Well, this is kind of sad… as I just mentioned, my CTL 2goPad review will be coming any day now, but while it’s definitely a better Windows tablet than some I’ve tried, it’s still just not that much fun to use. Now it looks like another Windows slate is getting similar reviews. GottaBeMobile’s Warner Crocker has posted a detailed look at the new Tega v2 slate PC, and as hard as he tried to like it, it looks like the little guy fell short.
That’s saying something, because the build quality is reportedly quite good, and the Tega v2 was developed by Hugo Ortega, who is kind of a legend in the tablet PC enthusiast community. But the fact is that the Netbook Navigator Nav9 slate, the CTL 2goPad, and the Tega v2 are all failing to provide a decent user experience.
Now let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean that all Windows 7 slates are going to be awful. But it does add to mounting evidence that throwing Windows 7 on a device that’s basically a glorified netbook might not be good enough. I wasn’t particularly impressed with Eee PC T91 or Gigabyte TouchNote T1028X convertible tablets I reviewed last year either, but both of those models were running Windows XP.
What it is starting to suggest is that Windows 7 is a bit resource heavy for the type of hardware that tends to go into sub-$1000 slate computers. On computers that have accelerometers, it seems to take a very long time to rotate the display. Without an accelerometer it takes even longer because you have to manually enter the computer’s settings to change the screen orientation. Zooming in and out of web pages tends to be a bit jerky, and while scrolling through web sites, images, and other areas can be smooth at times, I’ve also noticed some instances where you swipe your finger across the screen and nothing happens for a while.
Warner had a better expeirence than I did with pinching, scrolling, zooming and other elements, so it’s possible that the Tega v2 may be better than some other slates I’ve tried. He also had a decent experience using a capacitive stylus to ink on the display, but I find the on-screen Windows 7 keyboard rather maddening to use because it often blocks parts of the screen you need to see there are far too many buttons to comfortably thumb-type if you rotate a 1024 x 600 pixel screen to portrait mode.
Like the CTL 2goPad, the Tega v2 has capacitive touch buttons built into the right side of the screen bezel — where there’s a good chance you’ll accidentally hit them and inadvertently trigger actions when you’re simply trying to hold the computer until you get the hang of contorting your hands to avoid them.
I know there are people who love Windows tablets. But most of the tablets of yore had active digitizers which allowed for precise pen input, and relatively fast processors and graphics processors, rather than the Atom N270 and N450 chips showing up in today’s slates. Oh yeah, and they cost a lot more. Many of those slates also had keyboards and touchpads as well, allowing you to use the computers as normal laptops or rotate the screen for use in tablet mode only when you wanted to.
I’m hopeful that someone can figure out how to make Windows 7 work well on cheaper slates, doing for the tablet space what netbooks have done for laptops: Driving down the price of portable technology. But we might need to wait until Microsoft or another company launches software that truly makes Windows more usable on these devices. Right now, it’s hard to compete with Google Android and iOS, both of which were built from the ground up for touch input.
Then there’s the problem of 1024 x 600 pixel displays looking silly when you put them on their side so you have 600 x 1024 pixel screens. Most Windows apps simply weren’t designed for that kind of screen resolution.
That said, there’s something appealing about being able to run virtually any Windows app on a tablet the size of an Apple iPad. I just wish they ran better on these devices.