I decided to see what Windows 8.1 is like on a tablet. I replaced my netbook with a Toshiba Encore. I already run 8.1 with update 1 on my desktop machine and my wife’s laptop has 8.1 as well.

On a desktop machine, I will only buy a mouse that has the forward and back buttons built into it. So, one thing I like about the Windows Internet Explorer for the touchscreen is that it uses the swipe to do forward and back. The Android browsers I have used do not have that feature. For me, that makes surfing the net with the Windows tablet slightly better than Android. However, the touchscreen IE runs slower than IE on the desktop on this device. Touchscreen IE has some lag when moving back to the previous page. The desktop IE works better.

One of the biggest strengths of this Windows tablet is the fact that you can use it as a desktop computer. You can hook up a monitor with the micro-HDMI port. Then you can get a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and do desktop work. You can also use a USB OTG cable along with a USB hub to connect a regular USB keyboard and mouse. I hooked it up to my large monitor and the tablet output the full resolution to it without a problem. With a mouse and keyboard hooked up, it may not be as fast, but it still works exactly like my desktop PC. So, it is like having an eight inch PC.

One of the biggest weaknesses of the tablet is the fact that you can use it as a desktop. I say this because some things still require desktop work with the control panel. Doing that with the on-screen keyboard and touchscreen is not fun. When I had to do all that, I had not acquired the Bluetooth accessories yet or a USB OTG cable, so updating the BIOS was a pain. Your fat finger on the touchscreen is not the way to use the file manager.

Now that I have used Windows 8 as a tablet for a while, I discovered that the OneDrive app will work as a touch file manager. All you have to do touch “OneDrive” to get a drop down menu, then select “This PC.” You will get to see all your files on the little SSD and the micro SD card. Using the OneDrive app to look at the stuff you put on your micro SD is a whole lot easier when you can’t use a mouse. The OneDrive app crashed when I tried to rearrange directories. It did not do that just once, it was every single time I tried. So OneDrive has some limitations.

When I got my Android tablet, everything worked right out of the box. This Toshiba tablet required a BIOS update and several driver updates to prevent the camera from crashing the system. I experienced that camera crash a couple days into owning it.

It took a while, but I finally seen the GPS work on the tablet. From long arduous reading of web pages, I learned that most apps expect your GPS to be connected through the comm port. I stood outside with it for longer than ten minutes before I could see the GPS function with the default map app. The compass on this tablet is also slower than the Android and it required me to move it around a lot more to get it properly calibrated. The device needs to be held in landscape mode with the start button near your right hand for the compass to read correctly. My Asus Android tablet has no problem with GPS or the compass.

I kind of understand the complaints about the lack of apps. Android has some nice GPS apps that work. I could not find any equivalent apps for Windows. There is also no official Microsoft app that displays battery life. I wrote a VBscript that will display the battery percentage along with the estimated hours left so I do not have to touch that little icon on the desktop with my big finger.

I fully understand that better stuff is coming. Eventually all tablets will have a Wacom or N-trig pen digitizer. They will have more memory, faster processors, and more hard space. The battery in this device will probably stop holding a charge in about five years. There will be no way to replace the battery without the possibility of destroying it. This is why I bought one that is less expensive for right now. I can get a better one when the technology improves.

Although I have complained about some things the tablet does not do well, I like it. I like having an eight inch full PC. It will be much more portable than a laptop when I have to go on a trip. It will not replace my high powered desktop, but it can replace a laptop.