2012
11.05

I blogged just over a week ago about my disappointing experience in Irish retailers on the opening day for Windows 8. In summary, the manufacturers did not supply stock and missed a huge opportunity. And Surface is available in the UK (and some other countries too), but only to those who pay from UK addresses.  So there was no Windows 8 tablet for me!

I was speaking at E2EVC in Hamburg, Germany, and a few of us nerdy types decided to go over to Saturn, a very large electronics chain, that is similar to Currys in the UK. Oh, Saturn is a part of the Metro family. the brand that some allege is responsible for the death of the Metro brand in Windows 8 and Windows phone.

The basement was where all the computers were.  Dozens and dozens of laptops, apparently in any old random order.  Most of them running Windows 7.  A few ran Windows 8 but none had touch that we could find.  A few (not many) had gesture pads.  And then we found a helpful sales assistant who showed us an Asus Vivo RT tablet.  We had a go.  To me, it seemed thinner than lighter than the old-new iPad (v3).  The price? 729 Euros including the battery/keyboard.  That’s $1,000 USD.  They only had a few in stock.  In fact, a delegate to E2EVC bought their last one.  This is it in my hands:

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The keyboard was much nicer than I expected, similar to the Toshiba or Samsung ultrabooks, and much better than the Asus UX31 keyboard.  Note that Misco.ie (and UK) and Alternate.nl appeared to have stock of this tablet (not sure about keyboard SKU) when last I looked.

Myself: I ordered the Samsung ATIV Smart PC.  When it came down to it I had to have a transformer type as above where the tablet detaches.  I decided that Windows RT is not for me.  I watch a lot of video while travelling and the inability to install Silverlight or codecs would kill it for me.  When names like NFL Gamepass and VLC join Netflix then maybe … but not for a few years because my Samsung should arrive in the office on the 16th.

For work, we needed a tablet to demo.  None of the manufacturers that we distribute have produced a Windows 8 tablet of any kind.  An Asus was out of the option.  So were Samsung (and too late for an event we’re going).  Microsoft Surface would be inoffensive because no one distributes them.  But where to get one?

Thomas Maurer (MVP) to the rescue.  He lives in Switzerland and ordered one from MSFT Germany’s store.  In fact, it was delivered today, 7 days after ordering it.  We checked at the office and we ordered one this morning.  Two things:

  • German keyboards are different to UK/IE (I think Dutch is similar to ours) ones.  They swap their Y and Z and therefore are QWERTZ instead of QWERTY.
  • You allegedly can change the language of Windows 8 and Windows RT.  In fact I think you’re asked what language you want when you run the mini-setup wizard on the first boot up or reset.

We won’t care too much about the keyboard.  This is a demo machine.

So that’s the story.  You can get a Windows 8 tablet but it’s not as easy as it should be.  And the company that allegedly killed Metro has sweet FA Windows 8 stock on their messy shelves.  That same company sells iPads via vending machines in airports too (559 Euros for the new-old 16GB Retina model).

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  1. I like the Samsung ATIV Smart PC, I am happy that you wrote this as it gave me another option for a machine to show to my daughter…

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