Can a lightweight, inexpensive Windows 8.1 convertible serve as your main productivity computer?
That was the premise in a 30-day experiment to have one light device that replaced both a traditional laptop and an iPad tablet.
Consolidating two digital devices into one
In theory, that’s what Windows 8 is supposed to be about — one operating system appropriate for both crunching the company budget and reading the news on the commuter train.
But does theory translate into practical application? I decided to find out for myself. For 30 days, I set aside both my Windows 7 laptop and my iPad. In their place, I used a laptop/tablet hybrid — a laplet — that runs the full Windows 8.1 (not the more limited Windows 8.1 RT).
I used the tiny machine for all my daily desktop computing: researching and writing articles, balancing the checkbook, reading email, doing my taxes, and so forth. I also used it outside my office to socialize on Facebook, keep up with Twitter, and read newspapers and magazines — and even some fiction.
In this article, the first of a two-part series, I’ll discuss how I turned the laplet into a full-sized, ergonomic workstation. I’ll explain how I connected it to a large monitor, keyboard, mouse, and set of good speakers. I’ll also relate how I failed to get Ethernet to work and coped with the laplet’s 64GB of storage.
The laplet: An iPad-sized Windows PC
The heart of the entire enterprise was the ASUS Transformer Book T100 (more info). It’s a small, lightweight convertible PC you can buy for about U.S. $400. It comes with a detachable keyboard (Figure 1) that also acts as a cover. When you connect the tablet half with the keyboard half, it becomes a thin, clamshell-type laptop.