Essentials week : How much for just the Tablet ?

Aug 01

Its essential week on knigtwise.com and we try to look for the ultimate selection of gear to get things done on the road .. with the caveat that we want to lug along as few items as possible. so in that light we test out a different mobile setup each day.

Introducing the Windows Tablet.
“What ?”… Yes, I heard you gasp back there as you read this title in amazement.  “A WINDOWS TABLET ?” Your surprise is valid’ for i haven’t touched a Windows device for personal use for quite some time. Yet when i got a chance to try out this Dell Venue 8 pro .. I could not resist. Would it be a fair companion to take on the road with me or just some dead-weight gadget ?

Windows RT = Windows ‘No-Thanx’
One of the reasons I had thrown aside any interest in Windows or Windows mobile devices over the last year was the quite horrible experience I had with the soon to be forgotten WINDOWS RT. Although a step up from the ageing and clunky interface of Windows Mobile .. It caused me a lot of grief. Not per se because of the OS itself though : I thought it was actually quite elegant on the first windows “phone” devices I tried out. “An elegant business version of what a blackberry should look like” I dubbed it. and I was right. (I mostly am)  if you lived in your mail contacts and calendar application (and connected to Exchange online and office 365), you would be fine. Move off this beaten path for just one step and you would encounter the beast of disappointment. Wandring through the app store would quickly make you realise that even “essential apps” who were abundant on other mobile platforms, were either poorly written or .. not there at all. Classics like Instagram were not available on the OS and only homegrown alternatives, built by well meaning but inexperienced developers, would give you a watered down alternative. Windows RT hit rock bottom when I gave my wife a Samsung Ativ S smartphone and sent her to wander into the world of Windows RT. No phone in our personal history has been more hated, more quickly discarded and took longer to get rid off secondhand .. then this one. A “handicapped” os, duck-taped to poorly aligned hardware. No apps in the store, device rebooting at random … not a chance. Sayonara Windows Phone.
dell-venue-8-pro

… This gives it the feeling of a “netbook” more then a tablet ..

So what about this one ?
Believe it or not , I was actually quite impressed with the venue when I first started using it. The device is a little on the heavy side compared to its other 8 inch compadres , but you aren’t really holding a tablet, are you ?  Because whenever the windows ‘Metro (we all still call it metro)  interface might irritate you, or the poor choice of apps in the store leaves you wanting … you can just go straight into “full desktop” mode. This gives it the feeling of a “netbook” more then a tablet .. hold the thing in your hands for browsing and checking mail and its a tablet. Hit the desktop icon and the whole thing seems to transform into a tiny notebook. For some strange reason this should make it a device that is neither one nor the other. Too heavy to be a Tablet, too small to be a notebook … And yet, thats not the case. As a “power user” I quite LIKE to have that “hidden OS” under the Metro hood. Sure enough its not easy to operate with your fingers (Dell does ship a 40 dollar active stylus if you really really want it) but .. hide a little keyboard and a bluetooth mouse in your bag and … Boom … Filezilla, A terminal application, Full blown Open Office. Chrome (and all the cool Chrome extensions) are right there. Who gives a dingdong that there are no Metro apps in the store .. ( “What store  ?”) I’ll just use this as a mini notebook. Its not lightning fast, you won’t play the latest version of Halo on it .. But it works and it works pretty darn good too. For Emails, Content creation and the geeky stuff we love to do like setting up SSH tunnels to our home networks or … performing a penetration test with nMap .. the 8 inch compadre does it and does it well.

Pro

  • Small
  • Good battery life
  • Full desktop suite (Pro)

Con

  • Screen is rather small to use it desktop mode
  • A little heavy
  • Poor choice in metro apps

Conclusion.
Should the need arise I think I would be quite capable of surviving on this little tablet contraption. What it might lack in “richness” of its metro ecosphere it makes up for with full desktop apps. It feels like a heavy tablet but is in fact a very light and compact pc. Not lightning fast but portable enough to, in combination with a keyboard .. can become a very very versatile little pc.

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1 comment

  1. I just spent a week away with only a Chromebook and a Nexus 5. I can boot the Chromebook into ArchLinux on an SD card, but didn’t do this all week. I use the Chrome ssh terminal to log into my VPS. This lets me run Emacs and org-mode, which is essential to me. Didn’t miss having a full laptop at all.

    Personally I don’t like screens wit detachable keyboards, as you can’t just balance the whole lot on your lap and type.

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