Hands on: Made in Quebec Tablet

Out of the box I was impressed with the ExoPC Slate, nice uncluttered basic design, big 11.6″ screen and it felt lighter than its 1 kilogram weight. I desperately wanted to like this home grown device.

The ExoPC Slate is a Windows 7 Tablet powered by an Intel Atom N450 processor, 2GB of Memory and a choice of a 32 or 64GB SSD for storage. The WiFi version weighs 990 grams while the WiFi & 3G version tips the scale at 1.02Kg. The only hardware button is the power switch on the back. There are 2 USB ports, a Mini HDMI port, 3/8″ Audio out and a Docking Port. There is also a slot for a SD card (up to 32GB) and a SIM card. Nice credentials.

Now to turn it on..a 45 second wait for Windows 7 Home Premium to boot up. You can reduce that to 15 seconds by selecting hibernate instead of shut off. What you see at bootup is a standard Windows desktop. Microsoft advertises Windows 7 as touch friendly..that doesn’t mean the same kind of touch experience you see on the iPad or an Android Tablet..MultiTouch works but it is a bit jerky and using the standard Windows interface you have to be pretty accurate with your finger to get the hot spots on the first try.

ExoPC has developed its own touch interface to cover up Windows..and while it is a slight improvement, the desktop of circles that can provide access to apps, websites and documents still suffers from the sluggishness of Windows on a not powerful enough platform.

While some business users will like the fact it is a Windows machine that runs Windows applications, this nice looking tablet is a non-starter in the consumer market. Windows 7 is just too demanding an OS to be used on a relatively low powered (for a Windows machine) device and battery life of around four hours just doesn’t cut it. Most Netbooks now run 8 hours or more. Plus it is about 400 grams too heavy.

I am delighted to see this kind of development going on in Quebec, and this is probably the best Windows slate around but, I think Windows 7 is a dead end for tablet developers..Perhaps ExoPC will be able to parlay the experience with this device into development of an Android Gingerbread or Windows 8 device on a more battery friendly platform. I hope we haven’t heard the last from this company.

The ExoPC slate is available in Quebec at Dumoulin stores as the Vibe by Ciara priced at $649 for the 32Gb WiFi only version up to $879 for the 64Gb WiFi and 3G version. It is also available from the Vibe by Ciara online store.

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