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Dell Dumps Keyboardless Windows RT Tablets 186

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-win-this-round-laptops dept.
jfruh writes "On Friday, Dell was selling Windows RT tablets for as low as $300. By this morning, the cheapest one on offer was $479. The difference? The only tablets they're selling now come bundled with keyboards, which may indicate that customers are finding even the Metro-focused RT version of Windows 8 too irritating to navigate by touch alone. (If you really want a 10-inch Dell tablet without a keyboard it looks like you can still get one on Amazon, at least for the time being.)"
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Dell Dumps Keyboardless Windows RT Tablets

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  • not low enough (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rubycodez (864176) on Monday August 19, 2013 @09:52PM (#44613837)

    sell those silly things for $100 and people will be able to put a real OS on them to be useful

    • Re:not low enough (Score:5, Insightful)

      by roc97007 (608802) on Monday August 19, 2013 @09:53PM (#44613847) Journal

      sell those silly things for $100 and people will be able to put a real OS on them to be useful

      Before I buy one even for $100 I'd need proof that this could be done.

      • by Camael (1048726) on Monday August 19, 2013 @10:44PM (#44614191)

        Well the MS design intent is for all WinRT devices to be locked down [howtogeek.com].

        Microsoft mandates that Secure Boot on Windows RT devices isn’t user-configurable, so you won’t be able to remove Windows RT and install Linux or another operating system.

        Since MS Secure Boot has already been cracked [techrights.org], it will probably be a matter of time.

        • by Microlith (54737)

          Kleissner said in a message exchange with Ars Technica that the exploit did not currently target the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), but instead went after legacy BIOS.

          Apparently you are illiterate. Did you even read your own link?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by slaker (53818)

        Windows RT is a real OS. The stock software load isn't as feature complete as I'd like, but I've found it to be less maddening to use than any experience I've had with iOS. The Metro interface definitely takes some adjustment and I'm not terribly fond of Microsoft's on-screen keyboard, but I suspect that if Surface tablets had been priced at $250 WITH THE KEYBOARD, they would not be a huge joke in the market that they have been so far. It might've been predatory pricing to gain market share, but the biggest

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Microlith (54737)

          Windows RT is a real OS.

          It's a real OS with artificial barriers put in place to drive users into Microsoft's walled garden.

          • by game kid (805301)

            A real Obnoxious System, as opposed to a real Operating System.

          • by bondsbw (888959)

            Same thing as iOS and as Android... by default (without jailbreaking or rooting), most tablets or phones you purchase require that you live within a closed system.

            By that same token, I don't see how Windows RT is any more of a "real OS" than iOS or Android. On the other hand, Windows 8.* fits that definition much better.

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        sell those silly things for $100 and people will be able to put a real OS on them to be useful

        Before I buy one even for $100 I'd need proof that this could be done.

        I'm not gonna waste $100 for a practical demo, so I offer the following theoretical proof for certain values of "usefulness":
        * one can always use an RT tablet as a physical underlay for a proper machine running Linux.
        * thus the real OS will be put (and run perfectly) on top of the RT tablet.
        Q.E.D

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      windows rt devices would sell a lot better if you could put any os you want on them...

      but you can't, so what you would be getting for 100 bucks would still be windows rt.

      • by denobug (753200)
        For a cheap 100 bucks tablet that can do word, excel, powerpoint, and outlook? That actually sounds like a great deal if I can do simple stuff without whipping out my full-size laptop (and not having to wait for the corporate boot-up time).
        • For $100 I might just settle for Win8, OneNote, and a browser.
        • by slaker (53818)

          I suspect you could probably find a no-name Android tablet and load some flavor of Windows Mobile on it if you really just wanted the big four Office Apps. IIRC the biggest hurdle would be that the screen resolutions supported by Windows Mobile are fixed and relatively stingy.

          You could also just use the no-name tablet with Google Docs or the Google Docs web interface. No, it's not Office, but it's perfectly fine for everyday needs. Or use Office 365, which works surprisingly well on Android devices with rel

          • by cbhacking (979169)

            WinMo can't even come close to running the full Office suite. RT can (and does, out of the box).

        • Electronic bottom fishing in the form of buying dead end products rarely works out, no matter how low the price. I'm guessing that landfill is the final destination for most of these, plus a few will be unloaded on clueless victims who will hate Dell and Microsoft foreverafter.

    • Re:not low enough (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rudy_wayne (414635) on Monday August 19, 2013 @10:12PM (#44613981)

      $179 for a keyboard?

      WTF?

      • by Delarth799 (1839672) on Monday August 19, 2013 @10:45PM (#44614195)
        It must be ergonomic
      • by oPless (63249)

        That's because it has a massive battery in it.

        There's also a usb hub and hdmi out too.

        I *do* like Win RT, once jailbroken. I still prefer my macbook though, I've never really been able to justify tablet usage.

        My major gripe with the Dell (yes, I have one) is that - and I suspect this is true of all RT devices - it's not a tablet with decent low power suspend and instant on like android and iOS, so it runs out of juice quickly when in "suspend" mode. It's literally just locked down Windows 8 on ARM. So prett

      • by LoRdTAW (99712)

        Its more of a docking station than just a keyboard. As another poster stated, it has HDMI, a battery and USB ports.

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      Odd. My first reaction to the story was that it had better be one hell of a keyboard for $179. All the rest has been talked about ad nauseum already.

  • Hardly surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Monday August 19, 2013 @09:56PM (#44613865) Journal

    I suspect that the keyboard was initially not included to (a) make the cost of ownership seem less than it would later prove to be, and (b) give people the impression that Windows 8 could be used in some reasonable fashion entirely via touch. Neither of which is true, of course.

    • by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Monday August 19, 2013 @10:53PM (#44614239)

      That is all predicated on the faulty assumption that anyone wants to use Windows 8 in the first place.

      • by roc97007 (608802) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @01:41AM (#44615097) Journal

        That is all predicated on the faulty assumption that anyone wants to use Windows 8 in the first place.

        At first I passed this off as snarky, but there is some insight into what you've written. Microsoft with the Surface RT seems to be trying to replicate the ipad phenomenon, which appears to be, make an engaging product, and people will buy it despite the fact that it's (a) priced at boutique levels, (b) doesn't play well outside its ecosystem, (c) is a walled ecosystem, and (d) is more for content consumption rather than content creation. So:

        a) High price, check.

        b) Doesn't play well outside its ecosystem, check.

        c) Walled ecosystem, check

        d) Consumption, yes, creation, not so much. Check.

        e) ???

        f) Profit!!!

        In this case, the missing (e), the part they forgot, is of course, make it engaging. The device itself must make you want to pick it up. You should want to operate it, and how to operate it should be intuitively obvious. And I don't mean "intuitively obvious" because someone wrote those words in the brochure, but actually, intuitively obvious to regular people.

        In summary, you can't duplicate the success of a product merely by duplicating its major features, especially when many of those features are seen by consumers as disadvantages that people put up with in order to own the product. What's missing in this case is a reason to own one.

        That Microsoft commercial that tries to compare the ipad to the surface completely misses the point. Siri is engaging. The ability to play chopsticks on a lifelike piano is engaging. Even though neither of those features were of tremendous use, they made you want to pick up the product and play with it. There's nothing about Windows 8 that makes you want to pick up a Surface. It's flat, unattractive, and you can't just start using it, without first learning the eccentricities of the interface. The only reason to own one is that it runs Windows software. And then you find out that's not true either.

        My daughter had a great observation about the Microsoft Surface commercials that are deluging the airwaves and shown in theaters before the movie (which pisses me off to no end, but never mind). She said that each commercial should show us how to do a certain thing on the Surface. Stop with the dancing already. Stop showing "attach the keyboard... detach the keyboard... attach the keyboard..." WE GET IT ALREADY! The keyboard is EXTRA. The commercials should show someone really using the interface, not just sweeping tiles from right to left, but using the hot corners, bringing up "charms", making the machine work. Why don't they do that? Perhaps because if people saw how Win8 actually *worked*, they'd go buy something else?

        • They also forgot "Get there at the right time: not too early with a half-baked OS and underpowered hardware, or so late the other players are already entrenched in their market segments"

      • by DrXym (126579)
        I think Windows 8 would be fabulously useful in a tablet / hybrid form factor. A full blown PC which can be used like a netbook, or like a tablet depending on the circumstances. Atom processors have reached a stage where you get similar battery life and form factor as an ARM based device and would be powerful enough for word processing, light gaming, development, video playback etc.

        Problem here is that this is Windows RT we're talking about it which is ARM based and therefore incompatible with all Windows

      • by pla (258480)
        That is all predicated on the faulty assumption that anyone wants to use Windows 8 in the first place.

        Why did that get modded "funny"? +5 insightful, all the way.

        For $479, I can get an iPad 4 that actually has a slick OS and doesn't need a keyboard. For half that, I can get an Android without the "walled garden" lock-in, which also doesn't need a keyboard.
    • by vux984 (928602)

      I suspect that the keyboard was initially not included to (a) make the cost of ownership seem less than it would later prove to be, and (b) give people the impression that Windows 8 could be used in some reasonable fashion entirely via touch.

      Its honestly actually perfectly fine as a pure tablet.

      But the big feature of RT is MS office. And Office benefits immensely from a keyboard.

      You may be right about not including it to bring the perceived cost down. Much like new macs not including adapters to attach it

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        I suspect that the keyboard was initially not included to (a) make the cost of ownership seem less than it would later prove to be, and (b) give people the impression that Windows 8 could be used in some reasonable fashion entirely via touch.

        Its honestly actually perfectly fine as a pure tablet.

        But the big feature of RT is MS office. And Office benefits immensely from a keyboard.

        You may be right about not including it to bring the perceived cost down. Much like new macs not including adapters to attach it to obscure devices like hdmi or ethernet. ;)

        Parenthetically, I think Apple is shooting themselves in the foot in that regard. It hasn't had as much effect because Apple products have mindshare. The Surface doesn't even have that.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          Well, my new macbook has an HDMI port, which i've never used...
          It requires an adapter to use ethernet, the adapters are quite cheap so i bought one, but so far i only used it once for restoring a backup onto the device which took several hours even over gigabit.
          I have a friend with an older macbook on which the ethernet port is broken, he's never had need to get it repaired or buy an external adapter.
          For the vast majority of users, no ethernet or hdmi represents a small cost saving without losing any functi

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      I suspect the keyboard was not included originally to stop people thinking "that's a laptop, but twice as expensive and heavier".

  • by Mr. Slippery (47854) <tms@@@infamous...net> on Monday August 19, 2013 @10:06PM (#44613929) Homepage

    A friend of mine is a teacher. Her school got a bunch of these keyboardless RT tablets, one for each student. She brought hers out to our writer's group last night with the intention of getting sued to it.

    It wouldn't boot up, so her techie boyfriend started messing with it, He got it to boot to an error message of the "Press F1 to continue" variety...

    ...on a keyboardless tablet. He and I had a good laugh.

  • which may indicate that customers are finding even the Metro-focused RT version of Windows 8 too irritating to navigate by touch alone.

    Or Dell has figured out that they will not be selling mass numbers of the device, and it will be more of a niche device, and thus they want to increase their profit margins on the ones they do sell.

  • Let's see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by scarboni888 (1122993) on Monday August 19, 2013 @10:08PM (#44613943)

    So first MS inappropriately tries to put a desktop operating system on to smart phones where it's pretty much unusable.

    Then they decide inappropriately to put a smart phone operating system on to a desktop where it is pretty much unusable.

    Genius. Pure and inappropriate genius.

  • by MacTO (1161105) on Monday August 19, 2013 @10:19PM (#44614029)

    ... it strikes me that the main reason to buy Windows RT over the competition (e.g. Android or iOS) is Office. Realistically, Office needs a keyboard so offering a keyboardless version is just another part for Dell to manage. It likely leads to poor reviews and extra support issues as well, since some ill informed people are going to buy the cheaper keyboardless version and expect Office to work as well as it does with a keyboard.

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      not forgetting that Windows RT doesn't come with Outlook, so you can write a word document but cannot send it to anyone. Genius work Microsoft.

      • by UnxMully (805504)

        not forgetting that Windows RT doesn't come with Outlook, so you can write a word document but cannot send it to anyone. Genius work Microsoft.

        Interesting thoughts. The fact that Windows RT has a full featured email client that can send and receive attachments seems to address one of your concerns - Outlook is not the only way people read and send email. On top of that, Outlook is being added in the 8.1 release due later this year, which seems to address your other concern.

        I'm not a big fan of Microsoft and on anything that is not touch-capable, Windows 8 is an abomination. On an RT, it's not actually that bad and the ability to plug in USB device

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      If you're going to be using the device primarily with a keyboard, why bother with a tablet at all?

      So you can pay $479 for a "tablet" thats only usable with a keyboard making it basically a very poor laptop, or you can pay $350 for a laptop:

      http://www.dell.com/us/p/inspiron-15-3521/pd [dell.com]

    • by dutchwhizzman (817898) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @04:57AM (#44615829)

      You are not allowed to use Office commercially on Windows RT devices. Also, it doesn't come with Outlook. This made the device positively unusable for any "professional" use. You could buy the Surface Pro later, that was supposed to have Outlook and "full legacy application windows compatibility". The fact that they have Office doesn't mean they are licensed, you have to buy a separate license for it. These things made any RT "for amateurs" only at launch. Given the fact that they were more expensive than iPads and at launch time, the iPads had way more apps available and were a proven concept, nobody was very interested in a surface RT at launch.

      The keyboard feature on the surface RT is a fallacy. Yes, you can type on it. I haven't tried it myself but it could very well be a nice keyboard too. However, you need a flat surface to place the kick stand on, so it won't really work on your lap, you need a table. The angle at which you can set the screen with the kick stand is "limited" to put it mildly. You can fiddle a bit and maybe use some objects to change it to your liking, but for any semi-serious laptop-like work, you'd want an adjustable angle, so you can sit and type more or less ergonomically. Having to fiddle with this if you can buy a device that is just as expensive that has a proper laptop form factor, will make the RT not very interesting for people that sort of consumer either.

      I don't know about the ergonomics of the Dell devices, but evidently, as a "content consumption device" without a keyboard, they weren't very successful, or Dell wouldn't be stopping the sales. If their devices that come with a keyboard are at least ergonomically viable, they may have a chance the surface RT never had. The OS and licensing are still going to be a challenge, but it may economically viable to make and sell these.

      • by UnxMully (805504)

        You are not allowed to use Office commercially on Windows RT devices.

        And of course, everyone complies with all of the limitations Microsoft applies to packages such as Home and Student which are never used for any commercial work ever. Aren't we all good :-)

        • by fwarren (579763)

          Not everyone. But it does matter to medium to large businesses. I work at a copany with 35 desktops and 4 servers. There is no way I would recommend purchasing ANY Windows device without a full licence for office.

          License compliance is a pain in the butt. However it is worth it. I know that we will not be shut down by a BSA audit because a competetor or former employee would try to convince the BSA that we flagrantly disregard Microsoft's intellectual property rights. Or the rights of Adobe, AutoDesk or Intu

          • by UnxMully (805504)

            Not everyone. But it does matter to medium to large businesses. I work at a copany with 35 desktops and 4 servers. There is no way I would recommend purchasing ANY Windows device without a full licence for office.

            License compliance is a pain in the butt. However it is worth it. I know that we will not be shut down by a BSA audit because a competetor or former employee would try to convince the BSA that we flagrantly disregard Microsoft's intellectual property rights. Or the rights of Adobe, AutoDesk or Intuit as well.

            A completely valid point and one I'd not considered, clearly. I wonder, in these days of BYOD (and appreciating that many Enterprises don't support this approach) how stringently those rules are applied to personal devices. And what is the legal position for the employer if the employee, of their own choice, were to buy an RT device with Outlook on it and use it to connect to a corporate Exchange server?

  • by jkrise (535370) on Monday August 19, 2013 @10:19PM (#44614031) Journal

    If a tablet must have a keyboard, due to a lousy operating system interface; why not build a proper 10" netbook with all accesories for $400?

    Atleast then, the Windows OS would run all Windows applications, including legacy applications. Now the only 'apps' or applications on a Windows RT would be those on the Windows Store; which are largely useless and unusable.

    Microsoft and its partners seem totally confused on what constitutes a tablet, what is a notebook and what is a desktop. Why would anyone want to run a full fledged Office package on a 10" tablet? What else could be the reason for investing more than $400 on a smallish computing device?

    • If a tablet must have a keyboard, due to a lousy operating system interface; why not build a proper 10" netbook with all accesories for $400?

      If you want to use an "Office" type application (either the free one or the proprietary one) you need a real computer. At least a decent laptop.

      If you are trying to do it on a tablet, you're doing it wrong.

    • by tepples (727027)

      why not build a proper 10" netbook with all accesories for $400?

      Why not build an individual netbook as a hobbyist? Because one doesn't just build a laptop the way one builds a desktop. Netbooks need far more miniaturization than the modularity of a home-built PC can offer.

      Why not mass produce netbooks? Because tablets have the feature of detaching the keyboard when the user doesn't need it, and because there's more profit margin in tablets. I thought we discussed this months ago [slashdot.org].

    • by enoz (1181117)

      What else could be the reason for investing more than $400 on a smallish computing device?

      There's no shortage of people willing to spend more than $400 for an iPad.

      The convenience of a tablet device should not be underrated, though at that price you can get an ultra-light netbook or a fully fledged ultra-portable laptop.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      why not build a proper 10" netbook with all accesories for $400?

      Because no one was making money at $400 for a netbook.

      After you put the parts together, add Windows, add the crapware to make it cheaper, there isn't much money left over.

      Or have you forgotten how prior to the iPad, netbooks started creeping upwards in price? They were $300 initially, then everyone realized that no one was making any money and they started adding stuff to justify it costing $400, $500 and more. Yes, there were netbooks that cos

    • 90% of users, most notably users that are in purchasing positions, are over 95% content users, not creators. The content they create is simple. Tablets are so popular because they offer a simple interface and form factor to consumable content. I see managers type notes on iPads now, send e-mail from them and have everything they need worked out delegated to others. Only secretaries and system admins need something slightly bigger than a tablet in real life. Home users and most office users can get by with j
  • So, Dell and MS are both circling the drain?

    I thought we knew that already.
    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      I just got a flier from Dell. All of the systems came with WIN7.
    • I don't think Dell is (circling the drain). They managed to acquire SonicWALL and Wyse for their thin-clients. Dell is more of an IT hardware solutions provider than say IBM which is all business and development driven.

      The days of the Internet being the Wild Wild West with Microsoft being a monopoly of the end-user platform is over. These days, the system is far more heterogeneous at the end-user level, and far more managed at the back-end.

    • Good luck finding a new 10" laptop priced like the 10" laptops of 2010 through 2012, which aren't made anymore [slashdot.org].
      • by multiben (1916126)
        I guess my point was that if you find yourself plugging a keyboard into a tablet then perhaps you have made the wrong choice in hardware. It's a bit like adding a towbar to a motorbike. Once I have to start taking a keyboard around with me to use my nice neat *portable* device then the extra inconvenience of a laptop becomes insignificant.
      • by Patch86 (1465427)

        Right you are boss:
        http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=sr_nr_n_0?rh=n%3A340831031%2Cn%3A429887031%2Ck%3Anetbook&keywords=netbook&ie=UTF8&qid=1376997870&rnid=340832031 [amazon.co.uk]

        Not shown on that page, but I notice that both MSI and Zoostorm have current, new models on the shelves. I've had good experiences with other Zoostorm machines (including most sold with No OS, if you look for it), so I'll definitely be looking them up for my next Netbook purchase.

        • Not shown on that page, but I notice that both MSI and Zoostorm have current, new models on the shelves.

          The shelves of which (U.S.) store chain? I tried Walmart, Best Buy, and Staples, and netbooks had disappeared in favor of more expensive tablets and Ultrabook laptops. If I plan to be entering a lot of text on a device whose keyboard isn't replaceable, I prefer to try to make sure that the keyboard it comes with is acceptable before I buy it. Or should I just buy any brand and just eat the return shipping if I don't like it?

  • Swirl swipe (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BenJeremy (181303) on Monday August 19, 2013 @10:36PM (#44614151)

    Well, Swirl-swipe, triple tap, Windows Key+C+4, followed by shoving a charm bar across the screen diagonally probably wasn't as efficient as clicking the start menu after all.

  • When a 10 inch Windows RT tablet can be had for $199, I'll be all over it. With a jailbreak, there's a great deal of open-source software that has been recompiled for ARM, and will work just fine in desktop mode. I already have a Bluetooth keyboard.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      If it's open source software then chances are most of it has already been ported to linux (or is primarily designed for linux in the first place), and if not can probably be recompiled to link against winelib... And then there is a huge amount of open source software which has already been built for linux/arm but not for windows/arm.

      Why would you want a windows tablet if you're going to run open source software on it? Might as well just use a linux device

  • I'd rather have the $300 one with a $10 keyboard from the drug store if all I'm doing is sitting on the sofa surfing...and a mouse...and a different OS.

  • by dccase (56453) on Monday August 19, 2013 @11:19PM (#44614363)

    Making it more expensive should fix it.

  • I'm tired of the pennyanny OS's on these devices. Put a desktop OS on the phone formfactor. It is well within our capabilities.

    • by cbhacking (979169)

      It was called Windows Mobile. It did all right in the market, back in the days when only serious nerds and corporate executives had smartphones. It crashed and burned when iOS came out, despite being technically a vastly more capable OS than early iOS versions. Android was the nail in the coffin.

  • What is slashdots obsession with the surface rt? A sale from Dell? Has there ever been a time when everything Dell offers hasn't been on sale? This is starting to seem like Slashdot's version of the royal baby.

    • What is slashdots obsession with the surface rt?

      You know why, or should know why. It what Microsoft had built to dominate the (hardware) mobile industry using its old monopoly's of Windows Desktop Applications...and Microsoft Office Insurance. Its a locked down (Secure Boot Crap) Microsoft hardware running Windowsish on (Incompatible with X86 Binary) ARM, forcing you to use Microsofts store. Using the Very Unpopular Metro(Instead of a real Desktop...and Without Desktop Applications). Hitting its OEM Abused Wives on the with a backhand of "you're rubbish"

  • Almost. I have the Surface RT and somethings are very irritating.

    * virtual keyboard is overlay on top of your current application instead of the more standard pushing application out of the way. This leads to situation where you can't see the text you're typing.

    * there's a virtual numpad, but it's a weird mix of phone numpad and standard keyboard numpad. 1-9 use phone layout (1-3 top row...etc) but "0" and "." are on the bottom like a standard keyboard numpad.

    * some very basic settings can't be accessed

  • With such bargain pricing it's no wonder Dell is in the shitter. :(

  • A keyboardless tablet can work fine for...
    - watching netflix
    - playing games
    - reading your favorite star's latest tweets
    - reading e-mail

    Yeah, that whole aforementioned 'consumption'. But these devices have long since moved beyond the toy status. The lines of definition for what people thought a computer is now blurred. And now people expect even an Android phone to be a productivity device. And for that, a keyboard is just so essential. Ye olde QWERTY keyboard may be purposely inefficient, but it is fa

  • I think the worlds "Dell" and "Dump" are going to become more prolific over the next 6 months as this is about all the life this company has left.

    I think there is only one way for Dell to survive, scrap their entire product lineup.

    Dell is the GM of computers. They have way too many product model lines up that try to cater to different markets and saturate every price point. Like GM, you can't have 15+ product lines and maintain profitability. Something has to go. GM only recovered from their bailout by

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