Laptops & Tablets

Microsoft Presents "Always Connected PCs"

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Microsoft Presents

Microsoft takes the stage at the 2nd Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui, Hawai, to further detail Windows 10 notebooks running on Qualcomm chipsets-- now referred to as "Always Connected PCs."

As described at previous events, the Always Connected PCs run on an ARM-based Snapdragon 835 chipset, and promise 20+ hour active use battery life together with mobile device-style instant-on functionality from standby mode (or what Microsoft calls "Modern Standby Mode"). Cellular connectivity is integrated, allowing for low-power, always-on connectivity superior to what is currently available on current notebooks.

The companies stress the notebooks can run all Windows 10 apps, through a choice of either Universal Windows Apps (compiled for ARM directly) or x86 apps run via emulation. Microsoft gives no mention on the performance of x86 emulation, instead announcing an "optimised" version of Office 365 for use on the machines.

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DigiTimes: Cheapest 9.7-inch iPad Yet for 2018?

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DigiTimes: Cheapest 9.7-inch iPad Yet for 2018?

DigiTimes reports Apple plans an "inexpensive 9.7-inch iPad" for 2018-- one with a price of around $259, making it attractive to more budget-conscious customers.

According to unnamed sources from the upstream supply cheain, the price point allows Apple to maintain its current quarterly 10 million unit iPad shipments. It also provides a weapon against the price competition from first-tier players such as Samsung, Amazon, Huawei and Lenovo. It should ship from Q2 2017, and will be aimed at the industrial and service sectors and as well as the consumer market.

As for who is making the tablet, DigiTimes suggests production is being outsourced to Compal Electronics, with Compeq and Unitech Printed Circuit Board taking care of PCB orders.

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TrendForce: Apple Beats Asus in Notebook Rankings

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TrendForce: Apple Beats Asus in Notebook Rankings

TrendForce reports global Q3 2017 notebook shipments total 42.69 million units-- an increase of 0.9% Y-o-Y (or 6.8% Q-o-Q), with peak season performance exceeding previous analyst expectations.

As a result, TrendForce now expects 2017 notebook shipments to reach 162.4m units, a forecast changed from decline to a growth rate of 0.7%. Such growth follows a heightened basis period during H1 2017, as well as HP and Lenovo showing "considerable" growth during H2 2017.

In fact, Q3 2017 sees HP shipments reaching 11m units, a quarterly increase of 17.6%. TrendForce expects the company to have another 0.3% Q-o-Q growth in Q4 2017, before achieving the annual goal of 40m units shipped in 2017, putting it on the top of the annual notebook shipment rankings.

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Microsoft Intros Surface Book 2

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Microsoft Intros Surface Book 2

Microsoft cements its hardware ambitions with the announcement of the Surface Book 2-- a sequel to the 2015 notebook featuring 8th generation Intel processors and a 15-inch display option.

The Surface Book 2 looks very similar to the original (not to mention the 2016 update), even if Microsoft insists just about every detail has been tweaked. As the most powerful piece of hardware from the Windows maker yet, it carries 8th gen quad-core Intel Core processors, with the Core i7 models adding GeForce 10-series series graphics.

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Truphone iPad Data Plan Reaches More Countries

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Truphone iPad Data Plan Reaches More Countries

The Truphone Apple SIM-based iPad data plan is available two more European countries-- specifically Ireland and Portugal, allowing customers roam through the carrier on their iPad in 40 countries.

Currently 6 countries offer the Truphone iPad data plan, namely Australia, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the UK. The company plans to expand the number with an additional 31 countries by end 2017, bringing the total to 39. The data plan allows customers to roam in the aforementioned countries without additional charges, without need to change carriers or additional roaming fees.

The backbone of the system is Apple SIM, the technology included in cellular-capable iPad Air 2, iPad mini 3 (and newer) and all iPad Pro models. It saves the need to change the physical SIM card and simplifies the sign-up process through the "Set Up Mobile Data" section in the Settings app.

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December Launch for Next-Gen Surface Pro?

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December Launch for Next-Gen Surface Pro?

A Microsoft employee revealed the launch date of the next-generation LTE-enabled Surface Pro tablet at the Ignite 2017 conference, Neowin reports-- 1 December 2017.

At the session, Surface Pro program manager Tim Golik said the Surface Pro carries a Snapdragon X16 LTE modem able to work in any country in the world. This means one can buy the Surface Pro with LTE in any country and expect to use data across the globe. However this was the only detail gleaned at the session, and Golik refused to answer questions about a new Surface Book.

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Xiaomi Takes on MacBook Pro With Mi Notebook Pro

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Xiaomi Takes on MacBook Pro With Mi Notebook Pro

Xiaomi follows on last year's Mi Notebook Air with a take on the MacBook Pro-- the Mi Notebook Pro, a 15.6-inch laptop powered by the latest Intel quad-core i7 processor.

Also found inside the Mi Notebook Pro are up to 16GB RAM, up to 1TB SSD storage and, as an alternative to Intel integrated graphics, an Nvidia GeForce MX 150 chip. The display is clad in Corning Gorilla Glass 3 and has side bezels of just 6.25mm, with the webcam built inside the top bezel.

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HP Omen X Aims at Gamers

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HP Omen X Aims at Gamers

HP uses Gamescom to reveal what it claims is its "most powerful gaming laptop to date"-- the Omen X, a machine designed for overclocking, with factory-overclocked GPU and memory options, as well as appropriate thermals.

Being aimed at such high performance, the Omen X is a bulky machine. It comes in 15- and 17-inch options (with 4K or 120Hz 1080p display), weighs 5kg and packs high-performance fans and an integrated vapour chamber with four 3.5mm heat pipes pushing heat to four rear corner-mounted radiators. The result should ensure the GPU and CPU remain cool.

Specification options include unlocked Core i7 processors, XMP memory up to DDR4-2800 and factory overclocked GPUs up to GeForce GTX 1080. Storage comes via PCIe SSD in RAID 0 and a 7200 RPM HDD, while other features include mechanical keyboard with RGB lighting, DTS Headphone:X support, USB 3.1 and 3.0 ports, HDMI 2.0a with HDR support, multi-format card reader and a translucent window allowing one to check the laptop internals.

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IDC: W. European Tablet Market "Almost" Returns to Growth

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IDC: W. European Tablet Market

According to IDC the contraction of the W. European tablet market felt on Q2 2017 is of "just" -0.5% Y-o-Y as shipments reach 70 million units, an "almost complete recovery of the market in the region."

Driving such recovery are Apple tablets and improvement in the macroeconomic situation of several countries. In general, detachable see 1% Y-o-Y growth, while regular slate tablets show "resilience" with a decrease of just -1% Y-o-Y. Interestingly, the commercial segment shows positive 2.8% Y-o-Y growth, mainly driven by Apple and Android-based detachables (whose growth is 29.3% and 34.9% Y-o-Y respectively).

"Detachables are showing particularly strong growth within the corporate business, facilitated by the introduction of more commercially oriented models," the analyst remarks. "These models are geared toward operating primarily as a portable PC with the secondary benefit of a tablet, helping to compete against the growing commercial trend toward the adoption of convertibles."

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IDC: Tablet Decline Slows in Q2 2017

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IDC: Tablet Decline Slows in Q2 2017

According to IDC, the tablet market continued to slide downwards in Q2 2017-- global shipments total 37.9 million, a -3.4% Y-o-Y decline, despite notable product launches such as the new, lower priced iPad.

Not even detachable tablets could save the quarter, as customers prefer to wait for upcoming product refreshes from the high-profile likes of Apple and Microsoft. That said, new product launches towards the end of Q2 should leave detachables in a stronger position on H2 2017.

"There's been a resetting of expectations for detachables as competing convertible notebooks offered a convincing and familiar computing experience for many," the analyst remarks. "To date, the 2-in-1 market was bifurcated as Apple and Microsoft led with detachables while the PC vendors led with convertibles. Though that is slowly changing as smartphone vendors and traditional PC vendors begin to offer compelling alternatives, the pace has been rather slow as Surface and iPad Pro still dominate shelf space and mindshare."

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Acer Goes Back to School With Rugged Chromebook 11 C771

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Acer Goes Back to School With Rugged Chromebook 11 C771

Customers looking for a tough Chrome OS-powered notebook get an Acer option-- the Chromebook 11 C771, an 11.6-inch number featuring a few performance upgrades in a rugged design.

Primarily aimed at the education segment, the C771 is compliant with MIL-STD-810G US Military Standard, meaning it should resist drops of up to 122cm as well as up to 60kg of downwards force on the top. In addition it should also be resistant to dust and spills.

When it comes to the internals, on launch the C771 (and the C771T touchscreen variant) packs an Intel Celeron 3855U CPU, 32GB storage and 4GB RAM. On September it will also be available with 6th gen Core i3 and i5 processors. As for battery life, Acer says the C711 offers up to 13 hours of use on a single charge, while the C711T lasts for up to 12 hours.

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