Looking for a Windows 8 Device

I really think there’s a reason that Windows 8 isn’t selling like mad, and it has little to do with the typical complaints from the pundits. It’s all about the devices, really. See, I’m really wanting to purchase a new device, and I don’t think what I want is at all unreasonable, but I just can’t find anything in the marketplace that will work, much less that I’d want to spend money on.

Here’s what I want, broken down into Must Have (won’t even consider something that doesn’t meet these requirements), Should Have (if I absolutely have to compromise I can, but I won’t be at all happy about) and Want (I’ll compromise on these, but I shouldn’t have to).

Must Have

  • Tablet usage
  • Core i5 or better with Hyper-V capabilities
  • 128GB or better SSD
  • 4GB or better RAM
  • 1366x768 or better resolution (hard minimum for Snap)
  • IPS display
  • USB 3.0
  • Bluetooth
  • HDMI (micro is OK) and/or Display Port
  • WiFi
  • Keyboard (laptop-style usage)

Should Have

  • Digitizer pen support
  • Extended battery life (want real 6-9 hours of use between charges)
  • Tablet weight less than 2.5 pounds (obviously less than 2 pounds would be preferred, not as concerned about overall weight if/when docked to a keyboard)

Want

  • Discrete GPU
  • Full HD 1080p
  • GPS
  • NFC

Final price should be less than $1500 USD. Having seen the options that are out there, all of the above is realistic at this price point. Realistic doesn’t mean such a device exists, though. There’s a few options that come close, but none quite do it. Here’s the long list of the options I’ve looked at and what I think of them.

Surface Pro

Very nice device with excellent build quality. This is probably the closest device to what I want. Main issues are: battery life is probably between 4-5 hours and I’m not convinced I can use the device as a laptop. It’s the device on the market right now I can most see myself compromising for… but why should I compromise?

Asus Transformer Book TX300

Man, do I want to pull the trigger on this one. Design wise, this is closer to what I want than the Surface is. In fact, the only reason this one doesn’t automatically qualify is that it doesn’t have digitizer pen support. I really don’t want to compromise on that. Because the Surface has a digitizer pen I’m ever so slightly leaning towards it instead of this one. But if you want to know what I’d love to own, it’s this with a digitizer pen. It doesn’t have the things on my want list, but I’ll gladly do without those for everything this offers.

Lenovo Helix

Technically, this is the only device that meets all of my requirements (except maybe battery life). Design wise, though, this thing is a dog. The dock is ugly, they keys look awkward, and I can’t stand “eraser head” mouse devices. Tell me why I need a touch screen, touchpad AND eraser head? Maybe I’m being too critical, and I am considering this device because it does meet my requirements, but when people say the existing devices underwhelm you need look no further than this one to understand what they mean.

Asus Taichi

This one is interesting, but I just don’t think the design is as nice as the Transformer Book. I guess this one technically meets my requirements, but the dual display concept is a little off putting. I might be convinced to compromise for this one, except the inner screen isn’t touch capable. Still in the running, but I’d rather have the Transformer Book design.

Dell XPS 12

This one is really not too bad. I’d prefer a detachable tablet over the flip screen design. It’s unclear to me if this has pen support, though. This is in the running, but down the list.

Toshiba Satellite U925T-S2300

I love Toshiba laptops, and this one has most of the features I want (pretty sure it’s also missing the pen input) at a really great price. So I should be excited about this one. However, I’d still prefer a detachable tablet and I’ve read some reviews that say the touch screen isn’t sensitive enough, so I’m not sure this one is even in the running.

Lenovo Yoga

This is certainly an interesting device. The recently announced 11” version that will sport the newer Intel chips (with 9 hour battery life in an i5) is certainly something I’m considering. The 13” version is better as a laptop, but laptop usage is secondary to me. I’ll more often be using the device as a laptop or docked to full monitors/keyboards/mice as a desktop replacement. The tablet mode for these devices is a bit compromised, since the keyboard not only isn’t detachable, but the keys are exposed in the back. Like I said, worth considering since I believe the new 11” version has everything I want, but I much prefer the Transformer Book design.

Sony VAIO Duo 11

Don’t like the design at all. Not only does this not have a detachable tablet design, the “slider” design results in a fixed angle display in laptop mode, with a terrible keyboard design. This may be for some people, but not me.

Samsung ATIV Smart PC Pro 700T

This is another one that’s oh so close, yet isn’t really there. The design is very similar to the Transformer Book, and does include digitizer pen support! However, the keyboard dock design isn’t anywhere near as good, and doesn’t give you any extra battery life. Worse, this means the keyboard doesn’t have as much weight, making the overall design a bit top heavy in laptop mode. Certainly in the running, but every time I come back to this all I can think is that it’s not the Transformer Book. I’m pretty sure that if I bought this device I’d always be wondering if I made the right choice. Is the pen worth the build quality and battery life compromises? In case you haven’t seen the trend here, I really want that Transformer Book with pen support!

Razer Edge Pro

This is a very good design, especially if you’re a gamer. I would expect a lot of people to be excited about this device. It’s not got the build quality of a Surface, or even of the Transformer Book. It’s your typical “plastic” design, actually. But it’s a power horse that includes a discrete GPU capable of playing all your PC games. There’s a very interesting “Mobile Console Mode” dock that gives you on the go game controls. There’s also a really nice “Home Console Mode” dock that gives you plenty of ports for all of your peripherals and allows this to easily replace a desktop system. There’s even a “Keyboard Mode” dock that gives you laptop capabilities. I’m not thrilled by the keyboard dock, though. There’s no touchpad on the keyboard, and the keys look a little cramped. Worse, I can’t tell for sure but it looks like the screen might be at a fixed angle when docked to this keyboard. However, it does look passable in design. Once again, what’s leaving it out of consideration by me is the lack of digitizer pen support. If they both had pen support I don’t know if I’d rather pay the extra $300 for the Transformer Book design and quality or save the money for the gaming capabilities of this guy. Really, did I just say you’d save money getting gaming capabilities in a mobile device? That goes to show you how the current devices are all over the map and never hitting the sweet spot. Sad smile

Conclusion

There’s devices that come close, but every last one falls short in one way or another, and there’s simply no reason for this to be the case. It’s frustrating, really.

Anyone know if there’s any devices out there that I’ve overlooked? Even if you don’t know of one that you think exactly fits what I’m looking for, I’d love to know about any devices that come close. If you’ve got any experience with any of this and would like to chime in about my analysis, I’d love that as well. If I’m going to spend this kind of money, I want to be sure I’ll be happy with the purchase.

6 Comments

  • B. Mitchell said

    That is so funny, you just stated the exactly same problem that I am having when it comes to a Windows 8 Device....if only the Razer had a pen!

  • S. Walters said

    Why haven't you looked at the Samsung Slate 7? I use it with Windows 8 and it is *fantastic*. Forget HDMI, the Slate 7 has WiDi (better, I think). Both digitizer pen and keyboard available, you just have to buy them separately.

  • Doddy Prayogo said

    Exactly the same problem that I have, except the detachable isn't a must. Your list is exactly the same with those I created in some forums.

    If only Transformer Book or Lenovo Yoga has a digitizer pen, there will be no brain for me to buy it.

    If I'm not mistaken, Dell XPS 12 doesnt support digitizer pen.

    The closest thing to me is Vaio Duo 11. Almost meet all the requirement.

    Actually you can consider Fujitsu Lifebook T902, if detachable is not your main issues. Pretty solid but heavy and pricey.

  • MarK said

    I have not found any other suitable candidates either.

    My choice would be an ASUS Transformer Book TX300 with discrete graphics and a Wascom pen

  • Carl said

    Lenovo ThinkPad Helix with extra Hard Drive in base like the TX300 a little bigger screen like the TX300 and Discrete GPU. Also needs Ethernet.

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