I’m not a fan of Microsoft Windows for personal use, I’m quite content using a combination of Android and iMac for home and leisure, however the recent push by Microsoft to expand their presence on lower end devices and some interesting reviews of the Linx range of tablets led me to acquire their 10” tablet. Beforehand, I did get the opportunity to have a few minutes with a 7” model in Sainsbury’s. I was quite impressed by the screen and the “Metro” look of the user interface which is similar to my Windows work phone. Having read that some new users cannot get on with this version of Windows, out of curiosity, this was another reason to try the tablet. A further reason/excuse was to try PowerPoint on a tablet for work as the effort to get presentations working on my iPad is unreasonable.
There are several retailers offering the Linx range and all models are priced within a pound or two between them. The 10” model is £160. Argos though are offering a bundled keyboard and origami case for just £20 more. At the time of writing, most Win 8 devices come with one year’s free Office 365 subscription for the tablet and one other Windows, iOS/Mac or Android device. This is worth £60 and if you can trade in a working tablet there is a £50 cashback offer. So Argos it was.
For the money, the packaging and presentation of the product is good and the stylish Linx website offers some basic information, the downloadable minimalist operating manuals and a FAQ section.
At this point, I would strongly suggest that a new user to Win 8.1 checks out the excellent “Getting Started Windows 8.1 Tutorial” which will greatly aid navigating and personalising the tablet.
Out of the box my Linx battery was charged to 60% and after a few hours on the supplied proprietary charger showed only 98% but after a couple of days 100% was indicated after further charging. It does not appear to charge through the micro USB port though. Setting up the device is straight forward, made easier if you have an existing Microsoft account, enabling for example connecting to OneDrive with a click. Then the real pain with Windows really starts, updates. The updater showed that there were 66 available which took slightly more than an hour to download and install over a fast connection, plus reboot time, finishing in about ninety minutes. The next day three updates were suggested and after installation the Wi-Fi stopped working. Sorting this I noticed the Wi-Fi on the device is only 2G, no 5G channels, at this price can be excused.
Next task was to install and register Office 365. This was very straight forward, the files took some time to install and the complete Office suite is loaded including OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access. I have not used the additional device licence as standard Office is installed on our desktops and apps on the iPad and Nexus. A dissatisfied new user to Win 8.1 commented that once downloaded they could not find the programme’s. These are located in the “Apps by Name” area of the Start menu. Using the familiar desktop mode, mostly like Win 7, requires quite precise touches on the screen to operate, the smaller screen models must be quite difficult, however for more than light use a mouse can be used with the bundled micro to full USB cable.
My objective for using this device was to use PowerPoint presentations on site with customers so a test, fully animated file with embedded videos was installed from a micro SD card. This runs faultlessly with no lag and there are some worthwhile improvements in this version of PowerPoint. In bright light, the glass screen does show reflections though. So objective achieved.
The Linx range consists of three screen sizes, a 7, 8 and the review model 10” and as mentioned, the 10” can be bundled with a keyboard and Origami case in the box or can be purchased separately. All run an Intel Quad Core up to 1.83GHz Atom processor with slightly bigger battery capacity for the increase in screen size. The 10” tablet has twice the RAM at 2GB DDR3L, memory for all models is a 32GB Solid State Hard drive which can be expanded up to 64GB with a Micro SD card. I think there was about 20GB free on the “C” drive after the initial Windows updates were completed and I’m saving all files pictures etc. to the SD card. I did try installing the Chrome browser which was quite slow so it was uninstalled immediately. This 10” model has a mini HDMI outlet for external displays with options to mirror or expand the views. A mouse as mentioned, can connect to the micro USB port and Bluetooth can be used to connect a keyboard so a mini PC can be created for light computing. I have transferred files and pictures from a Nexus 5 to the Linx too using Bluetooth. My Canon wireless printer connected fine after installing a utility file from the Store.
The bundled keyboard acts as a travel case and by folding up the cover becomes a kickstand. The keyboard is fine for light
work, the keys need a good positive prod and the touch pad is not brilliant, but for the price is adequate. The speaker quality is poor, making the Nexus 7 sound like a B & O product and the integral microphone is next to useless. Skype is bundled with a free call allowance but this would be fairly redundant considering the mic quality. Headphones work fine but audio quality is thin.
In conclusion, this has been a great buy, affordable enough to try the hardware and software. I intend to use the Linx mostly for its portability and PowerPoint capability and to keep a few essential files with me on the road without having to carry a laptop. For more serious use, the available memory would be an issue, but attaching a hard drive would be feasible. I find Windows 8.1 quite easy to use and pleasantly surprised how easily it mixes touch screen user interface with desktop, You can see where Microsoft are going with this, Windows 10 will undoubtedly integrate phone, tablet and desktop into one interface which will be familiar on each device you use, as Android/Chrome and Apple are.
There is also a new Forum for Linx owners which covers General and technical topics which is worth a visit.
This article was written, edited, photo edited and posted from the review Linx 10
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