In a previous post, I discussed my experience setting my iPad up for use at work. As a result of that experience, I concluded that the iPad is not something many businesses would be able to set up and save money. I do believe that there is a need within business for mobile employees to have a tool that is more portable than a laptop. Something running Windows would certainly integrate into my workday much more easily. But sadly, the Microsoft camp has been very slow to produce anything with the portability and power that comes even close to the iPad. Maybe that’s about to change. There is much talk from Dell, HP and other vendors that they are releasing various tablet platforms, but they have been very slow to release a viable product. When they do, each and every one is being compared to the iPad and falling very short.
I recently learned of a new “tablet” running Windows 7 called the nPad made by Nexocial. It is the first Tablet PC, that I have seen, that truly is designed to have the touch screen be the primary source of interaction. Based on the technical specs, the speed and performance are roughly similar to a normal desktop computer. I found a demonstration video YouTube that shows the capabilities and performance of the nPad.
As you can see, the performance and responsiveness of the interface appears to be very solid. Let’s dig into the technical specs.
As of May 30, here are the technical specs for the nPad.
Size & Weight
Height: 9.96 inches
Width: 6.61 inches
Depth: 0.70 inches
Weight: 1.98 pounds
As it relates to the iPad, the nPad has a slightly larger height and depth, but thinner width. From a Tablet PC standpoint, I have not seen any hardware coming in this small of a package.
Processor & Memory
CPU: Celeron® 1.3GHz
Memory: 2GB DDR2 @ 800MHz
The Celeron Processor is known for having lower power consumption, with a trade off in speed. However, for most business applications the performance would be more than sufficient. The 2GB of RAM doubles the minimum requirements for Windows 7.
Hard Drive: One internal 250GB / 320GB, 2.5-inch, Serial ATA (SATA) hard drive, 5400rpm
The website also seems to indicate that there will also be a version running 8x64GB SD Cards.
250GB is more than enough storage for most people. Unless you have a giant music library or work with large graphic files, but then this probably wouldn’t be the device you’d do the heavy lifting on.
Graphics & Video Support
Display: 10.1-inch ultra thin LED-backlit widescreen multi-touch display 1024*600-pixel resolution
Camera: 1.3-megapixel built-in camera
The display is .4 inches larger than the iPad (sorry, can’t help but compare) and as you can see from the YouTube demonstration the video quality is quite good. The big wow factor here is that the nPad also includes a front facing camera. The camera is ideally suited for video chatting and, for security on the nPad, facial recognition. With the right adapter, the miniHDMI could be connected to a TV for watching movies or projecting presentations.
Realtek ALC622 HD Audio
2 Built in speakers providing stereo audio
1 Built in microphone
The speakers allow for HD/Stereo Audio, which should provide for some very nice sound quality.
802.11 b/g support
The network support is standards compliant and given the nPad runs Windows – surfing, VPN and most common activities will be easily done.
4 in 1 Built-in card reader
2 USB Ports
The card reader supports all major card formats, and would eliminate the need to carry an extra adapter. With 2 USB ports, you can plug in any USB compatible device that works on Windows. Headphone jacks are pretty standard, having a mic jack allows for a higher quality microphone if you need it.
Lithium Polymer high-energy Battery 4800mAh / 5200mAh
Well, this seems to be the one place that a lot of Windows tablets get hung up. The technical specs indicate that the nPad only has up to 3 hours battery life. I can see this being a problem for people that are on the road a lot, hopefully a car charger or battery pack will be on the market soon.
It is very exciting to see a contender on the market that can run common business apps and provide true touch screen technology. I see the nPad as having a lot of potential, not just for business but for consumers as well. I can truly see this as a purchase one could justify, instead of a laptop or a very limited netbook. Since it’s Windows based, it can run Microsoft Office and other productivity applications that are exactly the same as the Desktop versions. This fact alone will ease entry and adoption in businesses, as there is little learning curve on using it. The weight may be a little heavy for an extended read, but if the form is right it could still be very comfortable. Having, myself, been on flights that last more than 3 hours, the battery life would give me a little pause. I am curious if the SD Card model has better life or if the 3 hours is based on worst case usage. Since the nPad is currently only being released in the Netherlands, I will have to wait a little longer before I can test it. This is definitely a product I will keep my eye on.
Disclaimer: This article is based on the technical specifications published on http://www.npad.nu and information from http://www.nexocial.com as of May 30, 2010.