Redfox's WizPad: A Wizardly Preview

A Wizardly Device?

A Wizardly Device?

Redfox, an OEM manufacturer who you not have heard of in Singapore, is actually quite a big name over in the Philippines. They have quite a range of products, from motherboards to eBook readers, but it's actually their new tablet PC, the Redfox Wizpad, that we're looking at today. Powered by an Intel Atom N455 (1.66GHz) processor, the Wizpad comes in two different flavors, Android 1.6 or Windows 7. If you're shaking your head at the news that it's going to be in Android 1.6, we were told that  the Android 2.1 update is in the works, and would be released in the near future.

Besides giving you a choice of OSes, the units feature multi-touch capacitive screens, 1 or 2GB RAM, 16 or 32GB solid state storage and the option of whether you want the tablet to come with 3G connectivity for an additional premium, of course. Apart from these configurable options, the tablet comes with two USB ports, a Mini VGA output, and a 1.3-megapixel webcam. Not too shabby in our books, but we wonder how it holds up as a tablet device, especially with the Android version running off version 1.6. Here's our quick findings with our pre-retail units as detailed in our photo captions:-

A tale of two tablets, one loaded with Android, and the other Windows 7.

Unlike other Android devices, the menu buttons seem quite limited. But wait, where's the menu button? From our usage, it seems like the back arrow key is the menu button, and there's no back button. Confused? Yeah we were too.

The glossy screen will attract plenty of fingerprints, especially since this is a device that you'll touch a lot. Note the front facing 1.3-megapixel camera.

Ports are located at the side here, and you'll that they are basically what you can expect from any netbook. On the left side you'll find two USB ports, a mini VGA out, a microSD card reader and on the bottom (of the unit stacked on top) you'll see the SIM card slot.

The back of the unit comes clad in brushed metal for a pretty solid feel, though this does make the unit feel a tad heavy.

With the unit running only Android 1.6, there's not too many things you can do unless you are ready to get down and dirty with installing your own apps and custom interface. Also, the lack of buttons makes using the Android OS slightly odd.

As for Windows 7 Home Premium version, it behaves just like you would expect of a netbook, minus the keyboard. You'll have to make do with the onscreen keyboard unless you're willing to lug around a separate keyboard. Otherwise, it's no different, since there's really no custom UI or anything that makes the tablet unique.

Overall, the build of the tablets are reasonable but the devices themselves need time to mature. What we disliked thought were the super glossy screen, the physical buttons (or the lack thereof) and the use of a netbook platform for the tablet. The latter was a concern because Windows 7 has never really excelled on netbooks, and it's going to be the same experience on the Wizpad but without the keyboard. For the Android edition, it could do with a more intuitive physical interface by improving navigation and usability with more appropriate buttons. For Redfox, it's going to take time to compile and push out a new Android edition to support the device since it's using the Intel platform meant for x86 machines rather than something on the ARM architecture that many Android phones are based upon. So the Android 1.6 edition based Wizpad at the moment feels a bit underwhelming since it has little to offer out of the box besides being a decent internet companion. If you're keen to give them a go, you should be pleased to know that it is available locally in Sim Lim Square. The base model configuration's pricing however is not that affordable as it starts from S$699 and the competition in the tablet space is heating up.