Two Days with the TabletKiosk eo v7110
Amidst much fanfare, Spring 2006 saw the birth of the UMPC (Ultra-Mobile PC) computing platform. The Samsung Q1 made its debut as the "first" UMPC to hit the market. Hot on Samsung’s heels though was TabletKiosk busting a snappy roll out of the eo v7110 UMPC. During all the initial UMPC hype, orders for this first eo UMPC model threw TabletKiosk into a precarious position of meeting supply with an unpredictably high demand. (A good problem to have). To add to the challenge, there were a couple of minor technical glitches is the first eo batch that challenged TabletKiosk even further. However in taking great care of their customers (anxiously awaiting their orders), In the end, TabletKiosk over delivered and was able to move orders faster than promised. The UMPC hardware frenzy had officially begun.
We had the opportunity to work the TabletKiosk eo v7110 for a couple of days. Our review is based on somewhat limited time constraints, however we integrated our eo v7110 UMPC review unit into real world use to get a feel for what this "value-oriented" model from TabletKiosk’s eo series has to offer.
TabletKiosk eo v7110 UMPC Specs
- Processor 1.0GHz VIA C7-M ULV Processor
- Memory 1x SODIMM DDR2 slot (from 256MB to 1GB)
- Battery 26W Lithium Ion Battery pack (2400mAh)
- Hard Drive 2.5" (from 40GB to 160GB)
- Display 7" TFT LCD Display with native resolution of 800×480
- Audio Built-in 1W speaker, 3.5mm Headphone & Stereo Microphone Combo Jack
- Wireless 802.11b/g, Bluetooth 2.0+EDR built-in module
- Input resistive touch screen, Synaptics TS42P016 Stick Cursor
- I/O Ports 1x DC-In, 2x 4-pin USB 2.0, 1x 36-pin Cradle Connector
Build Quality and Design
The case on the eo reminds us of the exterior of an Apple MacBook. However the texture of the eo’s exterior plastic hints at a lighter, and softer composition. Apple’s MacBook case is made of polycarbonate that is designed to be "impact resistant". The eo UMPC is a much smaller and lighter device. A polycarbonate exterior would be cost-prohibitive and unnecessary.
In hand, the eo feels comfortable greeting the user with a colorful and bright 7" lcd display. Navigation and control buttons flank the left and right sides of the display for easy access. The system status lights are bright and conveniently located on the top right corner. Both the left and right sides of the eo feature a series of ports and switches that are also easy to access. At 2 lbs. the eo truly is a featherweight, carrying a great abundance of computing "power per pound" in comparison with most any device outside of the UMPC platform.
A TableKiosk eo Tour…
(view large image) the eo at "face value"
Left Side: Mouse Left Button, Mouse Right Button, D-Pad with Enter, Function A, Function B
Right Side: Pointing Stick+Enter, PageUp, PageDown, Function C, Function D
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Left Side: AC in, USB port, and Wi-Fi on/off switch.
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Right Side: Task Manager hardware button, power switch, USB port, volume control, mic headphone jack
(view large image) Underside: Pen silo and docking connection (an optional dock is available)
(view large image) The eo "backside": rubber feet and battery release latches
The indicator lights keep the user informed of the status of various eo components:
Battery (Charging: amber, Low: amber blinking | Fully charged with DC connected: green)
Hard Drive (Activity: amber blinking)
Wireless Networking (ON: amber, OFF: OFF)
The eo’s display quality is impressive. The 7" LCD has a native resolution of 800×480. There is a "Zoom Function" to change to 800×600 and 1024×600 resolutions on the fly. This function comes in very handy when using the device for different tasks. For example, a higher resolution can be desirable for working with spreadsheets, vs. a low res. setting for viewing images. The eo display is designed for wide angle viewing. We found the viewing angles to be sufficient as claimed by the manufacturer. The screen on our review unit was free of any "pixel anomalies" and exhibited even lighting throughout. The only drawback however was a rather weak performance outdoors.
As expected the eo v7110 comes with some no frills audio features. The built-in 1W speaker provides somewhat weak volume and tone, but provides a means to hear Windows prompts. For users needing to listen to stereo audio or do any recording, the eo has a 3.5mm "Headphone & Stereo Microphone Combo Jack". For the most part it seems that audio features on the UMPC platform are limited to basic utilitarian use.
Processor and Performance
The eo v7110 is priced at $899 and to keep the retail cost down, some compromises had to be made. The non-Intel CPU is probably the largest factor in keeping the price of this model low. The eo v7110 is powered by the VIA C7 CPU, an ultra-low voltage processor. We found the VIA C7 to be a mixed bag. While offering a clock speed of 1GHz at a relatively low price, this CPU does not perform any performance or battery life miracles. Additionally the eo v7110 tends to run a bit on the warm side, and the VIA C7 is most likely the culprit. One unique feature that the VIA C7 CPU offers is it’s proprietary "Padlock Security Engine". This security feature is discussed in further detail under the "Security" section of this review.
Since we were only able to get our hands on the eo, we did not perform the usual extended PCMARK benchmarks, however we did run Super Pi to compare the eo with similar low-powered devices. Nevertheless testing for that type of performance on the UMPC is impractical. The UMPC is intended to be a more powerful "on the go" device, but certainly not a replacement for a desktop or full-fledged Tablet PC or notebook.
We used SuperPI to calculate the number Pi to 2 Million digits in this raw number crunching benchmark. This open source benchmark application allows the user to change the number of digits of Pi that can be calculated from 16 Thousand to 32 Million. The benchmark, which uses 19 iterations in the test, was set to 2 Million digits.
Comparison of tablet/UMPC models using Super Pi to calculate Pi to 2 million digits (plugged in):
Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
|UMPC/tablet||Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits|
|TabletKiosk eo v7110 (VIA C7 1.0 GHz)||3m 23s|
|Sony Vaio UX180P (U1400 1.2 GHz)||2m 2s|
|*Samsung Q1 UMPC (900MHz ULV Celeron)||3m 6s|
|Fujitsu LifeBook P1500D (1.2GHz ULV Pentium M||2m 23s|
|Fujitsu ST5000 Tablet PC(1.1 GHz ULV Pentium M)||2m 37s|
The Super Pi results illustrate some performance weakness of the VIA C7 CPU in its respective clock speed class. *The VIA C7 fell over 15 seconds short of the Samsung Q1’s Intel Celeron ULV rated at 900 MHz.
Our eo review unit had a 5400RPM 40GB hard drive installed. TabletKiosk allows custom configurations with a hard drive up to 160GB @ 5400RPM. This would in fact be a great option for users wanting to (literally) carry around a large amount of data and be able to physically access it on the fly.
The standard 3-cell 2400mAh battery in the eo won’t last more than two hours of typical real world use. Luckily it is quick and easy to swap the battery. TabletKiosk also offers an extended life 6-cell battery that will provide double the runtime of the standard battery. The extended battery sticks out slightly when installed. Certainly the road warrior who needs several ours of runtime away from an outlet would want to opt for the extended battery which is an additional $150.
Input: Touchscreen / Pen / D-Pad…
The eo v7110 utilizes passive touchscreen technology. The included pen is about as good as can be expected for a device this size. We found the pen comfortable to hold and use for handwriting. Since the device lacks the electromagnetic abilities, the pen must come in direct contact with the screen to move the cursor. All of the features offered by Windows XP Tablet PC Edition however allows significantly improved input options over other devices using a passive touchscreen limited by a their respective OS. The eo Zoom Utility also adds a nice complement to the overall experience. Quickly "zooming" to higher resolutions on the fly provides a less "restrained" feeling while navigating between windows on the 7" display.
The "DialKeys" on-screen keyboard software is included as another input option. My gripe with the Samsung Q1 UMPC still stands with the eo as the DialKeys on-screen keyboard takes up a vast amount of screen real estate. The Windows XP Tablet PC Edition TIP is unfortunately not much less of a culprit. Invoking the TIP on the smaller UMPC screen can also invoke anxiety and frustration for the user!
The D-Pad found on the left side of the display reminds us of the Sony PSP type of navigation. The D-Pad is yet another option outside of the pen for "getting around" on the eo. Along with the pointing stick and miscellaneous buttons, the eo’s input options offer enough options to please a variety of users. It is clear that some good thought and effort went into the eo’s rather expansive navigation and input features.
The eo v7110 comes with built-in 802.11b/g and a Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. We did not experience any issues with the wireless radio. We did not experience any drops or noticeable reduction in signal strength during use. A hardware switch is also included to shut off wireless quickly which can come in handy for use on commercial flights and to conserve battery life.
The eo v7110 does not come with a biometric scanner or Intel’s Trusted Platform Module and at an $899 price point, these features should not be expected. Interestingly though, the VIA C7 CPU does offer some unique security features. Using "PadLock Security Engine" technology, the CPU promises to offer protection from certain viruses and worms. There is also military grade data encryption features built right into the chip.
Preloaded software on the eo v7110 includes:
- Windows XP Tablet Edition 2005
- Microsoft Touch Pack
(Program Launcher, Brilliant Black, DialKeys, Touch Improvements, and Sudoku)
- Microsoft Experience Pack
- Microsoft Education pack
(view large image) Although it appeals to a very targeted customer base, there are many uses for the UMPC platform.
TabletKiosk’s eo v7110 UMPC carries a mixed bag of features and capabilities to satisfy the needs of certain mobile professionals. The eo is a hip looking device that can make a great alternative to carrying a larger Tablet PC or notebook computer. TabletKiosk offers custom configuration options such as a whopping 160GB hard drive and various add-ons such as the extended battery and dock. With that kind of flexibility coupled with the relatively low $899 base price, the eo can easily fit the needs to get you or your business functionally mobile.
- $899 price point
- Very good display
- Attractive and lightweight
- Add-on options and customization
- Short battery life
- Runs a bit warm
- Limited functionality of the UMPC platform
For more information visit the TabletKiosk website.