If you're a professional whose job takes you out of the office frequently, chances are the short list for your next PC will include a MacBook Pro and a Microsoft Surface.
After stumbling badly out of the gate with the original Surface RT in 2012, Microsoft has recovered to win excellent reviews with its Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book. Meanwhile, Apple continues to sell roughly 20 million Macs a year, most of them in the MacBook family. The result is an unlikely head-to-head competition for the only slice of the PC market that is both growing and profitable.
Even more improbably, Microsoft now finds itself being hailed as the innovator in modern PC design, with Apple hearing loud criticism for its outdated devices and timid technology decisions.
Have we fallen through the looking glass? Not exactly. But the tale of these two product lines says a lot about what both companies think of the future of computing, with two very different approaches to the convergence of traditional PCs and mobile devices.
The new MacBook Pros get a second touch surface (the Touchbar), but when it comes to the main display, you can look but not touch.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has gone all in with touchscreens. More important, it has built Windows 10 to support what insiders refer to as One Core. The same core Windows code runs on every version of Windows: desktops, notebooks, ARM-based tablets and phones (yes, Windows phones still exist), the Xbox One console, and an unfathomable number of Internet of Things devices. Those devices have a large number of common APIs, as well, which makes Universal Windows Platform apps possible.
The reengineering work that went into One Core took years, but the first step is now complete. As a result, Microsoft can ship updates to all of those Windows 10 platforms simultaneously and support some decidedly nontraditional form factors.
In short, Microsoft's approach to convergence starts with its classic PC hardware and software, adding new capabilities to the OS to support new devices and services.
Apple's approach is to put its version of the classic PC on a glide path to obsolescence and concentrate on beefing up its newest platform, the iPad Pro.
Microsoft loaned me a unit of the new Performance Base for the Surface Book and I used it for two weeks as my primary system. The secondary device I used alongside it was my Apple iPad Pro 9.7” tablet with an accessory keyboard. I have extensively used the previous Surface Book as well as competitive devices like the Apple MacBook Pro 2016, Dell XPS 13 and 15 as well as the HP Spectre x360. The Surface Book with Performance Base is the second revision of the Surface Book, a follow up to the one that I reviewed last year but with fresher and faster specs.
Out of box experience
When you buy a product, the first thing you experience is the packaging. Microsoft’s high quality packaging mirrors the company’s premium positioning and $3,000 price point, and you know you’re getting a nice product when you open the box. Once you’re inside the box, you notice the magnesium chassis which feels cool to the touch and is distinctive. You just want to touch it and don’t have to worry about fingerprints either because you simply can’t see them on it.
My experience overall with the Surface Book was that it was already a differentiated and enjoyable product and the addition of the Performance Base, 1TB storage and improved battery life have made it even better and more powerful. This is one of the best-in-class 13” if not the best 13” device. It doesn’t have the latest CPU, GPU or I/O, but that shouldn’t matter to everyone. Many consumers simply want proven technology that meets their expectations, but there are some that it will matter to that it doesn’t have the latest hardware.
Whether you prefer to skip the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday or just like to take your time buying holiday gifts, our 12 Days of Deals holiday sale has you covered. With great savings on some of the most sought-after gifts of the season, our limited-time offers put everything they want within reach – and within budget. Plus, with free shipping and free returns on every item every day, you can save even more when you shop at the Microsoft Store.
Rugged, innovative Intel "Cherry Trail" quad-core powered 8-inch Windows 10 tablet offers Intel RealSense three-dimensional data capture
by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer
MobileDemand announced the xTablet T8650 mid-2016 as yet another innovative rugged tablet computer that offers something extra. In this case the extra is an (optional) integrated Intel RealSense 3D camera system that can not only enhance productivity by quickly performing near-field automatic length and volume measurements, but also has the potential to revolutionize the generation of photorealistic 3D models as well as provide an entry to the emerging field of dimensional data acquisition.
MobileDemand believes that equipped with this novel camera system, their xTablet has dual appeal. First, the T8650 addresses the needs of customers in search of a competent small tablet that won't break the bank. Second, equipped with its special camera system, the T8650 can be used to test and implement dimensional data acquisition project with potentially substantial impact on work flow productivity.
But let's take a look at the xTablet T8650 hardware first. It's a handy 8-inch tablet with state-of-the-art technology, good connectivity, a wealth of data acquisition options, and substantial ruggedness. The xTablet T8650 seems a somewhat higher-end alternative to MobileDemand's existing T1500 and Flex 8 tablets in the same general (and quite popular) display size class. And while equipped with newer technology, this is again a device positioned below the Core processor level, so pricing is attractive.
Two displays for a single computer give you more space to spread out your documents, spreadsheets and web browsers. If you already own an Android tablet, why not? It's cheaper than buying an extra monitor and only requires a few app downloads.
There are a few apps that let you do this, but for this guide, I've chosen iDisplay since it it has options for multiple platforms.
What you need
A Wi-Fi connection
An Android tablet running Android 2.01 or newer, or an iPad running iOS 7 or later
A PC running Windows XP, Vista or 7 (32-bit or 64-bit), or a Mac computer running, OS X Mavericks 10.9 or newer
Rumors of a number of tablets that are expected to be launched in 2017 are swirling in the tech space.
Some of the rumored upcoming tablets of 2017 that are eagerly awaited by consumers are the Microsoft Surface Pro 5, iPad Pro 2 and Google Nexus 7 (Pixel 7).
Here is what to expect from these tablets.
Surface Pro 5
Microsoft launched and released the Surface Pro 4 in October 2015 and the launch of its successor is long overdue, which makes Surface Pro 5 one of the most anticipated tablets of 2017.
The Surface Pro 5 tablet is expected to come running on Intel's seventh-generation Kaby Lake processor. The Surface Pro 4 is available with 4 GB / 8 GB / 16 GB RAM configurations and with up to 256 GB of internal storage capacity.
The Surface Pro 5 may come with the same RAM options but customers will want that the tablet also has a model with 512 GB of on-board storage capacity.
iPad Pro 2
Apple launched the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in September 2015 while the 9.7-inch iPad Pro made an appearance in March this year.
Speculations are rife that Apple is expected to launch three iPads in 2017 with different form factors: 9.7-inch screen, 12.9-inch screen and a new model with 10.5-inch screen.
All the three iPads are expected to come running on A11 chip and 3 GB of RAM. The tablets could include 32 GB / 128 GB / 256 GB on-board storage capacities. Given that iPads do not support microSD card that allows for storage expansion, customers will hope that Apple also introduces a 512 GB model of the iPad Pro 2.
According to a DigiTimes report, shipments of the 10.5-inch iPad may reach 2 million units in Q1 2017 and 5 to 6 million units for the entire year. This means that Apple could launch its new iPad sometime in the first quarter of 2017.
A cheaper alternative to the Surface Pro 4, albeit with obvious sacrifices in quality.
At first glance it’s easy to mistake the Miix 700’s sleek form for a Surface Pro 4. Look closer, however, and it soon becomes clear that this is no carbon copy of Microsoft’s tablet. Subtle touches echo the design of other devices in the Ideapad range, with the kickstand’s “watchband” hinge transplanted directly from the Yoga 3. With a metal chassis and sturdy build, this is one handsome device.
Weighing 780g and measuring 292 x 210 x 9mm without the keyboard attached, the Miix 700 is just as lightweight as its most feathery of rivals. It’s a smidgen thicker and heavier than the Surface Pro 4, but noticeably lighter and thinner than HP’s Elite x2 1012.
The Miix 700 lacks the all-round refinement of the Surface Pro 4 then, but it’s a fine choice if you’re on a budget; ultimately, the price swings things in its favour. The Miix 700 is significantly cheaper than its “pro” rivals yet you’re getting a very similar specification. If you’ve been tempted by the charms of costlier hybrids, but couldn’t justify the outlay, the Miix 700 could prove to be the perfect alternative.
Hot on Black Friday’s heels, Cyber Monday’s online-only discounts are now official. Some retailers jumped the gun over the weekend, but now the full list of discounts are available.
It’s a fairly mixed bag. There are some good deals like the $200 discount on the Galaxy Tab Pro S at Best Buy. And there are some not so good deals like the $200 discount on the Microsoft Surface Pro, which was actually $400 cheaper on Black Friday. Check out my top 5 picks below.
Remember, do be careful out there, Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be as much of a scam as it is a sale. Deals are often cheaper at other points of the year, and many non-brand products simply aren’t worth it
Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A (9.7-inch 16GB) gets a $150 discount at Walmart, bringing the final price down to $149. Check out the deal here. You can also pick up the 7-inch, 8GB version for $84 over at Amazon here.
The 128GB Wi-Fi iPad Pro gets a $110 discount on Amazon, bringing the final price down to $639. Check out the deal here. The 12.9-inch 128GB Wi-Fi model is also available for $679.99 at Target (you have to go through to checkout to get the 15% discount) here.
Best Buy is selling the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S for $699, saving $200. Check out the deal here. You can also pick it up at Target for $27 more if you miss out on that deal here.
On the Windows Store, the Surface Book (256GB, Intel Core i5) gets a $400 price cut, bringing it down to $1499. Check out the deal here.
The Amazon Kindle Paperwhite for $99.99, recycled from Black Friday, remains a decent deal. Check out the deal here.
Best Buy is selling the 12.3-inch Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (Intel Core i5, 128GB) for $799.99, saving $200. Check out the deal here. A decent deal but it was $400 cheaper on Black Friday.
If you're looking for a good laptop deal, the HP Elite X2 is one of your best options. Not only is it super competitively spec'd, it's also competitively priced. In fact, it's the best competitor to the Surface Pro 4 right now. It could even be a better buy than the Pro 4 especially since Microsoft failed to update its tablet line.
HP Elite X2 On Sale At Verizon
The HP Elite X2 convertible laptop is now priced $999 at Verizon for a no-contract deal. You can also get it for $899 with a 2-year contract, Phone Arena reported. This LTE enabled hybrid laptop is marketed mostly for the business sect considering the device's hardware and software specs. This device may be more of a tablet than it is a laptop but it clearly is a perfect device for people who are always working on-the-go. CNET says that the HP Elite X2's fingerprint reader, docking option and network of components make the device best for both work and entertainment.
HP Elite X2 Specs
This 2-in-1 device runs Windows 10 and features an IPS display with 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution. The display is also protected by a Corning Gorilla Glass 3. Furthermore, one of the best assets of the HP Elite X2 is its drop and spill resistant build - a rare feature within tablets and laptops. Furthermore, the Elite X2 also has decent internal specs. It uses an Intel Core m3-6Y30 processor and it comes with 4 GB worth of RAM. Its storage is 128 GB and it also has modest camera specs (5 MP rear and 2 MP front).
The Miix 520 will feature a 12.3-inch display with a resolution of 1920×1200 pixels, protected by Gorilla Glass. Under the hoods, there will be Intel’s latest Kaby Lake U series (7th Gen) processors — clocked at up to 2.7GHz. The device will also pack up to 16GB of RAM (DDR4), up to 1TB of SSD storage, and up to 10 hours of battery life.
The device will feature an interesting set of cameras on the back — it’ll come with an 8MP and a 2MP camera on the back which will apparently be used in augmented reality applications. As for the front, the Miix 520 will feature a 5MP camera. The device also has the usual things such a fingerprint scanner, one USB 3.0 port, two USB Type-C ports and a microSD card reader.
The Miix 520 includes a fanless design thanks to the Kaby Lake U-series processors. The price and release date of the device are unknown at the moment, but it’ll likely be officially launched at CES 2017 which is just over a month away.
Megan and Marshal Dostal’s innovative business is called Further, a sustainable, premium brand of soaps and lotions made from restaurant’s waste oil. Microsoft today highlighted how Further is using Surface Pro 4, Windows, Office as well as pen and touch to keep their sustainable, premium business running smoothly.
Megan and Marshall Dostal’s innovative business started out with their plan to collect waste oil from restaurants to make biodiesel. The primary bi-product of that process is glycerin, and that’s the key ingredient in soap. Now they produce Further, a sustainable, premium brand of soaps and lotions that they sell right back to those restaurants. As Marshall will tell you himself, sometimes “a small idea can turn a big idea”.
Surface Pro 4 is a perfect device to keep a business like Further running, with the power to Office applications like PowerPoint and Excel and the portability of a tablet with Pen and touch.
You can check out more such business use cases of Surface Pro 4 devices here.
The most interesting computer released this year isn't an ultrathin laptop. It's a desktop made by Microsoft. Seriously. The Surface Studio is Microsoft's bigger and bolder follow-up to its Surface hybrid laptops. And while it might look at first like a typical all-in-one, it hides a unique ability. Give the screen a bit of a nudge and it starts bending -- all the way down to a 20-degree angle, in fact. Try doing that with an iMac. Like Microsoft's previous Surface devices, the $3,000 Studio is an attempt at evolving how we use computers. And together with the new Surface Dial accessory, it might just be the powerful modern rig creative professionals have been waiting for. But of course, there are a few first-gen stumbling blocks to deal with.
This is one gorgeous computer. And that's not just my opinion: Many people who walked by my office desk commented on the the Surface Studio's good looks. Its design is one of elegant simplicity. The focus is entirely on its 28-inch screen, which is connected to the short aluminum base with a pair of chrome hinges. That's pretty much it. But what's really intriguing about this computer isn't readily apparent at first glance.
While the HP Elite x2 is already a year old, its cellular connectivity option and USB-C port may well make it slightly more versatile options than other 2-in-1 Windows 10 devices. However, at $899.99 with a new two-year contract (or $999.99 at full retail price), the Elite x2 is not exactly cheap but that is to be expected with a business-targeted device. You can get more information on the HP Elite X2 by checking the store listing on Verizon’s website.
This quirky tablet is a genuine rival to the Surface Pro 4, with modular units to add extra features.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet offers something different: upgradability. This is achieved through a series of plugin modules that add features as and when you need them.
Lenovo could send only one of these to test – the Productivity Module. Its key skill is to boost the X1 Tablet’s ten-hour battery life, but it also has a series of extra ports: one USB 3, Lenovo’s proprietary OneLink+ connector and a full-sized HDMI video output, to complement the USB 3, mini-DisplayPort and USB Type-C ports around the edges of the tablet itself.
In tandem with the keyboard – which connects in a similar fashion to the detachable keyboard found on Microsoft’s Surface products – this turns the ThinkPad X1 Tablet into a portable workhorse. With the Productivity Module clipped to the bottom and the keyboard attached to its front, the tablet is heavier and thicker than the Surface Pro 4 by quite a large margin, but its stamina is more fitting for a device designed for office use.
Lenovo is also selling a Presenter Module that includes a pico projector capable of displaying 60in displays from 2m away.
In typical ThinkPad fashion, the quality of the keyboard is excellent. The keys have a soft, cushioned action that gives it a great touch-typing feel and there’s loads of travel (1.35mm per keystroke to be precise). There’s also plenty of space between each key, so typos are kept to a minimum, and the touchpad is good, with a smooth top and a responsive action.
It’s light and slim, too. Adding the keyboard increases the weight from 725g to 1.1kg, while it measures 14.2mm thick with the keyboard and 8.6mm without. And I do like the inclusion of a fingerprint reader. Embedded in the front-right bezel, next to the screen, this can be used to unlock the tablet in a trice – a quick dab of your thumb is all that’s required – without having to type a password
It wasn’t all that long ago that we questioned whether engineers would really benefit from Microsoft’s snazzy new Surface Studio. After all, at the halfway mark between a tablet and a desktop computer and with a nifty but highly specialized Surface Dial, the Surface Studio would need some customized programming for compatibility with engineering applications.
Just weeks after the initial announcement of the Surface Studio, many compatible engineering applications are starting to roll out. Bluebeam will be one of the first to hit the market with Revu 2016.5.2.
With the release of Revu 2016.5.2, users will be able to make use of Revu on any Surface device running Windows 10, including the Studio, the Surface Book and the Surface Pro 4.
When placed on the screen of the Surface Studio, the Surface Dial will pull up a radial menu of familiar Revu tools, including annotation appearance properties, undo/redo editing functions, the Tool Chest, the Markups List and more. It will also let users split views on a plan or PDF, as well as magnify portions for closer inspection and markup review.
It is believed that Apple is preparing to launch their largest iPad to date in March next year.
The new device will form part of a launch that will consist of three new models of its iPad Pro.
The analysts at Barclays Research claim that Apple will launch the 12.9 inch model along with an all new bezel-free 10.9 inch model, at the same time as updating and refreshing the 9.7 inch model, MacRumours reported.
The idea behind the new bezel-free design is to allow the 10.9 inch version to have the same physical design as the current 9.7 inch version, the analysts said.
The Tablet PC is a fully functioning mobile computer that runs Windows XP, Tablet PC Edition which includes new, advanced handwriting and speech recognition capabilities that enable the creation, storage, and transmission of handwritten notes and voice input. Tablet PCs come in three styles, Convertible, Slate and Hybrid.