I’ve been using Windows 8 for about a month with the Lenovo Yoga, an ultrabook/tablet convertible, and I must say that I’m a big fan of the new Windows 8 operating system, as well as Lenovo’s hardware.
In my last post, I wrote about my first impression of Windows 8 and I said that touch screen is a must. I’m now more convinced of that than ever. Windows 8 was built for touch screens, and people with non-touch screens will see little benefit in the new modern start screen. The good news is that the traditional Windows 7 desktop can still be accessed by clicking on the “Desktop” app. The only thing missing from the traditional Windows 7 desktop is the start button in the bottom-left of the screen, but you can easily bring it back my downloading a program such as Start8. In fact, if you download that program, you can set the traditional desktop to be the default and completely ignore the modern start screen.
I personally love the modern start screen. I use the “People” app a lot for viewing Facebook and Twitter and the Mail app is nice because it brings all of your accounts together into one place. I like the new “charms” bar, accessed by swiping the right side of the screen, which lets you quickly search the web, search your apps, share things to social media, print, send to Bluetooth, send videos to your xbox-connected TV, adjust settings, etc. If you swipe the left of the screen, you can either pull up your most recent app, view all open apps, or pin another app to the left or ride of the screen. I wouldn’t call these new controls intuitive because there’s definitely a learning curve, but now that I’ve got the hang of it, I love how easy it is to navigate between apps.
The new touchscreen functionality in Windows 8 is fantastic. The touchscreen on the Lenovo Yoga is extremely responsive and the on-screen keyboard is easy to use in tablet mode. I love being able to browse the web by scrolling through pages and zooming in & out with my fingers. In fact, when I’m using my non-touchscreen Windows 7 work laptop, I often find myself reaching up to the screen and trying to scroll or zoom. The Lenovo Yoga is optimal for me because I use applications like Microsoft Excel and Adobe Photoshop, which really need a keyboard and trackpad/mouse. Switching between laptop and tablet couldn’t be any easier, just flip over the screen. Yes, the keyboard is exposed in tablet mode, but it automatically disables and really doesn’t bug me. More than any other mode, I use the pictured “stand mode”, in which the keyboard is on my lap and the screen is closer to me, ideal for using the touch screen or watching videos.
The Lenovo Yoga is priced at $999, which is far from cheap, but matches the price of the MacBook Air with similar specs, minus a touch screen. Apple doesn’t believe in touch screens on traditional computers because there may be undesired trade-offs. In CEO Tim Cook’s words, “You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user.” However, Windows 8 works for me. It’s a fully-functional laptop with the added bonus of a touch screen, which makes browsing e-mails or the web more convenient. Plus, if you get a convertible model like the Lenovo Yoga or Dell XPS Duo which flips or swivels into a tablet, you have the option to get the keyboard out of the way. Sure, it’s twice the weight as a traditional tablet, but I’m not one to walk around holding it in my hand, so more weight is OK if it means better performance (Fast Intel CPU, 4 GB RAM) and the convenience of having one device do it all.