My thoughts on announced hardware for Windows 8 being released this week.
Asus will be launching their Zenbooks with touch screens for Windows 8 in November, or really replacing the screens on their old Zenbooks with touch screens and selling them as new models.
They are updating their modular tablet to run Windows RT and calling it the Vivo Tab RT. 10.1” with a dock for the low price of $599.00, but it’s just the old transformer with bad resolution, slow CPU’s and better-than-average speakers.
And they have a 23” ET2300 iMac, er All-In-One, ready to go, with the worst integrated Intel graphics chipset, reasonable resolution and an 8GB RAM max. What?
Acer will be launching their iMac, er All-In-One, on October 26 too, the 23” 5600U. A 27” 7600U will follow in November. Both seem a tad underpowered at the base model and the 27” screen has the same resolution as the 23”. What?
The Iconia W700 tablet joins Asus and Lenovo at the same $700.00 price point with an 11.6” IPS display and a bluetooth keyboard. But it does not stand out.
Dell has updated their XPS 12 convertible laptop for Windows 8 and stayed with the awful flip-hinge design, I can’t go on. next!
Their XPS One 27 iMac, er All-In-One, has also been updated for touch, retains its great screen and speed, all starting at $1,699.00. This one may be passable as your home computer. They have a 23” version for under $800.00 too that’s not worth it.
Not excited yet!
HP has announced a more comprehensive lineup, with lots of their devices being updated (for the full list see here). There’s no reason to go in to all of them, but the gist of the announcement is that they have a bunch of frivolous add-ons to make their large number of bland Apple product ripoffs stand out from the Asus, Acer and Dell crowd. And they don’t succeed. And almost none will be available on release day.
The Envy X2 convertible looks like a Macbook Air that separates, with an 11.6” touchscreen and sells for about $850.00. Their Spectre Touchsmart looks like a Mac Pro without the power of a true laptop. And their bigger laptop is only available at Best Buy. Really?
The HP SpectreOne iMac, er All-In-One, though, looks better than the other All-In-Ones so far. They have a 20” and 23” model that seem quite upgradeable, for a fee, and they promote that they are full of crapware. Wait. What?
Finally, a set of ultrabooks for Windows 8 that stand out. The new IdeaPad Yoga 13” looks great with its radical hinge and colorful case designs and proper componentry including a great hi-resolution IPS display. And there is an 11” light one for RT coming too. This product is interesting and a radical departure from the blandy bland blands of the others.
They also have a competitive 11.6” tablet from $600 called the IdeaTab Lynx which kicks the Asus out of the running. And offer a cheap ultrabook convertible called the ThinkPad Edge Twist that knocks all the other ultrabooks out of the game on price and features. Assuming you want a crappy ultrabook instead of a useable computer, that is.
They also have their own iMac, er All-In-One, but I have not seen one nor gotten any details. I suspect it’s just as boring as the others based on images alone. Surely they can take some of the Yoga ideas and make a better iMac, er All-In-One.
Windows 8 is an innovative and radical departure for Microsoft, but their hardware partners, except for Lenovo, are too conservative and risk averse to match the innovation. PC buyers are still faced with bland, underpowered, badly assembled, confusing, single-store, crapware filled but cheap (Yay?) computers in every market segment imaginable. I think this lack of innovation in the hardware space is going to hurt Microsoft Windows 8 as much as the actual Windows 8 confusion will.
But there are a few bright spots. Lenovo’s bright new Yoga convertibles are brilliant, and Samsung’s current Series 7 tablets that support Windows 8 are pretty good too.
I’m hoping for more at the Windows 8 launch this week, but so far, excluding the two bright spots, none of the big boys is doing anything to make me feel excited. It feels like Apple is racing ahead in hardware and no-one is even trying to catch up or better them. We need more and better competition and innovation in the tech space, Windows 8 is a start. It’s up to Microsoft’s partners to do something great, and they just don’t seem that interested.