Monday, June 27, 2011

MSI updates site with information on the WindPad 110W

MSI is starting to roll out official information on the WindPad110W on their site. The site confirms the specifications for the device and gives more details than have been seen elsewhere. The site suggests that the device will come with 2GB of RAM with 4GB max supported. The story we ran earlier said that one of the websites taking pre-orders was saying 4GB was what was being sold. Given that MSI does business in multiple regions, it is possible that some will get the full 4GB while others will only have 2GB. If it's user expandable to 4GB, you can be sure that's something I would want to do. Hopefully, MSI makes it easy to do. The device does look pretty sealed up so that may be a challenge.

We're also told that the device will have Realtek HD audio (not much of a surprise considering MSI uses this on a lot of their motherboards) and Azurewave for all the fun radio stuff (BT, WiFi, GPS). I have no experience with Azurewave, but Realtek audio has always been pretty solid in my experience. It would be hard to do much better in a device this size.

MSI also mentions SRS sound, but I'm still calling that a gimmick until I hear it for myself. I've never been impressed with built-in speakers. I'll just carry a pair of high quality earbuds.

They also go on to mention the loop for a strap for your device. I don't know of many other tablets offering this so it is fairly unique. I just question if it's worth mentioning or even having. The picture they include for it is a bit comical. I do imagine that the first time I drop a tablet, I'll stop laughing though. They do cost around $600.

A strap... in case of uncontrollable Jazz Hands
One hardware feature that looks like a smart move is the inclusion of a touch pad that can be used as a mouse. Having used pads like this before, I know that they can be great when there's a need to click on something small and your fingers are just too fat. The benefit that MSI lists is that it allows the user to use the device while holding on to it with both hands. Seems nice, but I'm just glad I won't get too frustrated trying to click on something smaller than my fingers.

The device comes with a switch to lock screen orientation. The beauty of this is it gives users more control over how they view their content. The biggest benefit of this that I can see is with eReaders. I tend to move a bit when I'm reading and I don't want the text auto orienting on me as I move back and forth.

We do get our first look at the dock for the 110W. It seems to be essentially a brick with a slot carved out for the tablet. We don't get a 360 degree look at it so we can't tell if it offers more USB ports or anything else of interest, but from a basic design perspective, it seems like a good way to go. It would be very easy to put that dock on a desk with a keyboard and mouse connected to it and then drop the tablet in when the user wants a desktop oriented experience. No word on if the dock will be included or an optional extra.

This is great and all, but what does the back look like?

This is also our first look at the software that will come pre-loaded on the device. We already knew it would be coming with Office Starter Edition and that it would have some features such as facial recognition for security. Now we're getting a look at it. I'm curious to see how well the facial recognition software works in low light conditions and what kind of system resources it sucks up. This is a tablet. Wasted resources are a big mistake.

Another case of potential wasted resources is the O-Easy interface (really? They couldn't get a better name?). This is software that can be launched with a hardware button on the device and it helps users quickly access functions and programs that they use the most. The access to frequently used programs seems a bit redundant. That's what the desktop in Windows already does.  Access to adjusting things such as the cameras, wireless functions, etc. could be nice. It's not exactly the easiest thing to adjust these things in Windows. O-Easy also offers a To-Do list function. This seems to be something that'll be really helpful for some while others won't have much need as they already have something in place for this function.

The device also comes with MSI EasyViewer. I haven't had much chance to play with this software before, but I'll be interested in seeing how it stacks up compared to Windows Live Photo Gallery (my current recommendation to people who want a basic program for managing their photos and doing basic touch-ups).

One feature that seems to be a waste is Smart Media Link. From the description offered by MSI, this seems to help users share media between the 110W and other devices (TV, Smartphone, other PCs). It seems that this is better done with other software out there such as Zune (for sharing media between PC, TV via Xbox 360, and Windows Phone), and Dropbox (which allows for sharing of content very easily between PCs). I would have liked to see MSI push something like SkyDrive or Dropbox instead of creating their own solution.

A case of hardware and software that was revealed is the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). This is a way to increase security on your files. Files protected apparently can only be opened on devices with the TPM chip. Nice, but how does that work if I want to share that file with a colleague? 

The device features a hardware button that seems to have the same functionality as CTRL+ALT+DELETE which does worry me a bit. The only time I use that is when something crashes. It doesn't instill the greatest confidence in me that MSI would include this, but then I do see the benefit because if I can't get to the on-screen keyboard, I may need this from time to time.

All in all, the MSI 110W is showing a lot of promise. Despite all the cool hardware features and sometimes questionable software choices, the real question is how well this will work in the real world. Is it going to be flexible enough to make the iPad look like an overgrown iPod? Will it have the performance that it needs to make people enjoy it or will it get bogged down and frustrate users? If MSI hits this one out of the park, it could really establish Windows as a viable tablet platform and it would make MSI a bigger player for the general consumer. Hopefully we'll get a chance to look at the device and see for ourselves if it lives up to the potential.

No comments:

Post a Comment