It might be strange to start a blog with a buying guide, but since Christmas is coming I think I should share what I think about possible gift. Or present. Or deal. I don’t know which fits, yet I think Windows 8 tablet PC could be the one.
(Left: Asus EP121 with ArtRage 3.5.5, Right: Sony Vaio Duo 11 with Photoshop CS5)
Before you buy Windows tablet PC you should first consider two things:
Are you going to drop notes with tablet PC?
Are you going to draw digital illustration on the go?
If none of the above questions is yes, you might shouldn’t consider buying a windows tablet pc. If you take yes to drop notes only, you can consider to buy a tablet PC, but Samsung galaxy note 10.1 is a better choice in this case. If you take yes to digital illustration on the go, you may consider to buy windows tablet PC. While 2nd generation of Atom and 3rd generation of core i3 has enough processing power for basic digital illustration, you may consider tablet PC with better CPU for more versatile daily use.
This buying guide introduces only tablet pc with stylus because without stylus it’s not worth to buy a computer with extra cost on touch screen. Well, this is my opinion anyway.
Best tablet pc for note dropping:
Samsung ATIV Smart PC (USD$650-$800)
If you’re a starter on Windows Tablet PC, this tablet PC should be the best to begin with. Not only it’s available now, because of its slate nature, it’s the lightest tablet pc with stylus available before Christmas come. It’s 0.75 kg, plus Intel second generation Atom which gives you enough processing power for note dropping and basic drawing, within reasonable price… for android/ipad tablet user anyway. There’s a pro version of this tablet pc which can do advance illustration and more.
Follow up: it would be Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet 2. Basically it’s the same class as Samsung ativ smart PC, and lighter, but not available yet.
Best tablet PC for digital illustration on the go:
Samsung ATIVSmart PC Pro (~USD$1200)
Samsung again. Why? Because it’s around 0.888kg and can be held in one arm without too much stress, which is an advantage for illustrator who needs to stands (or nowhere to sit) and draw. And faster cpu. But this isn’t the main reason. The main reason why Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro is a better tablet PC for drawing is its stylus. Its stylus is Wacom based and has faster refresh rate than N-trig (as for now), result in less information loss during sketching and drawing, which could be important for some serious illustrator. Also it can be transformed into laptop if needed.
Follow up: Vaio Duo 11. Its pen feel solid, though it runs on battery and has slower refresh rate. Nevertheless it’s accurate if drawn slowly, and intel i7 is available for custom/preconfigured. It’s more versatile than most tablet pc, though it’s relatively heavy (still 50-60% of heaviest tablet pc) that can stress you when holding it in one arm.
Most versatile tablet PC:
Sony Vaio Duo 11 (USD$1200+)
Slider design enabled itself to be transformed between tablet pc and laptop with ease, and with relatively small extra space. It’s relatively heavy though, but still lighter than some convertible tablet pc and it has i7 ultrabook’s performance and weight. It can last 2.5 – 4.5 hours depends on how heavy your work is, and its battery life can be extended with sheet battery. More importantly, it has standard size of ports that you would use in daily life, so business user doesn’t need to worry about connectivity in most case. Also, while the stylus has slow refresh rate, it is very accurate, and it’s nicely weighted that may able to help user on controlling pen pressure.
Follow up: Asus Taichi 21 (USD$1200+). Dual screen may do more in certain scenarios, and its display has better color range than Duo 11, but dimmer. Yet, it doesn’t need to transform to switch role. While it’s 0.05kg lighter than Duo 11, it needs adaptor to connect other device. Lastly, it has shorter battery life (2-4.5hours, yes more variety), making it not an ideal mobile computer. It’s still more versatile than most tablet pc, but Duo 11 beats Taichi in terms of connectivity and usability.
Best tablet PC:
Let’s just say none for 2012. They all come with flaws that prevents superioty to others. But, my ideal Tablet PC would be based on Vaio Duo 11 or Asus Taichi 21, with twice the processing power while maintaining the same temperature, half the weight, better stylus with WinTab API support, better color range on screen, thunderbolt for plug-and-performance-boost, longer battery life. For Vaio Duo 11, replace optical trackpad to pointing stick. For Asus Taichi 21, replace mini ports to standard ports.
All listed prices are prices on Dec 1, 2012. It’s interesting that I didn’t see much tablet pc reviews that mention stylus with more than 6 sentences, while I think stylus play serious big part of tablet pc.