HP Spectre x2 review: It beats the Surface Pro on value, if not performance

 

Our review of HP’s Spectre x2 12.3-inch 2-in-1 tablet begins with a simple question: Can HP continue its tradition of being an elegant, yet durable alternative to Microsoft’s Surface Pro flagship?

The answer is Yes. HP took the best bits from its Elite x2 tablet and the first-generation Spectre x2 tablet (2015), then updated the new Spectre x2 with the latest Kaby Lake chips. The Spectre x2 gives you more features for the money than the Surface Pro: Our $1,300 review unit included both the keyboard and the stylus right in the box (hear that, Microsoft?). It’s a shame this solid value is let down by middling battery life and a pesky fan.

 HP Spectre x2 2017man / ID

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Specs: Kaby Lake and an outstanding display
  • Kickstand, pen loop anchor the productivity
  • Extra software
  • Performance: Marred by mediocre battery life
  • Conclusion: Good value despite a few flaws

Specs: Kaby Lake and an outstanding display

HP will offer one $1,300 retail version of the Spectre x2 (the one we tested):

  • Model name: Spectre x2 12-c012dx
  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 8GB  LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 360GB PCIe NVMe

Four more SKUs will be available via HP.com:

An entry-level Core i5 version for $1,150:

    • Model name: Spectre x2 12t
  • CPU: Core i5-7260U
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 128GB PCIe NVMe

An entry-level Core i7 version for $1,230:

    • Model name: Spectre x2 12-c052nr
  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 256GB PCIe NVMe

Two higher-end Core i7 versions have these starting configurations and can be upgraded. This one starts at $1,670:

  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 16GB  LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 512GB PCIe NVMe

The highest-end one starts at $1,970:

  • CPU: Core i7-7560U
  • RAM: 16GB  LPDDR-1600
  • SSD: 1TB PCIe NVMe

 

IIT Kanpur: 60 students terminated for poor performance

 

On Sunday, July 9, IIT Kanpur terminated 60 students, including 46 undergraduates, eight postgraduates and six research scholars, for not performing well in academic courses despite the warning by the institute.

Warning by HOD

The terminated students were earlier warned by the HOD and were even issued a notice following their poor grades.Their academic Dean, Dr Neeraj Misra said, “The termination was a normal and lawful practice. Previously, weak students were given opportunities for improving their performance. In case, they failed to make any improvement, action is taken against them.”

Exactly what it entails and what will happen to the students now is unclear.60 students terminated for poor performance

(Read: IIT JEE (Advanced) Counselling 2017 starts again, Supreme Court lifts ban)

Mercy petition provided

The decision of terminating these students came after the senate meeting held on Saturday, as students scored below average in their respective courses. The institute also provided mercy petition to some students; however, no mercy petition was allowed for the weak students.

The students whose admissions were terminated were seniors — as many as 8 were post graduates and some 6 were research scholars at the institution.

To ensure no untoward steps are taken by the students and to ensure transparency at all levels, the institute has informed the parents of the students concerned.

 

Samsung Galaxy J7 Max: Performance and benchmark comparison

 

Samsung’s always had the work cut out for itself. From its battles against the almighty Apple, to the sea of Android OEMs out there today, Samsung has held the fort down. Yes, Samsung’s market share has dropped over time, but the company still leads the global smartphone market proudly. And it over the past few years, it has done this by meeting consumers midway. Samsung’s devices give you some, but not all of what you want. And that’s pretty much what the story with the Samsung Galaxy J7 Max is.Samsung Galaxy J7 Max: Performance and benchmark comparison

What we discuss today is the part Samsung is not giving you: uber fast performance.


Samsung Galaxy J7 Max Specifications

Benchmarks

The Galaxy J7 Max runs on a MediaTek chipset, and it’s no benchmark beast. The MediaTek MT6757 is an octa-core chipset, clocked at 2.39GHz, but you’re looking at a pretty drastic performance drop compared to a Snapdragon 625-powered Moto G5 Plus (review). Of course, that means it’s over 50% slower than a Snapdragon 650.


AnTuTu Benchmark


Geekbench 4 Single Core


Geekbench 4 Multi Core


3D Mark Unlimited

UX

On the other hand, Samsung’s choice of chipset for its A or C series smartphones is not competitive either. There, the company makes up for this shortcoming through stellar user experience. Unfortunately, this is another serious misstep on the Galaxy J7 Max. The phone is far from smooth or fast. There are noticeable lags when rendering heavy graphics, while app load times are long. Even regular apps like Facebook and WhatsApp will open after a short, but irritating delay.

This can only get worse over extended usage, meaning the Galaxy J7 Max is likely to slow down considerably in the long run, like many other Android phones. Samsung’s new UI looks incredibly premium, but it doesn’t actually perform like one.

Heating

On the other hand, we haven’t found any heating issues on the Galaxy J7 Max yet. Extended periods of gaming can heat the phone up, but we found no tendency to heat up abnormally. With the room temperature controlled to 24 degrees celsius, the Galaxy J7 Max reached about 42 degrees over half an hour of gaming. Gaming experience isn’t perfect, but heating certainly isn’t an issue you will have to deal with.

 

Mobile app performance remains a problem a decade after iPhone launch

 

On the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone launch, app performance problems remain a major challenge, preventing many from realising their full potential, according to new research.

As consumers have come to rely heavily on apps for everything from shopping and banking, to dating and exercising, a burgeoning app economy has emerged; forecast to be worth $100bn by 2020. As app developers have worked to tap into this huge market, the number of apps available in the Apple App Store has skyrocketed by 2,750% – rising from just 800 in July 2008 to 2.2 million by January 2017. Apple netted a cool $29bn in revenue from the store last year, up $9bn from the previous year.

However:

  • Gartner estimates that by 2019, 20% of brands will abandon their mobile apps, due to levels of adoption, customer engagement and return on investment being significantly less than expectations.
  • Dynatrace research shows that 47% of consumers expect mobile apps to load in less than three seconds and 75% will abandon it and go elsewhere if the app is slow, buggy or prone to crashes.
  • Furthermore, the Dynatrace research found that nearly a third (32%) of consumers will not use a mobile app again if it fails to work the first time.
  • 50% of Millennials will voice their bad experiences on social media and app store reviews
  • Blancco’s latest State of Mobile Device Performance and Health Report found that crashing apps were the most frequent performance issue impacting on iOS devices, found to be accountable for 32% of all problems.

Dave Anderson, digital performance expert, Dynatrace, comments, “It’s almost inconceivable that mobile apps still crash and falter at the rate they do. Consumers are spoiled for choice with so many apps to choose from, so they won’t hang around for poor performance. They’ll abandon it and find something better – even if it’s a free application. That puts a lot of pressure on developers to ensure their app works all the time, whilst satisfying the demand for it to be constantly updated with awesome new features.

“It’s really hard to achieve that kind of stability whilst innovating fast; especially when you consider that digital natives like Amazon have set the bar incredibly high, releasing software updates every 11 seconds. These rapid release cycles make it very tough to fix bugs, optimise the app and make sure security is good, but developers don’t have a choice if they’re to compete against today’s consumer expectations and the benchmarks in performance set by the leaders – like Apple, Uber, Amazon. It’s therefore crucial to consistently test and monitor how any changes made to an app will impact its performance, so developers can see problems clearly, and instantly identify the root cause in the event they do arise.”

“However, that task is becoming far more challenging, as the digital ecosystem becomes ever more complex. New device types are emerging on an almost weekly basis, and the IT stack that underpins mobile apps is evolving constantly – and extremely complicated now. Added to that, performance problems could relate to anything from the app itself to a particular device type, network carrier or operating system. As such, the old, manual ways of monitoring apps aren’t suitable for today’s app economy. Businesses need to turn to the powerful analytical capabilities of Artificial Intelligence to make sense of performance data and uncover the root cause of any problems before users feel the pain and start to abandon their apps.”