Windows 8 – Tablet Review: Azpen X1 Tablet

At this point in time there are really only two tablet operating systems that have made any major impact on the market: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. Of course we all know that Windows 8 is setting the stage for some major changes, mostly surrounding the support of ARM and a new touch interface called Metro.

While this potential revolution in the tablet world really won’t start full-fledged until very late 2012, for those that want a taste of what is to come, Windows 8 Beta is just around the corner with a release sometime in February.

Now, some of us absolutely need Windows on their tablets for business needs but others just want a tablet that is great for gaming, browsing, and other casual needs. We all know that Windows tablets are great for business in the niches that truly need them, but Microsoft hopes to really move beyond that market and lure casual users as well.

Does Windows 8 have what it takes to really create a great tablet experience that can measure up to competitors like Android? There is really only one way to find out: experiment.

For those that have an Android tablet already, this is as simple as getting a hold of a Windows tablet and tinkering to your hearts desire to figure out which you really prefer.

What if you want one device that can do it all and really let you figure out which you prefer? Or you just like the idea of dual-booting Android and Windows? This is exactly where the Azpen X1 Tablet comes in.

Unlike other tablets I’ve reviewed, this unit has both Windows 7 and Android 2.2 Froyo (x86 version) installed.

First thing is first, let’s take a look at the specs:

  • 10.1″ multi-capactive display with 1024×600 resolution
  • Intel Atom N455 1.66 GHz CPU
  • 1GB RAM (upgradable to 2GB)
  • 16GB SSD (upgradable to 32GB)
  • 2 USB Ports
  • Expandable MicroSD port
  • Micro-VGA Port
  • 801.11 B/G/N Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth
  • HD audio with 2 built-in speakers
  • G-Sensor accelerometer
  • 1.3 megapixel camera
  • Li-Poly battery
  • Dimensions: 2.5 x 12.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Weight: 3.4 pounds

Up front, the tablet isn’t much too look at. The Azpen X1 isn’t ugly, but it certainly doesn’t stand out as anything special either. Another big annoyance is that at 3.4 pounds it isn’t exactly that comfortable in your hands, but if you can live with the weight, I suppose its dual-booting capability is a major redeeming point.

It’s also important to note that since the minimum resolution is below Metro’s requirement you will need to use a simple registry hack in order to trick Metro and Windows 8 into thinking that you are running at 1024×768. This might degrade the overall quality of the resolution, but not enough to really be noticeable expect to the most observant of users.

While x86 isn’t ideal for Android, it is actually fairly response, though it does have trouble and crashes on many more ‘intense’ applications. It is also important to note that even if you root the device you will NOT be able to use Android Market or the Amazon App Store.

Instead you are relegated to programs like Slideme and GetJar. Unless you really have your heart set on some of the bigger Android apps, this should still provide a passable enough experience to at least let you test and compare Froyo versus Windows 8 Beta.

Another weak point with this tablet is that Azpen decided to go with a small 16GB SSD drive, which is fine if this was a dedicated Android tablet, but the truth is that Windows is a big of a hog when it comes to drive space. Between Android and the Windows partition, you will have very little extra space and will probably want to invest in an additional SD card (like a larger 32GB one).

Is Azpen the ‘best of both worlds’? No, honestly it’s more like a ‘sample of both worlds’, since x86 and the lack of good app stores very limit Android and the lack of space is somewhat limiting to the Windows 8 experience.

If you have a serious business need, I would certainly consider a different route (at least personally).

If you are just looking for a fun device for tinkering and a lighter tablet experience, at $526.43 at Amazon, it’s not a bad deal by any means.

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