Can a small, lightweight tablet/laptop running Windows 8.1 work as a full-productivity computer — and still have all the charms of a tablet?
After 30 days of using one as my only PC, the answer is a qualified “yes.” There are, as one would expect, compromises.
In part one (March 19 Best Practices) of this two-part series, I related how I turned an ASUS Transformer Book T100 laplet (convertible tablet/laptop PC) into a full-sized, ergonomic workstation. In this article, I’ll tell you about the actual experience of using this device for work, personal computing, and entertainment.
Using the laplet as a fully plugged-in work PC
Thanks to the docking stations described in Part 1 of this experiment — plus the use of my Start menu replacement program, Classic Shell (site) — the basic Windows experience wasn’t bad at all. I could go for hours without even thinking about Windows 8 — or the fact that I was working on an ultra-portable PC.
Classic Shell offers an exceptionally Windows 7–like experience, complete with pinned and recent applications on the left pane. And just as in Windows 7, some of the applications in that pane have their own submenus of pinned and recent documents (see Figure 1). As with most Start menu replacement apps, Classic Shell displays conventional Windows programs — but also Metro/Modern apps as well.
Classic Shell even lets you revert to old-style Internet Explorer and File Explorer user interfaces. But I personally prefer Win8′s File Explorer UI, and I seldom use IE.
I did experiment with Metro/Modern apps in a work environment, but I didn’t care for them much. My experience with Skype is a prime example.