Microsoft brought the Nextbook to South Africa last month via an initial exclusive deal with Makro.
The devices come in two sizes – 8″ for entertainment on-the-go and a 10″ with removable keyboard for productivity on-the-go.
There’s been a lot of interest in these devices as they come at very affordable prices, appealing to a wider audience: R1499 for 8″ and R2999 for 10″. This makes the 8″ Nextbook the cheapest way to purchase a device with the full Windows 8.1 operating system. This is desktop OS on a tablet, and not the other way around.
I’ve been playing with the 10″ Nextbook for a while now, and these are my thoughts on buying one as a PC/laptop replacement.
LOOK AND FEEL
The power button is located on the top left when in landscape mode, so if you’ve used other tablets around 10″, that won’t be the first place you look for it. You need to familiarise yourself with where the buttons and soft touch keys are before you start using it or you may feel a little lost. Next to the power button on the top is the volume button and a Windows button. If you are on Desktop mode, touch the Windows button to switch to the touch interface.
When you are using the touch interface, you will notice there are no physical buttons on the face. If you are in landscape mode and want to access the Start button, Search, Share, Devices or Settings, you need to swipe from the right edge inwards. This can be accessed from any screen. It also works on portrait mode. Once this becomes second nature to you, you will navigate just fine.
I didn’t plug in a mouse when I used the Nextbook. I just made use of the touchpad and keyboard shortcuts I’m familiar with on Windows to navigate with the Windows+E keys being the most used, especially after plugging a USB drive. The device comes with a micro to USB cable if you want to plug any flash drives into it or any other peripheral. The device easily unclips from the magnetic keyboard if you want to use it like a tablet.
Another feature that will make using the tablet easy once it becomes second nature is remembering that the device is touchscreen. When you have the tablet in laptop mode plugged into the keyboard, you don’t realise (well not for me at least) that you can get away doing to much with your finger on-screen. As as aside, this adjustment is probably going to be the most difficult for me. I began using a PC in the early 90s and I just can’t accept a laptop as a touchscreen device at this stage of my life.
APPS AND PROGRAMS
If you cannot find an app on the Windows Store, don’t panic. I tried looking for Chrome on the app store before I realised that I’ll have to download it on desktop mode as a ‘program’. I also downloaded Picasa this way. Other stuff I downloaded as apps where VLC Player and Photoshop Express. Whatever you download from desktop mode will be visible under the app list on the metro interface after the apps are listed alphabetically. It may sound confusing. The apps are listed BELOW the live tiles on the touch interface. Whatever you choose to pin as a live tile will be visible as a horizontal scroll.
If you want to watch videos or listen to music from an external drive or USB, just make use of the micro to USB cable provided in the box. The Nextbook played back HD movies on VLC (MKV files) but there was some minor distortion at random points probably due to the screen resolution. When the movie played back, the sound was really soft at it’s highest volume on VLC and the Nextbook itself. You will definitely need a pair of headphones or plug in some Bluetooth speakers. However, mp3s played ok. The speakers are located at the back of the unit, which isn’t ideal therefore headphones are your best option.
The Nextbook is not meant to run power hungry programs, but rather aimed at getting stuff done on-the-go. It’s very similar to the netbook (remember those?). You can run photo editing software on it, use Microsoft Office, browse, email, and make use of Windows apps for social media. Because of the desktop mode, whatever can’t be done on the tablet mode, can easily be done here. The device takes 5 hours to charge fully and has a 6000mAh battery, which should give you about 4.5 hours depending on your usage.
Can the Nextbook double up as a laptop replacement? Yes and no. If you need a machine that can handle the bulk of what you do daily – browsing, email, watching videos (use a flash or external drive), blogging, social networks then yes. If you want something to play games or edit videos, probably not.
The Nextbook 10 is worth every R2999 you spend on it, if not more as you get a bunch of value adds: a year subscription to Office 365, unlimited OneDive storage during this time, and 60 Skype World Call minutes per month, during the 12 month period.
Full specs on previous post.