HP Still Hinting Towards Tablets

Although HP’s investment in Palm went down in glorious flames with the TouchPad, they clearly haven’t given up in the tablet market yet.

At the end of July, HP posted the “Make it Matter” commercial on YouTube. While the video is an entire minute of inspirational crud, at the 35 second mark there is a whitecoat clad chap sporting a tablet. So HP still wants to make tablets? That’s inspirational. A closer shot of the device can be seen right at the end of the video.

He may not have a shadow, or a soul, but he definitely has what might be the HP Slate 8. Oh look at that, so does she…

Given the style of the commercial, and some more recently seen advertisements that include the same device, Hewlett-Packard is very clearly going after both the small enterprising business owner, and large corporate crowd.

HP hasn’t officially talked about the tablet, so no specification are available. Looking at the pictures we can clearly see the 3.5mm auxiliary jack, a power button, and silent switch on the right portion, and what might be a lanyard or lock spot on the left side of the device. It’s a bit thick, looks to be around 10″ and largely uncomfortable to hold. The upper black portion is likely where the WiFi and/or cellular antenna would be housed.

Rumour is that the Slate will be running Windows 8. Well, what are the other options? Let’s see, use their open sourced webOS platform? Nope. License Android? Highly unlikely. They’ll probably ship with Windows 8, which recently hit RTM status. Wait, yes, of course they will ship with Windows 8. Meg Whitman specifically said so. So did these slides.

 

So there we go. HP Slate 8. Windows 8. Coming soon.

Lenovo Ideapad YOGA: Gets My Vote for the Best Ultrabook at CES

Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA

While at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, I was able to get some video of the Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA. The YOGA is a convertible Ultrabook which has four modes of operation:

  • Regular laptop mode: In its simplest form, the YOGA is a nice Ultrabook. It conforms to the Ultrabook specifications with the thickness (16.9mm), weight (3.1lbs) and startup/resume times (not specified since it is not final yet).
  • Tablet/slate mode: With its patented dual hinge, the YOGA can flip back completely and become a tablet/slate. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not going to compare to a regular slate in terms of weight or thickness. Instead,  think of it as a way to use your laptop more comfortably for say browsing the web or consuming other content.
  • Stand mode: The hinges are strong and the body is sturdy, and as a result you can flip back the screen and leave the computer on a table instead of carrying a dock around with you. The IPS panel (1600×900 resolution) does provide great viewing angles which helps this mode’s usage.
  • Tent mode: This mode, I am not too sure about, but for sake of completeness, let me describe it. You can fold the laptop so it becomes an inverted “V” and then use it as a photo frame.

I like it a lot because it is thin, it is light and it is not just another laptop. The skeptics may say that we have seen these before and they didn’t work then, so there is no reason they should work now – tablet users want a tablet, and PC users want a PC. Well, I was one of them! The difference between then and now is that this laptop is built for Windows 8. Lenovo didn’t even pretend that it is a Windows 7 PC upgradeable to Windows 8. Windows 8 is a touch-first operating system compared to Windows XP or even Windows 7 which is what powers the “legacy” convertibles.

The operating system being touch-first is one big difference, but also, the form factor. The convertibles of old were thick and bulky, almost like a tablet stacked on top of a regular laptop. The YOGA is sleek, and at 3lbs, it is lighter than most PCs in the market today. The person who was providing me the demo said that they are going to be able to shave another 100 grams before the machine becomes final!

There are many other Ultrabooks worth drooling over, at CES, but this is my best because finally there is a design which is different from the MacBook Air, and not just for the sake of being different (I am looking at you, HP with the Gorilla Glass-covered Ultrabook).

See below for a quick eyes-on, with a demonstration of all four modes in action.

Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA Video

Touch Me! Microsoft gets ready for BUILD

build

We were greeted to Windows 95’s launch by The Rolling Stones’ Start Me Up, a reminder of the new, but now iconic Start button in Windows. Maybe for Windows 8, Microsoft should use The Doors’ Touch Me.

//build/

We have been waiting anxiously for this day to arrive. Tomorrow, after months of keeping a tight leash (leaks notwithstanding) on the progress of or the details about Windows 8, Microsoft will reveal its newest operating system to the world at BUILD.

BUILD is Microsoft’s new developer-focused conference, a combination of PDC (Professional Developers’ Conference) and WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference). It is being held at the Anaheim Convention Center, Anaheim, CA.

What we know

Ever since Steven Sinofsky and Julie Larson-Green revealed Windows 8 at All Things D’s D9 conference in June this year, the anticipation and expectations have gone up for what Windows 8 will be. Windows 8 sports a brand new Metro style interface with its big tiles. This interface is obviously suited to touch gestures and along with the upcoming Xbox dashboard update, it completes the trifecta of Metro styled interfaces from phones (Windows Phone 7) where it started, to PCs and TVs. Recently, Microsoft started a new blog dubbed Building Windows 8, where they have revealed (or confirmed rumors regarding):

  • Support for ARM architecture
  • System requirements for Windows 8 will be the same or less than Windows 7 requirements which means the hundreds of millions of PC’s being used today can be upgraded to Windows 8 without the need for further investment
  • The teamswithin Windows 8, which in some ways confirmed rumors such as existence of Hyper-V in the Windows 8 client and an App Store for Windows.
  • USB 3.0 support
  • New file copy/move/delete experience in Windows Explorer, along with a new conflict resolution user experience
  • Ribbon-ized Windows Explorer
  • Native support for accessing ISO and VHD files
  • Hyper-V in Windows 8 client
  • Extremely fast boot times in Windows 8

From what is explicitly mentioned in the blog and what was demonstrated at D9, we also know that Windows 8 will have two user interfaces. The first being the Metro style, tile-based, interface and the other being the classicWindows 7-style interface. Both these interfaces, Microsoft claims, are an effort to have no compromise. By no compromise, they are implying that just because an interface has touch-first design, does not mean it will not support keyboard and mouse. Microsoft realizes that a large portion of its user base uses Windows in an enterprise where the tile-based, touch-first interface may not be the most optimum. Hence, instead of ditching the past and starting afresh with the new paradigm, Microsoft is now at a stage where it has to explain how the two interfaces will co-exist. This co-existence leads to many more questions, which brings me to my next topic.