I was chatting with teachers earlier this week, at a school workshop in Sydney, and one of the subjects that came up was "What device should we be looking at for next academic year?". It’s a really tricky question, for two reasons:
- When you’re choosing a Windows device, you’re spoilt for choice. Do you want a desktop, an all-in-one, a laptop, a slate, or something else?
- Every day it seems that we’re all reading about new devices for Windows 8 that are just around the corner.
So to help everybody that’s planning for next year, then I thought I’d share some of the highlights from the blog post from Nick Parker, who leads the Microsoft OEM Division (they are the team that work with all of the companies making Windows devices)
A couple of weeks ago the focus of the technology world turned to IFA in Berlin, a massive consumer electronics trade show that gets over 150,000 people attending. In the run-up to the consumer launch of Windows 8 on 26th October, this year’s event made it the perfect place for manufacturers to show off what devices are coming in the next few months. With devices that range from tablets and hybrids to more familiar notebooks and all-in-ones on display at the IFA conference, it’s clear that we’ll have a broad range of PC choices when Windows 8 launches. Some of the highlights included:
New ARM based slates
The new line of “transformer” PCs from ASUS, such as the ASUS Vivo Tab RT, is a good example of tablets that run the Windows RT operating system powered by ARM processors and provide an easy docking setup that makes it a snap to go from a traditional setup in the classroom to a tablet mode for browsing the web from your sofa.
Also powered by Windows RT, the Dell XPS 10 brings productivity and a mobile keyboard dock with long battery life.
Samsung ATIV Smart PCs
Samsung announced a docking tablet with its new line of Samsung ATIV Smart PCs. With their support for a range of touch and gesture commands, it makes them amazingly adaptable for home, professional and educational uses. All of them are touch devices, and most of them also come with pens, so that students can write as well as type.
Convertible slate PCs
Some of the new hardware designs include keyboards, blurring the line between pure “tablet” PCs and “hybrids.” Several of the PCs are being billed as desktop replacements that function just as well in either mode (as somebody now using my Samsung Series 7 slate PC as a replacement for my desktop/notebook, it’s something that’s already working for me!)
Acer’s new Iconia W510 is an incredibly small and light example, outfitted with a cradle that allows the display to be used on the desktop via keyboard and mouse input or tilted back for easier touch control. The keyboard also functions as an additional battery, giving the PC up to 18 hours of battery life. The HP Envy X2 is another detachable tablet PC with a slick aluminum chassis and an interesting physical feature for docking — magnets embedded in the PC help pull and guide the tablet into the dock, making it easy to dock the machine and get to work.
Sony’s VAIO Duo 11 is a unique hybrid design that features a surf-slider keyboard which stays with the PC wherever it goes. The Duo also comes with a stylus that is a breeze to use, allowing users to write, doodle and interact easily in tablet mode. Toshiba’s Satellite U925t is a tablet-convertible version of its more traditional U920 laptop offering and features a 12.5-inch screen that easily converts to a tablet.
New laptops and notebooks
For more traditional notebooks, Acer, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba have all refreshed their notebook and Ultrabook PCs to take advantage of touch capabilities in Windows 8 — Acer’s premium Aspire S7 and S5, HP’s Envy TouchSmart and SpectreXT ultrabooks, Sony’s VAIO T and VAIO E, all feature classic notebook designs with powerful components and responsive touch screens. The S7 in particular is designed with extra tension in the hinges so it can open up to 180 degrees, enabling a new type of collaboration scenario.
For those that want a more familiar laptop, consider the Lenovo IdeaPad S300 and S400 laptops, which include an updated touchpad that gives users a more controlled experience when scrolling and zooming.
New desktop All-In-One computers
All-in-ones are becoming increasingly popular, and designs from Samsung, Lenovo, Acer and Sony are bringing the world of touch to full-tilt desktop computing. From an education point of view, we’re going to see these used for creating more interactive classroom activities (maybe alongside an interactive whiteboard) as well as for uses like information points and for libraries.
This isn’t comprehensive – it’s just a glimpse of some of the hardware innovation coming with Windows 8, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of these devices in Australia really soon.