Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets -

Pi­o­neer Com­put­ers, $499 pi­o­neer­com­put­ers.com.au


AP­PLE cre­ated a new gad­get cat­e­gory with the iPad in 2010. The new-look tablet com­puter cap­tured the world’s at­ten­tion and in­spired hun­dreds of thou­sands of Aus­tralians to buy it.

But that was last year. This year the slick com­put­ing gi­ant will face un­prece­dented com­pe­ti­tion from all cor­ners.

One com­peti­tor, Aus­tralia’s Pi­o­neer Com­put­ers, has added an in­ex­pen­sive 10-inch tablet to its bur­geon­ing range.

Un­like its first ef­fort, the DreamBook ePad P10 is more solid, has a long rec­tan­gu­lar screen and shows off a unique Google An­droid in­ter­face.

Bet­ter than the stan­dard An­droid ap­pear­ance, this DreamBook adds an­i­ma­tions you can move around the screen with a fin­ger.

The home page show­cases three wid­gets at its cen­tre: weather, news and Google search. Users can vir­tu­ally ro­tate these apps and then watch the sun shine on Syd­ney, for ex­am­ple, or se­lect one of many news sto­ries from the BBC. The ap­proach is un­usual and im­pres­sive.

The tablet’s Pro­grams menu is sim­i­larly an­i­mated. Apps ap­pear to be stand­ing in rows of four and users can push them into the back­ground, like Star Wars ti­tles.

Those pro­grams in­clude a nav­i­ga­tion app, Google Maps, a mu­sic player, Ama­zon Kin­dle reader, an ad­di­tional book reader called Aldiko and games in­clud­ing Soli­taire.

Other ap­pli­ca­tions can be down­loaded af­ter you in­stall an app pro­gram, a com­pli­cated task likely to in­volve plenty of back­track­ing. It’s a shame, as the tablet suf­fers for it.

The ePad P10 does have some nice hard­ware ad­di­tions, though. These in­clude a cam­era for pho­tos or video calls, a built-in mi­cro­phone, and space for a Mi­croSD me­mory card, a USB con­nec­tion and a HDMI cable.

An ex­tra port is avail­able for ac­ces­sories, while a slot at the tablet’s top can be used for a 3G mo­bile data con­nec­tion.

Its com­put­ing com­po­nents are above av­er­age, with a du­al­core 1GHz pro­ces­sor and 512MB RAM.

With so many thought­ful ad­di­tions, you’d think this tablet would be a win­ner.

The prob­lem, how­ever, is in the ex­e­cu­tion. It’s slow to op­er­ate, it’s hard to add apps, and many of its ex­ist­ing apps crash the tablet, sus­pend­ing op­er­a­tions for a frus­trat­ing pe­riod of time.

This ePad’s body gets quite hot while charg­ing and its screen fades to black even on a slight an­gle. It’s not the pre­mium fin­ish of its ri­vals.

De­vel­op­ers and those will­ing to tweak this ta­ble’s soft­ware might get some­thing out of the ePad P10.

How­ever, for the rest of us, Pi­o­neer Com­put­ers’ new tablet is a set of fan­tas­tic ideas that didn’t come to­gether.

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