Windows 8 PRO Review
with the  Lenovo Yoga 13
December 2012

Copyright StarPal Inc.  All Rights Reserved

This review is based on one month living with a Windows 8 PRO Convertible Tablet/Laptop using both the "Modern" and "Legacy" application screens. It is a standard Laptop. In addition, the keyboard folds underneath to use as a large tablet(some models the keyboard is removeable).  We find that the Windows 8 Modern Apps work best in Tablet mode, while Windows 8 Legacy Apps work best in Laptop mode. The two modes are as different as night and day, and so the learning curve will be double that of other computers.  

If you use Microsoft Office or other "Data Intensive Apps (
High Information Density)", a Windows 8 Convertible Tablet may be right for you. Youl need a real keyboard and trackpad or mouse to manipulate small areas of the screen. A simple Tablet with Touchscreen will not suffice for "Data Intensive Applications" like Microsoft Office. Windows 8 aims to give corporate customers an alternative to BYOD(Bring Your Own Device) to the workplace, so  employees don't require two devices on the corporate network (a desktop/laptop plus a tablet).  It is first a laptop, but it can also be used as a tablet for "Social Apps (Low Information Density)".  You will still need a cellphone with a good camera and GPS for turn-by-turn navigation.

If you only use "Social Apps" or want a cell phone included, you'll be better off with a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 or Apple Retina iPad.

Windows 8


Lenovo Yoga 13" Convertible
w/ Keyboard+Touchpad 360 degree hinge
(comparison) Apple iPad
Retina Tablet
(comparison) Samsung
Galaxy Note 10.1
Display13" IPS 16:9 Widescreen9.7" IPS 4:3 display10.1" TFT
Resolution1600 x 9002048 x 15361280 x 800
Storage128 GB SSD16-64 GB SSD16-64 GB SSD
Battery55 Watt Hour42.5 Watt Hour25 Watt Hour
Weight3.4 lbs1.5 lbs1.3 lbs
Sensorsfront facing camera,
microphone,
Up/Down sensor
2 cameras, microphone,
 3 Axis Gyroscope,
Accelerometer, Compass
2 cameras, microphone
3 Axis Gyroscope,
Accelerometer, Compass
GPSExternal only (Bluetooth or USB-Serial)Internal GPS Only* (10-30 ft)Internal GPS+GLONASS, USB
OtherAudio in/out jack, HDMI video out,
speakers(2)USB ports(2)
Stereo headphones,
speaker(1), USB Adapter(1)
 Stereo headphone,
speakers(2)
* iPad Bluetooth does not support external GPS Receivers


Yoga Hardware
The Lenovo Yoga 13 hardware is good.   The Yoga doesn't try to be a cell phone, or camera (other than Skype). The display is 1600x900, not as good as an Apple Retina display; but better than last year's Windows Laptops.  Foldaway keyboard works and folds away nicely. The ON/OFF button is in a poor location and we have shut off the computer numerous times by accident.  Unit does not include GPS, so does not provide turn-by-turn Navigation.  The new touchpad is much larger, but has some quirkiness.  For instance, you cannot let a finger rest on the touchpad when you press a mouse button (which I was accustomed to doing).
To run HGIS GPS Mapping Software, we use either Bluetooth or USB-Serial Adapters to connect an external GPS.

Battery life is about 5 - 6 hours. By default, the internal fan is turned off, and the processor is throttled down. (Plugged in allows faster processing.).   If you tell it to give the longest battery life before complete battery failure, you get 3.5-4 hours on a charge (then it only charges to 60%).  The couple additional years of battery life may make sense if you almost always run on external power (say in a vehicle).  Lenovo DC power adapters are expensive and do not get good reviews. We recommend AC Power Invertors if you need to operate in the field for longer periods of time.

Windows 8 Operating System

There are security enhancements in Windows 8 versus Windows 7 that are fully user transparent. This is good.  Windows 8 boots up and shuts down fast.  Give yourself a week for Windows 8 just to become familiar (you will still be discovering things a month later).  The new buttons are "flat", you cannot tell if you have pressed a button as on older versions of Windows. Sometimes you can't tell if something is or isn't a button, for example "Change PC Settings" on the new "Settings" screen. You'll punch things you think should be a button but aren't a button.

The biggest change is that the Windows 7 Start ICON is missing. There is a $5 App 
which brings back the Windows 7 Start Button ("Start8" is a good App, however the vendor Stardock continuously sends spam.  Each time you ask them to stop, they stop for a few days, then resume spamming again. Simply add Stardock to your junk email filter) . We have seen no unique Windows 8 issues with HGIS GPS Mapping Software. HGIS works on Windows 8 just as on Windows 7.

Windows 8 Social Networking Side (
Low Information Density)
This screen is alternatively called: "Modern", "Metro", or "Jekyll". This is the new Windows interface with large tiles that you see on TV. It is good for perusing news headlines, social networking, Youtube, email viewing, shopping, weather, reading novels, and Wikipedia; any application that contains low information density and coarse user interaction.  The touchscreen works pretty well on this side, although I often have to repeat each touch multiple times before it recognizes the command.  It works best with sites that don't require a keyboard.

Windows 8  Data Intensive Side (High Information Density)
This screen is alternatively called "Desktop", "Legacy", and "Hyde".  This is the Windows you are familiar with (minus the Start ICON).  There are several Apps that can add back the Start ICON from Windows 7 (including Start8 which we purchased). The Data Intensive side is where Microsoft Office and any other data intensive applications operate. This side does not work as well using the touchscreen. Microsoft makes the legacy ICONs much smaller than 'tiles' and smaller than can easily be touched. Microsoft Office requires high information density and runs well on this side with the touchpad.  The Lenovo Yoga 13 does well as a Tablet for simple HGIS GPS Mapping using the touchscreen, AND data analysis using the foldout keyboard and touchpad. On Window 8 PRO, you can also have most Windows 7 Apps available you might need.

Windows 8 Metro / Modern Location

You are asked to give Windows 8 Modern Applications your 'location' so they can display local advertising. Our location improved every day until it was within about 100 feet. As there is no GPS, and no cellular radio, we wondered how this was accomplished. Microsoft maintains a database of WiFi Hotspot locations and based on which WiFi hotspots are visible to you (it doesn't have to connect), the computer knows where you are. Microsoft promises advertisers that worst case your location could be off as much as 10 kilometers but is usually much closer. We saw it up to 1/2 mile off, but typically within 100 feet. Not good enough for Turn-by-Turn navigation but close enough to tell you where to buy a Super-Big-Gulp while you are playing a Metro game.
Most of the Apps we downloaded from the Microsoft store displayed advertising. In fact, advertising is a significant battery drain when you run Metro Apps.

Windows 8 Metro / Modern Apps
The availability of Windows 8 Modern applications is very limited. It appears most of the Windows 8 applications in the Microsoft store also run on Windows 7 (meaning they don't use the Modern User Interface at all). We wanted a simple app to display local TV programming.  None was available on the Metro side, however we did find the App for the Legacy side(e.g. Windows 7). Some of the best Modern Apps we found were some news headlines.  Many of the Modern Apps are hastily thrown together, missing key features, and display a lot of advertising.


Bluetooth GPS Receivers

The Bluetooth GPS we used for testing was the GlobalSat BU338 (The BU359 should be similar). With a clear view of the sky (on a vehicle roof), this GPS has an accuracy of better than 10 feet (inside a vehicle accuracy is about 30 feet).  Once the Bluetooth driver 'stack' crashed requiring a reboot.  It is best to keep the GPS between 4 and 10 feet from the computer.  

USB GPS Receivers
There are no Windows 8 drivers for any of our USB GPS Receivers, so none are recommended at this time.


Bluetooth-Serial GPS Adapters
Bluetooth-Serial Adapters are available for external RS232 Serial GPS receivers, however we find that USB-Serial Adapters are better suited for most applications.  We think you will fiddle with these more than other solutions.

USB-Serial GPS Adapters

We have tested three USB-Serial Adapters with Windows 8 using RS232 Serial GPS Receivers.  "EdgePort-1", "Keyspan by Tripp-Lite 19HS", and "FDTI Chipset"  All USB-Serial Adapters that use the term "Prolific" are NOT recommended. The Tripp-Lite and FTDI Chipset adapters are available from Amazon for less than $30 each and both work fine.  It is recommended that you always plug the adapter into the same USB port.  Do not apply constant tension to the USB Connector, it is better if there is some slack left in the USB cable.

Windows 8 RT
Windows 8 RT is Microsofts answer to the iPad for corporate users. It runs on the lower power ARM processor which was also used for Windows Mobile / Microsoft Office Handhelds. Unfortunately, the only High Information Density App allowed is Microsoft Office.  HGIS cannot run on Windows 8 RT until Microsoft opens up the platform to other High Information Density / Data Intensive Applications. Applications such as Microsoft Office are not usable using the Touchscreen. They require a keyboard and mouse.  The Microsoft Surface RT is also much too expensive.

HGIS GPS Mapping Software
HGIS V10 and later
 is recommended for Windows 8 PRO.  HGIS works well using the touchscreen to collect GPS Data; and works well with the keyboard and touchpad for data analysis. All-in-all the Lenovo Yoga 13 is easy to handle, quite versatile, and usable for GPS Mapping.

HGIS V9.52. the previous release of HGIS also works if given Administrative Privileges.  The Buttons are smaller than V10, and you may see a message when you install HGIS that reads "This application may not have installed correctly." (Just click "It installed correctly").

Conclusions

Once we accepted the Jekyll and Hyde view of Windows 8; we learned to accept it.  The new security features are a plus.  Buy a Windows 8 computer with a Touchpad and Keyboard; don't think you can get by with just a Touchscreen.  The display resolution is disappointing compared to Apple.  The lack of a GPS was surprising considering its competition.  The fairly short battery life is a limitation if you want to use it for 8+ hours.

<End Review>
Feb 4, 2013