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The BBC Micro:Bit just launched. Lucky UK kids! Video, details.

The Micro:Bit has officially launched in the UK.  It’s about as minimalist as you can make a computing device, including the cost which is so low that 1 million of them are being given to UK school children as part of a BBC-run project. The CPU uses an ARM architecture and there are sensors on board, digital and analogue ports, a 25 LED matrix, two programmable buttons, microSD port and Bluetooth LE. It’s so small that you can wear it as a badge. How cool is that! Check out the video below.

BBC MicroBit

BBC Micro:Bit

BBC MicroBit

BBC Micro:Bit

From the press release:

  • 25 red LEDs to light up, flash messages, create games and invent digital stories
  • Two programmable buttons activated when pressed. Use the micro:bit as a games controller. Pause or skip songs on a playlist.
  • On-board motion detector or ‘accelerometer’ that can detect movement and tell other devices you’re on the go. Featured actions include shake, tilt and freefall. Turn the micro:bit into a spirit level. Light it up when something is moved. Use it for motion-activated games.
  • A built-in compass or ‘magnetometer’ to sense which direction you’re facing, your movement in degrees, and where you are. Includes an in-built magnet, and can sense certain types of metal.
  • Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to the internet and interact with the world around you. Connect the micro:bit to other micro:bits, devices, kits, phones, tablets, cameras and everyday objects all around. Share creations or join forces to create multi-micro:bit masterpieces. Take a selfie. Pause a DVD or control your playlist.
  • Five Input and Output (I/O) rings to connect the micro:bit to devices or sensors using crocodile clips or 4mm banana plugs. Use the micro:bit to send commands to and from the rings, to power devices like robots and motors.

The CPU is based on ARM Mbedhardware and software which is free for commercial use. Freescale provide the sensors and micro-USB controller, Lancaster University wrote the runtime OS and Microsoft have created a tailored TouchDevelop web application and hosting service (IDE.) Nordic Semiconductor are supplying the Bluetooth chip and Samsung are involved with creating mobile apps for the Micro:Bit. Element14 are in charge of manufacturing, ScienceScope are handling the distribution to schools and the Wellcome Trust are running the educational content around the Micro:Bit. There are other partners too (29 in total.)

The web-based IDE will go live at microbit.co.uk later this summer and it will give the 11-12 year olds (and probably a lot of parents) the chance to create projects, run a simulator and program the Micro:Bit.

Will it be available to buy? Well the BBC have said that they will open-source the Micro:Bit but it’s not quite clear how ‘open source’ the hardware is yet, despite the ‘free to use’ Mbit core. We’ll work on getting that information, along with more technical details, as the launch progresses.

The Micro:Bit might not be an ultramobile PC as we see it here at UMPCPortal but it’s definitely worthy of a mention and indicative of the way that computing devices will shrink even more over time.

CJTQU8-WsAAEtlf

Micro:Bit rear, populated.

Voyo V2 Mini PC coming with battery, storage options.

Mini PCs with built-in batteries are cool. I’m currently testing the Ainol Mini PC and it’s very inspiring from a ‘project’ point of view, especially when you can run it wirelessly and knowing that Windows 10 will have some nice casting features. The Voyo V2 is coming soon though and it includes a battery and extra storage option.

Voyo V2 Mini PC

Voyo V2 Mini PC

For $134 you can get a Voyo V2 mini PC with an Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core, 2 GB RAM and 32 GB eMMC. You’ll find similar specs in the Intel Compute Stick and the Ainol Mini PC. There’s a 17 Wh battery inside and an additional 64 GB ‘SSD.’ The Voyo V2 has and HDMI port, analogue audio port, microSD port and full-size USB 2.0 port. There’s a Gigabit Ethernet port too which makes it a little more interesting as a home-theatre box that streams from network-attached storage.

The ‘SSD’ is not defined so we could be talking about something as simple as an internal USB stick or SD card but if it’s an mSATA or M.2 interface it becomes quite interesting for upgrading.

If you don’t want the extra 64 GB of storage you can opt for an 8000 mah (30 Wh) battery pack which should keep the unit running for 10 hours or more. As a radio streamer or local audio player it could run in Connected Standby mode for days!

It’s a shame that we’re not seeing the new mini PCs with a full 64-bit X5 or X7 processor but they still have enough power to do some impressive computing and should get a boost with Windows 10. I’ll be looking in depth at some of the BIOS and security features of these devices soon so if you’ve got questions about Linux booting or disk encryption, let me know below. If you have any ideas as to how you’d use a mini PC, especially one with a built-in battery, let us know in the comments below.

Source: CNX Software. Gearbest.

Dell Venue 10 7000 – Good reviews. Bad Price.

At 1063 grams, including keyboard, the Dell Venue 10 7000 is another Android 2-in-1 to consider for mobile productivity, if you can justify the price.

tablet-venue-10-pdp-love-module-2

Back in 2010 I tried to put together a 1KG ‘rig’ that would serve mobile computing duties and in the test I had one of the first Android-based ‘smartbooks.’ The Toshiba AC100 was a really interesting product let down by an operating system and apps that didn’t support the laptop style of working. Move on to 2015 and we now have two good Android-based offerings and a range of Windows-based offerings. The choice has never been better. Unfortunately, while the Dell Venue 10 7000 is an extremely smart-looking dockable tablet, it costs $629.

Reviews have been favourable so far for the Dell Venue 10 7000 and it’s clear that Android 5 is better at supporting these form-factors than before. Some apps still don’t understand the concept of landscape mode but if we see more keyboard-based Android products in the future developers will be forced to move from portrait-only.

One of the key features of the Dell Venue 10 7000 is the screen. If it’s anything like the Dell Venue 8 7000, 2560 x 1600 OLEDs should really make a punch and bring some reasonable outdoor capabilities, which would be nicer if there was an LTE option. I agree that most of us can use our phones as temporary hotspots but if you want to be productive and independent of a smartphone battery (i.e. be able to work after 3pm without any worries!) then you need built-in cellular data capability; that’s what makes the Xperia Z4 Tablet so interesting.

The keyboard is getting praise. “Dell has taken the same build quality we saw last year and extended it to a modular design to support one of the best keyboards you can buy for an Android device today.” (Androidcentral) although it’s obviously more cramped than anything you’ll get on an 11.6-inch device.

Dell Venue 10 7000 keyboard.

Dell Venue 10 7000 keyboard.

Battery life looks to be around 6 hours which isn’t great for the weight and screen size. The similar, but Windows-based, Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 10 offers more life from a charge and it only costs $349. If you really want a 2-in-1 tablet bargain, the original Acer Aspire Switch 10 is available for $219, which again highlights the big issue here. Dell need to knock the price down to $399 before the Venue 10 7000 gets really interesting. A $499 version with 64 GB and LTE would make it ultramobile. As it is, $629 is your starting price for this tablet and keyboard combo.

I’ve added the review links into the product database.

Windows 10 Build 10158 – Bigger steps needed for tablet users

This post is out of date before I’ve even posted it. As I was finalizing this post, build 10159 appeared and I’m downloading it now. We don’t know what’s in the latest build yet but it’s said to be significant. I’ll update this post with anything that’s affected here and write a new overview after I’ve looked at build 10159.

The ‘beta’ tags have been removed from Store, Music, Maps, Edge and other apps in Windows 10 preview release 10158 and the old Windows 8.1 versions have gone. There are visual tweaks, support for Hello where users have the required hardware and Quiet Hours is back. The Battery indicator shows remaining and time-to-charge figures, the Photos app has been updated and the (desktop) Snipping Tool has a new delay feature. Microsoft Wi-Fi is coming. But there’s little here for tablet users.

5180

An applications menu shortcut now appears above the Start Menu. Snipping Tool and Quiet Hours also shown.

An ‘all apps’ button has appeared above the Start button in Tablet Mode but the sidebar and taskbar are still there along with the ridiculous hamburger menu icon way up on the top left of the screen. At the very least this needs to be dropped down to the bottom left. The taskbar still needs to go. Take a look at how ugly the Kindle reading experience is. That taskbar!

Screenshot (7)

App stability is still not there on the Surface Pro 3 with Store, News and Mail all crashing on me in the first hours of testing. At one point I couldn’t even log in as the on-screen keyboard wouldn’t pop-up. I’ve also had a complete system failure.

The Microsoft Wi-Fi app teases a new global Wi-Fi subscription service. There isn’t much information now but there’s an FAQ available. This could be a Skype Wi-Fi re-branding job.

Microsoft WiFi FAQ

Microsoft WiFi FAQ

Microsoft WiFi app

Microsoft WiFi app

The other good news is that Surface 3 owners can now try Windows 10 starting with this build. Those3 of you with WIMboot devices (Most tablets with 16 GB storage) can also use this build.

Build 10159 testing will start as soon as it’s downloaded on my Surface Pro 3. (Currently it’s stuck at 0%.)

Bargain, high-end Lenovo Thinkpad 8 (refresh) performance looks great.

thinkpadThe Lenovo Thinkpad 8 was the only early 2014 Atom-based Windows 8 tablet that I didn’t do a deep-dive review on. It was, as it turned out, one of the best and with its 1920×1200 display and USB 3.0 quite unique. A recent update to the range saw the original Z3770 processor being replaced with a Z3795 CPU (1.59 Ghz – 2.39 Ghz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, 128 GB SSD and a true 64-bit Windows Pro build. The improvements in performance are easy to measure.

It’s got the processing power of a basic Microsoft Surface 3 but includes Windows Pro, more storage and more RAM. The LTE version of this, which I have here, makes it expensive though…unless you’ve just snapped one up in Europe for the incredible price of £240. Seriously, apart from the graphics power, this is a high-end Surface 3 squeezed into an 8.3-inch tablet weighing just 439 grams – 70% of the weight of a Surface 3.

Early testing with the latest Thinkpad 8

Early testing with the latest Thinkpad 8

£240 (inclusive tax – about $310 in the USA, pre-tax) is only an incredible price if this Thinkpad 8 works though so I’ve bought one and have starting testing.

So far everything is as expected. Having just completed a review of the Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 I know what a Z3795 and 4 GB of RAM feels like and this feels just like it. It’s much smoother than your average Z3745 / 2 GB Windows 8 tablet and really takes it into productive territory. You CAN use this as a desktop. I’m using it as a mini desktop with a USB keyboard as I type this but I’ll be testing it out with a USB 3.0 DisplayLink docking station as soon as I get the chance. Of course there are limits but this Thinkpad 8 would probably serve as a good upgrade to most 3 years old desktop PCs!

One of the issues with these incredibly small fanless PCs is that there’s simply no room for airflow and that was the reason that the original Thinkpad 8 never really turned-in the performance scores that the Z3795 CPU was capable of. The Turbo Boost throttling was so harsh that you might have well been using a standard Z3740 CPU but this version is slightly different.

My first Cinebench R10 tests (64-bit) show a 50% multi-threaded CPU performance increase over the results that my buddies at Notebookcheckgot with the Z3770 / 2GB / 32-bit model in March 2014. Single-CPU scores are 40% up.

Cinebench R10 64-bit results are impressive.

Cinebench R10 64-bit results are impressive.

In Cinebench R10 CPU tests this little ultramobile beats the Atom X7-based Surface 3. In Cinebench R11.5 it equals the Surface 3 performance. GPU performance, however, is not nearly as good as the Surface 3 but it’s beating Z3740/Z3745 tablets by 10-20%. Turbo Boost performance has clearly been improved.

Performance is not only about CPU performance of course which is why I’m really pleased to see good eMMC performance. Disk read and write speeds are up with the important 4K write speed being over 2X better. With the 4 GB RAM preventing any disk-swapping on high multitasking, multi-window and multi-tab operations there’s a feeling of real barrier-free computing here.

Improved eMMC performance

Improved eMMC performance

Battery life?

The only big question mark hanging over the updated Lenovo Thinkpad 8 is battery life. Most reviews for the Thinkpad 8 mark the tablet down on battery life despite it having a relatively large 21 Wh battery. Idle figures look good in my first tests but I noticed a couple of things. Firstly, the maximum screen brightness is good, but power-draining. It nearly doubles the background drain on the system. Secondly we’re dealing with a 1920 x 1200 screen here and that’s going to add to overall drain. There’s also the question of how some of the browsing tests were done because Chrome is notoriously power-hungry. If you want the best battery life you need to stick to Windows Store apps. Windows 10 could really improve the overall battery life on this Thinkpad.

With 100 GB free on the SSD, LTE connectivity and Windows 8 Pro there isn’t much more you could wish for here. It would have been nice to have seen a Micro USB 3.0 OTG cable included and NFC is always a bonus if you have a phone that can transfer images using Tap and Send but these are issues that most people can deal with. Maybe a non-Pro Windows option would have been good. Windows Pro add background tasks and removes the option of a free year of Office 365 …but ‘real’ Bitlocker with local key management and Bitlocker-to-go is always worth having.

The full 64-bit architechture is worth having too. Other Z-series Atom tablets always had the problem of having a 64-bit architecture with a 32-bit bootloader and it meant that using other operating systems was a problem. With this architecture is should be easier to run alternative operating systems such as Android and more traditional Linux builds.

My early tests confirm that if you are in Europe and you';re looking for a bargain on a high-end ultramobile PC you need to look at this model of the Thinkpad 8. It’s going to be good enough for 2015 and if Windows 10 Universal Applications take off, there’ll be a lot more in terms of finger-friendly, leading-edge apps to choose from.

Incredible offer on top-end Lenovo Thinkpad 8 in Europe – I just bought one.

Be quick because this is the best offer I think I’ve ever seen on an ultramobile PC.

Fully loaded Thinkpad 8 for £240

Fully loaded Thinkpad 8 for £240

Lenovo Thinkpad 8 tablets in the UK are all on offer now but there’s one incredible deal that I want to highlight. This is probably the most tricked-out ultramobile PC on the market and it’s on sale for £240.

UPDATE: Available across Europe Via Expansys, E.g. Germany.

The Lenovo Thinkpad 8 model 20BN0036UK_UK is currently  over 600 pounds at Lenovo UK. I just bought it for £240. I’m thinking about Windows 10 as I buy this.

Look carefully at these specs:

System: Windows 8.1 Pro
Processor: 1.59 GHz / Quad Core / Intel Bay Trail Quad Core Atom Z3795
Memory: Internal: 128 GB / RAM: 4 GB LPDDR3 / Slot type: microSD
Display: 8.3″ / Full HD IPS / Resolution: 1920 x 1200 pixels
Camera: 8 Mpixels / Flash: Yes / Front: 2 Mpixels / Video: 720p
Network: 4G: LTE
microSIM
Wireless: Bluetooth: 4.0 / Wifi: IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n
Connection: Audio combo jack (headphone and mic) / MicroUSB 3.0 / Micro HDMI
Weight: 439 grams
Dimensions: 8.8 x 132 x 224.3 mm

So this is a Full HD, Windows 8.1 Pro tablet running the best Baytrail-T Atom there is, with 4GB of RAM and 128 GB of SSD!!! Note that this is a full 64-bit Windows OS too.

I know this was launched on 2013 and I know that these price cuts mean that something new is coming but trust me – these specs are good enough for 2015 and 2016. Just get out there and buy this damn thing before it’s gone.

I’m not affiliated. It’s at Expansys UK

Update: Auch in Deutschland. Expansys.de

Dell Venue 11 Pro. Z3795 and 4GB makes all the difference. (Summary review.)

I’ve just completed a detailed review of the Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130. This is the Atom-based version (there’s a Core-based version too) and it comes with 4GB of RAM, a full USB 3.0 port and the high-end, full 64-bit Z3795 CPU. The difference in usability between this and 2GB Z3745-style Windows 8 tablets was marked. Here’s a summary.

Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 Z3795-9356

Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 Z3795-9356

The Dell Venue range all have good screens with some of the blackest blacks in the Windows tablet market. The 5130 here has an impressively high max brightness too so the contrast is way over 1000:1. The 11. 8-inch 1920 x 1080 screen punches, but it’s also heavy and I found the 770 grams to be too heavy, especially as it’s a very wide tablet.

Build quality is excellent and there’s really nothing you can call sub standard here. You’re getting a full Windows 8.1 Pro OS and an extensive set of BIOS options. If you’re concerned with security of data, and happy to be using Windows, this has everything you need except a 3G/4G module for location-tracking.

I only tested the tablet but there’s two keyboard options available for this so if you’re interested in something like the Surface 3 and don’t want the Type-Cover style keyboard, this is an option. Even the performance is up there with the Surface 3 and that was the really pleasing part of review. 4GB RAM and the extra CPU clock turn this from a ‘just enough’ Windows PC into a usable desktop PC. The USB 3.0 port is good too because you can just plug a USB 3.0 DisplayLink dock/adapter in and start working.

Perceived performance isn’t quite comparable to something like the Acer Switch 12 with Core M but I get the impression that it’s more to do with disk speed than CPU-related issues. The eMMC, while reasonably good among comparable tablets, just isn’t fast enough for many Windows tasks. The first hours after boot-up is torture as indexing, updates and anti-virus checks hog the system. You’ll find the updates stretch over days now that Windows 8.1 has been around for a while. Graphics performance isn’t that special although it’s noticeably better, again, than Baytrail-M tablets clocked at 1.33 Ghz. Windows Store gaming is fun and I got caught up with Drift Street Mania for at least an hour! There’s potential for a bit of video editing, perhaps even full HD editing because the Quick Sync silicon benefits from the higher clock. It’s half the speed of a Surface Pro 3 though so don’t get too excited about editing in the field.

Great standby battery life indicates a well-designed mainboard and overall the battery life was acceptable. You’ll probably get 10 hours of video playback on a flight (low-light) and if you take a spare battery you’ll be able to swap it in. Yes, the Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 has a user-removable battery.

Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 with removable rear cover.

Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 with removable rear cover.

The Dell Venue 11 Pro is a really well-built tablet but it doesn’t have any consumer sparkle. It’s too heavy for consumers, too wide, has a limited app store, will be expensive with a keyboard and looks very boring. But it’s not meant for consumers. This is a tablet for road warriors that need security, flexibility, good battery life and a solid construction. A good range of accessories supplements the Pro branding.

There aren’t many devices that fit in the same class as the Dell Venue 11 Pro (5130) but one thing is for sure, the 2013-launched Z3000 series is nearing the end of its life and despite the good performance this product is going to ‘age’ quickly. The new Lenovo Thinkpad 10 (Atom X5 / X7) and the Surface 3 (Atom X7) are just two examples. To that end, look out for offers on the Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 because it’s one of the best examples of an Atom Z3000-series tablet.

My full review of the Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 is here. Datasheet here.

Help! The ceiling came down while I was writing.

I need your support to help UMPCPortal through 2015 and it into its 10th year of providing independently funded ultramobile PC information, reviews and news. This is a direct call for community support

ultramobile fanboy

Ultra Mobile Fanboy helps as much as he can!

UMPCPortal has been run by me since 2006. I love mobile computing and focus on quality news, reviews, how-to and opinion but this site is unsustainable in its current form. I’ve delayed this post for as long as I can but now it’s time to call on direct community support.

The problem is that because of my passion for deep-level content I didn’t pay enough attention to changes in the search-engine landscape, the ad-blocker effect, social media requirements, mobile UI requirements, headline trends, spam and hacks. Despite what Google say, writing good content that people want to read isn’t enough to support a full-time blogger, even if you’ve got an understanding, working wife. [Thanks Claudia!]

The ceiling has come down on us and we need to put a lot of effort in to build it up again, or I close up shop. I’m asking for your help in donations or content to avoid that. You can also become a Patreon and get a direct channel to me for product Q&A.




  Patreon
$2 per month and i’ll support you too!

 

The last month has been particularly tough. The pageview numbers have been terrible, the revenue laughable given the time I spend working on the site. Our product database works incredibly well in terms of eCPM but it’s 80% dependent on our search engine visibility. UMPCPortal was hit hard by the joint affects of a spammy hack (I’ve worked to resolve three separate hacks in the last 2 months,) a bug (I lost days to a strange issue that ultimately required a re-install of the back-end) and what could be a Google algorithm change. The falling revenues from in-article advertising thanks to ad-blockers isn’t helping either. UMPCPortal needs a ‘runway’ in order to take-off again. Please help build that runway.

Changes

UMPCPortal and it’s content is over 9 years old. There are over 5500 articles, 24000 gallery images and thousands of product pages so when the site needs to pivot quickly, as it does now, it can’t. In order to address the needs of the modern reader and the modern search engine we need to get rid of keywords like ‘WiBrain’ and ‘HTC Shift’ and ‘XPTE.’  We need to create content for the mobile audience. We need to improve the security and performance of our server. We need to be more active and responsive on popular social networks. We should have an app. We need to start covering ultramobile PC gaming!

Help me and I’ll answer your questions on Facebook

Chippy needs your help.

Chippy needs your help.

We’ve started already. Thousands of old article and gallery pages have been removed from search engines. Thousands more are going through the process. We’ve taken a look at our keyword and SEO landscape and have employed the SEO experts at Rheinwunder to help. We expect to dip in Q3 before we rise in Q4. Please help to build a bridge for UMPCPortal so we can reach Q4.




  Patreon
$2 per month and i’ll support you too!

I need to pull together $5K to carry out the changes listed below and I will only be able to do this with your support. Donate, share and link from your private blogs. Tell your friends about the product database on forums and social networks. Comment below. Donate content.

Please follow us on Facebookand Twitter.

In return for your support I will do this

  • Create mobile-friendly, ad-reduced article content. [DONE! Enjoy UMPCPortal articles on your smartphone now.]
  • Improve the speed at which we add new devices into the database. [DONE! We’ve added a second product database engineer and he’s great! Thanks Steve!]
  • Implement better product search, filter and sort tools. [DONE! See the product database summary and find your perfect mobile PC.]
  • Add headless (Mini PC) solutions to the database. [The back-end has been preparedand tested. If I reach $2K donations I will implement a full Mini PC database.]
  • Improve the mobile viewing experience for the product database.
  • Complete SEO audit and implement back-end and content changes to improve visibility in search engines.
  • Improve site security and stability (cut downtime)
  • Join me as a regular contributor on Patreon and I will be ultra-responsive with your ultramobile questions!

You can also help by buying products on Amazon through the product database. I’ll get a small percentage of any purchase you make.

Thousands of people visit this site every day but I need to treble my current figures to make this site sustainable.

I think we can do this. My SEO expert thinks we can do this too. A few dollars from regular visitors would be appreciated. If you’ve taken advice and had a successful purchase, think about donating a few dollars more.

Q3 2015 content focus.

Here’s what we’ll be focusing on in Q3.

  • Working on Windows 10 tablet PC content.
  • Preparing for attendance at IFA in September.
  • Tightening the keyword spread. It’s tempting to write about everything that interests me around mobile computing but I have to put some limits on that. The focus keywords could change after our SEO audit.
  • Creating another solar-powered ultramobile PC tour. (Sponsorship opportunity.)

Tech blogging is getting harder and I feel proud that this site has outlasted many others. The site isn’t making a loss but it’s not generating enough for a salary and certainly not enough for expansion.

umpcfanboy2




  Patreon
$2 per month and i’ll support you too!

Paid content?

No. I don’t feel comfortable putting up a paywall to regular articles. All i’m asking for is community support, and I know there’s a good community out there.

Advertise on UMPCPortal.

Finally, if you want to advertise here I’d love to cut out the middleman and do some direct ad sales. Back in 2008-2010 we had ultramobile pioneers Raon Digital as a major sponsor of the site and it worked well. A new banner sponsor for the product database would really help. I can deliver country-specific ads if you need, too.

Thanks! Suggestions?

Thanks for reading this. Thanks for reading UMPCPortal. If you have any suggestions, now is the time to let me know. Either in the comment section below or via a private message.

Comment.

You don’t have to donate. If you get this far, do me a favor. Give me a Yo! if you want to see UMPCPortal survive. Yo’s are power-ups! (Sharing this article helps too!)

Ainol Mini PC (with internal battery) First Look.

I’m just about to start reviewing the Ainol Mini PC, an Atom-based PC with an interesting feature. It has a battery included in the unit and because it supports Miracast it can run completely without wires.

WP_20150622_23_17_12_Pro

The Ainol Mini PC has triggered a few switches in my head as a solution for portable, secure computing or as an HTPC or presentation device. It’s silent, it’s compact and it can even charge a smartphone.. The embedded 13 Wh battery makes all the difference here and at $97 it’s looking like a bargain.

The Ainol Mini PC has been sent to me [free with no obligation to return] from Gearbestwhich is a Chinese retail web operation. I have no experience with Gearbest apart from the quick and painless (the PC got through customs without any extra charges) delivery. Their contact with me via email was with good English too. I’ll look further into their operation as I continue my review but let’s get back to the Ainol Mini PC for the rest of this article.

WP_20150622_20_43_25_Pro

You’ll be pleased to hear that this low-cost mini PC has 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The Z3735F processor is one of the cheaper Atom Baytrail-M processors but it still offers interesting specifications and great video playback capability, Miracast support and TPM,  There’s two USB 2.0 ports (full-size, not USB 3.0) and a Mini HDMI port, micro SD slot and a headset port. There’s also a micro USB port.

The Micro USB port is listed as a USB 3.0 port on the photocopied 2-page ‘manual’ but that’s not true. It’s a USB 2.0 port that requires an adaptor. I wasn’t able to charge the unit through this port, which is a real shame.

The Ainol Mini PC weighs 352 grams (0.77 pounds)

The Ainol Mini PC weighs 352 grams (0.77 pounds)

You can find Windows 8.1 tablet PCs with same size battery, the same total weight and with the included touchscreen for a similar price but you won’t get the three USB ports, separate charging port and the HDMI port included.

Notes:

  • Device charging is only possible when the unit is on or in standby. (Connected Standby / InstantGo is supported.)
  • A Chinese version of Windows 8.1 was activated without problems but even though the English language pack was installed there are still Chinese characters to be seen in some menus and input fields.
  • As with most low-cost Windows PCs it’s taking a long, long time to update, index and virus-check. Hours so far!
Despite the English language pack!

Despite the English language pack!

WP_20150622_20_42_27_Pro

The packaging is good an includes the HDMI cable, charger (US) and a basic English start-up guide.

Stay tuned for more testing and a full review of the Ainol Mini PC. This could turn out to be a really interesting ultramobile PC. I’m interested to hear your ideas about how this could be used. Advertising screens, data collection, snooping, home theater, presentations? Let me know in the comments below.

21.5 million hybrid ultramobile PC sales in 2015 – Gartner

Exciting news! Gartner is predicting that hybrid ultramobile PCs will be the fastest growing segment of the mobile PC market in 2015, will represent 12 percent of total mobile PC sales and is on target to reach 21.5 million device sales.

allumpcs.jpg

58 million units predicted sales in 2019 will represent an estimated 26% of the mobile PC market. The Ultramobile PC is here!

Gartner breaks the Hybrid Ultramobile PC market and figures down like this.

  • Hybrid ultramobile PCs: hybrids and tablets with screens of 10-14 inches.
  • 8 million: Ultramobile tablets (tablet-first devices including devices with keyboard add-ons like the Surface)
  • 13.5 million: Hybrid Ultramobiles (two-in-one detachable and convertible like the ASUS Transformer Book)

But why are the 2-in-1 devices, that have been around for a few years now, taking-off?

“The combination of portability, productivity and flexibility of touch and a keyboard in one device is attracting some notebook and tablet users to replace their devices with hybrid form factors,” said Ms. Tsai. “PC vendors are expanding into this segment with a value proposition to compete with Apple and Android-based tablet vendors. Sales of hybrid devices have not stopped growing since 2012, totaling 12.6 million units in 2014 and expected to reach 58 million units in 2019.” [source]

The combination of portability, productivity and flexibility of touch and keyboard was always there but the difference now is that it’s attractive in terms of style, power and price. Atom has matured well and Core M is doing a great job at providing high-power fanless experiences. With Atom X5 and X7 and the Skylake Core M due later this year things will only get better. The ASUS Transformer Book T100HA and the HP Pavilion 10 X2 with Cherry Trail CPUs are just a few examples of devices to watch out for.

Note that 7, 8 and 9-inch hybrid ultramobiles are not covered by the report which leads us to question where they fit in Gartners’ definition. Where does the Toshiba Satellite Click Mini fit?

10-inch 2-in-1 ultramobile PC market overview.

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