Well it didn't take long for Lenovo to announce a machine near to what I described. Last night they announced a new 13" Windows-based Yoga Tablet 2 that is a true 2-1 with a 2560x1440 screen resolution. It comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB storage. And it is a light 2.27lbs. However, it uses the quad-core Z3745 Atom not Core-M.
This is a nice step up in specs to the Asus T100. It has a more useful display size and double the RAM, but where the T100 is available at around $370 with MS Office Included the new Yoga 2 Tablet is almost double the price at $699 starting and no MS Office. However, for most applications the Yoga 2 will have roughly the same performance as the T100.
Overall, I could really like this product as the successor to the T100 but not at $700. It should probably come in around $480-$550. And I'd like it a lot more if it included real MS Office.
The new Core-M models are welcome but the vendors need to make their products fanless as Intel intended them. Early reviews of the Yoga 3 are putting the Core-M's performance roughly near a power efficient Core i5U but reportedly the Yoga 3 isn't fanless. No one expects a 4.5 Watt TDP processor to match a 15 Watt one in every benchmark but that tradeoff can still be very attractive if the user is getting a completely silent device, noticeably better battery life and superior reliability.
Going forward, thin, silent and light will be more compelling to consumers than every last ounce of speed.
Intel's Llama Mountain reference platform was fanless, although it had a 12.5" QHD display instead of 13" QHD+ display like the Yoga 3. By itself, the extra resolution probably isn't enough to warrant the fan. I am curious why Lenovo thought the fan was needed.
The heat sink appears to be the answer. I'd be willing to pay extra for the heat sink to eliminate the fan. Whenever I've had a device fail it's almost always the mechanical components. We've essentially eliminated the mechanical drive, the fan is last hurdle to high reliability and silent operation.
MACWorld reports " At a recent venture capital event, the company showed off even more of its upcoming technology, including a face-recognition 3D camera system that aims to do away with passwords and allow for new methods of computer control." Intel says they will also add voice and fingerprint scanning.
Now there's a lot of good uses for 3D cameras and biometrics but authentication for consumers isn't one of them. Biometric credentials can be stolen and unless one is willing to undergo reconstructive surgery recovering from such a loss can be near impossible. A lot of people today are saying their new concept will obsolete the password but unlike the password which can be easily changed and preserves one's privacy, biometric features are extremely difficult to change and they can function as the ultimate personal surveillance tool.
If that isn't enough know that earlier this week a Virginia court ruled that police can force a person to give their fingerprints against their will to access data on their device and use the evidence against them. While it is certain there will be more court cases on biometrics the ruling suggests the courts will treat digital facial credentials and voice scans the same way.
Only the password, ie; the "information you know" is protected by law.
So, "No, I don't Want To Be The Password".
Appears this version allows basic functionally of each package but does not include some advanced features in the full version of the package. Strangely the announcement doesn't mention Windows tablets, Windows hybrids or Windows smartphones being included in the products to get the free MS Office package.
If Microsoft provides the free package to Android and iPads, but not Windows devices, won't that encourage buyers to buy Android and Apple and not Windows? How is that good for MS?
Maybe they think offering it on Apple and Android mobile devices won't cause much substitution on those platforms but offering it on similar Windows devices will. Still though, I could envision consumers leaning to those platforms unless MS levels the playing field.
The Examiner reports that Staples will have a Black Friday sale that includes an Asux XT205-TA Windows 8.1 laptop with Atom processor, 32GB, 11.6" display and 2GB RAM for $99.
Get ready for the wave of very affordable WINTEL products. Intel said this would happen this shopping season.
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There are many tasks Russian engineers can work on without having access to Intel's critical intellectual property. As long as the remote teams are managed properly with appropriate controls on access, it shouldn't be an issue. Plus they're about 30% cheaper today than they were at the beginning of the year.
What the article shows is that journalists see a path how Intel's long term investments and R&D can payoff. This is a definite improvement. Until recently those that understood the benefit of Intel's strategy were largely industry specialists. Money managers are next.
Over the weekend MicroCenter advertised a Baytrail-based Windows tablet from WinBook having 1GB RAM, 16GB storage and 1280x1200 display for $59.99. It's an amazing price for a product that gets positive reviews even with its minimal configuration. This shows WINTEL and its partners can compete in the entry-level space as well as anyone.
Asus generally makes good quality products but Android isn't a substitute for Windows no matter how well the unit is built. One can get a 32GB or 64GB SDXC card from Sandisk for roughly $12 and $24, respectively.
For $60 this device is amazing. Within about 15 minutes of getting one of these I connected a Micro HDMI cable to connect to a large screen monitor and with one menu selection it automatically changed to the native resolution of the external monitor, which is much higher than the device's internal 1200x800 resolution. It looks great on a large screen. Color and motion is superb. Then configured a wireless Logitech keyboard-touchpad for untethered control. Then launched Windows Media player and begin streaming .m4v video from a local Samba server.
I might install XBMC for additional video and music streaming content but it's already doing a great job streaming local media. I may never use the device as a regular tablet. Instead it may be a full-time smart TV/streaming player device and it's much faster than most TV's internal smart functions and you get far better choice of software.
But all this underscores the power of Intel's Baytrail SoCs and the maturity and flexibility of Windows software. It just works out of the box. It's humorous to think the precision mouse for my desktop costs more than this entire device.
The other day I described MicroCenter's $59 offer for their 7" Windows tablet as being a bargain. After experimenting with it a few days it continues to impress. There are several things they really got right on this product. In addition to the quad-core BayTrail and Windows 8.1 there are separate USB ports for charging and connectivity. The separate USB ports makes it possible to keep the device powered-up and still have a USB 3.0 port for connecting all types of peripherals.
One of the first things I did was to connect a Micro-HDMI cable to an HDTV and select the setting in Windows to deliver video to the TV only. This reduces the Winbook's power consumption while allowing the Winbook to deliver 1080p to the HDTV. Then I connected a 4 port hub to the Winbook and then inserted a Logitech USB receiver into the hub to use the full sized wireless keyboard. This basically gave me a PC in a lean-back environment. I then streamed some .mkv video files with Windows Media Player from a Samba server and that worked fine. But I wanted more. I wanted the XBMC (aka Kodi ) experience and access to more music and video content. So I installed XBMC on top of Windows and that worked immediately. Once that is done one gets chapter skip ahead and all the functions of a DVD player with a slick interface. The last thing to complete the lean-back experience was the infrared remote so I inserted the wireless infrared receiver cable for my Rosewill infrared remote and that worked immediately as well. Both the keyboard and infrared remote can be connected at the same time. You want a PC you got it. You want XBMC entertainment & streaming with infrared remote - you got it.
Of course this could have been done with an Intel NUC probably at a price point of about $350-$400 but it still may not have been fanless or silent. This is fanless, silent and $59. I'm still amused with this little device.
FYI, the infrared remote used is the Rosewill RHRC-11001 MCE, (about $20 on Amazon), and the wireless keyboard is the K400r, also about $20 on Amazon. Have fun.
Intel, IBM, Qualcomm come out swinging against Net Neutrality. In an open letter sent to Congress and the FCC, a group of 60 companies oppose reclassification of the Internet.
A lot of people and tech companies supported Net Neutrality principles when it was centered on achieving transparency and non-discrimination of traffic. But once President Obama went much further and demanded the draconian measure of regulating ISPs as Title II utilities many companies felt compelled to turn against it because of all the bureaucratic baggage Title II carries.
The concerns of these companies are justified. In a Title II world innovation is measured in decades and risk taking is replaced with regulatory gamesmanship and government subsidies. The only reason the Internet exists today is because it was allowed to develop outside the reach of Title II bureaucracy.
Unfortunately what started out as an initiative to codify proper behavior among ISPs got hijacked by the administration to turn the pride of American technology into another government run social engineering project.
These 60 companies are wise to oppose this.
Here's an example how Title II regulation killed innovation in the telecommunications business. In the early 90's Intel marketed a video conferencing solution called Pro-Share. The first release of the product was designed for dial-up PSTN lines but Intel followed up with a much improved version using ISDN technology that delivered an always-on connection and speed of 128kbps, which was vastly superior to 28kbps dial-up. Then Intel waited for the telephone companies to deploy ISDN. And they waited, and waited, waited and nothing happened.
While European telecom companies widely deployed ISDN to consumers American telecom companies did nothing because it was more profitable for the Title II regulated companies to deploy second or third dial-up lines to consumers to further game the regulatory system. By the mid 90's the joke was that ISDN stood for "It Still Does Nothing" even though the technology was proven, delivered voice & data and existed for years.
The Title II utility companies didn't begin to deploy the high-speed data alternative DSL until they saw the cable companies (which are not regulated under Title II) using their infrastructure to deliver multi-megabit data service.
In a Title II utility world innovation dies because there's no incentive to deploy it. The Intel Pro-Share product also died waiting for telecom companies to deliver the bandwidth to support it and that was truly unfortunate because Intel's video conferencing solution was a good 13 years ahead of Skype.
Very big improvement on the value proposition relative to the Yoga 3 Pro. It will be even better still if it's truly fanless, unlike the Y3P which is not. Would like to see a 1080p display. Anything more than that on an 11.6" screen makes legacy apps difficult to use. Great to see these new Core-M products arriving to the market.
Putin needs to get the message that in a modern world military imperialism and unilaterally redrawing national borders has a price. Question is, will he double-down on his hatred-driven propaganda of the west and continue on his present course, or finally accept that former Soviet Bloc countries have the right to navigate their own future and make their own alliances?