What a Windows 8 workstation looks like

With all the hype about Microsoft Surface, we desk-dwellers might be left wondering what’s in Windows 8 for us?  In fact, all the media attention we see about Windows 8 is filled with folks dancing around and clicking keyboards to tablets in unison.

I have recently set up a new workstation configuration with Windows 8 at the Clear Measure offices.  Here is what it looks like.

On the bottom-right of the photo, you will see a Lenovo Yoga Ideapad 13”.  The screen is 13.3” in diagonal, but because Windows 8 mandates a 16:9 screen, the laptop is the same width as the old 15” dimension that we normally associate with a full-size laptop.  The screen is a bit shorter, but this is a full-size laptop.  In fact, the slightly shorter screen made it fit nicely on the tray table on the Southwest Airlines flight I took on the way to the MVP Summit.

The Yoga is amazing.  The battery life is outstanding, and I can routinely make it last five hours with continuous use.  The only complaint is the track pad.  It requires a firmer touch for the left mouse click than I’m used to.  If you aren’t familiar with the Yoga, it is first a laptop with a touch screen.  Then, you can fold the screen all the way back around to form a tablet.  The computer disables the keyboard so you can hold it in your hand.

imageNext, I have a regular, boring USB keyboard and USB mouse (I no longer like wireless mice or keyboards because of the battery changing maintenance required).  Mounted at the back of the desk is Halter dual monitor stand.  It clamps onto the desk and has 8” and 10” VESA monitor mounts.  Mounted on the arms are two ASUS VS239H-P 23” LED IPS monitors.  The keyboard, mouse, monitors, and a couple other small peripherals are all attached to the Toshiba Dynadock Docking Station (PA3927U1PRP).  This USB 3.0 docking station is amazing.  It has ports for CAT5, DVI, HDMI, audio, 2 USB 2.0 ports, and 4 USB 3.0 ports.  It runs all the desk accessories and only requires one USB 3.0 port on the laptop, which it has.

The results have been great on everything except the monitors.  The docking station uses DisplayLink technology to paint the images on the screen through the USB cable and Toshiba device.  The DisplayLink technology use the computer’s processor to paint images on the screen.  Playing some video maxed out the processor a few times.  Now, if I wasn’t using my development tools, it would have been perfect.

In the end, I ended up plugging one monitor straight into the HDMI port on the laptop and leaving the other large monitor on the docking station.  The speed of the screen refresh isn’t seamless with this dock, but it does a decent job.  I only notice a jump when playing video or other fast refreshes.

This setup is working very well for me.  I run all kinds of programs on this configuration including Adobe Photoshop and Visual Studio 2012.  I spread screens out across the two monitors.

I would like to know what Windows 8 configuration you are running.  Post a comment here.
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