Looking for a 13" tablet

Laptops, PDAs, Cell Phones, and all other tech that you carry with you.

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Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sat Oct 19, 2013 7:23 pm

It's an oddly large size, but I have specific needs for a tablet:

--> Runs Win8
--> Can be used as a regular tablet
--> When docked or connected to a keyboard, has enough screen real estate to be productive (i.e. can comfortably display one 100% size text document horizontally)
--> Powerful enough to run demanding apps like photoshop if connected to a larger, better display

In a nutshell, I want a tablet that can double as a tiny budget-class desktop system.

Bay trail Atom systems almost hit the mark, but they seem to be relegated to smaller tablets -- most 11" 16:9 displays are barely wide enough and the vertical squeeze is painful. They also seem a bit on the meek side, with tiny amounts of RAM that would choke on many tasks. Still, the Dell Venue 11 Pro is enticing.

The latest iteration of Intel's i3 and i5 CPUs are in a few 13" tablets, and those look like they fit the bill: plenty of horsepower, nice screen real estate, and convertible into a tablet or a laptop. The Sony VAIO Duo 13, HP Spectre 13 X2, and even the Dell XPS 13 look like contenders.

Does anyone have experience with any of these kinds of systems? What are some reliable, TR-quality review sources for these kinds of systems? The last portable system I purchased was a Gateway LT3103u, which fulfilled its purpose well at the time but didn't have staying power due to its low screen resolution and slower internals. I'm hoping the latest round of convertibles can fix those issues.
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:32 pm

I went to a MS store today and played with the wares. The Surface Pro was surprisingly good. I didn't expect the 10.8" screen on the model they had there to be big enough, but it was clear enough to see everything. The clicky keyboard attachment is good.

I also tried the Dell XPS 12 that was in the MS store. It was larger and heavier, of course, but not unwieldy. It would suit my needs except for the awful keyboard. Its chicklet style keys didn't cut it for me. The Surface Pro clicky keyboard to be much more usable. Even though the XPS 12 meets all my other criteria, the Surface Pro wins for superior input capability.

My search continues...
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:16 pm

What's your budget? Are you happy with any size?
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:23 pm

Meow.
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Oct 20, 2013 7:37 pm

grantmeaname wrote:What's your budget? Are you happy with any size?


Give my requirements I expect to pay more than $500, but hope to come in as far under $1,000 as possible. I'm considering every option regardless of price, though, so that I can see what's out there.


Savyg wrote:I just realized it exists.

http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/id ... a/yoga-13/


The Yoga 13 looks nice, but it got many negative reviews.
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Oct 20, 2013 8:22 pm

I just ordered a decked out Yoga 2 for the wife.

Should be here sometime this week for hands on impressions.
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Oct 20, 2013 9:30 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:I just ordered a decked out Yoga 2 for the wife.

Should be here sometime this week for hands on impressions.



Thanks! Can't wait to hear about it...
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Thu Oct 24, 2013 11:26 pm

The Yoga 2 Pro arrived three days ago and I've spent two days picking at it and laying down a fresh OS on it (to erase the Lenovo bloat).

I suppose I should open with the positive. It's tiny, lightweight, feels sturdy, converts easily, touch screen works great, and the machine has pep. It computes and the wife is pleased so I guess you could say goals have been met.

The following are my random musings about the system.

1. The system doesn't come with any restore media. It only comes with a restore partition. I went out and bought 16GB USB3 stick and used the Windows 8/8.1 Recovery (in control panel) to backup up the restore partition. Surface is similar in this regard and I know many vendors have been opting out of physical media for years and yet it still irks me. I ended up pulling a copy of 8.1 Pro from my TechNet sub to do the reinstall.

2. There was no Certificate of Authenticity on it with the Windows 8.1 Pro key. You'll need a separate program (ProduKey) to see it. That being said the key is embedded into the UEFI of the laptop and during a fresh install of Windows it will automatically enter/submit that key for activation. Minor thing, but I'm old fashioned I guess.

3. The system had two user exposed partitions (C: & D:) and the D: driver carried the applications and drivers installed on the system. These - in premise - need to be backed up onto the same external media as the recovery partition. Of course Lenovo has all of the drivers on their website. The only thing they don't have is the sole application: McAfee.

4. The system has many built in devices. In summary: Intel Bluetooth, wifi, chipset, dynamic platform and thermal framework, smart connect technology, management engine interface, and HD graphics. Realtek Audio and cardreader. Synaptics touchpad. Lenovo virtual power controller.

That's just what I ended up re-installing into the device. The device ships with more devices than that with a driver installed, IMO needlessly.

I couldn't get the audio to work with the Microsoft HD Audio drivers (unfortunate) forcing me to install the RealTek audio drivers. The built in camera used a Realtek driver, but the native driver out of Windows works fine. Intel RST wasn't really necessary.

Making matters stranger the Intel Smart Connect Technology and the Lenovo Virtual Power Controller are both incompatible with 8.1. The driver installs and doesn't toss any errors, but Maintenance reports that they aren't compatible. I suspect these drivers as for why the system will not idle sleep, only force sleep.

I'd have preferred fewer drivers and definitely for all of them to be compatible with the OS it shipped with.

5. 3200x1800 in a 13" space is pretty amazing, it's also impossible to use at a 1:1/native scaling. That shouldn't be a particularly big surprise, but finding the right scaling is really hard IMO. Microsoft suggested 200% (technically 1600x900), but that felt rather cramped. Pixel density is cool and all, but not if I have to making every application/window so large it feels like I'm running in 800x600 again. I settled on 175%, which is roughly a resolution of 1828x1028. Tad smaller than 1080p, but it I feel it meets the balance I'm trying to tag here between work area, readability, and touch usability. I'd note that the modern UI isn't phased by any of this. This is purely a desktop problem.

6. I'd comment on the color calibration of the screen from the factory, but I have to buy a new colorimeter. Mine doesn't work anymore under 8.1.

7. I found the palm wrest area textured comfortable, the keyboard well illuminated and the feel reasonable, and the touchpad acceptable. I thought the keys on the keyboard were a little cramped, but my wife commented she liked the keyboard quite a bit. So I guess smaller hands prevail here.

8. The performance of the i7 model is very snappy, the 8GB of memory is sufficient, and with the system repartitioned with a fresh install plenty of space abounds on the .5 TB SSD. It doesn't get too hot and the fans don't get obnoxiously loud. My opinion of course, YMMV.

9. Tiny 65W brick is used to plug it in. Battery replacement is going to take a torx screwdriver.
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:43 am

Thanks for the thoughts, Ryu! Very helpful, indeed. Your description makes the Yoga 2 seem like an overall great system; there are no glaring problems, just minor niggles. Could you please clarify a few things?

1. Compare the keyboard and touchpad to some others (like the MacBook, the Surface clicky dock, etc.) to give an idea of where it falls on the usability spectrum
2. I heard there were major problems with color reproduction on some Yogas, and that it was so bad it was visible even without any calibrators. Do you see anything like this, especially compared to other displays?
3. You said the W8 key was built into the UEFI. How does that affect installation of a different, purchased OS?

Thanks!
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:32 pm

I distinctly dislike the attachable keyboard that come with surface for both trackpad and typing use. Maybe they improved on them some for Surface 2.

My wife uses a MacBook at work and since she is the primary user of the Yoga I solicited her opinion. She finds the experience to be the same, but mind you she hates trackpads and makes an active effort to use a mouse instead. My own experience matches her, I don't remember my MacBook experiences to be vastly superior to my working experience with the Yoga. She also gushed about how much she likes the touchscreen on the Yoga.

I have read about the fact that the display apparently isn't able to display a perfect yellow. I am unclear if it is all of them or some of them. My color acuity is nearly perfect and my wife's is perfect that being said I haven't really noticed a problem with the yellows. Not to say it doesn't exists, but without some sort of outside reference it may be difficult to pick up on. I don't know of anyone else sourcing 3200x1800 13" screens. This may represent a teething problem with a freshly produced technology.

Personally speaking, if this was a 10bit professional class display (like the Dell 3014) I'd be complaining. It's not really that kind of display though and the flaw isn't glaring to break richness of the display (it looks very good). I find it acceptable, but obviously you'll have to make your own call on that.

The key being built into the UEFI shouldn't pose any difficulties to installing an alternative OS. I had some XP machines that acted this way and didn't have any issues shifting to Windows 7 for example.
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Oct 27, 2013 6:03 pm

Thanks for the update!
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:59 am

You should check on the Asus T300 (not TF300). It's not released yet but it's 13" Windows 8.1 tablet with keyboard docking, see official site here:

http://www.asus.com/in-search-of-incred ... book-t300/
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:42 pm

The T300 has great specs, but it's prety hefty at ~4.5 lbs. I wonder how much it'll cost...
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:28 am

FireGryphon wrote:The T300 has great specs, but it's prety hefty at ~4.5 lbs. I wonder how much it'll cost...

4.5lbs I believe is with the keyboard? The tablet portion will end up being too heavy and tip over? BTW, what's up with the spec showing Windows 8 instead of 8.1?
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:49 am

4.5 lbs. is as heavy as a full-fledged laptop, like the Macbook Pro. Nevermind tipping over, it's a lot to lug around all day -- twice the weight of a Surface Pro 2.

The version of Windows might be a simple error; judging from the English on the page, it was not edited very well.

Still looks like an interesting machine...
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:49 pm

I just mentioned it since you specifically requested a 13" tablet, currently there aren't many options! The tablet portion at 1.1kg is a respectable (if not light) weight compared to the surface pro 2 at 0.9kg, given the screen size is an additional 2.7" (6.85cm) diagonally. If you were to scale up the Surface's weight and screen size in ratio so the screen size was 13.3" to match it would come in at 1.25Kg....so 1.1Kg is in the right ballpark to be a favourable weight containing that spec of hardware at that screen size. :)
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:16 am

Another one for you, this one comes in at 1Kg, so getting lighter (ish!) :)

HP Spectre 13 X2
http://shopping.hp.com/en_US/home-offic ... re/E6M01AV
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:13 pm

The HP unit is nice. It's also a bit on the heavy side.

Makes me think... the Yoga 12 is 1.5 lbs. lighter than the HP and the Asus. Dell's XPS 12 is about 3.5 lbs., a full pound lighter. Is there some benefit to the heavier laptops that warrants the extra weight?
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:34 pm

Yoga 12? Do you might the Yoga 13, which is 1.5Kg (3.3lbs)

For reference I've just opted for the Sony Vaio Flip 13 (1.3Kg), see here: http://www.sony.co.uk/product/vn-fit-a/svf13n1c4e

This has an innovative flip monitor which really suits my usage scenarios. I was going to go for a Dell Venue 11 Pro, but based on price guestimates it was going to cost (in UK £):

Base unit = £420
Dock Station = £120
Keyboard Dock = £120
64Gb > 128Gb upgrade = £80
CPU Upgrade from Atom to Core i3 = £80
Ram Upgrade 2Gb > 4Gb = £50

Which totals £870 and nets me a 10.6" tablet / laptop / PC all in one

With the Sony Vaio Flip the cost has come to £770 and for that I get awesome build quality, top spec screen 13.3" (preferable for working) Full HD, 4Gb RAM, 500Gb Hybrid drive (which I can upgrade myself as it's accessable). I can sit it on a desk in presentation mode (with the keyboard facing away from you) and plug in a blue tooth dongle for full size keyboard and mouse to create a mini desk based work station, no wires to worry about for a docking station / monitor / speakers set-up. Then it's also a better laptop experience for portable productivity, and as a tablet it'll only be used on the sofa. I'll buy a Dell Venue 7 or 8 to throw around the house for general browsing. Get the best of both worlds for around £900. If I think the monitors too small I can still hook the laptop up to a full desktop display with the full size HDMI port
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:10 pm

I meant Yoga 2, which weighs 3.06 lbs.

The Sony Vaoi Flip looks nice. It's limited in ports, but everything else looks great (including a nice amount of RAM) and it weighs less than 3 lbs. It's a real option.
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:02 am

So far, my list is:

ms surface 2 pro -- small screen, but excellent otherwise
dell xps -- heavier, not as versatile (since it's one unit) but solid quality
yoga 2 pro -- poor quality control puts me off, but it's great on paper
asus t300 -- Good but heavy
hp spectre 13 x2 -- Possibly good, but heavy. need to read more about it.
sony vaio flip -- little niggles and rough edges, one unit like Dell's XPS, but light
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Thu Oct 31, 2013 7:45 am

I've just switched my order to the Yoga 2 Pro, having looked at specs. I viewed the original Yoga in a store and build quality was fantastic, I don't think this will be a problem with Lenovo. The palm rest has the lovely textured rubber effect which makes it very comfortable in use. The size, specs and screen are just fantastic for the price. I'll let you know how I get on when it arrives (due around 12 Nov).
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Thu Oct 31, 2013 7:34 pm

Looks like the Yoga 2's yellow color "issue" is the nature of the display technology they picked.

In other words it's not a manufacturing flaw.

http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Idea-Window ... -p/1294793
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Thu Oct 31, 2013 9:23 pm

That's really a shame about the Yoga 2's display. Photography is too important to me to consider purchasing a laptop with a screen that is built to display inaccurate colors.

This narrows my list. In descending order of preference:

dell xps 12/13 -- bit heavy and bulky, not as versatile (since it's always one unit) but solid quality and large screen
ms surface 2 pro -- small 10.6" screen, but excellent otherwise
yoga 2 pro -- poor quality control puts me off, but it's great on paper
asus t300 -- Interesting, but heavy
hp spectre 13 x2 -- Can't find much useful info about this one other than it's heavy weight, but it peaks my interest with other specs
sony vaio flip -- little niggles and rough edges, one unit like Dell's XPS, but light
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:34 pm

Looked a bit closer, and I thinkm the Dell XPS 13 is a regular laptop, not a 2-in-1. Awesome as the 13 will be, its singular functionality takes it off the list.

So, my list:

Duking it out for first place
dell xps 12 -- bit heavy and bulky, not as versatile (since it's always one unit) but solid quality and large screen
ms surface 2 pro -- small 10.6" screen, but excellent otherwise


Runners up
asus t300 -- Interesting, but heavy
hp spectre 13 x2 -- Why are there still no reviews of this?
sony vaio flip -- little niggles and rough edges, one unit like Dell's XPS, but light


The top two are close. The XPS 12 has a larger screen and keyboard, but the Surface Pro 2 is smaller lighter. Everything beneath those two have too many compromises to be top contenders. The HP unit wins on everything except weight (4.5 lbs. is just too heavy) and RAM (I want 8 GB, grumble grumble).

If only the XPS 13 was a 2-in-1...
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:34 pm

News flash: The Asus website now says the T300 is 2.4 lbs. for both the dock and the tablet, not 2.4 kg. That's significantly less weight! With a max of 8 GB RAM and some other winning designs lately, the T300 is back in the running...
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Re: Looking for a 13" tablet

Postposted on Tue Nov 19, 2013 6:07 pm

I tried out the Lenovo Yoga 2 in Best Buy yesterday. I expected the panel to look horrible, since it can't display yellow. To my surprise, I found the panel on the Yoga 2 magnificent. I compared it to a couple other panels there and couldn't tell the difference by looking at the Win8 desktop or some photos that were on both (Best Buy doesn't allow you Internet access or Office apps to play with). Even in skin tones in photos, I couldn't see a yellow deficiency. I want to explore this further since it's so surprising.

I took another look at the HP Spectre 13 x2. Spec wise it's ok, but it's among the heaviest convertibles, has only 4 GB RAM, and is on the more expensive side.

The Dell XPS 12 has a little bit smaller panel and is on the expensive side, but the weight is right and it doesn't have any huge potential problems with it.

The Asus T300 is a big unknown. I love the specs, but even Asus' own site has conflicting data. Nothing's been written online about the T300 for nearly two months, to boot.

Dare I say it -- if only Microsoft made larger Surface Pros...
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