Last week at Computex, we saw a number of new hardware devices taking advantage of the new touch capabilities in Windows 8. From touchscreen ultrabooks to transformers to sliders to the craziest PC I’ve ever seen, the Taichi, which has two full HD screens, one on either side of its lid. All this choice begs the question: what use cases do I hope to achieve with this hybrid desktop/touch OS/hardware future?
- Software development, my livelihood. I typically have 30+ windows open at once, heavy multitasking, highly keyboard driven.
- Heavy email & presentations. Again, tied to my livelihood. A physical keyboard is desirable.
- Note taking. I use paper notebooks (my favourite is a Moleskine Cahier, Large Squared) and OneNote extensively, but they’re separate. I remember in 2007 fantasizing about a “OneNote Extender” that had an active digitiser (pen input), a screen based on colour e-ink and a battery that lasted all day. My great dream of OneNote everywhere may be nigh at last.
- Media consumption. Movies, music. I’d love built-in WIDI or WHDI so that I can have a second display that’s not physically connected. Fire up a movie, flick it to the second screen, and continue computing on the laptop, wirelessly.
- Business needs. A TPM and fingerprint reader will make my life easier and protect any sensitive client data.
- Photo and video editing
- Web browsing / Facebook / Twitter / Online shopping
- Reading (replace Kindle?)
So those are the use cases, but what about hardware? I typically prop my laptop up on a stand and plug in an external keyboard and mouse anyway (my favourites are Cherry MX-based keyboards and Logitech trackballs), so a slate with an iMac-esque desktop dock could be very nice. Leave the stand/kb/mouse/charger waiting at home, and tote just the slate when you’re out and about. A transformer could fit this bill too.
Another related option is something small, like a 7” slate that also plugs into a dock, this time with a touchscreen display.
Or split them into two: a workhorse laptop for my livelihood (a la the new MacBook Pro…I just wish that Retina display was a touchscreen) and a media-consumption & note-taking Windows RT device. I’d love something about the same size as my Moleskine (would equate to a 7 or 8” screen) with incredible battery life and pen input. My fingers are crossed for Nokia to deliver something great here.
Decisions, decisions. It’s hard to predict what use cases and hardware options will win me over in the coming months.