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
- 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.