El Reg's Elite X3 assessment

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While Andrew Orlowski and I don't always agree about technology, we do respect each others opinions, and there's the occasional crossover link. As here, with Andrew getting loaned the same HP Elite X3 review kit that I did. He misses a few tricks along the way (e.g. speakerphone DOES use both speakers, and OneDrive is natively supported by the Office applications on the server - it doesn't need to be added in as a cloud plug-in), but on the whole we're on the same page. See below for his conclusion.

From Andrew's conclusion:

Here we should note the obvious: this is for businesses – even diehard consumers will struggle to justify this purchase rationally. In mitigation of the paucity of Windows 10 mobile’s app catalogue, last year’s Lumia 950s could at least claim to offer a camera that was top of the class, and probably remains in the leading pack of smartphone cameras today. The Elite x3 camera, capable in good light, scores so poorly in low light that a bargain Android often produced better results.

As I’m sure you’ve grokked by now, the Elite x3 phone itself is only part of a thoughtful and comprehensive package of hardware and services; I can’t fault HP here. Where the three-in-one proposition falls short in reality is because of platform defects in Windows 10 mobile. The quite amazing security hole we unearthed is just one example.

HP has made a massive global commitment to creating a new device category around Continuum, and you would think its unique multi-mode capability alone would give it some strategic importance at Microsoft. But the Continuum project does not even seem to be a priority for the Windows team. Updates have been few and far between, and x3 buyers will need to wait until spring 2017 for the major platform update that promises overlapping windows in Windows.

With Android making its debut in more "computing" devices like Lenovo’s clever Yoga Book, and making strides in productivity environments thanks to Remix OS, Microsoft is letting Continuum's unique promise dissipate as it gets distracted by shinier, sexier bot things.

Continuum isn’t life or death for Microsoft, and maybe that’s the trouble. ®

I do think he was a little hard on the X3's camera, see my own analysis here, but yes, it does struggle a little in low light - but then so does almost everything since the Nokia 808 PureView...

As to Microsoft's timescales for improving Continuum, Andrew is right, spring 2017 is when Redstone 2 is due out (the 'Creators Update') and this will bring major Continuum improvements. However, we're somewhat used to glacial timescales at this point, with a maximum of two major new production OS builds per year. And, let's face it, HP has a long term play going on here - next Spring will simply be a small step along the arc traced out by their marketing efforts for the next few years for the Elite X3.

But yes, part of me also sighs at Microsoft's current obsession with VR and with 'bots' when they haven't got all the basics of Windows 10 finished yet, at least not on production handsets like this. Witness the recent media controls fix-up, which I welcome on my Insiders devices but which production  handsets are unlikely to get before the Spring.

Source / Credit: The Register