Tecno WinPad 10 Review: A delightful device made better with Windows 10

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Winpad 10
The Tecno Winpad 10 Small, but packs a huge productivity punch.
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Tecno Mobile surprised many industry insiders when it launched the WinPad 10 2-in1 hybrid just over a month ago in Nairobi. Tecno had, until then, just produced Android based mobile smartphones and tablets that focused on meeting the specifics needs of the African consumer. This approach has enabled Tecno to quickly grow it’s market share to rival more established OEMs in the region. Recognizing the need for productivity based devices, Tecno partnered with Intel to develop the WinPad 10, the first in a line upcoming Windows products from Tecno.

“The next category that we are developing right now is WINPAD. The feature for this class will be productivity. Basically we are looking at 2-in-1 devices, plus a low cost notebook. The 2-in-1 devices that we are developing range from 8.9”, 10.1”, 11.6” and 12”1. The key difference between Tecno and other multinational companies is that we develop our products oriented for the African market.” Steven Huang, Tecno Mobile’s General Manager of the Tablet Division

As I have owned both the Microsoft Surface RT and Surface Pro 1 tablets, I was curious to see how this KES 29,999 tablet from an Android manufacturer would hold up. Would it provide a lack luster experience like so many of the affordable Windows 8.1 tablets, or was i about to stumble on an electronic manufactured in Ethiopian highlands?  Spoiler note: I will be purchasing my own WinPad 10. After installing Windows 10 on the WinPad10 and spending two weeks testing the devices, I have realized that Tecno did make something special.

The Tecno Winpad 10: Small, but packs a huge productivity punch.

Specifications

Price KES 29,999 (Safaricom Outlets)
Form factor 2-in-1 Hybrid with removable keyboard
Operating System Windows 8.1 Bin Edition (Upgradeable to Windows 10 Home Edition for free)
Screen Size 10.1 inches
Screen Resolution 1280 x 800
Display Technology IPS, 16:9 Widescreen
Multi Touch Points  10
Chipset Intel Atom Z3735F (64 bit) Bay Trail
Cores 4 cores
Chipset Clock Speed 1.33 GHz Base with burst speed upto 1.83 GHz
Chipset L2 Cache 2MB
Graphics Intel Integrated graphics
Graphics clock Speed 311 MHz Base with burst speed upto 646 MHz
RAM 2GB DDR3L
Storage 32GB eMMC
Expandable Strorage microSD (Supporting cards upto 64GB capacit)
Front Facing Camera 2MP Camera
Rear Facing Camera 5MP Auto Focus
WiFi 802.11 b/g/n
BlueTooth 4.0
Ports 1 x Full Size USB 3.0, 1x micro USB 3.0, 1x micro HDMI, 9V Power plug, headphone jack,
Battery 7000 mAh Li-Ion
3G Radio Single microSIM 3G Bands 900/2100MHz, 2G 900/1800MHz
Sensors Orientation, Proximity, Light
Sound Tecno Boom Speakers
Extra 1 year of Microsoft Office 365 Personal (Outlook, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage)
Accessories Chiclet Keyboard with kickstand

So who is the WinPad 10 for? A quick look at the specs (especially the 2GB RAM and 32 GB internal storage for a Windows device) and you might be tempted to say this device doesn’t meet anyone needs. However, this is a case of the “Whole” being greater than the sum of its parts. The ultra portability of this device (someone could mistake it for a paper notebook), Windows 10, Office 365 and 3G SIM means that it perfect for individuals who are extremely mobile, need to be productive and need to be connected: College students and mobile Office office workers.

What’s In The Box

WinPad 10
Tecno WinPad 10 packaging
  • WinPad 10 (comes with screen protector already installed) comes with Windows 8.1 Bing Edition
  • Power Adaptor with 2 quick connect plugs (2 Pin and 3 Pin)
  • Chiclet Keyboard with Flap
  • Product Info sheet
  • Warranty Card
WinPad 10
This is what is in the box of the WinPad 10

Hardware Design

The 10.1” 16:9 IPS screen is bright and vivid with decent viewing angles. NOTE: To use the screen outdoors, you will need to crank brightness to maximum, though indoors you can comfortably use it at 50-60% levels. On the front face of the WinPad 10, is a Windows Logo that acts as the home button. On the left edge, you’ll find a combination 3.5mm headphone and speaker port, the internal microphone, a full size USB 3.0 port, a micro-HDMI port and a charging port. On the right edge, you’ll find the power button, volume rocker and a micro-USB port. The top edge of the WinPad 10 features a plastic flap that hides the micro-SIM and micro-SD compartment. Be careful when  opening this flap as it requires sufficient force to pry it loose. All the hardware keys feel sturdy and operate with a noticeable “click”.

The WinPad 10 features a metal surround and a dimpled plastic back. The keyboard cover can fold in 3 different ways to provide a variety of support positions to hold the WinPad10.The construction of the keyboard doesn’t meet the quality of the tablet with the edges of the soft cover material fraying easily. The keys on the keyboard offer sufficient travel when pressed and thus provide a pleasant typing experience. However, the included trackpad is barely usable. With no buttons or defined click zones, it will frustrate you in a hurry. Fortunately, you can use the 10 point touch screen, or connect a Bluetooth mouse (and keep your USB ports free). The magnets that secure the bottom edge of the WinPad to the keyboard aren’t as strong as though on the Surface so you will need to be careful when lifting the WinPad without supporting the keyboard. I would NOT recommend recreating the famous Surface Click advert with your WinPad.

The battery charger is also an interesting choice. At a time where many OEMs are opting to use the micro USB port for charging, Tecno opted to use a standard 9V pin connector to charge the 7000 mAH battery. This proved to be a wise decision as it speeds up the charging process (taking about 2.5 to completely charge the WinPad 10 from empty). Had Tecno used the USB port, charging times would have tripled.

Without the keyboard attached, the WinPad 10 is light enough for comfortable one handed use. I cannot reiterate enough the difference you will feel in your laptop bag when your substitute your bulky laptop for the WinPad 10. If your shoulder could thank you, it would. Profusely. One neat trick of the WinPad is its ability to be used on the lap. By folding the cover flaps inwards you can create a stable base on that can rest on your lap.

Software and User Experience

Out of the box, the WinPad 10 comes with Windows 8.1 with Bing. This special version of Windows 8 comes with Bing installed as the default search provider (and thus saves the OEMs the license fee). As the user has the ability to easily change the search provider, Windows 8.1 with Bing is no different from Windows 8.1 when viewed from the customer perspective. The Tecno WinPad 10 is eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 Home Edition. However, before you upgrade, you should do the following:

WinPad 10

Storage Size on the Tecno Winpad 10

You will find that the device  has 23 GB free of the 32 GB internal storage.

To maximize your experience on your new Tecno Winpad 10. I suggest you do the following:

  1. Install your free copy of Office 365 personal. This is done via the “Get Office” app (comes pre-installed). The app will walk you though on how to activate your license and setup a Microsoft account if you don’t have one.
  2. Set up your OneDrive account (with 1 year of 1TB storage) before installing any other programs or files. Due to the limited internal local storage, you will need to rely on the cloud to maximize your productivity.
  3. Purchase a 32GB or 64GB micro-SD card. Buy the highest class that you can afford (something similar to this card on Jumia Kenya). This will help store your documents and personal files without impacting your C drive.

Now that you have installed Office, set up your OneDrive account and purchased a micro SD card you are now ready to upgrade to Windows 10. NOTE: Windows 10 is free from today for all Windows 7 and Windows 8 devices that have a valid license. Go to Windows Update and install any pending updates. One of these updates  will install the “Get Windows 10” app. As Windows 10 is rolling out from today on, you will be able to reserve the Windows 10 app and have it installed to your device automatically.

After installing your microSD card, you can set Windows 10 to use this as a default save location for your documents, music and files. This will help you save valuable storage space on your C drive.

WinPad 10
Designate Storage location using Windows 10.

Hardware Performance

The Intel Bay trail chip-set performs on par with an Intel Core Duo 2 chip set. I was able to stream 4K YouTube videos without any lagging or distortion. Games like Asphalt 8 worked well without dropped frames. On multitasking, I could run an Office program, stream music via Groove and have several browser tabs open. As the WinPad 10 only has 2 GB of RAM, performance hits will happen due to RAM hungry applications. I would have preferred if Tecno had included 3 or 4GB of RAM, but that would have increased the price.

The 7000 mAH battery was able to last just under 7 hours when I ran the PCMark8 battery test. As this is a continuous test where the PC is on all the time, you can expect at least a 30% improvement in daily usable battery life. I was able to consistently get between 8.5 to 10 hours depending on how I used the device (watching videos consumed power faster than working on spreadsheets). Charge time from empty to full takes about 2 hours 15 minutes. This fast charge time is due to the high voltage pin plug. Though using a USB cable would make charging more convenient, the increased charging time would have been worth it.

Windows 10 on the WinPad 1o = Perfect Match Made

The Tecno Winpad 10 is eligible for  free upgrade for  In summary, let me say that Windows 10 feels familiar to both users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.It eliminates the “dual nature” of Windows 8 where the Metro Apps didn’t see to fit in with the more windows traditional apps

  • Start Screen

The start screen in Windows 10 has been reworked to accommodate users who love the minimalism of classic Start menu in Windows 7 and users who love the dynamic nature of the Windows 8 start screen with Live Tiles. It is up to the user to configure the start screen based on their choice. You can resize the Live Tiles, turn the Live Tiles on/off, and even group the Live Tiles into categories.

Winpad 10
Start screen on Desktop Mode.

If you are a power user, the functionality that you are used too is a “right click on that start menu” away. This lets you quickly access the old school control panel, command prompt, disk management, device manage among many others.

  • Notification Center

The Notification Center on Windows 10 collates all your notifications as well as provides one touch access to the settings you use most. You can access the Notification by swiping in from the right edge.

Winpad 10
Notification Center on Windows 10
  • Edge

Microsoft Edge is a new light wight and super fast browser built from the ground up for the modern web. It discarded all the legacy bloat of Internet Explorer (this is included as a separate app). Edge provides innovate features like writing notes directly on webpages then sharing them. Microsoft has indicated that Edge will support extensions in the very near future.

Microsoft Edge is a fast browser that  allows you to make notes directly on a webpage then share it.
Microsoft Edge is a fast browser that allows you to make notes directly on a webpage then share it.
  • Cortana

Cortana is your friendly personal digital assistant. Use here to quickly set reminders, search for documents, keep track of agendas, search the web and more. She can even tell jokes. But best of all Cortana is also available for your smartphone (Android, iOS and Windows Phone). Thus any reminders that you set on while on your WinPad, will come through on your phone.

  • Apps

Windows 10 brings apps that are optimized for both touch and keyboard and mouse. You can find these apps in the new Windows App Store. Apps like Mail, Groove Music, News, Sports and more will help you be more productive.

 

  • Office

The WinPad 10  comes with 1 year of Office 365. This includes the latest version of Microsoft’s popular productivity suite (Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, Sway and OneNote). As these apps are designed primarily for keyboard/mouse interaction, you can also install touch optimized versions of Office. These apps (Excel Mobile, PowerPoint Mobile, Word Mobile) are free in the Windows Store. Excel Mobile,

  • Continuum

Possibly one of the most important features of Windows 10 on a tablet is Continuum. With a single push of the “Tablet Mode” button on the notification center, you can quickly transform how Windows 10 operates to suit your need.You can also activate Tablet mode be going to Settings > System > Tablet Mode. Continuum allows the user to use the mode that suits the particular task they are using. This is a huge improvement from Windows 8.1 where the user had to deal with the full start screen regardless of the task they were performing.

When the keyboard is attached, it makes more sense to stay in “Desktop Mode”. In this mode, the start screen doesn’t fill the screen, app windows are also not full screen (unlike Windows 8) and can be cascaded.

When Tablet mode is engaged, the start screen and all open apps go to full screen, menus are expanded for improved touch usability. On the start screen you can press the hamburger button at the left hand top corner  of screen to show your app list. For multitasking you can either select apps via the taskbar, or via the task view button.

However, unlike the Surface tablets, the Tecno Winpad 10 doesn’t automatically activate Continuum (tablet mode) when the keyboard is detached. This feature increases usability as the device can automatically react to users need. Hopefully Tecno can resolve this small but user critical oversight with a software update in the near future.

For more about Windows 10 features please read these Techweez two articles:

Things To Consider After Upgrading to Windows 10

Features That make Windows 10 A Great Upgrade

Competing Devices

The WinPad 10 that competes directly with the ASUS T100 tablet. Though the ASUS cost on average KES 10,000 more, it has less RAM (1GB) and lower resolution cameras. This makes choosing the Winpad 10 a no-brainer.

Conclusion

While I fully expected to be disappointed by the Tecno WinPad 10, I ended being a convert after 2 weeks of use. The positives were the bright screen, long battery life, 3G connectivity and off course Windows 10. The negatives were the poor touch pad design and 9v pin power adapter (instead of a USB adapter). Admittedly, i nitpicking with the last point as it is necessary to ensure fast charging. I also had an odd bug with the display auto rotation being 180 degrees. This is probably due to a driver conflict with the Beta Windows 10 builds that I tested the device on. The public release of Windows 10 will not have this issue. It is also important to know that while the WinPad 10 does some things well, don’t expect it to run your intensive PC games or edit movie effects with After Effects.

Winpad 10
The Tecno Winpad 10

As I stated at the start of the article, I will be buying my own Tecno WinPad 10. Let me explain why:

I am in the consulting field and thus work primarily at Clients location. When I am not on a project, I am constantly traversing the city on business development. My current mobile laptop is 2010 13″ HP Envy Envy Intel Core 2 Duo laptop running Windows 10 (which even though compact, it is still heavy). Add the power brick, and my laptop bag is heavy enough to put a strain on my shoulder. The WinPad 10 would help me improve my productivity in three ways.

  1. It is powerful enough to handle my work flow software (Office365, Project, Visio) with out a comprising my established work pattern.
  2. included 3G SIM means that I can connect where I am, without having to tether to my phone when the client’s WiFi is insufficient, or Java WiFi is on the brink.
  3. Most importantly the light weight of the Tecno WinPad  10 means I can carry a smaller laptop bag. Not only does this help my back, but also provides more security as a large laptop bag stands out for theft.

Even though I am waiting for the next generation Surface Pro 4 device to arrive, the KES 30,000 price of the WinPad 10 makes it a perfect stopgap computing device.

We can expect to see more Windows 10 devices from Tecno in coming months including a 12″ 2-in-1 device running Intel Skylake. Who knows, I may not end up buying the Surface Pro 4 after all?

NOTE: I added a paragraph detailing the battery performance of the WinPad 10 in the Hardware Performance section. Aug 6, 2015, 1:30pm

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