If you joined us at the BETT show at ExCel this year you'll agree that it was a device extravaganza. Showcasing the very best Windows 8 devices on offer. Our interactive classroom combined with an array of device stations allowed educators from all over the world, to get up close and personal with the latest technology. We know one size definitely doesn't fit all, and Microsoft partners will never create devices under that assumption. That's why our stand this year was all about variety and engagement and with over 150 devices at the disposal of 36,000 delegates over 4 days, it was a valuable opportunity for educators to fall in love with the possibilities surrounding touch technology.
Whether you made it to BETT this year or not, this blog should help familiarise yourself with a selection of Windows devices and demonstrate how they really can impact Education for both students and educators. I'll run through a selection of our devices broken down by their area on the BETT stand.
Interactive Classroom /Surface Area Our interactive classroom had to be one of the biggest successes of our BETT stand. Ran by the Tablet Academy and always packed with educators keen to learn how to navigate their way around a Windows 8 device, Including Michael Gove, Liz Truss and their families.
Here are some of my favourite Surface 2 and Pro 2 features:
Slightly biased but here at Microsoft Edu, we do love Surface. It's certainly a smart and sleek device that any professional would be proud to show off. Here are some of it's top features:
Front Camera & Back Camera, ideal for when using as a tablet to take pictures in and out of the classroom
Microphone, combined with video makes it easy to makes video calls.
Windows Button, easy access back to the desktop from the device itself
The Touchscreen, with its 16:9 aspect ratio and full-HD display, perfect for watching videos and interacting with apps (click here to see our educational apps available in the Windows store,
Typing Covers, unique keyboards that double as a protective cover. This way you’ll always have a keyboard with you (sold separately). See Accessories for info on the full range of accessories available.
Pro Pen, Take notes, draw and mark up documents using the digital pen. Great for edit PDF documents, saves on printing
Wifi & Blootooth, Surface supports standard Wi-Fi protocols (802.11a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 4.0. This means you can connect to a wireless network and use Bluetooth devices such as mice, printers and headsets.
Red Device Bar Area This area was mainly to highlight some of the accessories available for purchase with devices, but we did display a variety of devices to interact with, these included the Sony Vaio Flip 11a, Toshiba Satellite NB10T and Lenovo Thinkpad Helix, but one of my favourite displayed was the new 8" Toshiba Encore:
The Toshiba Encore is small enough to take everywhere with you without having the burden of a heavy or large device to pack into a small bag. The 20.32cm Tablet offers everything you need whether it's keeping up to date on emails, reviewing student work or taking some downtime enjoying all that Xbox has to offer. With the latest Windows operating system, 8.1 is compact with Office 365 so sync all of your work and play tiles, and your world is accessible in the palm of your hand.
Here are some of the top features:
Wide viewing angle, The wide view screen makes it easy to view content as it was meant to, perfect to use as an e-reader, but this device really excels when used for Skype video calls.
Vast performance, built with the latest intel atom core processor and Internet Explorer 11, this device brings to life graphics for work and play.
Expandable Storage, with up to 96GB with a microSD card combined with free SkyDrive means you should never get caught out with a lack of storage space.
Office Home & Student, The Encore includes Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013, with complete access to Word/Excel/PowerPoint/OneNote, with the ability to sync your Microsoft account to any other device you've been working on, you'll be free to be as productive wherever you choose to work.
Optimised for Skype, Whether you use Skype for meetings, class projects, connecting with students or calling your mum, Encore has been designed and optimised for a crystal clear video and audio experience, including dual microphones for noise reduction and even a months free skype premium calls to phones worldwide.
-Plenty of Ports, For when you want something other than the cloud for transferring files, the Encore offers a number of connectivity options including a micro-USB, micro HDMI to sync your content to the TV and a microSD card slot for photos or to increase storage capacity.
Green Device Bar Area Another interactive zone for BETT jam packed with devices including the Asus Aspire S7, Samsung Ativ Smart PC and the Ergo AS4 to name just a few. But one of my personal favourites that I've had the pleasure of trying out for previous events is the Sony Vaio Duo 13. For anyone who might consider themselves a device fashionista, you'll struggle to find anything more stylish and sexy than this. Designed to move as you do, the Duo Transforms from tablet to laptop in seconds using the SurfSlider hybrid mechanism.
Here are some of my favourite features:
Hybrid mechanism, I've mentioned it already but it's so sleek it's worth mentioning twice.
Touch Enabled, Tap and scroll through your device with ease
Full Keyboard, The expanded keyboard makes it more comfortable to use when you're working for some time and need the full functionality of a laptop.
Stylus holder, Something so small but really designed with you in mind, never lose the stylus with the pencil pot style holder.
Clip and save feature, similar to snipping tool found on windows 8, use the stylus along with the VAIO Clip app to get creative and colourful with your clippings and drop them into your documents. (as pictured left)
Device for life, This device I know from experience, is strong, the hybrid mechanism isn't flimsy as with some devices, and with 256GB of storage and 8GB of memory, combined with a free SkyDrive account for cloud storage, it really has everything you need.
Yellow Device Bar Area Finally onto our last interactive devices area. Again with some fantastic pieces of kit, including the Omnino 5, Ergo Microlite Touch and the Dell XPS 12 and many more, the standout for me was the Lenovo Yoga 11s. Reminding me of an old school notebook (the paper style) you just turn the page (keyboard) when you want to get creative and fully immerse yourself into the tablet. To convert back to laptop for full working functionalities, simply flip the keyboard back over. But it gets better, with two in-between modes 'tent' and 'stand' offerings the device is made for watching videos in the classroom to adjustable angles.
here are some of my favourite features:
360- Flip and Fold, (as pictured) flips from unltrabook to tablet in seconds.
Mot-ion Control, Use your webcam to flip pages, rewind/forward music, change volume and gesture other simple commands with the flick of your hand.
IPS technology, Never lose sight of your video/images from different angles, In-plane switching technology delivers clear graphics, no matter the viewing angle.
Voice Control, Set up your device with voice operated commands to perform tasks automatically for you.
Nokia Area As we are running through some of our top devices from BETT it would be wrong not to include an offering from our friends at Nokia, and trialling this particular device for the week, my top choice from the selection will have to be the Nokia 1020.
You've all heard everyone boast about the incredible spec (if not check it out in full here) so here are the reasons why I love this Windows phone:
It's Yellow, Okay that's not why I love it, but it's so bright and colourful makes a delightful change to standard black devices, Microsoft is all about bright and bold colours so we are big fans.
1MP Camera, When I compared some of the pictures I took with those taken by other people at the event, there was no competition. There are tons of editing options and you really can get creative and take some fantastic shots without having to lug an SLR about with you.(see image below taken with a Lumia 1020)
HD Video with Zoom, Anyone who makes videos with their smartphones will know how frustrating it can be if you have a video that won't zoom or that looses it's quality, the 1020 creates sharp professional looking videos, if you're keen, why not try out using a mini tripod (retailing for about £8 on ebay) – also check out the new Ellie Goulding video. How Long will I love you, was shot entirely from a 1020. Devices that pack so much power into something so small make it easy to get out and shoot so much more, class projects and learning materials are a doddle.
Windows Phone, Biased here of course, but having this incredible smartphone AND all the functionalities of a working tablet/laptop with all my documents to hand via SkyDrive made such a difference being out on site all week. Your professional and social life is all there at the tough of your fingertips. You'll never be caught out without an important document again
So there you have it, a selection of our top devices from last weeks BETT show. From this small sample combined with what we know about current trends, It's clear that Technology is constantly evolving to synchronise with our lifestyles, we no longer have to choose between a laptop or tablet, a one stop device for everyone is fast becoming thing of the past. Devices are being built, streamlined and finessed to tailor our every need, often before those needs even arise. Thank you to the Microsoft partners who dare to design differently and help shape the Windows 8 platform.