An Unexpected Bargain

If you told me, this time last year (yeah, happy new year by the way!), that I'd be the owner of a Windows tablet by the end of the year, well... I'd probably suggest that you were cray-cray. I'm an Android guy, and a Linux guy, and to a certain extent a Mac guy; Windows interests me not.

But that changed when I got my outrageously cheap laptop (that I'm typing this into right now). I found that Windows 8.1 is actually (whispers) kinda OK. Couple that with the realisation that Microsoft 2014 isn't a great deal like the one that turned me off them in the noughties and I ended up with a far more open mind.

Now, in Sainsburys just before Christmas I saw this, and took a photo:

I took it because To be filled by O.E.M. on a display device is inherently amusing to a nerd like me. Ha ha ha ha ha. But then I started fiddling with it and realised that this was actually a tablet that was running Windows 8.1, not the waste-of-space Windows RT. I fiddled around some more - it's a quad-core Atom processor in there. This 10" model has 2GB RAM, 32GB storage and cost somewhere around 140 quid... or at least it would if it were in stock. The 7" model beside it, identical except for the smaller screen (though same resolution) and 1GB RAM, was 80 quid (or it would be if it too was in stock).

Anyway, this got my cogs whirring. Maybe a Windows 8.1 tablet would be quite good. They certainly performed well in the minutes I played with them, and they were cheap!

Then Christmas occurred, as it often does towards the end of December. It was nice; we had what is now our traditional family Christmas dinner with my inlaws at the Otley Arms. I got some top presents.

On Boxing Day, the Feast of Stephen (hey, that's me!) we went to Tesco to get some cat food and 'bits'. On the way around I spotted a strangely familiar device - a 7" Windows 8.1 tablet, 1GB RAM, 32GB storage - for £59. After an um and an ah about it for about 30 seconds, I decided to throw caution to the wind and just buy the damned thing.

And... it's really good! It has an 800x1280 5-point capacitive touchscreen, Bluetooth 4.0, Micro HDMI port, a Micro SD slot and a Micro USB port with a USB-OTG adaptor included. Despite claims by Tesco, it's a USB 3.0 interface as well. Here's me, setting it up, before pulling off the screen protector (and the camera lens protector on the back - no wonder the camera was so shitty!):
Me, doing stuff

Since Boxing Day it's gone back up to £99. At that price it's still good value, but getting forty quid off was definitely pushing it into outright bargain territory. It's worth noting as well that the £59 tablet comes with a year's Office 365 Personal subscription, worth £59.99 in the UK (or £5.99 a month). And that's pretty sweet too, to be honest (another thing I never thought I'd say).

I've married mine up to my Bluetooth keyboard. That cost me eight quid in Sainsburys about a year ago, so I've ended up with a rather good, complete tiny PC for £67. Compare that to the cost of a Raspberry Pi, plus all the bits you'd need to get it up and running, and it's a no-brainer.

The model I've got is a 'Connect' tablet, which is a Tesco import. The ones in Sainsburys are 'Linx' tablets, but both have a common ancestor (the cameras, the postion of the buttons, everything - they're identical up to the point of OEM customisation). Linx tablets are available from a lot of places (Amazon, eBuyer, &c); the 10" one is £159 in most places. However, Linx have a cashback offer if you trade in an old, working tablet which would drop that to £109 - and I have an old, working tablet I can trade in.

You know what? I think I might.

For more info, take a look at this.