Why I Ditched My Laptop for an Intel Tablet.

By Posted in - Travel Blog & Travel Resources on April 7th, 2013 An Acer tablet being used as a desktop PC on a flight to the Galapagos Islands.


An Acer tablet being used as a desktop PC on a flight to the Galapagos Islands.

My mile high office above the Galapagos Islands! Do you like it?

She’s still there, waiting patiently until I call on her again. In some ways, she has become the Lamar Odom of my tech line up–a true pro, who’s skills currently work better for my team as a back up than starter.

So what drove my relatively new Windows 8 laptop to the bench? An Intel tablet. Ever since the iPad launched, I played with the idea of using it (or a an Android tablet) as my primary computer. I really wanted it to work, but I knew deep down that the Apple tablet was just too closed off for me to be a reliable go to. The biggest issue for me was that I couldn’t easily transfer photos to the device like I could do with a laptop or netbook, which could be a nightmare on the road. Further, I felt (and this may have changed now) that getting posts up through WordPress was also more cumbersome, adding unnecessary time to our blogging schedule.

Enter Intel and its new Atom processor. When I received my Acer W510 in February to test as part of our collaboration with Intel and SocialChorus , I had no intentions of having it replace my laptop. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with my Acer netbook or the older Atom processors, so, while I was psyched to try out Windows 8 on a tablet, I was skeptical of it being anything other than just another iPad copycat. I was wrong. It turns out that the Acer W510 was exactly what I had been waiting for. The new Atom processor is light years ahead of previous incarnations in terms of power, multitasking and battery life. Currently, I’m averaging 8.5 hours on a single charge and that’s running it all day while with applications like Chrome,  OneNote and iTunes. Coupling the Atom processor with the power of Windows 8 touch makes for a great hybrid computing solution with apps and programs, like  MSN, being reimagined for the operating system.

After I gained confidence in the processor, I decided to take the tablet to the next level by adding a Microsoft Wedge mouse and keyboard. Both of these Bluetooth peripherals were created for Windows 8, and are designed to be great travel companions for the tablet–both have minimal profiles, and the keyboard cover even converts into a stand. After several days of using the mouse and keyboard with the tablet, I found myself falling for that set up, which is essentially like an all-in-one, over my laptop. Not only did the peripherals pair well, I loved the flexibility that I now had. I even found that I had less hand cramping by switching back to a mouse.

My next step was to determine if this set up would work on the road. Did it really make sense to bring three items, when  I could just bring one? On paper, probably not, but the more I thought about the flexibility, I started to think that just may work. And it did! Because each piece has a slim profile, I was able to free up space and lighten the load of our gear bag by a few pounds. Additionally, because tablets don’t follow under the same guidelines as laptops when going through airport security, I no longer have to pull it out for the TSA.

Only time will tell if the tablet can hold up to life on the road. But for now it’s the most promising prospect I’ve added to my tech line up since the iPhone, and, for the first time in a long time I’m proud to say I am a PC!

 What have you redesigned recently? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

*This post is part of our collaboration with the #MSNKnowNow campaign. I was in no way obligated to write about the Intel tablet or anything else related to Microsoft. My story just so happened to fit into this week’s theme about a time that you reimagined your life. If you are interested in checking out the newly reimagined MSN, you can check it out here: allnew.msn.com  As always, my thoughts and opinions that I expressed in thus story are entirely my own.

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*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of Beers and Beans Travel Website & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you do want to use one of them please contact me first. Thanks!

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(13) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Melvin -

    April 8, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Interesting… really interesting… BUT… 🙂
    I hate that desktop design! I had that on the Nokia Lumix phone and it sucks big time! Everything looks the same and it’s tough to find anything. I don’t know how it works on your device, but when I switched into the listing of apps, they are just lined up and you scroll…scroll…scroll down to find something and there everything looks the same, too. Hate it!
    So if I should ever go for Windows 8, I will use the old desktop design! 😉

    • Randy -

      April 11, 2013 at 6:07 am


      Honestly, I’ve never tried out the OS on a phone, and I have feeling that I would probably feel the same as you. Plus, I love my iPhone, and I don’t plan to give that up anytime soon.

      With that said, though, I think Windows 8 desktop does get a bad rap, in part, because you still have access to what is essentially a Windows 7 desktop if you want it. From there you can run all of your legacy programs, like iTunes, Word, Chrome, Dropbox, etc. The only thing that it is really missing is the start button, which I think there may be a work around for. As for finding your apps, you can either have a short cut on the desktop or you can search for them easily through the charms bar (swipe in from the left) and they are laid in a pretty orderly fashion.

      Personally, I really love the new Windows 8. Sure, it’s got some kinks–the Music App needs some help–but overall I think it it’s an important step in the evolution of computing. Traditional desktops, even OSX, just seem boring to me now.

      Next time our paths cross, we’ll have to grab a few brews and have some quality one on one time with the new OS. 🙂

  • Kenin Bassart -

    April 8, 2013 at 6:12 am

    Interesting take on the Windows 8 tablet. I haven’t heard to many good reviews about the interface at all ( Even Melvin hates it 🙂 ) but we have been looking for a viable on the road replacement for one of our laptops. We have an ipad as well, which is great for email follow up and some social media, but wordpress publishing is still very difficult, especially with photo heavy travel posts. Just curious, how much is the total cost of the set-up you are using now? i.e tablet +peripherals that you bought to make it a viable laptop replacement?

    • Randy -

      April 11, 2013 at 6:27 am

      @Kenin Bassart, Yeah, it definitely isn’t the darling that Microsoft hoped it would be. However, I do really think it is a step in the right direction, like I said, prior to this tablet, I would have never been able to ditch my laptop for our travels. And while, the OS does have some kinks, I actually think a lot of the criticism towards the new Windows 8 is bogus, and I don’t really understand why reviewers and critics are so down on it. I would suggest going to a Best Buy or Staples and giving it a go.

      I hear you about the iPad. That was always my issue with it. I also have an Android tablet, but had the same issues with publishing on WordPress. While OS updates did help, it still wasn’t as smooth as using a laptop.

      The setup I’m using would run you $522 if you bought everything Amazon. Alternatively, you could also add a keyboard dock to it, which doubles its battery life. It looks like those have come down in price on Amazon to $549 for the tablet and dock.


      Personally, I like having everything separate, because in the future when I go to update the tablet, I won’t be stuck with the dock. Plus I think having the dock makes it to much like a netbook and I prefer to have it more of a desktop hybrid.

      Let me know if you have any more questions about the tablet. I’m always happy to help. 🙂 There are a lot of nice Windows 8 tablets out there, so I would definitely test drive a couple to see how you like the OS.

      • Kenin -

        April 11, 2013 at 7:02 am

        @Randy, Thanks for the thorough response. I’ll look into it a bit further down the road. The market should mature nicely over the next year or so, and we should see some good stuff.

        • Randy -

          April 11, 2013 at 7:16 am

          @Kenin, No problem! 🙂 I couldn’t agree more with waiting if you don’t need something right now. Things will definitely get better. I’ve heard that Microsoft is going to be following Apples cue and updating its OS yearly, which could be interesting.

  • Sam -

    April 8, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    My partner has a similar setup as he travels with an iPad in a case with a built in keyboard and he swears by it. He is realising, though, that there are things he can’t do with it (like transferring photos as you mention) and occasionally has to borrow my laptop. Boo.

    • Randy -

      April 11, 2013 at 6:32 am

      @Sam, Boo indeed! 🙂 That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Believe me, I tried to convince myself for years that I could make the iPad work for blogging on the road, but I knew deep down that it just wasn’t there yet, mostly because of the photo transfer issue that you mentioned. Hopefully, Apple will fix this in the future, so that the iPad can be more of a standalone device.

      Thanks for stopping by Sam! 🙂

  • OCDemon -

    April 10, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Bonus: You can ditch all your books and read digital books instead. If you replace a single book with a tablet, you’ve already won. I live in fear of particular tasks being out of reach, though. Gotta test things out and see if I can go all day without getting annoyed at not being able to do certain things.

    • Randy -

      April 11, 2013 at 6:42 am

      @OCDemon, Definitely! Though, I will say that the readers on Windows 8–Kindle and Nook–are lacking a few features that they have in the iOS apps. I’m hoping that future updates will bring them up to speed.

      Honestly, I think you would be pleasantly surprised about what you can do with a setup like mine. The reason I never traveled with my Android tablet was because I knew that it just couldn’t do everything I needed it do, and that the tasks I could do would usually take me longer. I’d say the only frustration I have with my hybrid setup is that the Bluetooth will cut out once or twice during the day and I just have to go in and reset it. One other issue I could see people having with this Acer tablet is that it only has one usb slot, and its micro-usb at that (the tablet comes with the adapter). So, if you do a lot with USB this could be a problem or you would have to carry another peripheral.

      Keep me posted about how your testing goes, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 🙂

  • Julio Moreno -

    May 7, 2013 at 4:54 am

    How is the hard disk? Is it expandable? One big thing holding me to a netbook (currently an Asus 1225b) is disk size. 30 gb just doesnt cut it for me. I like to have access to all of my pictures all of the time.

    • Randy -

      May 9, 2013 at 3:11 am

      @Julio Moreno, Yeah, unfortunately you aren’t going to get a ton of hard disk space out of it. The tablet is expandable with microSD cards so that helps, but that still doesn’t get you close to the space on a laptop.

  • Teresa Roberts -

    May 11, 2013 at 3:15 am

    I use my ipad and an apple keyboard. It makes life on the road so much easier. I miss my MacPro at times, but not enough to haul it around. I love that I don’t need to remove the iPad from my suitcase when going through airport security, too. No matter how long I am on the road, even up to a year, I never carry more than my carry-on suitcase. Traveling light is the only way to go!