Ben gave us a hands-on with the Dell XPS11 last week so I wanted to follow up with my own video hands-on from MWC. I took the opportunity to get up-close with the keyboard and test it. POV keyboard video coming up…
We’re in a good place with Ultrabooks right now. Haswell gave us the battery life we were waiting for and prices have come down. Effectively the Ultrabook project is over but the brand, and the soul of the Ultrabook continues. A Dell XPS13 has been leaked for Q3 and it’s highly likely we’ll see a launch at Computex in June but don’t expect any large-scale products or refreshes until Q4. While some may say that’s a slip, it was much the same with the last generation.
With Broadwell we can expect another tick (or was it a tock?) in the Intel strategy of improving processor architecture and then improving the manufacturing process. This time round we’re moving to a 14nm process which, like the move from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge, gave us power efficiencies. We also got a refreshed GPU in that round too so maybe we’ll see some ‘Iris’ action on Ultrabooks later this year.
At first glance, the Dell XPS 11 has it all. It’s sleek, convertible, and has a 2k screen! It’s one of the thinnest and, dare I say, sexiest, Ultrabooks ever released. But will a novel keyboard design be its Achilles’ heel?
Take a look at the back of most Ultrabooks and you’ll find nothing. By having sealed-in batteries the OEMS save money, weight and space. The owner, however, is left with the big unknown of battery lifetime and if you’ve ever owned a laptop you’ll know how totally useless they are when you have to drag the mains cable around with you everywhere. I recently had to order a new internal battery for a Samsung Series 5 NP530 that is under two years old and has zero battery capacity. On the other hand I’m typing this on a two-year old Ultrabook that still has 85% battery capacity. So how long will the average battery last?
It’s sad news today as we hear of Sony’s intention to sell their PC business. The VAIO brand will go to Japan Industrial Partners, be re-evaluated and reduced to Japanese marketing operations only. The chances of us ever buying a VAIO laptop or Ultrabook outside Japan now look very slim indeed.
Remember back to IFA last September and my interview with Ben Saunders of the Scott Expedition? They’ve been walking for 102 days now and in 2 days they will have completed the 1800 miles that Sir Robert Falcon Scott failed to complete in 1912. This is an amazing accomplishment, not only for the two expedition members on the journey but for two Sony Vaio Pro Ultrabooks, solar panels, Li-Ion battery packs and a satellite internet link that has provided, for the first time, amazing photos, blogs and videos during such an expedition.
Join me in counting-down the hours, the last 85 kilometers to the finish line and an amazing job well done.
Live tracking is available via Google Earth and the KML link on http://scottexpedition.com/tracking
We’ll be setting up an interview with Ben as soon as we can in order to get the detail on the solar-powered Ultrabooks.
ABI reported last week that ultra-portable PCs accounted for 12% of all notebook shipments in 2013, way short of anything Intel wanted to achieve with the Ultrabook segment. It raises questions as we see marketing efforts for Ultrabooks fall. Is this leading-edge notebook segment ever going to be a big seller? If it has good profit margins does it need to be or are we underestimating the impact that the Ultrabook ‘project’ has had on the wider notebook market?
WiGig is a technology that has the potential to change the way you use computers and having tracked it since 2012 I’m hoping it’s close to maturity. With Wilocity announcing that they’ve shipped 1 million WiGig chips it’s a good sign that we’re nearing the point where the technology will start appearing on customers wish-lists.
Intel had an impressive showing of convertible devices at the annual CES 2014 convention two weeks ago. Among an array of Ultrabooks was the new 12.5 inch ThinkPad Yoga which I got to check out for the first time. Beyond Lenovo’s classic ‘Yoga’ convertible mechanism is a smart retractable keyboard and an amazing trackpad.
Ultrabooks with 3rd-Gen Cores from the 2012/2013 generation are starting to fade from the tier-1 retailers’ shelves leaving some special offers with the smaller retailers and bulk discounters as they pick up unwanted stock. I’ve taken a closer look through the Amazon stores to see if I can find any good value deals and picked out a power-Ultrabook, a stylish Ultrabook and a convertible Ultrabook for you to take a closer look at.
I’ve been having an email conversation with Lance, a photographer, for a number of weeks on the subject of Ultrabooks for Photographers. Lance was looking for a new mobile notebook for his nature photography work and after some testing and a lot of thought from both sides he finally went for the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. Lance has now written an article on his requirements and experiences with the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro and I’m happy to present it here. Read about ‘downrezzing’ and a huge advantage over a desktop system. Read about the problem with Yellow too. Lance has a fix he’s happy with.
It’s one of the most Ultraboooky Ultrabooks out there. The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro sits with the Sonyand the Samsung ATIV Book 9 as showcase devices that are fast, light, stylish and very very usable. The Yoga 2 Pro, however, differs in that it’s a convertible. You wouldn’t know it at first glance though because it’s under 16mm thick and weighs just 1400 grams / 3 pounds. You can’t tell an Ultrabook from it’s thickness and weight though so let’s get into the full review of the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro
In a report by Bloomberg the Acer CEO is said to have blamed early Ultrabook and touchscreen investments as a mistake. Acer had problems in 2013 as share value dropped following poor sales results. “We need to dig ourselves out of a hole.” Jason Chen said.
This is a story that will bounce around a bit today.