November 28, 2014

WinBook TW700 - the 7" Windows 8.1 Tablet for under $60 - 2-day Review

Here is an unboxing of my new WinBook TW700 7" Windows 8.1 Tablet from MicroCenter.

It cost me (and is still currently on sale as of the time of this writing) only $59.99 plus tax (normally $89.99).

Here be the specs:
  • 7" 1280x800 (16:10 aspect ratio) IPS LCD 5-point Capacitive Touchscreen
  • Intel BayTrail-T Z3735G 1.33GHz Quad-Core CPU
  • 1GB DDR3 RAM
  • 16GB Flash Storage
  • Windows 8.1 + Bing Operating System
  • 1-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 included (via code on card, not pre-installed)
  • microSD Card Slot
  • Full-sized USB 2.0 slot
  • MicroUSB
  • MicroHDMI video-out
  • WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • GPS
  • Stereo Speakers
  • Built-in Microphone
  • 3.5 mm Headphone/Mic combo jack
Windows 8.1 + Bing

Don't let the "+ Bing" thing scare you.  All it means is that the manufacturer got the OS for free from Microsoft with the guarentee that it would ship the product (in this case, the tablet) with the defaults for Internet Explorer all set to Bing and MSN.  This is normally the case anyway on Windows 8 - but some companies make deals with Google or Yahoo to change those defaults.  As the consumer, you are free to change all the settings you want.  You are not locked into Bing.  You never have to use it at all, and you are free to use Google, or Yahoo, or Ask, or Alta Vista... (is that even still a thing?) or whatever.

So you are getting a full Windows experience.  This is not WindowsRT, or even something like the Windows 7 Starter Edition.  This is full Windows 8.1 - with all that entails, the good and the bad.  So don't freak out about the + Bing.

I do also want to point out that Windows 8 by itself sells on the Microsoft Store for $79.99.  

Microsoft Office 365

There is a folder and icon for Office 365 on the tablet, but it's not actually installed.  Clicking that starts the installation process, and you have to input the code from the card that is included in the box with the tablet in order to authenticate your subscription to the service. I haven't installed it because I'm not sure I'm going to use it, and since it is a subscription and not a straight install-once-use-forever thing, I'd rather wait until I'm sure I need it before I activate it.

The license is good for "1 Tablet + 1 PC/Mac" - but I don't think it has to be *this* tablet.

A one-year subscription to Office 365 costs $79.99 (or $7.99 per month) - so, again, like with Windows, the cost of the tablet is less than the cost of the software.  (Although, to be fair, the $79.99 subscription gives you 5 installs instead of 2.)

Initial thoughts

I've only had it a couple of days, but I am certain I'm going to get my money's worth out of this one.  Like I said, Office 365 alone is worth more than I paid - but even aside from that - I got a full brand-new Windows computer for less than $60!  That's amazing.

The full-sized USB is important to me.  That gives it far more of a computer vibe and less of a tablet vibe.  I mean, I know technically any tablet/phone/device with a USB-OTG port, regardless of size (full, micro, or mini) can have peripherals -- and I know BlueTooth peripherals exist.  But the convenience of being able to just plug something directly into the side of this thing makes it feel a lot more like a PC to me.  

No adapters or limitations - just any other USB slot on any other computer I've used over the last 15 years.  Easy Peasy.  I've plugged keyboards, USB drives, etc. into the thing, and it just works.  Sure - you have to install drivers for certain things, just like on any Windows computer - but there's nothing strange about the process just because it's a tablet.

The device has a 16GB internal flash drive, but you only have access to 8GB of it, I'm not sure what's up with the other 8GB, but I assume it's something like a recovery drive or something, but it's not visible in Explorer.  I didn't look before I started installing apps and software, but even after installing LibreOffice and a few other decent sized programs, I had over 2GB left.  And it has a MicroSD slot, so I've got a 32GB card in there.  That should hold me for a while.

I do wish the RAM was upgradable.  1GB isn't much.  If you aren't multitasking too much or playing graphics-intensive games, it shouldn't be a problem.  But having too many Google Chrome Extensions installed (like I do) does slow things down a bit, especially when streaming audio in one window and trying to surf in another.  (There is an 8" model with 2GB of RAM available [currently on sale] for $139.99, but that is more than twice the price.)

I am a Mac user, and I have Windows installed on a small partition of my MBP, but I rarely use it.  This tablet will let me quickly and easily run lighter Windows-only apps.  And with the full-sized USB I can do things like root my phone quickly and easily (which is not always simple on a Mac).

I wouldn't recommend it as your main computer, but if you are chugging along on something that is 5 years old, or if you just want a second machine for the living room or something - this is far more functional than a phone or Android/iOS tablet, and it costs less, too.

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James said...

Why didn't you buy me one?

GaryWilliams said...

I got one, nice little device. However, I can't change the the audio (headphone) jack to a mic input for my Sony ECM-DS7DF stereo mike. Any ideas???