Turbo-X WinTab: Second round of issues

Turbo-X WinTab: Second round of issues

I picked up my WinTab from the Plaisio service yesterday; I was informed that both the motherboard and the battery were replaced and I was glad to hear that. I did a quick check to see if the touch screen was responsive (it was, but the tablet was downgraded to Windows 8.1 in order to work) and went back home.

After I completed the install/set up of the operating system, I realized that I could not proceed with the activation of Windows, which should have taken place automatically. I kept receiving a message about the key used not being valid…as you can imagine, I never had any key as the tablet comes with Windows preloaded. I quickly checked online and found out that this is common after replacing a motherboard and a special procedure needs to take place by the manufacturer or service (e.g. see here and here).

Windows activation issue (Greek only, as Windows are not activated)
Windows activation issue (Greek only, as Windows are not activated)

I immediately contacted again the Plaisio service via email (always useful to have all communication in written form) and started working on workarounds; I reset the tablet to the defaults, went from zero again and installed all updates, tried some additional Windows updates…nada. I even tried to make use of the free upgrade to Windows 10 I was offered by the system, but it was not possible for me to go on without first activating Windows.

I received a response to my email later today; as I was afraid, I will have to visit the service point again (not really accessible from my house) in order for this special procedure to take place. In addition, I was informed that:

  • The tablet’s drivers are not available anywhere online, as they are included in the ISO file of the operating system (provided as-is by the manufacturer).
  • Windows 10 are not currently supported due to lack of proper drivers; they are currently under testing and I will be informed as soon as I can upgrade to Windows 10 (even though I guess that I will have missed Microsoft’s deadline for this).

This means that I will have to spare my tablet for some more days and hopefully receive it in a fully-working state. Fingers crossed!

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Updating my Turbo-X Wintab 2-in-1 to Windows 10: Issues

Updating my Turbo-X Wintab 2-in-1 to Windows 10: Issues

While I was on holidays I received the notification that I could automatically download and install Windows 10 on my Turbo-X Wintab 2 in 1 Τablet. Since WiFi was pretty slow there, I waited until I got back home and decided to give it a try. Installation was automatic, pretty quick and soon I was introduced to the new Windows 10 interface – alas, the touch screen was not responding!

After unsuccessfully trying to find touch screen drivers that would work (Plaisio does not share the set of Windows 8 drivers for this tablet – for unknown reasons), I decided to reset the tablet and send it to the service, as it was still under warranty (it was only 1 month’s purchase). I was warned by the system that I only had one month to roll back to Windows 8.1 if I wished (which I didn’t) so I went on to delete all files and have it cleaned before it was serviced. In the meantime I had contacted the Plaisio service dept. describing the situation and they asked me to bring the tablet to them for an inspection.

After the reset process completed, the tablet rebooted for the last time – and it was then that I saw the blue screen of death, warning me that the boot device was inaccessible!

inaccessible-boot-device-windows-8No matter what I tried, the tablet kept rebooting into the same blue screen so I had to find a way to make it boot into something bootable.

  1. Create a bootable USB with Windows 10: I was lucky enough to have upgraded my tablet first to Windows 10 within Windows 8.1 and then make this attempt. This means that I did not need any serial or activation number, as the system was already prepared for the update, so I would have a legitimate copy of Windows 10. The process is described here.
  2. Make tablet boot from the USB: That was the tricky part as the BIOS was not accessible by pressing any of the buttons (F2, F10, F12 etc.). I found online that you have to power on some devices (not mine) by pressing the power button and Volume Down, in other cases it was Volume Up – after many attempts, I realized that in my case I had to press simultaneously Power, Vol Up and Vol Down in order to get in the BIOS! Then I changed the boot order (it was not easy, as options were not very clear) but I did it.
  3. Fresh install Windows 10: The process went smoothly, even though the tablet became unresponsive at some points (after periods of inactivity during the installation) and I had to reset it. In the end I ended up with a fresh installation of Windows 10. However, screen resolution was low, touch screen was not working, battery icon was not available in the tray etc. Damn!
  4. Find appropriate drivers for hardware: As I mentioned earlier, drivers for this tablet are a well-kept secret so I had to look for alternatives. I found out that the Onda v101w tablet might be similar to mine so drivers worked for my tablet, too. Indeed, display drivers worked, bluetooth worked, battery icon appeared etc. The only thing that didn’t work was the touch screen.
  5. Reset the tablet (again): The last resort was the authorized service. I reset the tablet again (this time it worked nicely and all devices were recognized so the drivers remained intact), created a temp account for accessing the tablet (that the service guys could also use for fixing the tablet) and let it there.
  6. Have the tablet restored: On 17/8/2015 I left the tablet at the Plaisio service, explaining the issue with the touch screen, the battery not charging more than 95% with the provided charger and the cable that was worrying me. I received a call later on from them, letting me know that the charging was going beyond 95% (apparently they used a micro-USB charger but I gave up on that), that the cable was indeed placed there and that there was no risk of being damaged after use (I hope that this is true) and that they would have to send the tablet to the central service in order for them to see if the touch screen would work with Windows 10 or if we would have to revert back to Windows 8.1 (which I said I didn’t mind, as long as the touch screen works ok – I may try the update at a later stage, when the drivers will be updated). I was also congratulated by the tech guy for managing to install working drivers for Windows 10 (this might have been shocking even for them!).

I am expecting the tablet by Thursday or Friday (in a couple of days, as they said), so I may receive it on time for my upcoming trip 🙂

Turbo-X Wintab 2 in 1 Τablet 10.1″ WiFi – First impressions

Turbo-X Wintab 2 in 1 Τablet 10.1″ WiFi – First impressions

I have been in the hunt for a Windows-powered transformer / 2-in-1 tablet for the last months, after the lovely experience I had with a colleague’s Asus TransformerBook T100 during a business trip. As I had the opportunity to buy something cheap last month, I decided to go for the Turbo-X Wintab 2 in 1 Τablet distributed by Plaisio, a major Greek tech/gadget (among others) retailer. I would expect that such a tiny (but powerful enough machine) would be my companion in my business trips, where no CPU-intensive tasks are required.

Turbo-X_Wintab

I have been using the Turbo-X WinTab for the last three weeks, mostly during my summer vacations, where I needed something easy to carry around for checking my emails, light web browsing and updating social media – while also drafting some blog posts and other texts. My impressions from this short experience with this 2-in-1 are the following:

Portability

It is a 10-inch tablet with a keyboard so it is easy to carry around. It is much easier to carry it as a tablet-only but the keyboard also provides a sense of protection to the screen. The laptop is pretty heavy (at least heavier than expected) with the keyboard docked.

Hardware

10,1-inch touch screen with 10 touch points and a 1280×800 screen resolution, vibrant enough to be readable under bright sunlight. Intel Atom Z3735F CPU @ 1,33GHz, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of flash storage, which can be extended through the use of a SD card. Small-form keyboard (to match the size of the tablet/screen). The packaging included a micro-USB to USB OTG adapter to allow the use of devices with full-USB interface through the micro-USB port. Last but not least, the WinTab features not only a webcam (which can act as a front camera) but a 5MP rear camera as well. The system is powered by a 6600 mAh battery (non-replaceable).

Extensibility

The tablet has numerous ports, actually more than the (older) T100. Apart from the typical headphones jack and power port (it features a needle-like, proprietary charging port), the WinTab has two USB ports (one full-sized and a micro-USB one) as well as a mini-HDMI port for connecting it to a larger screen or TV). In addition, it has an SD-slot for increasing the available storage space. Another full-sized USB port is available at the keyboard’s side. It features WiFi and Bluetooth while 3G is also supported by a different (slightly more expensive) model.

The micro-USB port can be used for charging the tablet as well; however, the additional, proprietary charger can also be used, freeing up this valuable USB port for connecting another device.

Software

The laptop came with Windows 8.1 32-bit edition and no bloatware installed. It also came with a free 1-year subscription for Office 365 and some other perks, such us free Skype call time and storage space in OneDrive.

Overall usage

The laptop feels pretty nice to use on a frequent basis. The small-form keyboard is not easy to get used to but it does the work when needed. The whole package is heavier than expected but it can be carried around easily, as it is pretty compact. The tablet part (screen) is pretty light and responsive enough for everyday tasks. When docked to the keyboard, the laptop feels sturdy and stable enough to support fairly heavy typing. The viewing angle is nice and comfortable and the docking mechanism is simple enough (featuring a sliding button).

Things to notice

  • Sometimes when the tablet is docked, removed and then docked again the keyboard becomes non-responsive and the tablet has to be restarted in order for the keyboard to respond again. I read somewhere that this may have to do with the touch screen driver, that needs to be set up in a way.
  • Even when the tablet is charged overnight, the battery is charged at 95% maximum. The only way I found to charge it up to 100% is to switch on the tablet and then leave the charger on or remove and plug the charger again. Otherwise, using a micro-USB charger solves the problem.
  • Battery life is nice but not as great as the T100 one. Depending on the usage, it may last for about 4-6 hours (maybe longer but I have not tested it yet).
  • In the keyboard part of the laptop, there is a wire that can be easily seen extended and then back in place when the screen is docked and changes position (from fully extended to closed on the keyboard). I hope that this wire/cord is durable enough to withstand frequent use and cycles of extension.

WinTab_cord

  • The screen is bright enough to be comfortably used indoors with the brightness set at minimum.
  • A driver update of the touch screen screws up the calibration and renders it unusable. The solution is to undo this update/roll back the driver and totally disable it/hide it. You can read more here.

Overall

The WinTab is a nice companion for those seeking a transformer in a small factor. It provides the convenience of Windows 8 (and subsequently Windows 10; I have already received the notification for the free upgrade to Windows 10) in a small and efficient factor. The CPU does well even with HD videos and cannot be compared to the lousy Atom CPUs used in netbooks some years ago.

The only drawback I see so far is the hard-to-get-used-to small keyboard, which makes me wonder if a stand-alone 10-inch tablet with a larger (but still not full-sized) keyboard would be a more efficient combination.