Competitive gaming is big enough now in the US that it’s catching ESPN’s attention, so it stands to reason that you’d want a way to bet on those virtual matches, doesn’t it? Ex-Microsoft manager (and Engadget Expand panelist) Rahul Sood thinks so. He just launched Unikrn, a site that makes it easy to wager on eSports. If you live in a country where the company will accept bets (currently Australia), you can plunk down real cash and win jackpots, much like you would with conventional sports betting. You could make a tidy profit betting that a low-ranked League of Legends team will defy the odds, for instance. Even if you live in the US and other nations where real bets are illegal, you can still sign up and win prizes.
It’s a gamble, both figuratively and literally, but Unikrn does have some early support. The startup has already acquired two companies to get its betting system off the ground, and it has partnerships that include Sood’s old outfits HP (which acquired VoodooPC) and Razer as well as CBS Interactive and Logitech. Unikrn might not attract as much hype as the eSports events themselves, but the chances are that you’ll hear more about it in the future.
Intrigued by HP’s luscious new Spectre x360 convertible laptop, but looking for something a bit cheaper? Say hello to the new Pavilion x360 and Envy x360. Starting at $410, the Pavilion x360 is HP’s most cost-effective convertible laptop — meaning its screen can be folded all the way around to its rear to be used like a tablet, or folded tent-like for Netflix binges. The Envy x360, starting at $680, is a step up from the Pavilion with a premium metallic finish and bigger 15.6-inch screen. Both computers are also the first to have Bang & Olufsen’s touch; HP’s new audio tech partner following Beats’ betrothal to Apple. At this point, that just means they’ve been optimized by B&O’s tireless audio engineers, and include some software tweaks to make the best of tiny laptop speakers.
The Envy x360 is certainly the prettier of the pair — and it’s more powerful too, with support for Core i5 and i7 processors and up to 16GB of RAM. The entry-level $680 model gets you a 500GB hard drive and 720p screen, while going up to $770 will net you a terabyte HDD and 1080p display. And of course, you can (and should) opt for a solid-state drive.
But really, the Pavilion x360 is the more interesting convertible. Its 11-inch $410 model is nearly $100 less than Microsoft’s Surface 3 (not including the $130 keyboard), and it’s powered by a Pentium N3700 processor and 4GB of RAM. For $500, you can upgrade to a Core M processor and 128GB SSD. There’s also a 13-inch model for $530 with a Core i3 processor, though you’re only getting a 500GB hard drive, not an SSD. Those are decent prices for an ultraportable laptop, but they’re even more intriguing considering the flexibility of the Pavilion x360’s screen.
If convertibles aren’t really your thing, or you just want something very cheap, HP also announced a refresh of its classic Pavilion lineup starting at $550 for the 14-inch model. You won’t be twisting its screens about, but there are some significant new upgrades, including options for 1080p displays and discrete graphics cards. HP’s also refined its unibody design this year, so even though the Pavilion’s cases are made out of plastic, they should apparently feel sturdier than before.
Both the Pavilion x360 and traditional Pavilion lines will be available on HP’s site on May 13, and will eventually roll out to stores on June 21. You’ll have to wait a bit longer for the Envy x360, which hits HP’s site on June 18 and stores the same day as the Pavilions.
Tempted by HP’s svelte Omen gaming laptop, but need even more horsepower? Say hello to the Omen Pro. It shares the same aluminum 0.78-inch, 4.68 pound frame as its gaming sibling, but it packs in faster Core i7 processors and an NVIDIA Quadro K1100M graphics card. It also shares the original Omen’s a unibody aluminum case and 15.6-inch 1080p touchscreen, and it sits right alongside HP’s ZBook workstations, except it balances style alongside hardware prowess. The Omen Pro is available today, but at $2,199 it’s clearly targeted at the graphics hungry professionals actually making games, and not just people looking for their latest Far Cry fix.
When it comes the storage, you’ve got a choice between HP’s 256GB or 512GB Z Turbo PCI-E solid state drives. Its RAM capacity tops out at 16GB, so if you need even more memory you’d have to forgo style for one of HP’s ZBooks. And of course, the Omen Pro runs Windows 7 professional — because anyone buying a machine like this wouldn’t stand for Windows 8 anyway.
The Spectre x360 is HP’s newest flagship notebook. It’s also probably the closest you’ll get to seeing Microsoft build its own laptop. You see, though the machine has Hewlett-Packard’s name on it, HP designed it in close collaboration with engineers from the Windows team, optimizing everything from the fan noise to the screen’s color gamut. The result is a well-built laptop with fast performance, long battery life and a nearly bloatware-free version of Windows. And at $900 to start, it undercuts almost all of its rivals. Is there anything not to like?
HP and Microsoft may have designed one of my new favorite laptops, but they hardly reinvented the wheel in the process. In fact, I think the pair owes at least a little credit to Lenovo, and maybe Apple, too. Think I’m trolling? Consider the evidence. As its name suggests, the x360 has a 360-degree hinge similar to Lenovo’s Yoga series that allows the screen to fold back into tablet mode (and Tent Mode, and Stand Mode — yep, HP even stole Lenovo’s names for its different usage modes). Then there’s the design. Like the MacBook Air, the x360 is fashioned out of unibody, CNC-machined aluminum, with a wedge-shaped profile that tapers subtly from back to front. It’s not a wholesale copy-job, to be sure, but the machine’s resemblance to a Mac is unmistakable.
HP and Microsoft owe at least a little credit to Lenovo, and maybe Apple, too.
Still, HP managed to improve on what’s otherwise a tried-and-true formula. Take the hinge, for instance. Though it feels as smooth and controlled as anything Lenovo ever produced, HP’s version uses a different kind of mechanism that “folds into itself” (to quote what I was told when I first saw it). This allows the machine to be equally thick regardless of whether the screen is in tablet mode or folded shut, like a regular notebook. Speaking of thickness, the machine measures 15.9mm (or 0.63 inch), with the weight coming in at a relatively heavy 1.44kg, or 3.17 pounds on the Quad HD model. In fact, the x360 is actually 3.26 pounds on the full HD version (one panel is thinner than the other).
Either way, it feels noticeably denser than a typical 13-inch Ultrabook, and it’s definitely heavier than the super-light Yoga 3 Pro. That’s irrelevant if you plan to park it on your desk and use it in Stand or Tent mode to watch movies, and it doesn’t even really matter when you use the thing as a regular notebook — it’s still easy to tote around in your backpack or shoulder bag. What you might find, though, is that a relatively large, 13-inch PC like this, particularly one this heavy, isn’t well-suited for tablet mode. If you do choose to use it that way, I suggest resting it on your lap; holding up a three-plus-pound device gets tiresome after exactly five seconds.
On the plus side, at least, a slightly bulkier machine means fewer compromises when it comes to ports. On board, we have three USB 3.0 connections, along with a full-sized HDMI socket, a Mini DisplayPort, an SD card slot, a headphone jack and a volume rocker, for use in tablet mode. That’s no small thing at a time when some laptop makers are trying to get away with including just one port. Finally, HP sells Ethernet and HDMI-to-VGA adapters for $30 apiece. (In my first look, I initially said they came in the box, but that’s not true; HP just included them gratis for us reviewers.)
In addition to that lie-flat hinge, the keyboard and trackpad are also entirely HP’s — and in some ways they’re better than the competition, too. The metal buttons have a similar spacious, island-style layout as many rival machines, except the keys have a full 1.5mm of travel, making them much cushier than what I’m used to on Ultrabooks. (Perhaps this is one benefit to having a slightly thicker machine: less of a reason to settle for a flat, lifeless keyboard.) In addition, I appreciate how relatively quiet the buttons are, even despite their springiness. Also, most of the keys are large enough that I can find them by feel, without having to worry about hitting the wrong one. Even the arrow keys — some of the few shrunken buttons here — were easy to get to when I wanted to highlight text.
What’s funny is that although HP teamed up with Microsoft on this, it didn’t use one of Microsoft’s own “Precision” touchpads; instead, it went with a clickpad from Synaptics. Make that an extra-wide clickpad — the trackpad here has much the same elongated shape as on the Spectre 13, HP’s last-generation flagship. When that model first came out, the idea was that people could use so-called touch zones on either end of the trackpad to more easily pull off certain gestures specific to Windows 8 — you know, like swiping in from the right to expose the Charms Bar. As it happens, the Charms Bar is about to go away in Windows 10 (set to launch in a few months) and so, there are no touch zones here, per se; just one really wide touchpad. HP figured, even if you don’t need those zones anymore, you might still enjoy having the extra horizontal space. I have to say I do.
In general, the touchpad is reliable; the cursor almost always goes where I intended, and multitouch gestures like two-finger scrolls work well, too. I would prefer a slightly lower-friction touch surface, but if a little more drag means more accurate tracking, then that’s fine. Better that than a smooth touchpad that doesn’t actually do what I want it to.
The x360 comes standard with a 1080p, optically bonded touchscreen, but is also offered with a 2,560 x 1,440 panel for an extra hundred bucks. Unfortunately, I’ve only had the chance to test the full HD edition, so I can’t tell you firsthand just how pixel-dense the Quad HD option is. But I think I can guess, and I bet you can too. If you think the 13-inch MacBook Pro’s 2,560 x 1,600 display is gorgeous, you will probably appreciate this as well. As it is, I didn’t find myself pining for the sharper panel, especially considering how great the battery life is when you settle for the lower resolution. Thanks to a 72 percent color gamut, the tones here are nice and rich, though not overly saturated. Also, though the viewing angles on this IPS screen aren’t perfect, they’re wide enough that I could still watch movies and get work done with the screen dipped forward, within a certain range of flexibility. As for audio, the dual speakers on the laptop’s bottom side exhibit some of the tinniness I’ve come to expect from notebooks, but it’s no worse than what I’ve observed on other machines.
Performance and battery life
|PCMark7||3DMark06||3DMark11||ATTO (top disk speeds)|
|HP Spectre x360 (2015, 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD 5500)||4,965||8,810||
E1,667 / P932 / X265
|555 MB/s (reads); 270 MB/s (writes)|
|Dell XPS 13 (2015, 2.2GHz Intel Core i5-5200U, Intel HD 5500)||4,900||7,433||
E2,114 / P1,199 / X330
|515 MB/s (reads); 455 MB/s (writes)|
|Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro (1.1GHz Intel M-5Y70, Intel HD 5300)||4,699||4,734||
E1,076 / P595 / X175
|554 MB/s (reads); 261 MB/s (writes)|
|Samsung ATIV Book 9 2014 Edition (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400)||4,835||5,947||
E1,752 / P948 / X297
|551 MB/s (reads); 141 MB/s (writes)|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (1.9GHz Core i5-4300U, Intel HD 4400)||5,024||5,053||
E1,313 / P984
|555 MB/s (reads); 252 MB/s (writes)|
|Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus (1.6GHz Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400)||4,973||5,611||
E1,675 / P867 / X277
|547 MB/s (reads); 508 MB/s (writes)|
|Acer Aspire S7-392 (1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD 4400)||5,108||5,158||
E1,724 / P952 / X298
|975 MB/s (reads); 1.1 GB/s (writes)|
Like so many other laptops coming out around now, the Spectre x360 makes use of Intel’s new fifth-generation Core processors, code-named “Broadwell.” In fact, the configuration I tested had the same 2.2GHz dual-core Core i5-5200 chip and 8GB as the Dell XPS 13, except paired with a different solid-state drive. Unsurprisingly, then, I observed mostly the same fast performance, including speedy seven-second boot-ups and resume times of less than a second. The benchmarks back this up too, with scores that largely match the XPS 13 (though the jury seems to be out on which is the graphics champ).
Wireless performance is another area where HP and Microsoft put their heads together. The machine makes use of a 2×2 802.11ac WiFi radio, though the two companies claim it has stronger range than even similarly configured systems, with wireless throughput not dropping off as quickly in either the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. I’m not equipped to test that in any sort of scientific way, but I can say that wireless streaming was fast and reliable, and that the machine was also quick to reconnect after coming out of sleep.
If there’s one area where the x360 trails its peers, it’s disk speeds. Though it does indeed come standard with an SSD (a Samsung-made one, in my case), these are of the slower mSATA variety — not PCIe-based disks like we’re used to seeing on other flagship laptops. That means while its peak read speeds of 555 MB/s are quite healthy, its max writes of 270 MB/s are relatively low. On some rival machines, you might see writes in the 500-and-something-megabytes-per-second range, and then there are outliers like the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, which delivered 1.3 GB/s reads and 643.6 MB/s write speeds. Again, none of that seems to have a negative effect on things like boot and app-load times, but depending on what you’re doing and how hard you push the system, you may wish you had some faster transfer speeds.
|HP Spectre x360||11:34|
|MacBook Air (13-inch, 2013)||12:51|
|Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display (13-inch, 2015)||11:23|
|Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display (13-inch, late 2013)||11:18|
|Chromebook Pixel (2015)||10:01|
|Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus||8:44|
|Dell XPS 13 (2015)||7:36|
|Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro||7:36|
|Acer Aspire S7-392||7:33|
|Microsoft Surface Pro 3||7:08|
HP rates the x360 for up to 12.5 hours of runtime, depending on the configuration (meaning: The lower-res model lasts longest). Part of that’s thanks to a large, 56Wh battery, but HP and Microsoft also pored over the system settings, looking for places where they could make the machine just a little more power efficient. Together, they decided to shut down certain parts of the system when not in use, including the sensors in the hinge that tell the x360 what mode it’s in. They also aimed for low fan noise, in part to conserve juice (and I think they succeeded there). Meanwhile, the Quad HD panel uses PSR (Panel Self Refresh) technology, which avoids changing pixels unnecessarily to reduce power consumption. After speaking with an HP spokesperson, it’s clear that the QHD model still doesn’t get quite the same battery life as the 1080p edition, but perhaps details like that at least help close the gap. Again, I didn’t test the higher-res version, so I can’t say firsthand.
All of this is to say, the battery life really is as long as promised. On the unit I tested, which had a 1080p screen, I very nearly made it to the half-day mark — 11 hours and 34 minutes of video playback, to be precise. In fact, were it not for my aggressive test settings (WiFi on with brightness fixed at 65 percent), the machine would have lasted even longer. Either way, 11.5 hours is an excellent showing for a laptop this size. The only one we’ve tested that does better is the MacBook Air. Otherwise, the Spectre x360 manages to slightly edge out the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is in a similar weight class. HP’s flagship also far surpasses plenty of lighter-weight Ultrabooks — machines like the Yoga 3 Pro, Acer Aspire S7, the Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus and Dell’s new XPS 13. The Spectre x360 might be heavier than all those systems, but it at least justifies its extra heft with longer runtime.
Given that Microsoft helped design the x360, it’s fair to assume it also runs a relatively clean version of Windows. The operative word being “relatively.” My test machine came with Netflix and The Weather Channel, as well as Hearts Deluxe and a few of HP’s own apps, like Connected Photo. It also includes a free one-year subscription to McAfee’s LiveSafe service. That security coverage is actually pretty useful, though McAfee’s desktop pop-ups can be quite annoying (seriously, does it ever learn?). In any case, that little bit of bloatware disqualifies it from being one of Microsoft’s Signature Series machine, but it’s a clean build nonetheless — definitely the cleanest I’ve seen from HP.
Additionally, it should go without saying, but the Spectre x360 ships with Windows 8.1, and, like other Windows 8.1 machines, will be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it comes out later this year. What’s unique in this case is that because HP worked so closely with Microsoft, the x360 is perhaps better optimized for Windows than some of its competitors. For now, most of that optimization has centered on Windows 8.1, but representatives from both camps have indicated to me that after the x360 went on sale, they’d be shifting their engineering resources to focus more on Win 10.
The Spectre x360 is currently offered in three configurations, priced at $900, $1,150 and $1,400. Starting with the entry-level model, you get the same Core i5-5200U processor I tested here, along with 4GB of RAM and a 1080p touchscreen. Of the three, this is the only one that’s customizable, with options to double the RAM ($50), add a Quad HD screen ($100) or upgrade to a dual-core i7 processor ($150). You can also swap out the standard 128GB SSD for a 256GB one ($50) or a 512GB disk ($200).
Moving on, the $1,150 model keeps the 1,920 x 1,080 display, but steps up to a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of memory and 256GB of storage. Finally, there’s the top-of-the-line $1,400 model, which has a higher-res 2,560 x 1,440 screen and a 512GB SSD (in addition to a Core i7 CPU and 8GB of RAM). That’s currently sold out on HP’s site, but a company spokesperson says it should be back in stock within the coming weeks. Either way, if you were doing the math earlier, you saw that configuring the base $900 model with tricked-out specs comes to the same price of $1,400, so really, it’s not actually “out of stock”; you just have to check off more boxes to get it.
I’ve read other tech writers refer to the HP Spectre x360 as a “MacBook Air competitor.” That’s fair, but also a little lazy: It’s a MacBook Air competitor to the extent that every Windows Ultrabook is. The point is, if it’s a thin-and-light, high-end laptop you’re looking for, you’ve got lots of options. Too many options, almost. For the sake of not overwhelming you, let’s just focus on the best.
Perhaps the most direct comparison would be to the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro ($1,249-plus), which also has a 360-degree hinge and flagship specs. At just 2.6 pounds and half an inch thick, it is insanely thin and light, especially for a laptop with a touchscreen and a convertible design. That said, that thinness and lightness come with a couple trade-offs. For one, that compact design is only possible thanks to one of Intel’s lower-power Core M processors, which, while perfectly adequate for basic tasks, is not as robust as a fifth-gen Core CPU. Two, there isn’t much room for a big battery inside that slim chassis. Indeed, the battery life falls four hours short of what you’ll get on the Spectre x360, though it admittedly isn’t much better than other skinny Ultrabooks.
If you can live without a convertible design, your options become even more plentiful. Our new favorite is the Dell XPS 13 ($800-plus), which crams a 13-inch display into the body of an 11-inch machine, making it way more compact than other machines with the same screen size. At 2.6 pounds, it too is very light for a touchscreen system, and we’re fans of its comfy keyboard, fast performance, vibrant screen and surprisingly good audio. My main gripes are that the battery life is merely average, at least if you configure it with a touchscreen, and that if you do want a touch panel, it costs an extra $500. That’s because the only touchscreen option has 3,200 x 1,800 resolution; you can’t get it with a full HD touch panel, like with the Spectre x360. A shame, that.
Lastly, yes, there’s the 13-inch MacBook Air, which starts at $999. This, too, was recently refreshed with Intel’s Broadwell CPUs, with the battery life still rated for up to 12 hours. As ever, we enjoy the aluminum design (though it’s slightly heavier than the competition, at 2.96 pounds), as well as the keyboard and best-in-class trackpad. The biggest trade-off you’ll make here is the screen quality: It’s the only laptop in the Mac lineup that doesn’t have a Retina display; just 1,440 x 900 on the 13-inch model.
I asked at the beginning of this review if there’s anything not to like about the Spectre x360. Indeed there is: the machine’s relative heaviness. At three-plus pounds, it’s hardly a clunker, but it is noticeably weightier than other 13-inch machines. Curiously, though, that weight also makes possible so many of the things I like about the laptop. Because the x360 is slightly bulkier than its rivals, it can accommodate a cushier keyboard and a bigger battery, allowing for nearly best-in-class runtime. It also makes room for a ton of ports. If you’re shopping in this size class, I’d also suggest you consider a few other models, like the lighter-weight Dell XPS 13, but even then, the specs HP offers for the money are hard to beat. Particularly if you prefer something with a more convertible design, the x360 is a strong — and reasonably priced — choice.
As laptops continue to become more powerful, there’s still plenty of room for an all-in-one desktop in your life. Their slim profile makes them a bit more desk- or living room-friendly than a typical tower PC, while the large built-in screen is great for getting work done or watching a movie. To help you decide which units are worthy enough to grace your office or den, we’ve taken a look at reviews from trusted critics to find systems that can handle a variety of tasks, including editing documents, watching movies and even some hardcore gaming. Check out the gallery below to see five of the better all-in-one desktops available now, as well as one we’d rather you didn’t buy.
These days, CGI is everywhere, but in 1982 it was an emergent technology that signalled a new era for movie makers and broadcasters. Always on the cutting edge of technology at the time, popular BBC show Tomorrow’s World (we miss you, Phillipa!) documented some of the very first machines capable of delivering real-time effects. Back then, turning a 2D image into a three-dimensional cube wasn’t easy, it required a 900lb machine made by Hewlett Packard that relied on effects coded in Pascal. Certainly a far cry from the full-length movies we see being created on Macs today. It’s a nostalgic look back at what older generations would once have considered bleeding edge technology, but also to see how far we’ve come in a few decades.
HP is shutting down webOS cloud services — including backups, device set-up, and the App Catalog — on 15 January 2015
Well, it was bound to happen eventually, and now we know exactly the day when HP will flip the switch on the webOS cloud services servers: 15 January 2015. Just barely six years after the Palm Pre was introduced at CES 2009, HP plans to shut off their last remaining expenses related to their disastrously-managed webOS experiment. The date also falls just short of two years after HP sold off their webOS assets to LG. It's a sad, but not unexpected day. And when the 15th of January does come, all webOS cloud services will go offline.
What all does that entail? Here's what you won't be able to do on a webOS device come January 15th:
- New device set-up
- Password recovery
- App Catalog app downloads
- App Catalog app updates
- App Catalog app restores
- webOS system updates (you know, if you've for whatever reason not updated in the past three years…)
It's unsurprising to have this come to pass, and we're at least thankful that HP is being forthright and transparent about it. As they say in the FAQ:
Shutting down webOS cloud services is part of an orderly end of life program. HP announced the end of webOS devices (phones and tablets) over 3 years ago but the services were kept running to allow customers to continue to have a richer user experience. The user count has dwindled to the point where it is no longer viable to keep the services running.
It's a sad day, and it'll be a sad day yet when the 15th of January comes and those servers go dark.
But in the meantime, the webOS Nation App Gallery is still up and running. Yeah, we know, we're still here. Any developers interested in moving their apps over to the App Gallery are welcome to do so and can request access to submit apps here (select "Submit Homebrew App" as the category). We know it's not the same as the App Catalog and we don't have a system in place for payments, but what have you got to lose at this point?
For those of you that are wondering how you'll manage in a post-App Catalog world, check out our guide for installing Preware on your webOS device.
Source: HP webOS Developer Center
Looking for a deal on a new Chromebook? You are in luck, right now on Woot! you can snag a 2014 HP 14-inch Chromebook sporting the NVIDIA Tegra K1, 2GB of RAM and a 16GB solid state drive for $209.99. Looking around the various online retailers it looks like you are saving $90 off the […]
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HP this week began offering a pair of new Android-powered tablets which aim to help business users and students. Both the Pro Slate 8 and Pro Slate 12 run Android 4.4 KitKat and feature a number of similar hardware components.
Under the hood, the duo pack 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processors, 2GB RAM, and an 8-megapixel rear camera/2-megapixel front-facing camera combo. Additionally, the pair offer microSD expansion, nano SIM support, and ZIF connector with pogo pins. One of the main draws, however, comes in the Duet Pen which allows for writing detection whether on the display or off. Based on Qualcomm’s UltraSound pen tech, it also utilizes five on-board microphones.
The Pro Slate 8 comes with 16GB or 32GB internal storage options while the Pro Slate 12 is only available with 32GB. As you may likely surmise, the Pro Slate 8 comes with an 8-inch (7.9″) display while the Pro Slate 12 packs a 12.3-inch screen. Resolution is listed at inches at 2,048 x 1,536 and 1,600 x 1,200 resolution, respectively.
The Pro Slate 8 carries a $449 price tag while the Pro Slate 12 runs $569.
Earlier this morning HP held a webcast announcement for some products that will be joining their portfolio. Among the news a new set of slates will be making an appearance sporting Android 4.4 KitKat, of course. The big dog on the block will be the Pro Slate 12. As the name suggests, it will be […]
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