Windows 8 Development Tips #9: Get a Windows 8 tablet

Brent Schooley / Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When you're developing for Windows 8 you need to acknowledge that you are developing for a touch-first platform.  This means that as you design your app you will constantly need to be aware of the impacts of designing for touch.  Although the Windows Simulator that comes with Visual Studio 2012 does a pretty good job helping to emulate some of the aspects of touch for Windows 8, nothing will be as good as using a Windows 8 tablet to test your application during development.  In this tip, I'll give you some pointers on what devices are out there and what to consider as you shop.

(Previous tips can be found here.)


Should I get a Windows RT device or a Windows 8 Pro device?

The first question you need to answer when you go hunting for your Windows 8 tablet is whether you want a Windows RT or a Windows 8 Pro device.  Unless you are planning on replacing your laptop with the tablet, I have a hard time recommending anything other than RT devices at this point.  The main reason is your application will perform differently on an RT device than on a Pro device and you need to be able to test that.  This is especially true if you are doing a lot of manual drawing or animations within your app or if you are developing games.  Windows 8 Pro tablets usually have much beefier CPUs that handle application performance similar to a mid-range laptop.  That's great if you're using it as a laptop replacement, but not so great if your goals are testing your application.  Your goal really should be testing though because the RT devices are really low on CPU power. 

What Windows RT devices are available?

A quick look at Amazon shows there is a variety of Windows RT tablets available.  I figured it would be worth highlighting a few of the more popular options here.

Microsoft Surface  


Microsoft’s entry into the market as a tablet maker with the Surface is a very solid first attempt.  At the moment it is the best you’re going to get for a Windows RT device.  This 10.6-inch device sports a quad-core NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor and 2 GB of RAM.  Touch Cover and Type Cover options allow the Surface to act as a bit of a netbook. If you want more details on the Surface, read ActiveNick’s iPad to Surface series starting here.

Asus VivoTab RT  

The Asus VivoTab RT is another great Windows RT offering.  It features a 10.1-inch HD display and is powered by an NVIDIA Tegra 3.0 1.3 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM.  The VivoTab RT Dock with Keyboard Touchpad Battery adds an impressive 7 hours of additional battery life to the tablet in addition to providing a keyboard and trackpad.

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11  

Ok, so the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 isn’t *technically* a tablet.  It’s a convertible laptop that can operate as a tablet in one of its folded form factors.  Still, this is a pretty cool device and Amazon has a really good price on it right now.  The screen is 11.6-inch and it’s got an NVIDIA Tegra 3.0 1.5GHz processor inside.  With 64GB of storage and 10-hour battery life, this is definitely a device to check out.



It’s very important to get a Windows 8 or Windows RT tablet for testing your application.  It is especially important due to the performance issues you may find when running your app on a lower powered Windows RT device.  This is something that is just not easy to simulate.  Not only is performance a concern, but you really should test your touch-first applications on a touch device.


If you have any questions or comments, please comment below or find me on Twitter @brentschooley. You can also email me at