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Transform a Windows tablet into a full-fledged Windows PC

Chris Hoffman | May 14, 2014
Today's Windows tablets offer such solid productivity chops that they can easily become the heart of a potent sit-down workstation with the help of a few peripherals and some smart software choices and tweaks

Tablet hard drives tend to be far skimpier than PC drives, often topping out at 32GB or 64GB. Your tablet probably has a microSD card, so you can consider using it for additional storage. Simple USB flash drives or external hard drives can also augment your tablet's storage capacity, and you can leave them plugged into your USB hub if you'd like.

Some manufacturers produce docks designed to make all this easier, like Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 dock or the tablet dock Dell offers for its sublime Venue 11 Pro. The dock connector on the device connects to the dock, where you can plug in your various cables. This makes it easier to remove the tablet without disconnecting multiple cables each time. You may also find third-party docks for some tablets.

External monitor setup
You can use your external monitor in several different ways. Your tablet can become one of your two displays in a dual-monitor setup, or it can simply mirror its contents to the larger display.

Adjust these settings from the display control panel. Right-click your desktop and select Screen resolution to access it and see your connected external displays. You can drag and drop them to rearrange them--for example, if the second monitor is currently located to the left of your tablet, you'll want to drag and drop the second monitor to the left.

Windows 8 also includes better support for multiple monitors, so it can extend your taskbar across multiple displays. Right-click your desktop taskbar, select Properties, and use the options under Multiple displays to control how your taskbar behaves with more than one display.

Windows 8.1 automatically sets DPI settings appropriate to the size and density of each display you use, ensuring interface elements don't appear tiny on high-resolution screens. It will automatically choose different DPI elements for each display. However, you can also adjust these DPI scaling settings yourself. Select the display you want to adjust in the display control panel, click Make text or other items larger or smaller, and adjust the scaling to your desired level.

Optimize that tablet for the desktop
Windows 8.1's recent update attempts to use the ideal settings for the specific device you're using. This means booting to the desktop on desktop PCs, but it also means booting to the Start screen and using the "Store apps" by default on tablets. Luckily, you can still adjust these settings yourself.

This part is pretty quick, and is much simpler than it once was. Right-click the desktop taskbar, select Navigation, and use the options here to boot to desktop and tweak how Windows 8.1 works on your PC.


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