Windows 8 Tablet/Ultrabook has the potential to be both desktop PC and mobile device due to its versatility in hardware support. Ever since my father bought Sony Vaio Duo 11, it was mainly being used as a mobile PC, rather than as a desktop PC. I still have my HP All-In-One TouchSmart PC as my main PC. When the television sitting in the living room died, my father bought Sharp Aquos LC50LE440M as a replacement. After procrastinating for more than two years, we finally got our first HD TV Display.
The distance from the comfortable sitting position to the display depends the size of the display. The actual optimum viewing distance is subject to subjective perceptual test. The viewing experience in general depends on other factors too, such as lighting conditions, color accuracy, refresh rate, pixel resolution, viewing angles, etc. As a rule of thumb, the viewing distance should be 2-3 times the screen size (diagonal length).
The desktop PC in my bedroom is appropriate for a single-person experience. To share the screen with others in some usage scenarios, such as viewing family photos, television series, movies, etc., larger screen allows more people to stare at the same screen simultaneously because each viewer sits at a longer distance from the display.
Sharp Aquos LC50LE440M does support a limited number of codecs and have USB port at the back on the TV. Its ability to decode media files of various types of codecs is far more limited, compared with a Windows 8 with free codec packs (such as K-Lite Mega Codec Pack). By taking advantage of the full capabilities of a Windows 8 Pro PC, the compatibilities issues of some media formats would be largely solved. Although the maximum display resolution supported by this display is 1920 × 1080 pixels, the actual display resolution to be chosen is actually lower. The Astro Satellite TV service supports up to 1080i (50 fields/second) for some channels. Of course, LCD display can only display progressive-scan contents natively; interlaced-scan contents would have to be de-interlaced by the TV before it is being displayed. I set the set top box to support 720p instead of 1080i.
Windows 8 natively determines the user experience based on the default display of the tablet, instead of 50-inch Display. By defaults, it shows exactly the same thing, albeit different size, on two different screens. Such setting would affect the relative size of icons, buttons, etc., to the entire display. On the tablet display, if the resolution is set to be 1920 × 1080 pixels, it would be necessary to set the size of “items” on desktop to 150%, otherwise the items would appear to be too small. Unfortunately, not every desktop apps supports Windows 8 scaling. The other option would be to lower the resolution, which will affect every desktop apps. I set the display resolution to be 1366 × 768 pixels without connecting to the 50-inch Display.
When the tablet was connected to the 50-inch Display for the first time, it automatically set the display resolution to be 1920 × 1080 pixels, instead of retaining my original setting. It also showed 1080i, which meant it assumed the contents that were transferred to the display via HDMI were of interlaced-scan. There is no way to set different display setting for different screen. When the HDMI cable was unplugged from the tablet, the original display setting was back.
Because all items on desktop were assumed to be on the tablet display, not surprisingly each icon, text, or button appear to be too small when I viewed them from 14 feet away. Obviously, Windows 8 is not an interlaced video signal; on “Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Display\Screen Resolution” → Advanced Settings, there is a “List All Modes” button, which shows all supported display resolution, refresh rate, and scan type of the display. From there, I chose 1366 × 768 pixels, 50 Hz, instead of the original “interlaced scan”.
While the items appear to be at the right size with 1366 × 768 pixels on the tablet display without connecting the tablet to the 50-inch display, some texts and icons still look too small on such a huge display from where I sat. Of course, if I were to sit closer to the display, those items would appear larger to me. I used the tool that I rarely used on my main PC, which is “Magnifier”. I simply press “Windows + ‘+’” to zoom in; press “Windows + ‘-’” to zoom out; and press “Windows + ‘Esc’” to close the “Magnifier”.
To control the PC from 14 feet away, I use a wireless keyboard and mouse. I don’t need to think about “zooming in or out” with my main desktop PC. However, undoubtedly, Sony Vaio Duo 11 is a fully functional PC, with or without this 50-inch Display. I initially thought that a big display would be a good solution for those of us who prefer larger items being viewed on screens. While when it comes to video playback, image viewing, typing or reading, things do get bigger as expected; the icons or buttons appear to be too small when I sit from 14 feet away. I thought that I needed to zoom in in smaller display; but because of the inappropriate default scaling for buttons, icons, and texts, I actually need to zoom in with “Magnifier”. The question is how many people actually know such a tool actually exists? Most people actually want the device to “just work” without much setting up.
The limited (two) number of USB ports on the tablet requires me to connect it to a USB ports.
I did try a number of possible usage scenarios that would encounter with my main PC, such as reading, writing, watching videos, listening to Music, playing video games, and even video calling. I used a USB extension cable to put the webcam with built-in microphone in front of me at near, the Skype call just worked.
The overall user experience of mine with 50-inch display connected to a Windows 8 tablet is not bad at all. While the setting up process is not difficult to me personally, it remains a question for how others respond to the set up process, rather than the user experience.