As those of you following me know that I have published an article lamenting apparent lack of support of Portrait mode in Windows8, now that I have actually taken a look into the world of widescreen tablets, I must confess I have to rescind my earlier complaints. Please bear with me and read through.
I am a tablet PC buff. I have been using tablets since 2004, and with that I meant the traditional tablet PCs of the MS platform making, not the glorify toys of these days. I principally came from the 4:3 inch world, you know, the same dimension that your favorite toy iPad has. My tablet PC of choice was the HP’s TC1100, I not only have one, not two, but three of the device. One for me, one for my wife and kids, and one as backup in case of repairs. They don’t make them anymore you know .
So you can understand my frustration when MS demoed Windows 8, without a single moment showing the screen in portrait mode. Coupled with their emphasis on true wide-screen format as basis and design reference for Windows 8, you can understand my frustration that my favorite format of 4:3 screens will not be supported.
During the demo of Windows 8, Microsoft showed a tablet, the ASUS EP121. This is the most powerful tablet at the moment, having a CPU that most desktops can only dream of. I have been keeping an eye on this tablet for some time before MS demoed it, and now that MS have confirmed it will support Windows 8, I decided to make the jump. I can’t wait any longer. My trustworthy TC1100 tablet has been screaming for a replacement with a thinner, touch compatible, more mobile replacement. I believe I have found it with the EP121. What tipped me over is the inclusion of an active digitizer with a Wacom pen, built in like the TC1100. Anyone knows that Wacom pens cannot be compared to anything in the market today as far as pen-computing is concerned. So the choice is easily made.
So I ordered the EP121, got it delivered. Salivated to get it unboxed and boy, it was impressive. Then I turned it portrait mode and my heart sank! It was ugly in portrait mode. Any of you informed about this tablet knows that it is not a true wide-screen, it is not 16:9 but 16:10 dimension. I.e. 1200×800 which I thought should be easier to the eyes in portrait mode compared to Microsoft’s default reference of 1350×768 true widescreen.
I was shocked to discover that portrait mode for widescreen of any size is weirdly; and that is putting it mildly. If this EP121 is so unsightly in portrait mode, then the true widescreen tablets will be ridiculous. Tablet are made to be 4:3 dimension I concluded. HP got it right in TC1100, and Apple of course copied the design in their iPad which is also 4:3. They are made for reading in portrait mode. Reading in portrait mode of any widescreen seems out of place. I quickly returned to reading in landscape mode on my new EP121 in the Kindle app that came with it. Compare the two in this picture:
So, yes I griped with portrait mode in Windows 8, but that was before I discovered Widescreen and portrait modes don’t go together. The question that remained, now that we’ve clarified that portrait mode and widescreens a no-go area is, will Windows 8 support portrait mode with 4:3 screens? I know MS mentioned they’ll support 4:3 screens, but will they support portrait mode in it? So, my curiosity still remain. What is MS take on portrait mode? They still need to answer to the public on that matter. I hope those of you at Build this year will ask this question if MS is again mum on portrait mode in Build sessions. I will specifically request Paul Thurrot to dig into this for those of us that can’t attend build this year because we don’t live in US.