Gigabyte S1185 Tablet Review
Greg Hook looks at Gigabyte's latest Windows 8 hybrid Tablet
Tech reviewSRP: £574.00
IntroductionThe arrival of Windows 8 in August 2012 was hoped to give a real boost to Microsoft in a crowded tablet market that they had so far failed miserably at entering, following a very poor reception to the Windows RT platform and hopefully to offer consumers a valid alternative to the iPad and Android based devices. A rather poor start did not help matters, unfortunately, and the negative reception that PC users gave to Windows 8 certainly hasn't helped either. Current figures show that Windows 8 is installed on just 1 in 20 PCs and Tablet devices, although the adoption rate is increasing month on month, albeit very slowly. But in recent months we have seen a few green shoots of recovery with several manufacturers offering full Windows 8 tablets, such as devices from Asus, including their recent 13" Asus Transformer Book and the Vivotab Smart along with Acer's Iconia tablets.
The bonus that these Windows 8 tablets offer is that they are pretty much fully functioning PCs. You can install any software to them that you could install to any normal desktop PC. Plus, looking at the examples we listed above, we are seeing an increasing number of what could be described as hybrid devices. Laptabs, if you will. These are tablets with detachable keyboards that can either be used just as a tablet or as a fully functioning laptop. The Gigabyte S1185 'Padbook' that we have for review today is again a hybrid device offering Windows 8 with an 11.6" Full HD tablet, detachable keyboard and a fairly decent specification with an Intel i5 Dual Core processor, 4GB ram and what on paper looks to be a fairly speedy 128GB SSD. Read on to see how we get on....
Design and AestheticsThe Gigabyte S1185 'Padbook' tablet is another in the recent trend of dual purpose/hybrid devices. With a full Windows 8 operating system and the detachable keyboard we have both a tablet and a netbook/laptop in the one device. Which echoes Gigabyte giving it the 'Padbook' moniker. It offers quite a good specification but the first word that comes to mind when describing it is 'chunky'. It's one of the heaviest - and thickest - tablets we've reviewed, weighing in at a hefty 990g for the screen and an additional 410g for the detachable keyboard. The 11.6" screen is a good size but the weight just seems excessive and for prolonged use as a tablet you might start to have very tired arms. To the front we have a 20mm thick black bezel surrounding the screen which gives you just enough space to rest your thumbs out of the way, a silver plastic strip around the outside and a grey plastic rear panel. It's not going to win any design awards that's for sure and certainly has a lot of plastic everywhere. One last point on the design is on the rear panel which has a plastic flap that opens out into a useful stand.
Weight just seems excessive
The keyboard attaches magnetically to the screen and offers the usual function keys and a touch pad with buttons. The base of the keyboard is silver, which does create a nice contrast to the dark grey colour used everywhere else. When attached to the screen the base does feel fairly secure, it stays on when holding it up by the screen, for example, whilst remaining easy enough to quickly remove when not required. The tablet itself measures 304mm x 187mm with a thickness of 13.5mm with the keyboard matching the overall sizes with a thickness of just 5mm. We thought the weight of the 13.3" screen on the Asus Transformer Book TX300 would hold the record for quite a while, but the 11.6" S1185 Padbook beats it.
Perhaps an explanation for Gigabyte's decision to go with such a thick and heavy device is so that they could offer a good range of connectivity options, and they certainly have done that here - and then some! To the right side of the screen we get a full sized HDMI port, Micro SD card reader, USB 3.0 port and most surprisingly a D-sub (VGA) port. Also on the right side is a SIM card slot, volume control key (which if pressed when the tablet is off will display the battery status) and the power connection. To the left side we have the headphone connection and a standard USB port along with the power and rotation lock buttons. So definitely an impressive array of connections and it should cover most bases.
OverviewWith an SRP of £574 - which puts it just slightly above the 64GB iPad - you would expect a reasonable specification and we don't think the S1185 disappoints here. Firstly, the 11.6" screen uses an IPS panel with a 1920 x 1080 Full HD display. We then have a 3rd Generation Intel Dual Core i5-3337U Processor (1.8GHz-2.7GHz) with Intel HD4000 graphics, 4GB DDR3 RAM and a very fast Crucial M4 128GB mSATA SSD.
The Crucial M4 128GB SSD offers quoted speeds of up to 500MB/s Read and 175 MB/s write and using ATTO disk benchmark we saw the drive give excellent results with the read speed of 521MB/s and 200MB/s for the write, well above the quoted speeds. It doesn't have the fastest write speeds we have seen of late but the read speed is certainly impressive. The 128GB drive actually gives a usable space of just 101GB, which after the Windows 8 installation will leave you with just 78GB of free space. Fairly decent for a tablet and, of course, being Windows 8 you can easily attach a USB external hard drive for additional storage or utilise the Micro SD card slot.
Using Bootracer 4.5 the boot to desktop time result was 30.156 seconds which is tad slower than we would have expected based on the results from our SSD test. Using a stopwatch, from a cold boot it took just 14.06 seconds to get to the Metro screen which will drop to 11 seconds when coming out of hibernation. More impressive, though, is the time from sleep which is just 4 seconds, although that still is slower than the 1-2 seconds time we have found with some of the Windows 8 tablets we have reviewed recently and, of course, the 'instant on' that Android and iPad users are familiar with. You may be wondering why there is such a difference between the Bootracer time and our manual times, the Bootracer time will keep ticking away even when it is on the desktop and will stop once all the services are loaded.
a tablet first: Optical finger navigation with mouse buttons
One feature of note, and a first on any tablet we have reviewed, is the Optical finger navigation with mouse buttons. To the left of the tablet we have the left and right mouse buttons and on the right hand side we have the optical sensor for controlling the mouse. This works very well, if perhaps it's a little fiddly moving the pointer icon when you first start, but you soon will get the hang of it. Pressing the optical sensor also acts like the left mouse button. It brings much needed extra input options to this tablet and more of a PC-like feel which you normally lose when the keyboard is detached. Having a right mouse button is particularly useful on Windows 8 when using touch only.
Other features and specifications to mention are a 5MP rear camera capable of 1080P 16:9 (and even 1944P in 4:3 mode) video recording and a 1.3MP front camera. We were particularly unimpressed with both cameras. Clearly the front camera is just a webcam specification and it was no surprise at the low quality seen here, but the rear camera produced very poor images. The video recording was especially disappointing, before you start recording the image was perfectly in focus, once you start recording it instantly goes out of focus and you just record an unwatchable mess. We would imagine the camera specifications are probably low down the list for most people on a tablet, but Gigabyte should still have done better here for a device costing £574.00. Lastly we have the 802.11b/g/n wireless (with a 3.5G antenna built in) and Bluetooth 4.0
DisplayThe screen is an 11.6" Full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS LCD panel display. This gives a pixel density of approximately 190 PPI (pixels per inch). Not really in the same league as the retina display of the iPad at 264 PPI and way behind the just announced Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 model) with a whopping 2560 x 1600 display which gives a PPI of 299. It does clearly lose against these high resolution tablets, but the display is still impressive in it's own right.With the IPS panel the viewing angles are excellent and the display has strong, bright colours and good definition with clear text and a maximum brightness level that should be more than sufficient. With Passmark's Monitor Test program we were able to confirm no backlight bleeding or stuck pixels and it passed all the tests. The capacitive multi-touch screen is very responsive and we didn't feel the need to tap things twice to get a response unlike with other Windows 8 tablets we have reviewed. A quality screen all round.
Pre-installed SoftwareFollowing the findings with our Gigabyte Ultrabook review and our last Asus Transformer Book review, these two manufacturers seem to do well in not filling their systems with loads of unwanted pre-installed software. Apart from the standard Windows 8 installation, the only additional software pre-installed was PowerDVD 10, Gigabyte's Smart Manager which gives quick access to various system functions such as Volume, Brightness and networking options to name a few, THX TruStudio Pro for making the on-board audio sound even worse and Smart Driver Agent which is a handy piece of software for checking the current system driver versions against the latest available version and providing an easy download and install route. A dedicated camera app would be welcome, though, as the one that comes with Windows 8 is below par to say the least!
We can't seem to get away from our gripes with Windows 8 on a tablet, we've had the same issues on all the Windows 8 tablets we have reviewed lately including the ASUS Vivotab and the ASUS Transformer Book and they just don't seem to go away. We are hoping Windows 8.1 improves on a few things but without a keyboard Windows 8 is very frustrating. For example, when you swipe from the right and bring up the search, you click the box and the keyboard pops up, all ok so far, but try that anywhere else such as entering text on a web browser, changing a file name etc and you have to manually bring up the keyboard and manually close it when you are finished. This sounds like a really minor gripe on paper but in practice it very quickly gets incredibly annoying. There are several other tasks that are effortless in Windows 8 with a keyboard attached but with touch alone they are a lot harder. The S1185 does help here with the optical mouse and mouse buttons built into the tablet, this is a great feature as mentioned above and certainly alleviates a few Windows 8 touch issues.
As with the ASUS Transformer Book review we are again reasonably impressed with the audio from the pair of 1.5 Watt stereo speakers. Perhaps only because we have experienced some truly dreadful efforts on previous tablet reviews. The audio quality is good, we didn't suffer from too much tinniness that low quality speakers give and the maximum volume is just about enough to blast out some tunes. Even at maximum volume the quality doesn't drop. We'd forget using any of the THX Studio Pro features, as to our ears all they did is make it sound considerably worse. A decent pair of headphones are clearly always better than the basic onboard audio but if you don't have any then the pair of stereo speakers in the S1185 tablet certainly provide a good experience for audio. The only minor negative we had is the positioning of the speakers. When holding the tablet with both hands you will most likely cover the two speaker grilles which are positioned either side of the rear panel towards the bottom.
Battery LifeThe tablet comes with just the one 39Wh Li-Polymer battery. Gigabyte are tight lipped with their battery life and don't give any claimed times which perhaps suggest it's not very good and our test results don't really disprove this. With Wi-Fi on and using the balanced power mode we managed to squeeze just 2 hours 40 minutes with our YouTube video test. The battery does recharge within an hour and you can always increase these times by lowering the screen brightness and enabling the power saving mode but you won't be getting any full day usage without charging here unfortunately.
Our suite of benchmark tests brought up no surprises, given the system specification. The graphics tests in particular showing the limitations of the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics. The Super Pi test is as expected, given the 1.8GHz-2.7GHz speed of the i5-3337U Processor and the Time to Desktop via Bootracer and with our manual timings show the impressive speed of the Crucial M4 128GB SSD.
Graphics tests showed up limitations of Intel HD4000
Temperatures and NoiseThe HWMonitor screenshot above shows the maximum temperatures the various system components reached during our testing session. The CPU temperatures do seem to be a lot higher at idle than we would have expected, with a minimum of around 55°C. Under load these peaked to 73°C which is cooler than previous Windows 8 tablets we have reviewed but the idle temperatures are a concern. Mainly due to this high idle temperature it means the system fan is on most of the time. It's a quiet fan but since Android and iPad users are used to complete silence, this can be a little off-putting..
Fan can be off-putting
- Optical mouse and buttons built into the tablet
- Detachable keyboard solves a lot of Windows 8 problems
- Good specification
- Windows 8 shouldn't be this annoying
- High CPU temperatures
- Battery life could be better
Gigabyte S1185 Tablet ReviewIn the crowded space that the current tablet market presents today, any device needs to offer something special to stand out against the crowd. With so many similar devices, users look for that unique feature or factors such as excellent design and built quality. The S1185 we believe does have a few unique features but doesn't immediately win you over in the looks department. You get a rather generic looking tablet with a dark grey rubberised plastic rear panel and a silver plastic bezel around the frame. The detachable keyboard follows this colour theme, although the silver base to the keys does help it to stand out. Then onto the size and weight and this tablet is exceptionally chunky and heavy. At 990g for just the tablet (keyboard is another 401g) it is far heavier than any of the competition and even beats our previous heaviest, the mighty 13.3" Asus Transformer Book TX300 at 978g. Quite why Gigabyte have made this so thick and heavy we have no idea.
But even with the extra weight, we were overall impressed with the S1185. The specification is good with a decent Intel i5-3337U Dual Core Ivy-Bridge processor, 4GB of DDR3 RAM and what after our testing turns out to be a very fast Crucial M4 128GB SSD. This resulted in good boot times, fast system performance and no slow downs during our testing such as playing HD videos for example. It's not the fastest Windows 8 tablet we have tested and as you can see from our graphics intensive benchmarks, it's clearly not for serious gaming, but for the £574 price tag it certainly holds it's own. You also get a standard (if rather disappointing) 5MP rear camera and 1.3MP front camera.
If you can live with the Windows 8 issues that we mention in detail in our review, which the detachable keyboard does help alleviate to a degree, the S1185 is overall an excellent device with a price point putting it firmly amongst similar Android tablets and just slightly more expensive than the 64GB iPad. You get a lovely 11.6" Full HD IPS display with great viewing angles, good strong colours and clear text along with superb connectivity that even includes a D-SUB (VGA) port! Other welcome features include a flap to the rear of the screen, which opens into a ready made stand and what is probably our favourite feature on the device in the shape of the optical mouse and mouse buttons built into the tablet. We find right clicking with touch alone on Windows 8 very hit and miss and with the built in mouse and buttons this problem has been removed.
We'd probably award higher here but we just can't ignore the annoying and, at times, infuriating Windows 8 OS on a touch device and if it didn't come with a detachable keyboard we would probably be hard pressed to give any award at all. But, as a complete package, with the excellent screen, superb connectivity and impressive performance, at a reasonable price then we are happy to give the Gigabyte S1185 Padbook our AVForums Recommended Award.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £574.00
Value For Money7
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