We love it when a manufacturer is building on previous successes and launches a new model that addresses some of the issues we had with the previous one.
Such is the case with the Tegatech TEGA which we reviewed here. It scored a solid 7/10 but battery life was one issue we highlighted.
The new model is much more attractive compared to the older one with a capacitive multitouch screen, accelerometers for rotation of the screen and a solid five hours battery life. Couple that with Windows 7 and/or Android and a very svelte body which bodes well for the hands-on testing…. The TEGA tablet also features built-in 3G so connectivity is going to be a cinch.
Let’s check a few more of these features.
With any tablet there has to be a good balance between weight and having a solid feel. The new TEGA weighs less than 1 Kg which makes it great for travelling. Yet the 10.2 inch TFT LCD is large enough for a great surfing experience and fantastic video.
These features put the new TEGA squarely as a viable alternative for people looking to buy an iPad. At the end of this review we will put up a comparison between the iPad and this new model from Tegatech. Just for fun we will also compare the new TEGA with the previous model, reviewed earlier. In fact, comparing it to an iPad is not doing the TEGA a favour. For starters, the CPU is much more powerful at 1.66 GHz and also has 2GB of DDR 3 memory. Whilst they both have a capacitive multitouch screen, the TEGA display is slightly larger and handles 1080P video versus 720P on the iPad.
Needless to say that the fact that it is a Windows machine is a great advantage if you’re not a dyed in the wool Apple fan. It gives it a usability and compatibility with most home and office machines.
There is Adobe Flash capability and you’ll find USB ports, front cameras and memory card slots. In other words it’s a proper tablet PC. Plus there’s the Android option if you don’t like Windows either…
There is a choice of SSD memory from 16 to 64 GB.
On the very day of the worldwide launch the courier delivered the TEGA v2 to our office. Right before the weekend — perfect timing.
I had seen pictures before of the new TEGA but the reality exceeds our expectation! This is a thing of beauty. A brushed aluminium back with a metal case that exudes a build quality that I have not often seen in a Tablet PC. In landscape form you have three buttons from top to bottom: power on/off button, home button and the return key. The usual indicators are on the top with a front facing camera and along the top edge you have a reset hole and the 3G Sim card slot. On the left side you find all the ports for connectivity such as two USB ports, a microSD card slot, small VGA connector, power in, headset and microphone hole.
Extremely attractive is the sloping design on both the bottom and top edge with the ventilation openings. The TEGA tablet feels very solid in your hand without being heavy. However, it feels a touch slippery and I would advise a case for protection and comfort. I’m actually surprised that no case was included because, judging from the price list, there seems to be a leatherette case available with embedded keyboard. That would be extremely handy because on start-up you have a choice between Android and Windows 7 and if you don’t choose, Android will start up by default. And how do you choose? Use the up or down key…. And you need a keyboard for that! So I had to source an external keyboard to make that initial choice. (Update: there is a more elegant way that I discovered later to make that choice by pressing the home key, using it as the down arrow, and using the return button as the enter key).
Personally, I don’t see much need for a dual boot system, unless you want to experiment with the new Android. I did have a quick look at it and there is a lot to like….
Tegatech is currently working hard at preparing for the Android 2.2 release but you can already download the Android 1.6 ISO if you want to experience this particular operating system’s capabilities. Keep in mind that you need to have at least 32 GB on your SSD.
They may not have been a pouch or case with this demo model but otherwise the unit came with a car charger in addition to the normal power pack, a VGA adapter to fit the small VGA port, a simple stand and a special stylus for the capacitive screen. Plus that magic potion, a bottle of Tegatech Clean Screen! That is good stuff, by the way. We did a mini review on this here.
Our first impressions confirmed that with a 32 GB SSD and the powerful Atom N455 processor the TEGA v2 is very responsive.
Battery life is also a very pleasing is compared to the older model. In one of our tests we left the computer running with the display at 100% and easily got 3 1/2 hours out of it. With judicial use of brightness and power settings the 5 hour mark is easily obtainable.All this time the computer did not get hot or uncomfortably warm and you certainly could not hear the fan running unless you put your ear right on the ventilation opening.
We will undoubtedly update our findings over the next few weeks and one of the niche uses, for which we also used the older model, is as a navigation device for pilots. This one is eminently suited as a knee board checklist and navigation display if it had a proper case with it.
Handy Tip (since this model did not come up with a user manual): to switch on the Wi-Fi just tap on the return button.
Out with the Old
Just some highlights on the comparison with the original TEGA model. We already mentioned the faster Atom N455 chip and DDR-3 memory, the much improved battery life which has nearly doubled but the most significant change I would rate the capacitive multitouch screen.
Here is the real surprise: I thought that if you are a stylus person you’re out of luck, and that proper handwriting recognition would not be a real option on this tablet. I had to get used to the capacitive screen on my HD 2 but it is a great improvement for any touch operations, let alone any multitouch functionality. But handwriting with a finger is not one of its strong points! Well, guess what? The handwriting recognition just by using your finger is superb! I wrote a couple of sentences without a single mistake on the built in onscreen keyboard which has a handwriting tab. A welcome addition is the accelerometer on the v2 for easy rotating of the display and finally, I love its thinness: only 14 mm thin!
It might be worth mentioning that the build quality is better than the older model. It seems that Tegatech has done well to move production to Korea rather than China (and that is South Korea, of course!) However, there is still a model sticker on the back of this unit which says Made in China!
Sometimes the TEGA gets confused with the well-known Tegra line of computers and when Engadget posted a news item on the upcoming launch most of the comments centred around the similar names. Of course Chinese manufacturers are sometimes very clever to bastardise the brand names and bring rip-off products on the markets for people who can’t spell…. However, the TEGA line is simply the brainchild of Hugo Ortega who started Tegatech many, many moons ago.
Windows 7 is the obvious (for me at least) operating system to go for and it runs very well on this system. We already mentioned that this tablet is capable of dual booting and particularly the Android system makes it attractive. We have not tested out this function yet as personally I’m not a huge Android fan.
TEGA v2 has built-in EyesBoard. EyesBoard, an on-screen keyboard / virtual keyboard, is specially designed for TabletPC, UMPC and touchscreen computers and Windows systems operated by a digitizer or touch screen. It allows the user to use the stylus or finger to type directly on the screen. Frankly, I like the built-in OSK a bit better but it is good to have a choice.
TEGA v2 also has built-in Thinix Touch. Now this is a much needed and appreciated programme to optimise using a touchscreen. I love it. You can really individualise the rather dreary looking Windows look with any theme you choose. There is a lot of personalisation you can do.
Let’s Talk about Pricing
Ultimately, it’s all about value for money and I think the folks at Tegatech are right on the money! The new TEGA v2 in its base configuration can be had already for just under $757 Australian but the real value deal is for the limited time introductory offer: 2GB DDR3 memory and 32 GB SSD plus Windows 7 Home for $899 Australian. If you’d rather buy in Euros or US dollars these prices are €649 and 799 USD for the intro deal. And you don’t need to order from just the Australian site either as Tegatech also launched in Europe and the US (www.Tegatech.eu and www.Tegatech.us)
In this review I have mainly highlighted the differences with the original TEGA and ask you to refer to our original review for the background material. You can find this here. We’ve been reviewing quite a few products from the house of Tegatech over the past few years and have become impressed how a “small Aussie battler” — a minor player in the scheme of things but with a passion for all things mobile — can bring out a good product time after time. I think they’ve hit the jackpot with this latest development. If you’re in the market for an iPad because you like that form factor, check out the TEGA v2. It’s got all the iPad offers and much more.
In fact, considering its build quality, specifications, the design and value for money, we don’t hesitate to highly recommend the new Tegatech TEGA v2 and give it our Editor’s Choice Award.