Windows 8 Tablets: Not for everyone!
I'd like to consider myself a fairly open-minded tech geek. I've played around with Android, I use iOS and OS X daily, and I've used every release of Windows since 3.0. I've swapped mobile devices around so many times that loyalty is more of a matter of convenience than anything.
With all of that dabbling, I've come to accept change as inevitable, and sometimes necessary, which is great, because I've stalled too long on really living with Windows 8. I gave the Surface RT a shot, and there's a few things that I found utterly brilliant about it.
- It's running an OS built for touch. The Live Tiles concept, the new Start Screen, it's all utterly brilliant on a touchscreen device.
- It's running on hardware that can last all day. A tablet that can't go all day between charges isn't one I can use.
That said, I have a handful of Windows applications that simply don't work without the real deal, and I can't justify carrying around a full-size tablet alongside my laptop. As much as I like my MacBook Air, the hardware is nothing special when it comes to all of those sleek new Windows 8 enhancements. No touchscreen, no detachable tablet setup, nothing. I wanted to test Windows 8 out as Microsoft's bold new entry into tablets.
So I did. I purchased an Acer Iconia W3, which actually meets my needs pretty well. It's small enough to travel with me, the battery lasts all day, and it does everything that the Surface RT does, only smaller. If you're looking for a small Windows 8 tablet, it's your only option, yes, but it DOES work, and rather well!
There are, of course, a few caveats. The CPU is an Atom, which isn't the most powerful chip out there. The RAM is a paltry 2GB, the storage tops out at 64GB, which isn't much at all, and microSD slot will only accept up to 32GB. None of this is terrible, but this isn't going to be a primary computer for most people.
The bigger problems are ones that should be resolved as Microsoft evolves Windows 8, and Acer can't do anything about it on their own: There simply aren't enough apps in the new Windows Store to keep you in the new Look and Feel. This ranges from a handful of utilities that a techie like me would use, all the way over to the entire Microsoft Office suite, a toolkit that really deserves to shine on a new, Windows 8-specific layout.
Simply enough, any time that you go back to the old Desktop, you're trying to use a system designed for screens over twice the size of this tablet by poking at it with your fingers. It doesn't work well, not because the hardware can't handle it, but because it wasn't designed to be used this way. Unfortunately, there's still quite a bit of settings management that depends upon the older Desktop tools, which makes things a little messy.
Fortunately, much of this is being fixed in Windows 8.1, and I look forward to that release.