Having failed to get a Google Chromebook to work as a photo backup device, due to its inability to read exFAT SD cards and its inability to communicate with a Canon 5D III body, I invested $400 in an HP laptop computer running Windows 8. Using a Lexar card reader, the machine was able to read a 128 GB CF card and the laptop also included a built-in SD card reader. Via USB the machine was able to recognize and browse files on cards within the camera body. So far so good. After downloading some extra software from Microsoft, the computer was even able to display the RAW files within the File Explorer.
Windows 8 on a non-touch laptop proved to be even more frustrating than using Windows 8 on a touch-equipped computer. The included photo applications proved flaky. If you popped in an SD card the computer would ask if you wanted to import the photos on the card. It worked great the first couple of times, putting photos into folders by date. After that the application either would try to re-import all of the photos, including ones that it had already imported, or just a handful, missing a lot of new photos.
Some combination of the laptop and the software resulting in the computer exhausting its battery while I thought it was sleeping. This resulted in a rapid shutdown and, after that, all of the critical “Libraries” from File Explorer were inaccessible. Double clicking on a library would result in a message “Videos.library-ms is no longer working”. None of my files were lost but my confidence in NTFS on Windows 8 was shaken.
Mostly my memory of trying to use this device is constant pressing of the “Windows” key on the keyboard to get out of some Metro app, then using the mouse to click on the “Desktop” app to get back to whatever it was that I was trying to do.
The only thing that truly worked well was Picasa, which made sorting files and pushing them up to shareable albums very easy. The one knock against Picasa is that it doesn’t seem to be bandwidth-smart. If you’re on a slow connection and add the same photo to two online albums it seems to upload the photo twice. Also, the minimum size/quality for Web sharing is 2048 pixels. That’s way too big when one is connecting to the Internet via an Iridium satellite phone.
There must be something that Windows 8 is good for.