There are tablets that are so thin, you forget that you’re carrying them. There are tablets with such brilliant screens, that they make every single photo and video come to life. There are tablets that respond to every touch and swipe as your fingers caress the screen. Then there’s the Gigabyte S1082 tablet, which to most people might look like it belongs on the set of Star Trek. In 1990. While most of us are more than familiar with Gigabyte’s expertise with PC components, this is the first time I’m testing out one of their tablets. So throwing caution to the wind, I decided to give this Windows 8 tablet a run for its money.
Build quality & design
Quite obviously the first thing you notice about the S1082 is just how bulky it is. This isn’t your run of the mill hide-it-in-your-bag tablet; this thing demands space and attention. It’s also built like a brick, both in weight and in size. Clad mostly in unflattering black and silver plastic, you’ll certainly be turning heads carrying the S1082, but that won’t necessarily be a good thing.
The one thing I will say about the S1082, is that I don’t actually consider it to be much of a tablet as it is more of a mini-PC. The reason I say this is because while the S1082 may not offer up much in the looks department, it more than makes up for it by offering a huge number of I/O ports. You’ve got VGA, HDMI, USB, Ethernet, SD slot, and optional 3G. And despite this being a touchscreen, you also have an optical track pointer and small left and right mouse buttons available, just in case you are more comfortable with that. There also connectors at the bottom which allow you to slot the S1082 into its custom docking station, which you can purchase separately.
Bundled with the S1082 is a faux leather carry case, that lets you prop the tablet at two angles for a slightly better viewing. The case also comes with a slim keyboard that you attach via a small USB cable, and is covered by a rather cheap-looking plastic cover. You can slide out the keyboard and extend the cable if you prefer, and to its credit it’s nice that Gigabyte has included this by default.
Benchmarks and Performance
While the S1082 does house a fairly formidably-sized hard drive, its overall performance was slightly disappointing. While most Windows 8 apps launched fairly quickly, once launched the apps tended to slow down in certain areas, or get stuck for a few seconds. I was browsing the Windows 8 store and decided to dive into Settings to change a few things, and this cause the Store to crash completely and close.
Similarly, while playing a simple touchscreen game involving me having to slice flying fish (don’t ask), the response was nearly always delayed, which is what I’m blaming my poor score on. Internet Explorer seemed to work for most of the time, though some sites did freeze the browser for a few seconds before returning to normal. Playing back a 1080p video from my network drive was acceptable, though the video did get out of sync with the audio a few times.
Screen and Camera
While the performance may not be great, one area that does suffer the most is the screen. It’s got extremely poor viewing angles, and even at regular viewing angles it gives everything on screen a bit of a ‘shimmer’ effect, so nothing appears crisp or very bright most of the time. There’s no rear-facing camera, so you’re stuck with the front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera for video chats, which just about does the job.
Heat levels & Battery Life
One of my concerns when using the S1082 was just how warm the thing got. There’s only one air grille on the unit, located on the right hand side, precariously close to where you would hold the tablet with two hands. After just about half an hour of surfing and watching a few videos, I had to prop the tablet onto a desk, because it was just becoming uncomfortable to hold something that warm. The internal fan is also quite noisy, even when the tablet is just sitting idle. I also wasn’t able to figure out how to ‘sleep’ the display – while you can generally tap the power button most tablets to switch off the display, hitting the power switch on the S1082 actually sends the device to sleep and powers it down – it then takes a full thirteen seconds for it to boot back up and resume. Battery life on the S1082 is also mediocre, sitting in at about five hours without tuning off the display.
The S1082 is certainly a puzzler, as I can’t quite figure out what kind of consumer it targets. My gut instinct says that it’s for anyone looking for an entry-level Windows 8 tablet, but its somewhat steep price tag might put some people off. While the S1082 does offer a very impressive amount of connectivity options, its lackluster performance and average looking screen unfortunately don’t do it any favors.