In the market for a business-grade, road warrior’s laptop? A surprisingly solid choice might be a great laptop masquerading as a Windows tablet. I travel too much to have any interest in a luggable. If it’s not thin, light, and fast, I’m not interested. Here’s my specs:
- < 4 lbs. + < .75″ thick
- >= 128 GB SSD
- >= 1080 dpi native screen res
- >= Intel i5 processor + >= 8 GB RAM
- option for 2 external high-res video ports
- Windows 8.1 touch -screen
I first bought the brand new Lenovo XXXX, barely over 3 lbs., with all of the above but the dual videos. If I hadn’t hated the weirdly-rounded, slippery keyboard, I might have stopped there. But if you spend 10+ hours per day on a laptop, and you hate the keyboard, you hate the computer. So I went back the next day (in a different state), to try again.
For a change, when I rattled off the above specs, Sales Dude didn’t look at his shoes and tell me, “…the closest thing you’ll find is the new…., but it doesn’t support dual external monitors…” Instead, as soon as he said “…with the docking station…”, my ears instantly perked up. When he said “…docking station that supports dual 4K monitors,..,” I started paying serious attention. It turns out that the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 hits all of the above, and then some. The docking station is small and light, with an ingenious horizontal sliding action that locks in the laptop (tablet). And slides just as easily open to release. The keys are large, square & flat, making the keyboard the most comfortable I’ve used lately. It includes an equally brilliant magnetic attachment that automatically sets a comfortable positive typing angle, and doesn’t require Bluetooth. No compromised, cramped fingering for a carpenter-turned-geek, and three levels of backlighting is icing on the cake.
And it’s a tablet. A mediocre one perhaps, but a true tablet nonetheless. By that I mean the keyboard completely detaches in one second (or folds underneath, like most hybrids). In my opinion, my Samsung Tab 4 Android is a better tablet, especially with the ‘Droid apps that aren’t available for Windows. But my ‘Droid can’t run all my construction software. And doesn’t have a great keyboard. And doesn’t support dual monitors…and so on.
The Surface isn’t perfect. The screen isn’t a true 16:9, with a max res an odd 2160 x 1440, which I don’t particularly like. But at 1440 x 900 it’s close enough to what I’m used to, and very readable. Put it into the docking station, between a pair of 27″ monitors, and there’s nothing not to like.
And did I mention that it’s all in an elegant, paper-thin 3/8″ thick, 2.5 lb. package? I have to check twice to see if it’s in my bag. I can live with that. And it does the work of most desktops. Road warriors rejoice, the good tablets are here. Finally.