For those of you that follow me on Twitter you might have found one of the tweets from earlier this week to spark your interest specifically "Its official with WIndows 8 my Samsung Slate replaces the iPad.". As I promised in that tweet this is the blog posting that shows my justification behind the claim and why for at least my use this transition is not only possible, but beneficial to me. Before I get too far into this though, I'll provide a bit of background on the basis/use scenarios that are important to me then I'll discuss the specifics.
My Usage Patterns
Just like with any device different users will have different needs or features of their devices that are important to them. For me the iPad is a device that served a few specific needs of mine.
One of the big things that I have used my iPad for is as an eReader, with the backlit screen and great Kindle application I did all of my reading using the iPad which made it great for usage on the airplane. I never was much of a user of the iBooks application or third party magazine applications so they did not factor in to my decision
Portable E-Mail Device
I have been traveling a lot recently and with many planes having support for WiFi while in the air I have found that I'm doing a lot of e-mail communication while on the plane. Although I travel with a laptop, it is highly impracticial and in many situations impossible for me to get a 15"+ Widescreen laptop out in the middle of a plane trip
In addition to this, when traveling or even just when lounging around the house doing things I'll use the Web Browser for various purposes. Just like with a Smart Phone it is just one of those things that you use on a regular basis, no matter what the purpose.
Lastly, my final biggest usage of the iPad was for games to kill the time while in the airport, Cut the Rope, Angry Birds, etc were all on the iPad and their use would really depend on exactly how much spare time I had...
A few other things that I thought I would put out here. When using my iPad I always dock it at the end of the day and at most have used it 4-5 hours straight at any given point of time, even when on a 8+ hour international flight as my time was occupied with other activities. Therefore for me the above features are all important and keeping a battery life of around 4-5 hours is all that I need in a device.
iPad Limitations For My Usage
Within the above usage conditions the iPad had a number of things for me that would limit what it was possible for me to accomplish even though in most cases it could get me to the 80% mark. A few of these items include the inability to edit/attach Office Documents to e-mails, for example contract e-mails, proposals, and the like. The inability to play/render flash based websites was another one that caused me to often table requests until I was able to get to a full PC.
How Windows 8 Compares
Now that the Consumer Preview of Windows 8 has been released I instantly installed it to see if it would be possible for Windows to help resolve some of the concerns/limitations that I experienced with my iPad. Knowing that there has been a huge focus on the touch interaction process with Windows 8 I did my best to discard any existing feelings I had, and also worked under the assumption that I wanted to be able to use Windows 8 just like an iPad without a stylus.
Device Specifics: Size and Battery Life
I am working with a Samsung Series 7 Slate PC, looking at the device physically compared to the iPad it is larger there is no real way around it. Overall about 2/3's of a lb heavier, 2" wider and .2" thicker. However, at just under 2lbs it is still very easy to hold and doesn't put a lot of stress on you to keep at any angle. Add to this the optional Samsung stand case and it is every bit as easy to use.
So far since in Windows 8 I have given the device three cycles with varying levels of usage and the battery life has been remarkable. Worst battery life was around 5hrs 20minutes doing a lot of Cut the Rope and Solitaire in addition to browsing and WiFi. The best was just under 8 hours of battery life while in Airplane mode and playing a few games and using the Amazon Kindle app for reading. Still a bit shy of the 8-10 hours that you get with an iPad but still more than respectable for my needs.
In all of my time using the device as a slate and not trying to do something stupid such as developing in Visual Studio without a keyboard, the touch interface was splendid. There was no need for the use of a stylus and most of the previous "press and hold" actions to do a right click in the prior Windows version can now be completed by simply swiping up or down on the item in question. For example for applications pinned to the Taskbar, simply swiping up exposes the options for that application.
I can honestly stay here that I was blown away at how well this worked, even on the base install process which was done with no keyboard or mouse and was flawless!
I downloaded and installed the Kindle application for Windows and although not designed for use with the "Metro UI" that is part of Windows 8 putting the reader in full screen mode allowed for easy reading and navigation. With simple touch gestures working for going through the book.
For me, this is the area that knocked things out of the park and that is that I have the full support of Windows when working with e-mail. Need to edit a contract and send? No problem, need to attach an Excel document? Again, not a problem. For business uses there is no comparison on this front. The built-in mail application is great, touch optimized and seamlessly pulled down my e-mails from Google and Google apps and was configured in seconds.
Again this is an area where the comparison isn't really fair to the iPad as I can install Flash, FireFox, and other items that will render any previous browser issues non-existent. For my usage though, again this far excels from what I had with the iPad.
Given that Windows 8 is still only at the Consumer Preview stage the store is still locked down and there are limited titles available for games. The few games that are there have great game play and work well. If usage for games was my primary function I would say things are just not there yet simply due to the limited number of listings in the store, however, I think a lot is possible looking at the flawless implementation of Cut the Rope and a few other games.
With this being a Windows based device there are a few other things that are built in that are great from a business perspective. Remote Desktop support is very helpful for that emergency administration activity that cannot wait until I get back to my computer. Also the ability to connect to network devices to copy/access files is very helpful when wanting to bring things over.
Comparing the iPad to my Slate is not really the most fair of comparisons, but after my time working with Windows 8 and the Slate I've been lured to leave the iPad at home. Yes Windows 8 isn't fully ready yet as it is only in Consumer Preview release status, but it is already stable enough for usage and the added features that mean the most to me are worth the potential for a hiccup here or there.
For me it is goodbye iPad and hello Windows! I hope that this post was helpful! I will be blogging a bit more about Windows 8 here in the future as well! Feel free to share you comments below.