Aside from Apple’s exclusive iOS on its iPad and iPad2, the two tablet OSs most in favour are the Gingerbread flavour of Android and Windows 7. The latter is a bit of a gamble, because the simple fact of the matter is that Windows 7 was never intended to be controlled exclusively with a touch interface and was most certainly not designed for tablets. However, for many tasks and for using the software from your PC, it’s still the only choice. As such, in addition to a 10.1in Android tablet (the WindPad 100A), MSI has also brought out a Windows version, logically named the WindPad 100W. The 100W offers Full HD video, Flash web browsing and HDMI-out on an affordable PC tablet, so join us as we find out how it holds up.
Unfortunately, on opening the box first impressions are far from encouraging. The tablet is constructed from cheap-looking plastics, features a wide bezel and, at 18.5mm thick, is unapologetically chunky. As if this weren’t bad enough, its semi-matt buttons (which should have been placed on the sides rather than the front in the first place) don’t match the inner bezel’s piano black finish, and the silver outer bezel looks like it was painted on.
Ports have also been integrated with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and despite the tablet’s thickness stick out like sore thumbs – in one case literally. You see, the 100W has a proprietary docking connector, which is hidden by a huge rubber cover that protrudes significantly from the chassis. And it’s not even attached to the tablet, meaning it’s quite possible to lose this cover altogether, after which dust and dirt can easily get into the tablet’s exposed circuit boards. Then again, you might just be tempted to chuck the rubber bung in the bin anyway after it catches on something for the umpteenth time.
Thankfully build quality isn't bad to the point of being flimsy, but there’s no denying that the WindPad 100W looks and feels like a cheap plastic toy rather than a tablet that still costs £500 in most shops.
The one advantage of its thickness in combination with its rounded edges is that it is quite comfortable to hold – as long as you manage to avoid the ports, that is. However, weighing in at a relatively heavy 800g, it’s certainly not a tablet you can hold one-handed for any amount of time.
Unfortunately, the bad news continues with the provided carrying case. It’s actually quite an attractive black leatherette attempt with a magnetic clasp, but like the tablet it’s meant to hold, its design is flawed in many ways. For one thing, it can’t act as a stand, like the ingenious example provided with the ViewSonic ViewPad 7. For another, you can't even view the tablet's screen with the case 'attached'. It's purely a carrying pouch, and to use the tablet you'll have to take it out. In terms of functionality and practicality this is very disappointing. Nor is the case helped by its slightly awkward closing clasp, which we feel is largely superfluous.