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Toshiba’s Encore Mini is too cheap. (Hands-on Video)

There’s ‘value’ and there’s ‘cheap.’ The Toshiba Encore Mini falls into the latter group and even at $119 it’s got too many issues to be recommended for most types of user.

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The Toshiba Encore Mini was one of the first devices I got hands-on with at IFA earlier this month and although it was an attractive size it was immediately clear that it had cut many corners. The screen, a non-IPS panel of just 768×1280 resolution, is terrible. Even my eyes, old and tired, saw jaggies and poor viewing angles.

And then there’s the specifications. The Z3735G CPU is acceptable but it’s coupled with just 1 GB of RAM which might work OK for the RT/Modern environment but you’ll run into problems as soon as you attempt to used the desktop. Given the low resolution and the RAM issue the Encore Mini might as well have desktop disabled so that RAM can be saved for the Modern environment. In fact, perhaps this should be a $99 Windows RT device? The 13 Wh battery is the smallest I’ve ever seen on a Windows PC.  This is a 5-hour tablet, not a 10-hour tablet.

On the positive side the Encore Mini is just about the cheapest Windows PC in the world and comes with one year of Office 365 and 1TB of One Drive storage included. You could potentially run a DisplayLink monitor from the USB port, connect a keyboard via Bluetooth and charge it from a solar panel. Products like the ASUS Eeebook X205  and the Acer ES1/E11 notebook are cheap but consider that these $199 options are 66% more expensive and that could be the difference between having a PC or not.

I’ve got a set of images on my broken Ultrabook that i’ll recover next week but you can watch the video below and see everything you need to know. The price will make this a stand-out offering as one of the cheapest ‘PCs’ on the market but please, check out the video before buying. Rarely am I so negative about UMPCs but there’s no place for this tablet in the developed Western markets and even in developing markets I would suggest caution.

Ultra Mobile Reporting Kit #13 – Unlucky for some.

It had to happen on #13 right? On my recent 14-day tour of IFA and IDF (Berlin, San Francisco) I prepared myself with four devices. One Windows laptop. One Chromebook. One smartphone and one featurephone. What I didn’t plan for was a total failure of the main Windows laptop. Chromebooks don’t work as a fallback laptop.

Ultra Mobile Reporting Kit

Everything had gone very smoothly with my Haswell-based Ultrabook. The platform has great battery life (in this case, all-day working without a charge) and 1080p video editing and rendering for my (admittedly basic) YouTube videos. Photo editing (for blogs) is easy and there’s enough space in a 128GB SSD for a two-week session. When your Ultrabook fails, however, you’ll need a backup. I’m usually equipped with a second, lower-powered Windows laptop or tablet but this time I only had the Lenovo N20p Chromebook. While that has battery life, a quality browser, good WiFi and a keyboard that won’t drive me crazy it can’t handle video editing. When you’re producing up to 15 videos for YouTube per day you need local processing.  Lesson learnt. A Chromebook is not a fallback solution.

The silver lining to this story is that Intel helped me out at the last-minute with the loan of a Surface Pro 3. The back-story is that I was sponsored by Intel to go to IDF so Intel Germany stepped in. I thank you! While the Surface Pro 3 doesn’t have an SD card slot (so annoying) and isn’t a ‘lapable’ solution (it works, but it’s not easy) and the keyboard feels a little bouncy it’s the lightest Core i5 PC I’ve ever used.  2.45 pounds for a Core i5 ‘laptop’ with backlit keys and a 42 Wh battery. Wow! That’s some engineering. It’s an ultra mobile desktop-capable PC!

The 12.5-inch screen wasn’t a problem although I did notice some desktop apps having tiny text due to the high PPI. It was a little stubborn with returning from standby though and got extremely hot when rendering videos. Connected Standby is out-of-spec too. Microsoft want to see less than 5% drain over 16 hours in CS mode. The Surface Pro 3 was returning 5% in 5-10 hours although I admit I didn’t reset it to factory settings before starting to use it.  The keyboard is perfect…for what I was doing. It’s a little bouncy but I got used to it and felt comfortable after a short time. I was using a German layout which has a tiny left-shift key and it kept catching me out but I see that the QWERTZ layout doesn’t have that problem. I can’t complain. The only think I will mention is the hinge. It looks complex and it looks very vulnerable. It works, but for how long?

Moving on to the Nokia Lumia 1020p I have to give it 10/10 for casual photos. I picked up the excellent  Shoulderpod S1 while I was at IFA and I was planning to pick up the Lumia 1020 grip case too but on the third day of the event I dropped the 1020 and the screen smashed. It’s limping along now until I decide whether to stay with Lumia (830 perhaps?) or move to Android where there’s some very interesting progress being made in smart photography.

broken lumia 1020

 

The Lumix FZ150, now nearly three years old, still does a great job as an all-round blogging camera. The OIS is stable, close-up video works well, an external mic helps in loud situations, the zoom helps in press conferences and the swing-out screen is something I couldn’t do without. I tested the FZ1000 at IFA and wow, that’s #1 on my list as a camera upgrade. I also tested a cheap LED lamp. This CN-160 (aff.) is available under many brands and having tested it (thanks to broadcast journalist Guy Degan) I’ve ordered one. Update: it just turned up in the post.

Summary

The Ultrabook platform (Haswell  U-series CPU with SSD) is superb and every mobile reporter working with media should use it. Quick-Sync video processing will save you time and battery life and a 50+ Wh battery will give you all-day action. The Surface Pro 3 with Core i5 and a Surface Pro Cover keyboard, and a good USB3.0 SD card adaptor is one of the lightest options. I’ve used the SP3 for a week and I’m impressed although the lack of SD card slot is a real pain.

Chromebooks work well as companion laptops and I will continue to use my Lenovo N20P around the house but I won’t be taking a Chromebook as a backup laptop again. It’s got a keyboard, yes, but it hasn’t got the capability you need if you’re working with digital media.

As for the Lumia 1020, recommended! Great photos, videos and audio are possible and it processes media well for online use (it’s not the best at natural colours but it ‘pops’ well online) although I still reach for my bridge camera when I’ve got an event to cover. The Lumia 1020 also has a little problem in that it’s reached ‘peak effectiveness’ for social photography and videos. Where does Microsoft go next with Lumia because if they don’t add a zoom soon, devices like the Lumix CM1 could take over.

Did I use the Nokia 808 on this trip? Yes, as an audio recording device, MP3 player and backup phone and cameraphone. I suspect it will stay in the kit bag.

Mobile Reporting Kit #14 will be assembled in early 2015 for CES, MWC and CeBIT. I have a feeling that the Surface Pro 3 will be replaced by an Ultrabook (I’m looking at that ASUS UX305)  and I’m hoping I can get hold of a Lumix FZ1000 camera which would be a big improvement on the 3-year old FZ150 I have. As for the phone, I’m remaining open-minded. While the Lumias are fantastic cameras and mapping devices, there’s still a lag in choice of applications. I will be working with Android on the Dell Venue 8 7000 next month so I’ll make a choice after I’ve used Android again.

Quick Benchmarking session with the Core M 5Y70

In an Intel-led Core M benchmarking meeting today I saw a set of controlled benchmarks from a 6W TDP Core M product. The tests were performed in an 685 gram 12.5-inch Llama Mountain reference tablet with a machined aluminum rear casing that is optimal for this design. We also saw a copper-based rear casing that can handle a lot more thermal energy but you won’t see that happening in consumer products. The benchmark scores we saw were more than I had expected.

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Three benchmarks were run, once, on a rested system in a warm room.

Sunspider: 119ms at 2.8 Ghz.  (Surface Pro 3 with Core i5 is 245ms at 2.4Ghz Turbo)

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3DMark Icestorm unlimited: 48230

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Cinebench R11.5 – 2.65 (Surface Pro 3 with Core i5: 2.77)

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Note that these are the scores from a high-end 6W TDP Core M 5Y70. The 4.5W TDP Core M SoCs won’t perform this well and in a product with a less-than-perfect thermal design there could be heat issues that prevent Turbo Boost reaching these high levels.

GPU performance needs to be further tested and long-term gaming could impact Turbo Boost capability.

This is the best you’ll see from Core M at 2.8Ghz but it’s important to remember that this is best-of-Core M right now. I’m going to be pushing to get the new Lenovo Helix 2 in for testing so at that point we’ll get our first real-product results.

Tip: Check out the Surface Pro 3 review at Notebookcheck.net for a controlled set of performance figures.

Disclaimer: Intel have paid for my attendance at IDF this year.

Dell Venue 8 7000. Hands-on and Realsense Snapshot demos

I was asked for my opinion on the price of the Dell Venue 8 7000 just after it was announced and all I could think of was the nice looking Lenovo Tab S8 which is very similar, for about $199. After handling the Dell Venue 8 7000 I now see a product worth much more than that. The amazing OLED 2K screen is punchy and sharp. The 6mm thin design is light and stylish and the 3 additional Realsense snapshot cameras offer some interesting options for photographers. In this video you’ll see some of those features being demonstrated.

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After talking to a number of people about the Dell Venue 8 700 I know know the following.

  • It will be available in November.
  • There will be an LTE version. (Intel 7260)
  • It runs on Merrifield (Intel |Z35xx-series)
  • The screen is  2K resolution OLED
  • The base configuration will be 2GB RAM and 16GB storage
  • An SDK will be released but it’s looking like early 2015 before developers can create apps

 

Youll find out more in the video after the images…

 

Dell Venue 8 7000Dell Venue 8 7000 (1)Dell Venue 8 7000 (2)Dell Venue 8 7000 (3)Dell Venue 8 7000 (4)Dell Venue 8 7000 (5)Dell Venue 8 7000 (6)Dell Venue 8 7000 (7)

Dell Venue 8 7000 3D photography video

Mobilegeeks got the best video of the Dell Venue 8 7000 at the Intel Developer Conference today. (This Android tablet launched earlier today, here’s my coverage.)

dellv87000

 

A reminder of the specs.

  • 2K resolution screen (Ultra HD(

  • Edge to Edge screen.

  • 8.4 inch screen

  • 6mm thin.

  • 2GB RAM

  • MicroSD

  • 16GB SSD

  • Realsense ‘snapshot’ capability

  • Early November availability

I’ll write no more. Please just watch the video.

 

Dell Venue 8 7000 Tablet with Realsense launches at IDF14

From the Intel press release.

Michael Dell and Krzanich previewed an upcoming Dell tablet with first-of-its-kind photo capabilities. The new Dell Venue 8 7000 Series with Intel® RealSense™ snapshot is the world’s thinnest tablet and will be available in time for the holiday season. Intel RealSense snapshot is an enhanced photography solution that creates a high-definition depth map to enable measurement, refocus and selective filters with a touch of a finger. It will introduce new capabilities and new ways of using the tablet, opening up a new creative horizon for developers to come up with apps that change how consumers engage with their photos.

 

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Updating from the keynote, live.

This 8-inch Android tablet will come with Realsense and a context sensing SDK from Intel which includes cloud-based context services.

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Prototype shown on stage (see below for live images)

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  • 2K resolution screen (Ultra HD)
  • Edge to Edge screen.
  • 8.4 inches. Re
  • Early November
  • 6mm thin.

Given the dimisions this has to be a Baytrail –based tablet.

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IDF 2014 Keynote Notes (Mobile computing, Updating)

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The Intel IDF 2014 keynote is about to start. Core M, Realsense, Perceptual Computing, 2-in-1 are keywords I’m expecting to hear a lot over the next hour and I’ll be noting significant announcements here on this ‘live notepad’ as I go along. Refresh to update on mobile technology announcements.

Above: Core M laptops and 2-in-1’s, probably the same as we saw at IFA.

 

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Follow the hashtag #idf14 for updates over the next 3 days.

 

Intel predicting 50 billion X86-based devices in 2020.

Brian starts with IOT announcements. OPening Ceremony sand Fossil.

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Intel announces that Edison, the tiny dual-core single board computer will be around $50 and is ready to go to retail now.

 

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Intel continues with IoT (calling it “wearables for machines”) and standards. Open Interconnect Consortium and Industrial Internet Consortium are announced.

[Data center segment.]

 

Newsflash.

  • Michael Dell and Krzanich previewed an upcoming Dell tablet with first-of-its-kind photo capabilities. The new Dell Venue 8 7000 Series with Intel® RealSense™ snapshot is the world’s thinnest tablet and will be available in time for the holiday season. Intel RealSense snapshot is an enhanced photography solution that creates a high-definition depth map to enable measurement, refocus and selective filters with a touch of a finger. It will introduce new capabilities and new ways of using the tablet, opening up a new creative horizon for developers to come up with apps that change how consumers engage with their photos.

Blackburn_wide_nr

 

Source;

 

Back to the keynote.

Skylake, next generation core will be launched in 2015.

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Wireless power and WiGig demonstrations on stage.  (The audience was impressed with the demo.)

 

Doug Fisher shows new reference design for an Android tablet which include certification and GMS access before going to the manufacturer. Intel commits to providing software updates within 2-weeks of AOSP updates.

 

Doug Fisher announces Open Interconnect Consortium. Open source and royalty free interconnect software.

Launched on stage – Dell Venue 8 7000 Android tablet with Realsense. (Details here.)

 

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Keynote ends.

HP Pavilion X2 is a lightweight 10-inch 2-in-1 PC. Video.

Off the top of my head I think this is the lightest 10-inch 2-in-1 PC that I’ve ever seen.  The HP Pavilion X2 is a Baytrail-T quad-core tablet with a 1280×800 screen and a 34Wh battery which is going to give you a reasonable battery life. There’s a full-size USB port, MicroHDMI, MicroSD and charging port and the keyboard isn’t bad either. This UMPC will launch at $330. My tip: A version might be available with 1GB RAM. Avoid that and go for 2GB RAM and 32GB storage. Total weight: 800 grams, 1.75 pounds.

 

HP Pavilion 10 X2 (7)

P1200544      HP Pavilion 10 X2 (5)
More images here.

 

Toshiba’s new 11.6-inch Windows Laptop + Hybrid. Videos, photo-set.

Toshiba have just launched two low-cost 11.6-inch Windows laptops that hit the same price brackets as their new Chromebook 2 which tells us one thing – no-one really knows how the $200-$300 Windows vs Chromebook market is going to play-out. Do they have overlapping audiences or are they well separated? The Toshiba Satellite CL 10-B is obviously targeted at this market with a specification list that only differs from  Chromebooks by virtue of the fact that it runs Windows. 11.6-inch, Baytrail-M, small SSD. The Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 adds a 360-degree hinge. I took a look at both of these Windows laptops at IFA and here are two video overviews.

 

Toshiba Satellite CL10-B

Toshiba Satellite CL-10B (8)
Full photoset here.

This basic Windows laptop is going to be a ‘sub 300’ product says Toshiba and we’ve subsequently heard that it will launch at 260 Euros. It still might be able to compete against the cheaper ASUS Eeebook X205 because in my opinion it’s slightly better built than the X205 and has a better keyboard but it could also have upgrade possibilities as it’s based on the SATA-capable Baytrail-M platform. With a battery capacity of  26Wh (unconfirmed) a TFT screen with a 1366×768 resolution, 2GB RAM and 16GB storage it’s got baseline specifications. Weght:1300 grams.

 

Toshiba Satellite Radius 11

The Satellite Radius adds a 360-degree rotating screen to the mix. It’s still a non-IPS screen and the specifications are much the same as the CL-10B apart from a larger battery and a 500GB drive. Of course the weight and price is higher. Price will play a major role in the success of the Radius 11 as it’s competing against the Lenovo Yoga 2 11 and other low-cost Yoga-like hybrids. Weight: 1500 grams.

Toshiba Satellite Radius 11 (2)
Toshiba Radius 11 photo set here.

An exclusive 2-minutes with the ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi (Core M)

Seconds after I made this video at an IFA press event this ASUS Transformer Book T300 Chi was taken away. it shouldn’t have been there but my video camera had already been rolling.

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The ASUS Transformer Book Chi has a really lightweight screen but it’s quite wide. The keyboard is great and the hinge and dock seem high quality. The casing too. I’ll jut leave you to enjoy the video…

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