7 Days is a weekly round-up of what's been happening in the world of technology - written by Neowin's editors with a dash of humor, a hint of exasperation, and an endless supply of (Irish) coffee. Here's a especially edited version for TechSpot readers from the full article.
It’s been a pretty packed start to the month with the IFA consumer electronics trade show in Berlin this week, but there were plenty of other developments across the tech world too. But fear not, for 7 Days is here to bring you up to speed on the week’s top stories.
We begin this week with Qualcomm, which has been busy talking up its next-gen Snapdragon 820 chipset for flagship-class mobile devices. The company discussed the 820’s ‘Smart Protect’ technology to protect devices against mobile malware – but more significantly, it said the 820 will provide up to twice as much performance and battery life as the Snapdragon 810. That’s quite a claim!
Toshiba, for example, unveiled its Satellite Radius 12, a convertible notebook with a 360-degree hinge and some pretty high-end specs, including a 12.5-inch display with up to 4K resolution. However, range-topping models with the optional 4K screen promise less than six hours of battery life – hardly impressive.
Another Toshiba device also made an appearance at IFA – albeit a very brief one. This ultra-thin, ultra-light tablet includes an Intel Atom processor, 1080p display with stylus support, and a detachable keyboard.
Lenovo showed off some of its new Skylake-equipped hardware at IFA too, including this monstrous new Ideacentre AIO 700, a Windows 10 all-in-one with some pretty mighty specs, including an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950A 2GB VRAM graphics card. It will be sold in 24- and 27-inch flavours, with an optional Windows Hello camera available, for password-free biometric authentication.
Lenovo also showed off another device, which appears to have drawn rather a lot of design ‘inspiration’ from Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3. Indeed, the form factor of the Miix 700 is almost identical to the MS tablet - right down to the rear kickstand, and the detachable keyboard which can be raised slightly with magnetic attachments just below the screen.
Acer showed off its updated Aspire R 13 convertible at IFA, with Windows 10, Skylake chips, USB 3.1 Type-C ports, and a new Precision Touchpad. The R 13's display retains its unusual configuration, with a mid-mounted hinge that allows the notebook to transform into a giant tablet.
Acer also unveiled its new Revo Build, a Windows 10 PC with a modular design, that lets you buy new components and features – including upgraded graphics cards, portable hard drives, sound card, and more – in ‘Blocks’ that stack and attach magnetically to each other. The aim is to make it as easy as possible to build a PC with only the features that you need – but the success of the device will depend on two things: pricing, and how well Acer supports it.
Like Lenovo, Acer also revealed a new all-in-one PC with Windows Hello support. The U5-710 also offers some fairly high-end specs, although it’s only available with a 23.5-inch 1080p display.
Acer also showed off a wide range of new hardware designed for gamers, including its mighty G6 and G3 Predator desktops, and two new Predator notebooks, all with Skylake processors and Windows 10 on board. It also showed off new gaming monitors – including an ultra-wide 35-incher – along with a new gaming-focused Android tablet and smartphone.
Meanwhile, ASUS also unveiled an ultra-wide gaming monitor – the 34-incher joins the company’s ROG line, with a pretty dramatic design, and 3440x1440px resolution.
ASUS also joined the growing number of manufacturers to launch a dongle-sized Windows 10 PC. Its new VivoStick features the low-end specs that are common in such devices, but priced at only $129, and with various color options available, it may well tick the right boxes for some buyers.
Microsoft unveiled a new version of its Xbox One this week, available only as part of its new ‘Elite Bundle’. The console includes a 1TB Solid State Hybrid Drive, which Microsoft says “optimizes system performance so you can get to the action up to 20 percent faster from energy-saving mode”. It also comes with the company’s latest ‘performance-class’ Xbox Elite Wireless Controller.
Microsoft’s Band received another price cut in the UK this week, as the company and its partners continue to deplete stocks ahead of the Band 2’s announcement next month. The Band was available for £139.99 earlier this week, although it’s since gone up to £145 – but that’s still £24.99 less than the usual £169.99 price tag.
Microsoft announced on Tuesday that Cortana will soon be available on Windows 10 in many more parts of the world. And excitingly, the digital ‘personal assistant’ will now be able to help with translations into 38 languages, including Klingon.
The first major update to Windows 10 will bring a range of new features later this year, including the new Skype messaging experience. Known internally as ‘Threshold Wave 2’ (or ‘TH2’), it looks like this update may arrive a little later than expected.
Since its release on July 29, Windows 10 has already grabbed 5.21% of the desktop OS market, according to the latest figures from NetMarketshare.
And on Friday, Microsoft revealed that its Windows Insider program has now grown to 7 million members. That means that a further one million people have signed up to test Windows 10 previews in the last three weeks alone.
Microsoft said in July that it would launch an unlocked version of its Surface 3 (4G LTE tablet) before the end of August – but on Tuesday, the company announced revised dates for its release. Pre-orders finally opened in the US on Thursday, and will be offered in other markets over the coming weeks.
New details emerged this week on the new dock that Microsoft will sell to enable the ‘Continuum’ feature in Windows 10 Mobile handsets. Continuum will allow users to connect their phone to a monitor or TV, and use a mouse and keyboard with the device, effectively turning the handset into a mini PC, including a Windows 10 desktop-style user interface.
Acer became the first manufacturer to unveil a flagship-class Windows 10 Mobile phone this week, which will include support for Continuum – and Acer was keen to play up this feature, referring to the new Jade Primo handset as “your pocket PC”.
By the way, if you’re a bit hazy on why Continuum in Windows 10 Mobile is a big deal, you might want to take a look at an article I wrote back in July, explaining how Microsoft is setting the stage for a truly mobile-first future for computing.
There were no new Windows 10 Mobile preview builds this week, but Microsoft did release a new UpdateAdvisor app, which will help non-preview users to prepare their handsets for upgrade to the latest OS version.
However, on Friday, Microsoft also announced that it is ending support for several Lumia apps in the next few weeks, as it attempts to significantly reduce the amount of photo-related mobile software it maintains.
Microsoft is reportedly considering a multi-billion dollar redevelopment of its Redmond campus – but this isn’t just a vanity exercise. The company is considering making massive changes across its sprawling global headquarters near Seattle to help attract younger engineers, and boost productivity among its workforce.
One of the most intriguing new Windows 10 devices went on sale this week – the PiPO X9, successor to the X8 ‘Windows TV box + desktop tablet”. The X9 also includes dual-boot support for Android 4.4 KitKat.
And by the way, be sure to check out the Tronsmart Ara X5 – Timi Cantisano took a quick look at the new Windows 10 mini-PC this week, with a full review coming soon.
The week ahead
Stay tuned to Neowin in the coming days, as Apple unveils its new iPhones and Apple TV, and we’re also keeping our fingers crossed for a new Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build. We’re expecting some more Windows 10 devices to be unveiled this week too (indeed, we’ll probably see a lot more of these being launched ahead of the holiday shopping season).
These articles are brought to you in partnership with Neowin.