Linx8 affordable mobile computing

A small bargain price tablet with big value uses.

linx8There are some folks that will snort at the prospect of cheap hardware, and to a degree they’re right! “You get what you pay for”, is a reasonably accurate phrase when buying hardware. Also, there are some “poor quality” devices on the market that really relegate devices to the “toy” section rather then practical for home and work.  But, do you always really need a V8 muscle car as a town run about? Or for the school run? A small budget tablet may not be for everyone with regards to a business machine requirement, but it’s worth taking a look for some business work, especially if you’re a mobile worker,  and you take advantage of Cloud based software, trust me.

Well it was a while ago I ‘won’ in a competition from the very nice folks @microsoftsb a Linx 8 tablet, which I was pleased with, but never really got around to using other than install the OS and my Microsoft account (Truth be known was already using the Toshiba Encore 8 for home and work). But a few weeks ago the need for a spare tablet arose for a work project, and remembering the Linx I dug it out and was highly pleased with the end results with the devices performance , and with the results I obtain in using it.

Although superseded now by a newer larger models, both in screen size and memory, and even OS, the Linx8 is still available to buy, and the OS is upgradeable (if you should so wish) and as I’ll explain quite a handy device to make use of.

Build Quality

First to impress is the feel and look of the device. Yes, it’s a plastic case, but the rubberised edge and back allow for a good hold on the device (and without leaving paw marks!), it’s also a boon if you rest the tablet on your knees and lean to pick something up, the rubberised grip surface on the rear, stops your investment launching to oblivion from your lap like so many other shiny models.

A nice professional black matt finish and incredibily light to hold for any duration of time, the Linx is light, slim and comfortable to work with on the move. At only 8mm thick, its thin but sturdy enough to resist any twist, creaks and groans. I still personally prefer the 8 inch screen over 10 on a tablet when used whilst you’re running about, as its easy to hold in the one hand.

Under the hood

The Linx 8 is a comes with built 1GB memory non expandable, and 32 gb storage the Windows 8.1 with Bing, so you don’t have a Pro operating system but that’s what keeps the price down. There’s ways and means of accessing domain level stuff if you do so need, so missing out on Pro is not as big a problem as it first appears. It’s also 32bit on a x64 processor a slight shame but, the processor is a 1.33Ghz Atom processor the Z3735F which in honesty is quite impressive, and for a small machine allows adequate multitasking of a few tasks without grinding to a halt.

Although you can upgrade the machine to Windows10 the base unit does not hold up well to moving the OS (as Windows10 base requirements have increased since 1067 release). To be honest and as I’ll explain you still can do an awful lot with the machine in its native 8.1 operating system still.

There is an expandable Micro SD slot which on my model has a 64GB card, on which I store the apps, data etc. Leaving the 32gb onboard for the essential OS and occasion apps which fuss about not being on c: drives!

The model also comes with a 12month Office 365 subscription the older Personal version, so an additional £60 worth of software thrown in, adds to the bargain. I’ve since upgraded this to my own Office 365 account, and all of the mainstay applications Outlook, Word, Excel work well even with a small screen, and are responsive enough to do some serious work with. Keeping in touch with the office, being able to work on reports and financial submissions on the go is a distinct advantage.

Screen

Again, in keeping with the price it was never going to be a 4k special. But, the 800 x 1280 TFT LCD provides a high enough quality display for work, and as a switch off it’s a great little screen for watching Netflix  with the addition of the mini HDMI port you can output to a larger screen if you do so wish for presentations etc, and still get a good quality display.

The touch screen is 10 touch points and very responsive, you won’t find yourself jabbing your finger repetitively to get a response form the device. Some may find the screen a tad small for desktop precision, if you have problems I’d suggest you use a touch screen wand/pen as an alternative which  works fine.

Keyboards

If you’re desperate for a physical keyboard, instead of the three onscreen varieties that Windows 8.1 provides, the Linx8 has Bluetooth  to allow you to connect a keyboard, leaving the mini USB free for a mouse should you so wish (or visa versa).

Camera’s

The device has a front and rear facing camera, each of which is only 2MP, again can’t expect miracles for the price. But, the camera is fine for holding skype calls, and as I found out great to use with Office Lens to get default images such as receipts, documents etc with all without getting eye strain!

WiFi

Okay here’s the one minor grumble I found with the device. The device has a single channel Wi-Fi in some circumstances it’s not that great at distance, or pick up on some available Wi-Fi. Again with working here and there I get to notice this, but at home or in the office its solid. When I travel, personally I use my Lumia phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and the two are a match made in heaven (time to thank BT for the generous 20gb 4G data allowance!)

So what business can you do with it?

The Linx8 can be a useful piece of equipment for work, granted you’re never going to be rendering 3D or CAD images on it, but is a great little workhorse in that like every tablet, the device is brilliant when you need a computer with you when you’re away from your office desk and usual device. It’s light to carry and it allows you both the tile and desktop interfaces of Windows 8.1

With tablets and no keyboard I’ve a preference for the app over the full blown application, but with the cheap and reliable machine you have the advantage of both

I mentioned the Office365 which comes into its own on long bus/train rides home allowing you the full features to draft documents, produce worksheet reports, catch up with mail and attachments all in a well sized workable screen. My colleagues at another company utilise the Linx 8 with the Access database and have the tablet as a jotter and  terminal for stock control and job checking checking purposes.

Using features such as the RDP app available from the store, it’s a perfect portable terminal/console to use when your away from the desk or machine room, able to connect to the AD, Exchange server what have you, so as to be able to make changes at the location, rather than having to run back to the desk/machine room. When floor walking at work, the tablet is ideal for remotely changing settings for other users (Teamviewer is a great and free app).

The 1GB memory is more than adequate to run an office style VM’s delivered by RDS, so in the event of a laptop failure it can be used as a temporary device delivering an office virtual desktop to work with, or if you need to access your main system from home or other site.

With regards the IT side of its use, I also use two great apps Remote Terminal and Metro Putty for work where  cloud based servers run DMBS, allowing you to work with the TCL /management studio  with great ease, again allowing you to check status’s of servers even correct issues within the DBMS. So again the Linx has a use as a potable terminal/console to work from.

Educational equipment

Let’s face it schools budgets are restrictive on equipment, the Linx is an ideal device for education, cheap, affordable and useful. My colleagues company went and bought 10 of these tablets for the local village school (where his wife works). The budget model gives the school now the ability to teach business computing practices, and let the students explore via the web aiding in delivering education and at a low price.

The USB port and on board Bluetooth will allow keyboard and mouse to be added to make a mini PC as said previously. Or can be used for other connectivity to devices external DVD for loading software for example.

What’s so good about the Linx ?

I never over expected from tablet computing, which is more than likely why the tablet evolved into the two in one, for other people’s requirement for a little more room for more oomph with screen real estate, memory and disk storage, and of course the keyboard. To me tablet computing is on the fly/move work, its short bursts of work needed there and then, not always long arduous sessions. Although with a battery life of approx. 6+ hours that is possible with this tablet.

Like most computer geeks I have a collection of devices, but the Linx is the weekend weapon of choice, when I’m not out and about in at home on the sofa too . I can carry it easily in a coat pocket, and when called on I can work from where ever at weekends provided there’s Wi-Fi  or the trusted hotspot available (including a restaurant with my partner once during an ‘emergency’ (sorry to Louise my other half))

Budget tablets are aimed at the domestic market and its size makes it comfortable as a companion for social media, the skype call to colleagues and friends, perfect for watching the match, a film etc. But the Linx has proven itself in the work environment, and is a fraction of the cost of big brand names like DELL smaller tablets.

As said the Linx8 and the updated Linx810 is been superceeded by newer models introduced this year making use of Windows 10 and having higher 2/4GB RAM and  more 64K storage. Coming in at £200 they’re still cheap and  may be worth your glance, I know I was tempted. But, I can’t really fault the device that I obtained for free from a contest, and now retails for under £99. It’s a perfect tool for mobile SMB use, and thanks again @microsoftSB for opening my eyes to true mobile computing.

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