Monday, September 07, 2015

Windows Tablets Are the "Beige Boxes" of 2015

Remember the beige box of the 1990's? Every PC sold was a beige box with a beige monitor. It was the epitome of Apple's 1984 Super Bowl ad.

I've been monitoring Windows tablets lately, and I'm completely uninspired. It's not so much that I need a new one, but I love tech and if I found a decent deal, I'd get one. I probably have all the tech I need: MacBook Pro, iPad Mini 3, Dell Venue 8 Pro that I never use, and a new Note 5.

The Dell's biggest weakness is it only has a micro-USB port. Even with an adapter, it doesn't have enough power to drive a portable hard drive, which I use to backup files on my work computer. At work, we're still running Windows 7 and Office 2010. And we don't have wi-fi. When I lug my work laptop around with me, I have to physically plug it into a switch or I have no connectivity. Sometimes I think "Enterprise IT" is Greek for "You will work on obsolete shit determined by Baby Boomers with no IT knowledge and an r-selected irrational fear of change". Or "old Unix guys" who 30 years later STILL haven't adapted to a Windows environment they somehow ended up in charge of.

I've thought about getting a Windows tablet with a full size USB port to carry to work, so I can use features of a newer version of MS Office. I could bring my Mac, which has Office 2016, but I perceive it as being too big to lug around all the time. And the iPad doesn't have a USB port.

So anyway, I've been keeping an eye on tablets lately. And few of them are exciting. I kind of like the Surface, but I perceive it as being overpriced. Sure, it "starts" at $499 (Surface 3), but that's for 64 GB and 2 GB RAM. By the time you get a decent sized storage and 4 GB of RAM, now you're up into the $800 range, and you don't have Microsoft's overpriced specialty keyboard yet. I guess you could get a generic Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, but that's extra gear to lug around.

So I look at the available tablets, and other than the overpriced Surface and Surface Pro, all I see are the equivalent of beige boxes. Or black slates.

Then of course, lets say you buy one. One of the difficulties of the PC world is all the crapware that comes pre-loaded. At least Apple doesn't include crapware (unless that's how you define Apple's software). Well, except for that stupid Stocks app that still comes with the iPhone. Has anybody anywhere actually used it? I imagine people who are serious about stocks would use a much more powerful, specialty app.

New PCs usually come with the 60 day trial of Office, McAfee and Norton trials, download managers (who uses them), music apps, and so on. Now they're coming preinstalled with Facebook quality games, which are very stubborn about uninstallation. It took me a while to get all the crapware off the 2-in-1 I got my wife for Christmas. Thank you, Toshiba, I paid you for a computer, not the extra crap you installed, none of which I actually need.
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