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:
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