For those that have followed my work, I’ve done several different kinds of reviews at Windows8update, from ultrabooks to high end-tablets and even convertibles.
I have enjoyed taking a deeper look at a variety of different machines and helping users figure out what is best for them, but a personal mission of mine has been to find a reasonable Windows 7 tablet for users looking for a tinkering device to upgrade to Windows 8.
The truth is that most of us that just want to ‘tinker’, aren’t willing to pay an arm and a leg for something that might not even become our primary tablet.
That’s where today’s option comes in, the Hiton Windows 7 tablet. This is a cheap device that could be just fine for basic daily use (once it has Windows 8 Beta) but first and foremost, I have Windows tinkering in mind for this unit.
A word of caution, this is a cheap device in every sense of the word. It isn’t a big brand, is made in China, and reeks of plastic at every turn.
Still, at below $400, it is priced right for those just looking for a shiny new toy for tinkering that perhaps they can pass down to a relative, friend, or child once they are done (or perhaps just use it for basic web functions).
As is my tradition, let’s get started with the specs:
- 10.2-inch resistive Touch Screen with a 1024×600 resolution
- Intel Atom N450 1.66GHz processor
- 1GB DDR2 memory (upgradable to 2GB)
- 2.5-inch 160GB SATA HDD
- 10/100M Ethernet access
- 802.11 b/g WIFI (Though NO bluetooth)
- Built-in 1.3MP camera
- Hi-Def 2.1 channel audio
- 3 USB 2.0 ports
- VGA Port
- Internal Microphone
- Headphone/Microphone jacks
- 4-in-1 card reader
- 1 DIMM slot
- 2 Mini PCI-E slots
- 3-cell battery with 2-2 ½ hour battery life
- Weight: 2.27 Pounds
- Dimensions: 280x180x24mm
- Optional: 3G and Bluetooth (ups price, of course)
Let’s start with look and feel. Admittedly, there is nothing special about the design of the Hiton tablet, just tons of cheap plastic and at nearly 2 ½ pounds it isn’t huge but nor is it the lightest contender in town.
The Hiton looks at home with budget Android devices around the $150-$250 price range, though the notable big exception is its larger screen (oh, and that it runs Windows).
One thing I really want to point out is that for only about 2 ½ pounds this thing is loaded in ports, from USB to VGA and even mini PCI-E. Of course all these ports also make the device feel a little cumbersome in your hands.
Probably the largest negative to this unit is in fact the screen, with its somewhat lower resolution and its inability to support multi-touch. Resistive just doesn’t cut it these days for serious use, but as a tinkering unit I suppose it will do.
Keep in mind that in order to run Metro UI without any major hitches you will need to follows the instructions of a simple registry hack that essentially ‘tricks’ Windows into thinking you are running in 1024×768 (the minimum resolution for Metro UI to run properly).
This isn’t the best solution, but since it is only stretching it a little… it doesn’t look that bad.
Processor and RAM wise, the unit is fine for BASIC use. Don’t expect to run Photoshop or anything with this unit, but web-browsing and even MS Word should run just fine.
As far as running streaming video? It doesn’t seem to have a huge problem with lower non-HD resolutions at all, but it does have some minor glitches and snags with HD (720 and 1080), though it will still run (just with a few annoying artifacts on screen, ocassionally).
In the Android world, $300-$400 can net you a pretty decent machine, unfortunately until Windows 8 for ARM arrives, this just isn’t the case for x86 machines. At around $350-$400, you get a reasonable machine but honestly for just $100-$200 more you can get a better recognized brand that also has a higher resolution and multi-touch.
For those that really can’t afford above $400, or simply refuse to, and are looking for just a ‘tinkering device’ (such as those that already have an iPad or Android tablet) it does the job.
Now for the bad news, unless you are willing to hit a big auction site, you will have to pay around $366 for this tablet, due to the high cost of shipping from China. I can tell you that by hunting on Ebay I found at least two examples of this unit selling used for $225-$250 with free shipping from the US, so if you are willing to do a little searching and want a cheap tinkering toy, go for it.
To get it for about $366, check out E-Crater. Even at $366, it is still hard to find a Windows 7 tablet for under $400, so it’s not a total rip off. Still, without a capacative screen it is kind of hard to justify spending so much cash.
So for now, my search for the perfect sub-$400 tablet continues. Will I find one before ARM arrives and changes the pricing scene? It’s looking a bit doubtful