Dell unveils 10-inch Windows 7 tablet
Promises to safeguard Android's future
Dell has unveiled a 10-inch Windows 7 tablet that it'll layer in next to its collection of Android fondleslabs.
On Tuesday, the world's third-largest PC maker showed – briefly – what looked like a mock-up of a planned Windows 7 tablet, coming in the next 30 to 40 days, to press and analysts in San Francisco.
Dell's Windows 7 tablet will run on what it called the "next-generation" Intel processor – likely meaning its upcoming Oak Trail system-on-a-chip.
Aside from that, Dell provided no technical details. In all other respects, the tablet looked identical to the company's Android-powered Streaks 5 and 7.
The Windows machine will be targeted at business users, rather than being designed and sold as a general-purpose consumer device like Apple's iPad. Steve Lalla, general manager of Dell's business client group, said the company would follow the strategy it adopted for netbooks of targeting education, medicine, manufacturing, and financial services.
Lalla said Dell's decision to go with Windows meant the PC maker could offer customers a greater range of devices and choice of form factors. The existence of a planned Windows 7 device from a PC manufacturer that has been historically firmly in the Microsoft camp "doesn't mean the Android devices won't fit in – they will, and so will the phone" he said.
Dell gave attendees at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, this January a flash of the 7-inch Streak – now available – and the 10-inch Android device that's yet to ship. The Streaks have suffered mixed-to-disappointing reviews.
Lalla positioned the new tablet as fitting in a trend of the "consumerization of IT" – gadgets moving into the workplace.
Dell also unveiled a completely redesigned Latitude family, new Dell Precision T1600 workstation, and Dell Precision M6600 and M4600 mobile workstations. The Latitudes support virtualization from Citirx, VMware, and Microsoft, and come, Dell claims, with 100 design improvements. The company said this is the largest client refresh in its history.
But this was all preamble for the tech netizens who really wanted to hear about tablets.
Dells show-and-tell man Lalla duly paraded the machine in front of a camera-happy press before handing it back to a colleague waiting in the wings of the event. The colleague then slipped Dell's tablet back into a laptop wallet before sliding out of the room.
No, he didn't attach the wallet to his wrist with handcuffs.
A powerless Widows tablet was later shown as part of a display with Dell's redesigned Latitudes and workstations. ®
On the other hand, I am really curious about the new Intel Oaktrail Atoms. If indeed it will be based on one of these (the Z6xx series) - it will be interesting to see if the power savings are really up to the hype. Say (theoretically, or wishfully) that the power consumption is cut by about 40% compared to current Atoms of the N4xx series - this will mean that a 6 cell pack should last a *real* 10 hours of work. This would be good news - because it would mean a real hackable device, on which one can install a *proper* Linux and have all the *real* apps they are used to. Even if it means I have to use a pen - at least I would have a tablet format computing device which doesn't tie me in to their farty app stores - I can upgrade and update as and when I please - and use software and peripherals designed for people who want to do some work - not just show off at the pub.
Done ranting now. You can take your fingers out of your years.
...that's the end of Dell's Android tablets then. MS will simply not allow Dell to ship non-Windows units (not without swingeing penalties at any rate).
is it called...
Tense, nervous headache?
> Will the WinSlab be any use; will it have any battery life; will the user interface work without a pen...?
For what it's worth, my daughter has one of those fold-over tablet PCs running Windows 7. It works either with pen or with fingers, but it has two modes -- "pen" and "finger" that you have to switch between. There's a widget to do the switching.
For casual usage, she keeps it in "finger" mode, and switches to "pen" mode when she's drawing (which is what we bought it for).
...so it can be done.... It just depends on what Dell decides to do.
Speaking of which, in the grand tradition of code reuse, Windows 7 "tablet edition" is just a rebranding of several Accessibility tools that have been around, like, forever. The paradigm is exactly the same Windows paradigm you've been using since 1995. You'll need to learn the gesture for "right mouse button" and how to invoke the On-Screen Keyboard, which pops up at some random spot on the screen and usually has to be moved to see what you're typing. It provides no feedback and you'll find it's nearly useless for typing passwords.
Windows Home Edition Standard does not have multi-touch support. I think you need at least Home Premium. We're running Pro. Multi-touch is pretty much confined to resizing. Hopefully other gestures will be supported in the future.
The tablet also has a handwriting recognition tool but it's not clear to me whether this is a Microsoft or vendor addition. The tool is interesting in an arcade game sort of way, but not really something you'd want to write a novel with. Or even a memo.
The browser doesn't work any differently and you'll find yourself wanting at least a mouse if you're doing any serious surfing.
If the purpose of your fondleslab is to run a particular application that *does* have decent touch support, you'll probably be fine. But if you have to do anything serious with the OS, you'd better have an external keyboard/mouse or you're in for a very frustrating experience.
In summary, based on what I've seen so far, the big market for Windows 7 tablets (as in the article) will be companies that have been sold on the idea that they're cheaper than ipad or android to integrate and support in your typical all-Microsoft enterprise environment.