The iPad has a lot to answer for. Over the last 15 years, there have been a number of attempts to make tablets mainstream, but it took Apple's iPad to push the format to the everyday consumer. Now, however, pretty much every maker of computing devices or smartphones has a tablet or two in its range, and the power-performance capabilities of recent processors means fully-fledged operating systems are viable too. Gigabyte's S1082 joins a growing legion of Windows 8 tablets aiming to provide a mainstream computing experience in a tablet format.
The S1082 is a 10.1in tablet, and it takes advantage of the reasonable price of Intel's Celeron, rather than opting for the ultra-budget but somewhat curtailed Atom range or more expensive Core processors. Our model came with an Intel Celeron 847, which runs at a lowly 1.1GHz, but it’s dual-core – although without Hyper-threading – so presents itself as its two physical cores rather than four virtual ones. It doesn't have Turbo Boost, either, so won't increase its clock speed temporarily for additional performance. But it's a 17 Watt processor, so isn't as miserly as an Atom but still at the bottom end of Intel's mainstream processors for power consumption. There is an 1.8GHz Celeron 1037 option, as well, if the 847 is just too slow for your needs, which may well be the case.
The Celeron 847 also supplies the graphics, and even though this is a Sandy Bridge-generation processor, the graphics are not in the form of Intel's HD 3000. Instead, this is only Intel HD graphics, which offers about half the performance and doesn't have the same hardware assistance for video decoding. There’s hardware support for just DirectX 10.1 and OpenGL 3.1, too, although DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4 are only available with Ivy Bridge processors' HD 4000 graphics anyway. Gigabyte has partnered the Celeron 847 with 4GB of DDR3 memory, which is pretty healthy for a tablet, although it is possible to specify the S1082 with 2GB or 8GB. We would recommend at least 4GB for comfortable use of current Windows applications.
We found the S1082’s design a little fussy, with a bevel around the edge of the screen that isn't particularly elegant. Also, the plastic rear panel has too much flex. However, you can't fault the S1082 in terms of connectivity and other external features. Many tablets are quite stingy in this respect, relying on docking stations for adding extra ports.
The S1082, in contrast, offers a full complement, with USB 2.0 (sadly not 3.0), separate minijacks for headphones and microphone, SD card reader and Gigabit Ethernet on the left. The right hand side is home to another USB port, the mobile data SIM slot, a full-sized HDMI port and even VGA.
So if you plan to use the S1082 as a lightweight mobile presentation device, you won't need any special adapters to hook up to a TV or business projector. There are also ports along the bottom for a docking station or extended battery, both of which are available as optional accessories. The usual 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi is available as well as Bluetooth 4. There's a SIM slot, as we’ve just mentioned, which means you can add a 3.5G mobile data service for Internet on the move.
Storage is rather minimal, with just a 64GB solid state disk included, although it is possible to specify SSDs up to 256GB or a conventional hard disk of up to 500GB. The SD card reader is the only built-in option for removable storage, but the £129 docking station also includes a DVD drive. The docking station also adds VGA, HDMI, and a trio of USB 2.0 ports, plus LAN and minijacks for microphone and headphones.
The 10.1in screen offers the usual 1,366 x 768 pixels we have come to expect at this size, but it's not the best TFT we have seen. Viewing angles are very poor, although when viewed from the optimal angle the screen is pleasant enough for movie watching. The speakers are rather quiet, but you would probably watch films with headphones anyway. There's a 1.3-megapixel webcam above the screen and stereo microphones either side.
Usability has been enhanced by a host of extra buttons that mean you don't have to rely entirely on the touchscreen. There are mouse buttons on the left edge of the bezel, alongside a volume control, the power button, and a reset switch. There's also an optical pointing device a bit like the one found on some early Android and Blackberry phones on the right hand side. We found this worked reasonably well, providing a little more pointing accuracy than a fingertip, with a left button click available as well if you press the optical pointer.
There's a keyboard-containing leather case available as an option, too. The tablet clips in and there is a stand so it can be propped up for optimal viewing, which is a necessity with the S1082. The case includes a gap so you can use it with the extended battery. The keyboard is USB-attached, and has a reasonable action. It sits inside a sleeve, which detracts from the touch-typing experience, but you can take it out if you want.
Performance isn't as lowly as you might expect from a 1.1GHz processor. The S1082 achieved a score of 0.72 in Maxon Cinebench R11.5's render test, which is a good 40 per cent quicker than Dell's Atom-equipped Latitude 10. The latter couldn't even run the Cinebench OpenGL test, so whilst the S1082's result of 3.4 is pretty lowly (in fact the lowest score we have ever seen in this test), at least this tablet will be able to run OpenGL-enabled software, rather than just crashing.
On a less positive note, the S1082 wouldn't run Futuremark's 3DMark11, due to its lack of DirectX 11 support, but it did manage 1,259 in 3DMark06, which is not particularly stunning. It's three times what an Atom would be capable of, but a better-endowed tablet such as Acer's Iconia W700 can provide twice the performance. At least it means you can run DirectX 10.1 software, but it will be very slow, and 3D gaming won't be an option.
Battery life is not particularly outstanding, with the S1082 lasting 106 minutes in our intensive test, which runs the processor and graphics at full pelt until the system is out of power. We run this test with the display dimmed by 50 per cent, but otherwise it's a worst-case scenario, so with more intermittent and varied activity, you could expect 3 to 4 hours of use, which is rather minimal for a tablet.
The extended battery adds another 20.25Wh, so will increase life by another two-thirds approximately, which is much more respectable. The extended battery slots on the bottom, adding 100 grams and about 25mm to the overall size – but it's almost essential for a decent time away from a power socket with the S1082.
The Gigabyte S1082 doesn't have the sense of business-like quality of Dell's Latitude 10, or the performance of Acer's Iconia W700. But it's also quite a bit cheaper than either, and faster than the Dell. It has a lot more connectivity on board than the Dell, too, without you needing to add the docking station, although the latter is quite a sensible extra if you want to double your tablet up for desktop use.
Overall, though, the S1082 falls between two stools. If you just want a tablet, an iPad 4 is cheaper still and more desirable, whilst the Iconia W700's extra performance makes it a more flexible, albeit pricier proposition.
Manufacturer and Model
1.1GHz Intel Celeron 847
4GB DDR3 SDRAM
Intel HD Graphics
64GB solid state disk
10.1in LED backlit TFT with 1,366 x 768 pixels
802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4
2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, LAN, headphone, microphone, SD card reader, SIM slot
Width x Depth x Height
270 x 173 x 14.94mm
3 years RTB