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.
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.
The new Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard is tiny and desirable, but pricey. Here’s my hands-on thoughts and video.
If there’s one sub-thread that has existed throughout the last 9 years of UMPCPortal it has to be mobile keyboards. PDAs generated a reasonable market for folding, rolling, laser-projected and even fabric keyboards but it hasn’t been until recently that the market picked up again with practical engineering, materials and features. I run a Microsoft Wedge keyboard across a number of tablets and am currently typing this article on a Type Cover with a Surface Pro 3. It’s that Type Cover technology that appears in one of the lightest keyboards I’ve seen since my all-time favorite, the Samsung Q1 UMPC keyboard. The Microsoft universal folding keyboard is incredibly light and although it has a slightly split keyboard I like the layout.
The key sizes are slightly smaller than you get on a Type Cover but not by much and there’s dual Bluetooth connectivity option for switching between two devices. My guess is 120 grams in weight but I could be wrong. Microsoft haven’t made the weight official yet.
What Microsoft have declared is an integrated a battery that lasts for three months, auto-shutdown on close, a spill-resistant design and a total height, when folded, of 11.5mm. Naturally, the Bluetooth HID profile support means it’s going to work across many, many devices and that includes some of those old PDAs!
There’s a problem though. Where simple portable Bluetooth keyboards start at around $20, this one is going to set you back just under $100. That’s more than a low-cost Windows 8, 8-inch tablet PC!
The updated Lenovo Yoga 2 tablet range is now available in three versions and two of those are running Windows. The unique design offers something special for the portrait hand-holder and, some might say “at last” a built-in stand on a small Windows tablet. The two Yoga 2 tablets are running on the Baytrail-T platform (we’re not expecting any performance increases over the Miix 2 8 and Miix 2 10) and come with full HD displays.
0.94 pounds for the Lenovo Tablet 2 8 isn’t the lightest but you do get a huge 24 Wh battery that should give you at least 10 hours of video playback. An 8-megapixel rear camera, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage should be enough to keep Windows 8.1 (and a Windows 10 upgrade in 2015) running smoothly.
Starting price: $299
The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 10 offers the same design characteristics in a 10-inch format. The battery size gets bumped up by 50% to 35 Wh. Weight is 1.39 pounds. There’s a micro-HDMI port on the 10-inch version and an optional keyboard that you can see in the image above.
Starting price: $399
YOGA TABLET 2 (8″ Windows) Specs
Processor: Intel® Atom™ Z3745 Processor
Operating System:Windows 8.1 with Bing for Small Tablets
Memory:RAM: 2GB LPDDR3
Storage: Up to 32GB EMMC
Supporting Micro SD card up to 64GB
Display:Size: 8″ Full HD (1920 x 1200) IPS display Capacitive touchscreen, 10-point multitouch
Weight: 0.94 lbs
Audio: 2x Front large-chamber speakers
Wolfson® Master Hi-Fi™ Codec
Battery Type : Li-ion, 6400 mAh
Usage Time : Up to 15 hours
Standby Time : Up to 14 days
Integrated Cameras: Rear: 8MP f2.2 Auto-focus. Front: 1.6MP HD
The Yoga 2 tablet design is going to be good for hand-holding in portrait mode and the stand mode, as we know from convertibles like the Lenovo Flex 10, is a great option for coffee-shop or breakfast browsing but the design could hinder portrait mode thumbing, at least on the 8-inch version. If the speakers are high quality the 10-inch version could make a great all-round holiday / weekender PC and something to consider when looking at the Acer Switch 10 with the full HD screen.
The new Yoga 2 tablet 10 with the Bluetooth keyboard cover (it’s unclear if this is part of th Update: It’s included with the 10-inch version.) could combine to make a very lightweight and low-cost full-HD mobile PC option. Keep your fingers crossed for a quality keyboard experience.
If the build quality is there and the early reviews are good these two models could stand, if you’ll excuse the pun, well ahead of the basic Windows tablet crowd as we move towards Christmas 2014. Don’t forget that they’re very likely to get a free Windows 10 upgrade in 2015 too!
Ben gave us a hands-on with the Dell XPS11 last week so I wanted to follow up with my own video hands-on from MWC. I took the opportunity to get up-close with the keyboard and test it. POV keyboard video coming up…
The Samsung ATIV XE500T has been somewhat a bit hard to find in-stock, that goes for other Clover Trail devices that we were supposed to see released in October. I was able to get a hold of the ATIV keyboard dock which again has been in short supply at the moment. The keyboard dock works great, but not without some cons. Read-on for the review, images and a review video.
The Acer S3 isn’t the best looking Ultrabook. I think most agree on that but this Champagne-coloured version is a step in the right direction, especially with the high-contrast keyboard which fixes one of the minor complaints I had about the original S3. In this video I give you a quick overview of the changes. I’m assuming the S3-391 is available immediately.
I really like user reviews. You get a longer-term view on the device and the owner has enough time to find those smaller issues that can sometimes grow into annoying ones. There’s one such issue here in the Lenovo U300s review below that Daniel Rourke [Twitter] sent in but in general he’s a very happy U300s customer.
If you’d also like to contribute to Ultrabooknews, drop me a line via our contact page. If you’re in the industry, an expert analyst, an owner/user or just have something serious to put forward, I’ll consider it for publication.
Ugly? Practical? Heavy? Flexible? The HP Folio 13 is a strange Ultrabook in that while it doesn’t follow fashion in terms of looks and weight, it’s possibly a good thing because it also packs ports, features and battery capacity that other Ultrabooks don’t. The HP Folio 13 could turn out to be the sensible choice among Ultrabooks in the first half of 2012
Thanks to everyone that joined in the live testing session yesterday evening. It was totally worth the effort because we uncovered a few more nuggets of information and a lot of data on gaming as well as confirming battery life and performance. The videos are embedded at the bottom of this article.
The bad news first. During the evening we experienced two power-downs on removing / inserting the power plug while we were in a game. It was an instant-off situation [see it on the live video here.]. Apparently others have experienced this too. I testing today, I experienced an instant shut-off while World Of Warcraft was loading (on battery mode.)
When we reported earlier in the week that the Asus Eee Pad Slider had passed through FCC approval, there was no official announcement from Asus. However, yesterday, the official press release announcing the device as part of the Asus product line went live on the Asus website. The official launch brings some additional tidbits that further pique our interest in this device.
One of the trends that is disturbing me in the Android infrastructure is the implementation of proprietary solutions to various use-case problems in new premier devices. Asus bundles Asus WebStorage with the Slider as a solution to cloud storage and populating an on-line archive with data you might need to access from multiple mobile devices. It is a nice touch (I guess), and I am sure one or two users will decide to use this solution instead of already existing cloud file services like Google Docs and DropBox, or cloud notebooks like Evernote or Springpad. My main issue is that every time a manufacturer deploys one of these in-house services on a tablet, the app is usually not uninstallable. The problem goes away if you wipe and root, but if you want to just run the device stock, these pre-loaded apps are annoying. It is very clear that the pre-loaded epidemic that plagued desktops and laptops for so long is creeping into the tablet market, as well.
Fortunately, that rant gets any negative take-aways I have from the press release out of the way. Most everything else is good news, or at least enticing news until we see some more definition from various allusions in the release. One of those items is in the area of the Slider’s ports. We were aware of the microSD port, but the Slider’s specs now also call out a 16/32GB Embedded Multi-Media Card (eMMC) port. This is called out as a discrete port in addition to the microSD port, so it makes me wonder if this will be a full-sized port like the Toshiba Thrive and Dell Streak 7 feature.
Also revealed is the fact that the device will be available in both pearl white and metallic brown color schemes. That designation appears to apply to the brushed layer applied to the slide-out keyboard, as can be seen in the pics attached. Android 3.1 will be pre-loaded and Asus indicates an upgrade to 3.2 as an OTA delivery, as we would expect. In case we were not certain before, the launch announcement confirms an IPS display (similar to the one used on the iPad) with a claimed 178 degree wide angle of view.
You can peep the specs in our product database here. A link to the press release is included in the source citations below. There is nothing in the press release on pricing or a release date.
So…is anyone holding off on that Asus Eee Pad Transformer purchase to snag a Slider instead?