Gigabyte S1080

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by trent, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. trent

    trent Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Posting this from my new Gigabyte S1080 Windows 7 tablet. My company (Liberation Software, Inc) is doing a field trial of these new windows 7 tablets to test if the tablets are a viable alternative to notebooks for service and sales departments at Deere dealerships in North America. We had a pair of the tablets delivered overnight from Gigabyte on the morning of the release date Friday July 1st.

    Not sure where to even begin with a review of these impressive devices. So, I'll start at the beginning.

    Unboxing the Gigabyte S1080 reveals a nicely packaged tablet, a driver DVD, a power cord, a brief manual that's in about 16 languages, and a cardboard sheet that has all of the various functions and shortcuts identified. Also included is a very nice leather carrying tote which has a picture frame type piece on the back. It can be snapped in place (via metal snaps) to secure it when carrying. Unsnap it and it puts it at a good viewing angle when set at a desk or on a table. (I'm using it right now to post, with a USB Bluetooth keyboard).

    The first S1080 tablet we decided to test as it was shipped from the factory. It was preloaded with Windows 7 Home Premium x86. There wasn't much bloatware loaded by the factory, which was a relief. Once the out of box experience was completed in Windows 7, the system required one reboot for gigabyte's software to perform an "optimization" (not sure why exactly).

    Walking through the hardware features, on the front bezel, right side, is an optical mouse. You can use this to augment the touch screen interface. Simply moving your right (or left, depending on orientation) thumb will move the mouse cursor. Pressing down will serve as left click. On the opposite side are two buttons build in to the edge of the bezel, servicing as left and right mouse buttons. This augments the touch screen and makes some otherwise difficult operations such as resizing splitter bars, and drag & drop, much easier to accomplish. I haven't felt the need to plug in a USB mouse since I first started using it.

    The Keyboard is an entirely different story. While perfectly functional for mobile use, it's a lot slower than a conventional keyboard, I really do prefer typing on a keyboard instead of a screen. I consider this a fault of any tablet form factor, however, so I don't hold it against the tablet itself.

    The first S1080 (unaltered from the factory) was used to load a few DVD's worth of Deere software for testing whether the device can communicate with the onboard computers for Deere excavators, backhoes, and so on. I cannot get in to the details of how this works exactly, but the device functioned flawlessly. The included USB 3.0 interface will make it MUCH faster for us to copy over update DVD ISO images to the tablet than a normal computer - we'll be able to update 10 or more of these tablets in the same amount of time than it takes a conventional notebook, at a price factor that is less per unit. The same can be said of electronic parts catalogs, and so on. All of the software we tested worked great.

    The interfaces were a bit scrunched feeling at times, due to the 1024x600 resolution, but it was functional. I'd really prefer a 1366x768 display, to be honest, and look forward to an updated model at some point in the future. The touch screen interface is very responsive, and accurate. I would much rather have the option of using a pen for input, but with the included optical mouse on the bezel, it's not really a big deal.

    Also included on the bezel are four touch sensitive function buttons - one to bring up the onscreen keyboard, a pair of scroll up / down buttons, and a back button. All very handy!

    Feature wise, the tablet is pretty loaded for such a small form factor. Gigabit ethernet ports, built in 802.11n wireless, SDHC card slot, volume +/- buttons, USB2, headphone / speaker jack, 1.3 megapixel front facing camera, USB3, SIM card slot for 3.5G (add on 3G modem required), and VGA out. The VGA out was somewhat confusing at first; you'd figure they would have went with HDMI to save space. However, it makes sense from a legacy compatibility standpoint - it'll connect to new devices and old.

    We also tested 3G on this via USCellular USB card (didn't have an internal mini pci-e handy this weekend). While riding out to the closest Deere dealer for testing, I was browsing the internet, checking my Exchange 2010 mail, and logging on to my office RemoteApps via RemoteApp and Desktop connection. Worth noting, at this resolution Visual Studio 2010 is unusable. But Office 2010 works great! :)

    The tablet as shipped included 2GB of DDR3, 320GB Hitachi HDD, Intel Atom N570 dual core 1.66 GHz CPU with Hyperthreading. It scored a 3.0 on the windows performance test, with gaming graphics being the lowest score. The Intel 3150 video chipset isn't stout enough to handle gaming, but was running Chess Titans fine. :)

    We experienced battery life of about 3.5-4 hours of constant use. Might have got a bit more out if we'd disabled USB3 and dimmed the display a bit. The tablet supports external snap on battery packs that should extend the life an additional 2.5-3 hours each.

    The LCD was usable (barely) in full on bright July sunlight. The viewing angle isn't bad - a bit restrictive on the vertical axis, but about 160 degrees on the horizontal. Overall I can't think of anything inherently *wrong* with this tablet. The only remaining wishes would be #1 slightly higher resolution.

    I feel it is a viable enterprise class platform, suitable for use in business environments.

    The second S1080 was torn down and upgraded - will post on that in part 2.
     
  2. trent

    trent Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Gigabyte S1080 Part 2 - Teardown and Rebuild


    (Pic of our first S1080 connected to a Deere 410J Backhoe)
    [​IMG]

    The second tablet we received wasn't even booted in to Windows 7 Home Premium. Instead, I immediately grabbed a #9 torx and went to work on the four screws on the back plate.

    [​IMG]


    As you can see above on the teardown pics, there's some interesting things going on in the tablet. First, the battery is user-changeable. Nice to know, since LiIon batteries last about 400-500 charge cycles (2-3 years). Don't have to ship these tablets back to the factory for a refresh, unlike those pesky iPads...

    Second, is there is a full size mini-PCIe slot available for use, with an antenna sitting there. While designed to be the home of a 3.5G card, it could serve many alternative purposes - GPS, etc.

    Third, memory is standard DDR3 notebook memory, and the hard drive bay is a conventional 2.5" bay dimension. However - and this is important - the included drive is a single platter thin profile drive. Normal laptop drives WILL NOT FIT in the tablet. (At least, not without altering / cutting out the back cover to allow it to fit "over" the drive...)

    I wanted to accomplish three things with the rebuild:

    #1 Retrofit a 128GB SSD to replace the 320GB HDD
    #2 Increase DDR3 Memory to 4GB
    #3 Install Windows 7 Professional

    Problem #1 I encountered, was the GSkill SSD I had on hand didn't fit in to the enclosure. So I violated the warranty and removed it from it's shell:

    [​IMG]

    With a little cardboard to secure it in place, this worked out fine. However well this may work for SSD's, it will certainly NOT work for standard sized hard drives; your only option for a 1TB drive would be to cut a square out of the plastic back panel. (I was thinking of building a fiberglass panel for this purpose, if I ever wanted a tablet with a lot of storage space). Maybe Gigabyte can be convinced to offer an aftermarket panel that'll allow a full size drive to be used?

    Reload configuration follows:

    1x powered USB2 hub
    1x external bluray USB2.0 drive (DVDROM would work fine, didn't have one on hand)
    1x Logitech Bluetooth wireless keyboard
    1x Logitech Wireless mouse

    The keyboard / mouse are *required* due to Windows 7 loader not knowing that you're using a tablet - until Windows is loaded, all of the buttons and touchscreen devices are unusable, so you have to use external input devices while loading an OS.

    The Tablet BIOS was quite remarkable - it IS touchscreen capable. When you start the tablet you hold down the volume "+" key, which simulates F2 during POST. Once in Bios, you use the mouse buttons on the bezel, and touch the screen to select options. Pushing both mouse buttons on the bezel "backs out" of the current menu. Pressing up & down buttons changes values, and so on. Bit different to get used to, but very functional.

    Once I changed the boot order to boot of the external DVD, I first attempted to load Windows 7 Professional x64. This turned out to be a total disaster. First, Gigabyte doesn't have ANY x64 drivers on their website - they only have x86. Windows installed fine, but once I downloaded and installed the Intel Reference drivers for the GMA 3150 (x64), the tablet went in to a blue screen loop. Couldn't even boot in to safe mode with it. Windows recovery failed as the driver didn't make a checkpoint.

    So I wiped the SDD and tried Windows 7 Pro x86. Windows installed fine, but when I went to install drivers, I manually checkpointed the system before each driver load. This turned out to be a fortuitous decision; the second driver on the disk (Intel storage driver) also caused a blue-screen loop under Windows 7 Pro. This is probably due to me using an SSD, and not a conventional HDD.

    Reverting a checkpoint, I continued on. All other software drivers and applications included on the driver DVD worked without incident. The tablet was up and running on the altered configuration, using Windows 7 Professional x86.

    One downside to using x86 is the tablet can't take advantage of the full 4GB of RAM I installed. However, losing a half gig of RAM isn't that big of a deal, I'm still up over stock trim.

    Worrying, however, is the Windows 7 performance evaluation. This time the tablet scored a 2.2, with Aero graphics being the lowest point. Disk transfer rate was boosted to a 7.0 from a 5.2. RAM scored 4.5, Processor 3.2, gaming graphics 3.0.

    Since the Intel 3150 GMA uses shared memory resources, I'm wondering if there is a setting somewhere I'm missing. (Harkons back to the original unaltered S1080 running it's first-boot "Optimization".. I wish I knew what Gigabyte was doing during that on *their* preinstall, so I can replicate it!)

    Anyway, there's another .8 to be gained on the Windows Experience index, but I'll be damned if I know how to get it!

    Been using the tablet now for two days, over the weekend - this one became my "personal" one, of course. I was able to stream 1080p video from youtube without stutter (transformers 3 trailer was silky smooth), played a DVD last night on it, some MP3's, etc. It's a full on Windows 7 computer. A small one, but this is certainly not a toy. Most notably I'm able to connect to the hundreds of servers we manage, utilize Windows 7 RemoteApp and Desktop Connections, and many other things I do on a daily basis.

    Also worth mentioning, I installed Office 2010 on the tablet. With the SSD, it starts Word, Excel, Outlook, etc, in about a half second. Set up a VPN tunnel and I'm using Outlook with Exchange 2010 in non-cached mode (didn't feel a need to suck down my bandwidth this weekend syncing cached mode). OWA functions for mobile use just fine.

    Can't really think of anything else off hand - if you have any questions you'd like to ask I'll answer to the best of my capabilities.
     
  3. rbezzina

    rbezzina Pen Pal - Newbie

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    So, you upgraded this from 2GB to 4GB and it worked with 3GB RAM? Am I correct?
     
  4. ataripower

    ataripower Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Just wanted to thank you for a great review, I've been looking for a decent Windows tablet for a while now and am close to pre-ordering this here in the UK.
     
  5. sdssls

    sdssls Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Hi, may I know which 4GB Ram module did you installed working? Coz I tried many different 4GB modules but none works?
     
  6. ralc

    ralc Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Can a pci e video card be added to have better resolution?
     
  7. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Better resolution how? The screen's native resolution won't change no matter what's driving it. External output resolution is already high. It can handle 1920x1200 without problem.
     
  8. Vitaliy

    Vitaliy Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Thank you for your awesome review, which helped me a lot, but i still have some questions to ask.
    I from Ukraine, Kiev (hope you heard about that lovely city).
    its hard to find s1080 here but i have a friend who would bring one for me.
    im about to make my mind and order one but:
    1. i dont want to pay around $950 for s1080 with 3g+gps when the usual configuration is around $650-700
    can i place this Qualcomm UNDP-1 3G HSDPA EVDO WWAN GPS Mobile Broadband Mini PCIe Card and not pay extra $150 for 3g and gps? and i need unlocked band - im in Ukraine;)
    2. planing to do same thing with ddr3, replace 2g with 4g (Kingston SODIMM DDR3-1333 4096MB PC3-10600). Should i expect any problems? (shorter battery life or something else)
    3. do you know what is the difference between two s1080 modifications CF1 and CF2?
    4. want to remove 320gb hdd with OCZ Agility 3 SSD 90GB. HDD i will sell. would ssd get inside s1080? im ready to remove ssd's shell if necessary but what bad may happen with ssd without shell? (i don't care about warranty)
    5. do you have any problem with overheating of s1080?
    thanks
    vitaliy, chugurun@gmail.com
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  9. revmike

    revmike Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I am considering this tablet as a replacement for my hp slate 500. It sounds good, but still hoping for something faster. I want a 10.1 tablet. If the hp slate was that size it would work for me since I upgraded the 64gb ssd to 128 and overclocked the cpu. I n my opinion, this thread would probably would have had more comments if it was in the tablet pc manufactures area.
     
  10. Big_Al_in_OZ

    Big_Al_in_OZ Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I am considering one of these tabs
    How was the battery life increased with the ssd drive?
     

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