Festivus Grievance Airing: I Want More Windows Tablets

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What do you want for Christmas this year?

What I want is a nice Windows tablet. I already have an iPad and an Android tab, and a Windows device would round out my collection nicely. And although Windows haters are gonna hate, I’d personally find it pretty handy to have a tablet that can do tablet stuff but can also do real computer stuff when I need it to. In fact, even for tablet-type stuff, it would be really nice to have a full-featured web browser instead of the junky cut-down stuff that’s designed for mobile phones and then hastily modified for tablet use.

But the tablet manufacturers of the world have disappointed me. After years of promising that their next generation of processors would really and for suresies be great for tablets, Intel has finally delivered. I’ve played with several tablets using Intel’s new Atom 3770 SOC, and they’re great. Performance is snappy, web pages load as fast as they do on my desktop, and if the specs are to be believed, its power consumption is miserly enough to produce 9-10 hours of battery life. And by all accounts, Windows 8.1 is finally pretty usable too.

So the technology is finally in good shape. But where are all the tablets? Microsoft screwed up its Surface 2 Pro by opting for Intel’s top-of-the-line Haswell processors, which are overkill for anyone but a serious gamer or Photoshop fanatic and make the S2P thick, heavy, and short-lived. The ordinary Surface, which uses an ARM processor, is Windows RT only, which is a joke. By my estimate, the Surface 2 line is just about the most ill-conceived collection of product design decisions since New Coke.

No real surprise there, I suppose. But what about the rest of the tablet world? It turns out there are surprisingly few 3770-based devices. Asus has one, but it’s cheap and has crappy resolution. HP’s Omni 10 looks fairly decent, but it has limited memory and an uncertain future. The Dell Venue 11 had me drooling a bit when I first read about it (11-inch screen! Full-size USB port!), but they cheaped out just a little too much on the screen, which has only OK resolution. (I’m a bug on pixel density. As far as I’m concerned, the first real tablet in the world was the iPad 3, with its Retina display. I won’t use anything with much less resolution than that.) Sharp has a super high-res Mebius device for sale in Japan, but it’s not likely to be available in the US anytime soon, if ever.

And that’s pretty much it. Here in America, there are a grand total of four devices to choose from. I want more! Santa’s elves have badly let me down this year.

POSTSCRIPT: Sophisticated readers will understand that the real point of this post is to prompt hundreds of comments telling me why I’m an idiot for wanting a Windows tablet, since there can be no possible legitimate reason for wanting one. So have at it! This is my Christmas gift to you.

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And the truth is, going into the final 4 days of the year we still needed to raise $TK to hit our $350,000 goal and start 2021 on track. It's nerve-wracking, wondering if the big spike we normally see at the end of December is going to be another thing that doesn't go as planned in 2020, or worse, if, now that Donald Trump is set to leave the White House (for longer than a taxpayer-funded golf trip to a property he owns), folks might be pulling back from fighting for the truth and a democracy and think the hard work is done.

It's not, and if you can right now, please consider a year-end donation to support our team's fearless nonprofit journalism so we can close that big fundraising gap and finish the year strong, ready for all that's ahead in 2021. Whether you can give $5 or $500, it all matters in keeping us charging hard, and we'd be grateful.

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