All comments below are my own personal comments and are not endorsed or supported by the company that employs me.
On Friday, I was able to get my hands on three tablet devices to prepare for my customer demos. I was fortunate to get the Microsoft Surface Pro, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, and the Dell Latitude 10.
For the Microsoft Surface Pro, I was also given the optional Type Keyboard. It already comes with a pen.
For the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, this device is a slimmed down prototype. It fully runs the Windows 8 operating system; however, it has a non-functioning pen (you can’t remove the pen from the slot) and doesn’t appear to have many of the sensors you are expecting (which are available in the device you would purchase). I also did not have the optional docking station.
For the Dell Latitude 10, I don’t have the pen, I didn’t receive the docking station, and it too is also missing many of the modern sensors.
Why am I writing this? I received three separate inquiries asking my opinion and although I don’t have all of the optional accessories and sensors, I did get some time looking at the devices and I am really impressed with each one for different reasons. Maybe my little overview will be of interest to you.
Here are the details of the devices that seem to be most important to me. I also provide the link to the full details just in case I didn’t grab a specification that you are interested in.
All devices are running the Windows 8 Professional operating system. What this gives me (besides the new touch optimized experience with the new modern style applications) is that I get the full desktop experience. This allows me to install any application that would run on Windows 7 by installing it on on my Windows 8 Pro device. There are many attempts in the blog-o-sphere to compare these devices to the Apple iPad. I personally feel that you cannot compare these devices to the iPad device (another article at another time) because it is so much more. These devices can be a laptop/pc replacement device because they allow me to run my traditional desktop applications. In the Apple ecosystem, I would need the iPad with my Windows PC/Laptop or a MacBook.
I installed Office Professional 2013 on all three devices and installed Autodesk SketchBook Pro 6 on the Microsoft Surface Pro (since I could test the inking).
Microsoft Surface Pro
What I love most about the Surface Pro is the performance. This device comes with an Intel Core i5 processor. It is speedy fast and performs very well. If you are looking for a new laptop or ultrabook, this could be your device of choice. There have also been Youtube videos posted on gamers playing World of Warcraft on the Surface Pro. I selected one random Youtube video (no endorsement) if you are interested.
The other features that make this device very attractive are the integrated kickstand (so I can go from tablet content consumption to being productive in a snap), the protective cover that is also a keyboard (using the Type keyboard to give me that tactile feel), the pen (the inking is absolutely amazing), and the hidden microSD slot for additional storage (under the kickstand). You also get the video out and USB 3 ports to extend the capabilities of this device.
OK Microsoftie… what are the potential downsides to this device? With performance you currently get tradeoffs. The one that is highlighted most is battery life. It is estimated that you get about 5 hours of battery life on the Surface Pro. In my limited testing, I find this to be true – I find 5 hours is adequate for a device that packs this performance (although I am looking for future improvements). The other is the pen holder. The pen has a magnet that allows for you to attach it to the Surface Pro where you normally would plug the charging adapter (right side of the device). I find that you can easily knock this off especially as you hold the device with your right hand so your left thumb can be used to engage the kickstand. Lastly, if your workstyle is one that has you sitting on the couch, floor, etc. and you like placing a traditional laptop in your lap, the Surface Pro may feel a little awkward since it is top heavy.
Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
The Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 is a gorgeous device. It is smaller and noticeably lighter than the Microsoft Surface Pro and slightly smaller and lighter than the Dell Latitude 10. It just feels great great in your hands and begs you to fall in love with it.
Although my “pen” isn’t removable on this demo device, I absolutely love that it is integrated into the device. It is located in the top left and is hidden when you are not using it. There is no fear of losing or misplacing the pen.
I also like the 10.1” screen for a tablet device and the dimensions are complementary for the 10.1” screen.
Although I didn’t have the optional docking station, I’ve seen it. It is well made and fits nicely with the Tablet 2 making this device very portable with a keyboard.
The device also has a slot for 3G/4G if this is important to you. I use an AT&T wireless hotspot which is used for the many devices I have and may use at any given moment.
The one downside I can see on this device is the performance. It does quite well running Microsoft Office but I found when I launched 4-6 applications, you can feel the performance be a little slow to respond at times. The other is screen size. I like a larger screen when I’m in content creation or productivity mode.
I think this is an excellent device and should be considered if you are looking for a smaller, lighter device that has a long battery life for a Windows 8 Professional device.
Dell Latitude 10
The Dell Latitude 10 is also a beautifully made device. It’s very similar to the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 in that it runs the Atom processor and experiences the same performance issue the Tablet 2 has when launching and working with multiple applications at the same time.
What makes this device scream with excitement is the replaceable battery. Dell says I can get about 8 hours; or 20 hours with the extended battery.
What concerns me most about this device is the optional docking station. It is one additional accessory in my backpack that I could potentially be carrying (along with a keyboard) when I visit my customers. But, if you don’t need to travel with your docking station and keyboard, this may not be an issue for you.
All three devices are Enterprise Ready. What this means is that they all can have Full Drive Encryption (using Microsoft’s BitLocker technology) and can be fully managed within your enterprise. Most of my customers already have an Enterprise Management Solution like Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager. This allows IT organizations to gather software and hardware inventory, update the devices with the latest security patches, and deploy software.
AND… IT organizations can deploy your traditional Windows 7 Desktop applications to these Windows 8 devices. No compromise. You get the beauty of the newly designed, touch optimized experience with Windows 8 and the new modern applications AND you get a full desktop experience to keep you productive at work and at home.