Tuesday, January 17, 2017

I think I accidentally bought a Windows tablet ...

For those that know I'm a Mac user and might wonder why in the world I'd want a Windows tablet, let me start with some computer background about me and the family.

I've been a user of Macs since 2007. I'm fairly heavy into the Apple ecosystem with a MacBook Pro, a MacBook Air, an iPad Pro, an iPhone 6s, an Apple TV, plus hundreds of movies, many TV shows, and thousands of songs from the iTunes store. And that's just me. I've bought many other devices for family members.

Now, I'm not exclusively Mac. I have a fairly decent Windows desktop computer, as well as having virtual Windows computers on my MacBooks. The grandchildren use Windows computers still. All those that are double-digit ages got computers, and I've kept them updated every 3-4 years provided they swap them back to me. That ensures they take care of them. Not all do, but most of them do.

At work, I use a Windows computer. Not my choice, but what they assign me. I would prefer to use a Mac, but I cannot justify the extra expense to the company, so I use the Windows machine. I also log in and work remote regularly. That requires a Windows computer, which normally means my Windows desktop.

I was using a virtual machine on my Mac to log in to work if an emergency came up and I wasn't at home ... and had my MacBook with me, which I often did. However, my virtual machine (using Parallels) has recently encountered an issue with the shift key. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. Caps Lock always works, but some characters (! @ # $ % etc) are only possible -- or feasible; I know about ALT-KEYPAD but prefer to not do that -- via the shift key.

Now, considering that in a year or so, I'll be updating at least three of the grandchildren's computers, and that it would be useful to have a reliable Windows laptop for emergency remote log in, I've been looking at getting a Windows laptop. The grandchildren's computers have all been Dell Inspiron laptops, which I've found reliable, and, until recently, easy to work on if necessary. But, as those three are looking to finish high school in another year, I'm thinking a better grade of laptop might be better for college.

Anyway, I've been looking at Dell's XPS line of laptops. I've never had one of those, and wasn't sure if it would be good to get one of those, or a MacBook. Getting an XPS for me would get me familiar with how good they actually are as well as solve my immediate need for a reliable emergency remote work computer. So, I've been looking at the XPS line.

They ain't cheap. But, I looked into the Dell outlet -- that's their discontinued and refurbished store -- and saw some XPS machines with solid state drives at pretty good prices compared to a MacBook. So, I shopped there for a bit. I wanted at least 256 GB drive, 8 GB RAM, and at least a 13-inch screen. However, it came down to "pick two." So, I went with the drive and RAM, and settled for a 12-inch screen, similar to what the MacBook line offers.

It came in last week, and when I opened the box, it was kinda sparse inside. A laptop and a power supply. Truly bare bones. So, I plugged the laptop in (USB-C connection for power) and let it sit for a bit while I took care of other stuff for a few hours. Then, that evening, after supper, I decided to dive in. First thing I did was open the device. That's when the screen came off in my hands.

I sat there for a minute with what I can only figure was a really stupid look on my face until I realized that it was designed to do that. It had connection pins and magnetic alignment to ensure they were touching. It was, in essence, a 12-inch Windows tablet and a full-size hard keyboard attachment.

The touchpad works very well, as good as my MacBook keypads. At least, so far. The screen is a little small (being old sucks), but I knew what I was getting into when I started. Changing the resolution (lowering it) has helped that a little.

So, I'm using a Windows laptop, specifically a Dell XPS 12, which is actually a tablet. (Note: Windows PC and mobile operating systems are the same, unlike Apple's macOS for computers and iOS for mobile.)

So far, so good. But I still feel a little stupid for not realizing what I was buying.

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