Has anyone else noticed how cheap x86 Windows tablets are getting?

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware, Devices and Accessories' started by FireEmblemGuy, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. FireEmblemGuy
    OP

    FireEmblemGuy Celebrating a decade of shitposting

    Member
    2,433
    436
    Jul 6, 2007
    United States
    Michigan, USA
    Recently I've noticed a bunch of cheap tabs using Intel Atom processors running Windows 8/8.1. The specs generally aren't great, with the best generally being 2GB RAM/32GB SSD, with no chance of upgrading either, USB only through an OTG adapter, etc., but DealExtreme has an 8.0" Ainol tablet with those specs for $172; FastCardTech has a near-identical Teclast tablet for only $160 (plus a 9.7" iPad-style one, with an alleged 2048*1536 resolution, at the cost of an extra $75 and having to manually install Windows over the default Android), with the added bonus of not having "Ainol" stamped on the device.

    I think we can all agree that by the terms of even cheap laptops, those specs kind of blow. But in terms of sub-$175 machines? I remember getting excited over a dual-core 1.3Ghz 12" Windows 7 machine with the same amount of RAM a few years back, and I managed to scrape playable framerates on TF2, LoL, and a handful of PS2 games with it. Consider that these are running a quad-core 1.33-1.83 Ghz processor, with Intel HD graphics over the 4500MHD that laptop had? Get me a keyboard case and 64GB SD card, tell me I can milk 4-6 hours out of the battery, and you've sold me a new daily use machine - web browsing, music, and note-taking or basic coding is pretty much all I'm using my 13" university-provided laptop for, and built-in Bluetooth is convenient for small rounds of lightweight gaming with a PS3 controller when I've got an hour or two of downtime between classes. The only thing really stopping me from buying one right now is a lack of cash, honestly.

    Sure, there're some flaws - no expandable HDD or memory, no full-size USB without a hub, and I'm sure in most cases there's some ridiculous bootloader locking that'll prevent installation of Android, Linux-based systems, or pretty much anything that isn't Windows, but it definitely gives me some hope that the future of mobile computing isn't doomed to be as watered-down of an experience as Android and iOS generally seem to be.
     
  2. The Real Jdbye

    The Real Jdbye Always Remember 30/07/08

    Member
    GBAtemp Patron
    The Real Jdbye is a Patron of GBAtemp and is helping us stay independent!

    Our Patreon
    11,895
    5,045
    Mar 17, 2010
    Norway
    Alola
    More or less. I had one for a while but when I figured out that it only had a x86 UEFI firmware, preventing installation of any 64-bit OS (even though the Atom CPU is 64 bit), as well as preventing installation of most anything because very few things have x86-capable EFI bootloaders, that was the last straw for me and I returned it. It felt really constrained on space and memory, but I had not had a chance to really run into those limits yet, the most annoying thing about the specs was the general sluggishness and that the RAM was constantly full.
     
  3. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    23,366
    9,169
    Nov 21, 2005
    I have had a few lower end windows tablets cross my bench, mainly in the "I have got it, now make it do stuff" capacity over these last few months, though looking at those I probably did not get that low (most of the ones I saw were from known vendors). From where I sit there are a better deal than netbooks were, especially if you manage to wrangle one with a docking station (they often come with a nice USB3 port, wind in one of those always in 64 gig USB3 dongles and you are probably laughing).

    32 gigs is horribly limiting (by the time you have windows 8, browser, something like libreoffice, the usual set of tools... see also https://ninite.com/ ) then you are pushing it on space. You can probably dodge a bit of that by disabling hibernate and nerfing the page file though. 64 gigs would have been lovely, it certainly is in the slightly higher end stuff I have seen, but I do not think there has really ever been a point in laptop history where there has not been some glaring fault that I do not want to slap marketing/design/engineering for. My clients have been happy with them but given they were often coming up from netbooks and very old laptops (early core2 era celerons sort of thing) I am not going to place too much stock in such thoughts.

    You want internet in a real web browser, email in a real client, the option to do some office type stuff, some skype, some IM and maybe a handful of films to watch during the downtime or a decent music library then definitely consider one. If you want one for round the house and have a NAS/file shares then they are also a device with some promise.

    I am quite curious to see this 2048*1536 screen though, it is well within the realms of possibility (several android and apple screens have gone there). Even if the rest is suspect I might have some good uses for such a toy.
     
  4. FireEmblemGuy
    OP

    FireEmblemGuy Celebrating a decade of shitposting

    Member
    2,433
    436
    Jul 6, 2007
    United States
    Michigan, USA
    Yeah, a 64GB high-speed SD card or USB3 stick is pretty much a must with such a small system partition. For daily use I could get by just installing Rainmeter, Chrome/Firefox, some SSH/FTP tools, Notepad++, JDK, something for C++ (usually I'd use Visual, but space might be a limiting factor), Winamp (if I have music on my external storage), and Pianobar or Elpis; for office stuff I can generally get by with either Google Docs or Office.com, and I don't email enough that I need to waste a few megs on Thunderbird. Not an ideal all-in-one, do-everything solution, but more than enough for casual use and trimming my backpack weight a pound or two.

    As for the tab with the 2048*15636 screen: look up the Teclast X98. Comes with Android 4.2 by default but with some tweaking you can install Windows 8.1 and apparently someone even managed to get a Ubuntu build working right. The screen resolution is real, and from what I've seen actually looks pretty decent, but the results were apparently less than impressive in Win8 until it was cranked down to 1280*960; there's a blog review of someone else's video review here, if you want to check it out. Seems to be right around $200 through a handful of AliExpress sellers.