Yesterday I was invited to attend a Windows 8 Holiday Blogger Event by Microsoft hosted at the Bellevue Best Buy. I was particularly interested in attending this blogger event for a few reasons:
- I’ve heard some negative reviews about Windows 8. I wanted to learn more about Microsoft’s thought process behind developing Windows 8.
- I don’t currently own a smartphone (I’ve been resisting it, frankly), but I’m beginning to see the need for one – particularly as nearly half of the visits to my own website are from mobile users. I wanted to learn more about Windows 8 phone options to see if it could be useful in my role as a blogger.
- I wanted to learn about any upcoming deals or trends I could pass on to you. I know many people are looking to save on electronics this holiday season, so I saw this as an opportunity to assist you in this area.
Microsoft recognizes that users expect their technology to be both portable and “touchable.” Microsoft developed Windows 8 to provide consistency across devices – whether you are using a laptop, tablet, or phone.
Here’s a good example of this cross-over. This Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Portable Touch-Screen All-In-One Computer is just giant at 27″! But, it’s also portable – you can take it off its stand and now it’s a mega-sized tablet. Or you can prop it up and now it becomes your TV!
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Portable Touchscreen is currently available at Best Buy for $1,499.99.
I saw this theme repeated with several of the devices we looked at yesterday. Windows 8.1 gives you the ability to make these devices what you want them to be – a place to work, watch TV, engage with your social media channels, or play games. Microsoft is working to develop these products so you can choose a single device that is suited to your needs and streamline your life.
Here’s another example of Microsoft working to eliminate extra devices. The Windows 8 phones (these ones, Nokia) have top notch cameras built into them, eliminating the need to carry around a point-and-shoot.
Speaking of phones, if you’re looking for a solid, inexpensive phone for yourself – or maybe your tween or teen – check out this Pre-Paid Nokia 521 No-Contract phone for $99.99 now at Best Buy. The reviews on this phone are very good, with many people vouching it’s easy to navigate and a good value for the money. Make sure to check it out if you have a child that’s asking for a phone, but you need to stick to a budget and would like to avoid contract commitments.
If on the other hand a 2-year contract makes sense for you, you can score a nicer model – such as this Nokia 920 phone with Windows 8 – for FREE (at Best Buy).
After chatting about Windows 8 phones, we moved on to talk about the Surface and Windows 8.1 laptops.
The Surface tablet also has the Windows 8 platform and would be a great little portable device for staying up on your email, listening to music, streaming videos, or even getting your work done. I was surprised to learn it comes with Office products installed – which means you could work in Word, Excel, or Outlook! One Amazon reviewer commented about this feature:
It works very well with the touchscreen and Excel is finally usable on a tablet. I’ve run versions of Excel on various touchscreens before and it’s never been this great.
If you’re looking for a deal on a Surface the best deals I could find this morning are a Surface FT 32GB (Refurbished) for $299.99 from the Microsoft Store or a new Surface RT 32GB from Amazon for $319.99. As with the phone, the Surface has solid positive reviews – an average of 4-stars on Amazon after 367 customer reviews. Some of the things people are praising it for include its sturdiness, speed, video/picture quality, and touch technology.
Here’s a laptop that intrigued me: it’s the Lenovo Yoga Laptop and it can bend into four different modes, once again blurring the lines between laptop and tablet. I was beginning to get a sense of where Microsoft is headed with Windows 8 – create a standard platform that will operate the same, no matter the device.
A current good deal I found on this laptop this morning is at Best Buy, where the 11.6″ is selling for $349.99.
Another solid deal I learned about at this event is for the Asus 11.6″ Touch-Screen Laptop with 4GB Memory – it’s currently only $249.99 at Best Buy (the lowest price I could find online by $50, as of this morning)! This laptop has that great touch screen technology at an affordable price. It also has a solid 4.6-star rating after 9 customer reviews at Best Buy. This would make a fabulous gift for a student or to have as an extra laptop at home!
So maybe I’m in the dark ages, but I’ve been wondering where are all the desktop towers these days? Kristina Libby shared that most computers you’ll find these days – even the ones families are buying to use as their primary desktops – do not have towers! I love the look of these beautiful, large-screen computers.
One good deal I found this morning for a Windows 8 All-in-One is the HP Envy Recline 23″ Touchsmart for $972.95 on Amazon. That seems like a pretty fair price to me if you consider the size and value you’re getting for what is essentially a family desktop. Given the size of the monitor, it could easily serve the dual purpose of a TV.
To recap, here are some of the biggest takeaways I learned from the Microsoft Windows team:
- Windows 8 gives you the power to use your devices in a way that makes sense to you. Get instant access to your apps, social media channels, work and more directly from the Start screen.
- Windows 8 is cloud connected. This means you can access the things that matter most to you – your documents, photos, and more – on almost any Windows 8.1 device.
- Windows 8 enables you to blur the lines on how you use your devices. You can watch TV from your computer, or take care of work on a tablet. Windows 8 makes it possible to reduce the overall number of devices you own and use, thereby streamlining your life.
- Microsoft recognizes tech users desire to “touch.” Whether it’s a laptop or a tablet, users increasingly want to “touch” their technology. It’s efficient and immediate.
I would love to hear from you now, particularly if you own a device with Windows 8. What has your experience been? Or, are you currently looking for a deal on one of these products – if so, which?
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Windows 8 Holiday Blogger Event at Best Buy. While there, I did receive some great products to take home, including a Best Buy gift card. However, I was not compensated to write this review and all opinions are my own. I have included some affiliate links in the above review, which earns this site a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclosure Policy for more information.