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Windows 10 Technical Preview on Surface Pro 1 (my initial thoughts)

October 2, 2014 Leave a comment

I took the plunge and put Windows 10 Technical Preview on my Surface Pro 1 that I recently put on the shelf after moving to the Pro 3.

The Technical Preview was a breeze to install.

You can download it from (here), as of October 1st.  You will need to sign up for the Windows Insider Program to download it.  The files are large so you need a nice fast connection to get it while you are young.

x64 : 4.0 GB
x86 : 3.1 GB

The download and install was a breeze.  I just took the ISO over to the SP1 and mounted it and ran the SETUP.EXE while in the system.  I choose the save nothing and let it run it course.

My initial thoughts
I just really sat down to play with it, but it seems more of a dot release than a full version release. I am sure the innards are where the big changes are but from a visual look and feel, it is pretty similar to 8. I don’t think that there will be any learning curve coming from version 8.1.1.

I had really gotten used to not having the Start button, so it looks strange. :)
I liked the new desktop icons
The task view (on the task bar) is a touch friendly dream, very nice.
The search (on the task bar) is just ok, not a big search user. (why can’t I unpin it?).
No crashes, yet. Seems very stable.
No missing devices in Device Manager.
Windows Update did grab a Surface Hardware update (8/12/2014)
Also, there was a Technical Preview update as well. (KB3001512)
Installed the Wacom 720_10 without problem.  Initial testing, inking is great in OneNote.
I was also surprised the System Center installed the Configuration Manager Client (corporate software management app).

Found that most of the software that I use installs. There are a few things that don’t, but that is expected.

Overall. I like where they are going with it. Not a lot of surface (pun intended) changes, but good. I think Desktop users will be pleased, I guess. Are there any Desktop users left? :)

Using ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock

October 9, 2013 2 comments

I have been testing out some Windows 8 Tablets at work and I wanted to be able to hook them up to my dual monitors.  I was having issues with the Surface Pro (Mini DisplayPort) and the Samsung ATIV 700T Pro (Micro HDMI), not being able to find a solution to support dual monitors with their native video out.

So after some research I settled on the ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock (here).

  • Dual DVI Ports (includes a VGA to DVI adapter)
  • Ethernet Port (Gigabit)
  • 5 USB 3.0 Connections (2 front & 3 in the rear)
  • Headphones/Microsoft (audio)

So you run this all through the USB 3.0 port on the Tablet PC.  It has enough to power all that through the dock.  I had my doubts, but it works.  The graphics were horrible to begin with, but after updating the firmware on the Docking Station along with 3 updates to the DisplayLink software the graphics are an 8 out of 10, not as crisp as running directly from the video out, but it is the next best thing.

Drivers
DisplayLink (here).
Lenovo ThinkPad USB 3.0 Dock (here).

PRO
1. Ability to run Dual Monitors
2. Multiple USB 3.0 Ports
3. Ethernet Port

CON
1. The dock is powered by its own power supply.
2. Dock is a little awkward standing by itself when you have it fully loaded with dual DVI adapters and USB cables.  It tends to tip over or lean.  I got around this by putting some double stick tape on it and placing it on the back of my monitor stand (out of site).
3. Price is a bit steep.

The price is a little steep at $180 at Lenovo, but if money is no object I would recommend.

Dell Latitude 10 Impressions

February 2, 2013 Leave a comment

I was highly disappointed with Dell’s first try in the Tablet market with the Latitude ST, so when I heard that Dell was releasing an upgrade or a new mode I was a little hesitant.  But after reviewing the specs I began to get a little excited.  The Latitude ST was way under powered and hearing of the new Dual Atom processor got me a little encouraged.  I still wasn’t convinced.  I was able to get my hands on one through our Dell Rep at work as a try before you buy.  We are looking for something like this for our travelling users.

I have had the Dell Latitude 10 for about two weeks and have had a chance to put it through some tests.

Specs

https://cameronmergel.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/dell-latitude-10-tablet/

POWER [GRADE: 4]
Dual Atom with 2GB of Ram.  Seems a bit light, but it is a pretty good machine as a business machine.  I don’t have anything installed that pushes it to its limit like a Photoshop program, but its pretty snappy.

Includes a micro-USB charging port.  I have not tried, but I have heard that it takes for ever to charge using this method.

Swappable battery – Includes 2-cell with an optional 4-cell battery.  I love the swappable battery.  They go bad, it’s nice to be able to swap them out if needed.  Also the 4-cell.  They stick out a bit and make the tablet a little awkward to hold with the weight, but it’s nice to have that available.

STORAGE/DISK [GRADE: 2]
64GB SSD in size but with the OS and Recovery Partition the available space is very small.  These devices should be a minimum of 128GB and go up from there.  I can’t believe they have a 32GB unit.  Seriously?

MISC. [GRADE: 5]
Full Size SD Card.  I am a huge fan, but have a couple of units that have the MicroSD and they perform and work just as well, so this is not as big of a deal for me as it use to be.

SCREEN [GRADE: 3]
10.1” Capacitive multi-touch HD display.  The screen is so nice and touch is very snappy.

Intel Graphics Media Accelerator is a little weak.

DIGITIZER [GRADE: 3]
This was difficult for me to grade.  I love Wacom and was very excited to hear that the Latitude 10 was going to be using Wacom.  However, the stylus and digitizer don’t seem to be tracking correctly.  Even after calibrating the stylus is not right.  The accuracy is off a bit and have to press a little harder than normal to double click on things.  Driver issue maybe?  I would think that Dell should be able to correct this.

WINDOWS 8 [GRADE: 5]
Windows 8 is very snappy and fluid.  It took me awhile to get use to it, but now I can’t go back to Windows 7.  I don’t

NOISE [GRADE: 5]
Fanless.  Absolutely quiet.  Nice feature of the Dual Atoms.

KEYBOARD [GRADE: 0]
No Keyboard.  Unforgivable!!!  The lack of a keyboard dock like the XPS 10 is unforgivable Dell.  This is a being sold as a Business Device.  This alone for me would have made it a definite “buy it device”.  I have heard of someone purchasing the XPS 10 keyboard and removing the notches that hold the XPS in.  Again, why Dell?  The extra battery in the keyboard!!!!  Why Dell?

OVERALL/FINAL [GRADE 27/40] [C-]
I was overall impressed with the Latitude 10.  I think if the Digitizer issue get resolved this will be an outstanding device.

If you can get at a discounted price on eBay, go for it.

Dell Latitude 10 Tablet

November 12, 2012 9 comments

I am a pretty big fan of Windows Tablets and have been for some time.  I am especially excited with all the new stuff that is coming out.  One such Windows Tablet that I have been drooling over is the Dell Latitude 10 (here).  It is currently retailing for $900, but currently on a special price for $650.

I was recently visited by one of our Dell representatives at work and he had brought the sister tablet Latitude XPS 10, which is the Windows RT version.  I was able to play around with it for a bit and loved the touch, the responsiveness, and the fact that it had detachable keyboard with touchpad.  It was a very solid fit.  Unfortunately, I later found out that the Latitude 10 will not have that same keyboard.  Big disappointment if you ask me.  The Dell rep said that he would send me one when he got them in stock so I could give it a spin.  Well I just got the email and have it coming my way to give it a run. 

LATITUDE 10 SPECIFICATIONS

  • Intel® Atom™ processor Z2760 1.8GHz with Intel® Burst Technology, 1.5GHz HFM, 600MHz LFM
  • Windows 8 Pro, 32-bit
  • 10.1" IPS (1366 X 768) Wide View Angle LCD, Corning® Gorilla® Glass, Capacitive 10 Finger Touch
  • 2GB DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz
  • 64GB of Solid State Storage, enabled for mobile broadband (HSPA+)
  • Intel® Graphics Media Accelerator (533MHz)
  • 1.47 lbs
  • Full Size SD Slot
  • USB 2.0 Slot
  • Mini HDMI
  • Removable Battery
  • 2MP Front Facing Camera
  • 8MP Rear Facing Camera
  • Wacom Digitizer (optional pen)
  • Productivity Docking Station (optional) (2) USB, Ethernet, HDMI and Audio Output

I will have it for about 30 days to test it out and will blog about it more.

N-trig digitizer on my HP Slate 500 (Windows 8 RTM)

September 15, 2012 14 comments

N-trig released their much anticipated W8 drivers recently (August 13th).  The drivers have been broken since the Consumer Preview.  Well I downloaded these and immediately tried to install them on my W8 Release Preview.  I wasn’t impressed.

After going back to the instructions I noticed a blurb “before updating to Windows 8, make sure you have the latest bundle installed”.  I must have skipped right over that in my first pass.

N-trig - important

I sent an email to N-trig support to get clarification and received email back a couple of days later.  Basically they stated.

This step comes to ensure you have the latest DuoSense SW installed under Win7.  Then when you upgrade to Win8, you should follow the installations of our new driver and it should work OK.

So they are expecting everybody to upgrade to W8 and not do a fresh install.  I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of upgrading.  I like to perform a fresh install.

Well, I since it didn’t seem to work very well in W8 as a fresh install I decided to go back to W7 and see if it was any better.  I found my original W7 image that I took way back in March 2011 and restored it.  I did have to go into the and edit the booting information that W8 updated.  No real big issue.  After getting back to W7 (yuck), I made my W8RTM bootable USB drive and ran the setup.exe off the USB drive.  Got prompted to upgrade and save user settings.  Took about 45 minutes.  After reboot I found that I had no touch or stylus.  I then installed the updated N-trig driver and found that touch and stylus came back.  Checked Device Mgr. and found nothing missing or had issues.

THE GOOD

The much anticipated calibration tool is great and helps with the false touches and ghost taps.

THE BAD

The lack of the Input Control Panel.  Having upgraded from W7 it is there but throws when trying to use.  The exclusion of the Input Control, the ability to put the digitizer to Touch Only, Pen Only, or Auto is a huge missing component.

N-trig DueSense Digitizer Settings (Input Control)

I will say that the drivers are better than what they were in the Consumer Preview and Release Preview (note that they didn’t exist), but still in my opinion are lacking.

I emailed N-trig support to find out when this was going to added and their response back was there are no plans.  Huge, huge disappointment.

I do a lot of inking with the stylus and without this control I get a lot of false touches or palm rejection.  It comes close to being unusable.

Shame on you N-trig…

ASUS EP121 and B121 have the same exact SanDisk SSD

May 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I was hoping to see an improvement in the SSD but the B121 is really the EP121 with a different Wireless/Bluetooth card and the TPM Chip.  Other than that they look to be the same hardware.

SANDISK 64GB SSD P4
mSATA 50mm
SDSA4D4-064G

EP121 Specifications here.
B121 Specifications here.

I have upgraded to an Intel 310 80GB which has increased the performance drastically.  You can buy here.  A decent upgrade, but may not be worth the cost.

 

CrystalDiskMark | faq

SANDISK 64GB SSD

B121 CrystalDiskMark Test 1 (201205071920) Sandisk

 

Intel 310 80GB SSD

B121 CrystalDiskMark Test 1 (20120526) Intel 80GB SSD

 

Windows Experience Index increased from a 5.9 to a 7.6

EP121

WEI (2011-09-03) 1348

 

B121

B121 WEI (20120526) after putting in Intel 80GB SSD

My impressions of the Asus Eee Slate EP121

November 6, 2011 1 comment

The Asus Eee Slate EP121 is the most powerful Tablet on the market (as of 10/2011) with an Intel Dual Core i5 processor (x64), 64GB Solid State Drive, and 4GB Ram.

You can get the full specifications (here).

EP121

I have always loved the concept of the Tablet PC.  I like the idea of being to use the computer and also the ability to use it as a Tablet with the stylus pen to write/ink.

My first introduction to the Tablet PC world was the HP TC1100 Tablet PC.  This came out around 2003 era with Windows XP Tablet Edition.  The Wacom digitizer and inking was fantastic.  I still own and use this Tablet to this day and even have Windows 7 rocking on it.  This definitely gave it new life.  I always thought if this basic design was updated with today’s technology it would be the best Tablet PC ever.  Still waiting.

When I heard that HP was releasing the HP Slate 500 I couldn’t wait, I thought this was the update to the TC1100 that I was waiting for.  I was quickly disappointed with the inking.  The N-trig digitizer and pen wasn’t a fluid as my old HP TC1100 and it was noisy to boot.  Then I heard about the Asus Eee Slate EP121 having the Wacom digitizer and I thought that maybe this is the one.

I have had the Asus Eee Slate EP121 device for just over two months now.

Grade A:
The Wacom Digitizer and Pen.  The fluid inking with the Wacom pen make it a real pleasant writing experience.  It is really like a hot knife cutting through butter.  It is that smooth.

The CPU power (Intel Dual Core i5 processor, x64), Ram (4GB), and Solid State Drive (64GB) that really make this a workhorse.  This is more powerful than my Dell Latitude E6400 that I am running at work.

Touch screen and brightness are really outstanding.  The wide viewing angles are great.

Grade B:
I like the included Bluetooth keyboard.  It is a great addition to make this very nice to use at your desk.  The included case also allows you stand the Tablet upright.

Includes 2 USB ports, Full SD Card slot, and mini HDMI port.

The pen silo.  This is huge having a slot where the pen can go in.  Very nice and really under rated in my opinion.

Grade C:
The wireless card seems to be a little weak in reception.  I am not getting great connectivity or speed.

I may get a little heat on this but the size of the display is too big (12.1”).  I wish this was more around the 10” range.  Fitting more of a page in portrait without the blank edges and wasted space.  Might be just me.

Grade D:
The noise coming from the fan being constantly on.  I understand that this is a Dual Core i5 processor, but the fan is annoying.  I feel like I need to tape up the exhaust fan cover when I go into a meeting.  It is very noticeable.

The battery life states 4.5hrs, but I am getting around 3hrs of use and that is mostly notes, and web browsing.  Using a better power mode setting like balanced mode would definitely increase this time.  Again I can understand some of that with the power that this has.  Just a little disappointed.

No rear facing camera.

Missing TPM Security.

Windows 7 Home Premium.

Update: I see that Asus has released a refresh model BP121 which looks to be more Business related and includes the TPM Security and Windows 7 Ultimate edition.

OVERALL GRADE
I would give this an overall score of a C+.  It is definitely on the right track, but at the price of this unit I would find something else.  It is missing some key components for me to really recommend.