Laptops for Windows 8
My laptop is five years old and still runs XP. I'll be buying a new laptop before summer ends, and I want to make sure it's compatible with Windows 8. Are there any specific features, brands or models you can recommend?
Buying a Laptop for Windows 8
Windows 8 is coming, probably in the Fall of 2012. If you want to download and experiment with a pre-release version, see my article Download the Free Windows 8 Consumer Preview. The Consumer Preview is not the final product, but Microsoft has hinted that the operating system will not change much between now and final release.
Although the standard desktop environment will still be available in Windows 8, Microsoft is making a strong push in the direction of touchscreen computing. The touch-centric "Metro" interface of Windows 8 is ideal for tablets, but laptops will have to change dramatically to take full advantage.
It's simple enough to bolt a touch-screen display onto an existing laptop design, but using it is somewhat problematic. Reaching over the keyboard to tap the screen is awkward, if not outright impractical. Also, tapping on the screen may well cause it to tilt backward until it's pointing at the sky. Reinforcing the screen's hinge would make it thicker than desired. So laptop makers are working on radically different designs for Windows 8 laptops.
Convertible laptop designs have screens that rotate 180 degrees and then fold flat onto the keyboard to work in tablet mode. Convertibles have been around for about a decade, but they've always been niche market machines, another way of saying "expensive." The Fujitsu Lifebook T580's keyboard is a little larger than a netbook's. It has a multitouch screen with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. Windows 8 could bring convertibles into the mainstream, helping to drive down costs and development of lighter, slimmer designs.
Fold-over designs, like the upcoming Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, allow the screen to be flipped back 360 degrees. The machine, folded into an inverted V shape, can be propped on a flat surface with the screen facing the user. This setup allows you to adjust the screen angle and tap the screen without stretching over the keyboard. However, only the edge of the screen and keyboard touch the table, making me wonder if the whole thing will slide around when the screen is tapped.
Sliders, Docking Tablets and All-In-Ones
The sliding-screen or "slider" design is borrowed from smartphones. A keyboard slides out from under the touchscreen. The Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101 is an effective example of this design. The keyboard and part of the case become a stand that props the display upright at a good angle for viewing or touching.
The mobile docking station design makes a lot of sense. The display portion is effectively a tablet, with all the processing and storage that you can expect in a tablet. When you want a laptop, the tablet docks with a keyboard base station that can support other peripherals as well. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 is a good example of this breed.
All-in-One desktop computers equipped with touchscreen monitors may be another good way to run Windows 8. See my article All-In-One Desktops for 2012 for some examples.
The devices mentioned above are not designed for Windows 8, of course. As the expected October release comes closer, you may see some laptops being sold with claims of Windows 8 compatibility. Certainly, Microsoft is coordinating with companies that make laptops. Most likely, we'll have to wait and see how the market reacts to Windows 8 before hardware vendors will make a big investment in designing laptops specifically for this new operating system. But the designs described here will probably be well represented among Windows 8 laptops.
Remember that the touchscreen interface is optional. You'll still be able to navigate the Metro interface and the traditional desktop with your mouse and keyboard. So in that sense, any laptop that can run Windows 7 or the Windows 8 Consumer Preview today will be able to run Windows 8 when it rolls out in October. You'll just miss out on the touch interface if you don't have the hardware to support that option.
Are you planning to buy a new laptop soon? Is compatibility with Windows 8 important to you? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 17 Apr 2012
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Laptops for Windows 8 (Posted: 17 Apr 2012)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved