I recently did some looking around at new tablets that came on the market for the past holiday season, thought I would provide some updates to my prior comments. What I am presenting here should only be considered accurate as of today, January 3, 2015. Things change fast in the computer world. Also, my comments are based mostly on reviews
that I have read, so take the accuracy with a grain of salt
Transformable 2-in-1 tablets that can operate as a tablet and also connect to a removable keyboard in a way that mimics a netbook or small laptop
are extremely popular, and offer a lot of functionality. My Lenovo Miix2 8" model
a 2-in-one. It is a pure tablet, but I have a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to provide netbook-like functionality when I need it. Its primary standout feature is extremely good screen brightness, which when used with a matte finish screen protector provides daylight viewability. And it's a sleekly styled, lightweight device that works very well on a small boat. But, truth be told, I wouldn't mind having something a little bigger if the right device were to appear.
The 10" Asus T100
is probably the best-selling transformable 2-in-1 model out there (due to its very attractive price
point), but when looking at it at several stores I was always underwhelmed by its screen quality. It is noticeably less bright than my Miix2, and its colors are washed out. The yellow, in particular, looked dirty, and not at all vivid. But, it is a 10" display, so it's larger than my Miix2. It must not be a bad machine to have so many happy users. Asus has also came out with a T200 11" model
, with roomier keyboard. Screen is reportedly a little brighter, but still not up there with the better offerings.
Some promising new models that could really challenge the T100 are the Acer Aspire Switch 10
(link is to obsolete model) and Switch 11
point out their extremely bright screens with no air gaps to cause multiple reflections. The latest refresh of their series includes Gorilla Glass 3 screens that reviews say are brighter than the initial Switch series. Both of these new models present an interesting selection, because they are available in low-cost/low-power (Atom) versions with 1280x800 resolution, or higher cost/higher-power (typically i5) versions with 1920x1080
resolution. And on a sailboat, higher power is not always a good thing, because battery
life is affected. For purposes of running OpenCPN (as it stands now), the lower pixel density may actually be better, because at the high pixel density the depth
soundings and some other non-adjustable symbols and text may be too small on the screen. If Dave makes these adjustable in the future then the higher pixel density would be preferred. Until then, the higher pixel density might actually be a negative. However, a recent review
has reported that the Switch 10 with 1920x1080 screen is brighter than my Miix2 8". These models are definitely worth a look, because they are priced similarly to the Asus T100 and T200, and IMO they have superior displays vs. the Asus machines.
I am not mentioning anything about the Microsoft Surface Pro
series because they are out of my price
range. I generally prefer cheap computers
for these applications.
The Dell Venue 11 Pro
has gotten great reviews for build quality and design, and Dell always provides great support. But it is also a bit of a premium price.
Lenovo's Miix2 10"
and 11" computers
have very good Full HD pixel resolution, bright screens, and the 10" model can be found at very low prices recently. But the mechanism they use to prop up the tablet in the keyboard is a bit odd, and not suitable for use in your lap or on an irregular surface. You need a perfectly level, flat surface, and boats often are not level. These models have also gotten a very bad reputation for reliability
Note that none of these models (aside from my Miix2 8" model) has an internal GPS, so if you want real-time GPS use while underway, you need a Blutooth puck
or USB dongle.
FWIW, the Acer Switch 10, 64 GB with 1280x800 resolution dropped by $40 on Amazon today, so I have ordered it to try it out. I'll post an update later after I have used it. This computer has exactly the same pixel resolution as my Miix2 8" tablet, but the pixels are spread out over 10.1" diagonal instead of 8". So toolbar icons will be a little bigger, text will be a little bigger, etc. And I'll be able to snap the keyboard on and use it as a mini-laptop.