Design - A Tablet and a Notebook
For the last 30 days or so, I have been using both Microsoft's new Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 as every day computing devices. The goal was to review these items from not just a handful of days of testing and benchmarking, but with some lengthy time under my belt utilizing both products in a real-world environment. The following is my review with that premise. Enjoy!
A lot has already been said about the design and style of both the updated Surface Pro 4 and the new Surface Book. Let’s start with the Surface Pro 4 as it sees the least dramatic changes from previous product.
The Surface Pro 4 uses the same kickstand tablet design that made the Surface brand so memorable as well as functional. Many different OEMs are starting to copy the design style because it has a lot of positive merits to it. For instance, it allows viewing angles from nearly 90 degree to flat. The Surface Pro 4 is a tablet in its purest form, though. It doesn’t have a keyboard or trackpad standard – you’ll have purchase the optional Type Cover. It’s only 8.5mm thick and weighs in at 1.73 lbs, without the added keyboard.
The kickstand works exceptionally, with unlimited positions between the starting and stop point of the hinge, and it allows smooth movement between them. It’s strong enough to stand up when being slid around on the tablet or desk. The biggest concern I have with the kickstand is that using it on your lap (or on an airplane tray table) is difficult to impossible, depending on the exact configuration or your legs / tray. Because the hinged kickstand needs a surface to make contact with, pushing the Surface Pro back on your legs where the hinged portion extends past your knees won’t work.
From a design and style perspective, I still think the Surface products are among the best that exist on the market today. The magnesium body is sleek and the angles are both professional and aggressive. Even when coupled with the magnetic Type Cover, it won’t look like a toy at the office or on the road.
The new Surface Book is a completely different beast – a unique design and a new product. I am sure that there are some people that simply won’t like the way the notebook looks, but I am not one of them. Though it is technically a tablet and a keyboard dock, the Surface Book only ships as a complete unit so calling this a notebook or a 2-in-1 convertible feels more accurate than calling it a tablet. It has a larger and more pronounced 13.5-in screen than the Pro, which makes it larger, heavier and bulkier in your bag as well. The magnesium body shares a lot of design cues with the Pro 4, but it’s the hinge on the Book that really makes it different than any notebook I have used.
Subject: Mobile | November 18, 2015 - 06:41 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: tegra k1, tablet, shield tablet k1, shield controller, shield, nvidia, gaming tablet, Android
NVIDIA has released their updated version of the SHIELD tablet with a new name, but very little has changed other than the name (now the SHIELD tablet K1) and the price - now $100 less expensive at $199.99.
The SHIELD tablet K1 (pictured case and controller are not included)
Under the hood the 8-inch Android-powered tablet is identical to its predecessor, with the quad-core Tegra K1 processor with its 192 CUDA core GPU powering the gaming action on the 1920x1200 display. The controller is still a separate $59.99 purchase, but of course this is not required to use the tablet.
Here are full specs from NVIDIA:
- Processor: NVIDIA Tegra K1 192 core Kepler GPU (2.2 GHz ARM Cortex A15 CPU with 2 GB RAM)
- Display: 8-inch 1920x1200 multi-touch full-HD display
- Audio: Front-facing stereo speakers with built-in microphone
- Storage: 16 GB
- Wireless: 802.11n 2x2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0 LE, GPS/GLONASS
- I/O: Mini-HDMI output, Micro-USB 2.0, MicroSD slot, 3.5 mm stereo headphone jack with microphone support
- Motion Sensors: 3-axis gyro, 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis compass
- Cameras: Front, 5MP HDR; Back, 5MP auto-focus HDR
- Battery: 19.75 Watt Hours
- Dimensions: Weight, 12.6 oz (356 g); H x W x D: 8.8 in (221 mm) x 5.0 in (126 mm) x 0.36 in (9.2 mm)
- Operating System: Android Lollipop
- Gaming Features: SHIELD controller compatible, GeForce NOW cloud gaming service, Console Mode, NVIDIA ShadowPlay
- Included Apps: Google Play, NVIDIA SHIELD Hub, Fallout Shelter, NVIDIA Dabbler, Squid, Twitch
This update really comes down to price, as NVIDIA is being more aggressive about the adoption of their gaming tablet with the new MSRP. This doesn't come without some concessions, however, as the SHIELD tablet K1 ships without any accessories (no USB cable or charger). It's a move remienscent of Nintendo with the "New 3DS XL", which also shipped without a charger, and the standard micro-USB connection should be readily at hand for most of the target audience.
The question of course must be, is this now a more compelling product at $199? It does make the controller seem a bit more affordable considering the bundle will now run $260 - $40 below the previous tablet-only price. Time will tell (and of course you can let us know in the comments below!).
NVIDIA is selling the SHIELD tablet K1 directly from their web store, and it's already on Amazon for the same $199.99 price.
Subject: Mobile | October 2, 2015 - 04:09 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Tegra X1, tablet, pixel, nvidia, google, android 6.0, Android
During its latest keynote event, Google unveiled the Pixel C, a powerful tablet with optional keyboard that uses NVIDIA’s Tegra X1 SoC and runs the Android 6.0 “Marshmallow” operating system.
The Pixel C was designed by the team behind the Chromebook Pixel. Pixel C features an anodized aluminum body that looks (and reportedly feels) smooth with clean lines and rounded corners. The tablet itself is 7mm thick and weighs approximately one pound. The front of the Pixel C is dominated by a 10.2” display with a resolution of 2560 x 1800 (308 PPI, 500 nits brightness), wide sRGB color gamut, and 1:√2 aspect ratio (which Google likened to the size and aspect ratio of an A4 sheet of paper). A 2MP front camera sits above the display while four microphones sit along the bottom edge and a single USB Type-C port and two stereo speakers sit on the sides of the tablet. Around back, there is an 8MP rear camera and a bar of LED lights that will light up to indicate the battery charge level after double tapping it.
The keyboard is an important part of the Pixel C, and Google has given it special attention to make it part of the package. The keyboard attaches to the tablet using self-aligning magnets that are powerful enough to keep the display attached while holding it upside down and shaking it (not that you'd want to do that, mind you). It can be attached to the bottom of the tablet for storage and used like a slate or you can attach the tablet to the back of the keyboard and lift the built-in hinge to use the Pixel C in laptop mode (the hinge can hold the display at anywhere from 100 to 135-degrees). The internal keyboard battery is good for two months of use, and can be simply recharged by closing the Pixel C like a laptop and allowing it to inductively charge from the tablet portion. The keyboard is around 2mm thick and is nearly full size at 18.85mm pitch and the chiclet keys have a 1.4mm travel that is similar to that of the Chromebook Pixel. There is no track pad, but it does offer a padded palm rest which is nice to see.
Internally, the Pixel C is powered by the NVIDIA Tegra X1 SoC, 3GB of RAM, and 32GB or 64GB of storage (depending on model). The 20nm Tegra X1 consists of four ARM Cortex A57 and four Cortex A53 CPU cores paired with a 256-core Maxwell GPU. The Pixel C is a major design win for NVIDIA, and the built in GPU will be great for gaming on the go.
The Pixel C will be available in December ("in time for the holidays") for $499 for the base 32 GB model, $599 for the 64 GB model, and $149 for the keyboard.
First impressions, such as this hands-on by Engadget, seem to be very positive stating that it is sturdy yet sleek hardware that feels comfortable typing on. While the hardware looks more than up to the task, the operating system of choice is a concern for me. Android is not the most productivity and multi-tasking friendly software. There are some versions of Android that enable multiple windows or side-by-side apps, but it has always felt rather clunky and limited in its usefulness. With that said, Computer World's JR Raphael seems hopeful. He points out that the Pixel C is, in Batman fashion, not the hardware Android wants, but the hardware that Android needs (to move forward) and is primed for a future of Android that is more friendly to such productive endeavors. Development versions of Android 6.0 included support for multiple apps running simultaneously side-by-side, and while that feature will not make the initial production code cut, it does show that it is something that Google is looking into pursuing and possibly enabling at some point. The Pixel C has an excellent aspect ratio to take advantage of the app splitting with the ability to display four windows each with the same aspect ratio.
I am not sure how well received the Pixel C will be by business users who have several convertible tablet options running Windows and Chrome OS. It certainly gives the iPad-and-keyboard combination a run for its money and is a premium alternative to devices like the Asus Transformers.
What do you think about the Pixel C, and in particular, it running Android?
Even if I end up being less-than-productive using it, I think I'd still want the sleek-looking hardware as a second machine, heh.
The Dell Venue 10 7000 Series tablet features a stunning 10.5" OLED screen and is designed to mate perfectly with the optional keyboard. So how does it perform as both a laptop and a tablet? Read on for the full review!
To begin with I will simply say the keyboard should not be an optional accessory. There, I've said it. As I used the Venue 10 7000, which arrived bundled with the keyboard, I was instantly excited about this design. The Venue 10 is a device that is as remarkable for its incredible screen as much as any other feature, but once coupled with the magnetically attached keyboard becomes something more - and quite different than existing implementations of the transforming tablet. More than a simple accessory the keyboard felt like it was really a part of the device when connected, and made it feel like a real laptop.
I'm getting way ahead of myself here so let's go back to the beginning, and back to a world where one might consider purchasing this tablet by itself. At $499 for the 16GB model you might reasonably ask how it compares to the identically-priced Apple iPad Air 2. Well, most of the comparison is going to be software/app related as the Venue 10 7000 is running Android 5.1 Lollipop, and of course the iPad runs iOS. The biggest difference between these tablets (besides the keyboard integration) becomes the 10.5-inch, 2560x1600 OLED screen, and oh what a screen it is!
Subject: Mobile | July 17, 2015 - 04:29 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: roundup, recommedations, tablet, convertible, laptop, gaming laptop, smartphone
Wondering what is hot in the mobile world right now? Well, you can see what The Tech Report thinks are the best mobile computing devices in their latest round up right here. They have four recommended tablets, ranging from the low cost Google Nexus 7 which is still a hit after years on the market to the much more expensive and brand new iPad Air 2. Of the convertibles they recommend, two happen to be Surface machines from Microsoft and they split up their laptop recommendations between those for general usage and two designed specifically for gaming. Rounding out the list are four phones and a look at what is coming down the pipeline in the near future; what you won't find are any Chromebooks.
"In this edition of our mobile staff picks, we chose our favorites from the current cream of the crop in tablets, convertibles, laptops, and phones."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Rooting, Flashing & ROMming ASUS’ ZenFone 2 @ Techgage
- Mlais M7 Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
- Samsung Galaxy S6 edge @ TechARP
- Android Wear 5.1: A more enduring wristjob for your pleasure @ The Register
- Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga 12 @ The Inquirer
- ASUS ZenBook UX305 Ultrabook Review @ Techgage
- MSI GT72 2QE Dominator Pro G (1461UK) G-Sync Gaming Laptop @ Kitguru
- PC Specialist Lafité Notebook @ eTeknix
Subject: Mobile | February 25, 2015 - 04:46 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: z3580, venue 8 7000, venue, tablet, silvermont, moorefield, Intel, dell, atom z3580, Android
Dell's Venue 8 7000 tablet sports an 8.4" 2560x1600 OLED display and is powered by the Moorefield based Atom Z3580 SOC, 2GB LPDDR3-1600 with 16GB internal of internal storage with up to a 512GB Micro SD card supported. Even more impressive is that The Tech Report had no issues installing apps or moving files to the SD card with ES File Explorer, unlike many Android devices that need certain programs to reside on the internal storage media. Like Ryan, they had a lot of fun with the RealSense Camera and are looking forward to the upgrade to Lollipop support. Check out The Tech Report's opinion of this impressive Android tablet right here.
"Dell's Venue 8 7000 is the thinnest tablet around, and that's not even the most exciting thing about it. This premium Android slate packs a Moorefield-based Atom processor with quad x86 cores, a RealSense camera that embeds 3D depth data into still images, and a staggeringly beautiful OLED display that steals the show. Read on for our take on a truly compelling tablet."
Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Works Great As A Linux Ultrabook @ Phoronix
- Cooler Master NotePal ERGOSTAND III Review @ Techgage
- Portable Smartphone Battery Pack Roundup @ eTeknix
- Sandberg Outdoor Powerbank 10400 mAh Review @ NikKTech
- Xiaomi Mi4 64GB Smartphone Review @ Madshrimps
Flagship. Premium. Best in class. These are the terms that Dell and Intel muttered to me during a conference call to discuss the new Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet. It’s a bullish claim and one that would likely have been received with a sideways eye roll or a shrug had I not been able to get a short amount of hands on time with the device at CES in January. The idea that Dell would develop an Android tablet that bests what more established brands like Nexus and Samsung have created, AND that that same tablet would be powered by an Intel processor rather than a Qualcomm, NVIDIA or Samsung chip would have seemed laughable last year. But after a solid three weeks with the Venue 8 7000 I am prepared to make the statement: this is my favorite tablet. Not my favorite Intel tablet, not my favorite Android tablet: just plain favorite.
The Venue 8 7000 combines style, design, technology and visuals that are simply unmatched by anything else in the Android word and rivals anything that Apple has created to date. There are a couple of warts that center around the camera and gaming performance that won’t drop your jaw, but for the majority of use cases the user experience is as exceptional as the looks.
Maybe best of all, this tablet starts at just $399 and is available today.
Dell Venue 8 7000 Specifications
Let’s begin the review by looking at the raw specifications of the Dell Venue 8 7000. Even though hardware specifications don’t tell a complete story of any device, especially a tablet that is based so much on experience, it is important to get a good baseline expectation.
|Dell Venue 8 7000 (Model 7840)|
|Processor||Intel Atom Z3580 Quad-Core 2.33 GHz|
|Screen||2560x1600 OLED 8.4-in (359 ppi)|
MicroSD Slot (up to 512GB)
|Camera||8MP Rear + Dual 720p Depth
|Wireless||Intel 7260 802.11ac 1x1 Dual Band
|Connection||USB 2.0 (power and data)
|Dimensions||215.8mm x 124.4mm x 6mm
8.5" x 4.88" x 0.24"
The center of the Venue 8 7000 is the Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor with a peak clock rate of 2.3 GHz and a base clock rate of 500 MHz. The Z3580 is a 22nm processor based on the Moorefield platform and Silvermont architecture. I first got information about the Silvermont architecture back in May of 2013 so it seems a bit dated in some regards, but the performance and power efficiency is still there to compete with the rival options from ARM.. The Venue 8 7000 includes an LPDDR3-1600 controller and there is 2GB of memory; a decent amount but we are seeing quite a few smartphones with more system memory like the OnePlus One.
Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2015 - 03:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ultraportable, tablet, notebook, nec, Lenovo, lavie, ces 2015
Lenovo, in a joint venture with NEC, is bringing the world's lightest notebook and the world's lightest convertible to market. And as the first products from the joint venture to be released outside of Japan, the new LaVie Z HZ550 notebook and LaVie Z HZ750 convertible are impressive.
Both 13.3-inch devices are constructed of a magnesium-lithium body with custom Mg-Li reinforcements to create a sleek looking and lightweight PC that does not compromise strength versus other magnesium alloy products. The HZ550 and HZ750 measure 16.9mm thick and weigh 1.72 pounds and 2.04 pounds respectively.
The notebooks feature a 13.3" WQHD display, YAMAHA audio, stereo mic and 720p webcam. There are two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI video output, SD card reader, and headphone jack along the edges (and the notebook is just big enough for those full size USB ports). Other features include a dual hinge design reminiscent of other Lenovo (Yoga) products, a chiclet style keyboard, and a wide touchpad sans physical buttons. The dark frame has an angular design. The HZ750 adds a lightweight film touchscreen (no cover glass) and a 360-degree hinge to allow tablet mode.
The Lenovo NEC LaVie Z PCs are powered by Intel's latest Broadwell-U Core i5 processors, 4GB RAM, and a 128GB SSD. The HZ750 can further be upgraded to a Core i7 and 8GB of RAM. Both PCs feature 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The HZ550 notebook is fitted with a 29.6 Whr battery while the HZ750 has a 44 Whr battery.
The LaVie Z HZ550 and HZ750 will be available in May starting at $1,299 and $1,499 respectively. They are slick looking notebooks and the magnesium-lithium frame is interesting. I'm looking forward to seeing how they stack up and what else Lenovo NEC has in store (the joint venture agreement was recently extended to 2026).
What do you think about the new PCs?
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 5, 2015 - 03:00 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: CES, thinkpad yoga, Thinkpad, tablet, Lenovo, ces 2015, broadwell-u
Yesterday, Lenovo rolled out updates to its entire line of ThinkPad laptops, and today Lenovo is unveiling an update to its business-focused ThinkPad Yoga tablet. The update brings a hardware refresh to the 14-inch ThinkPad Yoga while also adding new 12-inch and 15-inch convertibles.
The new ThinkPad Yoga builds upon last year's model, maintaining the look and feel but updating the internal hardware. It now spans from a 12-inch 3.3 pound tablet to a 15-inch 5.07 pound convertible with enough space for a numerical pad. All models are less than an inch thick, with the 12" being the thinnest at 0.7".
ThinkPad Yoga 12
Display resolution options are capped at 1920 x 1080 across all models, but they are IPS panels with touchscreens.
The multi-mode devices feature a backlit ThinkPad keyboard (1.8mm travel) with track point, a trackpad with physical buttons, a 720p webcam (optional 3D camera on the 15-inch model), stereo speakers (2x 1.5W JBL on 15-inch tablet), and digitizer or Active Pen support.
Port options include two USB 3.0, one USB 2.0, one HDMI, and a card reader. A Mini HDMI port is used on the smallest ThinkPad Yoga.
ThinkPad Yoga 14
Lenovo has chosen Broadwell-U to power its business tablets, and you will be able to get up to a Core i7 processor. All models have access to the Intel HD Graphics, and the 14-inch and 15-inch tablets can be configured with dedicated graphics from NVIDIA. The 12-inch and 14-inch ThinkPad Yogas can be equipped with up to 8GB DDR3L while the Yoga 15 can accommodate 12GB and 16GB configurations. Storage options include mechanical, SSHD, and SSDs with storage topping out at 1TB for spinning platter and 512GB for solid state drives (not available on the Yoga 12). Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 b/g/n or 802.11ac Wi-Fi (depending on the Wi-Fi+BT combo card), and a 1x NGFF slot.
The ThinkPad Yoga tablets will ship with Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.1 Pro with an optional Windows 7 Pro downgrade available.
ThinkPad Yoga 15
The new ThinkPad Yoga will be available in February with starting prices at $999 for the Yoga 12, $1,199 for the Yoga 14 and Yoga 15.
The new Yoga 14 has a slight $50 premium over the starting price of last year's ThinkPad Yoga 14, but the new Yoga 12 comes in much cheaper and the larger Yoga 15 can be had for the same price as the new 14-inch model. Many of the popular features are staying the same, including the Lift 'n Lock keyboard, but you are also getting the latest CPU and GPU technology so in all it is likely worth it. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on these machines as we get closer to the launch date.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech | November 18, 2014 - 12:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, tablet, smartphone
Intel's smartphone and tablet divisions are being rolled up under Kirk Skaugen's PC Business division in what was described as an attempt to "accelerate Intel's opportunity in the marketplace". This is definitely needed as Intel is having great difficulties garnering market share in the mobile industry, the only successes they have had are with larger more expensive tablets. One possible benefit of this merger that was mentioned in the Inquirer's article was Intel's plans to leverage the growing use of LTE in both tablets and laptops, perhaps we shall see a 4G card become far more common in even basic models. Intel implied that they are not planning any layoffs at this point although unless their ultramobile division can pick up the pace it seems inevitable that some will feel the axe. We shall see over the coming year if Intel's focus on low powered silicon can help in their battles against incumbents such as ARM and Qualcomm.
"INTEL HAS ANNOUNCED plans to merge its smartphone and tablet operations with its PC division in a bid to make the two businesses more efficient, and to further compete with rivals in the mobile semiconductor market."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- A first taste of Lollipop on Nvidia's Shield Tablet @ The Tech Report
- The optic NERVE of it: Intel declares WAR on InfiniBand @ The Register
- Lenovo unveils a water-cooled dual-socket Intel Xeon E5 server @ The Inquirer
- Asustek said to be adopting Qualcomm solution for new ZenFone; looking for price cut from Intel @ DigiTimes