Sometimes an excellent operating system can be made even better
Handii Go10 tablet PC
Handii's Go10 is a notebook equipped with a touchscreen and deprived of a keyboard
- 3G connectivity, fast Wi-Fi, offers much more freedom than an iPad
- Design needs work, a price cut wouldn't go astray, no multitouch
We commend Handii for producing the Go10 tablet, but at this price we don't think we'll rush out and buy one. Part of this can blamed on Windows 7: we just don't think its interface is appropriate for a device that only has touch input and a screen this size. At the end of the day the G10 it is what it is: a Windows 7, touchscreen-equipped netbook without a keyboard -- if that floats your boat then you might want to check it out.
Price$ 895.00 (AUD)
The hype surrounding Steve Jobs' 'magical' iPad has led to a flurry of competing products. Some, like HP's webOS tablet and Dell's Streak, are yet to be released, while others, like Handii's Go10 tablet PC, are available now. The Handii Go10 tablet is essentially a netbook that eschews a keyboard in favour of a 10.2in resistive touchscreen.
The Handii Go10 is equipped with a 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270 CPU, 802.11n wireless networking, Bluetooth and a 3G module for mobile broadband (this is an extra that costs $99.95). It also offers a 160GB hard drive, 1GB of RAM (2GB is optional) and a webcam.
Unlike the iPad, the Handii is a fully fledged computer that runs Windows 7. This means that you can install any Windows 7–compatiable program you want, as long as the limited power of the tablet can handle it.
We were able to navigate multiple Web browser windows while playing a high-definition movie file in the background, but it wasn't always a pleasant experience (the video was displayed jerkily, for example). However, the tablet hasn't been designed for true multitasking: chances are you won't want to do more than browse the Web while listening to a few MP3 files, or just watch a movie.
Because the touchscreen is resistive, it's not especially easy to navigate using your fingers. Many recent smartphones, like the iPhone 3GS and HTC Desire, as well as the iPad, use 'capacitive' screens, which don't rely on pressure. A resistive screen is not a bad thing per se: it means that you can use the included stylus, which can be slotted away neatly inside the Handii tablet. We're not fans of trying to navigate Windows 7 on a small screen using our fingers. Most of the time we just used the stylus, although this can also be frustrating thanks to the Windows 7 interface. The stylus will work with Windows 7's integrated handwriting recognition, so it can be used for writing notes. Handwriting recognition is not super-fast, but it will be okay for writing a quick reminder to pick up cat food, for example.
The other text input method on offer is Windows 7's on-screen keyboard. Its keys are big enough to use your hands instead of the stylus, but entering anything longer than a URL can be frustrating (a 30-word Wi-Fi password, for example. Thanks PC World IT guy.) We didn't notice any insensitive spots on the touchscreen during our tests.
Our biggest issue with the Handii is the design: at 1kg it's quite hefty, and it's also not as slim and sleek as the iPad (it's about 2cm thick). The screen is inset into the body several millimetres, which can hinder navigation a little. We still wouldn't mind watching a video on it during our morning commute, although the display is not particularly vibrant and reflections can be problematic. On the other hand, we wouldn't mind using a standard netbook like the Toshiba NB300, either. Unlike a well-balanced netbook (so not one of MSI's Wind netbooks!), you can't just sit it on you lap and angle the screen back. You need to keep a hold on the sides of the screen, although you can always rest the base of the tablet on your knees.
The Handii Go10 is sturdily built, and it feels tougher than the iPad. The chassis does heat up quite quickly, however, and it might be uncomfortably warm if you do decide to rest it flat on your lap. You will also get a warm hand if you are a sinister, left-handed journalist. (The noise of the extraction fan on the right of the tablet can also get a little irritating.)
The integrated 3G module (which is an optional extra) is a great feature; we really love portable devices that include mobile broadband. With mobile broadband getting more affordable, we really hope more vendors include this. Unfortunately the design of the SIM slot for the 3G module is one of the worst we have ever seen; we were too scared to insert one of our test SIMs because it looked like it would be almost impossible to remove it. The bottom of the battery compartment, where the SIM slot is located, felt worryingly loose.
There are features of the Handii Go10 that reminded us of just how ridiculous some of the iPad's limitations are. For example, it has three USB ports and an SD card slot — ports we would like to see on any tablet device. The webcam is a big plus too; there is an integrated microphone just next to it at the top of the tablet. (We should add: we had a few unfortunate up-nostril shots when testing the webcam. Buyer beware.) It also has Ethernet, VGA for connection to an external monitor or projector, and microphone and headphone jacks.
The battery life didn't thrill us: we enabled Wi-Fi, disabled power saving, cranked the screen brightness up, then looped a video file and the tablet only lasted for one and a quarter hours before giving up the ghost. However, when you employ a conservative power management scheme you will be able to get a longer battery life.
All in all, we think the Handii Go10 tablet is an interesting device. We love the fact that it offers more freedom than the iPad (it can display Flash, for example). But as a content consumption device the iPad trumps it. A slimmer, lighter design and a more vibrant screen would go a long way to improving the Handii tablet PC. At the same time, if you are interested in what it has to offer — a very portable form factor, a touchscreen interface and mobile broadband — then it may well suit you. One of our main problems is probably that we just aren't sold on the tablet form factor yet: for most tasks, a keyboard would make using the Handii Go10 easier and not much less portable.
Finally, we really aren't convinced about the price: $895 for the base model is a little pricey. This is more expensive than the base model iPad Wi-Fi + 3G. The comparison is perhaps a little unfair — the Handii is a fully fledged netbook (albeit sans a keyboard) and has 10 times more storage — but it's one many people will end up making anyway. However, if Handii can refine the design, drop the price and perhaps offer an operating system like Google's Android, then we think the company could produce a very interesting device indeed — so watch this space.
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