Hands On With Intel's Inspired Ultrabooks And Windows 8
The first noticeable function is that these are not simply notebooks, but computers that combine the capabilities of both a laptop and a tablet. Ultrabooks are still fairly recent and picking up strength in the market, but the Intel inspired devices fully grasp the innovation of Windows 8 with the ease of switching between a mouse and a touch screen.
Each of the devices can run desktop versions of Windows 8 but also switch to the Microsoft tile design made popular by Windows 7 mobile. In order to effectively take advantage of the tiles, the devices also have touch capabilities.
Instead of a typical password, you can instead unlock your device by drawing a pattern or a particular picture with your finger. It’s similar to the unlock pattern on Android devices but with more freedom for users.
The way tabs and multi-tasking work have also been tweaked. You can click on programs and apps to open up new ones, but going back is as simple as dragging your finger from the top to the bottom of the screen. Also, if you want to work on multiple windows, you can split your tabs into different sections of the screen to varying sizes and have all sorts of touchable distractions up.
According to Intel Representative, Alison Wesley, “Touch is very intuitive, 80% of people we surveyed said they feel more connected when they have touch… they feel more empowered when they can directly interact with their device.” In addition, 70% of people surveyed would prefer a traditional laptop with touch capability over one that turns into a tablet, although there was a small preference for convertibles over hybrids. For those accustomed to Windows 7, a second representative, Alex Carvallo explained, “Windows 8 is less of an upgrade and more of a redesign… Microsoft, Intel, Lenovo, etc. have come together to create a new experience.” She then demonstrated the simplicity of switching between the Windows 8 tiles and the traditional desktop of a Windows 7 computer, no harder than touching a button on a screen.
That being said, Windows 8 tiles are a big development for the system and manage to balance between the iOS and Android experience. The tiles, which are essentially a wallpaper of apps and programs, consistently update, from showing the weather report or your latest message on Facebook. The main issue for now is that the Microsoft Store isn’t populated with apps to the degree of the Apple App Store or Google Play.
Whether you love Microsoft or hate them, their single greatest advantage is still choice. The four devices all function very similarly with little difference, if any, in their software at all, yet the hardware for each are all unique.
The Lenovo Ideapad Yoga and Toshiba Satellite Ultrabooks are convertible PCs but they approach their transformations in different ways. The Lenovo can be used like a typical laptop but can also fold back and be used like a tablet and also go in an upright “tent mode” and easily watch a movie for example. One of the possible issues with the Lenovo, however was that folding the computer back into tablet mode has your fingers constantly resting against the keyboard, although this could likely be fixed with a proper cover.
The Toshiba Satellite was like a tablet with a built in slide out keyboard. Although the device was a bit thicker than the Lenovo it didn’t have the awkward problem of a keyboard on the back. On the other hand, there was a concern of how fragile the device could be because of the sliding mechanism. The device has a small tab after sliding it out in order to stand the screen up, but not pulling it out all the way could potentially lead to damaging the device. Of course this problem is really more of a worry of forgetfulness or letting someone else try without knowing how to use it.
The Acer S7 Ultrabook is a touch-enabled laptop. It couldn’t turn into a tablet like the other devices but the capability of touch allowed it to run Windows 8 well and the user experience wasn’t limited as much.
The three devices are all Ultrabooks, meaning they have top of the line specs with Thunderbolt USB ports, low weight (around 3 1/4 pounds) and the i5 Intel Processor, one of the best in the market.
The last device, however, the Samsung Smart PC, was different from the previous three. Unlike the others this one wasn’t an Ultrabook or a convertible. Instead it’s a “hybrid,” tablet that comes with an attachable keyboard. The Samsung also doesn't have an i5 processor, but relies on an Atom one instead. Wesley explained, “The Atom processor allows for a lighter device but lacks the power of our i5 processor.” Even with a smaller processor the Samsung was capable of running a full version of Windows 8 unlike the current Microsoft Surface which can only run Windows RT.
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