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Windows 8 device buying tips

If you're thinking about buying a Windows 8 device, here are my suggestions:

1) there are two types of keyboards: Type and Touch. I strongly recommend the Type keyboard.

2) there are two different flavours of the operating system: RT and Pro. Microsoft no longer refers to RT as "RT", they just call it "Windows". I'll call it RT here for the sake of clarity.

RT allows you to run Windows 8 apps, but not legacy desktop apps (standard EXEs) -- just like how a Mac can't run iPad apps. The difference with Windows is that a Windows 8 desktop can run Windows 8 apps, and a tablet can run the exact same app.

I have both. I like the RT a lot for day-to-day stuff, and it includes Office, so for the price of Office you get a free tablet. The app ecosystem is limited ... for now. The Surface 1 RT is woefully underpowered, but it includes a full-sized USB, and it's good enough for Office and remote support. Surface 2 offers a lot more oomph, but it's pricier.

If you're just using a browser, Office, and Instant Housecall, RT will be exactly what you need. If you want to run a network analyzer or some of your older tools, you'll need Pro.

3) There are different manufacturers out there for Windows 8.1. As someone who has several models, (ASUS, Microsoft, Dell), I prefer the Surface, even though they're not the cheapest. Having said that, for remote support the Dell Venue Pro looks appealing because of its small form factor, LTE, and it has Windows 8 Pro for your legacy tools. I haven't tried the Venue beyond a quick tinker at the store and I'm a little wary of its keyboard.

TL;DR: For normal business stuff, my recommendations are: RT (Surface 1 or Surface 2) w/ Type Keyboard. Need legacy tools? Buy a Surface Pro (1 or 2) and consider getting a docking station, or look at Dell Venue Pro.

-- Corey.

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