Mail-order printer ink plans come to the US courtesy of HP

Article – From the horse’s mouth

HP

HP Instant Ink|Ink Cartridge Replacement Service | HP® Official Store (Advertisement)

My Comments

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one inkjet printer

HP have brought to the US the concept of plan-based ink replacement for home users. Here, in the land of mail-order business, people can sign up to a pay-by-the-month plan that works with select HP printers so that HP supplies replacement cartridges directly when the machines run low on ink.

This is very similar to enterprises who have managed printers and copiers where, as part of the contract, they receive ink or toner as they need it for their machines. In this plan, known as HP Instant Ink, a customer can choose one of three different service levels dependent on how much printing they expect to do. Here, when the printer runs low, it lets HP know via your home network of this fact and HP will deliver a the ink cartridges that you need and provide a bag for you to send back the empty cartridges for recycling.

Luckily, there is the ability to vary the plans to suit different printing needs or walk out of the plans if you see fit because there isn’t an annual commitment. As well, these plans assure that users can have HP supply them the genuine ink cartridges for their machine.

At the moment, these plans are pitched at a range of two-cartridge HP multifunction printers but who knows when HP could extend it to other home and SOHO machines. HP could see these plans as a way to supply printers to home and small-business users on a contract basis by selling them as complete systems where there is a monthly payment for the machine and the inks and a 1-year or 2-year commitment. They could target this kind of plan at the SOHO and small-business user who has to factor in the purchase of newer equipment, depreciation for current equipment as well as ink costs as legitimate business expenses to be factored in every financial year.

Of course, there would be doubts about the value of money that these plans have compared with inks purchased at a local or mail-order / online outlet who may sell genuine ink cartridges at cheaper prices. Similarly, I would have doubts about HP running the Instant Ink program in countries where direct sales aren’t considered the norm for selling goods to consumers and small organisations.

But I see of this as being a bold step for a company HP to offer an ink-delivery program for home and small-business / community-organisation users who want to make sure they have a supply of ink in their printers.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post

HP offers a Wi-Fi Direct / NFC module for most existing business printers

Articles

HP LaserJet M1536dnf monochrome laser multifunction printer

HP LaserJet M1536dnf monochrome laser multifunction printer – now NFC and Wi-Fi Direct capable with a cheap module

HP outs NFC and wireless mobile printing solution for homes and offices | TechRadar

This little box adds NFC mobile printing to recent HP LaserJet, Officejet printers | PCWorld

HP Announces NFC Device For Printers | The Recycler

HP pousse le NFC sur presque toutes ses imprimantes | Le Monde Informatique (France – French language)

From the horse’s mouth

Hewlett-Packard

Product Sheet (PDF)

My Comments

HP have now cottoned on to the NFC “touch-to-print” model that Brother was involved along with the Wi-Fi Direct “own-access-point” printing model to allow people with mobile devices to print from their own devices without using the business’s main network.

But this is not about junking a perfectly-good printer that is still giving sterling service for your organisation. Instead it is in the form of a black box that connects to recent-issue compatible HP business printers, some of which I have reviewed here such as the Colour LaserJet Pro CM1415fnw multifunction printer, Colour LaserJet 400 Series printer, the LaserJet M1536dnf multifunction printer and the OfficeJet 150 mobile printer.

This device is in the form of a black box that connects to the printer’s USB port, has NFC “touch-and-go” print for Android and Windows 8, as well as the Wi-Fi Direct / own-access-point functionality which works with HP ePrint and with Apple’s AirPrint systems. HP’s larger “workhorse” printers and multifunctions have a similar option but this is in the form of a module that is installed in the existing printer on site. The device, known as the 1200w Mobile Printing Accessory is to be normally offered for USD$50 / EUR€36 but initially offered for USD$40/ EUR€29.

HP OfficeJet 150 mobile multifunction printer closed up

The HP OfficeJet 150 can be the fully-fledged mobile office with your iPad courtesy of the NFC Mobile Print module

The idea would be that if you aren’t keen on having clients or business partners marauding on your business network when they need hard copy from their mobile device, you have them use the separate printing network for their quick-run printing needs.

As for the OfficeJet 150, this accessory would allow one to create a “back-of-the-van” mobile office around their smartphone or tablet especially if the effort is to do away with the regular computing environment on the road. It is because the iOS and Android platforms with the HP-supplied or platform-native printing apps are intended to work with a Wi-Fi wireless network segment rather than the Bluetooth or USB connections this printer natively supports.

This is more about adding extra functionality to an existing device through the installation of an add-on module rather than replacing the existing device. It is a practice that is common to anyone who owns a hi-fi system or a TV, where they buy and connect extra equipment like CD players, tape decks, video recorders and DVD / Blu-Ray payers to add extra functionality to their existing systems. This avoids the need to do away with perfectly-good equipment to gain the extra functionality and, in some cases such as the video recorder, has added a lot more functionality like increased tuner capacity, stereo TV sound or remote control abilities.

This concept of offering the add-on devices can be seen as a way of effectively extending the life of most devices that are expected to put in a long service life and keeping their relevance to current needs and should never be tossed aside by device vendors.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post

HP and others use Mopria to advance driver-free printing for mobile devices

Article

HP, allies launch Mopria to keep printers relevant in mobile era | Mobile – CNET News

My Comments

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one printer

HP Envy 120 designer all-in-one inkjet printer

A common reality with the desktop printer is that you need to implement drivers on a desktop computer in order to have the printer work properly with that computer. This has confused many people who simply wanted to “walk up and print” at another location or install a newer printer. The situation is very difficult for mobile and embedded devices where these devices require limited memory space or hard-to-adapt software.

There have been various attempts at providing driver-free printing for mobile and embedded computers. One of these was UPnP Printing which allowed one to print a JPEG image or XHTML-formatted document on a suitable network printer but this was only followed through by HP with their consumer multifunction desktop printers and Nokia with their Symbian-based feature phones. HP also took this further with their ePrint “print-by-email” setup which just about every consumer and small-business HP desktop printer is equipped with.

Apple made a bit of headway with this issue by implementing AirPrint for their iOS devices and Macintosh computers running MacOS X Lion. Here, this was totally “driver-free” and more printer manufacturers came on board offering it for newer printer ranges or as “field-update” firmware for some of their existing models.

There needed to be an effort that is centred around one or more existing standards and augmented by a logo-driven marketing platform in order to provide driver-free printing to other regular, mobile and embedded computing platforms. No doubt, as Apple and their fanbois have their faith behind the AirPrint ecosystem, the Mopria ecosystem will be offered as a complementary system for other “open-frame” computing platforms.

The Mopria platform is recognising the idea that the smartphone or tablet that runs a mobile operating system is serving users as either a sole or anciliary computing device. But I would also like to see Microsoft and the open-source community adopt Mopria as a driver-free system-wide printing solution for Windows and Linux respectively in order to provide the true “walk-up and print” ability to regular computers that run these operating systems.

The embedded device community could place value on Mopria as a way to add network printing to all sorts of dedicated devices. For example, the smart TV or set-top box could exploit Mopria for interactive TV’s printing needs such as coupon printing. Similarly, devices like energy meters or “wellness” devices could use the technology to print trend-based charts for energy used or personal-wellness stats.

This may be early days yet but by using a device standard with a distinct customer-recognisable logo, Mopria could be in a position to provide driver-free printing for most applications. They also need the help of other industry standards groups like DLNA or Blu-Ray Disc to provide leverage for Mopria in the embedded-device space.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post

HP to give the Sony VAIO Pro 13 and the Apple MacBook Air a run for their money

Article

HP Launches World’s First Workstation Ultrabook, Refreshes Workstation Lineup

From the horse’s mouth

HP

Product Page

My Comments

When Sony launched the VAIO Pro 13, they put up an 13” Ultrabook with a 1080p photo-optimised LCD screen that gave the Apple MacBook Air a run for its money when it came to computer needs for the working photographer with the MacBook Air only hanging on to its status by the virtue of long battery life.

Now HP have walked up to the platform with the ZBook Workstation 14 which is an Intel Haswell-driven 14” Ultrabook that can be described as a “workstation Ultrabook”. This one, which weighs in at 3.5 lb could have up to 16Gb of RAM and 1 Tb of hard-disk storage and the option of AMD FirePro discrete graphics. They had described this processing power as being suitable for photographers, video / multimedia and CAD work but one could easily tack on core gaming as another application.

Similarly, HP have put up the rest of the ZBook range as an answer to Sony’s VAIO laptop computers, especially the VAIO E series, for Windows-based graphics and multimedia computing on the road.

This is similar to another HP effort to call a computer that isn’t a three-piece ATX tower PC a workstation when they released the Z1 Workstation which was a modular all-in-one workstation.

Here, we are seeing computers like all-in-one desktops, ultraportable laptops and tablets, the types not being associated with serious graphics and multimedia work or hardcore games play, come up to the stage with specifications that match the requirements and these could usher in a new trend for advanced computing.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post

HP x2 detachable-tablet design to become like an established car-model lineup

Article

HP announces the HP Split x2 | Windows Experience Blog (Microsoft)

HP intros the Split x2 Windows hybrid and Android-based SlateBook x2 (hands-on) | Engadget

HP SlateBook x2: An Android Notebook With Sweet Tegra 4 Guts | Gizmodo

Previous Coverage of the range

Product Review – HP Envy x2 Hybrid Tablet

HP Envy X2 Detachable-Keyboard Hybrid Tablet

HP Envy X2 detachable-keyboard hybrid tablet computer – now part of a larger family

My Comments

Those of you who have followed this site regularly have come across my review of the HP Envy x2 which is HP’s first Windows 8 detachable-keyboard “hybrid” tablet computer. This 11” tablet computer was based on the Intel Atom processor and excelled more as a portable Windows 8 tablet.

Now the x2 detachable-keyboard hybrid-tablet from HP has become like a model series that represents a class of car released by a car manufacturer where the series features different body types, powertrain specifications and trim levels. Here, this has become computers with different screen sizes, operating systems and microprocessor technology where different models exist for different needs.

Here, HP have released the Split x2 detachable-keyboard tablet with similar credentials to a recent-issue 13” ultraportable computer. Here, the computer could come with an Intel Core i3 or i5 mainstream microprocessor and a variant could come with the ability to have a second 500Gb hard disk in the keyboard module. Similarly, they have released the SlateBook x2 which snaps at the heels of the ASUS EeePad Transformer Prime by being a Tegra-driven 10” Android detachable-keyboard tablet.

Oh yeah, some of us would consider this as being useless due to a 13” screen size for a tablet compared to the typical 10-11” screen size for this class of computer. But this size may appeal more for group viewing or, when used with the keyboard, for creating a lot of content. The Split x2 would have either a Core i3 or Core i5 processor while the SlateBook would have the NVIDIA Tegra 4 that pleases a lot of performance Android enthusiasts.

HP has taken this formula that was established by the Envy x2 and extended it further for computers that are about exploiting the detachable-keyboard tablet, and this could be a way of allowing the concept to mature while allowing one to choose a computer in this class that suits their needs. Personally, I would like to see HP build out the x2 series with the “Envy” name representing one or two models that represent luxury or performance or a run of business-focused models with the business security needs while keeping the Split and SlateBook lineup.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post

Product Review–HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook (Model: Envy 4-1121TU)

Introduction

I am reviewing the HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook which is a newer take on the previously-reviewed Envy 4 Sleekbook. But this unit also comes with a touchscreen that takes advantage of the touch-enabled interface that Windows 8 is all about. Of course you have the regular keyboard and touchpad for content creation, especially if you want to create content.

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook at Intercontinental Melbourne On Rialto

Price
– this configuration
RRP AUD$999
Form factor Regular laptop
Processor Intel i3-3217U Ivy Bridge
RAM 4 Gb RAM shared with graphics
Secondary storage 320Gb HDD  with 32Gb SSD cache SDHC card reader
Display Subsystem Intel HD4000 integrated graphics
Screen 14” widescreen
(1366×768)
LED backlit LCD touchscreen
Audio Subsystem Intel HD audio
Audio Improvements Beats Audio by Dr Dre
Network Wi-Fi 802.11g/n
Ethernet Gigabit Ethernet
Bluetooth 4.0
Connectivity USB USB 2.0 x 1, USB 3.0 x 2
Video HDMI
Audio 3.5mm stereo output jack, 3.5mm stereo input jack, digital audio via HDMI
Operating System on supplied configuration Windows 8
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall: 4.8 Graphics:  4.8
Advanced Graphics: 6.2
Insert variants with relative price shifts

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart UltrabookThe HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook is the regular slimline clamshell laptop that satisfys Intel’s “Ultrabook” specifications but uses an aluminium escutcheon around the keyboard and trackpad. This yields a luxurious and cool finish where there is nothing plasticky about using this machine. Even things like rubber feet that aren’t as ready to come off along with a non-slip rubberised finish for the underside show that we are dealing with a well-built computer.

It is small and light enough to stash in to a shoulder bag or “bike bag” for easy transport. It doesn’t matter whether you are doing a lot of travelling or simply visiting your favourite “second-office” cafe or lounge.

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook with Windows 8 Modern UI

This Ultrabook makes use of the Windows 8 Modern (Metro) touch-enabled user interface with the touchscreen

It feels slightly warm to use when you are using it on your knees, this not as ready to overheat for most computing tasks. This is due to the grillework on the top between the hinges and a ventilatilation grille underneath the Envy computer.

User Interface

The Envy 4’s keyboard has that distinct feel that allows accurate touch-typing. Here, the keys are also finished in black rather than the matching grey so as to make them easier to identify.

he trackpad is very accurate but, like trackpads used on other recent-issue HP laptops, it has the enabe-disable function which requires you to dwell on the top left corner. This can cause you to mistakenly disable it if you are dragging an element and you take too long about it.

As for the touchscreen, it does its job with providing the coarse navigation and selection by responding properly and promptly.

Audio and Video

The visual experience with the HP Envy 4 is what I have expected from a recent laptop where it can handle most tasks properly with a proper frame rate out of video playback. I wouldn’t expect this kind of performance for “on-edge” gaming or advanced video editing tasks.

The Beats Audio sound-tuning had done its bit in providing some “body” to the sound even through the integrated speakers which are located above the keyboard. But I would gain best performance out of this laptop for sound when I use headphones or external speakers.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook left-hand-side connections - Ethernet, HDMI, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader

Left-hand-side connections – Ethernet “clothes-peg” connector, HDMI, 2 USB 3.0, SD card reader

Like the previously-reviewed Envy 4 Sleekbook, this HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook uses the same “clothespeg” Ethernet socket so as to allow “dongle=free” connectivity to a Gigabit Ethernet segment. As well, there is a good complement of connections for use with current-generation peripherals such as an HDMI video connector and 3 USB sockets.

The 320Gb hard disk is big enough for most secondary-computer needs especially if you 00Gb hardmove data off it when you are finished with the data. But I would also like to see either a 256Gb solid-state disk for faster performance or a 500Gb hard disk for extra capacity available as an option.

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook right-hand-side connections - separate headphone and microphone jacks, USB 2.0 connector and power socket

Right-hand-side connections – separate headphone and microphone jacks, USB 2.0 connector and power socket

I am pleased that this computer still uses the SD card slot as removeable storage, which I consider important for those of us who download images from our digital cameras by removing the memory card out of the camera. This is compared to some Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 which omit this feature, and would earn its keep with those of us who take pictures and coarsely edit them while on the road.

Battery life

The HP Envy 4 is not demanding for battery life when subjected to most regular computing tasks especially if the computer is working with a Wi-Fi network.  But, after I watched a 90-minute video from SBS On-Demand, I found that the battery was at half capacity at the end of the video.

Other comments

When I used the HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook in the lounge at the Intercontinental Melbourne on Rialto hotel, the staff were amazed at the touchscreen interface that this computer has. This was a difference for them as they were used to guests who use the lounge as a “second office” using laptops and not touching the screen to work with the computer or the guests touching the screens on tablets and smartphones.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook rear view

Rear view of the Ultrabook

One improvemeit I would like to see for the HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook is the availability of a deluxe version with extra RAM and secondary storage as well as 802.11a/g/n Wi-Fi. As I have said before, this would encourage us to think of having more storage when we are on the go for longer times as well as having the computer be future proof for high-speed 5GHz Wi-Fi networks. Similarly, going for 3 USB 3.0 connectors can work well as we move towards more USB 3.0 peripherals like secondary-storage devices.

Other than, there isn’t much to improve on for a secondary travel computer with a large screen.

Conclusion

The HP Envy 4 Touchsmart Ultrabook earns its place as the logical successor to the Envy 4 Sleekbook. Here, it comes across as another example of a  lightweight secondary travel computer option where you value the  13”-14” screen. This is where you place value on content creation including creating elementary graphical content like PowerPoint slides or going through digital photos you have taken as well as creating written content on the go.

It then ends up alongside the HP Envy 4 Sleekbook, the Acer Aspire S3 and Sony VAIO T Series in my short list of ultraportable computers that I would use or recommend as a secondary portable computer for one who uses a desktop or larger laptop at home or the office.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post

HP now issues the fastest small-business desktop inkjet printer

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Hewlett-Packard

HP Officejet Pro X Printers with HP PageWide Technology (Product Site)

My Comments

HP have joined Brother in raising the bar for wet-ink-based printing. What Brother have done is to develop a compact inkjet multifunction printer that works the printhead along the long edge of the paper rather than the short edge to allow for this compact design.

But HP have taken things differently by using a stationary “full-width” printhead in their latest run of desktop business inkjet printers known as the OfficeJet Pro X. Here, this avoids the need for a small printhead to move back and forth to print across the page. This has allowed these printers to achieve print speeds of around 70 pages per minute for the premium models in the series and 55 pages per minute for the standard models in the series.

The stationary “full-width” printhead is a technology used in some of the digital printing presses used by an increasing number of print shops to turn out short-order process-colour printing jobs for small businesses and community organisations at cost-effective prices.  As well as this high-speed feature that HP promotes, there is the obvious reduction in mechanical parts needed in the printer, which gives other benefits like increased reliability and reduced operating noise.

As for costs, these printers sell at prices that are comparable to a lot of the high-end desktop colour laser printers like the Brother HL-4150CDN and they have a similar duty cycle to these machines. There may be still some further questions to raise such as the cost of the ink cartridges for these machines.

On the other hand, HP could even take this technology further with other printer classes such as using the stationary inkjet printhead in areas dominated by the thermal-paper printing method such as receipt and label printers. It may also be interesting to see whether Epson or Brother may integrate the stationary-printhead technology with their piezoelectric “pump-method” ink-delivery methods as another competing high-speed inkjet system.

Of course, who knows what kind of game-changing technologies would appear in many of the different product classes.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post

Product Review- HP Envy X2 detachable-screen hybrid tablet computer

Introduction

This is the first chance for me to review a touch-enabled Windows 8 computer in the form of the HP Envy X2. This computer comes in the form of a detachable-keyboard “hybrid” tablet  which exploits the Windows 8 abilities. Last month, I had set up my primary desktop computer with Windows 8 and established the Microsoft.com single-sign-on arrangement so I can exploit this operating environment in a manner as it is to be exploited on these computers.

This experience has shown that it is easy to have a common operating experience across a primary computer and a secondary computer such as the HP Envy X2 thus reducing the need to reconfigure both units exactly.

HP Envy X2 Detachable-Keyboard Hybrid Tablet

Price – this configuration AUD$999 / USD$899
Form factor Detachable-keyboard hybrid
Processor Intel Atom Z2760
RAM 2Gb RAM shared with graphics
Secondary storage 64Gb solid-state drive MicriSDHC card reader on tabet + SD card reader on keyboard module
Display Subsystem Intel HD display Display memory in discrete options
Screen 11” widescreen (1366×768) LED backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem Intel HD audio
Audio Improvements Beats Audio by Dr. Dre
Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n single-stream
Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready
Connectivity USB USB 2.0 x 2 on keyboard
Video HDMI socket on keyboard unit
Audio 3.5mm input-output jack on keyboard unit 3.5mm headphone jack on tablet
Authentication and Security TPM
Sensors NFC Yes
Operating System on supplied configuration Windows 8
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall: Graphics: Advanced Graphics:

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

This Windows-8 computer comes in the “hybrid tablet” form factor which has the “system” integrated in the screen and has a detachable keyboard. This would remind you of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Android-driven tablet which put this concept on the map.

The HP Envy X2 is finished in a brushed-aluminium finish with metallic-black keys on the keyboard and a black bezel that surrounds the touchscreen. Here, I have not noticed any overheating or other temperature issues when I have used this computer even with viewing video content.

I have also noticed that this computer is built very well and even things like the mechanism to detach and attach the screen had that solid but easy-to-use feel about it.

User Interface

HP Envy X2 Hybrid Tablet detachable-keyboard dock

The detachable keyboard dock

Like most netbooks and small notebooks, the HP Envy X2 is equipped with the shallow chiclet keyboard but the way the Envy’s keys are spaced apart makes it supportive for an improved typing experience. I also admire the idea of having the keys finished in black rather than the same silver colour so they are easier to identify.

The trackpad can become a bit “hair-trigger” at times but it still uses the hold-down square in the top left to enable and disable it. This is a common foible with recent HP laptops and I would like to see a separate switch with indicator used for this function because if you dwell on the square to drag an item, you could accidentally defeat the trackpad.

The touchscreen is very responsive and accurate with there being very few issues with hair-trigger behaivour. This is more important if you are using the computer in the tablet mode The screen and keyboard are easy to detach from each other with you just having to move a latch above the keyboard to release the screen. When you want to reassemble the computer, it is as simple as dropping the tablet in to the groove atop the keyboard dock.

Audio and Video

The HP Envy X2 yielded a smooth visual experience for the display, even with the video playback which I did with the SBS On Demand service. Of course there is the glossy display that is common with consumer-market portable computing equipment and can be a problem in bright sunlight.

HP still does their best effort with improving the audio experience but even the Beats Audio sound tuning doesn’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The only bonus with this detachable-keyboard tablet layout is that the speakers “fire forward” from the screen when the keyboard is attached to the screen. Instead, I would use headphones or external speakers if you want the best out of your music or video content.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

HP Envy X2 main tablet unit connected to the charger

Main tablet unit connected to the charger – microSD slot and audio jack

There are two USB 2.0 connections and an HDMI connection on the HP Envy X2’s keyboard dock but the tablet itself could benefit from at least one USB connection. The power is supplied through a special plug which can connect in to a slot on the right-had-side of the keyboard or the docking slot on the tablet itself, and can be confusing for new users when they want to charge the tablet itself without carrying the keyboard dock with them.

HP Envy X2 Hybrid Tablet left-hand side connections - HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.5mm audio jack

Left-hand side connections – HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.5mm audio jack

There is 2Gb RAM and 64Gb as solid-state secondary storage but it could benefit from more capacity but this is limited by the design constraints brought about by the tablet design.

You can add on a microSD memory card to the tablet itself or use a regular SD “camera card” with the keyboard dock for storage expansion. This can be limiting if you just want to show pictures from your camera on the Envy’s screen without the need for a keyboard dock.

HP Envy X2 Hybrid Tablet Right hand side connections - SD card slot, USB 2.0 port and charging socket

Right-hand side connections – SD card slot, USB 2.0 port and charging socket

Battery life

There is the typical long-lasting battery that can work well with using the Envy X2 in a portable context but it doesn’t identify whether there is a secondary battery in the keyboard dock to allow the computer to run for a longer time.

Other usage notes

The HP Envy x2 has a digital camera on the back and the front so you can “grab” pictures using this computer, something you could benefit from if you do something like take things apart yet want to create  reference images. It also has the NFC panels on the screen and the back so you could transfer Web links and contact details between the Envy and other Windows 8, Windows Phone or Android devices (Sorry Apple!)

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

HP could offer a variant of the Envy X2 with a 128 Gb SSD and 4Gb RAM as a higher-performance option rather than the simplified “second-duty” tablet computer that this is pitched as.

The Envy X2 could benefit from a regular SD on the tablet rather than the microSD so you can use the digital-camera SD cards when you want to quickly show and use pictures from your digital camera. Similarly there could be a microUSB “On The Go” socket or standard USB 2.0 socket on the tablet so you can connect USB memory keys directly or using an “On The Go” cable without the need for the keyboard.

Conclusion

HP Envy x2 Hybrid Tablet rear view

Rear view of tablet

The HP Envy x2 is positioned more as a detachable-keyboard hybrid tablet computer that runs a regular-computer operating system using a lightweight “regular-computing” processor. This can be useful for those of you who like a detachable-keyboard tablet computer but would like to run the Windows 8 operating environment that you run on your desktop or large laptop computer.

But you may find that the price is too steep unless you place value on a hardy construction and orthodox look and feel for this kind of computer. On the other hand, I would even recommend this to ASUS Transformer Prime users who want a portable computer with a similar form factor yet would like to run the “regular-computer” operating environment.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post

Interested about the HP Envy x2 that is being promoted on TV? A review is coming soon

Any of you who have watched MasterChef The Professionals lately may have seen some TV ads running for the HP Envy x2 detachable-keyboard hybrid notebook.

This unit is a basic Intel-driven Windows 8 notebook that converts to a tablet by you separating it from the keyboard. It is pitched as something you could use primarily as a tablet yet use the keyboard to do text entry.

Very shortly, I will be receiving one of these units for review as the first of the Windows 8 touch-enabled computing devices of this year and who knows what it will be like as a computer for its application.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post

Consumer Electronics Show 2013–Part 2

Introduction

I am continuing from where I left off with Part 1 which focused on the home entertainment aspect such as the 4K UHDTV screens and the games consoles that are to put Sony and Microsoft on notice.

Computers

With Windows 8 already launched, the trend for computers is to see more of the ultraportable computer that come either with a touchscreen or a Windows-8 multi-touch trackpad. Most manufacturers are running with at least one convertible ultraportable model that has swivel-screen, 360-degree hinge or a slide-out design as well as a detachable-keyboard hybrid tablet in order to catch this user interface.

The consumer desktop computers will typically manifest as a touch-enabled all-in-one unit alithough a lot of the 21” large-screen tablet computers of the same ilk as the Sony VAIO Tap 20 are surfacing for this category. THe concept is augmented through the use of “one-machine multi-player” hybrid video/board games that can be played using these touch screens.

Another trend that is appearing for some of these products is the display having an increased pixel density with 1080p resolution appearing on 13” and smaller screens or 4K and similar resolution displays appearing on the mainstream screen sizes. This has been driven by Apple’s implementation of high-pixel-density “Retina” displays in some of their MacBook lineup. Of course, Windows 8 would have native support for adapting its Desktop and Modern user interfaces to these higher pixel densities and most software developers would be encouraged to adapt to the newer pixel densities.

Acer is launching the Aspire S7 Ultrabook and the Iconia W700 and W510 detachable-keyboard tablets. Dell has also launched a 1080p display as an option for the XPS 13 Ultrabook.

Toshiba have provided newer products such as the Satellite U845t which is a touchscreen Ultrabook that runs for approximately US$800. This 14” (1366×768) WIndows 8 computer has an option of an i3 or i5 CPU, 500Gb on the hard disk and 32Gb SSD cache, up to 6Gb RAM and equipped with HDMI, Ethernet, SDHC card slot and 3 USB ports (1 with USB 3.0). Here, they intended to position the U845t as the Ultrabook equivalent of the “reasonably-priced car”.

They also ran with the Qosmio X875 which is a gaming laptop with a 1Tb hybrid hard drive with 8Gb SSD cache. It also has the “Black Widow” performance design with up to 32Gb RAM, up to 2Tb storage and a 3GB NVIDIA GTX 670M GPU display and NVIDIA 3D as an option.

On the other hand. HP are launching 2 affordable “Sleekbook” ultraportables that are driven by AMD processors. Both of these are what you would call a “lightweight mainstream” laptop with a 15.6” screen, replaceable batteries, numeric keypads and multi-touch trackpads. They also have Dolby sound tuning as a way to make that music or video sound better. The basic model comes with the A6 processor, 6Gb RAM and 500Gb hard disk storage while the premium “Touchsmart” variant comes with a touchscreen, the faster A8 processor, 6Gb RAM and 750Gb hard disk storage.

Lenovo exhibited their Horizon 27 touchscreen desktop all-in-one which is able to work as an “action table”. As well, Lenovo are planning to “split” their brand by having the Lenovo brand for home and small-business computing equipment and the “Think” brand associated with “ThinkPad” and “ThinkCentre” for their large-business computing equipment. This direction reminds me of Ford’s and Chrysler’s Australian operations in the late 60s and early 70s where they were trying to run a separate brand for their luxury cars with “LTD” and “Landau” for Ford’s efforts and “VIP” for Chrysler’s efforts.

Panasonic were showing their 20” 4K-display “VAIO-Tap-style” tablet with Windows 8 as a prototype for their computer entry.

Dell launched their Latitude 10 essentials tablet which is their effort at pushing the price of a full Windows 8 tablet down to a reasonable price of US$499. This has the Intel microarchitecture and comes with a 10” screen as well as 32Gb of SSD storage. They also issued a 1080p screen option for their XPS 13 Ultrabook.

Gigabyte have fielded an extra tiny desktop PC with Intel i7 horsepower. This machine is a similar size to the Apple Mac Mini, but like machines of this ilk, you don’t have room to expand compared to larger computers.

ASUS also fielded the Transformer all-in-one tablet which can boot Android 4.1 and Windows 8. It has for its display an 18.4” screen with 1080p resolution.

Regular computer technology

Intel has been tweaking the Atom CPUs as a stronger system-on-chip for low-tier portable computing and released limited runs of the Ivy Bridge chipset which are tuned for power conservation and system performance.

Peripherals

Computer monitors

There are some technologies that are appearing for this class of device such as the increased pixel density such as a 4K UHDTV screen (2560×1440) for 20” and above or 1080p HDTV (1920×1080) for lesser screen sizes, use of a 21:9 aspect ratio, affordable IPS LCD displays and touchscreen displays.

Here, LG had launched a 4K 30” screen as well as the EA93 21:9 screen which has a 2560×1080 resolution and 4-way split abilities. Similarly ASUS launched an ultrawide 21:9 monitor with similar specifications to this monitor. As well, Sharp had exhibited a 32” 4K-resolution monitor which is the thinnest in this class. This IGZO-driven screen comes in at a thickness of 1.5”.

HP had launched a run of 20”-27” monitors such as the deluxe Envy 27 that has an elegant bezel-free IPS display, HDMI digital audio with optical SPDIF output as well as a 3.5mm pre-out jack. It has the above-mentioned HDMI connector, a DisplayPort connector and a legacy VGA connector. The sound subsystem in this model is, like most of the premium and midrange HP consumer laptops, tuned by BeatsAudio.

The Pavilion xi Series (20”, 22”, 23” 25” and 27”) has IPS and the full input complement (VGA, DVI and HDMI). Except for the 20” variant, they can work with the 1920×1080 resolution. The Pavilion P Series (18.5”, 20” and 21”) are pitched as the “budget business” models which can work at 1366×768 or the 20” and 21” models can work at 1600×900 resolution.

They also released the U160 which is a USB-powered portable DisplayLink monitor. This 15” screen, which works at 1366×768, comes in a leather case and is pitched to work as a second screen for that ultraportable notebook computer.

Speaking of DisplayLink, the organisation that represents the “display over USB” concept has demonstrated a “single-pipe” USB 3.0 external-display setup. This “proof-of-concept” uses one USB 3.0 cable to provide external power to the laptop alongside the transfer of display, USB-peripheral, audio and Ethernet between the laptop and the monitor. It is more about the idea of encouraging the development of a USB monitor dock which is effectively a laptop power supply, USB hub, Ethernet network adaptor and external display and audio. As well, the DisplayLink MacOS X driver has been updated to work with 4 adaptors using USB 3.0 technology.

ASUS exploted the DisplayLink concept further with their VariDrive expansion module. This is a laptop expansion module that has a DVD burner, DisplayLink video to HDMI or legacy VGA devices, Ethernet and Audio via HDMI and connects to that ultraportable via USB 3.0.

Network technology

802.11ac Wi-Fi wireless

There is an increasing number of wireless routers, access points and USB “stick” client adaptors that work with the new draft 802.11ac wireless-network specification.

These are are also being equipped with performance-improvement and QoS-optimisation chipsets from the various chipset vendors. An example of this is Qualcomm’s StreamBoost technology which manages the WAN (Internet) and LAN (home network) sides of the equation for optimum throughput for the small network.

As well, D-Link have launched an online-gaming-optimised 802.11ac Gigabit router with the Qualcomm Atheros VIVE technology. Netgear are also making for an easy-to-set-up experience for their newer routers by implementing the QR codes on their management user interface so you can integrate your Android phone to the home network very quickly. They also fielded the D600 which is the first 802.11ac DSL modem router that can work with today’s ADSL networks. But it also has a Gigabit Ethernet WAN connection for use with next-generation broadband.

Of course, most of the router manufacturers are touting cloud technology for this product class. This is primarily about remote access to data held on storage that is attached to these routers via a Web interface or a client-side mobile app.

Shoehorning the home network, and the HomePlug technology

There have been a few interesting devices that can improve your home network.Firstly, NETGEAR have shown a plug-in simultaneous-dual-band wireless range extender / Wi-Fi client bridge that offers a feature that snaps at the heels of the Apple Airport Express. Here, this device has AirPlay / DLNA audio playout so you can connect an amplifier or a pair of active speakers and push audio content from your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop PC through that amplifier or speakers. At the moment, I don’t know if this device can also work as a regular access point.

The HomePlug AV specification is still pushed as a “wired with no-new-wires” option for the home network and Engenius have released a device that capitalises on this fact. It combines a HomePlug AV 500 bridge, a 5-port Gigabit Ethernet switch and an 802.11n N300 Wi-Fi access point as the ultimate network-hub option for the far end of the house, the old bungalow or that funky old 1970s caravan that is serving as a teenager’s sleepout or extra office.

For that matter, HomePlug network technology isn’t just showing up as network-infrastructure hardware but as being integrated in connected devices. This is more so with a Netgear Airplay audio adaptor / USB server and some of Hisense’s latest connected TV designs. As well, other chipmakers like Broadcomm and Sigma are supplying chipsets for at least the HomePlug AV specification. This could reduce the cost of the hardware for this network segment.

Similarly, the HomePlug AV2 Gigabit MIMO standard which exploits the earth wire as well as the active and neutral wires in the mains wiring is coming closer. This is expected to yield good things for the home network such as each node being a repeater as well as this “no-new-wires” technology hitting the Gigabit mark.

Portable routers

AT&T and Sierra Wireless used this show to launch the second model of the touch-screen MiFi. But this one is equipped with the 4G LTE as its WAN (Internet) connection.

D-Link also exhibited the SharePort Go 2 which is a pocket-sized 802.11g/n Wi-Fi router that works with an Ethernet connection or a USB wireless-broadband adaptor. The Wi-Fi segment is the only LAN segment available to this travel router but it can also share content held on an SD card.

Printer technology

There hasn’t been much happening for printers at this year’s CES. Typically new models may be launched at separate events like CEBit in Hannover, Computex in Taipei or Photokina in Cologne due to some focusing on small-business needs or photography printing needs. As well, the manufacturers run their own events to launch their own printers.

This is  although Canon had launched the PiXMA MX392, MX452, MX522 and MX922. These have in common high-capacity cartridges with a front-load design similar to Brother inkjets and the HP OfficeJet Pro 8600a series. This is a welcome move away from having to open a lid on the printer when the ink runs out.  They are also optimised with a high duty cycle which would also please business owners who want a lot more out of them. Most of the networked models in this series also are set up for Google Cloud Print.

Storage Technology

Toshiba has shown a microSDHC card reference design which implements the TransferJet technology. This is a near-field wireless data transfer for microSDHC devices rather than having this integrated in the device’s electronics. I wonder how the operating systems would cope with the idea of this technology so you can select files to transfer but this could work well for cameras and MP3 players.

Seagate have premiered their Wireless Plus mobile NAS which is like the GoFlex Satellite except it has a larger capacity of 1 Terabyte. Surprising for this product class, this unit is the first mobile NAS to implement DLNA MediaServer technology so it could stream to Internet radios, smart TVs or DLNA media player software.

They also launched the Central NAS which works with a Samsung TV app or can stream to any DLNA-capable media device. It could then mean you can do more with your files at your Samsung smart TV rather than just view them.

The HP Pocket Playlist is HP’s first mobile NAS device. It can share stored Hulu or Netflix content which is loaded to it through PC software that ties in with the PlayLater option. For that matter, it can serve 5 Wi-Fi devices on its own.

Western Digital also launched the WD Black hybrid hard disks that integrate SSD and spinning-platter technology in a 2.5” housing. They would be pitched to OEMS for use with the next laptops or ultraportables.

Conclusion

Stay tuned to the last in this series which will encompass mobile technology as well as the smart home and automotive technology.

Send to Kindle

Print This Post Print This Post
Page 1 of 512345»
 
Recent Comments Tags

Sponsors

HomeNetworking01.Info

Latest PDF issue
Homenetworking01.info website reputation