will be added.
With Intel’s Haswell platform reaching down into 8W TDP space and Bay Trail reaching up where Pentiums and Celeron processors were operating a few years ago there’s little space left for these brands. Haswell will also offer Connected Standby features so there’s a possibility that there will be a crossover of platforms in the 10-12.5-inch space with ‘Pro’ tablets offering true desktop capability and the consumer tablets focusing on style, weight, value and mobility.
Intel’s press conference is happening later today so I’ll be analyzing it for answers to the above questions.
Early reviews of CloverTrail devices are positive and that’s making investors and analysts sit up and take note. Deutsche Bank have just issued a note to their customers saying some very positive things about the platform and notes that it is competitive against ARM-based solutions.
Reviewed by Osiris Many thanks to Osiris for the review which was sent to us a few days ago. Osiris is a Samsung ATIC SmartPC owner and has submitted this review as a guest post.
For the last decade I have had an on-going, on and off again, love-hate relationship with Windows based tablets. Some of these tablets have included and spanned hefty Windows XP tablets, tiny Vista based tablets right through to modern more effective Windows 7 tablets. Despite these varieties and many more shapes and sizes, typically over this time the same limits have persistently dogged these tablets; poor battery life, heavy weight, poor performance and high niche pricing. In many instances the latter two were forgivable; however trying to use a tablet for day to day, study or business purposes with the first two deficiencies makes it an uphill – and often – inconvenient battle. With the advent of Windows 8 another era of hope and optimism dawns over the Windows tablet landscape. Promises of light devices providing all day battery, choices of performance at all levels and a true windows experience in a mobile platform abound. I am familiar with these promises from almost every generation of Windows tablets since their inception, the question is could this year finally be the year it all comes true? The short answer is Yesâ€¦but we are still in an era of compromise, this goes for all tablets.Keep that in mind as I will speak more about that at the end although without further delay let’s get into looking at our first Atom clover trail based Windows 8 tablet, the Samsung Smart PC.
It looks great and is likely to come at a great price but the ASUS Vivo Tab isn’t quite the ASUS Transformer Book as although it runs a full WIndows 8 build, it’s a low-power (and probably lower cost) Intel Atom-based tablet with docking keyboard.
Information on the ASUS Vivo Tab is coming in from all angles at the moment as it’s just been announced at a press conference. There will be a “RT’ ARM-based version too and there’s talk of a pen-capable display.
I’m in Hannover, Germany, for CeBit and as I start this article, Sascha Pallenberg of Netbooknews.com is sitting on the other side of our ‘blog apartment’ watching the Windows 8 consumer preview keynote from Mobile World Congress last week. A few evenings ago I was testing Windows 8 on an Atom-based tablet and while all that has been happening I’ve been thinking about Cover Trail W, the ultra-mobile platform that Intel have built to run Windows 8. In dual-core 1.8Ghz build with an SSD and 2GB of RAM I think we’ll have a winner on our hands when it comes to a platform. We can only hope that manufacturers see the potential for new form factors with this platform and operating system combo.
While the ARM-based platforms are approaching the same processing power band as we see on the high-end Atom platforms (Qualcomm’s Snapdragon is looking particularly impressive in terms of dual-core performance) they won’t contain the full goodness of Windows from day one. By that I mean you won’t be able to pick up an ARM-based Windows 8 platform and be able to download and install your favorite desktop apps. Clover Trail “W, on the other hand, is a full X86 PC platform and will act like an Ultrabook or a desktop PC and I believe that Windows 8 will be able to pull some impressive low-power usage figures out of the platform. From what I’ve seen in my testing and listening between the lines to what Intel has to say about Windows 8, it will definitely be ‘Clover Trail aware.’
In my testing of Windows 8 Beta this week I was getting those old ultra mobile PC and modular computing feelings back again. Windows 8 is likely to be the first usable ‘smartbook’ operating system on the market. Android always looks great in demos on the ASUS Transformer Prime but there’s a long road ahead in terms of filling the gaps for productivity workers. There’s a Prime sitting on the desk to the right of me now but this article is being written on a Samsung NP350 which is faster, cheaper, and more productive.
I’ll be looking for more information on Windows 8 and Clover Trail W this week. We’ve seen a demo device or two behind glass but maybe now that the public preview is available, manufacturers won’t be so shy with the Windows 8 letting us have hands-on.
Is there any big Windows 8 questions that you think need answering?