Recently Browsing 0 members
No registered users viewing this page.
By Rich Woods
Windows 10 build 21292.1010 breaks x64 emulation on ARM PCs
by Rich Woods
As of mid-December, Windows Insiders with ARM64 PCs were able to run x64 apps in emulation, opening up the PCs to the rest of the Windows ecosystem. Yesterday, however, the team released a cumulative update for the latest Dev channel build, and as it turns out, the update breaks the feature, so you might want to skip it.
The update in question is KB4601937, and the blog post has been updated to day, "After installing Build 21292.1010 (KB4601937), x64 emulation on ARM PCs will not work. There is an issue with the way the update is installed that breaks this functionality. As a workaround, you can uninstall KB4601937 to get x64 emulation working again on your ARM PC."
This cumulative update was introduced as something that includes nothing that's new. According to Microsoft, it only exists to test out the servicing pipeline, meaning that the company just wants to make sure, as it does periodically, that it hasn't broken the ability to ship cumulative updates. But being an update with no features, it would be reasonable to expect that it's low-risk, and that it wouldn't break.
The update should be easy enough to roll back, if you're experiencing issues. From Windows Update, go to 'View update history', and select 'Uninstall updates'.
By Rich Woods
HP Spectre x360 14 review: Finally, 3:2 displays are coming to more devices
by Rich Woods
Back in October, HP announced a refresh for its smaller Spectre x360 PCs, which is typically just the 13.3-inch model. But for the first time, the company introduced the Spectre x360 14. Now, you might be thinking that the '14' indicates that it has a 14-inch display. It doesn't; rather, it indicates that '13' is already taken, as this PC actually has a 13.5-inch screen.
It's not just any 13.5-inch screen though. It's got a 3:2 aspect ratio, something popularized by Microsoft's Surface PCs. In fact, taller screens are becoming more and more common throughout the industry. HP also has an OLED option, a first for a 13.5-inch screen.
Of course, that's not all that's new here. It has Intel's 11th-generation processors with Iris Xe graphics, Thunderbolt 4, and more.
CPU Intel Core i7-1165G7 (up to 4.7 GHz, 12 MB L3 cache, 4 cores) GPU Intel Iris Xe graphics Display 13.5" diagonal, WUXGA+ (1920 x 1280), Touch, IPS, edge-to-edge glass, micro-edge, 400 nits Body 11.75x8.67x0.67in, 2.95lb RAM 16GB Storage 512 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD Ports (2) Thunderbolt 4
(1) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) 3.5mm audio Battery 4-cell, 66 Wh Li-ion polymer Input Full-size island-style backlit keyboard, Precision Touchpad Support Webcam HP True Vision 720p HD IR camera with camera shutter and integrated dual array digital microphones Connectivity Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX 201 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5 combo Audio Audio by Bang & Olufsen; Quad speakers; HP Audio Boost Material Aluminum Color Poseidon Blue Price $1,589.99
I've said this many times before, but HP's Spectre x360 series is the sexiest line of PCs on the market. Honestly, these are great laptops, but the design is absolutely a differentiator. This is the type of PC that if you use it in public, people are going to notice it. It's a long way away from the boring old MacBook clones that we still see a lot of, and it's really impressive how it's evolved over the years.
The color of the model that HP sent me is called Poseidon Blue and it has Pale Bronze accents. This is actually the first time that the company has sent me a Poseidon Blue Spectre, which is pretty cool. It also comes in Nightfall Black with Copper Luxe accents, and that one is also stunning. And finally, there's boring old Natural Silver, a color that HP actually killed off one year and then brought back due to popular demand.
The Pale Bronze accents actually look silver, so it's very pale. You'll notice the chrome-colored HP logo stamped in the lid. You can also see the Pale Bronze hinges in the image above; what you can't really see is that the sides are also this color, along with other parts.
It also has gem-cut edges, adding to the style that you find in the Spectre x360. Note that this design is the same as we saw with the last couple of generations of the Spectre x360 14, just adapted for the larger form factor.
You'll notice on the right side that there's a microSD slot, a 3.5mm audio jack, and one USB Type-C port. That USB Type-C port is Thunderbolt 4, which frankly, isn't all that different from Thunderbolt 3. They both support 40Gbps data transfer speeds, or up to two 4K monitors on a single port. The difference is that Thunderbolt 3 had a minimum spec that used two lanes instead of four, supporting half of that, and there was no easy way to know what you were buying. HP always supported the full spec, so nothing is really changing here. That's a good thing, by the way.
Tucked in the corner there is a second Thunderbolt 4 port. The cool thing about that one is that it's designed to keep the cable out of your way, and you can fold the display back without the cable getting in your way as well.
On the left side, there's a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, which gets speeds of 5Gbps. If you're unfamiliar with USB 3.2 Gen 1, you might know it better as USB 3.1 Gen 1, or USB 3.0, because they're exactly the same and it just keeps getting rebranded. I'd like to have seen USB 3.2 Gen 2 (or USB 3.1 Gen 2) on here. After all, this is a premium laptop and other PCs are getting it, so I'm not sure why we're getting last-gen ports.
Also, notice that while one of the back corners has a USB Type-C port, the other corner is empty. In previous designs, there was a power button here, but this has been moved to the keyboard.
But most importantly, this convertible laptop is sexy. When it comes down to a laptop that I want to carry with me, the Spectre x360 is it, and a big part of that is because of the design.
Display and audio
Like I said earlier, the Spectre x360 14 has a 13.5-inch 3:2 display. If you don't like taller displays, don't worry because the Spectre x360 13 was refreshed alongside this. You can still get a 13.3-inch 16:9 screen if that's what you want. Keep in mind though that this isn't just 0.2 inches larger. Screens are measured diagonally, so the change in aspect ratio means that it's actually a much bigger display, and it's 25.6mm taller.
This is also a better aspect ratio for portrait orientation. The wider screen is great for a laptop use case, but this is a convertible. This is meant to be used as a tablet just as much as a PC. Now, it feels more natural that way.
There's also an app pre-installed called HP Display Control, which has different settings for the display. This something that the company started using when it introduced OLED displays on its Spectre lineup, because while OLED produces vibrant, beautiful colors, they're not necessarily accurate. HP's display calibration software solved that issue, and now it's available for all screens.
The viewing angle is a full 178 degrees, meaning that you can look at it from any angle without any visible distortion. Also, it's worth noting that this display does come in a 4K OLED variant. While we're starting to see more and more 3:2 laptops hit the market, this is the only one I've seen with an OLED option. I believe that HP did send OLED to some reviewers, but not this one. The company did say it was working on getting me one a few weeks ago, but frankly, I couldn't hold back this review any longer.
Also, there's a 1,000-nit Sure View Reflect option. That's HP's privacy screen technology which is designed to prevent people from looking over your shoulder and being able to see what's on your screen.
Once again, HP partnered up with Bang & Olufsen for the speakers, of which where are four. There's a speaker bar right above the keyboard, something that actually went away on the 13.3-inch model thanks to the footprint shrinking so much. But thanks to the taller display on the 13.5-inch version, it's almost like HP can just use the old chassis.
There are also speakers underneath the device. That way no matter what orientation you're using the Spectre x360 in, you have sound firing at you.
The speakers are loud and they're clear, creating a pretty solid media consumption experience. Whether you're listening to music at your desk or you're playing a game, this gets the job done.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard spans edge to edge on the deck, and it's the same as it is on the 16:9 one. Like I said, the key difference is that it once again has the speakers above it. This keyboard has grown into being one of my favorites for a consumer PC. HP had originally produced what I believe to be the best keyboard on a laptop in its EliteBook 1000 series, but now it's bringing it to more devices.
The keys don't feel wobbly at all, and they seem to have the perfect amount of resistance to be comfortable. It's also a particularly quiet keyboard, something that's really nice if you're like me and tend to hit the keys too hard at times.
HP also moved a lot of other parts to the keyboard. There's no switch on the side of the chassis for a physical camera shutter anymore, and like I said above, there's no power button on the corner anymore. The way the camera shutter works has changed too. Previously, HP disconnected it internally, an elegant solution that probably wasn't convincing enough for a feature that's designed out of distrust. Now, it disconnects it internally, but it also shows a physical block over the camera.
The fingerprint sensor is part of the keyboard now too. Previously, it was to the bottom-right of the keyboard. Adding these keys to the keyboard is a design change that we're seeing across HP's lineup.
The touchpad is a Microsoft Precision touchpad, something that HP took longer than its competitors to adopt. That means that it's faster, it's more responsive, and it supports the gestures that you're used to.
Performance and battery life
The Spectre x360 14 that HP sent me includes an Intel Core i7-1165G7 and 16GB RAM. The CPU is a quad-core chip with eight threads from the Tiger Lake family. Tiger Lake is Intel's second-generation 10nm family, the first of which was Ice Lake, so the process has been refined a bit.
But also, it includes new Iris Xe graphics. Last year's Ice Lake chips began a focus from Intel on its integrated graphics, so that's being taken to a new level now. Yes, you can play FHD games on this machine, and it's pretty impressive. I'm doing things on thin and light PCs that I'd previously never have done without dedicated graphics.
And if you do need dedicated graphics, you can use Thunderbolt 4 to plug in an external GPU. That's a major benefit of Thunderbolt, which is more or less exclusive to Intel PCs. You can take this on the go and have the power of Iris Xe graphics, and bring it home to a desktop setup that has two 4K monitors and an external GPU, all running off of the two Thunderbolt 4 ports.
For battery life, that's impressive as well. Doing regular work, I got at least eight hours out of it, although I wasn't able to stretch it to 10 hours. This is with the power slider one notch above battery saver and the display brightness at 50%. Of course, this is the FHD model, so that number will suffer if you get the UHD OLED model or the 1,000-nit Sure View configuration. One thing that I can say about HP is that it absolutely cares about battery life in its products, and it rarely lets me down. This is definitely among the best battery life in its class.
For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8, PCMark 10, and Geekbench 5.
Spectre x360 14
Core i7-1165G7 Spectre x360 13
Core i7-1065G7 Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Core i7-1165G7 Acer Aspire 7
Ryzen 7 4700U PCMark 8: Home 4,094 3,243 4,344 3,702 PCMark 8: Creative 4,527 3,818 4.560 4,228 PCMark 8: Work 3,896 3,034 3.980 3,689 PCMark 10 4,705 4,147 4,929 4,718 Geekbench 5 1,414 / 4,470 1,526 / 5,623
HP's Spectre x360 is my favorite family of PCs, just because they're so unique and sexy. Now that the smaller model comes with a 3:2 display, I'll tell you what I really want. I want HP to do this with the larger 15-inch model. Give me something with a 45W CPU and dedicated graphics with a bigger 3:2 display, but I digress.
My only complaints are that it's using a last-gen USB Type-A port, and also that there's no cellular option. HP did announce the Spectre x360 5G at the same time that it announced this, but that's still using the 16:9 display. If you want 3:2, there's no cellular option for the first time in years.
But this is an awesome PC, even aside from the design that I can hardly get over. I'm happy to see the speakers return to the keyboard deck, and speaking of the keyboard, this is probably my new favorite on a consumer laptop. It's phenomenal.
Everything about the Spectre x360 14 is phenomenal, and as always, I totally recommend it. You can find it on Hp.com here.
By Rich Woods
Qualcomm's answer to Apple's M1 could be the SC8280
by Rich Woods
Ever since Apple introduced its first ARM-based Macs in November, people have been wondering when Qualcomm and Microsoft are going to introduce something more competitive on the Windows side of things. After all, Apple's M1 chips beat the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2 in a big way, and the chipset was only announced in September. Being that Gen 2 was such a minor refresh, some thought that Qualcomm might have something else on the way.
According to WinFuture, it just might. Citing 'information available to us', Qualcomm is working on something codenamed SC8280, although it will obviously be called something else if and when it comes to market. Test systems have a 14-inch display and 32GB LPDDR5 memory, and apparently, there will be two versions of the chipset. One will be the base model, while the other will be more powerful.
It also comes with a Snapdragon X55 5G modem, which will likely be integrated into the chipset this time around. Also, the size of the chipset is biggest at 20x17mm, an increase from 20x15mm. The report speculates that this could mean more cores.
If the aim is to compete with Apple, Qualcomm always has an uphill battle to fight. Apple designs its own ARM processors from the ground up, while Qualcomm licenses the architecture. The new Cortex-X1 core is meant to be more customizable, so hopefully, that can help. The Snapdragon 8cx was the firm's first attempt at creating a PC chip, rather than repurposing a smartphone chip, and Gen 2 is really just an overclocked Snapdragon 8cx. If the firm is planning to go big with Gen 3, another redesign could make a big difference.
On top of that, Microsoft is going to be offering x64 emulation on Windows on ARM PCs later on this year. Right now, ARM PCs can only run native apps and emulated 32-bit apps. Adding x64 support opens up Windows on ARM to the rest of the ecosystem, and Microsoft and Qualcomm might want some hero hardware to unveil when the feature launches.
By Rich Woods
Microsoft releases Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21292.1010
by Rich Woods
Earlier this week, Microsoft released Windows 10 Insider Preview build 21292 to the Dev channel. It contained mostly fixes for the news and interests feature that appeared the week before, which basically puts a news feed in the taskbar.
Now, we're getting a cumulative update for the build, bringing the build number to 21292.1010. According to Microsoft, there's nothing new in the update. The company does this periodically, but it's just meant to test out the servicing pipeline. Microsoft has to make sure that it can service builds with cumulative updates from time to time, as that's a very major component to servicing a feature update.
The update is KB4601937, and it should show up automatically. Obviously, you can get it now by checking for updates in Windows Update, although there's really nothing here to test out.
Build 21292 is from the rs_prerelease branch, meaning that it includes features that might show up in some future version of Windows, and might not. It's not tied to any specific feature release though.
By Abhay V
Apple reportedly testing Music and Podcasts apps for the Microsoft Store
by Abhay Venkatesh
Apple retired iTunes for macOS back in 2019 with the release of macOS Catalina, splitting its functionality into three apps: Music, TV, and Podcasts. However, the company continued offering iTunes on Windows and had nothing to share about replacing the aging music client. A job posting spotted late in 2019 hinted towards possible efforts in that regard, with the firm calling on UWP developers to build the “next generation of media apps for Windows”. The company then made available Apple TV for Xbox late last year.
Now, a new report suggests that the Cupertino giant is working to bring its Music and Podcasts apps to the Microsoft Store. The apps are reportedly being tested as part of a private beta program and a release is expected sometime later this year. It is not clear if the apps are aimed at Xbox users alone, just like the Apple TV app, or if Apple plans to make the offerings available for the PC as well via the Microsoft Store.
Apple has been gradually expanding the availability of its services on multiple platforms. Apple TV, for instance, is making its way to Chromecast with Google TV and multiple smart TVs from LG and Sony. It will not be surprising to see the Music app make it to the Xbox, following the TV app. Though the service has a great web app. there is merit in releasing the apps for Windows 10 – and by extension for Windows 10X that is expected to launch on low-end PCs and tablets first – since it will greatly expand the reach of the company’s services via native apps.
It will be interesting to see what the iPhone company has in store for Microsoft’s platform. The introduction of native TV, Music, and Podcasts apps to Windows will be a welcome addition for users of the services.