Up until this point my tablet of choice was an original Surface RT.
Unfortunately, in recent months I’ve used that tablet more and more just for Office.
It’s immensely useful for OneNote and Outlook on the go but I’m not really using many apps from the store and the apps I do use aren’t great. The Facebook app for example is so slow and unwieldy I frequently give up on it and just use Facebook in the browser.
I’ve also had some performance problems with it recently too that made it unusable for extended periods of time.
So having heard about various low cost tablets running a regular version of Windows 8.1 I was intrigued to see how it performs.
First off, what is it?
8 inch screen
Quad Core Intel Atom Processor.
32GB Hard disk (with an SD slot to add up to another 64GB)
1 year of Office 365 Personal
800 x 1280 resolution
Front and rear facing 2MP cameras
Micro USB and HDMI ports
Bluetooth and 801.11 N WiFi
You can pick them up for around £80 so on the face of it that’s a pretty decent package.
Especially when you consider Office 365 Personal (with 1TB of storage!) itself is worth £59.99
After a couple of days usage I was pleasantly surprised. I honestly didn’t think 1GB would be usable but as long as you’re not trying to do too much at once it’s nice and responsive. You do need to be realistic though. Running a few demanding apps all at once will become noticeable pretty quickly.
Also it’s pretty light and I can’t complain on the battery life.
This doesn’t mean there aren’t any downsides. It’s not really powerful enough for HD video, the screen resolution should make that obvious but as test I installed the BBC iPlayer app and tried to play some HD programs offline. That’s half an hour of life I won’t get back.
It’s been fine with standard definition stuff though and I’ve had no problems with regular content on YouTube and Netflix.
I miss the kickstand my Surface has for propping it up. It’s easily rectified with a case but it nice was having it as part of the package.
You’ll also need an USB OTG cable for connecting USB drives, keyboard, mice, etc.
None of this is to show stopping though if you’re looking for something relatively cheap for doing some basic tasks.
All in all as long as you make sure you’re using for what it’s intended for, one or two apps at a time, light web browsing, some Office work, then it’s value for money. Anything more than that and you should be looking at something like a Surface Pro.
With a Windows 10 upgrade due in the coming weeks it’ll be interesting to see how this works out too.