• RM Slate 100 - Initial Review

    It arrived this morning in a very large looking box. Within which was another, much smaller box, within which was the tablet PC I’ve been waiting for since its announcement just over a month ago. To be honest, that was almost all that was in the box, apart from a mains lead and recovery DVD. Now over the past few months I’ve been playing with a lot of Android based tablets and iPads, almost all of which have impressed me greatly (apart from a few cheap Android tablets). Now it is the turn of one of the first ‘full fat’ Windows 7 based tablets to be given a full going over.
    Previously and Windows 7 based tablets have been lacking in both power, memory and storage with low end VIA processors coupled with a measly 1GB RAM and a distinct lack of any significant storage and screen space.

    RM Slate 100 Spec:
    • Intel Atom 1.6 GHz (Pineview-M N450)
    • 2GB DDR2 800Hz Ram
    • 32GB SSD
    • Windows 7 Home Premium Edition
    • 11.6" 1366x768 Display
    • Capactive Multi-Touch Display
    • Bluetooth
    • 802.11 b\g\n Wireless
    • mini HDMI
    • 2 USB Ports
    • SD Card Slot
    • Sim Slot
    • Weight 995 Grams

    Until now that is, with the RM Slate 100 we finally have a tablet that is on par with the capabilities of any modern netbook and low end laptops. With a weight of only 995 grams and a price of only £399 (ex VAT) it oozes value with great build quality and a rubberised coating on the back giving the well balanced chassis a great feel in your hands.

    The only think overlooked (or more likely removed to save costs) is the SIM card slot is not connected to a 3G modem. If it is it isn’t showing in Device Manager or in the BIOS but that may just be a bug etc and sadly RM's site is lacking much documentation yet.

    After a couple of hour’s initial charge and a short Windows 7 setup routine I was ready to roll. Sort of. It did take a little tweaking to increase the default icon and text size as my sausage fingers (think jumbo sausage. In batter) found it awkward to accurately press on icons and menu options. This wasn’t due to a lack of accuracy on the screens part but rather the small contact area that the screen presents by default. I suspect that small children won’t experience these problems, however I feel staff should possibly be issued with a stylus to assist in operation of the device.
    The device also is fitted with an accelerometer to assist in screen orientation, but I have found this a little ‘laggy’ with the screen blanking for a second before being redrawn at the correct orientation. And when you start to push it a bit you can hear the fan kicking in. It's not loud, but it is noticable. I also began to notice the gaps in Windows 7 tablet capabilities about this point. Windows 7 was designed with tablet functionality in mind from the off, however the actual ergonomics and methods of operation are far removed from what we see from Apple and Android offerings, and once you start to use W7 on a tablet these become more apparent. For instance the on-screen keyboard is small and not very intuitive, especially when typing in passwords and hidden fields. Where, for example, the iPad\iPhone keyboard will highlight the latter pressed, there is no such indication with the W7 on-screen keyboard. It can however handily be resized and swiped out of the way when not required.
    If Microsoft want to seriously offer Windows as a viable slate\tablet OS than they really need to polish it up a bit, as compared to their rivals it looks positively clunky. That is not to say it is unusable. Far from it, it just lacks the thought others have put in as to how we user touch devices differently to traditional keyboard and mouse inputs, and considering just how many users experience of touch screen devices differs from how they have to interact with Windows 7, hunt-and-peck will have to be replaced with hunt-and-prod-and-prod-and-prod.

    Note: These pictures are pretty bad and do not reflect the display quality which is very good.

    I recall several years back that when we were kindly presented by RM at our second annual conf the UK’s first EeePC I said that in this product RM had something rather special. I think RM have done it again, and at a price that is more than reasonable for the level of hardware offered, and from this I can almost guarantee that you will see some of these in your schools soon.
    Now, I wonder if it runs Ubuntu Netbook Edition?

    RM Slate 100: Avalible from RM Direct at http://www.rm.com/shops/rmshop/Produ...f-b99c3111a591

    Edited to add: It's been 2 days since I have started to play with this slate and I have to say I'm struggling to find many faults with it. The display impresses me more and more each day. It's very bright clear and vibrant, however you will find yourself digging into the advance power settings to get the brightness correct as you will be using this on batteries a lot more than plugged in, and the capacitive ability is very resposive without being overly so. What you must watch out for however is fingers accidentally contacting the edge of the screen when holding the tablet and inputting at the same time as random things happen!!. Battery life seems OK (I've not had time to run full stopwatch tests under load conditions yet) and I've been using it for regular internet browsing and running office 2010, and have always got over 3 hours from it, without completely running the battery down. As for faults I find it can get a little bogged down and 'pause' for about 10 seconds. I've noticed this when browsing with both IE and Firefox, but stangely not when using other applications.
    Also using the Windows interface with just fingers is becoming more and more normal and I can now pretty much hit each icon and toolbar first time every time. I still think the interface needs a rework for slate devices though. I would also recommend you download the Microsoft Touch pack (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/e...displaylang=en) to let you demonstate multi-touch and other aspects of the touch interface to potential users.
    Comments 33 Comments
    1. Dos_Box's Avatar
      Dos_Box -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alis_Klar View Post
      are these jpeg's corrupted? I can see the top few rows but the rest display partially as grey pixels, like the jpeg has been corrupted?!? Tried CTRL+F5 and different browser
      The pictures are fine. Try clearing your temporary internet files.
    1. john's Avatar
      john -
      Quote Originally Posted by simpsonj View Post
      I'll see if I can find you at BETT to have a proper look
      Were on stand G89 every day so do come and visit us
    1. simpsonj's Avatar
      simpsonj -
      @matt40k I'm not sure I would like to manage 125 slates. Just building them seems a complete pain without an ethernet connection, unless you can build an image using WDS and wireless? Otherwise building them one by one with a DVD would not be a fun task, not that the iPad would be a picnic either! Perhaps RM would be prepared to do the donkey work if you provided them with an image? Or at the very least, be made CC4 ready?

      Just checking my maths though £399 + VAT (£468.83) + £30 for licences = £498, albeit with Office, so you'd need to add an extra £30 to the iPad (at least). I guess my point is that I don't think this slate is a much cheaper option, only an alternative. If I were to be pendantic, I would point out that you're likely to lose out on around 7-10gig of disk space on the slate just because of the Windows 7 footprint.However, I strongly suspect that students wouldn't use up much disk space, as files would be stored on a cloud, so the size of the hard drive becomes largely irrelevant.

      Still, any Android tablets we can compare this to?
    1. Squiffy101's Avatar
      Squiffy101 -
      I have to say that I can't agree with the review above. I had one on trial in January for an agreed month. I sent it back after 4 days. It's completely under powered being an Atom and all and constantly froze for upto 30 seconds every couple of minutes. Intially I thought that here was something cost affective in the classroom but at least with an iPad, it works out of the box. In fact we have an iPad2 arriving shortly from Western Digital which will be really interesting considering the app that's being produced by Capita.

      What I'd really like to see is one of the new Android tablets. Cost and ability in one!
    1. elemanager's Avatar
      elemanager -
      hi I have just got one of these slates and there are a couple of things I'm struggling with. How do you get the camera to work? Do I need to download some software? Also I want to activate the SIM card slot with a mobile Sim card but it doesn't recognise it? Is this possible? Many thanks.
    1. Dos_Box's Avatar
      Dos_Box -
      The sim card slot is not actually connected to anything as there is no 3G Modem fitted I'm afraid. As for the camera, you can use Messenger and Skype, but if you want to just use it to capture a picture then there is nothing inbuilt that can currently do this and you'd have to download the software yourself.
    1. elemanager's Avatar
      elemanager -
      Thanks for the info. I do find it slightly annoying that they have put in a SIM card slot that is basically redundant. Skype works great by the way. Do you know any camera software that can be downloaded though? I have looked and the choice is confusing to say the least!
    1. JulesG's Avatar
      JulesG -
      Hi did you get any help with what software to install on the RM Slate for the Webcam, we have acquired some and wish to use for photos for the pupils?
    1. JulesG's Avatar
      JulesG -
      Did you get any feed back on the Web Cam software?
    1. Dos_Box's Avatar
      Dos_Box -
      There is no webcam software pre-installed. It is mainly designed to work with IM clients I suspect.
      It does run W8 rather nicely though (given it's low spec), and I would highly suggest you try running that on there instead of W7. Don't expect miracles on graphically intensive apps.
    1. elemanager's Avatar
      elemanager -
      I updated the Slate to Windows 8 and found that it has worked much better including the camera. You need to download the drivers from the RM website after the upgrade, but I much prefer it to Windows 7 on the Slate any day. The touch screen is still not that good though.
    1. Arthur's Avatar
      Arthur -
      Quote Originally Posted by elemanager View Post
      The touch screen is still not that good though.
      This may help...

    1. elemanager's Avatar
      elemanager -
      Thanks, I'll give it a go.