The Netbook Navigator Nav9 is one of the few Windows 7 slate computers on the market at the moment. I’m still in the process of testing a demo unit and I won’t have a complete review done for a little while, but if you don’t plan on waiting for my opinion before plunking down some cash, you might be please to know that the company has dropped the price… a bit.
While the Nav9 has a starting price of $599, up until a few days ago the cheapest model with Windows 7 Home Premium preloaded would run you $749. Now the starting price for a Windows model is $699.
That price gets you a Windows 7 slate with an 8.9 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel resistive multitouch display, 1GB of memory, a 16Gb solid state disk, and WiFi, but no 3G. The tablet has Bluetooth, a 1.3MP camera, and a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280 processor. You can also pay extra for additional storage, memory, or Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate
At $699, the Nav9 still costs more than twice as much as a typical netbook, even though the guts are very netbook-like. But it’s smaller, a bit lighter, and much more finger-friendly than a typical netbook.
That said, I think you have to ask yourself what you plan to use a mobile computer for before deciding whether a Windows tablet with a resistive display and no accelerometer are right for you. I’ve found that while Windows 7 Home Premium is certainly more touch-friendly than Windows 7 Starter, scrolling through web pages with a flick of the finger can be a bit inconsistent at times, and while the on-screen keyboard usually pops up when I tap on a text entry field, it’s not always there when I need it.
It’s also much more difficult to enter text using the Windows on-screen keyboard on the Nav9 than on a smartphone or tablet with a capacitive display running Google Android or iOS. I’ll have to spend a bit more time trying out handwriting recognition to see if that remedies the situation though.
Stay tuned for a full review… soon.
I would like to know the differences between the $599 and the $699 model.
I’d also like to know if the SSD is 2.5″ hard disk form factor.
Is it easily accessible for replacement?
The RAM is probably laptop memory. What is the maximum it
supports? How many RAM slots are provided, and how many are
occupied? Again, is it easily accessible for upgrade?
I can provide my own copy of Windows 7, and can buy an aftermarket SSD, so the $599 unit would be of interest.
Is the battery removable, and is more than 1 battery offered?
Also, what is the weight of the device, and the battery life.
Is there a stylus and does it have a silo like a PDA?
Not saying I’m going to buy this particular manufacturer, but
these would be questions I would have for any slate.
Batteries, updated drivers, support, and the use of nonstandard
parts (e.g., non-2.5″ SATA SSDs), are the bane of device which
aren’t widely adopted, or from obscure manufacturers. (Note,
for example, Dynamism no longer carries UMID UMPDs,, although
Dynamism may still sell batteries, but for how long, who knows.)
That’s why, for example, I recently got a Motorola Q9h rather
than an HP iPaq for a backup phone. There are lots of suppliers
for the Moto battery, and high capacity batteries are more
plentiful and cheaper than for the HP.
In this case, I’m afraid the manufacturer will be the only source
for batteries. If they go out of business or drops the product,
this device won’t be portable any longer when the battery runs
Given the immaturity of these products and the brevity of their
product life cycles, it may be better to be a trailing edge adopter
than a bleeding edge one. Just as in the days of the old West,
you can tell the pioneers by the arrows on their backs.
All of these questions are answered on the manufacturer website. It has a 1.8″ SSD, 3-4 hour battery, weighs 2lbs, includes a stylus (no silo) and drivers can be downloaded online.
They also say that the hardware components cannot be swapped without voiding the warranty, so what you see is what you get. Of course, if you are someone who would jailbreak an iPad, then you probably don’t care about voiding the warranty, right?
For some manufacturers, the warranty isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
Just peruse the feedback forums on retailers like Newegg or Amazon on devices. You’ll see that
– build quality, manufacturer reputation, and component quality are perhaps the best indicator of whether a device will have problems or not
– warranty repair can take months with even well-known manufacturers. You could be out of the device that long when
you send it in.
– the industry is moving too fast now for any product to be
trouble-free. Updates for a product can stop as little as 3
months after it’s introduced. The manufacturer would rather
introduce a new product than continue to support a non-
revenue producing old one.
– we may just have to accept buggy products as a way of life.
Hopefully, manufacturers won’t do this with critical devices, like
durable medical equipment (DME), or cars.
– the many small companies that truly innovate in this industry may not have the financial wherewithal to survive a single
product failure, or even a product that doesn’t sell as well as they need it to. Every hit product inevitably brings on
copycats, many of which are brought out by competitors much
bigger, better financed, or have better marketing and
distribution. This results in a price war, which reduces revenues
for everyone and diverts resources from support, which
I agree with most of your comments.
It’s confusing that slate form factors are more expensive than their clamshell counterparts, especially when in some sense they represent “less”, like in terms of physical complexity. This is even true for larger tablets, which tend to be far more expensive than a laptop with the same internal guts. However, it’s worth noting that the whole world has been making clamshell computers for a long time, and on the manufacturing side of things prices have been driven way down. For slates, this just isn’t true yet, which is why companies like HTC and Archos will have a natural advantage moving forward. In other words, it’s priced according to cost and not value.
Hand writing recognition in Windows 7 is great, although most of my experience is with active digitizers. However, don’t sleep on the windows speech recognition. It’s a pretty amazing system. Using IE in Windows 7 on a tablet is kind of cool because you can use your voice to do just about everything. It’s the only time I ever allow myself to use IE and retain a feeling of shame throughout.
Regarding price, look at every other piece of technology in history and you’ll find your answer. For example, MacBook starts at $999, while MacBook Air starts at $1499… even though the cheaper model has better hardware and more expansion ports, the slimmer design has the bigger price tag. Why would the “Netbook vs. Slate” pricing model be any different? I think it will still be some time before this devices come down in price, but they will eventually.
This thing is such a bag of fail it actually makes me queezy… Ughhh…
Don’t forget about Windows built-in Speech recognition software…
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