Windows 8 was released more than a year now, and Windows 8.1 was unveiled recently. New devices powered by Intel’s Bay Trail and Haswell chips with Windows 8 or 8.1 are flooding the market nowadays. Touch-enabled tablets, convertibles and laptops are getting cheaper gradually. If you plan to buy a touch-screen Windows 8.1 device and head to any local shop, you will be provided with tons of options. Choosing one from them could be difficult, especially when you don’t know what to look for and what to avoid. Don’t worry though, after reading this, you will know what you need to know.
Don’t Get Confused by Windows RT
Windows RT, Microsoft’s OS for portable devices was launched with Windows 8. This created some confusion among the ordinary consumers. Along with Microsoft’s Surface RT, other manufacturers also marketed their RT-powered devices, like the Lenovo Yoga 11. However, only a few Windows RT devices are currently available in the market. The RT-powered devices you are likely to find now are the Surface, Surface RT and Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet. Other than these, currently there are no devices in the market which runs Windows RT.
What About the Chips?
When you are looking for a touch-enabled Windows 8.1 laptop, look for the ones with Intel Haswell architecture. These chips are capable of providing long battery life even on devices with Core i5 or i7 processors. While the first generation Surface Pro lasted only about four hours, the Surface Pro 2 powered by Haswell chip lasts more than eight hours. Therefore, it is now possible to buy a Windows 8.1 device capable of performing as your primary laptop with long backup.
Is Free Office Included?
Some Windows 8.1 devices like 8 inch tablets and Windows RT devices feature free Microsoft Office Student or Home editions. Nonetheless, larger devices are not likely to include these free versions. For instance, the Surface 2 tablet offers a free version of MS Office, while the Surface Pro 2 doesn’t have this. The algorithm behind this could be a business trick by Microsoft. It seems the company provides free Office programs with devices which are not likely to run Office otherwise. On the other hand, the owners of larger devices are more likely to buy Office and run it.
If you are planning to buy a Windows 8.1 touch-screen laptop, then you certainly have the desire of using the touch editions of Windows 8 apps. In this regard, you will feel a bit disheartened after visiting the Windows store. Though the store includes most of the popular apps including Skype, Facebook, Netflix, Hulu, Dropbox, Twitter, Evernote, Amazon Kindle, the selection is very limited. Like the app stores of Android or iOS, you won’t have thousands of apps to choose from. What’s more, the store has no Google apps except the Search app. The Windows 8.1 version of Flipboard was released recently, but the app lacks the look and exciting features of its Android or iPad counterparts.
The reality is you will soon be disappointed after buying a Windows 8.1 tablet. While an 8 inch Windows 8.1 tablet is by no means cheaper than the Android ones or the iPad, the Windows tablet will be very limited in its capabilities. Other than running Office in the 8 inch screen, you won’t have much use of your tablet. So far, the best suited and best working apps for the Windows 8.1 are developed by Microsoft itself. So if you are a die-hard Microsoft fan, you will find yourself at home with dedicated apps for SkyDrive, Skype, Xbox, Xbox Music, Outlook.com and Bing.
Going All Touch?
In reality, desktop is not the perfect place for touch computing, till now at least. That does not mean that touchscreen laptops are completely useless. You can easily scroll the webpages or long word files in your laptop screen just as you do in tablets. Watching a YouTube video will be complemented by the touch controls. But hoping to use the touch feature in everyday purpose will be a disaster. You shouldn’t buy a touch-enabled tablet and expect to replace your regular keyboard and mouse with the touchscreen.
What’s in the Future
Intel and Microsoft plans to convert every future PC to a touchscreen PC. It could be a tablet with additional keyboard, a convertible which can act both as a laptop and a tablet or a standard touch-enabled laptop. Keeping this thought in mind, Microsoft is actually encouraging people to buy touch-enabled laptops by releasing touchscreen versions of their apps before releasing the regular ones. They know that laptops will be sold. Therefore, they want to divert people from Android and iPad tablets by providing detachable touchscreen laptops. In this way, the consumers will be able to use their laptop for multiple purposes. But don’t be fooled by these arguments. At the end, you will use the device and the final decision should be taken by you.