I’ve given the Windows 8 tablet a full week of testing and I have to say in it’s current implementation I’m disappointed overall however have an optimistic outlook for the OS. I tried to take a few screenshots however there is no real way to take screenshots of the Metro UI without seeing the onscreen keyboard so for this entry, no screenshots for you! I’ll start with what I liked best and then move on from there, this won’t be a professional review or a full review or anything like that, just a few thoughts on my experience thus far.
One thing I do a lot with my tablet devices is take notes and I have to say hands down the note taking on the Windows 8 tablet was the best experience I’ve ever had. With OneNote 2010 installed and the stylus that comes with the Samsung device, it was as if I had a pen in my hand. Unlike the iPad where you have a ‘nub’ to write notes, this was a flawless experience and it just worked. You turn the stylus upside down and erase and it erases what you wrote. No having to click an eraser icon and then back to a pen icon to write. Again hands down best experience out of any tablet style device period.
I like the Metro UI, showing information right up front like a BI Dashboard. However the tiles are live, constantly updating. If I want to click into the tile and find out more information then I can. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I like the ‘Widget’ concept that Android has. If I care enough to find out more information then I can dig deeper, however if I want a cursory glance then I have that available. This is where Apple falls down in a big way, having to go into each app to find that information. I think the Metro UI has big potential here with this interface and providing that live data stream through each tile.
From a social aspect, the interface is horrible. I would much rather have a Twitter, Facebook or Google+ application instead of it aggregated into one pane. I found it very cumbersome on how to reply and read messages from everyone. A lot of wasted space and maybe that will change when the preview is over however from what I see it’s not very user-friendly. The app preview should have included at least Twitter or a Facebook client so that we could get a look and feel for how that acts in the Windows 8 environment. I guess one could always install a Tweedeck if required within the Windows 8 desktop environment.
Overall the device is larger than say an iPad (my previous device to compare) and yet I still found it comfortable to hold, easy to write notes on and overall easy to navigate with the many gestures you can do. It has the ability to have a docking port replicator which is handy if you wanted to use this as a laptop/desktop somewhat replacement. I can’t say that fully because I don’t know the full spec’s of what will be manufactured. However what I can see is the ability to connect a mouse and keyboard and also have a desktop experience with the tablet. This is something some other tablet manufactures are missing. The ability to switch back and forth from real productivity (not just messaging, calendaring and contacts) to fun instantaneously is very key for someone like myself. As I mentioned before, the Windows desktop environment lets me install those Windows 7 style applications where I don’t have to worry about it not working with the Metro UI. Gives me that greater flexibility I find.
While I was disappointed with the preview, I’m not writing the device off completely. I think there is a lot of potential for what the Windows 8 platform can bring to the table. I’m more educated now then I was two weeks ago and much more positive about it than when it was first shown to the public a year ago. I may just keep it around for the note taking as it is a stellar device for that.
I encourage you to get a device and play with it. The Samsung Series 7 tablet is the closest thing to the real deal and yet so far away. If you try it on anything else your experience could be limited, I know that because we tried it on a HP Slate 2 and it was horrible. I’m excited to see what other possibilities of hardware come out as I believe the Windows 8 interface isn’t just meant to be on a tablet form factor.