Thank you for reading my review of Windows 8. I initially started my review on both the
Lenovo Twist convertible laptop/tablet and Windows 8 with two YouTube videos
you can see on the Stewart and Son YouTube Channel here: http://www.youtube.com/user/stewartandson Since then, I found there’s an audience who
would prefer to read this review and I can get into some more detail.
Windows 8: Product, Platform,
For this review I have chosen the Lenovo Twist laptop/tablet
combo device. I chose this because I
know Windows 8 is really designed to make an entry into this touch-screen market
space. Also, I chose it because the wide
varieties of tools I use to support my clients and do business need the power
of a mid-range business laptop.
The Lenovo Twist is the business-class cousin to the
consumer-class Lenovo Yoga. While they
are similar in function the performance capacity of the Twist really does
exceed that of the Yoga in terms of CPU power, drive capacity and other
The Twist comes with Windows 8 Professional; the
business-class version of the operating system.
It includes all the bells and whistles we need for doing business on an
Active Directory domain and support for business applications.
& How I Use My Computer
My goal in this review was to find a touch-screen device
running Windows 8, and find a way to improve or enhance the way I do business
today. I am someone who prefers to take
notes on a letter-sized tablet and one is not far from me at all times. With a touch interface, I can write and have
the writing converted to text almost immediately; not to mention the ability to
sketch IT concepts and print/email/share them instantaneously.
Of course I manage my calendar and email with the device,
and I use different web applications to interact with the enterprise management
tools I use for my clients.
Lastly, I’m a gamer at heart so I’m looking to see how touch
can help create great games with innovative input interfaces.
I had some challenges with the Twist right off. Most tablets run small SSD’s (Solid State
Drives) as opposed to conventional hard drives with moving parts. Jostling a spinning hard drive can be
catastrophic so Lenovo is using “airbag” technology which basically “parks” (or
stops) the hard drive so that it can’t suffer damage in case of an accidental
bump. Of course I took great care when converting
from laptop to tablet but the sensitivity was turned up so high, I frequently
had to wait after the slightest motion for the hard drive to come back up to
speed (about 10-15 seconds). I did find
a setting to make the system less sensitive and had fewer moments where my work
The position sensors which direct the display to
appropriately adjust to which way is up were not very effective. In fact, if you put the laptop in “tent” mode
(effectively opened hinge-up, screen facing out, like an A), it simply couldn’t
tell which way was up. There’s a 4 step
process to correct that which you have to go through every time. Pretty annoying but Lenovo says they are
working on a fix for that and I think they’ll get that worked out.
My issues with Windows 8 were much greater than that of the
Windows 8 basically runs two software environments. You have the Desktop environment, which is
nearly identical to Windows 7’s environment, except there is no Start button on
the desktop. The other environment is
the Metro environment (Microsoft can’t call it that but I haven’t heard a
better name for it yet), which runs programs designed for touch interfaces.
The two environments work interchangeably in some ways and
not in others. From the Metro interface
you cannot see separate Desktop applications.
You can split screen and see the desktop on 2/3’s of the screen and a
Metro app of your choice in the other 1/3rd but the Twist’s screen
is too small to make that of any use.
If I could run all my apps in Metro and not use the Desktop,
then it might be a non-issue, but I can’t do that because many of the apps I
need to do business have no good Metro equivalents.
Internet Explorer 10 seems ok but I still have the issues of
annoying ads and a general lack of add-ons that make my web browsing experience
so much more productive, so I use Google Chrome for most of my browsing and I
use IE for managing my SharePoint sites and doing my business email. Since Chrome is my default browser I can’t
run Internet Explorer 10 as a Metro app.
This was very annoying since I wanted a bit of both worlds and couldn’t
The mail and calendar apps were very feature-poor. In fact you can’t change the signature of
your default account in the mail app.
Wait for the next version apparently.
So, it’s back to the browser for my email then. I also need a calendar app that supports
different colors for different appointments.
Metro’s calendar does a good job coloring the multiple calendars you
might have connected but I can’t distinguish different colors for the
appointments (I like to color appointments differently if they are on the road
or in-office). Another major issue with
the calendar was that I can’t drag and drop appointments. I think every calendar with any kind of
graphical interface out today lets you do this.
As a gamer that is pretty platform agnostic, I’m a big fan
of the game distribution engine known as Steam.
Steam does work on Windows 8 but not very well. I have had some problems which I frankly
haven’t spent much time to correct.
Metro games on the other hand seem well developed and there are a number
of free ones I had some fun with. Obviously
first person shooters probably don’t play well to a touch screen, but “tower-defense”
games and other types do. There are some
free, Windows 8-ready games to play right now and they are pretty fun. By the way, the new Minesweeper for a
touch-interface was well done and I enjoy playing it.
Some last notes I have here include:
- Running apps in the Desktop environment with a
touch screen really requires a stylus.
Unless you go through and modify your desktop for big buttons, you’ll
fat finger a lot.
- Handwriting comprehension is pretty good. My handwriting could use a lot of help and I
only needed a little correction. The
correction interface leaves a lot to be desired.
- The Twist had some random screen brightness
issues. The light sensor seems buggy and
would cause the display to brighten and darken considerably which was very
annoying. Disabled “adaptive brightness”.
- Get Toolbox from the Microsoft Store for
free. That is a very cool app for Metro
and has a lot of potential. Should have
come on the basic load for the new OS in my opinion.
- One Note was my note-taking app and the cloud
integration was pretty sweet. I can get
to my notes almost immediately from any of my workstations.
- Yes you can use a mouse in Windows 8, but you
need to learn about the hotspots on the corners of the screen. Hover in the corner and you should see
- The lack of a full-featured Facebook app from
the Store was noticeable. I can get a
great Facebook app on my iPhone; why there wasn’t one waiting for me was
Windows 8 is a huge deal different than any previous version
of Windows. If you want to try something
new and you don’t rely on your computer for custom applications or others which
aren’t Metro-ready, then I’d say take advantage of the prices right now and
give it a go.
If however, you are considering picking up a new computer for
the office or anywhere else you expect to be productive, I’d strongly encourage
you to hold off and buy a cheap Windows 8 machine to play with before diving
in. I could NOT be productive with this
on day one despite being a pretty adaptable computer user. I had to consult the web more than a few
times to figure out how to do something.
The Windows 8 interface is not very intuitive.
Touch computing is here to stay and while Windows 8 might
change with a service pack or maybe even Windows 9, the basics are being
written into the history of computing right now and Microsoft is helping to
shape where we go from here. I can see
that this interface change is going to happen, whether I like it or not so I’m
going to continue to try and get on board.
My name is Wade Stewart and I have my own IT consulting
business named Stewart and Son Computer Services. We service small and medium size businesses
with the IT experience and practices of corporate enterprise computing. We bring our market the power of enterprise
managed IT to make our clients more competitive and bring a higher standard of
computer, network and server reliability.