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  1. #1
    Network Hub roryok's Avatar
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    Anyone else thinking of buying a Thinkpad Helix or other hybrid/tablet PC?

    I've been eyeing up the Thinkpad Helix since I read about it, I like the idea of a laptop form factor, hardware keyboard and a touchscreen AND wacom digitiser. Sounds like my ultimate PC apart from the quite steep pricepoint.

    I had been thinking about the Surface Pro, but apparently it's very hard to use on your lap and the battery life is 3 hours vs 6+4 for the helix

    Anyone else thinking of taking the tablety shaped plunge?

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by roryok View Post
    I've been eyeing up the Thinkpad Helix since I read about it, I like the idea of a laptop form factor, hardware keyboard and a touchscreen AND wacom digitiser. Sounds like my ultimate PC apart from the quite steep pricepoint.

    I had been thinking about the Surface Pro, but apparently it's very hard to use on your lap and the battery life is 3 hours vs 6+4 for the helix

    Anyone else thinking of taking the tablety shaped plunge?
    My brother is thinking about getting one. It's an Asus, which hadn't been launched last time i spoke to him, and I THINK it was called a transformer book or something like that. It's a pretty good form factor, imo. All the usability of a laptop, some of the usability of a tablet. A reasonable compromise.
    Last edited by RandomTangent; 11-04-2013 at 05:38 PM.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    I have an ASUS Transformer Prime and briefly had a Dell XPS 10 (no keyboard dock, but it was free and I played with it before ebaying).
    The former uses Android, the latter used Windows RT

    My personal opinion is: As it stands right now, it just isn't a good choice. Let me learn you a lesson on why.

    There are two key routes. An android (or iOS or amazon version of android or whatever) and a proper OS (Windows or Linux are the only real choices right now). I'll explain why, at least for me, both were poor choices.

    Mobile OS: The issue is that pretty much everything you will use is optimized and designed around touch interfaces. So the main advantage of the docking station/keyboard is having a good keyboard that will probably work with most apps (I had issues with ConnectBot, but I found a custom build to support it). But here is the thing: There are some REALLY REALLY good software keyboards out there, and odds are that if you are considering a tablet you already have a smart phone and are used to software keyboards. So while there are a few specific use-cases where the proper keyboard is definitively better (blogging/writing unformatted reports while traveling comes to mind and I DO like my transformer for that), it isn't 100+ dollars better.

    "Real" OS: First off, don't get WinRT. It is a piece of crap, you can research why. But let's assume that you have a good piece of hardware with a proper desktop OS (up to you if you consider any Surface a "good piece of hardware"). WHY are you getting the normal OS? Because of existing software libraries and similar apps throughout all your systems. But all of those are designed with a mouse and keyboard in mind. So now, you basically have a normal laptop (that you paid a lot more money for) that you can occasionally use to draw or play Civ5 on (the Civ5 IS awesome though and was almost enough to make me get a hybrid thinkpad).

    Honestly, almost all the stuff I originally thought I would use my tablet for are better done with my phone. These days, my tablet exists for reading comics and reading PDFs. Everything else I either use my desktop for (coding, gentleman's entertainment) or use my phone for (browsing internet in front of the TV/while on public transportation). Oh, and reading "real" books on my Kindle. So while I CAN find ways to fit a tablet in, there just isn't really enough to justify the added cost of buying a hybrid (especially because, if you shop sales/smart, you can get a decent android tablet and a decent laptop for the same price you would pay for the hybrid). And I haven't even used my Transformer Prime's keyboard docking station for anything other than protecting the screen in the better part of a year.
    When I eventually buy a new tablet (I find it worthwhile just for the comics and PDFs), I'll just get the current cheap Nexus and be done with it.

    So think very carefully and consider your use-cases.

    That being said, Gabe at Penny Arcade had a pretty good writeup (that was only slightly bribed :p) on the Surface and how it is perfect for him since he is primarily an artist and generally doesn't like PC gaming so the power isn't a huge issue.
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  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus SirKicksalot's Avatar
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    I wanted to get the Surface Pro but it ended up costing 50 million dollars or something. No point in having a keyboard/Android combo.
    I'll keep waiting for a cheaper normal Windows hybrid. The way things are going, we might get one in 2020!

  5. #5
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    Now is a bad time to buy any ultraportables. Haswell hits in two months, runs cooler and can be reasonably expected to prolong battery life by 50% or so in normal use. GPU performance is going up a lot as well for machines which opt for the highest end iGPU.

    I was considering Surface Pro and Helix. SP is cheap for what it does, but for ergonomic reasons alone I can't replace my primary laptop with it. Helix seems to be the best fully functional laptop with fully functional tablet, if you can stomach the price. Considering Helix' already good battery life, especially if you don't much care about the GPU, I guess it's not a bad buy even now. With SP the extra battery life from Haswell would do a lot. Who knows when they get updated though.

  6. #6
    Network Hub roryok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    there just isn't really enough to justify the added cost of buying a hybrid (especially because, if you shop sales/smart, you can get a decent android tablet and a decent laptop for the same price you would pay for the hybrid).
    That is a very good point. I hadn't really thought about it that way

    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    That being said, Gabe at Penny Arcade had a pretty good writeup (that was only slightly bribed :p) on the Surface and how it is perfect for him since he is primarily an artist and generally doesn't like PC gaming so the power isn't a huge issue.
    I'm sort of an artist. My main requirement for a tablet is a decent wacom pen so I can do graphics stuff on it, but also a nice high spec machine I can do app development work on (running mobile emulators is a fairly big performance hog). At the moment I have a home-made cintiq which is too heavy and awkward.

    Quote Originally Posted by victory View Post
    Now is a bad time to buy any ultraportables. Haswell hits in two months, runs cooler and can be reasonably expected to prolong battery life by 50% or so in normal use. GPU performance is going up a lot as well for machines which opt for the highest end iGPU.
    There's always something better just around the corner. But I guess two months is a fairly short wait.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mickygor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roryok View Post
    There's always something better just around the corner. But I guess two months is a fairly short wait.
    I'd say a 50% increase in battery life on a 6 hour charge is probably the tipping point. That puts it over the full day's work, or essentially as much time as most people could stomach in one day on such a device, I imagine. Recharge overnight, repeat.
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  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roryok View Post
    I'm sort of an artist. My main requirement for a tablet is a decent wacom pen so I can do graphics stuff on it, but also a nice high spec machine I can do app development work on (running mobile emulators is a fairly big performance hog). At the moment I have a home-made cintiq which is too heavy and awkward.
    In that case, I would definitely look up his semi-bribed review. Main PA site, I guess just search for "surface" and it will show up somehow. I say "semi-bribed" because MS sent him a free Surface Pro. He backs up his arguments, but it definitely feels a bit off and glosses over the issues with the Surface Pro. But, at the same time, the PA guys don't really review stuff and Gabe isn't a PC gamer so it might just be that he didn't care about those problems/is a crappy "journalist" :p

    The gist of it: It is pretty good for drawing and his primary complaints had more to do with his workflow not being easily ported at the time than anything else. Considering almost all of the problems he had drawing-wise were already being planned to be fixed in patches/new releases of software, it is probably good by now.
    Gaming wise: It is what you would expect from a non-gaming laptop. So I don't know how much you game on your laptop, but that is definitely a consideration.
    Last edited by gundato; 17-04-2013 at 01:47 PM.
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  9. #9
    Network Hub roryok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gundato View Post
    I don't know how much you game on your laptop, but that is definitely a consideration.
    Almost none at all. I've only played non-taxing and 2d stuff like world of goo, trials, scumm adventure games and sword and sorcery. All my regular gaming is done on my crusty old gaming rig

  10. #10
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    I'm currently using a Fujitsu T730. While it's quite nice having a touchscreen and active digitizer, I find myself thing I'd have been better off with a normal laptop and a Wacom Bamboo.

    There are a few build quality issues, but they are model specific, so I shan't go into them (still good quality though). My main is that I find the screen a little small (12.1"). It also doesn't fit my use of it as a main machine, which includes gaming. Fujitsu do a larger version and it's previous version had a mediocre dGPU, but the current one doesn't and is rather lackluster (not to mention expensive and has a 16:9 aspect ratio).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by roryok View Post
    There's always something better just around the corner. But I guess two months is a fairly short wait.
    I'd say it is a worthwhile wait for the largest individual laptop tech advancement of the last three years.

  12. #12
    Maybe yes, maybe no - technologies are developing constantly and something that is modern today will be outdated tomorrow :)

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I was definitely thinking about a hybrid just because of the games but yeah unfortunately they cost way to much and its better to get a laptop and a tablet, I went for a tablet in the end and it is pretty cool for reading comics and books and playing little games on it. I would love to be there a CIV V type game o nit and Crusders Kings 2 but you can't have everything and maybe ill just have to live with emulation.

  14. #14
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    Edit: Well, damn! I should have read before replying. Ah well, the price one pays for being a fanatic...

    I've been using a Tablet PC for over a year now (Fujitsu T730). It's an older generation of device, so it's a bit bulky and heavy, but as a student I've found it very useful. That said, I have somewhat gone off taking notes with the active digitizer. That's partly because I find it much easier to keep up with notetaking by typing, rather than writing. For diagrams though, it's fantastic!

    I'm thinking of getting the Sony Vaio Duo 13. The T730 is a swivel convertible, so changing from typing to writing/drawing should be much easier and quicker on the Duo. It's at the expense of modularity and repairability/upgradability (the T730 has a socketed CPU!), but easier to use, lighter, more powerful and better battery life will probably win over.

    In short, yes, I think Tablet PCs are great! Don't get the Surface Pro though; the battery life is atrocious.
    Last edited by Tams80; 30-07-2013 at 10:49 PM. Reason: Realised I'd already replied.

  15. #15
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    I'm rather curious about the Samsung ATIV Q. It's similar to the Vaio Duo, but the screen is downright lavish at 3200x1800. Dual-booting Android and Windows 8 on a full x86 machine also sounds interesting.

    The price might be a little steep though, still not sure about it.

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