Tag Archive | "pad"

CSL Spice Mi700 Android 2.2 Tablet Review Pt2 (Software)

Foreword: Many, many thanks to Er Lern out in Malaysia for sending us this review of the CSL Mi700 tablet before posting it on his own blog.  Er will be bringing part 3 of the review soon. Make sure you follow Er on Twitter.

Readers might notice that the Mi700 is the same as the Camangi FM600, the OlivePad and the Viewsonic Viewpad 7 that should be launching soon. (all product details here with links and videos) For a 7 inch tablet with 3G, voice, GPS, capacitive touchscreen and Android 2.2, this is shaping up to be a really nice product. The pricing should be competitive (we’re hearing 399 Euros for the Viewpad 7 with 3G included) so this is one review to read carefuly. Take it away with Part 2, Er Lern….

See Part 1 here.

See Full Mi700 Specifications here

See full gallery here

Okay, the first part was the easy part. Now comes the hard part… the software aspect of the DroidPad. First of all, let  us remind ourselves that this tablet is running on Froyo, Android 2.2. Take note that this is based on my full week’s experience of the tablet. In the week that has passed, I have already installed about 30 programs (mostly free and some paid). Not only that, I have transfered over 2GB worth of media files. All in all, this should be a more balanced review and not just a ‘first look’ at the device. Onwards with the review:



1. Mflops: Mflops basically stands for Million FLoating point OPerations per second. It is a calculation intensive test where the higher the numbers, the better. Using Linpack for Android, the device scored 7.5 Mflops on average in 11 seconds. This is considered reasonable when we take into account the CPU which is an MSM7227 600Mhz (a slight upgrade from the older, and much despised, MSM7201A 528Mhz). Comparing with similar CPU devices, we find that the HTC Aria scores 5.2 Mflops with a slight overclock to 806Mhz while LG Ally/Aloha scores 9.1 Mflops with 30% overclock and HTC Legend scores 9.8 Mflops with 37% overclock. Certainly the Mi700 can hold its own.

2. BenchmarkPi: Basically the time it takes to calculate Pi. The lower the better. The DroidPad scores an average of about 2,800 milliseconds, not too bad considering a Snapdragon processor averages about around 2,000 milliseconds.

3. Neocore: This is an OpenGL-ES 1.1 graphics performance benchmark test. The DroidPad’s MSM7227 actually shares the same GPU as the Snapdragon; Adreno. I am pretty surprised by the outcome, since the DroidPad performed slightly better than my HTC HD2 Android (using a Snapdragon CPU and running Froyo) with an average of 32fps while the latter only a paltry 30fps.

4. Boot Time

This was timed from the moment the power switch was pressed and slight vibration felt, until the time when everything was loaded and lock screen appeared (SD card finished mounted). The total average boot time was approximately 60 seconds (1 minute). Frankly, I think this is acceptable although it should be improved. Somewhere around 45 seconds would be good.

Home Screen Performance

Mi7000 DroidPad (6) Mi7000 DroidPad (7)
Click to enlarge

1. Custom Shortcuts: This is the version that came with the DroidPad. It looks very much like Android 2.2 stock, but with the added difference of a strip to the left hand of the tablet screen which contains 4 distinct icons. The top most is for mails, followed by an e-book reader, media and social networking shortcuts. I found this to be a redundant add-on since the system already allows users to put on widgets of their own. However, I suspect that this is not part of CSL’s customization but Foxconn’s, since the same shortcuts strip is seen in the similar devices shown elsewhere (Camangi Webstation and Viewpad 7). I have to say that they were not efficient to use at all. I found that the mail program took time to load, and was laggy. Same also for the media player. To its credit, it had a ‘cover flow’ type interface, but again, it was laggy and I kept selecting the wrong song since it either went too far ahead or too short before the one I wanted. Same goes for the social networking program which incorporates Facebook and Twitter. They look too much like the old web 1.0 interface.

Mi7000 DroidPad (8) Mi7000 DroidPad (9)

2. Scrolling: The saving grace comes in the parts that are untouched, mainly the apps drawer. There is no lag in using the apps drawer and it was all smooth no matter how many apps I had installed and have open at any one time. Scrolling between screens were slightly laggy on the stock version. I have no idea why, but it just is. Not noticeable if you have never used another Android device, but still, it is just a little annoyance that I wished they would have cleaned up a bit more before shipping the devices out. As a matter of comparison, it felt slightly jerkier than using CyanogenMod 6 (Froyo) on a G1/HTC Dream phone.

Mi7000 DroidPad (11)

3. Resolution: Because the tablet shares the same resolution as many of the more advanced Android devices, the grid that is available for widgets remains 4 by 4 (in all, you can put up to 16 application shortcuts on a single screen). The stock  version only allows 3 home screens. If there is one glaring weakness of the Mi700, it would be the resolution size. Even though we have a considerably large screen, stretching an 800 by 480 resolution on it wastes that spacious capacity. What we get is the same 4 by 4 grid available, which translates to widgets getting blown up double the size, making them look awkward at best and ugly at worst! And the result is big spaces between each widget or shortcut; wasted space! I think if it was using the conventional netbook resolution of 1,024 by 600 pixels, this would have made the DroidPad near perfect! For some people, this might be a dealbreaker. Certainly, it would improve on the utility of the home screen.

4. Live Wallpaper: One of the most loved features of Android 2.0+ is the introduction of live wallpapers. Basically these are your normal wallpapers plus added interactivity and animation that adds to the level of ‘fun’ and ‘zazziness’ of a phone OS experience. I found that the DroidPad could handle all live wallpapers fine, without any hitch in the interface. The only problem stems when you are coming back to ‘home’ from a memory intensive application; it takes time for the live wallpaper to reload. That is the only problem that I have encountered, and this is nothing to do with the device, but to the software itself.

5. Alternative (LauncherPro): Personally, I ditched the stock home screen launcher and installed LauncherPro from the market. Buy it. It is worth it. This made the home screen less of a bore for me, as I am able to reclaim the whole screen for myself (no pesky strip to mess with the symmetry), and have up to 7 home screens. Not only that, but LauncherPro allows the user to heavily customise the feel of the home screen. The transitions between screens were smooth and flawless. The app drawer opened speedily and scrolling is smooth when there are only a few apps installed. However, after more than 25 apps in the drawer, I notice that it does tend to lag just a little. But besides that, there is nothing else that I would recommend for speedy experience. LauncherPro also allows the user to change the size of the widgets on the screen to suit their wants. Resizing helps to save space, especially when there is a need to put as many widgets as possible into one single screen.

One last reason to change the home screen launcher to the new one? The stock version only allows the user to use the tablet in landscape mode. This limitation is very frustrating upon me because of my tendency to do work in portrait mode. Thankfully, LauncherPro allows for this.

Note that the more active widgets (auto update) the user uses on the home screens, the slower the UI performance will be. However, based on my usage, I found that the 512MB RAM is well worth its size; I rarely felt that the screen was lagging because of the many applications that are open and the widgets that are actively updating itself.

6. Inputs – Virtual Keyboard, Accelerometer and Touch

Mi7000 DroidPad (1) Mi7000 DroidPad (2)
Click to enlarge.

I have not much problems with the touch sensitivity of the screen (as mentioned in part 1). However, I notice that in some situations, my swipes are not registered at all. Somehow, at times, I notice that some applications cannot seem to register my swipes and touches. A good example would be in the app drawer (stock version); swiping using my left thumb would result in absolutely smooth scrolling. However, if I were to use my right thumb to do the same gesture or swiping motion, there would be no response from the application. Strange, but these small ‘problems’ appear almost randomly throughout the week.

The accelerometer worked well on games in general. The user is given the option to calibrate the accelerometer whenever the necessity arises. I could easily play the game “Labyrinth” and see how accurate the motions were. However, it is to be noted that the game “Abduction” was problematic to play, as the accelerometer just went haywire.

The virtual keyboard provided as default is the stock Android virtual keyboard. The keys are well spaced on the tablet, but it makes it a bit hard to thumb type, since our fingers will not be able to stretch that far out. Nevertheless, if the tablet is rested on a surface, typing is much faster and more accurate. It is unfortunate that the keyboard does not respond as fast as the iPhone’s; there is a very slight delay and this is more noticeable when the haptic feedback is turned on. I do not think I can type fast using the stock virtual keyboard provided. As an alternative, I used Smart Keyboard Pro (paid version) which is much faster in response, and supports multi-touch points.


The best news concerning apps on the DroidPad is the access to Google’s Marketplace. Depending on the country you are in, you will be able to either access only free apps (this limitation applies for places like Malaysia) or both free and paid apps (only selected countries). In this section, I will just give an overview of the type of performance experienced in using various types of applications on the DroidPad.

1. E-reader

Mi7000 DroidPad (3)

The DroidPad comes with the popular Android e-book reader Aldiko installed in the system. Aldiko is the best reader that allows for offline reading, unlike other reader apps like Kindle. What makes Aldiko popular stems from its intuitive graphical user interface and ease of transitioning between pages. When the pages are rendered on the DroidPad’s 7″ screen, I have to admit that the words are so easy to read. There is no more need to squint or to move the device closer to us like other smaller devices. The 7″ inch display allows for more words to be fitted into a single page. Though the resolution for such a device might be low, yet I did not find myself struggling to focus on the text. This is definitely one of the plus points of having a device with ample screen size. Just like LauncherPro, the user is able to customise the way they read using Aldiko, till they have satisfied their own requirement.

2. Video Player

The DroidPad’s player only plays a very limited type of video formats (mp4 being the chief of them). I find the video player to be too simplistic. In order to test the video rendering capabilities of the DroidPad, I installed two video players; Rockplayer and Yxplayer. Both of the players could play a common .avi (dvix, xvid) file smoothly. The file played had a resolution of 624 by 352 pixels. However, the playback was not so smooth when playing a true HD 1080 video. On Yxplayer, the result was choppy at best. I tested MKV files and both players failed to play it adequately.

One of the missed opportunities for this device is to provide adequate coverage on video file formats that it can play. This is more surprising considering that this device has a graphical processing unit. Here’s hoping for a better update for the customers, incorporating these suggestions.

3. Social Networking Apps

There are many in the market for free from which you can choose from. I have to confess that it is quite a joy to see a substantial amount of updates without having to zoom in and to subsequently zoom out from using the device. Sharing news, photos and other media are as provided under Android 2.2. Everything works efficiently (minimal battery usage). There are no real surprises here.

4. Games

Most games played well using the MSM7227 chip. The only thing to be careful is to know the limits of the CPU; cannot play certain emulators that are made for Snapdragon or Cortex chips. Zenonia (something like Legend of Zelda) played on the tablet at full screen. The controls and the performance of the game was really good, without any lag. Besides that, I tested a few emulators on the DroidPad. It seems that all emulators (e.g. Gameboid, Gensoid) can work well with the device, except for the PSX emulation. The screen size really helps to make the game more immersive for the most part.

5. Voice Search

This is a Google app that is integrated in Android 2.2. To enable this search, one needs to only hold onto the “search” button for 1 full second, and the app will start to receive the voice input from the device’s microphone. It works well enough for me; I spoke the words, “Wikipedia” and “Great wall of China”. The results returned was almost instantaneous, clocking in at 1 second. I am really impressed with this.

6. GPS Navigation

Mi7000 DroidPad (10)

The device comes with 2 maps that can utilise the internal GPS; MapKing and Google Maps. The former is included as part of the DroidPad package. Malaysian buyers get to use MapKing products for free using the 1-year subscription that they offered. Somehow MapKing (from what I can see) is not a good GPS application. It is definitely not an attractive package (unlike Garmin). The only other option for me at the moment is to use Google Maps. Unfortunately, Google Maps can only be used with a data connection (either 3G or wifi). I found that the GPS fix was very fast on Google Maps, within a few seconds (with AGPS turned on and while I was in the house and not open air).

7. Music Player

The stock player is the same boring app that has not seen much changes since Android 1.6. There was no problem in detecting my whole library of songs which I transferred via USB from my desktop. I installed Mortplayer (free) from the Market and used the widget to play songs when I am on the go. Surprisingly, the widget requires a few taps before it registers my touch. Once the app starts, it works smoothly with not much delays.

8. CSL Custom Apps

Mi7000 DroidPad (4)You might be wondering what type of customization CSL made for the devices. There are a few that is quite obvious from the apps drawer; Blueberry Messenger, Blueberry Store, CSL Azan Alarm (for muslims) and CSL Fun Club. All these apps surprisingly (except 1)  are web-based; the icons only bringing up a shortcut to the respective website. The Blueberry Messenger is their attempt to have an IM (Instant Messaging) app that encompass as many social sites as possible. Blueberry Store is their web-based online store, while the CSL Fun Club is just a sort of gateway for people to explore their offerings given to potential customers. The only useful application that I could observe was CSL Azan Alarm… basically it is an alarm clock to remind the user of their obligations for worship. I found that the work done on these apps were minimal and therefore quite deplorable.


Mi7000 DroidPad (5)Multitasking works with these apps. I am able to switch on the music player while surfing and reading an e-book from Aldiko. Again, this is the benefit of having ample RAM size, which I am glad this device have in spades! There is no need for the application to reload all the data all over again when you are switching between applications. I tried to test the limit of its multitasking by using several memory intensive applications and switching between them to see whether they needed to be reloaded (a sign of insufficient memory). I opened Engadget’s app, Astro file manager, Aldiko, CadreBible, Market, Music, Browser (to a specific website that is graphically intensive), Angry Bird Lite (the game) and Mortplayer. It is surprising, but I actually had NO problems switching from one to the other. They were all still working without reloading the contents. I am thoroughly impressed because this is one of the aspects that are important in daily usage; worrying over memory management (I had a G1/HTC Dream and it was always a horror to switch applications).

Battery Life

According to the specifications, the DroidPad houses a 3,240mAh Li-Pol battery. I have done some test on this and have found some approximation of how long the battery can last. For simple usage, some surfing, checking of mails, typing, music and reading, you can easily squeeze nearly a day’s life from it. For heavy usage, where the above are done more frequently, then you can squeeze probably 7 hours.

The playing of media files will drain the battery faster than surfing does. To test how durable is a single charge (from the wall charger and not from desktop) I performed the following things: I played a 20 minute divx clip for 7 times while at the same time playing music from Mortplayer (continuously) and also switching on the display to the brightest setting and watch the battery drain away. The test started at 10am and when the device powered down by itself, it was at 3.30pm. Based on my simple test, the device lasted for 5.5 hours of heavy media usage!

Take note: charging the battery takes time, even when it is done from the wall charger. It takes approximately 3 hours plus.

Flash Implementation

Unfortunately, for Adobe Flash 10.1 to run, the minimum requirement is for an Arm7 chipset, which the DroidPad does not have (it has only an Arm11 chip). Well, do not worry much, since the iPad also does not have this and people are well content with it. For small Flash usage, there are always alternatives that can be used on the DroidPad. A good substitute for websurfing Flash enabled sites is by using Dolphin HD browser. It is quite fast and shows off some Flash contents (I have not use it extensively). This is a limitation that is not due to the software, but rather the hardware of the device.


To round up this side concerning the software performance of the DroidPad, I would like to say that there are some other concerns that I would like to put forth. The main one being, there are a lot of ways that the DroidPad can be made more useful and attractive, and all these involves having more developers to thinker on the software itself. I can only imagine getting Cyanogenmod 6 working on this device, thereby solving any buggy code or inefficient coding. Many of the problems detected in this review can be solved. Unfortunately, in order to do that, we need to get ‘root access’ on the device. Something that is for now elusive.

I cannot even seem to get ADB (Android Debug Bridge) to work with the device! I found that even the “terminal emulator” that is ‘installed’ on the device cannot be accessed by users. I have to install Android Command Shell app to use command line actions. It makes me wonder whether the DroidPad and CSL is open to the developers community? For certainly, they can gain so much more when the developers are collaborating to extend the lifespan of this device.

From my initial discussions with them over the matter of open development, they have shown some interest in pursuing this, especially in line with the massive third-party independent developers for the first batch of Android phones. We can only hope that CSL will show their support for such endeavour instead of just seeing this as a product.

The last part of this review will cover the final parts of the DroidPad: Camera, Phone Functionality and Other Uses.

[Again, many thanks to Er Lern out in Malaysia for sending us this review of the CSL Mi700 tablet before posting it on his own blog.  Er will be bringing part 3 of the review soon. Make sure you follow Er on Twitter – Chippy]

Carrypad Facebook Page is Live

There are people that visit the site directly, there are people that discover us through search and there are people that keep tabs on us through RSS, Email and Twitter. It seems silly to leave the 5 gazillion Facebook users out in the cold so if your go-to site for a personalised feed is Facebook, you can now add us in and keep track of the latest consumer tablet, pad, MID and superphone news there.

facebookpgClick to go to the Carrypad Facebook Page. Don’t forget to ‘Like’ us!

All news items will flow through and we’ll also make sure to announce extra events and link in relevant content from our sister and partner sites, UMPCPortal and MeetMobility. We’ve enabled the ‘Discussions’ feature so if you have ideas and thoughts about the site, please don’t hesitate to raise the point.

Why There Isn’t an iPad Alternative

smartdevices Continued from Twitter for  @alsutton @beantin @mkearley2008 and others that were maybe a little surprised at my tweet this morning…

“My current stance on iPad alternatives – There are none. inch

I couldn’t answer the twitter responses in 140 chars so here’s a more detailed, and I hope, understandable explanation.

Consumer Internet device success continues to hinge on applications. It’s the reason that AppUp exists, that Nokia will invest 10m into developer incentives in the US, why Samsung is throwing money to Bada developers and why Chrome OS will have a web app store. It brings critical ‘value-add’ to a product for customers, incentivises (is that a word?)developers and provides revenue opportunities for operators. It really is a killer application and only one vendor has got it right in this space so far.

While the hardware and design for most consumer internet devices [as I write, this mostly means tablets] is the same and one could argue that there are, from a visual and usage-case perspective, many choices, only one device has the application ecosystem that gives it the ‘value-add’.’ There isn’t another stack of silicon, hardware, operating system and services that provides this and there won’t be until well into 2011.

Android is a fantastic alternative *opportunity* of course but having done more testing than most on large-format Android devices, (I cast a glance over to the Toshiba AC100) I can see that current applications are still focused on the small screen. There aren’t any compulsive large screen games, video creation, music creation or even productivity apps feeding through that consider the larger form factor, longer battery life and often, more powerful CPU and GPU of a consumer internet device. Why should there be? Android V2.x doesn’t provide the hooks for large-screen app development and Google limits the use of their Market to phones (and large phones.) I also think that AppUp is a good opportunity. There are now 1000 apps in the store that are written with a larger screen and CPU in mind. Most are monetised and there’s potential for much more to happen on MeeGo (not forgetting Ovi) during 2011 but right now, can anyone name me a ‘complete product’, from silicon, through design, operating system and applications ecosystem, that offers the same as the iPad?

We used to jokingly call the iPad a large iPhone but the application store has given it differentiation. In the Android world, that differentiation option hasn’t even been enabled yet. Android tablets with the application store really are large phones and until Android is enhanced and Google widens the doors to the market (and possibly creates a large-format application suite) the solution has a limited future and doesn’t offer an alternative to the iPad.

There’s one other point I want to make. If you’re looking for an alternative to the iPad, there isn’t one. If you’re looking for a different product that looks the same then there are some choices out there. Unfortunately, in this consumer internet device/tablet market, I don’t see many people defining their requirements before choosing a solution. I see the product desire growing through application desire (and style, of course) and not connectors and micro-sd card slots.

That’s just my opinion so feel free to ramble and rant below! We might give vendors something to think about in their next product planning meeting!

Update: I always encourage thought about personal requirements. This ‘chooser’ tool i’m working on (currently in Alpha) shows 4 leading tablet devices and allows you to set your requirements and see a ‘winner’ based on public ratings. It’s not a foolproof way to choose a device but it’s a good way to start thinking about requirements. Ipad, Galaxy Tab, Viewpad 7 and Dell Streak Chooser Tool.

Making a HIT. (Your Checklist for a Quality Handheld Internet Tablet)

This might seem obvious but we think that many of our readers are looking for a similar product –  a consumer handheld internet device, which kinda makes sense because that’s all we cover here at Carrypad!

We wanted to simplify the decision process and short-cut some of the fuss and hype that goes on around the tablet space so we’ve come up with a checklist for you. It’s focused at the consumer tablet but much of this applies to slider and clamshell designs too.

Bookmark this article and when you see a product you like, take a quick look at this list to see if it fits the mould for an enjoyable, usable, flexible, quality handheld internet product.

Read the full story

SmartQ T73G Android Reader with 3G for $280. Test soon.

T7-3 I’m not going to call the SmartDevices SmartQ T7 an Android tablet because I think it comes in just under the bar in terms of being a flexible, fully-specified tablet but despite that, it has some legs.

I missed it in my round-up at UMPCPortal the other day and nearly ignored it again when Eletroworld emailed me about it; I assumed it was the SmartQ R7, the Ubuntu version running on a 600Mhz ARM11 CPU. The only thing that saved it from being just another Chinese tablet was the 3G option. It’s very rare to see that on a tablet and at $280, it’s a rare price too.

Unfortunately the T7 is still only running the Telechips ARM11-based CPU but this one is the 720Mhz version also found on the Smartbook Surfer which should be enough to drive mobile versions of websites. It’s got Android 2.1 and an 800×600 touchscreen with auto rotate. We don’t expect any Google Android apps or Market but with some side-loading of apps (see this article) it should be possible to fit this out with enough software to handle any ebook format. With a 600-wide screen we expect Google Reader (in the browser) and NewsRob to look great too.

On top of the basic Android build it looks like Smartdevices have used some of their video playback skills to enable 1080p and support of a wide range of formats. It’s got the correct Android buttons on the frame and a 17Wh battery in a weight of 430gm, it could make a good value holidaying or e-reading product.

Eletroworld have offered us a loaner and we’re expecting to get this on the operating table, live, as soon as it turns up. Expected around 20th August.

Latest specifications and links for the T7 are in our database. The price for the non-3G version is $230 and also note that the 3G version doesn’t include the BT module found on the base model.

Outlook – Handheld Computing Products August – Sept 2010.

interpad I’ve just posted a two-part article over at UMPCPortal that looks at some recent news, looks forward to some expected products, highlights some events in September and provides a general update of where we are today in the mobile handheld world. Much of it focuses on consumer products that you readers of Carrypad are interested in.

In the article I talk about the Huawei S7, RIMs Blackpad, Samsungs tablet, the Smartbook Surfer, Interpad (new in the database,) Eking, the Huawei E583C hotspot, ICD, Notion Ink and a bunch of devices that are on our ‘watchlist.’ We’re also going to IDF and IFA events in September so you’ll see some information about that too.

Check out Part 1 here.

…and Part 2 here.

Outlook – Handheld Computing Products August – Sept 2010.

interpad I’ve just posted a two-part article over at UMPCPortal that looks at some recent news, looks forward to some expected products, highlights some events in September and provides a general update of where we are today in the mobile handheld world. Much of it focuses on consumer products that you readers of Carrypad are interested in.

In the article I talk about the Huawei S7, RIMs Blackpad, Samsungs tablet, the Smartbook Surfer, Interpad (new in the database,) Eking, the Huawei E583C hotspot, ICD, Notion Ink and a bunch of devices that are on our ‘watchlist.’ We’re also going to IDF and IFA events in September so you’ll see some information about that too.

Check out Part 1 here.

…and Part 2 here.

Summer Breaks, Products Wait. Round-Up and Outlook Q3/Q4 2010. (Pt. 1 of 2)

Don’t panic! As I return from my summer holiday (where I went with my car and returned without it – another story) I feel the need to catch up quickly on what’s really been happening during the second-half of July. Again, don’t panic because if you’re on holiday yourself, it’s a quiet period and the marketing and sales teams won’t ramp-up activities until mid August. After sifting through a ton of iPhone 4 antenna stories (which resulted in some of the most boring podcast segments I have ever listened to in my life!) I’ve managed to pull a few interesting tidbits out for you. Lets go over those stories briefly and then start thinking about Q4 and the events and trade-shows that will lead up to it. This Autumn could be the busiest ever for UMPCPortal and Carrypad.

Overall it seems that everything is on hold right now. On the last MeetMobility podcast we talked about a frozen netbook market as the new dual-core and DDR3 netbook platforms filter in. One wonders whether that really means the end of the basic netbook as cpu-core and graphics specifications turn that simple market into a race for cheap, blinged-up notebooks. The same freeze is in progress with the MID, tablet and ultra mobile PC market too. The Dell Streak is going to look rather out-dated in the next round as dual-core ARM CPUs start to filter-in and if Android 3.0 launches and opens the door to new markets, different form factors and productivity applications we’ll finally see some smart and productive products. In the ultra mobile PC space the Oaktrail and Moorestown platforms have made ‘Menlow’ look rather dated. In the X86 operating system world, Android and MeeGo are still months, if not years from being mature and as we look from every angle; from the netbook market, the ultra mobile PC market, the MID market and tablet market we see the product that scares the living daylights out of every OED, the iPad. The momentum there has been simply stunning and there’s no logical way to analyze it. It’s hype, marketing, magic and fan-base that have punched through any amount of negativity to create something that people simply want. Stunning.

Huawei S7 (3) One of the products that I’m quite interested in is the Huawei S7. It’s a modern and possibly winning take on the 7 inch slate space with battery life, applications, social and fun right at its heart. OK it hasn’t got the super-slick look of the iPad but it’s one of the most complete 7 inch Android tablets i’ve seen so far. How disappointing it was to see the availability date slip right out into September. That’s a big slip and one wonders what Huawei are doing there. Did they give exclusivity to a carrier? Are they re-building the OS (Android 2.2 would be nice) or did they decide to swap out the resistive screen for capacitive? That would make sense. Unfortunately I think it’s none of the above and we’re just seeing the realities of launching a complete device into the market.

A product the might look similar to the S7 but could bring a productivity slant  is the RIM Blackpad. This is RIMs rumored 9.7 inch Blackberry companion tablet. The rumor sources say it will be launched in November but I’d ignore an iPad-like or iPad-killer references. This is likely to build on RIMs core competence of secure delivery of email and messaging and I’d expect to see it with some form of keyboard to tie in with the productivity theme.

The third piece of tablet hardware news I want to mention is something we haven’t really covered much on the sites. It’s Samsungs tablet which now looks like it will be consumer focused, running Android and will be built around a 7 inch screen. Samsung are the source of the news and they’re also talking about Q3, which is now! Samsung have made some great mobile computing products in the past and I highly rate their electronic engineering skills. They have the ability to build around their own ARM-based CPU too so everything is likely to be very efficient and small. Maybe I’ll drop my Huawei order in favor of this one. It will be fun to compare it to their 2006, 7 inch UMPC, the Q1. I’m expecting it to launch at IFA in September in Berlin. I’ll be there!

Android is turning out to be the easy option when it comes to tablet operating systems now. In fact, you could almost call it the de-facto solution for anyone that doesn’t own their own mobile OS. Despite Windows 7 being a superb, stable, feature-rich and productivity-focused OS, it just doesn’t work for the consumer handheld market. The UI is plain boring and I’m sure there are plenty of people like myself that now do as much as they can on their mobile phone to avoid having to go to the desk and wake the Windows beast. Of course, a desktop-style OS is still needed for productivity but there has to be a way to combine the two for a more enjoyable working experience. As a minimum, a user interface tidy-up is badly needed to enable Windows 7 to appeal to a more consumer, social and entertainment focused customer base but unless it’s done properly, it could make things worse. Witness early Windows Mobile overlay software that leaked the original user interface once you’d got past the home screen. The same was true of Origami Experience;  the software that tried to tidy-up Windows XP for tablet users.  I wonder if UI Centric can do any better with their Macallan product? There’s little that can be gleened from the short video and press release they sent out describing a purpose-built tablet UI. The problem is, the look and feel might be nice but if the included applications fall short on capability, you’ll end up starting your favorite applications just as you did before and you’ll have the same old problem of tiny windows control elements and scroll-bar, double-tap and press-and-hold controls. My feeling is that no-one will be able to hide Windows 7 until the apps are re-written. (Which means never!)

In part 2 (available here) I talk about why I can legally call a device a Smartbook product when I live just 20km from the Smartbook HQ that has exclusive rights to the name in Germany, a few Mifi competitors and even more tablets. I’ll also highlight the very exciting month of September. IFA, IDF and other events will prepare us for everything that’s going to happen in Q4.

All the stories highlighted in this article appear in the center column on UMPCPortal and in our weekly update article.

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MeetMobility Podcast will resume in about 2 weeks time when we’re all back from summer vacation. Expect a live round-table event with JKK, Sascha and a few special guests. Stay tuned to @meetmobility on Twitter for latest announcements.

Windows 7 Slate Design – *Must-Read* White Paper

ASUS Eee Pad EP121 12 inch I know there are a lot of designers, manufacturers and resellers that read UMPCPortal so this one is for you. Potential Windows 7 Slate customers should also read this. In fact, as a reviewer, I’m learning from this White Paper too!

Windows 7 Engineering Guidance for Slate PCs.

Windows for Devices have reproduced an extremely useful white paper by Microsoft that gives detailed information about what Windows 7 can bring to slate PCs (note – Microsoft aren’t using the ‘Tablet PC’ term!) and how designers should think about everything from ergonomics and electronics. Windows 7 is one of the only operating systems that provides the Full Internet Experience with a productivity focus and a touch-enabled user interface. It may not be the sexiest but as of today, nothing can touch it for desktop-style productivity.

There are some obvious tips that are useful for designer and buyer…

  • “Provide 2 gigabytes of memory on CPU-constrained and GPU-constrained systems. inch [which applies to Menlow, Pine Trail and Oak Trail designs in my opinion – Chippy]
  • “Slate PCs should use solid-state drives (SSDs) to enable lower power consumption and high reliability in a mobile environment. SSDs also have greater performance than most traditional platter drives. inch
  • Battery life should exceed 4 hours under normal operating conditions.

…and some not-so-obvious tips…

  • To get a Windows 7 hardware logo on a device bigger than 10.2 inch you need to support DirectX 10
  • Ensure handgrip regions are designed away from heat dispersion and venting.
  • Biometric logon — Consider including a fingerprint reader for improved ease of access for logon and security scenarios.

The document is rich with advanced tips and inks and is also a recommended read for anyone considering buying a WIndows 7 ‘slate’. Clearly, with Microsoft pushing Windows 7 into this area, with OakTrail offering a super low-power platform and the general slate/pad/tablet wave of interest we’re seeing at the moment, there will be an increased number of offerings in the late 2010 and 2011 timeframe.

Additional information can be found in my article: Things to Consider when Designing or Buying a Tablet-Style Device

Windows for Devices – WIndows 7 Engineering Guidance for Slate PCs

Linpus Lite, MeeGo and Slate Edition (video)


Linpus are working on Linpus Lite Slate Edition and, in-line with Intel Moorestown and Oak Trail-based products, is planned for tablet PC’s of 2011. We took some time to speak to Linpus about Lite and MeeGo too.

Linpus Lite appears on Acer Netbooks and is expected to be the distribution that will appear on Acers’s MeeGo netbooks.

The video was shot just before the Intel keynote in which the MeeGo tablet UI was announced.

ZenPad (aka SMiTS, Evigroup Wallet) gets Video Preview.

We highlighted last week that the EviGroup Wallet [specifications] would be going into production very soon. It seems that SMiTs is also getting ready to put their design through production for Enso as the ZenPad.


In a post at Chinable, they offer up a preview video (note the Google Maps, Google marketplace, Gtalk apps) and some notes that indicate this is an Android 1.5 build. A non-3G version is to be launched first. The price of the ZenPad is $155 (120 Euro) so perhaps, just perhaps, the 199 Euro EviGroup Wallet really does include 3G although it’s more likely that taxes and GPS make up the difference. The comments on the post indicate that the ZenPad is heading to production.

So many questions remain open about this device that it’s hard to even try to place it. IF it gets the Android market and runs well in 256MB RAM, it could make an interesting alternative to the Archos 5 which doesn’t have the physical buttons (it uses screen space for virtual buttons) and doesn’t run the Google apps well due to limited memory after hacking. Without a capacitive screen or a high-end CPU, this will never be in the same league as something like the Dell Mini 5 but if if does appear, either in ZenPad or Wallet branding with 3G for 199-Euro, it becomes an interesting low-cost mobility option.

Thanks Mike Cane

Enso website.

Archos 7 Home Tablet. First Reviews

archos7 My apologies to anyone who got excited when we posted our last article about Archos 7 Home Tablet availability. It turned out to be, as we suspected, a trick by an online retailer. (Mental note: Never link to these chancers again!)

In a U.S. press release last week (PDF), Archos announced that the Tablet will be available mid-May.

The ARCHOS 7 home tablet will be available in June at $199.99 SRP through selected
retailers. Exclusive pre-orders are available at Amazon.com, with product shipping mid May.

Review devices have obviously gone out. Engadget have one for testing and UK newspaper The Independent has its mini review up already.

I’m getting the impression that the Archos 7 Home Tablet is going to be a bubble-wrapped tablet hanging on hooks at point of sale. Android 1.5 (really?) is on board and apparently there’s no plan to upgrade the OS. Built-in USB 2.0 helps for attaching accessories and apparently the stereo speakers are good enough for in-crowd use. Touchscreen quality sounds just like the Archos 5 – resistive.

When it comes to the touch screen browsing don’t expect an iPad-like experience. There is no multi-touch support and the onscreen input often felt slow and unresponsive. There is also no support for Flash.

At 149 Euro for the 2GB model, if it provides a acceptable HQ video experience along with ereading, basic web browsing and audio, it’s good value and could make the perfect online Google Reader device but please don’t expect a swift web experience, rich video experience and anything like an iPad UI experience.

Via Ndevil , TouchMeMobile and Slashgear.

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