At just 8 months old my son made the right choice for us. He chose ‘laptop’ and pushed the tablet to one side. Why? They’re better of course.
It’s a video that I just have to re-post here in 2017 when we’re all getting distracted and, to be honest, bogged-down by the tablet touchscreen. We’re getting lazier and less efficient. Here I am sitting on my bum in front of a laptop and I’m doing real work rather than messing around with Candy, sending smiley faces to ‘friends’ or getting involved with digital activism.
Really, this boy is telling you how to GET THINGS DONE. Real work. Like this post. ;-)
I’ve just posted detailed hands-on information about the excellent Lenovo Yoga 710 11-inch 360-degree convertible and as I read my colleagues review of the Yoga 300 11 I wonder why they bothered. This 360 convertible weighs about 40% more, has less battery life and a very poor screen. Granted, it’s got a useful choice of ports but hey, when the screen is this bad, who’s going to want to use them?
At 400 Euro the Yoga 300 11 (Lenovo Yoga 300-11IBR) with Intel Celeron N3050 and 4GB RAM isn’t even that cheap. The whole package is wrong and will damage the Yoga name. Or perhaps Lenovo are using the Yoga name to try to push through some profitable sales?
The Yoga 300 11 scored 78% at Notebookcheck with the screen score coming in at 72%. In my opinion it should be marked down further than that because the contrast of just 376:1 is the worst I’ve seen since I’ve worked with NBC. [Do yourself a favor and look for a contrast of 1000:1 or more when you buy a laptop.] The colors are inaccurate and limited and there’s a center rightness under battery usage of just 210 cd/m2. I haven’t seen figures like that since the netbook days!
My recommendation: Don’t buy the Lenovo Yoga 300. Even if it’s on offer. And while we’re at it, where’s the alternative. The ASUS, Toshiba and Acer offers in this segment aren’t that good either. I say wait and save up for the one I’m using right now Even if it’s a 4GB / 64 GB / Core m3 version of the Lenovo Yoga 710 11 it’s going to be much more usable than the Yoga 300 11.
I’ll probably have a video review of the Yoga 300 11 for you by the end of this week. (For Notebookcheck,)
Last week I wrote about the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) and how it could drive adoption of the Windows 10 Mobile ‘smartphone’ as a core computing device for all consumer needs, whatever the screen-size or input method. The Lumia 950 rumor and that image of the USB-C dock brought back memories of the Continuum demo at BUILD 2015 and it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that extending into barebones laptops driven by Windows 10 Mobile devices. At IFA I saw another interesting accessory. It’s not a smartbook but could be a smartphone-book. A phab-book perhaps. OK, I’m still working on the name!
[Europe-focus] If you’re looking closely at the super-cheap Medion S2218 that’s being offered in Aldi in the UK / Ireland today (next week in many mainland EU countries) you’ll want to just check through this – an updating post including reviews and feedback that you need to read before buying.
Update: Mini ‘day 1’ review available at the end of this article.
Laptopmag published an interesting article about touchscreen laptops last week. “Why you shouldn’t buy a touchscreen laptop.” I strongly disagreed, along with others, on a Facebook comment thread. Touch can be extremely useful, productive and fun if you commit to it but if you’re not feeling adventurous then yes, touchscreens may be a disadvantage for you. The 1-2mm thickness, 100 grams and, usually, $100 is a waste. Me, I need touch badly, as I found out at the weekend when testing out a Macbook.
Macbook. No touchscreen.
The Macbook is a gorgeously finished ultra-light PC with a great screen, an amazing trackpad and, for me, a nice keyboard. That keyboard might be a little too low-profile for some so try before you buy.
It was the screen that caught me out though. It took me at least 5 seconds to realize there was no touchscreen as I poked the URL bar on Safari. I’m so used to doing it on my own touchscreen laptops and convertibles that when it’s not there I not only miss it but I waste time too.
Scrolling and zooming, selecting and dragging are often harder and slower with a touchpad and simple things like annotating a Snipping Tool grab or adjusting the screen brightness and volume are faster and more accurate when the touchscreen and touch UI are in place. Of course OS X isn’t built for touch so there’s no reason for touch here but the experience confirmed to me just how much I rely on a touch layer and touch UI. The Macbook is a no-go for me.
I realize I am probably in the minority as a touch laptop fan so feel free to voice your opinion below. Do you think the number of touchscreen laptops available is going to increase or decrease? Will Windows 10 improve or degrade the laptop touch experience?
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.
I’ve just finished the full review of the Lenovo Flex 10 for Notebookcheck.net. Check it out for a very detailed look at performance and features. Below you’ll find my overview review video and some personal opinion on the Flex 10 which I think is a very interesting package for around $320 / $300 Euro
This is going to be music to some peoples ears because APT-X is now supported on Ultrabooks and notebooks with some Intel Centrino Bluetooth stacks. I heard the news in September but it’s only now I’m able to confirm it.
That message just popped up on the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus I’m testing as I paired some Sennheiser PX210 Bluetooth headphones.
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.
Spotted in UAE and Singapore is a new 10-inch Lenovo Flex 10. We’ve seen the 14-inch version of this running a Core CPU but here’s something that lines up with the new class of netbook-style devices. Available with four different CPUs, up to 4GB of RAM and weighing 1.2KG it is priced locally at around S$699 (US$562.)
Intel® Quad Core™ Pentium™ N3510 processor
Intel® Quad Core™ Celeron® N2910 processor
Intel® Dual Core™ Celeron® N2810 processor
Intel® Dual Core™ Celeron® N2805 processor
Retail outlets are starting to offer the product. For example we spotted a 10.1-inch, Windows 8, 508 GB (indicating an SSD-cache), 2GB RAM, Celeron 2Ghz dual-core, 1366×768 for the equivalent of 340 Euro.
There’s no SD card and no removable battery and the screen is a basic 1366×768. Pentium models will come with 4GB RAM .
Just how long have we been waiting for a low-power productive computing platform and an operation system built to go with it? Atom has been around (largely unchanged in it’s CPU architecture) for many years but we’ve been through Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 before the OS finally matured to support touch, pen and mouse computing. UMPC’s won’t be coming soon but if the convertible Windows 8 devices do well, there’s a chance that the screen-sizes will drop.
Last week at IDF I took a look at a few of the convertibles and spent a lot of time learning about the platform and analyzing what could be possible.
Intel’s Core processors dynamically adjust the speed of your Ultrabook’s CPU to give you power when you need it and battery savings when you don’t. The battery savings come when your Core processor intelligently clocks itself down to the minimum level during tasks that don’t require much power. For instance, as I write this and listen to a song in the background my processor is in ‘Energy Saver’ mode where unneeded cores are disabled to save power and active cores are clocked down. Ensuring that your Ultrabook is correctly downclocking and entering Energy Saver mode is vital to achieving maximum battery life. Inefficient programs or processes running in the background of your Ultrabook could be preventing you from getting the most from your battery; this guide will show you how to get rid of them.