HP Elitepad 900


HP announced the Elitepad 900 a little while ago and it didn’t seem to create that much buzz, with me personally or the tech-sphere in general really. The only thing I knew about it was that it doesn’t meet the 1368×768 minimum resolution to enable the “snap” feature in Windows 8. I’ve been concentrating on the Samsung & Lenovo offerings and that’s where we’ve been seeing the customer interest too (the still elusive Surface Pro aside); but having played with one today my opinion has changed.

It looks good. It feels good. It’s sleek. It’s light.

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You’ll notice as you admire those images that it’s sleek edges are uninterrupted by ports, of any kind – this is certainly odd. The HP ElitePad 900 has available for it a range of “expansion jackets” – the one I had today was the “Expansion Jacket”:

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The above jacket comes in 2 parts & clips around the device to offer a good range of ports:

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  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x HCSM/MMC card slot
  • 1 x Combo stereo/headphone port

It seems you can use the jacket as a form of easel for the tablet but that wasn’t apparent to me whilst handling it today.

That rectangle you see in the centre of the jacket (in the first picture) is an additional battery which adds around 80% to the battery life of the device – handy for long days away from chargers! It appears that the battery is not part of the jacket but rather an additional option (see this HP page here & the spec page here).

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Even jacketed, the ElitePad 900 still looks quite stylish and is still easy to handle and hold. As this jacket contained the additional battery it did add a noticeable amount of extra weight, making the device too heavy to hold for any real length of time. The jacket on its own is 260g while the battery is another 190g, so a total of 450g added to a tablet that weights 680g (1.5lbs) – making a total of 1130g (2.49lbs).

Another accessory available for this tablet is a comprehensive (and very well made/heavy at 1.48 lb) docking station, giving you those required ports when at desk.

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You get:

  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x powered USB 2.0
  • 1 x Combo stereo/headphone jack
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x RJ45
  • 1 x Smart AC Adapter

making it a very well connected device. You can dock it with or without the expansion jacket :

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but it seems i forgot to take pictures of it jacketed in the dock! You’ll notice the stylus pen in a couple of those pictures – this is also an additional option for the ElitePad, although sadly it wasn’t working on the unit I trialled. I find pen input on the Samsung 700t to be excellent and very useful so it’s good to see this as an option for business users.

I used the VGA port to connect the device to my monitor and use it as a second screen, which worked very well. Also, the snap feature is then available.

ElitePad 900 Specs

The spec of the device are reasonable:

  • Intel Atom Z2760 (1.5GHZ, “upto 1.8GHZ using Intel Burst & Hyper Threading)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB or 64GB Flash storage
  • 10.1” 16:10* 1280 x 800 Gorilla Glass 2 screen
  • 2 x cameras (1080p front, 8MP w/LED rear)
  • 9.2mm thickness
  • Wireless 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth
  • HP hs2350 HSPA+ Mobile Broadband module w/GPS Support**
  • HP hs3120 HSPA+ Mobile Broadband*

*This gives users an extra 5% usable space over a 16:9 screen (according to HP)

**Not all models will have 3g capabilities.

 

Accessories and costs

The docking station is $149 (HP Site)

The expansion jacket is $99 (HP Site)

The expansion battery is $149 or $99, depending which page you look at (HP Site or HP Site)

The ElitePad case is $39 (HP Site)

There will also be a “Productivity Jacket” which gives:

  • integrated keyboard
  • “”several additional ports”
  • SD Card reader

and allows you to use the ElitePad like a clamshell notebook. I can’t find final specs or a price for this as yet. HP say it will be available “Spring 2013”, here’s a picture until then:

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The pen is an additional item but I can’t see a price for that either.

The full range of accessories is:

  • • HP ElitePad Productivity Jacket
  • •HP ElitePad Expansion Jacket
  • • HP ElitePad Rugged Case
  • • HP ElitePad Case
  • • HP ElitePad Jacket Battery
  • • HP ElitePad Jacket and Battery
  • • HP ElitePad Docking Station
  • • HP Tablet Stand
  • • HP Executive Tablet Pen
  • • HP ElitePad USB Adapter
  • • HP ElitePad SD Card Reader
  • • HP ElitePad Serial Adapter
  • • HP ElitePad 10W A/C Adapter
  • • HP ElitePad HDMI & VGA Adapter
  • • HP ElitePad Ethernet Adapter
  • • HP ElitePad Smart A/C Cable
  • • HP Multi-Tablet Charging Module

The multi-tablet Charging Module will be very useful for companies looking to have a number of tablets as pool/loan devices. This will give an easy, tidy way of keeping them safe and charged.

Conclusion

My biggest issue is the  lack of connectivity ports without the jacket; I find it far from inconceivable that people will leave the jacket at home when they set off in the morning, in the hotel room when they checkout, on the adjacent seat on the train etc. etc. and then you’re stuck. Yes, you can have additional jackets dotted around but that is an extra cost and certainly not ideal. That said, it’s been pointed out to me (by the HP Category Manager) that it does ship with a USB adapter. This means even without the jacket/s users will still have a USB port through which to connect peripherals.

Not having the snap feature is mildly annoying but I feel one would quickly get used to not having that at your fingertips, so no biggie there. Interestingly, HP’s line on leaving out snap is this:

Snap doesn’t currently work with Outlook – or some other business applications – which are pretty vital for day-today
commercial use. Here’s the thing: The ElitePad supports the Windows 8 Snap feature when docked and
connected to an external monitor. So, it’s a consumer-centric function that isn’t yet optimized for a business tablet.

I do think the Atom processor and 2GB RAM could give some organization cause for concern as to whether this will be powerful enough as a laptop replacement. Having plentiful and quick access to trial units will be the best/only way to get past this in many instances – letting customers trial the device in real world settings and see how it fares.

All in all I’m very impressed with HP’s ElitePad 900. It’s clearly aimed at businesses and they’ve done a good job of providing everything they will need, making this a real contender for large scale enterprise rollouts and laptop replacement efforts. I’m very excited to talk to customers about this device and get their feedback – that’s always the key part!

Windows RT has been Jailbroken


Here’s quite an interesting development for a Monday morning….Windows RT, Microsoft’s new tablet OS, is no longer restricted to just apps obtained through the Windows Store.

It is now possible to run unsigned ARM-compiled apps on the Windows RT desktop, using  an exploit in memory to make in possible to run desktop based apps, other than Office 2013 & IE 10. It seems that as it’s an in memoery exploit, it won’t persist – meaning it will have to be “re-cracked” each time the device is turned on. This may well mean it finds little favour with users but is, if nothing else, a big step forward in this arena.

This opens up the possibility of a homebrew market for Windows RT, enabling developers to create apps without going through the costs and processes associated with the official Windows Store route.

That said, I’ve been told on Twitter that it’s only £35 a year for personal Windows Store registration (which comes with free development tools) and isn’t a particularly arduous process to get an app accepted by Microsoft (thanks @CraigHawker); which doesn’t really seem like it will be preventing many developers from getting started on Windows RT app creation.

The other potential outcome is that it will lead to app piracy, enabling people to install apps that they haven’t paid for.

Thanks to The Verge for finding this.

Windows 8, tablets and hardware


Today is the day.

Windows 8 is finally here for everyone.

I’ve had my Samsung slate running Windows 8 for a few weeks now and I love it. Last week I had my extra hardware accessories arrive which make it even better:

  • Samsung Dock
  • Microsoft Wedge Keyboard
  • Microsoft Wedge Mouse

Demoing the slate to customers with these bad boys hooked up really helps light up the fact that they can be used as a replacement to laptops, in the office as well as out on the road.

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That right there looks great doesn’t it?! You can of course connect it to a  monitor for a bigger screen when in the office and then when you need to leave, for a meeting, to go home etc – just pick it up out of the dock and off you go!

Microsoft Surface: A look at Screen Resolution


Microsoft have now released pricing and spec for the Surface RT tablet and one thing that some people have already latched onto is that the screen resolution isn’t as high as that on the iPad 3. This OF COURSE means it is much worse right? Because, just like in the camera world, it’s all about the number of pixels right? What’s that? It ISN’T all about the number of pixels with cameras? That’s right…so why would it be different for screens?

The Microsoft Surface team have, quite brilliantly, been doing an AMA (Ask Me Anything) over on Reddit and have almost literally* been droppin’ science about the screen, which we’ll look at now.

Stevie from the Surface team says:

“Screen resolution is one component of perceived detail. The true measure of resolvability of a screen called Modulation Transfer Function (MTF), not Pixels”

Here’s a Wikipedia article on MTF – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_transfer_function

“The common practice of defining resolution in terms of pixel count is not meaningful, as it is the overall OTF of the complete system, including lens and anti-aliasing filter as well as other factors, that defines true performance. The optical transfer function is roughly the equivalent of phase and frequency response in an audio system, and can be represented by a 3D graph of light amplitude (brightness, i.e. intensity) versus phase and spatial frequency (cycles per picture width).”

As Wikipedia articles of this ilk often do, and I love it, this quickly turns to what can be known as “crazy maths” – you know, the kind where there are more letters than numbers, to give more detail:

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Back to “Surface Stevie”:

“Most folks just focus on one number out of dozens of items that effect perceived detail. Without good contrast resolution decreases”

That last piece is what jumps out at me – “without good contrast, resolution decreases”. Here we have a graph that shows contrast sensitivity of the human eye:

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“Basically, as resolution/DPI increases the eye has become less sensitive. So as a result, the amount of light in a room and the reflections off the screen have a huge effect on the contrast of the display. In fact, a small amount of reflection can greatly reduce contrast and thus the perceived resolution of the display”

Stevie goes on to detail Microsoft’s 3-pronged approach to this subject:

  1. Microsoft has the best pixel rendering technology in Cleartype
  2. Microsoft designed a custom 10.6” high-contrast wide-angle LCD screen
  3. The screen was bonded with the thinnest optical stack anywhere on the market

Although they aren’t official, Stevie pulls these numbers out of the bag:

“…the amount of light reflected off the screen is around 5.5%-6.2%, the new IPad has a measurement of 9.9% mirror reflections”

From DisplayMate.com:

Marketing considerations aside, do you really need all of that “Retina Display” resolution and sharpness? In many cases no, for these five reasons: 

  • Most adults don’t actually have true corrected 20/20 Vision even with glasses or contact lenses.
  • If you view the display further away than the recommended viewing distance your eye can no longer fully resolve the sharpness of the display, so that high resolution is wasted. 
  • Unlike computer graphics images, photographic images (including videos) are inherently fuzzy, with the sharpest image detail spread over multiple pixels. Similarly, you would be hard pressed to visually tell the difference between 640×480 and 2048×1536 photographic images of a (Granny Smith) Apple.
  • Sub-pixel rendering, rather than ordinary pixel rendering, will significantly improve the visual sharpness of any display, especially for computer generated text and graphics, so that is the most efficient approach to improving sharpness.
  • Most people don’t even have 1600×1200 resolution on the much larger 15-19 inch screens on their (Apple or Windows) laptops and desktop monitors and are happy with them (even the tech journalists that I asked).

The AMA post can be found here – http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/11kyja/iam_panos_panay_gm_of_microsoft_surface_amaa_ask/c6nf8q6

The whole AMA article is here – http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/11kyja/iam_panos_panay_gm_of_microsoft_surface_amaa_ask

Thanks to @CarmenCrincoli for tweeting that post.

 

 

*It’s definitely science but they weren’t literally dropping it 🙂

Microsoft Surface pricing announced


Microsoft Surface, the Redmond produced tablet – built from awesomeness and secrecy – is pretty much here. Microsoft have announced pricing and pre-order availability!!!

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So what are the scores on the doors?

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How does this stack up to the iPad3?

32GB iPad = £479

64GB iPad = £559

So the Surface matches up exactly against the best seller from Cupertino, which I must say I find a little surprising – I thought it would come in under those prices…but I can see Microsoft not wanting to under-value the great hardware and efforts that are on offer here.

Features

  • Integrated Touchstand
  • 32GB or 64GB
  • WiFi and Bluetooth 4 – no cellular/3g
  • 8 hours “mixed activity” battery life
  • 2 x 720p HD cameras, 1 x front & 1 x rear facing
  • USB 2.0
  • Micro SDXC slot
  • 2GB RAM
  • 10.6” Screen

Head over to the Microsoft Store at:

http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msuk/en_GB/pdp/productID.257929400?WT.mc_id=FY13WinHH

and check out the specs, the accessories and get one on pre-order!

I am REALLY excited about this product release, both from a personal “zOMG, I want one” but also from an industry/technology perspective – this is an exciting time for everyone (except perhaps Apple!).

Microsoft Surface Tablet


Well, Monday’s hyped up yet super secret announcement has been made…and it’s brilliant! Microsoft are introducing their own Microsoft branded tablets – “The Surface”, and they look stunning:

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Just look at it. Glossy bezel, rounded corners, integrated kickstand AND A COVER THAT IS A KEYBOARD! I really can’t get over that, it’s such an ingenious innovation and a great unique selling point…not only that but it’s just 3mm thick.

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Down to details – there are 2 versions of the Surface tablets:

OS Windows RT Windows 8 Pro
Weight 676g 903g
Thickness 9.3mm 13.5mm
Screen 1.06” Cleartype HD 10.6” Cleartype Full HD
Battery 31.5 W-h 42 W-h
Connections microSD, USB 2.0, Micro HD Video, 2xMIMO Antennae microSDXC, USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort Video, 2xMIMO Antennae
Productivity Office 15, Touch Cover, Type Cover Touch Cover, Type Cover, Pen w/ Palm Block
Practical VaporMg Case & Stand VaporMg Case & Stand
Hard Drive 32GB, 64GB 64GB, 128GB

For now that’s all we’ve got in the way of confirmed features – but it’s a good start in my opinion…definitely enough to let me know that I want one. The 2 missing features that I’m most interested in are CPU & RAM – the latter especially as the iPad’s 768MB lets it down quite a lot.

I’m taking it that the keyboard cover comes with the tablet as standard rather than being an optional accessory – I hope that’s right!

Nothing too much has been said about the pricing other than the Pro version will be “priced similarly to a comparable ultrabook” which I’d say puts it between £700 & £1000…and also suggests it will be rolling with Core i5 processors and 4GB+ of RAM. If that’s right it will be a portable beast Smile

The interest & buzz has been really great to see too. I saw people on Twitter who usually only tweet about MUFC talking about the Surface and saying how cool it looked and I’d fielded 2 customer enquiries by 09:20 at work this morning – love it!

Windows 8 New Features


Microsoft Windows 8 has been officially demoed and it looks pretty great, with it’s Windows Phone 7 inspired tile interface.

There are other new features being discovered by people who have the leaked pre beta builds and one of them is pretty great:

Built in ISO mounting

Windows 8 Center have got a screen shot which shows this:

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This would be a brilliant addition. All my main machines have got Magic Disc & Magic ISO on them simply so I can mount ISO’s as and when needed. However it’s really annoying when you get a new machine and/or you’re working on someone else’s machine…you go to mount an ISO..BOOM – no can do, so you’ve got to go and download/install them. This new addition will save quite a lot of time across the IT Industry I would imagine Smile

 

Built in PDF Reader

This will also be cool, again saving users from one extra download and extra bit of 3rd party software on their machine.

SkyDrive

On paper, SkyDrive is awesome. 25GB of storage that you can access pretty much wherever and use either for personal storage alone or also to share things such as datasheets, documents etc with friends, clients, partners and more.

In practice, it’s quite difficult to use…fiddly, hard to find, not quite as easy to get things into/out of as you thought.

Integrating it straight into Windows 8 will see a massive rise in the use of Microsoft’s online storage, and will make the tablet piece even more compelling as users will have a built in, free, easy to use way of sharing/syncing quite a lot of “stuff” available immediately.

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