Last week I took delivery of a new Lenovo Twist and walked it through the basic setup to see how easy it was to work with.
The good news is that if you hook it up to power and turn it on the out of the box instructions will walk you through the basic Windows 8 Pro setup easily. It does force you to connect to Windows Live to get updates and download additional components that do not come on the partition on the device so be ready to do this with a Microsoft Live account or you will need to register for one as you set the device up.
Once you have completed the basic setup, your device is ready to work.
Remember the nature of this device is a dual format machine. Running with Windows 8 Pro you have the ability to use the Windows 8 tile type interface as well as click on the desktop tile and operate with the more familiar Windows Desktop like in Windows 7.
For many purchasers who do not do their own setup the first thing they will see on starting the machine (assuming the vendor or your IT department did the initialization) is a Windows login requiring your user name (usually an e-mail address) and your password. This is a good caution on a network environment which is the nature of Windows 8 Pro versions but will easily become tedious in a home based or single user device. If you would like to bypass the login screen, here's a CNET article that can show you how.
I had a copy of the Office 2007 suite installed on the device and once it was fully available one of the first things that you note is a group of tiles added to the download section of the Windows 8 interface. You can easily open any of the apps from the referenced tile from the Windows 8 master screen.
If you are more confortable in working with the desktop mode then the start menu is available and you can load icons on the desktop for your suite applications as desired. You can close out the device and have it boot up with the desktop screen as the first screen which is visible but this does bypass most of the new information that the Windows 8 OS is designed to feed to you.
One of the criticisms that is levied about Windows 8 is the nature of the OS and its design being more suited to touch screen operation than to a keyboard and mouse type approach. The Lenovo Twist (and I assume competing highbrid laptops from other vendors) answers this quite nicely since the screen on the twist is a touch screen with all of the ease of a tablet, while offering the ability to use a keyboard and touch pad as well. It should be noted that if you are operating in the desktop mode then the touch screen is not active and you must use the touch pad to scroll or for other navigation.
Having the ability to work with both the touch pad and the touch screen at the same time seemed strange at first but I found that I easily started to use whichever interface seemed most intuitive for different functions. I really liked the integration of the two capabilities and found them similar but still different than when I do the same with my Asus Android driven tablet. It is something that is hard to describe, but the meshing of the two forms of interface seemed natural to me and is something I actually like.
The Lenovo Twist laptop is a great combination of a traditional laptop and many of the features of a more portable tablet. While the keyboard and screen cannot be separated which means the device will be heavier than stand alone tablets with separate keyboards, the screen can be 'twisted' into several different positions designed to make it easier to use the device in multiple ways. There is one more suited to keyboard typing and input. Another for presentation mode. Another is more tablet oriented with a final one designed for extended viewing of videos or long slide shows. Deciding which layout is best for you for any given use will take some practice but the switches (twists) can be done without closing applications.
My use of the Lenovo Twist has only been brief and most of these observations come without having subjected it to a full daily regime of activity. That will come in the near future and I will revisit my impressions once I have that working experience.
In summary, my first impressions are excellent and I think this device offers the right combination to make use of Windows 8 Pro effectively. There is a price to pay for this flexibility since the Twist is not an inexpensive laptop. The model I have used is the i5 33472HU which is the middle of the lineup of available configurations. It has a Canadian MSRP of $949. If you consider it is replacing two products, a laptop and a tablet, then this price does not seem too bad. If you are buying it as one or the other then there are less costly alternatives available.
Does the Twist concept entice you? Would a combo product like this have too many compromises for your taste? Is touch screen input becoming a necessary standard for laptops?
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