Could £180 Asus Fonepad tablet become ultimate Windows-based Netbook?

A quick look at the Asus Fonepad left us wondering whether it would be possible to hack the very promising tablet-o-phone to run a flavour of Windows (possibly Windows 8). After all, if Chromebooks (like the original Google CR48) can be hacked to run Windows 8, then why not the Intel-based Fonepad.

On paper, for what it’s worth, the Asus Fonepad should be capable of running Windows 8. The latter requires a 1GHz processor (or faster) with support for PAE, NX and SSE, all of which are fulfilled by the Intel Atom Z2520 that powers the Fonepad (note these are not absolute minimum requirements as we’ve managed to run Windows 8 on an AMD Duron 1GHz).

The rest of the requirements (at least for the 32bit Windows 8 version) include 1GB of RAM, 16GB onboard storage space and an I.T PowerVR SGX540 in the Atom Z2520 which supports OpenGL ES 2.0 and DirectX 10.1 with Shader Model 4.1. Windows 8 requires at least a Microsoft DirectX9 graphics card.

The other major requirement is a display of at least 1,024 x 768 pixels and the 7in display of the Fonepad has a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels, so high enough to run Windows 8. In theory, running Windows 8 is doable but in practice, there’s a number of pitfalls that need to be addressed, revolving mostly around the firmware.

We also approach Asus to find out whether they would be adding a keyboard accessory to the Fonepad which could potentially turn it into a Windows-powered Netbook. Our interlocutor did tell us that there is a Bluetooth Keyboard for the Nexus 7 which will “technically fit but the controls are on the wrong side”. The good news though is that our request has been passed over to the accessories department.

As a conclusion, Asus is unlikely to release the Fonepad with Windows 8 but there will almost certainly be a docking station that doubles as a keyboard, either from the manufacturer itself or from a third party.

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