Having done the review of the tablet and using it for its intended purpose. Here are my thoughts and recommendations.
Overall it is way better than an Android tablet for me because of the OS. You can open and edit MS documents on Android, you can also browse the internet and read PDFs on android. You can also run Remote desktop and ping from android. I agree. What I cannot do on Android is load the other applications that are Windows and task specific or interact with the other devices on the office network. Like Vision, which is a hotel lock system software. I can print any document to any printer on the network or connect it to my USB port and print. I can connect to any of the linux or unix systems and perform any task from the web interface or the prompt. Some of them require flash and some need java among other technologies. Any application that is in use at my office can be installed on the tablet and I can use it anywhere.
That is the main reason business persons would want a Windows tablet vs an android tablet. No compromise!!
Fantastic. In the video I demonstrate the ability to type fairly fast (with some mistakes, granted) using two fingers on the same hand. You get better over time though. Trust me! In the video I am sitting when I type, however you will find that standing and typing is much more comfortable and you will make less mistakes. The Windows onscreen keyboard that launches from the onscreen keyboard button does not work as well as the same keyboard when launched from the Gigabyte keyboard button. It disappears when you are typing usernames and passwords to log into your office and well as when you are entering ip addresses. Granted not everyone does this. But I am sure that is not the extent of the login actions for business users. I have also found that it does not always appear when you click in a text field.Recommendation: The keyboard button must remain!
Very good. This helps to keep the tablet size and weight down. The next size is 11.6. I think that may be a little too big and the increased weight may not be worth it considering what I will talk about next.Recommendation: Screen size should remain
Acceptable. 1024 x 600 is an acceptable resolution for most functions like browsing the net, reading documents and a little MS Word work. However as you will see in the video increasing the resolution adds great benefits. The 600 vertical resolution makes it just about impossible to view the content of an email in MS Exchange webmail while also seeing your inbox. You will have to resize or open the email in a separate window. This is time consuming and unnecessary as in the video I demonstrate how setting the vertical resolution to 852 solves this problem.
Also in the video the 1024 x 600 resolution makes the available working space in applications like MS Word and Excel small and reduces the amount of buttons in the ribbon menu. When you bring up the keyboard it gets even worst. In the video I show you that increasing the resolution to 1152x852 makes all the difference even with the keyboard. The Ribbon menu is full and you have room to type several lines without having to move the keyboard around.
Browsing of course benefits as well.
If you do carry out the registry hack to increase your resolution you will also have to increase your dpi percentage to make scroll bars, menus and other items easier to click. I have sent mine at 110% and this works well for me.Recommendation: 1280 x 800 (preferred) or 1366 x 768.
Touch points: The tablet supports 2 touch points. I do not see any need for more. Microsoft is asking for a 5 point digitizer for Windows 8. I’d rather not have this as it drives the cost up and offers no real benefits that I can see to business users. If you want a tablet that can complete with the ipad and the androids on features perhaps this would be important. For business users however; I don’t think so.Recommendation: 2 touch points
This is pretty good. Having said that I must say that I am using a Crucial RealSSD C300 in my tablet. It boots in 1 minute to my Omnimo skin as I do not use app park. It will play 720 matroska videos without any skipping and 1080p with minimal skipping. But more is better. I would like a feature in the BIOS to turn off hyper threading. As this is not needed at all times, and does not make a real difference depending on what is being done, however it adds to the heat and power drain.
The N2800 CPU will add significant processing power as well as graphics performance allowing 1080p videos to play without issue. The bonus is that this CPU also draws less power.Recommendation: N2800 CPU upgrade. Option to turn off hyper threading
The fan runs nonstop and at high speeds. This I believe is a BIOS issue as the fan should not be going full speed while I am looking at JPGs or reading a PDF. It comes on as soon as the tablet boots and stays running so I don't think it is related to the temperature of the CPU. The upgrade to the N2800 should help here as well as that CPU emanates less heat.
My tablet happens to be next to me right now. There are no apps running except the Omnimo animation which you would see on the video and the fan is running maybe half speed, but still quite audible as the room is silent. Not a real big issue for me that it has a fan. The issue for me is that I think it is running too fast and too often.Recommendation: BIOS fix, different fan
This works well as expected. However I believe it should be moved to the other side of the table as it is too close to the fan. As expressed above the fan spins at top speed and this noise is picked up by the microphone. I tested it when I was making the video so I know.Recommendation: Move the microphone.
I spoke about the excellent keyboard button already so I will not go over that. The other buttons; up, down and back can go. For me at least, since they do not work in all applications like in Acrobat reader for instance and their functions can be accomplished using swipe actions. What I would like is a Windows button that launches the start menu.
For Windows 8 Microsoft is requiring a Windows Key as well. Hopefully it has the same functionality. The Rotation lock also requested by Microsoft for Windows 8 is also another good one.
A customizable 4th key could also be a good feature to have. You already have 4 keys built into the electronics so use them and give us a 4th blank key.Recommendation: Windows Key, Keyboard Launch Key, Rotation lock, customizable 4th key
The case/cover supplied with the tablet is adequate however it has a design flaw. The clips that hold the tablet in are prone to breakage. My first clip broke in 4 months and the second one after 6 months. The stand is good and gives you three viewing angles.Recommendation: Reinforce the clips holding the tablet.
Prefect in every way. Nothing more to say.Recommendation: Must keep.
SD Card slot:
This is another good point. It is a full sized SD Card slot so you can take your photos with your camera/laptop/PC/handheld or some other device and insert the SD card directly into the tablet without having to look for or purchase (if you don’t have one already) a micro SD adaptor. Recommendation: Upgrade to a slot that will support SDXC and UHS-I to support faster SD cards.
The weight of the tablet 895 grams is fairly good. I can stand with it for over an hour quite easily and have done this already at a conference as well as at work. I would however like to see a reduction to around 800 or less. If not I would not worry too much, but certainly don’t make it any heavier.Recommendation: 800 grams max weight.
Hard disk speed.
The hard disk included in the tablet is a 320GB SATA 2 disk. SSD drives are also available now. Applications load in a reasonable time compared to other laptops and desktops the average business would buy for its staff. Personal PCs and laptops that users can customize or upgrade will likely be faster. But the focus here is mobile business use so blistering performance is not required although we all would love to have it.Recommendation: Upgrade to SATA 3 for faster performance.
This is acceptable. I took my tablet with me on business for 4 days. I was able to use it for the entire day on all days. I was not watching videos or reading email all day. In additional to email, I read PDFs for instruction manuals, opened excel and word documents and edited them, ran the Vision lock system application (Windows application) to show prospective customers what they would get and also to check settings. I did play a couple videos which demonstrated the weakness in some hotel safes to some of the customers I visited. It’s a work tablet, not a big entertainment device for watching videos between flights.
So I did not run it for 8 hours straight. I switched on. Did what I needed and put it to sleep. Resumed it and did some more stuff, then put it to sleep. In all I perhaps put it to sleep 7 or so times between tasks and ran it for maybe 3 hours total. If I was going to do more then I would have bought the extra battery. But I guessed that if I needed to work longer on it then I would plug it in. Most laptops business users get do 3-4 hours anyway, so no difference here. There are of course some businesses that do their homework and check the battery life on laptops for users who travel a lot and so make sure that their staff get laptops with 5 or 6 hour batteries. Good for you if you need it. I don’t need 5 or 6 hours of battery life.Recommendation: More is better.
In the video there is also some footage of me using the mouse buttons and I am sure that you will see how useful they were. The next tablet must also keep these.
This I showed in the video captioned “Why I need two USB ports”. It’s very self explanatory. I was able to launch the tablet using a USB boot of Hiren’s boot CD with the source drive connected on the USB 3 port and the SSD on the internal SATA. I was then able to load windows xp and copy from the external drive to the SSD using the software on the flash drive in the USB 2.0 port. When I was going to enter the partition size I was able to remove the Hiren USB drive and insert a USB keyboard and continue the process.
This extends to having a USB TV tuner in one port while a USB keyboard, mouse, or external drive is connected to the second port which you may be using to save the TV stream. There are many scenarios where having 2 USB ports would be useful so I’m not going to talk about it much.Recommendation: 2 USB ports
The Ethernet port is another area where there is a lot of debate. In the video I show you why I need to have one. Another scenario I had some time back was that I was staying at a well known brand name Hotel in Atlanta. The WIFI was ….. in the room as well as in the conference room where I was enrolled in a class. So much so that one of the attendees got out his 4G hotspot from ….. provider and the class got onto it rather than the hotel WIFI in order to complete the course. I know there are many other places we go as business users where the WIFI it just piss poor. So Ethernet is always good to have.
People with the other devices tend to go where they know good WIFI exist because they are not normally sent anywhere. Business users on the other hand get sent to different hotels, restaurants, convention centers, airports etc, where we have no control over the WIFI and don’t even know whether any exist! In addition to that we have reports, emails and other communications that must be done so we can’t really wait until we hit a starbucks, or get by our cousin, nephew etc where we know there is good WIFI! Recommendation: Ethernet port please!
Internal PCI Express
There is an internal mini PCI Express slot on the tablet. I am yet to find anything that will work in it. I was thinking of the mini PCI express SSDs for caching. But Gigabyte did not specify if the slot has mSATA abilities. Thought of the crystal MPEG decoder, but they all seem to be built for Asus or not compatible with widely available software or codecs. Perhaps I can use it for GPS; don’t know what the antenna cables are but perhaps.Recommendation: list specifics of the mini PCI Express slot. Give it useful abilities/connections/protocols , or don’t put it back. As no one can use it.
Windows 8 recommendations
I want to spend a little time on this as I think it is important for Gigabyte to have another perspective. I know that some manufacturers (not saying Gigabyte is one) who tend to listen in their big board room meetings to the stocks, and the trends the advisers and the almighty bottom line. So I wanted to voice what is important to the people who are going to buy this tablet from you and give you the money to enhance your bottom line. So that you don’t have to depend on looking at what the fruit people are doing like Redmond seems to be doing; as a guideline to what users want.
Here are the requirements for Widows 8. Taken from http://www.withinwindows.com/2012/01/16/windows-8-secrets-pc-and-device-requirements/
• Storage: At least 10gb free space after the out-of-box experience completes
• System firmware: UEFI
• Networking: WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0 + LE (low energy)
• Graphics: Direct3D 10 device w/ WDDM 1.2 driver
• Resolution: 1366×768
• Touch support: At least 5 touch points, must pass all tests
• Camera: 720p
• Ambient Light Sensor: 1-30k lux capable w/ dynamic range of 5-60K
• Accelerometer: 3 axes w/ data rates >= 50Hz
• USB 2.0: At least one controller and exposed port
• No reboot driver upgrades
• 5-point digitizers
• NFC “touch marks”
• 2 second resume … but not for ARM
Now let me tear this apart
Storage. At least 10GB of free space after out of the box. HELLO Microsoft. This is a business tablet. We are not installing 1 or 2MB android apps here. Please!!
Networking WIFI and Bluetooth. No mention of Ethernet. How dumb. So now all offices around the world must install WIFI in all areas so that anyone who has a windows 8 tablet can work. So short sighted!
5 touch points!! So I can ……….. oh yeah; Get 2 or three people to play colouring games or red vs blue laser tag or maybe google earth on my 10 inch screen. That should to be really cool!! I guess.
I know I just figured it out. I can draw with all the fingers of one hand. Isn’t that cool?
Magnetometer. A Who???
Gyroscope. Hmmmm . The jury is still out. The judge is equally perplexed.
5 point digitizer. Good for art I suppose and making illustrations on the screen, and with 5 points you can probably get 5 pens on there at once! Nice.
NFC touch marks. An area somewhere on the tablet where you can touch an NFC enabled device to transfer information. Real cute. Very much needed in the business environment. I can send you….. my work just by touching your phone to my tablet. Guess I will have to cover those areas somehow when I don’t want anything transferred.
So in summary, looking at the requirements it looks like Microsoft is building a really expensive Windows based android/iOS lookalike. At least from my perspective. What do you think?
If I wanted an android tablet I would have bought one. It would be a hell of a lot cheaper than this is going to be.
This is what I need for my next tablet
• Storage: At least 60gb free space after the out-of-box experience completes
• Networking: WLAN and Bluetooth 4.0, Ethernet
• Graphics: Direct3D 11 device w/ WDDM 1.2 driver
• Resolution: 1366×768 or 1280 x 800
• 10 inch screen.
• Touch support: 2
• Camera: 720p front; no back camera
• At least 1 full sized USB 3.0
• Full sized SDXC UHS-1
• Optical Mouse with buttons
• SATA 3 hard disk interface
• VGA out
• Screen lock key, windows key, keyboard launch key
• Less than 800 grams
• Over 3hrs battery