Windows 8 tablets - different perspective and my use case.

All new tablets are compared to iPad. No surprise about that - it is a benchmark, premium device with huge market share and mind share. Majority of the reviews (of W8 tablets) are focused on features that iPad is shining in (screen, battery life, available apps, "ecosystem", etc...). I'm not an Apple hater. On the contrary. I had iPhone 3G for 5 years and it is one of the best devices I've ever used.

iPad is a great device, no question about it. Direct comparisons are of course unavoidable, but in my humble opinion there is a much bigger picture and much more features to take into account.

There are many areas where W8 tablets shines, for example:

  • stylus input (more about it later)
  • input in general (integrated keyboards, battery in keyboard docks, etc...)
  • full USB support
  • legacy apps and desktop mode
  • Microsoft Office

I work as a risk assessment analyst in insurance company. My job is to visit (audit) companies (big industry like power plants, automotives, airports, water plants, etc...) and assess the fire and natural hazards in there. What are my hardware and software tools?

  • ThinkPad Tablet 2 (3G) with one note and pen - super-convenient way of taking and storing notes during the audit. In addition it is an easy way of filling my checklists which are prepared earlier (and using it on my desktop later - automatic sync).
  • Java-based software for risk analysis and decision support (I'm not only an end-user, but also a programmer who maintains the engine of the software).
  • Microsoft Word and Excel for creating the final report.
  • PowerPoint for creating and editing presentations for the clients (I often have a presentation for a client right before the actual audit).
  • Flood risk maps (browser with flash support is needed).
  • VPN for working remotely.
  • Microsoft Exchange account.
  • Photo camera for taking pictures during the audit (Lumia 920 in this case).

I can do it all with one single device. ThinkPad Tablet 2 with Windows 8. My work is MUCH easier after convincing my boss to buy ThinkPads for risk analysts. Of course we use desktop PC in the office, but when we are out of the HQ, TT2 is our primary device.

This single use case clearly shows how W8 tablet can be MUCH MUCH more capable than iPad. But there's much more...

I finished computer studies (in my country, Poland) and in my free time me and my friends are creating own social and utility web services (ASP.NET in Visual Studio). Again, desktop PC is my primary machine, but having access to VS and svn on mobile device is excelent. So what are my tools as a web developer and designer?

  • Visual Studio 2008 (a little bit slow on Atom, but definetly usable).
  • Photoshop CS3 (runs well with web-sized images and templates).
  • SVN.
  • Remote desktop.
  • FTP manager.
  • Notepad++

All these features and capabilities are hard to overestimate. TT2 is a full PC. Now I can't imagine life without a lightweight Tablet PC with great battery life.

At the end of this post I want to go back to the stylus input. I thing it is single most unappreciated feauter of W8 tablets. Especially in TheVerge reviews. I will never buy a talbet without a pen after using TT2. It's BIG feature. Really big. Not only for artists and drawers, but also for regular people to taking notes on classes, meetings, etc... It not a "nice add-on". Pen input is the future. Once you try it with open mind, you will fall in love with it.

Share your experience!