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 Aesthetics
Weight just seems excessive
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Temperatures and Noise
- 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 Review
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.
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