nd with Staingate only having 1,477 cases registered, it could be a long battle for affected MacBook users.Have you had any issues with your MacBook Pro display generating mysterious stains similar to those in the images featured here? If so, let me know by getting in touch in the comments below or through Twitter @VaughnHighfield or @PCPro.
HP has used this year’s Bett education technology trade show to launch a new Education Edition line of tablets, built specifically with schools in mind.With toughened chassis, all-day battery life and preloaded schools software, they’re built from the ground up for classroom use.Rather than adapting mainstream corporate or consumer devices, HP conducted months of research in schools to find out what educators wanted and classroom life demanded.First up are the HP Pro Tablet 10 EE (above) and the HP Pro Slate 10 EE. Based around Intel Atom Z3735 processors and a 10in, 1,280 x 800 touchscreen display, the two tablets are basically identical bar the operating system: one runs Windows 8.1, the other Android.
Thanks to the chunky rubberised casing they’re neither thin nor light, but they are extremely robust, withstanding drop tests and reaching IP52 standards for water- and dust-resistance.Hands-on, they feel incredibly solid, with some really smart touches. For example, there’s a small ridge around the toughened screen to ensure that, if the tablets are dropped face down, they should withstand the impact.Meanwhile, both tablets feature a simple, passive stylus, which fits neatly inside a slot in the casing and attaches by a cord. During in-schools testing, HP discovered that some younger students couldn’t resist the temptation to dangle the tablet from the stylus, then give it a spin. As a result, HP made the cord and its attachments toughened so that a moment of mischief doesn’t end in a catastrophe.One of the advantages of the identical design is that both Android and Windows tablets can share common accessories, including the chunky hardwired keyboard base. Either tablet can slot into the base – the samples on show had Windows keys – with the keyboard taking power from the tablet to keep costs low.
The base feels as rugged as the tablets and provides a stable platform for getting work done. HP claims that the dock has been tested for over 11,000 connections and some pretty rough treatment, in an effort to minimise the failures you can see when consumer tablets with keyboard docks arrive in schools.The new tablets are joined by the HP ProBook 11 Education Edition.Built out of plastic but with its corners, grips and edges encased in co-molded industrial rubber, it’s been designed to maximise structural strength without dramatically increasing weight.In the hands it’s reasonably light but extremely solid; noticeably more so than most Chromebooks or netbooks. The 1,366 x 768 touchscreen comes with the option of touch.Processor options start with an Intel Celeron 3205U and go up to a Core i3-5005U, so there’s more than enough power for most mainstream classroom tasks.
It's not just the hardware that makes the Education Editions special, however.Each comes preloaded with a selection of teaching and management tools, which HP is calling HP School Pack. This includes HP’s Classroom Manager Student Edition classroom management tool, plus the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, a library of eBooks and audiobooks selected by HP, plus Pasco’s SparkVue STEM app.HP will be rolling the same bundle across both Windows and Android devices, along with a year’s coverage by Absolute Data Protection Basic, providing anti-theft and remote data lock and wipe capabilities to protect students’ data and the school’s valuable hardware.UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, but the tablets are available in January at around £200 for the Windows Pro Tablet 10 EE and slightly less for the Android-powered Pro Slate 10 EE.
It’s also useful for live sports: if you want to watch the big match while you’re away, it should offer a better way of doing it than trawling the internet for a dodgy stream. And if you’re desperate to catch something on live TV before your Twitter stream gets clogged with spoilers, it’s good for that too.Setting it up is simple enough: plug the M1 into the video and audio outputs of your set-top box, and connect the outputs on the Slingbox to the corresponding inputs on your TV. This allows the box to intercept the signal, encode it ready for streaming, and pipe it over the internet, or your local network, to your laptop, tablet or smartphone.Video connections are made via composite or component cables (HDMI won’t work due to HDCP restrictions), the box connects to the internet via dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and control over your box is provided via an IR blaster integrated into the rear of the Slingbox itself. (The box ships with an extender you can stick directly to the front of your set-top box if the integrated transmitter doesn’t work with your setup.)
Once you’ve set up an account on Sling’s website you’re good to go. Sling provides apps for all the major mobile operating systems, including a Modern app for Windows. These apps even support Google Cast, so you can send that content directly to your TV via a Chromecast. The simplest way to connect to your Slingbox, however, is to install either the Windows or OS X desktop app.In general, the system works well. I hooked up the Slingbox M1 to an ageing Virgin Media HD box and found streaming from my house in north-east London to my parents’ place in Wimbledon Park was reasonably stable, and quality surprisingly high. I did experience the occasional bout of buffering, and sometimes the quality dropped, but by and large the stream was perfectly watchable.The Slingbox M1 will stream at up to 1080p if you're using component connections (with composite connections the resolution is limited to standard definition). Just bear in mind that the quality it delivers in real-world use will vary depending on the speed of the connection, in particular at the upload end.
In the test above, my uplink speed was 3Mbits/sec, though, so it clearly doesn’t need a huge amount of bandwidth. However, it stands to reason that if your broadband connection isn’t reliable or speedy enough, the Slingbox M1 isn’t for you.The remote-control aspect of the system is more hit and miss. In order to change channels, or browse your recordings, Slingbox’s software provides a virtual, onscreen remote control, which mimics not only the layout, but the exact appearance of your set-top box’s remote control.This means it’s pretty easy to get to grips with; on my box, however, I found it terribly unresponsive. Clicking buttons to navigate around often resulted in a lag of between three and four seconds before that action was reflected onscreen. This makes browsing long lists of recordings or the programme guide a real pain, and fast-forwarding through the ads feels a little like playing pin the tail on the donkey.