Tablet’s for Word & Excel

An appraiser recently inquired asking:

I am looking into a tablet that can run Word and Excel (full versions) instead of tablet version. Seems the Surface Pro 3 might be best? Prefer cheaper and smaller (8 inch versus 11). Any other recommendations?

As it is, I’m still a bit confused (happens a lot lately, LOL) so I have to ask what you are really looking for, why, etc. Almost any recent Windows Tablet will run full versions of Word & Excel just fine – just be aware that the lower the RAM, the less multitasking (or number of tabs open in, say, Explorer) is practical. When a device like this runs out of RAM, it basically “goes to disk” to use it as a sort of temporary virtual RAM. Even the speediest SSDs are many times slower than RAM so you’ll notice some lag if all your RAM is taken up by stuff running in the background, and the type of storage used on the lower end tablets (i.e. eMMC) is slower than regular SSDs. Still, of the programs you mentioned, your Appraisal software is by far the most demanding, so I do not recommend anything with less than 4 GB of RAM in any Tablet you may consider. In the thinnest/lightest models, the available units like are the “business class” devices I favor that generally start at 10.1″ and around $500 and up, depending on other features. On average, you’re probably going to end up near $750 or so – pretty close to the street price for the lower end SP3 with Core i3 (which also sports a speedier SSD vs. eMMC for storage) as well as the 12″ screen. I’m afraid that you probably would not like running your Appraisal software on an 8″ screen anyway as it is not designed for something like that, so my overall feeling is that the SP3 is the better choice for getting real work done.

If what you are looking for is more like a lighter, more portable desktop type thing, I might suggest something like an UltraBook with a “Yoga” style keyboard that flipos around to the back. You might try going to a local Best Buy (or similar) to look at a lower cost Lenovo Yoga or other brand/model which “borrows” (ha!) this type of design. Lenovo makes ‘Yoga” devices in lower spec and much higher spec (i.e. ThinkPad) models. Since you won’t be able to load up your software on a demo unit, you might take a screen shot of a typical work screen and save it to a USB drive, SD card or upload it to s site where you can view it while on the sales floor so you can see how it might look on a smaller screen. It would be “fuzzier” than the real thing due to the compressions, etc., but you’re looking at size first, sharpness second.

Hope this helps! If I missed something, let me know and I’ll try to rethink and try again. Also you should be aware that CES is this week, so right now might not be the BEST time to jump since new machines are being announced. The new devices coming to market will offer some advantages, but perhaps the most important factor is that when the new ones are starting to be available to pre-order, the manufacturers tend to “blow out” the old stick, so you may find a deal on something you liked but felt was just outside of your budget. Another thing to consider is contacting your Appraisal software company and getting their advice since their software is surely the item which is dictating certain specs which drive cost and availability. Hopefully, they can give you some advice on the smallest, cheapest solution. This thread is chock full of my advice on base specs and I’m afraid none of it is favorable toward low end 8″ devices if one of your main uses is to run that type software (any “forms” stuff) on what I think you’re describing.

-Randall Garrett-
+Apex Software+