Laptop, Notebook and Netbook Computers Archive

Lenovo releases a convertible that closely answers the Surface Book

Lenovo Yoga 900 - stand mode press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo Yoga 900


Lenovo’s flagship Yoga 900 laptop is an improvement in every way that matters (Review) | Engadget

Lenovo Yoga 900 takes the Microsoft Surface Book | ZDNet

Lenovo’s 360-degree Yoga 900 laptop answers the Surface Book’s challenge | PC World

From the horse’s mouth


Press release (also covers the Yoga Home 900)

Product Page – Buy here (USAustralia)!

My Comments

Lenovo Yoga 900 - tablet mode press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo Yoga 900 as a tablet

The premium end of the laptop market is starting to see some very strong competition with Lenovo trying to answer Microsoft with their Yoga 900 premium convertible laptop,

The Lenovo Yoga 900 was initially to be an update and refresh for the previously-reviewed Yoga 3 Pro, courtesy of Windows 10 and Intel Skylake horsepower. But with Microsoft blindsiding everyone else in the “open-frame” computer market with their Surface Book which is both a convertible and detachable, the computer press have seen it as close competition.

Lenovo Yoga 900 watchband hinge detail press picture courtesy of Lenovo

The newly-refined watchband hinge on the Lenovo Yoga 900

The Lenovo Yoga 900 has provided some aesthetic and build improvements over the Yoga 3 Pro such as a slimmer chassis with the computer being rated as being the slimmest 13” convertible to date. The watch-band hinge has been refined in order to provide for a smooth switch between laptop and tablet operating modes. Even a six-row keyboard allows quick access to adjustments like brightness or flight mode courtesy of a single button push. Of course, this convertible notebook will exploit Windows 10’s Continuum feature right out of the box, automatically switching the display between Desktop Mode with the Start Menu and the touch-friendly Tablet mode when you fold it over and back.

As I have said before, this computer implements Intel Skylake processors, either an i5 or an i7 depending on the package rather than the previous Core M horsepower. As for RAM and storage, the baseline option is available with 8Gb RAM and 256Gb solid-state storage while the top-shelf models come with 16Gb RAM and 512Gb solid-state storage.

What ZDNet and others were saying was that the baseline for the Yoga 900 (i5 processor, 8Gb RAM, 256Gb solid state storage) has an ask for US$1199 while the top shelf model (i7 processor, 16Gb RAM, 512Gb solid-state storage) could be bought fur US$1499. This is with the Surface Book costing around US$1000 more for similar specifications.

But the more expensive Surface Book is a convertible and detachable computer, comes with a stylus and has discrete graphics in some of its option levels. The Surface Book also offers 128Gb solid-state storage rather than 256Gb solid-state storage in its baseline package

Let’s not forget that Lenovo added the “champagne gold” finish to the list of finishes that the Yoga 900 can came in, as well as the silver finish and the orange finish that was common with the Yoga 3 Pro. The “champagne gold” look will have some of us think of that similar finish appearing on some premium consumer electronics especially Marantz hi-fi equipment.

As with VAIO coming back to the fore and Microsoft releasing their Surface Book, the Lenovo Yoga 900 indicates that there is still interest in premium-grade ultraportable computers as a distinct market segment. This is in a similar way to how vehicle builders developed the “personal luxury car” product segment which was based around vehicles, especially 2-door coupes, which were designed with a focus on luxury and style where you arrived at the destination “ready to impress”.

Who knows what the other computer manufacturers will come up with to satisfy this product, especially when the idea is to compete against Apple.

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Lenovo brings back the Adaptive All-In-One


Lenovo Yoga Home 900 touchscreen lifestyle image - press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Large touchscreen

Hands on with the Lenovo Yoga 900 Home | SuperSite For Windows

Lenovo’s 27-inch tablet is still heavy, but comes with more useful apps | Engadget

The massive 27-inch Lenovo Yoga Home tablet brings back the tabletop PC | CNET

Lenovo upgrades its big idea: The 27-inch Yoga Home 900 is for homework or air hockey | PC World

From the horse’s mouth


Press Release

My Comments

When Windows 8.0 came on the scene, some computer manufacturers led by Sony brought forward the “Adaptive All-In-One” form-factor for personal computers.

Lenovo Yoga Home 900 lifestyle image - press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Large screen – good for group computing

What is this form factor? It is a tablet with a screen size of between 19” and 27”, typically 21”  and can either work as an “all-in-one” desktop computer or a large tablet suitable for group-based computing activities. As well, these computers were primarily a “transportable” class of computer with integrated batteries that had a runtime of under 6 hours along with them being larger and heavier than the typical laptop computer. This means that you could take them from room to room or be able to stow them away quickly and easily in the same vein as a boom-box, portable TV set or small sewing machine. The premier example of this was the Sony VAIO Tap 20 which sits on a kickstand and links with a wireless keyboard and mouse for desktop use or lays down as a tablet.

Lenovo Yoga Home 900 press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo Yoga Home 900 as regular all-in-one computer

There was some coverage about these computers being so-called “lifestyle” computers – devices that blend in to one’s personal and household lifestyle. The best example that comes to my mind was an account written by a Microsoft blogger who brought the Sony VAIO Tap 20 to her parents’ home which was effectively the “family house” for her family.

But things tended to slow down as far as this product class was concerned because of varying factors such as the low-cost mobile-platform tablets and cloud computing being considered more relevant for personal computing.

With Windows 10 and Intel Skylake silicon being launched over the last few months, the traditional “regular” personal computer has had a “shot in the arm”. These systems have been pitched as being complementary to mobile-platform devices rather than competing with them. As well, companies who worked on the “open-frame” computing environment where there systems ran Windows, ChromeOS, Linux or Android were pulling out all the stops to have systems, especially those in the premium class, that performed and looked as good, if not better, than Apple’s systems.

This has caused Lenovo to front up with an Adaptive All In One computer in the form of the Yoga Home 900/ This 27” system runs Windows 10 which has the Continuum feature that adapts the display for both tablet and desktop use. Lenovo even uses the “Aura” touch interface to make it work well for group computing. They also run an app store which specialises in games and apps that are for this class of computer, including board games, air hockey, photo-sharing apps and the like.

As well, the Lenovo Yoga Home 900 uses Full HD display resolution, Intel 5th-generation horsepower and has an option for discrete (should you say gaming quality) graphics. With air hockey and board games aside, there needs to be a way to convince most of us to consider a computer from the “Adaptive All-In-One” class as a viable personal-computing option.

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Coming soon to your TV: The Microsoft Surface Book commercial


Click or tap to view


Microsoft Store (US, Australia)

My Comments

Microsoft has started building up the heat for the new Surface Book convertible laptop that is also detachable. They are pitching this computer at the arts-based territory which Apple heavily courts and is also tackling the premium end of the general-purpose computing market.

They also highlighted in this one-minute video the flexibility that this computer has in how you use it along with its prowess in handling graphics and multimedia tasks associated with the arts. As well, it shows these concepts in a manner that isn’t too gaudy and is of a similar quality to whenever a vehicle builder os announcing a new luxury vehicle.

This ad is being run in conjunction with pre-orders being taken for  the same computer and is showing up that the “open-frame” computing community can come up with equipment that can cut in to Apple’s territories, both in aesthetics and multimedia prowess.

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Toshiba premieres the DynaPad 2-in-1 detachable as an answer to the Surface


Toshiba DynaPad - the lightest 12" 2-in-1

Toshiba DynaPad – the lightest 12″ 2-in-1

Toshiba’s New DynaPad Is A Surface Clone For People Who Scribble | Gizmodo

Toshiba introduces a unique Windows 10-tablet-the Dynapad/ | Windows Experience Blog (Microsoft)

From the horse’s mouth

Toshiba USA

Press Release

My Comments

Toshiba is snapping at the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 detachable by offering a 12” detachable that ranks as the thinnest and lightest of this class. Like the Surface Pro 3, the Toshiba DynaPad has an ultra-thin keyboard as an option rather than as standard and the keyboard attaches to the tablet using magnets..

Toshiba DynaPad press picture courtesy of Toshiba USA

Toshiba DynaPad – natural with handwriting

It runs Windows 10 and uses a 12” IPS display with a resolution of 1920×1280 which yields a sharp detail and wide-angle viewing. Of course it has a touchscreen but it also works with a Wacom pen that provides a handwriting experience that mimics writing on paper. As well it uses an Intel Atom processor and 4Gb RAM but there are scant details about how much storage there is in this tablet.

What I see of this is that the Microsoft Surface Pro series of detachable tablets is becoming the “reference product” for the detachable-tablet 2-in-1 class. This is more so with a lightweight design which applies whether the keyboard is detached or not. As well, a highly-responsive stylus is being seen as a product differentiator to allow for handwriting.

Similarly, it will be interesting to see if there will be a handful of 2-in-1s or other ultraportables that stand out as something to crave or be seen with, especially if they run an open-frame operating environment like Windows or Android. Or is Apple going to stay as the “one to be seen” with.

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What can the Intel Skylake technology bring to the budget notebook

Intel Skylake could offer improved performance for budget and family laptops

Intel Skylake could offer improved performance for budget and family laptops

Intel has used the newer Skylake processor technology as a way to get more out of affordable notebook computers while supporting the high-end of the market.

Intel Skylake technology will allow budget computers to benefit from a performance improvement compared to their predecessors and mainstream 15” family laptops will benefit from this improvement whether they run the H-series i3 or i5 processors. The i5 processors in this series will offer four-core processing which was something that was previously reserved for the premium i7 processors. This will include the use of improved integrated graphics with an example being the Intel HD530 integrated graphics yielding what is equivalent to entry-level discrete graphics. But the let-down here with this graphics chipset is that it is power-hungry which may not be of concern with the so-called “family” laptop computer which will typically be plugged in to AC power while at home.

Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook on tray table

Ultrabooks that work well for writing up notes on that long flight

The U-Series processors, which come in the Pentium, i3, i5 and i7 variants will be pitched at low-profile machines like 2-in-1s and Ultrabooks. These won’t support a “turbo-boost” performance enhancement and are optimised for long battery runtime. The cheaper processors like the Pentium may have an appeal towards “essential tasks” secondary computers like Ultrabooks that are simply used as “portable typewriters” to type up notes and other material during a flight or small 2-in-1s simply purchased for use as on-the-road “email and Facebook” computers.

Alienware Graphics Amplifier expansion module

A graphics expansion module that could option up budget and mainstream laptops

Another feature that I would also admire is the implementation of Thunderbolt 3 over USB 3.1 Type-C. The main benefit that I would like to see would be to allow a budget, ultraportable or mainstream computer to come with integrated graphics yet support discrete graphics when paired with a graphics expansion module. This can be a small box that houses the graphics processor or a card cage that houses one or two regular graphics cards and these devices could also house other extra options like an optical drive, USB 3.1 hub or sound module.

This will please, for example, parents who are buying a senior-high-school student their first laptop. They may not know if the student is going to end up dabbling with advanced graphics in their work, study or leisure activities and don’t need to specify discrete graphics if this isn’t the case. But the student could purchase discrete graphics as an add-on if they are thinking of advanced computer gaming as a recreational activity.

What the Intel Skylake processors could open up is the arrival of highly-capable computers that are at a price everyone can afford.

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HP offers a gaming laptop that neither commands gaming looks and gaming prices


HP’s newest gaming notebook is for more casual users | Engadget

My Comments

The Intel Skylake processor lineup launched this year has opened up the idea of more performance for the dollar and this has shown up in more high-performance gaming laptops. But there have been a few computers enter this clan without having to look aggressive or command higher prices.

This may appeal to people who are after high performance equipment but don’t necessarily want to pay top dollar nor do they want to have something that is like a Dodge Challenger. It will also appeal to college students who want that machine that can suit study activities including multimedia work along with something that they can play one of the latest advanced games on.

Acer premiered at the IFA 2015 in Berlin their Aspire Nitro lineup of high-performance laptops that have the performance without exhibiting the aggressive looks. But Hewlett-Packard has shown up with a gaming notebook that is part of their mainstream Pavilion computer lineup rather than their premium Envy or Spectre lineups.

This computer has an ask for US$900 and bystanders may see the green backlit keyboard as the “giveaway” regarding its gaming chops. It is a 15” form factor unit with an HD (1366×768) screen as standard and a Full HD 1080p screen as an upgrade option, but there is an HDMI connection to connect the laptop to the flat-screen TV. This is driven by an NVIDIA GTX950M graphics processor while using an Intel Skylake processor as its engine. There is the ability to have it specced to 16Gb RAM and storage either as 1Tb hybrid hard disk, 2Tb hard disk or 2Tb hard disk alongside a 128Gb solid-state disk. The battery can run for eight hours of gameplay. Beo-enthusiasts will rejoice that this laptop has Bang & Olufsen sound tuning for the integral speakers.

Personally, I would like to see this class of laptop equipped with the Intel Thunderbolt 3 connection via USB Type-C sockets more as a way to allow people to add higher-performance graphics to these systems at a later date courtesy of a graphics-card expansion module.

What it is showing is that there is the ability to have the high-specced performance without necessarily requiring a high-performance price or a system that looks like a “street rod”. Here, it would be like an ordinary car that has been tweaked for performance but not having “racing” or “street-rod” looks or a loud growl from the exhaust.

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Microsoft brings forth a 2-in-1 that is both a convertible and detachable


Microsoft Surface Book shown at Windows 10 Devices Event, on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 in New York, New York. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for AP Images for Windows) courtesy of Microsoft

Microsoft Surface Book shown at Windows 10 Devices Event- detached

Here’s our first look at the Surface Book, Microsoft’s answer to the MacBook Pro | Engadget

From the horse’s mouth


Surface Book

Product Page

Press Release

My Comments

Microsoft Surface Book (detached) press picture courtesy of Microsoft

It can detach ..

Microsoft has just released a 13” 2-in-1 computer that takes this concept further. This class of portable computer was either a convertible notebook that folded over or collapsed in a certain manner to become a tablet; or a detachable tablet where the keyboard was detached from the tablet itself.

With the Surface Book which was just released, the computer is a fold-over convertible like the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro which I previously reviewed. Here, it has that same watchband hinge although in a plastic form. But you can detach the screen like you can with the HP x2 family and have it become a tablet.

Microsoft Surface Book press picture courtesy of Microsoft

…. or can fold over to be a tablet

It also has a stylus so you can effectively write and this technology is augmented with features like “Palm Block” so you can rest your hand on the screen without unwanted activity like you can with a regular notepad.

As for the graphics, there is a dual-mode operation method where it can work with integrated graphics processing when detached or with discrete graphics when with the keyboard.

Of course, Microsoft is pitching this Windows-driven notebook in to the same market as the Apple MacBook Pro and even running publicity shots of it in action with graphics arts and even putting forward the idea that it can be used as a music playout computer by a DJ in a nightclub.  This is also playing out with VAIO and could easily play out with other computer names who are after the premium “status-symbol” end of the market.

This could also see the reality of the “2-in-1” convertible or detachable being a significant computing device class that is gaining traction in the personal-computing marketplace.

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An ASUS 2-in-1 with USB Type-C available for AUD$500


Get USB 3.1 Type-C Today On A Sub $500 Laptop From ASUS | Gizmodo Australia

From the horse’s mouth


ASUS Transformer Book Flip TP200SA

Product Page

JB Hi-Fi

Online Order Page

My Comments

ASUS has released a 2-in-1 convertible subnotebook computer that has been highlighted as being equipped with a USB 3.1 Type-C connector. But what was surprising was that JB Hi-Fi were selling this machine for just under AUD$500 tax inclusive, which is quite astonishing for a computer equipped with this connection and running Windows 10.

The specifications for this unit are pretty baseline with an Intel dual-core Celeron processor, 2Gb RAM and 32Gb storage. This may strengthen its appeal as something that serves for basic personal-computing activities like Web browsing, basic email, social networks, image viewing and personal video playback. For gaming, this may earn its keep with older or basic “mobile-grade” games.The USB ports will earn their keep with memory sticks or USB external hard disks when you are wanting to deal with more data.

But at least a computer of the entry-level or secondary-computer class was able to be kitted out with the USB 3.1 Type-C connector and this could be a sign of things to come.

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Internationaler Funkaustellung 2015–Part 1–Personal Computing Trends

IFA LogoI am reporting on the Internationaler Funkaustellung 2015 in Berlin which effectively is the show that determines the consumer electronics, personal IT and appliance technology trends that will affect Europe, Middle East, Africa and Australasia. It is also the time to publicly launch technologies that have been ready for prime time by the middle of the year.

Personal Computing

This year has become a year where smartphones, tablets, laptop and desktop computers are seen as one force where hardware and software vendors are working across these devices as of they are simply personal-computing devices.These are primarily based around operating systems which allow people and companies to develop the software that suits different users’ needs.

Desktop, Laptops and Tablets

Intel, Microsoft and others have caused a huge refresh to this class of device thanks to new hardware, software and standards.

Windows 10 Start Menu

Windows 10

Microsoft had just launched Windows 10 while Intel replaced their existing processor silicon with the new Skylake range. These new chipsets are focused on increased performance for the same amount of energy used. This allows for manufacturers to create a granular lineup of products that suit different needs and budgets while assuring “best bang for the buck” in this context. As for peripheral connectivity, the USB 3.1 and Type-C standards along with the Intel Thunderbolt 3 standard had been made firm and more systems honouring these standards were being launched. Acer stands behind the Thunderbolt 3 standard with USB Type-C connectivity because they want to allow users to enhance graphics performance on their computers using an outboard graphics expansion dock of the Alienware Graphics Amplifier or Sony VAIO Z Series Blu-Ray expansion module ilk..

USB Type C plug press image courtesy of USB Implementers Forum

USB Type-C plug – the way to go this year for multipurpose connectivity

Nearly every computer name has catered to the hardcore gamer market by offering high-performance  computers that are tuned to this class of user. Increasingly everyone is offering this kind of performance not just as a desktop or tower form-factor but as a laptop or notebook and some of these manufacturers are offering these products under a “performance” sub-brand like Acer Predator. Acer has even worked on the first Android-driven gaming-grade tablet and smartphone to cater for the mobile gaming community.

Lenovo IdeaCentre Y900 gaming tower PC - press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo IdeaCentre Y-Series gaming tower PC – the first product Lenovo offers for core gamers

In some ways, this is the late 1960s and early 1970s where GM, Ford and Chrysler fielded to the American and Australian markets a lineup of highly-powerful aggressively-styled “muscle cars” targeted at younger buyers. Examples of these include the Dodge Challenger and  the Chevy Camaro released in the US and the Ford Falcon GT, the Holden Monaro and Valiant Charger released in Australia

It is part of a strategy common amongst this year’s exhibitors where they are offering different ranges of computer products to suit the different user groups in a similar way to how the common vehicle builders like Ford. GM and Toyota pitch vehicle ranges to different kinds of drivers. This factor has been more demonstrated by ASUS, Acer and Lenovo who are effectively “pure-play” personal-IT companies.

ASUS RoG GX700 water-cooled gaming laptop with radiator dock - press picture courtesy of ASUS

ASUS RoG GX700 water-cooled gaming laptop with radiator dock

ASUS have built out their Zen Republic of Gamers sub-brand. One key example that ASUS had offered is the GX700 gaming laptop which is liquid-cooled when connected to a special dock that has an integrated radiator but is able to perform with less power when independent of this dock. As well, ASUS have fronted up with the Zenpad S 8” tablet which has a USB Type-C connector for power and data.

ASUS Zen AIO S Series all-in-one desktop computers press picture courtesy of ASUS

ASUS Zen AIO S Series all-in-one desktop computers

They also released the Zen AIO S Series of all-in-one desktop computers which are driven by Intel Skylake processors such as the i7-6100T, a 23” 4K screen or a 21” Full HD screen with both having touch as an option, NVIDIA discrete graphics, up to 32Gb RAM and 2Tb hard disk capacity and optional 128Gb SSD. These are endowed with connectivity in the form of 2×2 MIMO 802.11a/g/n/ac Wi-Fi and Gigabit Ethernet for your home network along with Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready wireless and USB connectivity in the form of 1 x USB 3.1 Type C, USB 3.0 x 4 and USB 2.0 x 1. These shows up a reality that the all-in-one can have the same kind of specification as a regular desktop computer.

They also fielded their VivoStick which is a direct competitor to Intel’s “Compute Stick” when it comes to a “PC-on-a-stick” that plugs in to a TV’s HDMI port. Here, the VIvoStick has two USB ports so you can use a keyboard and mouse without the need for a USB hub. They are still at the “toy” stage by using Intel Atom horsepower, 2Gb RAM and 32Gb storage.

Acer is building out their Predator gaming lineup of performance computing equipment. Here, they had pitched the first performance-grade Android gaming tablet known as the Predator 8 Tablet. This runs on an Intel Atom x7 processor and Intel Generation 8 graphics serving an 8” Full HD screen. It will have 2Gb RAM and 32Gb or 64Gb storage and a microSD expansion slot. It has 2×2 MIMO Wi-Fi, tactile feedback, an aluminium housing and four front-facing speakers. This is estimated to arrive in North America on November 6 for US$299 and will arrive earlier in the rest of the world in October for EUR€349.

They also are running the Aspire V Nitro Series range of laptops as performance laptops without the aggressive “muscle-car” looks associated with gaming computers. These 15” and 17” laptops, along with the Aspire V 13 ultraportable are driven with the latest technology – Intel Skylake processors under the hood, USB Type-C connectivity, 802.11ac 2×2 MU-MIMO Wi-Fi with the Black Edition variants offering Thunderbolt 3 over USB Type C.

Acer also fielded the first Chromebook R11 which is the first Chromebook to come in a 2-in-1 form factor rather than the cheaper “clamshell” style. This is also accompanied by another Yoga-style 360-degree convertible in the form of the 14” Aspire R14. They also demonstrated the Revo Build which is a modular personal computer where functionality is added on simply by one plugging extra modules on to the computer.

This year, Lenovo stepped into the gaming fray by offering the Y series of performance-grade computing equipment. They fielded the IdeaCentre Y900 and Y700 gaming towers which are based on the traditional ATX form factor. This allows for core gamers to improve these systems with the hardware that suits their performance curve, much like the way the “petrolheads” liked to “hot up” the Ford  and GM cars to turn them in to “street machines”. These use quad-core i7 horsepower and discrete graphics under the hood with the Y900 being able to work with 2 display cards. The IdeaPad Y700 range of gaming laptops can be based on Intel or AMD processors  but implements discrete graphics, a 10-point multitouch screen and a RealSense 3D camera. This is augmented with a surround-sound headset, precision mouse, mouse mat, laptop-optimised backpack, mousemat and a mechanical keyboard which is a brush with their former self due to the original IBM PC keyboards.

Lenovo MIIX 700 detachable tablet press pictue courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo MIIX 700 detachable tablet – to snap at the Surface Pro

Lenovo is snapping at Microsoft’s heels by offering the Miix 700 12” detachable tablet which is a spitting image of the Surface Pro lineup. It comes with the keyboard folio and has a 12” touchscreen with 2160×1440 resolution and runs Windows 10 Home.  Lenovo also entered in to the Chromebook game with the 100S Chromebook and fielded the IdeaCentre AIO 700 which is a range of all-in-one desktops that have a 24” or 27” screen with resolution up to 4K and upgradeable discrete graphics. These can come with Intel or AMD processors and a RealSense camera.

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 3 press image courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 3 – the latest incarnation of the Yoga Tab lineup

The Yoga Tab series has been refreshed with these Android tablets fitted with features like rotating cameras along with new horsepower. The Yoga Tab 3 Pro still has the projector so you can throw a picture on the wall as big as one of today’s flat-screen TVs. These are being pitched more as entertainment devices rather than as general-purpose iPad-style tablets.

But they have come strong with more additions to the laptop range. Lenovo had shown 2 Xeon-driven mobile workstations along with their latest ThinkPad Yoga 2-in-1 laptops both driven by Skylake processors and having a silver finish. The ThinkPad Yoga 260 has a 12” Full HD screen, 16Gb RAM and 512Gb solid-state storage while the ThinkPad Yoga 460 comes with a 14” 2560×1440 screen, 8Gb RAM and either a 256Gb SSD or 1Tb hard disk along with discrete graphics.

LG have launched the G Pad II which is a 10.1” Android 5.1 tablet that uses a Full HD screen. This has 2Gb RAM, 16Gb storage, microSD expansion and connects to your home network via 802.11a/g/n/ac Wi-Fi. It is also available with an LTE wireless-broadband modem as an option and comes with that brilliant bronze look.

Toshiba has been big on the 2-in-1 computers this year. They launched the Satellite Radius 12 which is the first 360-degree “Yoga-style” convertible notebook with a 4K screen. This convertible ticks the boxes when it comes to up-to-date requirements like having a USB 3.1 Type-C socket and a capable Intel i7-6500U Skylake processor, 8Gb RAM and 512Gb SSD storage. Some press reports called the 4K resolution a bit of overkill for a portable computer of that 12”-13” “portable-typewriter” form factor especially because of Windows not handling display scaling properly and these machines typically earn their keep as being the smallest size to comfortably type on.

There is the Satellite Radius 14 which is a 14” “Yoga-style” convertible with Full HD resolution and available with either Intel or AMD processors. Toshiba also offers the Satellite Click 10 detachable which is based around an Intel Atom CPU from the Skylake family, 4Gb RAM and 64Gb SSD storage. These 2-in-1 computers exploit Windows 10 to the fullest by working hand in glove with Continuum display switchover, a dedicated button to access Cortana and dual-array microphones to improve speech recognition.

Samsung and Apple have pushed the barriers for mobile-platform tablets with the former offering an 18.4”  Android tablet and the latter heating the rumour furnace with the intent of the 13” iPad Pro family of iOS tablets. Do I see these tablets as something that competes with the 13” 2-in-1 laptops that run Windows 10 as a mobile computing device for group browsing or composing new material?

The tablet you get to do mobile computing activities on doesn’t have to be an iPad anymore.

Handheld devices (smartphones and phablets)

There is a main trend affecting the European smartphone market where more Android devices are appearing from brands other than the usual smartphone market leaders. It is more so with devices that are pitched to the mid-range sector. This is because it is harder to cut in to the high-end sector because Apple and Samsung have cornered the market with the iPhone and Galaxy S / Note phones respectively.

One main trend affecting smartphones this year is the fact that Android 5.1 offers native support for dual-SIM operation and this function is becoming more mainstream in this year’s smartphones. The feature may have relevance for a person who roams between different countries and wants better call value or local mobile-number presence in both these countries or a person who has a “work” or “business” SIM card and a “private” SIM card in the same device. This is typically offered by having two card slots with one that takes the main SIM card and another that can take either a microSD card or a secondary SIM card.

There is also the fact that Microsoft is intending to launch the Windows 10 Mobile operating system very shortly and it is bringing forth an improved third contender for handheld operating systems.

Lenovo Phab Plus phablet press picture courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo’s answer to the Samsung Galaxy Note products in the form of the Phab Plus

Lenovo is pushing in to the European market with its Vibe and Phab phones which are all Android based. An example of this is the Vibe P1 mid-tier phone with a 1.5GHz processor, 5.5” Full HD screen, 5000mAh battery and 16Gb storage. There is also the Phab range which is meant to join the phablet market  One of these is the Phab Plus which is a dual SIM / microSD phone having a 6.8” Full HD screen, Snapdragon 615 chipset. 2Gb RAM and 32Gb storage.

Acer even has pitched an Android gaming-grade smartphone which is the first for a handheld device. This Android smartphone will use a deca-core MediaTek ARM system-on-chip with 4Gb RAM and a 6” Full-HD display.Some questions may be raised about how long it would last on its own battery especially if you play games on this phone or whether it even scales back on performance when you aren’t gaming.

They also fielded the Liquid Z630 mid-tier Android smartphone which also has MediaTek system-on-chip horsepower, 2Gb RAM, 16Gb storage, 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi and 8 megapixel cameras on the front and back. It also has a 4000mAh battery and runs for EUR€199.

They also are fielding entry-level smartphones that can be packaged with Windows 10 Mobile or Android Lollipop like the LIquid Z330 Series. There is also the Jade Primo Windows smartphone which has a USB Type-C connector and is made to take advantage of Windows Continuum display-mode switching courtesy of an accessory dock, keyboard and mouse. This is a 5.5” screen with Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

Archos is another company who are offering smartphones that can be specified with Windows 10 Mobile or Android. These dual-SIM phones will have the usual lineup of features like LTE, Wi-FI and Bluetooth Smart connectivity, microSD card slot. But they have 1Gb RAM and 8Gb storage which can be limiting.

Gigaset has risen to the European market with the ME series of smartphones. The ME phone is powerful but doesn’t go too far. having a 5” Full HD screen, USB Type-C connection, Snapdragon 810 processor and Adreno 430 graphics, 32Gb storage, microSD slot and 3000mAh battery. The ME Pure phone is considered a “foot in the door” phone having 16Gb storage and a Snapdragon 615 processor while the ME Pro has the larger 5.5” screen.

Marshall, known for their guitar amps used by many of the famous rock stars, have pitched a music-focused smartphone in the form of the London. This has a similar styling to their amps in that some of the controls have brass accents and the phone has a rubberised housing which has the same texture as these amps. The London 4.7” HD smartphone is one of a few smartphones that implements a discrete sound subsystem and the only app that Marshall furnishes with this phone is a DJ app. It will be sold in the Boxpark retail area in Shoreditch, London for GBP£375 and I would describe this as being a high-quality MP3 player with smartphone functionality attached to it.

The premium end of the market still hasn’t lost its ground despite the imminent arrival of Apple’s iPhone 6S and 6S plus phones. They also offered a clip-on keyboard for these phones as an optional accessory. Before the IFA 2015, Samsung had released the Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge+ phones which are pitched on thinness. As well, Sony launched their XPeria Z5 family comprising of the XPeria Z5, Xperia Z5 Compact which is the smaller of the bunch and the Z5 Premium which has a 4K ultra-high-definition screen. They also offered the XPeria G8 which has the same camera abilities as Sony’s standalone digital cameras courtesy of improved focus abilities.

The next article in this series will cover the trends affecting wearable devices, display technology and the home network with subsequent articles covering home entertainment and appliances.

Part 1 – Personal Computing Trends

Part 2 – Wearables and the Home Network

Part 3 – Home Entertainment

Part 4 – Home Automation and the Internet Of Things

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Intel Skylake gives you a break for cheaper computers

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook

Make hay while the sun shines when you purchase your next laptop now

Intel has just premiered their new Skylake desktop and mobile CPU range which is leading to increased performance even for battery-operated devices. It also has led to newer connectivity options like USB 3.1 Type-C and Intel Thunderbolt connections to improve how you connect these computers to external devices. As well, most of these computers will come pre-delivered with Windows 10 as their operating system.

This is leading to computer manufacturers refreshing their computer lineups with equipment based on these new technologies and their will be an impetus on the manufacturers, distributors and retailers to clear out just-superseded equipment based on prior technologies. For example in Australia, JB Hi-FI is offering 15% off the ticketed price for most of the laptops on sale at most of their stores

If you are considering a computer purchase whether to upgrade existing equipment, or as an additional unit like a travel laptop or a secondary computer used in the kitchen, it may be a good time to check the specials out. For some of you, it may be a chance to move off the iPad as your only computing device and move towards a “grown up” computer system.

But here are some points worth considering:

  • If you are buying Windows-based equipment, the computer may come pre-delivered with Windows 8.1 but you can upgrade this operating system to Windows 10 for free. This is another saving for you when you want to be sure you are running the latest operating system for your Windows-based computer.
  • If you are upgrading your main computer, make sure you buy the system with as much RAM and storage as you can afford. As well, look for discrete graphics and powerful processors if you are using it frequently for graphics, games and multimedia.
  • You may get by with the Intel Atom, Celeron or Pentium processors and 2Gb RAM for your secondary laptop that is primarily for Web browsing, email and word-processing. These will probably limit you to up to 2 or 3 windows or browser tabs open at at time. The Core M, i3 and i5 processors and 4Gb RAM may allow you to be a bit more productive with these machines.
  • Solid-state may be the way to go for your ultraportable but you could eek out more storage through the use of a USB 3.0 external hard disk which you could bargain in to the purchase. This drive can earn its keep with large photo or video collections that you may be downloading from your camera or camcorder.
  • You may also be in a position to use the savings to purchase a newer printer or home-network equipment which you could also bargain in to the deal.

If you express doubts about a purchase, please don’t hesitate to contact me using the Contact Form on this site.

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