Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pleasantly surprised with a Windows 8 device.

Windows 8 has come in for a lot of criticism:

  • Not having a start button
  • Forcing the Tile interface on everyone
  • The touchscreen interface is useless on most current devices that people own
  • The number of steps it takes to power the device off.
  • etc...
A number of these are legitimate gripes but I was recently testing the new HP Elitebook Revolve 810 and got to experience Windows 8 first hand on a device designed for it and found myself quite pleasantly surprised.  (Disclaimer - I have used Windows all my computing life and have never used a Mac and thus this post is NOT about Windows vs. Macs).

I have used an iPad, a Motorola Xoom tablet, a Blackberry, a Motorola Razr smartphone and an iPhone 5. Frequently I carry a backpack with a laptop and a tablet and have the iPhone 5 in my pocket.  

On a plane the tablet is great because: 

  • The size 
  • Rapid boot up and shut down
  • Games
  • Ease of reading and doing some annotations
Once you get to a destination like a meeting, you do need the full computer functionality of a laptop.

HP Elitebook Revolve 810

The HP Revolve is as close to the ideal between the tablet and computer that it can get.  While it does not have most of the apps that I use on my iPad or Xoom tablet, it does not need most of them.  

What I liked about it:

  • The size - folded down it it just about the size of a tablet
  • The lightening fast boot up and shut down (SSD)
  • The multifunctional touchpad with 1,2 and 3 finger gestures
  • The full keyboard
  • The full functionality of a regular laptop
  • The news, weather, and Office apps
  • OneNote with ability to draw, write with a finger and handwriting recognition
  • The lighted touchpad - detects whether you are using it or not and turns off and on as needed automatically

What did I not like?

  • The lack of a VGA out - has a HDMI out so needs a special dongle
  • The touch pad is large and till I figured out how to change the settings, it kept moving my cursor to random places as I was typing due to my palm contact.
  • The lack of apps 
  • The WiFi is somewhat finicky.  It kept dropping intermittently till I tweaked the settings.  Now it is better but still needs a reset of the WiFi adapter at times.
  • The resolution is a bit underwhelming for such an expensive device.
The revelation for me has been how often I ended up using the touchscreen rather than the touch pad as I was typing or surfing.  Having to move the cursor from one end of the screen to the other and then having to click on something suddenly started to feel inefficient compared to just touching the screen.  Whenever the object to be clicked was large enough, I found myself instinctively skipping the touch pad.

This configuration of the Acer R7 now makes sense 

As I was realizing this, I saw the Acer R7 which has a phenomenal design. The touch pad and the keyboard positions are reversed and the hinge allows the screen to be pulled forward and thus eliminates the touch pad completely if the user desires.  This started to make sense based on my own 2 week experience.  

As the next generation of devices designed for Windows 8 start coming out, I expect to skip having to carry the tablet around.  Many people already own a tablet; I would not be surprised if their next purchase would be one of these new Win 8 convertibles or the Surface Pro.