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WeTab on its way - questions for review welcome

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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Thursday, 10.Feb.2011 22:23    Post subject: WeTab on its way - questions for review welcome   Reply with quote   

It's been some time since the WeTab has been launched so this isn't a breaking news, but I guess that not much people had direct contact with it. Nor did I.

But it's going to change early next week as Intel (on request of 4tiitoo / WeTab GmbH) has just shipped the WeTab tablet to me for review.

For those who don't know, WeTab is a Meego 1.1 based 13.6" tablet with 1.66 GHz Atom processor. It is going to be soon updated to MeeGo 1.2, and will also get a port of Dalvik VM in order to run Android software.

The unit is scheduled to be delivered on Feb 14 (hmmm.... I didn't know that it takes FedEx four days to deliver a package within EU) and next week I'll start writing the review.

If you have any questions to answer/address in the review, please post them here. They'll greatly help me to include in the review what you may be interested in regarding this device.
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PostPosted: Friday, 11.Feb.2011 01:58    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

I would say as always general impressions are good. Would like to know how 'complete' the MeeGo 1.1 tablet experience is. The handset experience for 1.1 is lacking basic functionality.

I would also like to know what kind of 3rd party software (if any) can be run (i.e. QT apps, etc...).
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PostPosted: Friday, 11.Feb.2011 02:36    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

I can't wait to test it. 13.6" screen must be really nice and 1366x768 is also OK. It'll be interesting to see how multitouch works on it. And 1.66 GHz Atom must be pretty fast on MeeGo considering that even on that fat and resource hungry Vista/Win7 it somehow manages to work. But on the other hand, I'm afraid that battery life won't be impressive - they say 6 hours but that's probably when idle.

On WeTab the MeeGo 1.1 UI is customized, so it'll also be interesting to see how it looks and works. I've also noticed on their website that OS update is now available for download but I couldn't find any details.

Regarding 3rd party software, they say:

"Linux (native applications for WeTab developed with the MeeGo SDK
and running on all upcoming MeeGo devices), HTML5, Java, Adobe AIR and Adobe Flash to Android (upcoming) and completely web-based services"

so it must be Qt and Qt Web Runtime, too. And the "upcoming Android support" must be the same Dalvik VM port we were talking about recently.

I'll test all possible software types once I get the device and I will report what works and how.
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PostPosted: Sunday, 13.Feb.2011 21:50    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

I'm looking forward to your preview and impressions, Michael.

A couple of the reviews on the German Amazon site mention that the WeTab gets rather hot and can be noisy ... I'll be interested to know what you think of that.

Simon.
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PostPosted: Monday, 14.Feb.2011 00:48    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Quote:

A couple of the reviews on the German Amazon site mention that the WeTab gets rather hot and can be noisy

Yes, I've heard that, too. And I'm afraid it's true as the Atom 1.66 GHz CPU inside (with fan) surely can become hot and noisy, especially under load. And this is where ARM solutions show their beauty... I guess that the same tablet but with e.g. Cortex-A9 onboard would be cold as ice, noiseless (due to no fan), and working twice longer on a single charge...

I think I can live with it as my small laptop (Core2Duo 1.86 GHz) also gets quite hot (around where the CPU is located) and from time to time its fan really makes awful noise, so I got used to it, but I surely wouldn't mind if it wasn't the case.

Anyway, what I am interested in the most is how MeeGo works on it. Even though the Handset UX isn't ready yet, it's going to be based on the same core system as the one on the tablet, so it'll be possible to judge performance and stability based on it. If it's good, maybe someone will release an ARM based tablet with it, cold and noiseless...
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PostPosted: Tuesday, 15.Feb.2011 02:57    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

OK, the WeTab has arrived a couple of hours ago. Haven't had time to play too much with it yet, so now just a couple of initial impressions.

Hardware and design are really nice. The display feels very robust, the back side of the device is covered with a rubber-like material which lets you hold the device more securely (no risk that it slips from your hand).

The device heats a bit, but nowhere near what I'd consider a problem. I'd say it's warm, not hot, and only where the CPU is located. The CPU fan can be heard from time to time, but it's much quieter than the one in my laptop, so it's not really an issue, either. Actually, if you are in a room where other persons are or TV is on, you don't hear it at all. Only in an empty and silent room at night you can hear it, but it's really quiet. Only under really heavy load it starts spinning faster for a minute or so to disperse the heat.

One problem so far: no matter how hard I try it cannot find my hidden WLAN, even if I enter all details manually. I have to enable SSID broadcast for it to connect. There is no problem with WPA2-PSK / AES, only the disabled SSID seems to be an issue. I'll email WeTab and ask them if there's any workaround for this.



Software: there are two software stores/repos: WeTab's own repository with native Linux software and some widgets, and a separate Adobe AIR store (or actually simply a web site).







I successfully installed some apps from the WeTab repo, including some video player and Stellarium. I also installed one AIR app - AccuWeather widget. Installation is quick and easy - one simple dialog and an app appears on the desktop.



There is a note on the desktop (in German only) about the new system version saying that in addition to Qt support, the OS now also includes support for Gnome and KDE apps, as well as Java both in the system and in the web browser.



File browser is preinstalled and it provides access to the full file system. In WeTab repository Root shell is available for download, so I guess I'm now in heaven as it means full unrestricted access to the whole system.





Touch screen works very nicely, multitouch also works OK. In apps like gallery or web browser pinch-to-zoom, rotation, etc. work smoothly and instantly. However, some apps (taken directly from desktop Linux distros) like e.g. Firefox browser, don't support multitouch or kinetic scrolling and one has to use their sliders to scroll. In such apps autorotation doesn't seem to work, either.

Firefox is available in the WeTab repo. Installed it - looks and works exactly as on any Linux distro.



I will also grab some .rpm's and see if Linux software can be directly installed.

The preinstalled browser is nice, fast, and fully supports multitouch, pinch to zoom, rotation, etc.



After about one hour of light use battery is at 53%. It's a new unit so battery needs a couple of recharging cycles to calibrate, but I guess 2-3 hours of work is max you can get.

How you scroll screens, how pages render in the web browser etc. shows that the hardware is very fast. But some software components require further optimization. For instance, YouTube videos seem to play fully smoothly only at 240p. At 360p some occasional (and hardly noticeable) stuttering starts, and 720p is almost unusable. A local video file played fine full screen, but I don't know what resolution it was, I'll check it later.

The desktop is very nice - you scroll it up/down and it's about 5 full screens, so plenty of content can fit there - app and widget icons, active widgets themselves (e.g. RSS readers, weather, etc.). On both sides there are also some quick access icons/buttons and desktop/web page "thumbnails" which can be used with thumbs to quickly scroll display.





The unit I got is the 3G one but I haven't yet tested it. Bluetooth is also present and the device receives files, but I haven't yet disovered how to send them - I can't find any option for that.

OpenOffice is preinstalled (normal Linux version) - Writer, Calc and Impress.



Keyboard is large enough and convenient to use. It's just that in non-Meego apps (i.e. in e.g. KDE apps) tapping a text field does not automatically open the keyboard so one has to use the "Keyboard" button for that. Not a huge problem, just one additional tap needed. Can't post screenshot of it as it is an overlay that doesn't show up on screenshots - I'll take a picture of it with a camera later.

The device also has GPS receiver - haven't tested it yet.

Of course, the OS is fully multitasking. Task manager is very similar to the one on the N900. You open it by tapping the "Open windows" button that's visible all the time on the right status bar. In the Task Manager you can quickly switch to any of the running apps or close the ones you no longer use using "X" button on their thumbnails.

Couldn't take screenshot of it, so again I will take a picture of it with a camera and add it here.

Apps not only work full screen, but can also be switched to a window like on a computer, so that you can see (and use) more than one app a time.



The email client preinstalled on the device is Claws Mail.



Well, that's all for now. I'll post more soon.

Questions are welcome.
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PostPosted: Tuesday, 15.Feb.2011 04:08    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

great begining michal!

thanks.

i have played with this unit a couple of times now...very faintly. once before it got the 1.1....and it needed help...and once more at the CES show this last january.

it was much better and more fluid at CES.

when i went into the qt booth...everything was n8/n900/meego/wetab

the device did look great...i would like to see something more like 7-10 inches to replace my netbook/booklet 3g myself. its size though, for those that have not used one, is actually necessary though in order to have the nicely added 2 side bars for quck search etc.

i look forward to seeing the rest of what you find on it!

-i would like to know of the syncing with your n900


being linux, it is probably going to be really easy between the two.

one of the things i didnt have enough time to play with is the main board where you store all the apps and widgets. i thought it was really cool to be able to have all working at the same time even with music or a movie in the background! but the board seemed not "easy/fluid" to me. it was proly my few minutes with it while everyone gawked... Shocked i was kinda feeling the pressure of "demo for free to the public" as it seemed i knew as much or more then the intel and nokia reps.

Very Happy
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PostPosted: Tuesday, 15.Feb.2011 04:54    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Quote:

it was much better and more fluid at CES.

It got another system update (2.0) very recently (came with it already installed) which further improved stability and performance.

Still some slow-downs from time to time and one time it froze, so I guess they still have some work to do, but overall it's quite nice.

Quote:

its size though, for those that have not used one, is actually necessary though in order to have the nicely added 2 side bars for quck search etc.

Yes, the side bars really improve functionality and ease of use so it's good that they're there. Most of the time it's just one side bar on the right, the left one only appears in some apps. And some apps (like e.g. picture gallery, video player, etc.) can obviously be switched to full screen mode, without these bars being visible.

Quote:

-i would like to know of the syncing with your n900
being linux, it is probably going to be really easy between the two.

I'll check it tomorrow and of course report my findings here.

Quote:

one of the things i didnt have enough time to play with is the main board where you store all the apps and widgets. i thought it was really cool to be able to have all working at the same time even with music or a movie in the background! but the board seemed not "easy/fluid" to me.

I've only played with it an hour or so (and not all of it with the desktop) but it looks rather cool and seems to work smoothly. Everything you install goes there (an icon looking like a widget). Actually, it supports two kinds of widgets: static (i.e. the aforementioned app icons launching apps, shortcuts to web pages, etc.) and active, i.e. widgets working all the time on the desktop, like for example some RSS feeds or weather forecasts periodically updated automatically. You can download a "Widget creator" from the repo and create your own widgets.

As I wrote, the desktop is a 5-display-long board that you can smoothly scroll. You can re-arrange the widgets however you like (the whole board is divided into hundreds of "boxes" and widgets/icons snap to them).

I need to play with it a little bit more to be able to judge things like performance, stability etc., so please give me a day or two and I'll be back with more details.

Quote:

i knew as much or more then the intel and nokia reps

That's not surprising at all Wink
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Michal Jerz
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PostPosted: Tuesday, 15.Feb.2011 07:34    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Further on software installation, I went to the site of Polish video on demand service (http://www.ipla.pl), the device was automatically recognized as Linux and download of a Linux client was suggested. The app requirements were Fedora, Ubuntu or openSUSE, and KDE or Gnome desktop, plus Adobe AIR. It installed just fine and runs without any problems.

Video performance is poor though. While on Booklet 3D the worst "Eco" mode is fully smooth, on the WeTab it's jerky, like 5 fps or so. Maybe it isn't hardware accelerated


I also tried to install some rpm's manually but all of them had unmet dependencies (e.g. SDL) and I had no time to play with it, so I'll try it again tomorrow.
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PostPosted: Thursday, 24.Feb.2011 07:26    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Any further updates Michal? Anything? Thanks ..
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PostPosted: Thursday, 24.Feb.2011 07:28    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

I should have the full review ready early next week. I wasn't posting any updates because nobody seemed to be interested...
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PostPosted: Thursday, 24.Feb.2011 09:35    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Great! Next week then .. I promised myself a MeeGo tablet this year, so it is good to have your opinions on board before deciding on any purchases .. Can't wait to replace my ageing N95 with E7, available in my country March 4th onwards, so I hear .. Next week then ..
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PostPosted: Thursday, 24.Feb.2011 10:10    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

actually i was waiting to see it.

while i am proly of the few here thjat have played with one, your review is going to be much more detailed and thourough.
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PostPosted: Thursday, 24.Feb.2011 12:57    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

I'm also looking forward to your review.
I have never seen one of these in action yet, and I would really like to know your opinion of this device.
I just don't have any specific questions yet.

To me, there's no better information available on mobile devices than your reviews...
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PostPosted: Thursday, 24.Feb.2011 17:41    Post subject:   Reply with quote   

Quote:

I promised myself a MeeGo tablet this year

I also contacted Intel and requested access to ExoPC for review. ExoPC is a better device to review the actual "genuine" MeeGo platform as it comes with the original MeeGo Tablet UX, whereas the WeTab has its own custom UI on MeeGo.

Unfortunately, it turns out that Intel only provides ExoPCs to developers attending their AppUp Labs so it looks that I will not be able to get it. Pity.

On the other hand, WeTab and ExoPC are precisely THE SAME hardware, just the software is different, so in theory it should be possible to just flash the WeTab with ExoPC firmware. I'm just not sure if I could do this as I have to return the WeTab after writing the review, and I don't know if I could flash it back to its own firmware... I will further investigate it.
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