Lenovo recently discontinued its small Windows tablets in the United States, including the 8-inch IdeaTab Miix 2, due to lack of interest.
There's no lack of interest on my part. I bought the IdeaTab Miix 2 8, which runs Windows 8.1, about a month ago. There are some downsides, and I never want a small Windows tablet as my primary computer -- maybe not even my secondary PC. But if you're looking to lighten your load when traveling for work, a Windows 8.1 tablet with an eight-inch display, like the now-discontinued-but-still-available IdeaTab Miix 2 8, deserves some attention. Here are four reasons why.
- The smaller tablets weigh next to nothing. The Lenovo IdeaTab Miix 2 8 weighs only 0.77 pounds.
- Battery life can be fantastic. PCWorld's test of the IdeaTab, for instance, showed it lasted more than 10 hours on a charge.
- A small Windows tablet doesn't mean tiny performance. My Lenovo tablet, though not a speed demon, handles basic computing tasks efficiently.
- Like some other small Windows tablets, the IdeaTab comes with Office Home & Student Edition 2013 preinstalled, which includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint but not Outlook. Of course, because it's a "real" Windows machine, you can install other versions of Office that include Outlook.
To make any Windows tablet more laptop-like, you need accessories, such as a fine-point stylus and an external keyboard. For the latter, I recommend Logitech's K810 Bluetooth Illuminated Keyboard, which costs $63 on Amazon. It's nearly twice as wide as the IdeaTab but the keys are spaced apart. You can sync the keyboard to as many as three devices at a time. And the sculpted keys are backlit. In short: It's one of the classiest tablet keyboards I've seen.
You'll also want a micro USB-to-USB adapter ($5 on Amazon) to attach an external USB mouse, keyboard or other peripheral. I had no luck connecting my Samsung external DVD drive, however.
As I mentioned, there are trade-offs when you use such a small Windows machine. The IdeaTab only has 2GB of memory, it can't be upgraded, and it might prevent you from installing certain software programs. You can't physically attach an external monitor, and your eyes will grow weary looking at an eight-inch tablet screen for more than a few hours. The selection of Windows 8 tablet-optimized apps, though steadily improving, still lags behind iOS and Android.
Clearly, the small Windows 8 tablet market is in a bit of flux. Some say it is a doomed product category, though Microsoft recently said $99 small tablets running Windows 8 will be available by year's end. Dell's Venue 8 Pro Tablet ($249) is one available option. And Lenovo says it will come out with new, small Windows tablets later this year.
There will always be something less expensive, lighter and faster released a month or two after you purchase a new gadget, no matter when you buy it. Small Windows 8 tablets come with compromises. It's also a fact that small Windows tablets are pretty sweet for light, on-the-go Windows 8 computing tasks.
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