Saturday, May 31, 2014

Tablet vs. Laptop vs. Combo

So, my latest personal technology debate.  Which should be the next system that I invest in for my family members consumption.  Let me state that if I had more money than sense, I would invest for everyone (4 of us) to have Apple products across the board, but that option is way too expensive.  As well the two children should be taking theirs to public school and a loss of that kind of value would be crushing.

As  my primary goal, these new devices should replace older machines and multiple under-powered devices.  In an attempt to consolidate for the kids onto a specific device/platform by which they could accomplish school work.  That choice being more than adequate for their mother who does email and navigation mostly, and for myself something grander than a smartphone, but would clearly be under-powered for vitalization or some of the other purposes that require I have a modern desktop performance system.

Gaming is not coming into the equation at all.  This also drops some of the performance requirements.  I can add that I have an affinity for Linux over all other operating systems for the management of security. As I have mentioned before, Apple would be my mainstay if not so expensive, so I do not shy away from the most productive choice just because it is not my ideal.  In this comparison there are devices which are Win8, Android, and basic systems I would install Linux on.

So I started a quest with a budget.  Since that is probably the most limiting factor, let's discuss it as secondary.  €400-500 per person is what my target is.  This puts me in the high end tablet range or low end laptop.  My first inclination was to go towards the tablet, so that it would be as portable as possible with the longest battery life.  But I personally need to be able to use a hardware keyboard.  So, I know that a bluetooth keyboard can be added to most any device, I didn't want to have yet another thing to try and keep charged as a separate thing.  This has all gotten me down to looking at the following devices closely.

Asus Transformer Pad TF701T (Android 4.3)
Microsoft Surface 2 (Win8 RT)
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 edition) (Android 4.4)
Lenovo Miix 2 10  (Win8.1)
Asus Transformer Book T100 (Win8.1)

Reviewing point I used were apps, operating system, size, ports and expandability.  Due to some software limitations (like proper office suite missing for Android as well as limitations for Windows 8 RT to windows store only) leaned me towards to the new entries in the "convertible" space.  The Asus Transformer Book T100 and the Lenovo Miix 2 10.  With very similar specs, I've made a short list of the actual differences.

Lenovo Miix 2 10    (+full hd screen, -non standard micro-usb charger, - usb 2.0 only)
+Full HD screen
+rear camera
+larger kb keys
- kb numbers out of alignment
- magnet attach, with 3 fixed positions (no flexible hinge)

Asus Transformer Book T100 (Win8.1)
-HD screen
-kb a 95% like netbook
-no rear camera
+physical locking screen to dock
+kb #'s align

I had hoped to find a device that also had built in 3G.  It would seem that that module included on devices in my price range are not common at all.

The Asus came in a bit cheaper, but not really enough to polarize my decision.  So based on these few differences between the two systems I made the choice to go with the Transformer Book T100 based on these points:

  1. USB 3.0.  No matter how much I try, I will never be able to make USB 2.0 ports become a USB 3.0 port.
  2. I found a cover for the T100 that can let it function in all the best tablet modes (stand horizontal and landscape) that does NOT block the normal keyboard dock section of the tablet. Coodio Smart Asus Transformer Book T100TA.
  3. Linux adaptation has already started.
  4. Physical latching mechanism for the keyboard to attach.
I'll bet getting the devices very soon as I have ordered them just recently.  I've been watching Win8 "howto" videos on youtube to bone up on the UI as I have not operated a Win8 machine as a daily driver yet.  I'll post back here again after they arrive to follow up on my impression with the machine after some use.

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