The parade of expected Windows 7 tablets has begun, as the TEGA v2 began shipping late last year. I picked one up and have been using it for a few months, and it's time to give it some pixels. Sharp-eyed readers may be thinking the TEGA v2 looks like the just released ViewSonic ViewPad 10, and you are correct. The same ODM is making both the TEGA v2 for Tegatech in Australia and the ViewPad for Viewsonic, and they are the same right down to the dual-boot environment with Android.
The TEGA v2 is a thin slate with a 10.1-inch display running at 1024x600. It is heavier than the Motorola XOOM, but about the same size. It is basically a netbook in a slate form, with an Intel Atom processor, 2 GB of RAM and a 32 GB SSD to speed things along. The multitouch capacitive digitizer works as well as that on any smartphone, and the webcam is handy for video conferencing.
Check out TEGA v2 photo gallery with comparison to Motorola XOOM
|Image Gallery: Check out the TEGA v2 Windows 7 tablet photo gallery with Motorola XOOM comparison.|
The construction of the TEGA v2 is first-rate, from the black plastic bezel on the front of the tablet to the aluminum back. It feels very solid in the hand, if a tad heavy for prolonged use. The accelerometer is used for auto-rotating the display to the desired orientation, and as this feature is incorporated in the BIOS it works very well with only a slight delay observed in the process.
The three buttons on the right of the display (in normal landscape orientation) are reminiscent of those found on Android phones. They are (top-bottom) Power; Home; and Back. The Home button has a nice function that is handy for a Windows tablet; hitting Home instantly minimizes all open windows and displays the desktop. It is a toggle so a second tap brings all of the windows back instantly. The Back button toggles WiFi on and off so care must be exercised to not hit this accidentally. The Power button works as it does on any Windows system and can be configured in the power management to put the tablet to sleep.
The TEGA v2 is a complete Windows system and operates as expected. The touch screen has just the right sensitivity for operation via the fingers, and Windows 7 works with touch better than you might expect. Some controls are small for tapping with the finger, but most can be adjusted in size to make this work better. Overall I find that it is easier to use Windows on the TEGA v2 than I thought it would be. The performance of Windows on the tablet is quite good, due to the fast SSD.
The problem with this tablet, as with all Windows touch tablets, is quickly discovered when you run a program. As my ZDNet colleague Mary Jo Foley is fond of pointing out, Windows 7 is touch capable but not touch-centric. This is evident when running programs; any Windows program can be used on the tablet, but few of those are written to handle touch operation properly. Most Windows programs don't handle touch at all, and these can be tough to run without a mouse and keyboard. This will have to be addressed in future versions of Windows designed for touch. It is not just the operating system that must be written for touch, the apps must also be optimized. This is not unique to the TEGA v2, it is the same for any touch tablet running Windows 7.
The advantage of the Windows tablet over those running other platforms is the ability to run any Windows programs. The TEGA v2 can handle any of these with ease, with the exception of CPU-intensive programs. It can also be used with an external keyboard and mouse if necessary, in effect turning it into a super portable netbook. For those facing situations where running Windows programs is mandatory, and the TEGA v2 is a perfect fit.
The TEGA v2 (and the ViewSonic ViewPad) dual-boots into Android 1.6. Tegatech is working to release version 2.2 (Froyo), but they've been working on it for a while and it's not out yet. This old version of Android cannot run some of the newer Android apps, and older apps don't handle the large 10-inch screen particularly well. The Android Market is not available either, so having Android on the tablet is more a novelty than anything useful.
Once Froyo is released that will change, as Android can be used for quick sessions without firing up Windows. It should be better for battery life, too. I will give this a try when the update is released but until then I don't boot into Android.
The TEGA v2 has the Intel processor, so the open-source version of Android written for the x86 platform is what is used. This may be affecting the speed of the Froyo update on the TEGA v2.
The TEGA v2 is a solid tablet that is well-made and quite functional. Windows 7 runs very well, and the touch screen and other controls are nicely laid-out. Windows tablets such as the TEGA v2 are suited for the enterprise, particularly those with proprietary Windows programs that would benefit from the slate form factor. If running Windows programs is not what you need, you will be better off looking at the iPad 2 just announced or another tablet such as the Motorola XOOM.
This tablet is available through Tegatech for $799, which is the price for the tablet as reviewed. They also have accessories for the TEGA v2, including a case with an integrated keyboard.