For those that haven't noticed, the price of Windows-based tablets have plummeted over the last eight months or so. One of the main reasons for this is that Microsoft has made the Windows operating system free to manufacturers of 8" and smaller computers. A secondary contributing reason is the increased competition in the tablet or slate computing market as it starts to saturate—across the US, UK, and Europe anyway. Not so much in India and Africa.
That is my next point. Microsoft, as much as any of the tablet/slate computer manufacturers, plans to get a slice of the coming action in India and Africa, and possibly China. These are huge markets and the customers in these markets are not going to be paying US$500 for their devices. But US$100 ... now that's a different story.
So with all these new cheaper tablets/slates becoming available, over the last few days I have been searching around the Web looking for a Windows-based 7" or 8" tablet that I like the look of. I have spent hours looking at specifications and (sometimes terrible) YouTube reviews of various sub-$200 Windows-based tablets such as: the Dell Venue 8"; the Toshiba Encore and Encore 2; Lenovo's offerings; the HP Stream 7"; and a number of others.
In the end I have come up with a surprising winner. This is a brand of tablet I had only sort of heard of. At least I think I have seen this brand before somewhere; but I am not sure—it's hard to remember. The brand is WinBook.
WinBook make a couple of 8" Windows tablets and a 7" 'slate'—they also make a 10" unit but this post is not concerned about that.
I am not too sure when a tablet becomes a slate, or vice versa, but I think that tablets of 8" or larger are called tablets and those 7" or smaller that don't have 3G/4G available are called slates—but I could be completely wrong. Maybe they are all just tablets, or slates, I dunno.
The WinBook I am most interested in is the TW801. The TW801 has 2GB of system memory and 32GB of 'disk'. There is also T800 but is only has 1GB of system memory and 16GB of 'disk'.
Both run Windows 8.1 and both will run Windows 10 when it is released later in the year.
The WinBook TW801 Windows 8.1 tablet is less than US$200, in fact at the time I was crafting up this post it was on Amazon for US$150. For this you get:
- An 8" IPS LED touchscreen screen at 1280 x 800.
- Intels low-power drain BayTrail quad core Atom CPU.
- HDMI out (via a mini-HDMI slot).
- Bluetooth 4.
- Wireless b/g/n.
- 1 x USB 3 port, full size.
- 1 x USB 2 port, mini (also used for charging).
- Full Windows 8.1 (yep, you could run PhotoShop, Corel Draw, or AutoCAD on this if you were brave).
- Stereo speakers (okay, they are both on the same side of the unit so you won't experience much stereo separation).
- 2GB of system memory (the TW800 has 1GB).
- 32GB of storage (the TW800 has 16GB).
- SD-Card support for up to 128GB.
Plus all the normal standard stuff—headphone jack, cameras, etc.
The HDMI out port means you could connect a 'proper' computer screen or your TV; after you purchase a mini-HDMI to HDMI cable.
The full sized USB 3 port means a few things, like:
- You could connect a USB 3 dock block* which would then allow you to automagically (sic) connect a keyboard, mouse, and screen all with the one port.
- You can transfer files really fast (assuming you have a USB 3 portable hard disk or thumb drive)—such a getting photos from a camera (that also supports USB 3).
- You can easily connect a USB printer to print stuff when visiting other people's houses or businesses.
What makes the WinBook 7" and 8" offerings a bit different to the 'rest' of the same size Windows-based tablets is that they don't provide all this for the price. To get HDMI and two USB slots you need to make the jump over the US$300 mark.
I am teetering on the brink of ordering one of these units. If I could have found someone in Perth who sells them I would probably have gone and got one by now. I even checked the Kogan site, feeling relatively sure I would find Winbooks there (generally that crew at Kogan are onto stuff like this), but even Kogan didn't have one to sell me.
I may have to go the Amazon route and pay the bit extra in post.
If I do get one I will be sure to let you know if it works out in reality as good as it looks in theory.
I forgot to mention that you also get a one year free subscription to Office 365 Personal. This is Microsoft's full and complete Office suite: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, etc. This alone would cost you AU$90 to buy from the Microsoft site.
* USB docking stations only work with a USB 3 connection.