So, last week I wrote a blog post about what tablet to choose for Windows 8 consumer preview. Lots of readers requested a follow up as soon as I got the tablet. Well, this week it arrived, so here is my review of the tablet.
Unpacking the tablet
I must admit that the tablet is pretty complete. It comes with a power adapter, a pen that you can use to write on the tablet (and actually hover the tablet for mouse overs, very cool) and a protection case that can hold more than just the tablet (really cool, especially for business users).
The tablet itself is kinda thick compared to my Motorola Xoom, but in return we get a “real” USB port, which is very nice. It is also quite heavy, but for my testing purposes, this isn’t a big deal to me.
Installing Windows 8
I didn’t want to start the tablet with Windows 7 on it. So I prepared a USB installer using the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool. To install Windows 8 consumer preview, follow these steps:
- Download the 32-bit consumer preview ISO
- Download the Windows 7 USB/DVD download tool
- Install the ISO on an USB stick (I used a 4 GB one) using the download tool
- Plug the tablet into the power source and insert the USB stick
- As soon as the startup screen shows up, tab the tablet
- You will see a startup screen, double tab the “USB stick” and Windows 8 will install (took approx. 20 minutes here)
During the installation, I found one issue that might be fixed by Microsoft. While entering the license key, I couldn’t see what I was actually typing. I also couldn’t reposition the window, so that is kind of lame.
First impression: wow, finally I understand how Windows 8 works. When you are actually holding a tablet, all the gestures and features make more sense. Not sure whether I like it on a desktop pc, but on a tablet it is definitely awesome!
The OS runs pretty well on such a slow device (remember, only a 1.5 ghz CPU with 2 GB of RAM)! It all *could* be a bit snappier, but I must admit I am very impressed. The video rendering is a bit slow, but this might be due to some non-updated drivers. After installing all latest updates and rebooting, it all seems to be running a bit faster. However, the games such as Solitaire are very laggy, probably due to the video drivers. Sometimes the OS also seems to “hang”, but that might also be the device not picking up my swipe signal.
One small think I noticed was that although I set the current culture to Dutch, it shows the temperature in the widget in Fahrenheit. This is something developers should take into account.
Touch on batteries sucks (by default)
After playing with the tablet (both connected to A/C power and on batteries), I came to the conclusion that the touch recognition sucks when on batteries. It looks like sometimes you have to press harder for the touch to come through. The pen works great when on batteries though. When connected to power, the touch also works great. I found this could be fixed by setting the PCI express “Link State Power Management” to “Moderate power savings” instead of “Maximum power savings” when on batteries. Setting it to “Off” made the tablet even more responsive (but remember, all at the cost of battery life, but I don’t care about batteries for this tablet).
Running Visual Studio
Installing VS11 took a long time. And with a long time, I mean an hour or even more. I have no idea why (it has an SSD), but it is probably the CPU that kills the whole performance. When Visual Studio was all up and running, I quickly grabbed the latest source code of Catel and tried to compile it. It all work, except for the WP7 libraries, so all good so far.
Running Visual Studio brings fair performance. This means that I would hate it if this was my main development machine (but what developer has a single core 1.5 ghz processor and 2 GB RAM development machine nowadays). So, to be honest it is a nice alternative to having no development with you (something is better than nothing).
The screen resolution defaulted back to 1024 x 768. You can download the Windows 7 drivers here. They make your device run way smoother (and you can actually set the 1280 x 800 resolution).
As some people noted, the minimum resolution to allow “snapping” is 1366 x 768. However, this tablet only supports 1280 x 800. To still support snapping, you can use this register setting.
Here are some general performance tips:
Turn off Aero (set windows theme to “Windows Basic”
Set performance mode to “balanced” when on batteries
If you want to try out Windows 8 on a tablet for a reasonable price, you might want to try out the Fijutsi Q550. Windows 8 runs quite well on it, so does Visual Studio 11. Keep in mind that it’s not a high tech device, so don’t think you can do your all-day development on it. However, for a try-out, this device is good enough.
If you are looking for a real tablet (like an investment for the long run), don’t buy this thing. When I was playing with the Fujitsu, and after a few hours went back to my Motorola Xoom, everything felt so extremely smooth, which is not the feeling you get on the Fujitsu.