Sunday, February 17, 2013

iPad is out. Windows 8 is in. Get Clovertrail now or wait for Haswell? What about Windows codenamed “Blue”?

Surface Pro came out a few days ago but just like the Surface RT, the availability is limited! And above all, the Japanese currency has depreciated against US$, which would raise the price of the already expensive tablet to a whole new level when/if they become available in Japan. I would look to buy the 128GB model and it is a whopping $999 without the keyboard. I want the keyboard, so it’s an additional $130. Microsoft doesn't have any retail outlets in Japan thus there won't be any price controlling like Apple. The usual retail stores will sell them at a pretty high price. (They’ll probably give us back some points, but that’s just a big lie. I would expect the 128GB model to go on sale for no less than ¥120,000 here. Darn! Dreams shattered; time to move on.

Few days ago I did a final evaluation on the current gen iPads, which are, in fact, attractively priced in Japan. Just ¥28,800 for the iPad Mini (I am not interested in the Retina model) but the next model will probably see a price hike because of the depreciation of the currency. But, there isn't much it can do for me that the iPhone already isn't doing. The iPad is a just a “bigger” iPhone; and it even has a lot of disadvantages. Typing is hard, portability is crippled, it's heavy and the camera is useless. I hardly game on these mobile devices because I have a proper gaming PC at home. Then there are other constraints inherent to iOS. You cannot stream movies without using iTunes (nobody likes iTunes on Windows), cannot access photos and files that are in your PC etc. etc. It's only good for reading, and even then, the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is much soother on your eyes. So it is a pretty crippled product in every way. So, I have made up my mind not to for got an iPad.
A Windows 8 based tablet, on the other hand, can do a lot of things that the iPad cannot do. Most importantly, it can access my PC without needing a middle man (i.e. iTunes). I can use USB too. I can use the legacy Windows applications if I require, even though they are not touch optimized. I can have the best office productivity suite - Microsoft Office 2013 - in there too. (But I would need a keyboard to get the most out of it.)
iPad 3 VS Windows 8 Tablet
Android is still useless on the Tablet arena, so I’m not even considering looking at one.
But there is one important decision to make. If I go for a tablet that uses a high-end Intel processors such as Core i3 or Core i5, it would need fans to cool the internals thus it will be noisy and heavy. But if I go with the Atom (Clovertrail) processors, it will be slow. But will I really notice the difference? That I cannot say without really checking one out up close and personal. Sure, it is not as fast as my desktop. Why am I expecting these tablets to perform the same? That’ll never happen. I should get away from that mentality. A tablet is there only to supplement the PC.
All that’s said, should I look at an Intel Clovertrail based tablet? Or should I wait for the next generation Intel CPUs called “Haswell” that would hopefully bring massive power consumption cuts to the table. The low power Haswell CPUs probably won’t need active cooling, so they would weight just as much as the Clovertrail based tablets currently available. That is so much win!
Then there are rumors floating around Microsoft’s intent to push (major) yearly updates to Windows. The upcoming such update is codenamed “Blue”. It might either come out as Windows 8.1 or Windows 8.5 – who knows. (doesn’t matter). But it might fix some of the issues that Windows 8 has.
  • Fix for desktop scaling issues
  • Unification of Control Panel/PC Settings
  • Improved Metro features and performance
  • Improved multitasking
  • Improved native Metro apps
  • A centralized notification center
  • Improved Internet Explorer with add-on support
  • A more responsive and easy to use Windows Store
  • Smaller footprint etc.
Basically just polishing the rough edges and extending the feature set further. (I hope they won’t lock it down further like iOS though.)
But we don’t know if Haswell and Windows Codename Blue will come out at the same time. If they do, it would be the ideal thing.

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