The Netbook Navigator Nav9 is a slate PC with an x86 processor, a solid state disk, and an 8.9 inch touchscreen display. It’s kind of what you would get if you took a netbook, chopped off the keyboard, stuffed all the important components behind the display, and added a touchscreen.

The folks at Netbook Navigator sent me a demo unit to review, and it’s an interesting little machine.The demo unit I received has a30GB solid state disk, 2GB of memory, and a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280 CPU. It has integrated WiFi and Bluetooth, 3 USB ports, an SD card slot, and a SIM card slot (for the optional 3G).

The touchscreen is resistive, which means it will respond better to a fingernail or stylus than a fingertip, but it does support multitouch gestures.

The Nav9 feels a bit heavy, at 2 pounds. While that’s pretty light by netbook standards, you don’t typically hold a netbook in your hands while using it. On the other hand, that’s the exact usage scenario for a tablet or slate PC.

As Engadget’s Joanna Stern pointed out in her recent review, the screen is very glossy and the viewing angles aren’t all that good. But if you hold the Nav9 right the display is reasonably good. It actually turns out that in landscape mode you can tilt the screen left and right without losing visibility, but if you tilt it up and down the screen quickly becomes hard to see. If you switch to portrait mode, the opposite is true — you can tilt up and down, but not side to side.

There’s no accelerometer, which means you have to manually rotate the display when switching orientation. One of the first things I did was pin the icon for the Windows Mobility Center to the taskbar to make screen rotation a bit easier.

I’m not a huge fan of the Windows 7 on-screen keyboard, but I have to say I’ve had an easier time using it to enter text on the Nav9 than on any other budget touchscreen device with Windows 7… but budget might not be the best word to describe the Nav9. While prices start at $599, that’s the cost for a Nav9 without an operating system. The cheapest model with Windows 7 runs $749 for the Windows 7 Home premium version.

I’ll be testing the Nav9 more thoroughly in the coming days and I should have a detailed review soon. Overall, it looks like an interesting device for those looking for a tablet that can run Windows apps. It offers netbook-like performance in an iPad-like case. Unfortunately it’s more expensive than either of those product categories.

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7 replies on “Unboxing and first look at the Netbook Navigator Nav9 tablet”

  1. Resistive and multi-touch are conventionally mutually exclusive. Either they’ve invented a radical new touchscreen technology, or the specs are wrong.

      1. Cool stuff, this Stantum tech sounds newsworthy in its own right. A lot of people are not keen on capacitive, so such a functionality boost for resistive is a pretty hot development. Thanks for the heads-up.

    1. Not only that, but capacitive and multi-touch are not conjoined. There are many implementation of capacitive passive digitizers that can’t recognize multiple points of contact. In some cases, this is due to inherent hardware limitations (for example, to keep cost down) or due to driver inadequacy for the target platform (again, often to keep costs down).

      Capacitive and resistive are different. The main difference is that one responds to contact, and the other responds to pressure. There are many smaller differences too like cost (capacitive tends to be more expensive) and power consumption (capacitive tends to consume more power), but multi-touch, being neither an always present or always absent feature of either, is not one.

  2. I’d like to know whether the SDD is 2.5″ form factor and SATA, and if the RAM is laptop RAM, and can be upgraded to 2 GB. Also, is a stylus provided, and does it have a silo like PDAs.

    Answering these questions should be standard parts of reviews

    1. This isn’t a review, it’s an unboxing… and I answered the bit about the
      stylus in the video. It comes with one, but there’s no dock.

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