2012 is here, nearly February actually, yet I haven’t posted anything (useful) from December yet.
I best rectify that with a post eh?
Ok here goes:
So in the first week of work after Christmas, an immediate need arose for a tablet PC, or to be more specific the criteria were that it had a) Windows 7 b) Core i5 or higher c) It has a physical keyboard that doesn’t require the use of a dock (so you can carry it around and still type).
Apparently Fujitsu make a decent one they had used before, and it had a very neat feature where you could slide a keyboard out when you need it and then back again if you just need a touch screen.
Anyway that particular model appears to either be rare or not in production anymore. So after some digging across a few computer stores (their websites), I found Scorpion Technology to stock Fujitsu stuff, though they only seemed to have straight out tablets, which are nice, but not what we’re after.
They did however have some interesting, a Gigabyte err.. well, Tablet PC. But its not a tablet…It’s hard to explain so; here..
Its called the Gigabyte T1125P-PRO
Without further adieu here’s the specs:
- Microsoft Windows 7 Professional
- 11.6″ Capacitive Touchscreen
- Intel Core i5-470UM
- 8GB DDR3 RAM
- 500GB HDD
- GT410M 1GB
- 802.11N WLAN
- USB 3.0
- Vertical Docking Bay
So it’s a tablet, but also a laptop. Personally I see it as a laptop with a touch screen, I mean, its running Windows.
My first thought as I unboxed it is: Cool!
Maybe I just like new stuff but this is especially cool considering it’s my first experience with a touchscreen with Windows.
Unfortunately Windows 7 has terrible touch support. Period.
Gigabyte has clearly noticed Windows’ deficiency and has developed software to avoid too many problems, but in my opinion its just not nice to use, and I don’t think it will work until they move to the Metro interface (which I quite liked on Windows Phone 7), most likely in Windows 8.
Touchscreen problems aside, it is a remarkable little machine.
You can use it in a few ways:
First (in the first picture), you can use it as a regular laptop, but with a twist. Literally, a twist; the monitor can twist around from the central pivot (though not disconnect).
You can use it in what I call “Tablet” mode; You can swing the screen around on top of the keyboard and carry it around like that. So you loose the keyboard and touchpad, but you now have a full tablet.
Finally, you can dock it. Yep that’s right, this baby comes with the coolest dock I’ve ever seen. ITS VERTICAL!
You close it up, chuck it in the dock and from there you can plug it into a keyboard, mouse, projector, LAN, audio etc etc, and it even comes with a DVD drive that also slots directly into the dock (and also has USB connection).
Overall, this is a really versatile machine, though I wish it had some sort of locking places for the screen so you can use it with the keyboard and screen on the same plane (it is possible, but not easy to use).
I’m actually thinking this would be a nice machine for Android, when x86 is supported that is (apparently it is actually possible (see this project). Just a thought 😀
Oh yeh, another cool feature of note: It comes preinstalled with both x86 Windows 7 and x64. But how does it work? Well what they’ve done is put 3 partitions: x64, x86, DATA. So to switch you just need to use their tool in Windows (it even comes in the form of a sidebar gadget) and it will change the boot order and reboot. Otherwise, you can also boot into their recovery mode (from the BIOS) and select the one you want, though doing it this way will take you back to the original windows installation I believe.
At any rate, is was extremely useful for my circumstance because I needed 32bit to use a projector driver (an older Toshiba that seems not to be updated too often).
UPDATE: Apparently there’s a pretty major problem with the touch screen; when you stop using the screen for 5 seconds it takes another few seconds for the screen to start responding again. I’m gonna see if there’s a driver that can fix this
A Few Weeks Later:
As we have now had it for a few weeks, we have come across a couple of issues:
1) The screen, when in what I’ve dubbed ‘tablet mode’, is upside down, or rather, it is raised on the wrong side. And it does not come with a G-sensor to automatically rotate the screen. Now of course we can just use the rotate function of Windows, but unfortunately if its hooked up to a projector, which ours is frequently, the output will also be flipped upside down.
I’m guessing there’s an app out there to solve this one, so once things calm down at work ill check it out.
2) The other problem we’ve been having is the touch screen decides to go to go to sleep after a few seconds. Fortunately, this was easily remedied by going to the touch screen’s driver and disabling “Allow Windows to turn off this device to save power”. Still, not something I thought of initially considering I’m used to devices with native touch support (i.e. Android and iOS). Microsoft just don’t think about things like that.
That’s about it for the moment, hopefully its the last problem we have, because I really love this machine.
A Year Later…
Now that we’ve had a proper look at this machine, we’ve all but determined it to be unsuitable for the intended use. We’ve done much with it, fixed a few issues, tried a few workarounds but ultimately it’s downfall is the screen’s size.
We wanted to be able to use it in a classroom environment where it would be used as a presentation device, so an instructor could underline/circle/draw on PowerPoint presentations, Word documents etc. Unfortunately MS Office 2010 offers far too little in the way of touch support for that to be possible on an 11.6″ Screen. Even with a capacitive stylus, there simply isn’t enough room to do anything.
The final chance we gave this little machine is with Windows 8.
Yet again, we were straight away confronted with touch issues, causing so much frustration that we almost gave up on the first try! It seems that the main problem lies with the touch screen recognition zones. Most of the Windows 8 ‘hot-zones’ are in the corner or edges of the screens, however the T1125 appears not to have much edge/corner recognition making it really difficult to bring up the charms bar or the recently used bar on the left. Especially annoying was the only way of closing an app on Windows 8, dragging from the top down to the bottom. It simply does not work on this machine.
It appears we will soon be investing in a new All-in-One machine with touch capability, this was a good (if not expensive) experiment that just didn’t pan out
So whenever I get a new phone, it seems the first thing to annoy me is that I need to plug it in to transfer files.
Generally, it’s not too difficult, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to access the phone’s SD card whenever I need to dump something on it.
I think the first time I came across the idea of using SAMBA on a phone was back with my Nokia N80i. Measly and slow as the phone was, it did however have great ability where it lacked in speed. To be honest I have no idea what it was called, but it was there, and was quite useful – when the phone’s WiFi worked that is.
Next I went to the iPhone 3G 16GB which was predictably ‘Apple’, and therefore did not possess any way whatsoever to transfer files other that those supported by iTunes. Once I was jailbroken, I searched and found another version of SAMBA for IOS – which worked great.
Finally, I got my Google Nexus One last year, and low and behold I found the cable to transfer were easily bumped and broken, causing transfer problems. So again, SAMBA to the rescue! It took a fair while to track this one down due to Android being in it’s infancy, but one morning one of my mates noticed it and it nabbed it!
Initially I had to stick with the beta edition which was admittedly buggy and underfeatured, though over time it has become very stable and it does pretty much everything I expected and more. Cheers to JimmyChingala on xda-dev for porting it to Android!
Here’s the link for SAMBA for Android on xda-developers. You can get the latest and greatest developer builds there, or if you just wanted the normal version, search for ‘SAMBA’ in the Android Market or use this link to the market website.
I should note also that it requires a rooted device; if you don’t know what that is, then you probably won’t understand SAMBA anyway.
That’s it for now until I get around to making up another topic of discussion.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll get around to syncing my Media drives automatically and i’ll report back (no promises :D)
Mozilla Firefox Android0
It’s been a long time coming, and I have followed it since the beta (codenamed ‘Fennec’). Firefox 4 for Android came out a few months ago, but I’ve only now bothered to try it out properly and see if it could be a replacement for the almighty Dolphin Browser HD; It isn’t.
I know Firefox as the most stable, the most functional, and quite simply, the best browser in the world made by the worlds best minds in collaboration. Yet I’m not convinced that the same team made the Android version.
First, there’s the startup time. It takes at least 10-15 seconds to be able to browse, and I know it doesn’t sound like much, but Dolphin Browser HD only takes literally 2-5 seconds. As a primary browser, its unacceptable.
Next up is the lag. Damn does it lag! It clearly doesn’t use any sort of hardware acceleration and/or is terribly unoptimised. When you scroll, it lags. When you zoom, it lags. When you open a link, it lags. Not to mention the random crashes. And believe it or not, it was worse in the beta.
Worst of all, it has no plugin support. Many people buy Android phones for the Flash support. This is just unacceptable.
My grumbles aside, it does have a few redeeming and cool features.
For one, it includes Firefox Sync, which is a new feature they included on the desktop version. Basically it does what you think it does; it syncs all the important Firefox user data: Bookmarks, Passwords, History, Tabs, and I think, preferences, which would come in very handy for people who use Firefox on multiple machines.
There’s also add-on support, which means you could potentially have all of your favourite desktop add-ons on your phone. Imagine the possibilities!
Overall, however, I’m very disappointed. It has such potential, yet its let down by pathetic performance and in some cases, poor design.
For now, I will reserve hope that it will rise above from its (in my opinion) beta status and become the great browser its older brother is. *uninstalls*