ChuWi Vi10 Thoughts

About a month or so ago, I purchased a ChuWi Vi10 tablet.  Now that I’ve had the device for a bit, here are my thoughts on the tablet.

First of all, dual booting is not a joke nor is it a novelty.  It really runs Windows, and it runs Windows pretty dog-gone well, even with just 2 GB of RAM.  The tablet does have a four-core processor, which helps some.  Now, when running in Windows, it can stutter and drag every once in a while.  I also haven’t pushed it beyond running one or two applications at a time.  Normally, I’ll run Firefox and Windows Live Writer, but not too much else.  It obviously won’t play real games, but streaming on Twitch is smooth and graphics are good enough for my low-rent web surfing.

In Android, things are pretty zippy, but the screen is blurry and out of focus.  It’s something you can ignore when page zoom is relatively high, but if you’re trying to read small print, you’ll notice the weakness.  Fortunately, you can root the device and fix the display problem.  After following these instructions, my screen is noticably crisper and I can read ebooks in Android.

As far as size and form factor go, this is a landscape tablet; it’s not something you want to try to carry around and read in portrait mode.  This means that it’s good for webpages and video, but not as good for technical books.  I’ll admit that I haven’t done much reading with this device, especially because I have a 7” tablet which is much better designed for reading.

The big benefit to the device is its keyboard.  When combined with the keyboard, the Vi10 is basically a low-price Surface Pro.  It’s not as powerful as a Surface Pro 3, not by any stretch, but it’s also about a quarter of the price, and because I don’t have laptop money to throw at a tablet, I’d much rather have the ChuWi.  As far as the keyboard itself goes, I’ve had problems with the touchpad.  It’s right in the middle of the keyboard area and you can easily move the mouse and click somewhere you didn’t mean to.  I end up turning the mouse off when I start typing blog posts or longer messages, and instead use the touch screen.

Touch screen precision is OK, but I’ve had some problems.  My fingers aren’t particularly fat, but I do seem to need to double-press or triple-press because I’m ever so slightly off.  If I lowered the resolution, I’m sure that would fix a lot of the problems, and I might end up doing that.  It runs in 1366×768 resolution, and maybe bumping magnification to 125% is the smart play.  I’m going to try that out and see if it’s the answer to my problems or if losing that much screen real estate isn’t worth it.  For precision work, I just use a mouse.

My biggest concern with this device is that the keyboard scratches up the glass—I see scratches all along the edges of my screen.  There haven’t been any deleterious effects and I haven’t tried buffing them out, but it does leave me concerned about the tablet’s longevity and whether it can withstand my…rough habits with devices.

All in all, if you can get this tablet for $150 or less—and right now you can—it could be a very good purchase.  There are rumors of more powerful ChuWi tablets coming out soon, so you might possibly want to wait, but I’m glad I made this purchase.

New Phone

I’ve had my Thunderbolt for two and a half years now.  It’s a slow but venerable phone and has served me well.  Unfortunately, over the past few months, the battery life completely died.  I bought a new battery, which fixed that problem, but recently, it started shutting itself off at 80% battery life and after reboot claiming that the battery is at ~0%.  After the next reboot, it would be back at 70-79% and A-OK for a little bit, except when it jumps from 70% to 15% and shuts off.  So basically, it was time for a new phone.

With this battery-related craziness in mind, I decided to spring for a Droid Maxx.  It’s much faster and, more importantly, has a huge amount of battery life.  Paired with a USB recharger, I should have no problems when at a conference.

Computing Notes

New Computer Built

The last desktop computer I bought was in 2007.  It was pretty good for the time (or at least as good as I could custom-build for ~$1300 including monitors and peripherals), but it has been showing its age for a while.  Sometime in the next year, I plan to build a mega-computer, designed to handle running 4-5 VMs simultaneously and allowing my laptops to connect similar to a vmWare View workstation, so that I don’t use up their scarce resources like I am today.  Unfortunately, that computer’s going to be pretty expensive (I have it spec’d out at a bit over $4000).

To get me through the meantime, I decided to try to upgrade my current computer.  My plan was that I would buy some more RAM, maybe get a solid state drive, and upgrade Windows to 64-bit.  This plan fell apart about ten minutes after I began:  the motherboard I had was limited to 4 GB of RAM, and I was at that amount already.

So then I decided to get a new motherboard.  But then I’d need to get a new CPU, new RAM, and a new video card (it was 5 years old, too, so although it still worked fine for a lot of stuff, it was beginning to show its age).  And I wanted to do this today, so off to the local giant computer chain I went.  While there, I also found a great deal on SSDs, so I threw in one of those, too.  I figured I could re-use my case, power supply (which I had upgraded to a 650w Antec model), two SATA drives, DVD burner, wireless network card, and sound card.

Sometime after installing the new motherboard, I took a closer look at the thing and realized that it’s not 2008 anymore:  there were no PCI legacy slots (goodbye sound card and network card) and no IDE channel (so long, DVD burner), so I had to go out and get a wireless USB stick—cards are apparently passe now—and DVD burner.  I only have cheap speakers for this computer, so the onboard sound is acceptable.

The total price for this was about $950, but I now have 16 GB of RAM, a solid state Windows installation, a mid-range processor, a good video card, and have slaked my urge to spend $4K on a computer…for now…  Eventually, I’ll donate this machine to the spousal unit and build my mega-computer, but at least I can play The Sims 3 without having it crash and lose hours of micromanaging…  Oh, and the 7-second bootup is so nice.

More Microsoft Doom Notes

Windows 8 appears to be a flop in the business world.  This makes total sense to me:  in my experience so far, Windows 8 has a good feel for a tablet-based system, where you may lack a keyboard or end up doing a lot of work with a touchscreen.  But as far as desktop-related work goes, they didn’t really improve the Windows 7 interface but they did shuffle things around and make it harder to get to places if you do not already know the name.  For example, try to get a casual Windows user to shut down the machine.  It’s harder than you might think.

And don’t get me started on the UI for Server 2012…

Infoworld’s review, I think, is tough  but fair.

It kind of feels like Microsoft is trying to force businesses and consumers into Windows 8 by (perhaps) not offering a second service pack for Windows 7.