TabletKiosk eo 7110 UMPC
To many, project Origami from Microsoft means flexiblity and mobility. The project was all about developing ultra-mobile PC’s, or UMPC’s for short. It filled the void in Microsoft’s product area between Pocket PC and Tablet PC: what if someone wanted fuller functionality over a Pocket PC, but found a Tablet PC to be a bit too large? TabletKiosk was one of the first to the table with its version of a UMPC. Today we’ll review Tablet Kiosk’s eo 7110, and determine whether this device has any merit in the mobile devices realm.
The unit that I reviewed had the following specifications:
|CPU||VIA C7-M ULV @1.0GHz|
|OS||Windows XP Tablet PC Edition|
|HDD||2.5" 9.5mm, 40GB UDMA 133, 5,400rpm|
|Display||7" @ 840×480 native|
|Connectivlity||Bluetooth 2.0 and 802.11g|
|Battery||26w Lithium ION 2400mAh|
|Size||8.98" x 5.75 " x 0.98"|
Regarding performance, the device was undoubtley "snappy," meaning that it didn’t feel starved for RAM, and light multi-tasking was easily achieved. Beyond that, though, your expectations should be a bit low…this is not designed to replace your laptop or desktop.
The fact that this unit uses the Tablet PC edition of Windows XP will make many feel more comortable from a usability standpoint. Inputting text is easy via the terrific handwriting-recognition software build into the OS. If you don’t want to use that means of input, you can also use the large on screen thumb keyboard, or the Pocket PC-like stanard onscreen QWERTY.
(all images link to higher resolution)
Here it is…the TabletKiosk eo 7110 UMPC. The product is available in black and white. My white unit did not pick up fingerprints, ditto the screen.
The included case is spandex-like, so it has a tight fit.
Here is a size comparison compared to the Dell Axim. Note how there is a limited-glare coating on the eo 7110’s screen.
From the bottom we see a stylus silo with the stylus, plus a connection for the optional dock.
The stylus can be inserted into the rear of the device to act as a "kick stand." I found this useful when I wanted to use the eo 7110 with a USB mouse on a table top.
On the left side, we have the AC connector, USB port, and WiFi on/off switch.
On the other side we have a shortcut to task manager (very useful), the power on/off slider, another USB port, a volume adjustment, and a mic/headphone combo port.
Flipping over to the rear we find several vent slots. YES, this device does have an internal fan, but even so, the device remains very warm after a period of usage. The battery detaches easily, in case you want to attach the optional extended battery for $150. The extended battery should give you about 6-7 hours total of usage depending on WiFi status.
On the front there are four lights: WiFi, HDD, battery status, and power.
Let’s take a look at the buttons. If you’re using the device with two hands on each side, you’ll want to use the orange mouse nodule with the right and left click buttons seen above. In the Tablet PC edition of Windows XP, you can right click just like you would in Windows Mobile – with a tap and hold (if you’re using the stylus). Below the two buttons is a D-Pad. I liked using the D-Pad for scrolling vertically and horizontally, which was required on many websites because of the limited resolution of the screen.
Here is the orange mouse nodule of which I was speaking. Below the nodule are scroll buttons. Why have another set of scroll buttons in additon to the D-Pad? Seems redundant.
And when you’re using the two-handed method of input, this is what it looks like – almost like a large portable gaming device!
Below the D-Pad is a shortcut to the Application Launch app and the onscreen keyboard.
Also on the right side there is a settings button (that looks like a gear) which lets you change screen brightness, resolution, and sound options. Below that is a shortcut button to the resolution "changer" that can also be accessed via the settings menu. Seems redundant.
Under standard resolution of 800×480, most dialogue boxes do not fit on the screen. You can then artificially alter the resolution for a moment…
…to 1024×600, 800×600, or bring it back to the native resolution, by clicking the resolution button. Changing the resolution makes the text look very ugly, but is easily switchable for times when you need a bit more screen space.
This is the Application Launch interface that seems to have been adopted by most UMPCs on the market. It remind me a bit of the animated visuals in Windows Media Center Edition and the glass-style of Windows Vista. That said, I didn’t find myself using this too much. Perhaps a novice would find this more useful than me. It’s essentially a simplified program list with pretty visuals.
There is a second type of on screen keyboard…called DialKeys. I didn’t spend too much time with this means of input, but found that you must use your thumb nails, not thumb tips, to enter data.
Once you figure out how to turn on the unit, you’re in familiar Windows XP land, so ease of use ranks high. If you’re used to the Tablet PC operating system with all of its unique functionality, you should be VERY comfortable using this device.
BUGS AND WISHES
When I get to this section while writing a review and ask myself "where to start?" it’s often a sign of my overall impression. But here, that is not that case. There are many obvious shortcomings of this device, which I will list below, but many of them occur simply by default: it’s a first generation product, and the major limiting factor in creating a dream device is price and limitations of technology.
The eo 7110 has no sex appeal, in my opinion. The idea of a UMPC is sexy, but the eo 7110 is just bulky looking with redundant buttons to clutter up the front (do we really need scroll buttons AND a D-Pad? How about a settings menu that changes resolution, AND a shortcut directly to the resolution setting?). I’d like to see more screen, and less buttons.
Second, the unit gets VERY warm, seemingly warmer than my Dell laptop with the potential exploding battery. Since you’ll be holding this in your hands or viewing it on a table and not resting it in your lap, temperature is not as big of an issue than it would be with a laptop.
Third, and here is where the technology is the limiting factor: the battery life is poor. The mere fact that I couldn’t take this out with me for an active 7-10 hour day would keep me from buying it alone. Laptops are finally starting to approach these figures in battery life. Hopefully UMPCs won’t be slow catching up as they integrate low voltage processors.
Fourth, this unit is pricey (and to implement all of my suggestions would raise the price several fold, I know). I think the sweet spot for a UMPC is in the $400-500 range. A price that is out of reach for a laptop, but still more than most PDAs.
Fifth, the resolution of the screen makes it such that most dialogue boxes do not fit on the screen, requiring the user to "zoom out" using the resolution changer button. This is a limit of cost, and I’m sure we’ll see higher resolution screens in future eo UMPC iterations.
Finally, don’t expect to use this device in bright sunlight (which is a shame, since it’s built for mobility). The screen just gets washed out.
The eo 7110 starts at $899. With my particular configuration (512MB RAM), it added $99 to $998. For more info on purchasing, check out the TabletKiosk website, where you can customize a unit to meet your needs.
A fully functional Tablet PC in a smaller size
- Many ways of input
- Snappy performance
- Turns heads – every time
Bulky and not lightweight
- Gets very warm
- Redundant buttons
- Short battery life
- Low screen resolution
- Horrible in sunlight
Let’s fast-forward three, maybe four years. I enter your house, sit down at the coffee table, and find this very thin…screen. I see that it has an ON button, so out of my own curiosity, I press it. Suddenly, I see a Microsoft Windows logo, and within about five seconds, I’m on the internet, using a full-fledged Windows PC in a device that is feather light and cost about $400.
That’s my prediction of where we are going with UMPC technology. A device eye-catching enough to place on your coffee table, cheap enough to have in each room, and capable enough to be an internet appliance, and a whole lot more.
We’re at Chapter 1 in this story, so naturally, things aren’t evolved as we would all like. The eo 7110 is essentially a mini Tablet PC without a keyboard. It’s bulky, not exactly lightweight, gets hotter than your standard laptop, and has meek battery life. Early adopters and those who find themselves wanting a smaller iteration of a Tablet PC will enjoy this device. Me, though, I’m staying on the sidelines for now.