It started out as a buzzword, Origami, and for once, Microsoft managed to keep it something of a secret right up until launch. We’d like to think it was because of some major stealth exercise but in reality it’s because the idea isn’t that new or far removed from what we already have. Essentially, UMPC is a small form-factor tablet but instead of using a digitised screed, you get a touchscreen akin to those on a handheld, only larger.
It’s the 7-inch screen that dominates the look and the feel of the device. As it’s touchscreen, you don’t need to use a special pen, so Microsoft has come up with a novel thumbpad keyboard with half of a QWERTY keyboard sat in each lower corner of the screen. In theory this should work well but the screen of the EO isn’t exactly that sensitive and you find yourself pecking away rather than tapping. To help navigation there are a wide range of keys scattered around the case, which means navigating the screen is easy. We particularly liked the inclusion of a right-click button, making Windows secondary functions easier to perform.
When it comes to base specifications, you’ll find a Via C7 (1GHz) processor running things. We found it a responsive device that loaded applications relatively quickly and with 512MB of memory and 40GB hard drive rounding out the specification, you’ll get decent if not startling performance from it. One problem we found with the unit was the amount of heat generated, with the handheld becoming warm to the touch quite quickly. It never gets so warm that you need to put it down but considering it’s designed to be carried all day, it soon becomes irritating.
At least Windows XP is running the show, so you can share files with it without having to convert them or worry about clashing issues and when you’re using it for emailing or simple tasks, it’s not a bad little device, it’s just that we can’t find any need for it that isn’t already handled by out notebook. Sure, the 880g size means you can slip it into your bag no worries but it’s only half the weight of a similarly priced budget notebook and as the EO doesn’t come with a keyboard, you’ll need to add one, which takes the weight to over a kilo. Add to this no instant-on and suddenly it’s not as a appealing as you’d think.
The main disadvantage for anyone wanting to work free of clutter is the poor battery life. We managed to get less than 2 hours before it was docked and charging again.
The Tabletkiosk EO is an attractive device that certainly looks the part but when you start to use it on a regular basis you start to wonder what it was actually designed for. If you need the flexibility of a Tablet PC and can live with the poor battery life, this is a cost-effective machine but we’re just not convinced you’ll get the performance out of it you’re after.