Laptops for Windows 8

Category: Laptops , 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.
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...

 
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Most recent comments on "Laptops for Windows 8"

Posted by:

Tony
17 Apr 2012

"Fold-over designs, like the upcoming Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, allow the screen to be flipped back 360 degrees."
I don't think so - it would be back where it started.


Posted by:

jim harrison
17 Apr 2012

I have been using the Windows 8 preview edition for awhile now, and honestly, there is nothing there that would make me want to upgrade. Metro is useless if you don't have a touch screen. The desktop is virtually identical to Windows 7 and actually harder to use (no task bar or start button). I am sure it's a lot more useful on phones and tablets, but I am content with Android for that market.


Posted by:

Frank Croft
17 Apr 2012

I recently signed up for a Windows 7.5 (similar in principle I understand to Windows 8 for laptops/desktops) mobile for two years, instead of upgrading from an iPhone 3 out of contract to an iPhone 4S.

You may judge how impressed I was by Windows 7.5 - I sold the phone on Mazumamobile for £155, took the hit and continued to use the iPhone 3.


Posted by:

Robert
17 Apr 2012

The "Touchscreen" feature seems to be the main selling point of Windows 8. "Touchscreen" does not appeal to me so I will stay with Windows 7.

Robert


Posted by:

Nan Bush
17 Apr 2012

Maybe I'm past the age of understanding these things--but isn't anybody planning to do actual *work* on Win 8? I mean, writing or doing spreadsheets or design work that involves more than pinching a screen?

I'm a writer. I want a screen that's readable and a keyboard that's comfortable and reliable, and software that lets me earn my keep. Win 8 looks fine for playtime, but not for my interests.


Posted by:

james orpin
17 Apr 2012

I have experimented with Windows 8. I would only suggest this version for those who are familiar with APPS. If you are thinking of going to APPS, I would suggest doing it on a new phone first.

Windows 8 does run regular windows with no major problems as I see it. But if APPS are not your "thing" then just by-pass the APP screen, and run windows.

Windows 8 is OK and a matter of opinion as to an upgrade.


Posted by:

John Craggs
17 Apr 2012

I may be old fashioned - in fact I most definitely am - but I fail to see why anyone would want to mess around with a touchscreen of any sort. It's been 56 years or thereabouts since I felt the need to run my fingers over a book whilst reading it ;-) Or needed a guide to creating a 'finger space' between handwritten words. I stopped moving my lips when reading at around the same time too.

I see no magical leap forwards benefitting the user in changing from keyboard to touchscreen. My aging fingers are stiff enough now that I'm considering Dragon or some other voice operated system in my future, but that, set up properly does represent an advance on using arthritic fingers. But touch screens, to me, seem little more than technology for its own sake.

Gyppo


Posted by:

Russ
18 Apr 2012

I've used the two versions of Windows 8 that are presently available and, in my opinion, Windows 8 is best for Tablets.

If you have a laptop or desktop, I believe that Windows 7 is the best way to go. An upgrade to Windows 8 will probably be disappointing.

While Windows 8 will probably not be another "Windows Vista" or even worse, a "Windows ME", I do not believe it will be a big seller for desktops or laptops. Actually, I expect laptop sales to decrease significantly soon, which is probably the reason that MS is investing so heavily in a "touchscreen" Operating System.


Posted by:

Ben Kemp
18 Apr 2012

As a long-time user of a convertable tablet, IMHO the problems is less the screen eventually folding back (the hinges on all my machines have been firm enough to prevent that) but a related problem of 'screen wobble' - tap the screen, and it wiggles back and forward on the (firm) hinge just enough to be really distracting. That'll be the problem to lick.


Posted by:

Art
18 Apr 2012

After being to a Microsoft presentation on Windows 8, my opinions gathered from many articles written by many "testers", were dramatically changed. The Microsoft presentation was a sales demonstration rather than just a sales talk and was delivered at the right "geek" level for the audience of mainly retired age long time computer club members. Version 8 has everything we know about Version 7 with lots of other additions beyond touch screen. I shall certainly buy a Ultrabook or convertible table/docking station for Win8 when MANY different hardware design options are presented this autumn. It makes sense that there is a big push to meet the Christmas buying frenzy and equally that there are so many laptop sales bargains today as old stock is being dumped.

My target is to make a purchase in or around January 2013 but can wait if there are hardware or software delays. I recently told someone that they can purchase what has been around for the last decade or can purchase a system that will be around for the next decade. Well, perhaps a decade in the future is too long, but the future life of the system is what is important.

As with most computer system purchases, timing is important as is the realization that what you buy will be upstaged by improved designs within a few weeks of the purchase. Hence, new purchasers need to read and digest all they can to fully understand the product performance options available and to firm up their own technical requirements. There is going to be a big need for lots of research on this one.


Posted by:

john
18 Apr 2012

I am not computer savvy, so if this email is silly I apologise.
Regarding the laptop which opens 180 deg. in particular, but all of them in reality. Why can't there be an on screen keyboard like the windows calculator? I just can't imagine someone enjoying computing and texting to someone and having to flip the laptop over each time they need to reply to an incoming message then flip it back over to continue filling in a form or whatever they are touch-computing. Thank you for your continued informative emails. Best regards. john.


Posted by:

Beverly
18 Apr 2012

I downloaded the "8" on my mini inspiron notebook and found that I did not have sound. I took it to Best Buy and they told me that the drivers I have were not compatabile ( it is loaded with XP), but that they were sure drivers would become available with the Microsoft updates, so far that has not happened. I am not real comfortable with the format, but it has improved the "picture" on my monitor. It is very confusing to use because you have to look for the way to turn it off. Of course I didn't read any instructions on how to use it, so I may be just a little unfair with my comments. I am sure that a lot of people will like it, especially if they have the "touch" ability which I do not.


Posted by:

Bob D
18 Apr 2012

I need ...
- a tablet I can write on with a stylus
- to enter info into Excel with a stylus
- character recognition - Palm's Grafiti is good enough
- a microphone and a camera
- WiFi
- to run emacs
- to run Access or a compatible DB
- to run Thunderbird, Firefox, and Internet Explorer
- to run a PDF editor, e.g. Bluebeam
- to connect at least four USB ports
- to connect a large display
- to connect a keyboard
- to connect speakers
- to connect a mouse


Posted by:

j b
18 Apr 2012

My strategy is to stay with XP until Win 8 checks out (late this year??).
No new hardware until then, so I upgraded our PCs with more memory (3gb) and caching hard drives to speed things up. Nice speed bump!
Got a lot of tips from Bob - Many Thanks!
jbs/


Posted by:

Jason
23 Apr 2012

I have used both version of Windows 8. This may come as a shock to some but I plan on up grading. To touch on an earlier comment; windows 8 does have a task bar, in fact there are two of them and there is a start/windows button it's on the keyboard (except for some models of the IBM think pad) and it works quite well. I think those who have become accustome to keyboard shortcuts and those not afraid to learn them will find windows 8 on a non-touch environment simple and easy to navigate, and I'm not referring to complex shortcuts. Just by using the Windows key and Windows+D will get you from the desktop environment to metro quickly and easily.


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