Tablets My Windows 8 Tablet Review--The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by DeathTheKid, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. DeathTheKid macrumors member

    DeathTheKid

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2013
    #1
    As an early Christmas present, I got an Asus Vivotab Note 8. This little tablet is 8 inches, has 32Gb of internal storage, full Windows 8.1, and a Wacom Active digitizer. I wanted a tablet I could write notes on. I’ve had it for almost a week and so far I enjoy it. So here is my review:

    Summary:

    Most of what I hear about Windows 8 tablets is either along the lines of: “This is awesome. It runs full Windows. IOS and Android are toy OS’s.” or “The Windows desktop sucks on a tablet.” I am going to go for the middle ground here and talk about my experiences with Windows 8.1. I am going to give The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

    After using iOS, Android, and Windows 8 on a tablet—it really boils down to what you are looking for. I find iOS to be the best stream lined tablet experience overall and in the app quality. Windows 8 tablets saving grace is running full Windows. On my AVN8, the desktop is usable, but for most thing I can do on the desktop side, I can do them much more efficiently on a laptop. However, there are some niche applications where someone would want a full desktop and the portability of a small tablet.

    For all who don’t want to read my wall of text. ;) Here are my personal likes and dislikes:

    Likes:

    • Having a full desktop
    • Running a full web browser
    • Using paint.NET and OneNote with an active digitizer
    • Using it as a light work computer when I need it.
    • Using it as a portable device to operate a 3D printer, use as a portable network monitoring device, etc.
    • Side by side app pinning

    Dislikes:
    • Took me hours to get everything working right (Forced updates, Driver Installs, “hacks” to free up space, etc.
    • Some apps are missing features founds in their iOS and Android counterparts.
    • Lack of touch optimization on the desktop (some Microsoft desktop apps (i.e. Office) are touch friendly though)
    • Lack of internal memory to install Windows Store apps (some desktop applications will not install to an SD Card (Office Home and Student I am looking at you), but there is a “hack” to get them to an external drive.)
    • Slow to load Desktop and Modern applications. There is not much lag when actually in the application. Also, noticibly slower to perform functions in applications. (note: mine uses 1.33 GHz Intel Atom Bay Trail.)
    • (Device Specific) The stylus is not as accurate as I want it to be (even with the Wacom Drivers and calibration)

    Out of the Box Experience
    Rating: 2/5

    The first night with this tablet was pretty frustrating. Most applications, both desktop and Modern took a long time to load. On top of that, I was unable to download anything from the Windows Store. Every app I tried to download or update would get stuck on pending. So I did what I normally do when a new install of Windows isn’t working quite right—keep forcing updates until it does work correctly and uninstall junkware. Fortunately, Asus didn’t put any bloatware on this. So, I forced update, went to bed and the next morning my tablet was able to download from the Windows Store and loaded apps faster.

    Tablet Experience
    RATING: 4/5

    Overall, the experience has been pretty good. You can pin apps side-by-side, most of the apps display correctly. However, some (like Kahn Academy) will look terrible when shrunken down. Overall, I think this feature is better on larger Windows tablet and I don’t use it too much. I also wish I could use multiple windows in portrait mode. The live tiles are nice for previewing information without pulling down a bar, but are still not on par with Android widgets.

    The Metro side of things is pretty simple. The desktop side is not very optimized for touch (ex. Firefox will let you scroll up and down without using the side bar, but left to right scrolling you have to use the bottom bar. You can scale the desktop which works nicely for most default desktop apps and some third party apps. I also have a Wacom Stylus that helps out.

    I have also done considerably more work to get the tablet to work correctly than I have ever done with an iPad: installing Wacom drivers and calibrating, changing desktop settings to scale up the display, couple of hours of forcing Windows updates, running Windows Cleaner and CCleaner to free up more space (when all the updated were installed I had 6 Gb left), running a symlink program to move Office to my SD Card.

    Overall, looking purely at the tablet side, my iPad 3 has the most streamlined tablet experience followed by my Nexus 7.

    Performance
    RATING: 3/5

    Overall it does well juggling a few applications on the desktop. I have ran Firefox and Word at the same time and they ran pretty well. If I am running GIMP, Firefox and Word at the same time, then it will slow down to the point of being annoying, but still fairly usable. I have also noticed a little bit of lag—mainly scrolling a web site with a desktop browser.

    I have noticed application are slow to load and perform tasks on both the desktop and metro side. I launched Jetpack Joyride on both my N7 2013 and AVN8 at the same time. By the time AVN8 had loaded up to the start screen I was already playing on my Nexus 7.

    I have also noticed weird quirks on the Metro side—IE totally freezing up when I switch back to it from another app. It gone when I close and relaunch the app. There is another where I only see part a small portion of the Start Menu. The rest is blanked out. This goes away when I restart.

    Memory

    People have griped about how much internal memory the default Windows installation takes up. The day after I got my tablet, I got a 64Gb SD Card. This mitigates most of the problem since I can install most programs and push most media to the SD Card, this will not work with Metro Apps and some desktop applications. I have 7Gb free after “cleaning up” the drive. Games from the Windows Store can fill up the internal memory really quick.

    Stylus

    The stylus helps out a lot on the desktop side and it is awesome for taking notes and doing digital art/photo editing. The stylus is a little inaccurate around the edges of the tablet (this is after installing the Wacom drivers). On the SP3, the stylus is way better and the active digitizer is far more accurate.

    Apps
    Rating: 4/5

    Surprisingly, the app store does have a lot of big name apps (ex. Amazon Kindle, Evernote, Facebook and Twitter). On some of the apps, I did find some of apps to be lacking features compared to their Android and IOS counterparts. For example, the Amazon app only shows the top 10 items per general category (it will do search though). Fortunately, you can run the desktop or web version of many of these apps.

    I also tried to install Bluestacks which is an Android emulator, so I could play some of my favorite Android games. It was pretty buggy and slow. I had to mess around with the registry to get it to run full screen. However, after I got Blue Stacks to use the entire tablet screen, it froze on the app menu. On another note, I have heard Genymotion is better and might try that in the next couple of days.

    The Desktop

    Keep in mind, I wanted this tablet to take handwritten notes, the desktop is just a little side benefit to me.

    I think the biggest advantage of having a full desktop on a tablet this size is the browser. Web pages display correctly and even though the web is moving away from plugins like Flash they still do have their place. I can also run Firefox with all my favorite add ons.

    I also use the desktop it for Inkscape, VLC, paint.NET, Wireshark and GIMP. Inkscape, GIMP and paint.NET are really nice with the Active Digitizer. Other than those and Firefox and Chrome, I stay in the Metro side most of the time. I am ordering a case with a mini keyboard and might take it in place of my laptop when I am going out of town and have some light work to do.
     
  2. spinedoc77 macrumors G3

    spinedoc77

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    #2
    I think a 8" tablet is pushing it when thinking about the desktop as an advantage. EXCEPT in the case that almost everyone misses, the ability to connect it to a larger screen/keyboard/mouse. But if you don't have that need then desktop is questionable depending on your use, although personally I have found it VERY useful and yes I own a Vivotab note 8. I also own a surface pro 3 and find they each have their uses.

    The vivotab is a great little tablet. It's a bit cheapie hardware, especially when put up next to something like the ipad. But IMO there is no comparison in terms of the software if you use it as more than a consumption device.
     

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