Sunday, January 13, 2013

Window 8 - Twelfth Pass: New Hardware Options

If you're a regular reading of this blog, and why would you be, please let me know if you are, you know that I have a 6 year old Lenovo ThinkPad T400 laptop. As you also know Windows 8 has been released and presents a whole bunch of new features that are hardware related, like touch screens.

That puts folks like me in a real dilemma when it comes to upgrading hardware. Do I upgrade now with what's presently available or do I wait and see what new hardware options come out over the next few months? The Microsoft Surface is of definite interest to me but it is very limited in growth potential. It is a one-size-fits-all piece of hardware that has no future growth potential. It can't be upgraded, you can't get it with a bigger processor or more RAM, the screen size is set, etc. That may work well for most but I'm trying to find a piece of hardware that is both the best tablet experience out there but also the best laptop experience out there.

Windows 8 is best experienced with a touch screen. The upside of having both a desktop OS and a tablet OS together in a single operating system is that with the right hardware you can use it in any environment. On a plane I exclusively use my iPad. It is small, light, and easy to use no matter what seat I'm in or if the person in front of me is reclined or not. I'm also pretty quick typing on glass so not having a keyboard allows me to enjoy my beverage and keep working with room to spare on my tray table.

This changes when I get to my hotel room or am working at home. There I prefer a regular keyword and mouse. I have much more space on my desk and can get a lot done in a more traditional setting. Doing more complex tasks is simpler having access to traditional desktop style hardware.

Taking advantage of the beauty of everything combined into one in Windows 8 means that if there was a piece of hardware that could do all the above would mean I'd have one less device weighing down my backpack. I'd have a device that had 6-8gb of RAM, a screaming processor, at least 4 USB ports, a keyboard, a tablet screen for portability that detaches from the keyboard, a decent graphics processor, a long life battery, at least a 150gb SSD HD, and very light weight.

It doesn't appear that I'm dreaming. There are some new pieces of hardware that are starting to come out but it seems we are on the beginning of these releases. Again, the Surface is too limiting for what I'm looking for in terms of a full powered laptop replacement that functions as a tablet. While the Windows 8 touch screen options really mess with a typical desktop user in a combo configuration they start to come to life.

Toshiba, Sony, and Lenovo currently have hybrid devices on the market with many more to come. The challenge becomes do I wait or do I buy something now? If I buy now which one is best? I've played with a few of the options and I like what I've seen but I also like what I'm hearing is coming next.

Granted new technology is a moving target. The software part of this has landed, at least for the time being, now to see what the hardware will do.

If you have hardware that you like please comment and let me know what you've got and why you got it. I start to hit the road pretty hard again later next month. Do I buy something out there now or would it be worth it for me to wait until later this spring to get a device that will better meet my needs over the long haul? I can handle a few more months of my heavy T400 and my iPad.