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Microsoft flappy-keyboard looks like a wallet. I love it!

The new Microsoft Universal Foldable Keyboard is tiny and desirable, but pricey. Here’s my hands-on thoughts and video.

mk_UFK_blk_large

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.

 

P1220633

P1220640         P1220635

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!

P1220599

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!

Microsoft have a sales page up now. It’s ‘Coming Soon.’

Atom x3, x5, x7 – More Z8000-series details revealed at MWC

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.

intelx 1

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.

 intelx 8

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.

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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.

 

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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…

intelx 4

Those performance figures were based on the following products:

  • Intel Reference Platform: Intel® AtomTM x7-8700 processor 2.4GHz, 4GB LPDDR3-1600, eMMC, Windows* 8.1 64bit, Display: 8” 1920×1200, Battery assumption: 21WHr
  • HP* Elitepad 1000 G2 based on Intel® AtomTM Z3795 processor 1.59GHz, 4GB LPDDR3, eMMC, Windows* 8.1 64bit, Display: 10.1” 1920×1200, Battery: 30WHr

 

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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:

intelx 3

Mobile Kit at MWC15 with Mobilegeeks

mobilegeekslogoI’m at Mobile World Congress this week where I’m expecting to learn something new about wearable and to get the latest update on smartphones and consumer technology. I’m also focusing on client device security.

I’m here with Mobilegeeks.com so you won’t see much from me at UMPCPortal but I do plan to write at least two reports this week and to track down any mobile PC news. No doubt I’ll get hands-on with a few low-cost Windows tablets too!

One of the reports will be around the smartphone and the progress it is making towards being the ‘only device’ you need. I’ll be looking at developments in processing power, in operating system and peripheral flexibility, security and productivity apps.

The second report may take longer to research but I’m planning something around the progress in wearable computing technology. Processing power, battery life and connectivity are my main focus there.

HP Stream 8 with Datapass

HP Stream 8 with Datapass

Mobile Kit.

I have three computing devices with me this week with a total weight under 2 KG. The Surface Pro 3 (with backlit but not very accurate keyboard) is my main PC and will be used for image management and video production. I have a Lumia 830 with me as a phone (mid-range but with optical image stabilizer. I’m really happy with it.) and I’m also using an HP Stream 8 with HSPA+ (3G) data roaming via the included HP Datapass service. I’ll connect a USB power pack and use it as a hotspot in Connected Standby mode. With 2GB of additional roaming data costing just 20 Euro, it’s not a bad deal and far less hassle than tracking down and buying a local SIM card.

Stay with me @chippyand @mobilegeekscomfor updates during the week.

Atom x3, x5, x7 branding for next-gen Intel mobile processors.

Intel are going to introduce the next generation of mobile processors under new Atom branding. Atom x3, x5 and X7 will be used to differentiate features bringing it in line with the way that Core processors are branded with i3, i5 and i7.

An infographic just released by Intel gives us an overview of the target markets for Atom and Core brands after the new products are introduced. Unfortunately there isn’t much detail available but we’ve uncovered a couple of snippets for you below.

Intel_Atom_infographic_v6-01-920x1024

Starting with the next generation processors, Intel Atom will be offered in three distinct brand levels — the Intel Atom x3, x5 and X7.  Intel Atom x3 processor provides basic, but genuine Intel level tablet and smartphone performance.  Intel Atom x5 processor has more capabilities and features for consumers looking for a better experience and the flagship Intel Atom x7 processor provides the highest level of performance and capabilities for the Atom family.   With this simplified structure, choosing a tablet will be much easier as relative level of performance and experience delivered from the processor will be easily identified.

A press conference is planned for Mobile World Conference next week so we are going to hear more details soon but for now we can be sure that the next-generation (Cherry Trail) processors will sit under this brand along with platforms with integrated LTE modems for smartphones. Consider this a kind of Baytrail-T / Z3000-series re-branding in the sector where products go up to 11.6-inches.

Interestingly it now looks like the new ASUS T90 Chi and T100 Chi with high-end Baytrail-T CPUs won’t be available before the new Atom x3, x5, and X7 products are detailed. Awkward! Unless ASUS are holding back on purpose?

Note that Intel mentions a Z8000 on a linked page from the press release and connects that with Airmont (the 14nm next-gen mobile architecture used in Cherry Trail) in its latest software developers manual PDF so it’s likely that this is an existing Cherry Trail part that will end up as an Atom x3, 5 or 7.

Low-cost laptops aren’t covered by the infographic so Braswell, the replacement for the current Baytrail-M range used in many Chormebooks and low-cost laptops could still continue with Celeron and Pentium branding.

Source: Intel

The Lucky 13 Checklist. Prepare your Windows PC for better on-the-road security and privacy.

wipe-97583_640-290x300_editedI’m preparing to go to Mobile World Congress where one of my worries will be security and privacy. To that end I’ve hardened my Windows build and written it up below as a checklist of tasks that I urge you to look at and consider, especially if you’re connecting to unknown hotspots.

The checklist has evolved from work I did training journalists in Ukraine, work I’ve done here on Windows 8 tablet security and work I’ve done on Clean Computing with Chromebooks which, interestingly, would have a checklist just half as long as this. Points 1-7 don’t apply to a Chromebook. Unfortunately I’ll be needing video editing and gallery management tools in Barcelona so I can’t use a Chromebook as my main PC there.

The Lucky 13 Checklist for Better Windows PC Privacy and Security.

  1. If possible, use a PC with an encrypted disk. (Microsoft Bitlocker is available for free on some low-cost Windows devices and on all Windows ‘Pro’ installations. E.g. All Surface Pro devices.)
  2. Turn on SecureBoot in your BIOS if possible and (as a minimum) add a BIOS boot (or BIOS admin) password. Create a long 15+ character Windows password for all Windows accounts.
  3. Install Windows Updates and turn on update notifications. (You may not want automatic updates to download while on a hotspot.) You can also set your WiFi to be a ‘metered connection’ which will disable some network services from running. Set the WiFi to be a ‘public’ hotspot (don’t enable file sharing and discovery.)
  4. Check that Windows Firewall is on.
  5. Update anti-virus and run a full scan. Windows has a built-in service called Defender if you don’t have a third-party solution.
  6. Run CCleaner (also check and clean the auto-start-up list.) and Spybot.
  7. Create a non-admin account. Log out and log back in to the non-administrator account. For more privacy, don’t log in via a provider ‘cloud’ account (E.g. Microsoft, Google accounts) although some of these cloud accounts have some good security features. (login accounting, remote password change, two-stage passwords.)
  8. Use up-to-date Chrome with HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger extensions enabled, others disabled where possible. Don’t link Chrome to a Google account unless you trust Google. (Run an Incognito browser Window.)
  9. Hardwire your DNS to your ISP. If you trust Google, they have a good DNS service at 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4. (Don’t use the DNS given by the hotspot)
  10. Use the Zenmate extension to tunnel and encrypt web traffic or buy a good VPN to tunnel all traffic. (I’m using HideIPVPN’s UK tunnel.)
  11. Use Startpage.com as search engine if you don’t want Google to store your searches / IP address. Startpage can also be used as a proxy.
  12. Avoid using cellular data if you don’t want to be location tracked. (Turn off A-GPS / location services on phone too.)
  13. Do not leave your PC unattended.

Again, if you’re using a Chromebook, points 1 – 7 don’t apply. Note that you can Power Wash a Chromebook in 60 seconds and use the Guest account to avoid Google tracking. (VPN and DNS work in guest mode.)

Due to time constraints I haven’t been able to link all the items to how-to articles but I’m sure you know how to use Google search to find the information. If not, please buy a Chromebook and start from point 8.

Your feedback is welcome and in the name of security and privacy I urge you to share this article.

Ainol Mini PC has everything + battery for $129

I use my Intel NUC with Atom N2820 processor daily. It’s quiet, neat and runs Openelec like a dream. It was cheap too but now I’m wondering if I should have waited. The Ainol Mini PC comes with RAM, storage, a Windows OS and a 26 Wh battery for just $129. It’s silent too!

Ainol Mini PC

Ainol Mini PC

It doesn’t have a Gigabit Ethernet port but it does have USB3.0 so adding an adaptor is no problem. Retro-fitting an infra-red reciever might be a problem though and of course this Baytrail-T ‘tablet without screen’ is not going to allow for any expansion. The storage won’t be as fast as what’s possible with the SATA interface on an Intel NUC. The biggest problem I see though is that you might have problems installing your favorite Linux distro on this due to the 32-bit UEFI bug.  Some tablets come with a 64-bit Windows not but you can clearly see that this 64-bit CPU is running a 32-bit Windows version on the Geekbuying sales page.

Along with the Baytrail-T-based dongles these are interesting IoT-style products (and with a 3G dongle could be the perfect malicious hotspot) but until they allow you to boot your chosen 64-bit OS they’re not flexible enough. If anyone finds a similar one with 64-bit UEFI bootloader, let us know.

Ainol Mini PCAinol Mini PC

Update: Voyo has a similar product with a smaller battery.

Voyo mini pc with battery.

Voyo mini pc with battery.

Hat-tip: Liliputing.

Who wants the Acer Aspire Switch 12?

I’ve just finished a big in-depth review of the Acer Aspire Switch 12. It’s the first Core M product that I’ve had the chance to review and I came out of it with a very positive feeling about Core M and the products that it will enable. I also loved the Acer Aspire Switch 12 itself.

Leaving the smoke behind

Core M is a product borne of the feature that was Scenario Design Power (SDP) which itself was an extended ability to monitor and react to processor and product temperature by changing clockrates across CPU and GPU cores. I called it smoke and mirrors at the time because Intel never actually revealed what ‘scenario’ they were talking about. The scenario was actually a continuation of what Intel had done with the Ultrabook project. Touch, 2-in-1, responsive, mobile and, ultimately, fanless systems with Core-class features and enough power to cover mainstream users scenarios were to be the next generation consumer PC.

Early products based on the Y-series Core CPUs were poor. I remember testing the first Yoga 11S and seeing performance levels at half of what an Ultrabook could produce. A Fujitsu Q704 down-clocked by about 50% when you took it out of the keyboard dock to improve battery life and cut case temperature. A fanless HP Pro X2 410 was so sensitive to ambient heat that I could speed it up by pointing a desk fan at the rear of the tablet.

Like the Ultrabook project (which made us suffer with high prices before it finally worked out to be a game-changer,) the road to fanless has been rocky but were there now and Core M is exactly the marketing relaunch that Y-series and SDP needed.

Core M enables

Core M enables more than just new designs. It’s one of the smallest Core processors that Intel produce and with that comes cost reductions. It’s also a gift to designers as it reduces component count and allows flexibility in thermal design.  It enables mainboards to sit close to other components. It reduces the need for big, expensive batteries.

In 2012 we were seeing 45 Wh batteries in Ultrabooks laptops but today’s Core M designs are based around a 35 Wh design and still offer over 5 hours of battery life. In 2007 it took 10-12 watts of energy to drive a web browsing experience. It’s now down to 5-6W now and if someone can work out how to cut the energy required by a screen backlight we’ll be down another 30%. Sealing a battery inside a casing also reduces the need for certified batteries casings and prevents people tinkering. Reducing support costs, shipping costs and storage costs are all part of the plan.

Switch 12

Ideally a consumer tablet is easy to hold and the tablet PCs of the past were a pathetic offering. The Samsung XE700 broke the mold in 2011 with a 826 gram 11.6-inch specification and since then we’ve seen 11.6-inch tablet weights come down to just over 700 grams. In the 10-inch space it’s reached 550 grams which is more than acceptable. As we move towards the removal of most physical ports, a further reduction in battery size, storage size and a slimming of the screen layers we’ll see larger tablets at the same human-friendly weight. With larger tablets comes more space to build a better keyboard and with Core M you reach a point where processing power is at the consumer PC level.  Being able to deliver the perfect consumer tablet along with the most flexible operating system, the power to do everything and a keyboard that is as productive is possible is real 2-in-1. Bigger products generally command a higher price too so the 12.5-inch size we’re seeing are hitting the sweet spot in many ways.

The Acer Switch 12 shows us that there’s another generation to go before we hit all the sweet spots though. This low-cost design (plastics, styling, weight, size) is too heavy to be a consumer tablet but Acer have focused well on making this a very usable tablet in other ways. It’s a great laptop and if you have time you can think of some crazy ways to use it…

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The digitizer brings in more tablet value and the removable wireless keyboard is simple but very, very effective. The Acer Aspire Switch 12 is a good product now and a true 2-in-1 that anyone would be happy to have as an office PC but just think about how the design could improve by being lighter and more stylish. This is a $699 laptop today with the power of a basic Ultrabook of 2013 that cost $999. You’ll see this at $649 or less soon and this time next year we’ll be talking about 20% improvements in power, battery life, weight and again, price. We might also be talking about a wire-free experience. That stand could turn into a removable WiGig breakout box.

A few years ago I bought an Acer W510. This Clovertrail-based 10-inch tablet was light but weak. It served well on holidays and I experimented with it as a desktop but for mainstream users it was far from the mark. Today we’ve reached a refinement called Core M that’s making 2-in-1’s extremely attractive as, well, a true 2-in-1. Windows 10 might just get the praise it needs too and if the Windows Store becomes a first-class citizen of the ‘apps’ world then the stars will align.

For me the stars have already aligned. I love the Switch 12 and I want to keep it. If I didn’t have a Surface Pro 3 here (on long-term loan from Intel) I’d probably order one. I’ve tested video encoding, gaming and I’ve seen some excellent AC WiFi speeds in my office. 20 MB/s file transfers from the local NAS? Yes please! It boots Ubuntu from a USB stick without issues and that’s a security bonus in my opinion. I love the ergonomic and presentation possibilities of the removable keyboard and digitizer. I adore the screen. Most of all I love how I can do everything I need without any noise whatsoever.

WP_20150218_19_14_59_Rich

If you’re thinking about the Acer Aspire Switch 12 too then you need to remember that the ASUS Transformer T300 Chi is coming soon, for the same price. It’s likely to have a better keyboard and it will definitely have a lighter tablet. It will probably perform as well as the Switch 12 and it has a sensible clam-shell design. It looks a lot more stylish. The built-in stand on the Acer Switch 12 does it for me though and there’s one more thing you need to know. The Acer Switch 12 is more lappable than most laptops.

The Acer Aspire Switch 12 is very lappable!

The Acer Aspire Switch 12 is very lappable!

More information on the Acer Aspire Switch 12 in our mobile PC database here. All Core M products under 1300 grams are listed here.

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Acer Aspire Switch 12. My first impressions now available.

The Intel Core-M based, fanless, 2-in-1 $699 Acer Aspire Switch 12 has arrived for review and my first impressions, written as part of a full review for Notebookcheck, have been posted.

Acer Aspire Switch 12 is available.

Acer Aspire Switch 12 is available.

Think about 2013-level Ultrabook performance with no fans, more flexibility and a good market-start price. The Acer Aspire Switch 12 weighs 1.1 KG…until you add the keyboard which takes you up to 1.4 KG. Because of the always-exposed screen Acer have done the right thing and provided a nice case but when you put the bundle together with the power supply you’re carrying over 2 KG. Despite the weight I like the Switch 12 for a couple of reasons. 1) It’s more stable on the lap than many other solutions because of the rear stand and mid-mounted screen. 2) It’s fanless and is returning performance scores well above what  you’ll find with Baytrail-based solutions. There’s also a fast SATA-connected SSD inside which makes this one of the cheapest full-HD 128GB SATA SSD solutions out there. Add AC WiFi, USB 3.0 and a good keyboard that can be pulled away from the unit and you’ve got a productive setup. Comparisons must be made to the Surface Pro 3, Lenovo Yoga 3 11 and the HP Envy 13 X2 which is even more hot-desking focused.

WP_20150216_09_59_15_Rich

Acer Aspire Switch 12 and Microsoft Surface Pro 3

 

A preliminary set of performance results, battery life figures, confirmation that there’s a digitizer and other information can be found over at Notebookcheck.net where I’ll be publishing the full review. Let me know if you’ve got any questions and I’ll try to get them answered in the full review.

Low-cost 10-inch 2-in-1s start at $200. Here’s a market overview.

I’m testing a new 10-inch detachable. The MSI S100 is one of a number of products in this expanding class and at $299 with a 10-inch screen and running an Atom CPU this MSI S100 is typical. The specifications might sound a bit netbook-y but these 2-in-1’s offer much more than the classic netbook. They’re more powerful, lighter and have longer battery life. There’s a touchscreen, smooth full HD platback and battery life that we could only dream of back in the day. There’s one problem that didn’t get solved though because the keyboards and screens are still too small for everyday productivity use. As there are low-priced options in the 11.6-laptop category now it leaves the 10-inch detachables to focus on mobility and tablet usage and it turns out to be an ideal combination for many scenarios from sofa-buddy to travelling-buddy.

MSI S100

MSI S100 10-inch detachable tablet and keyboard-case.

 

The ASUS Transformer Book T100 was one of the first successful devices in this category and it was a popular choice all the way from November 2013 through 2014. Versions included models with an extra hard drive, CPU variants, reduced RAM and various colours. There were even models selling with Windows 8.1 Pro which shows how wide the customer-base is. Prices for a 32GB/2GB T100 are well under $300 now but at CES in January ASUS launched a new model with a Full HD display, USB 3.0, faster processor and a slimmer design.  It will slot in above the existing T100 and pricing will start at $399. Meanwhile at the other end of the scale there are 10-inch Windows tablets with keyboard cases for under $200.

The T100 wasn’t the first 10-inch detachable – I’ve been a very happy owner of an early Acer W510 since 2012. It came with a keyboard that included an extra battery so as a video playback device it was superb and it still does duty on long journeys the car. I also have the Lenovo Miix 2 10 and as it came with Office 2013 it gets used for school homework via an HDMI-connected screen and USB-connected keyboard and mouse. The keyboard that comes with the Miix 10 isn’t good though. The MSI S100 that I’m reviewing for Notebookcheck  is a better option for typing than the Miix 2 10 and the pricing on the 64GB version is under  $300 making it very attractive.

Read more of my comments about 2-in-1 PCs in this Intel IQ article

Other options in the space include the Acer Switch 10, the HP Pavilion X2 10 (which is on offer at Amazon USA now for under $250) and the uniquely-designed full-HD one with a big 35Wh battery – the Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 10. You’ll also find low-cost options under less well-known brands.

What can you do with a 10-inch detachable?

It’s a tablet, first, and when it only weighs 1.2lb it’s OK to hold for extended periods, to play accelerometer-driven games and to waste time watching YouTube videos or browsing the uch-improved Windows Store. The keyboard (sometimes with case) brings in a ‘stand’ mode and that great for seat-back videos. The Atom platforms inside these tablets all have no problem with 1080p videos, even at high bitrates. As a ‘newspaper’ or book the tablet weights are still a little heavy but they do make great sofa-buddies. And of course there’s the keyboard itself which introduces a traditional method of input and mouse control. Some of the keyboards are even good enough for long sessions of typing.

When it comes to work you’ll want to be sure that you only buy a product with 2 GB of RAM. 1 GB RAM might be enough for a good demonstration, some benchmarks or working on Windows Store apps but it’s not good enough for extended use, even with multiple tabs under Chrome. As for storage, 32GB is manageable but you’ll need to do your housekeeping. I can’t recommend 16GB of storage for any use cases at all.

If you’re looking at Microsoft Office usage, which is certainly possible, then try to ensure that the SSD speeds are good. The important figure to watch out for in reviews is the 4K write speed. Anything around 8-10 MB/s is good. Anything under 4Mb/s should be avoided for Office usage. Rotating hard disks are not recommended.

The Lenovo Miix 2 10 has a slightly more powerful processor (like the new ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi) than some of the other models in the low-cost 10-inch range and having switched between the Miix 2 10 and tablets using the lower-powered processor I can say that there’s a noticeable difference. The SSD on the Miix 2 is good too but that keyboard prevents me from recommending it as the best all-round solution in this category.

One of the big considerations for 2015 is Windows 10 and the boost it will bring to the Microsoft Store. Universal apps that run across a unified phone and PC store are going to change the way developers look at the platform and Microsoft will give it a big boost with a new range of included apps that include Office. These apps are likely to be more optimised than their desktop cousins and touch will be available as a ‘first-class’ input method. We expect to see a new range of exciting apps appearing through 2015 that will add to the, already improved, choice in the Microsoft Store.

For content creators there are definitely limits to the current Atom-based tablets. You’ll be able to run up a desktop video editing app but the experience won’t be very smooth. Simple 720p editing via something like Movie Creator Beta or Movie Edit Touch 2 which should be enough for social sharing. Simple photo editing is also no problem along with photo management and of course, creating documents, blogs, spreadsheets and presentations is always possible either with supplied Office software or with online offerings like Google docs. If you’re into more demanding creative apps, take a look at the Core-M range of mobile PC solutions. 

Music library management is best done online due to space limitations and both Google and Microsoft offer ‘lockers’ for your music. Free storage often comes with the product and Office 356 licences come with 1 year of 1TB upload capability.

Windows Store gaming

Windows Store gaming

Casual gaming on Windows 8 is akin to what you’ll find on a smartphone but slightly more immersive due to the larger screen size. It’s nothing compared to desktop gaming with the latest 3D graphical games of course but there’s a lot of fun to be had. You’ll see a wide range in the Windows Store now. Starting with word games like the evergreen Wordament is no problem. Jetpack Joyride, a casual run-and-jump game is smooth on these low-end processors and if you’ve got yourself a 64GB SSD there’s enough space for a suite of the more detailed games. It’s not impossible to play some desktop games although the choice is going to be very restricted. Minecraft isn’t much fun and WoW only works on low settings, if you can find the space to install it. [Install WoW with an external SSD – Video]

Security and privacy are an important consideration and Windows 8.1 offers a range of security and privacy features. We always advise people to add the HTTPS Everywhere and Privacy Badger extensions to the Chrome browser and if possible add a power-on password via the BIOS. We also advise the use of a Microsoft account because on some devices it enables disk encryption. It also provides online password management, 2-stage authentication, login location-tracking and more. For a full review of the Windows 8 tablet security features, see this detailed analysis.

Battery life is important and those of you thinking about the 2-3 hours we used to get out of a 1KG netbook are going to be surprised. You’ll get about 5 hours of working time, 7 hours of light usage, from most of the 1.1-1.2 pound tablets out there. The HP Pavilion X2 10, one of the cheapest, has a 35Wh battery that might even get you up to 9 hours in some cases and don’t forget that they all support Connected Standby so you can run Windows Store apps in the background while the tablet is off. That’s 15 hours or more of music streaming or Skype standby. Versions with 3G should even allow you to use a Skype-in number for phone connectivity.

With prices on these low-cost 2-in-1 Windows tablets coming down every week and with more products filling the market there’s an incredibly rich mobile PC sector growing here. 10-inch 2-in-1’s are the perfect companion for out-of-office periods when productivity might be required but where entertainment and social networking, photos, videos and gaming are the number 1 thought. The quality and number of apps in the Windows Store has improved greatly and in some cases you’re buying an app that works across both phone and PCs. That feature is going to become even more prominent as Windows 10 for phones and PCs nears and as Universal apps create ecosystem for phone, tablet, laptop and desktop.

These new 2-in-1 PCs might be priced like netbooks and have specifications that sound like netbooks but they aren’t anything like them. The product and operating system has matured and there’s a lot of exciting flexibility and mobility across work, play and communications scenarios.

ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi_backYou can find all the current 10-inch dockable tablets through this link where prices start at $239 or you can go to our database and choose your own specifications.

So what’s my favourite 10-inch 2-in-1 right now? The HP Pavilion X2 10 has to be the best value at its current $240 price but the ASUS Transformer Book T100 Chi has to be the most desirable. With the higher-power processor, USB 3.0, full HD display and amazing design, it just might be worth the higher price. I should have some more hands-on with it soon and my finger is already hovering over the pre-order button at Amazon Germany.

The MSI S100 is being reviewed for Notebookcheck.net

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