Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tablet Kiosk i7210

by UMPC Portal

Tablet Kiosk i7210The docking station and Pentium-M processor hint at something a bit more than the average UMPC, something that could justify the extra cost. Connect a keyboard and screen, just as you would with a normal PC or docked notebook and the Tablet Kiosk i7210 transforms itself nicely into a full-format system. Does it have the power to perform in both UMPC and MiniPC scenarios? I’ve had the i7210 for a few weeks now and have explored just about every angle.


The i7210 is based on the Elite Computer System H70 UMPC. It was one of the first Origami UMPCs designs and was shown at CeBit in 2006 and it has been on the market for some time in Asia as the Founder Mininote and the Daewoo Solo M1

This 7″ keyboardless design uses a Pentium-M 1Ghz processor with 1GB RAM and a 60GB drive. Its little brother, the i7109 has a 900Mhz Celeron processor and comes with half the disk and RAM capacity but has the same casing and support components. The i7200 series is the only Origami UMPC that comes with a docking station which enables more usage scenarios than with other Origami UMPCs.

First five minutes.

The unboxing and first 5 minutes was good but not spectacular. The i7210 is well packaged and presented but doesn’t have the wow factor that the Flybook did for example. Of course, I’ve seen a few UMPCs now so maybe I’m a bit hardened to the unboxing experience. In the box you’ll find the UMPC, the docking station, a carrying case, the battery, power supply, cds and manuals.

Tablet Kiosk i7210TabletKiosk i7210 UMPC

From the outside.

The design is understated but high quality. The matt black casing has a nice feel and doesn’t get dirty with finger marks. The switchgear is solid and the mouse pointer I find very nice. Its a standard synaptics device so can fit other types of ‘nipple’ to the pointer if you want. Going clockwise round the device from 9 O’clock you’ll find a USB port, another on the top left and then the headphone and mic, three LED indicators, the locking (and screen off) switch, the power switch. On the right hand side you find the screen brightness rocker and the power connector. On the back of the unit you find a sturdy metal flip out stand and the docking connector.

There are 13 buttons integrated on the frame and a touch stick mouse pointer. Unfortunately, the buttons don’t seem to be configurable. They are however connected via internal PS/2 bus and should be configurable via third party software such as KeyTweak . The standard button configuration includes left and right mouse buttons, page up and down, a set of media buttons, a browser button, media player button and web camera application button. The SRS button is reconfigured to pop up a screen and device control interface which allows the user to choose a screen scaling and to turn on and off the Bluetooth, web camera and WiFi. The pointer is a good quality analogue device with pressure sensor that, through the synaptics software, allows the user to configure a left mouse press when the button is tapped. Just above the mouse button you find the 1.3Mp web cam.

TabletKiosk i7210 UMPCTabletKiosk i7210 UMPC

On the inside.

Compared to other Origami UMPCs, the i7210 is the most powerful device available. There are of course other devices in the Ultra Mobile PC segment that are more powerful. The Sony UX280P, the Flybook V33i, Fujitsu P1510d are just a few and when the Stealey CPU becomes available in 2007, this will again push the bar higher but for the time being, this is the best that Microsoft Origami UMPCs can offer. (for more info on the definition and history of UMPCs and project Origami, see the buyers guide .)

Supporting the CPU is an Intel 915GMS chipset (which includes the Intel GMA900 graphics co-processor a part which has been approved for Vista.) The 915GMS supports PCI express, serial ATA and includes high definition audio. What a shame that none of this is accessible from the unit or via the docking station. Wouldn’t it be nice to see a docking station with PCI express card capability (for gaming), a serial ATA connector and the 7.1 and digital audio outputs. What you do get on the docking station is the dual-screen capability via the VGA or TV-out port, the 10Mbps Ethernet port and three more USB ports. The CPU is cooled by a fan (which my wife says she can hear when shes trying to sleep. Maybe I shouldn’t use the device in bed!!!)

The LCD panel is a USB device from egalax. Its a lightweight touch device which helps finger controlled use. It is possible for the palm to affect any handwriting or drawing but when the TIP (text input panel) is used in its default position at the bottom of the screen, the palm rests on the frame and there’s no problem at all. I prefer this screen over the heavyweight screen on the eo v7110. The backlight is strong and in normal use I was using on average, 30% brightness. On full backlight, its possible to use the device outside in the shade but not in direct sunlight.

The WiFi , Bluetooth and web cam are also USB bus devices which is why this device is not Centrino certified. Centrino specifies that the Intel PRO/Wireless chipset is used and this is not the case. I suspect that this is a cost saving exercise as buying a few million USB WiFi modules that can be used across all notebook and umpc platforms is more cost efficient than buying a few hundred thousand Intel specific devices. Unfortunately the efficiencies don’t stretch to power consumption because it appears that the USB WiFi module is quite a power-drain. More about battery drain later.


All Origami UMPCs are shipped with Microsoft XP Tablet Edition and the ‘touch pack’ which comprises a few, largely useless, applications such as the program launcher and ‘dial-keys’ - an on screen input pad that I just can not get used to. XP Tablet edition is a productive addition to XP though. If the UMPC is your first introduction to touch-screen input, you’ll be surprised at how efficient things can be. As I write this, hundreds of people around the world are downloading RC2 of Vista which is proving to be a big hit amongst tablet edition users. Touch-screen integration has taken a big step forward with Vista and early reports are positive about performance too. Upgrading to Vista in 2007 looks like a good move for all Origami-based UMPCs.

In addition to the MS software, you have three main packages. System Management Master (SMM) from ECS, the manufacturer, the touch screen software from egalax and the pointer software from synaptics.

The System Management Master is a useful piece of software that responds to a press of the SRS button by popping up a screen allowing the user to enable WiFi, Bluetooth or webcam and also allowing the user to choose a scaled screen mode up to 1024×768. The touch software from egalax allows the user to do calibration and the touch pointer software permits various changes in how the stick responds to movement and pressure.

TabletKiosk eo i7210 UMPC


The CPU on the i7210 is a Pentium-M capable of speed stepping (reduction of clockrate.) what you get depends a lot on the Windows power settings. Lets assume you’ve locked it to max performance though. Here are some figures from Sisoft Sandra tests.

  • Dhrystone performance - 3200
  • Whetstone performance - 2419.

These are arithmetic tests and show that the processor is 50-60% more powerful than a VIA C7-M performing the same test.

Disk Read tests - up to 20Mbps. This is typical of a 1.8″ drive and much the same as I saw on the Vega.

3DMark 2001SE tests. There are no 800×480 (native resolution) tests on this benchmark but here are a few results from alternative resolutions.

  • 640×480 16bit - 3DMark score 3700
  • 800×600 16bit - 3DMark score 3486
  • 1024×768 16bit (run on an external monitor) - 3050.

For comparison, the Flybook V33i returned 3700 at 800×600 and the eo v7110 returns about 900.

The CPU c-states all work with the WiFi turned on so it doesn’t suffer from the same problem as the eo v7110 where the C3 state is not usable due to USB issues. However, in real terms this will have little effect on overall battery life. The CPU can throttle back to 220Mhz. More details on battery life below.

Real-World performance.

Getting back to normal English for a while, I can happily say that the eo i7210 performs well for all your office needs. Browsing, office work, photo editing (I used The Gimp), Google Earth, Livewriter, Skype (video conferencing with 640×480 video pushed the CPU very high) , Trillian work fine. The only thing that I noticed to be a lot slower than normal was extracting compressed files through WinRar.

Opening applications isn’t noticeably slower than other UMPC systems i’ve used and worries about the 4200RPM drive can be laid to rest. I doubt you could measure much difference between this and, say, the eo v7110 which has a faster spinnign 2.5″ drive.

With the unit docked to a second (extended screen) the device is arguably more productive than a notebook. Dual-screen working is a pleasure.

UMPC office setup

The 1GB RAM is more than enough and as I write this report, I’m also running Skype, Firefox, Trillian, outlook and a number of background programs. There’s over 600MB of memory not being used! Opening 25 tabs containing rich content on the Firefox browser takes some time but there’s still over 550MB free afterwards. Opening the Gimp, Google Earth, Windows Journal, Livewriter, WinSCP and a few emails in addition still leaves 400MB free.

The WiFi performance is as good as any I’ve tried although its quite the battery hog. Enabling WiFi is going to add 15% to the total power drain of the UMPC. It makes a lot of difference. Its enough of a battery hog to make me think twice about using hotspots now. I’m opting now for data via Bluetooth over UMTS on my mobile devices. Its working out cheaper, more secure and more efficient. The advantages seem to outweigh the speed and latency disadvantage when doing basic email, IM and browsing.The choice between WiFi and Bluetooth will depend on the users circumstances though.

The built-in Web camera is really only that. It can’t really be used for photography (due to the low resolution) or for videos (due to its fixed positioning.) Low-light situations are a problem too. There’s no camera application included apart from AMCap, an old Microsoft program but there should be no problems integrating it into any of the IM programs as it appears as a normal Video For Windows camera.


Internal audio resolution seems really good. The output through headphones is very nice and this might have something to do with the integrated HD audio solution which is am Intel HD core with an analogue devices AD1981HD SoundMAX audio device. Built-in MIC quality is good as there is a two-channel mic array that uses voice enhancement technology to provide better sound quality for VOIP and other voice applications.

Output through the speaker however is another story. Its not only terrible quality, its not loud enough either. No points here for Tablet Kiosk. One thing that annoys me no-end about the audio is that I know its capable of SPDIF output which, when coupled with a suitable decoder, would enable you to decode multichannel audio (Dolby AC3 and DTS for example.) As it is though, you have to use a down-mixing solution like AC3filter to mix multichannel audio on to the stereo channels. Also worth noting is that although the Intel Audio core 7.1 HD channels, there is only a 2-channel digital to analogue converter meaning you’ll never be able to output more than a stereo signal.

The performance of the SD card slot is very good. It appears to be directly connected to the PCI bus and its now the fastest SD card reader I have. I was surprised to see a no-brand 2GB SD card read at over 6MBps. The SD card has been extremely useful with my UMPC photography and I can really recommend the unit as one of the best digital photography UMPCs. Editing RAW files in your favorite photo editor might be a little too much but I’m having no problem working with 2MB (5 megapixel) files from a Canon Powershot S2 IS. I just drop the SD card in, open with The Gimp, adjust and re-save the image, drag it over into a Livewriter blog entry and its done. Its saved me a lot of time indeed. If there are any mobile photo-bloggers or photo-journalists out there - the i7210 is your friend!

Heat and noise.

The i7210 has an internal fan which kicks in at about a 56 degree CPU temp. At over 60 degrees you can hear it and at 65 degrees (which is easy to reach if you are watching a video) the noise becomes detectable. In reality its super quiet but if you’re thinking about catching up on a few TV programs in bed while the wife is asleep you might want to make sure she’s fast asleep first. Heat build-up is there but not a problem.
Currently I have a problem with sleep/hibernation. If I set the device to hibernate after,say, 1 hour, it will come out of standby and stay on without hibernating. I found this out at about 1am after hearing the loud battery beep. The eo was in a CD holder (link) inside a sports bag and when I got it out, the metal stand was seriously hot. I guess about 60-70degress. When I rebooted it a minute or two later, the CPU was showing 85 degrees. Fortunately the CPU is able to run even hotter than that and in fact, emergency shutdown doesn’t occur until over 100 degrees (I haven’t checked this!!!)

Tablet Kiosk eo i7210

Docking station.

The docking station is wonderful. I’ve tried to scream about this before - having a docking station enhances the UMPC to the point where it can become a full-time low-end PC. It adds so much value to a UMPC that you can easily justify the extra money that a UMPC costs you. I’ve been working in dual-screen mode for that last two weeks now and going back to single screen working is becoming a real pain. I’m writing this document on a main screen and to the bottom left, my UMPC is running the primary screen where email, IM and other background apps are happily popping up notifiers without affecting my concentration too much. Grab-and-go is also possible although I’d like to see the windows on the secondary screen re-locate to the primary screen after un-docking. You have to standby/restart for that to work and then when you re-dock, the extended screen settings have been lost. Intel need to work on some enhancements to the software I think.

In addition to the VGA port, you’ve got an S-Video port which allows you to send video to a big screen. Handy for watching videos on a TV and could be used to great effect in a car situation where a cheap secondary screen is located in the the rear of the car. You can run navigation and user interface on the UMPC with TV going to the rear screen. In theory, the two audio interfaces connected tot he codec are reconfigurable to allow two separate stereo channels to be sent from the device. I can’t say that this will work though as it depends on audio drive implementation in the eo.

Theres a USB hub on the dock that gives you four USB2.0 ports. I will be buying a cheap USB audio module and with a DVD drive, wireless keyboard and mouse you have a pretty complete desktop PC solution.

Finally on the docking station, as I found out in the last 24 hours, theres a PCIe Ethernet chip (Marvel Yukon) that appears to be Gigabit Ethernet capable. (this needs to be confirmed.) It nice to see that the PCIe bus has been brought out to the docking port. With a PCIe slot on a new type of docking station you could, in theory, install quite a nice external graphics card. Something for the future perhaps.

Battery Life.

Theres nothing really exciting to report here. The LCD panel and WiFi module take up a large amount of current and the quiescent state drain is a comparatively large 8W. Don’t expect more than 2 hours under normal use. A breakdown of the power utilisation is shown below. (as shown through testing with Notebook Hardware Control.

  • Normal usage. (medium screen brightness. Wifi on.) 12w.
  • Min 9w. (screen lowest setting)
  • Min 8W (screen off)
  • Max 18.1W

Individual drain figures:

  • Screen backlight 1-4W
  • HDD up to 1W.
  • WiFi up to 2W.
  • Bluetooth. less than 0.5W.

Battery life on Standby is untested. To be honest, now that I’m using the i7210 as my main PC, I haven’t got time to test it!

TabletKiosk eo UMPC

Bootup / Standby /Stability

Bootup is average for a UMPC. On my rather heavily loaded i7210, it takes 50 seconds until you see the login screen. I suspect that on a clean system, that this is somewhere around the 45 seconds mark. However, this is a device that you can leave in standby and hibernation for most of the time so 6 seconds to come out of standby is the more important number.

Stability was 100%. I have had no stability issues at all.


There isn’t much in the way of accessories for the i7210 available. Tablet Kiosk have spare batteries and a universal case. There have been other accesories announced but that seems to be about it for the moment. It’s a poor show.

I’d like to see a tailored carry case, extended battery, a dock with integrated USB soundcard and PCIe slot, a car mount solution, screen protector, wall mount and more. Accessories don’t just help aftersales, they also help the customer visualise new possibilities for their UMPC.

Naked discoveries.

During the writing of this report, I got slightly sidetracked into investigating the details of the sound solution on the i7210. I ended up taking the unit apart and disassembling the mainboard from the screen and frame. Its was a risky job but someone had to do it!! I’ve ended up with a few pictures of the inside of the unit and some extra knowledge of the unit which I’ve already shared on the journal. Take a look here if you’re interested in the internals.


A few days playing with Linux resulted in a dead end. The USB wifi module seems to be almost unknown so getting that working under Ubuntu and Suse proved a waste of time. The touchscreen was also a dead-end task. Although egalax provide Linux drivers which compiled on both distributions (easier on Suse), the touchscreen remained unusable. Again, it ended up wasting too much time so I aborted the attempt. I can’t really recommend the devices for those wanting to run Linux. I was thinking the MythTV would be a nice Media Center solution but like many Linux solutions, you need a lot of spare time to get things working.

Comparison to similar devices.

There are now a number of similar solutions on the market and choosing between them is a difficult decision. Especially as we seem to see an ever growing list of planned products. The i7209 is the obvious comparison. For about $300 less, you get half the RAM (512), half the disk (30GB) and the slightly less powerful processor. If I was choosing between the two devices as an XP home user, the i7209 would be my choice. Neither the RAM, HDD or processor reduction is going to really affect anything. However, if I was looking to use Vista or considering some development work with UMPCs, the i7210 is be my choice. As I’m doing a lot of R&D work with them, thats why I’ve chosen the i7210.

Tablet Kiosk i7210 UMPC

When compared to something like the v7110, you have to be aware that the VIA graphics and processor power is in a lower class. Although you’ll be find running everyday applications on the v7110, graphical or 3D applications will really tax the processor. The Q1 is also a different device. If you haven’t used a UMPC with a mouse pointer before, you really need to do so before you decide on which device to buy. Two handed operation is so much easier with a mouse button. Finally, you need to consider the docking station. This is one part of the i7200 series that sets it way ahead of all other UMPCs. Yes, the UX series from Sony has a docking station (and a keyboard) but it has a much much smaller screen and costs a lot more. With a docking station , you open up some really nice grab-and-go desktop scenarios. Don’t forget the integrated multicard reader too. (SD / SDIO / MMC / MS)

Who is the target customer?

The primary market is obviously niche vertical markets and the mobile professional. The high price in comparison to a notebook PC means you will need justification. But considering that this i7210 could replace a media player, a low-end notebook, a carputer, a low-end desktop PC, a PDA and a navigation device, there’s a lot of reasons to buy one. Don’t let the lack of keyboard fool you. This is a mini-pc and it won’t make you any less productive at the desktop unless you’re into some quite heavyweight applications.

Digital Photographers will find the i7210 a great companion. There are very few comparable devices on the market with such a good quality SD slot. As with all UMPCs though, gaming is not an option.

Faults and Issues.

  • Web cam unuseable in low light.
  • Screen and WiFi appear to be heavy battery users.
  • Battery tech could be improved

There are a number of other issues that have been found during the testing that I know Tablet Kiosk are working on or are aware off. I’ve listed them below with the relevant comment from Tablet Kiosk. Thanks to Tablet Kiosk for answering our queries so efficiently.

- Screen backlight adjustment doesnt go low enough. Tablet Kiosk are working on this issue but don’t have a status at this stage.

- Screen off / Standby / Hibernate not working properly. Tablet Kiosk are working on this issue but don’t have a status at this stage. [carrypad: This could be due to a MS update. Its not clear at the moment why the standby is sometimes failing.]

- No floating tip. (This is a problem with many UMPCs and can be rectified by using an external application floattip.exe which is available around the internet.) - Tablet Kiosk have alerted Microsoft and Intel about this issue. The external application can be used as a fix in the meantime.

- Loudspeaker quality and volume. Tablet Kiosk say that it meets their standards so will not be addressed.

- BIOS throttles CPU to max 800Mhz under battery power. (The OS is not able to control this through ACPI to get full 1Ghz clockrate. This is often seen on notebook PCs but if ACPI is working correctly, my understanding is that the OS will allow the CPU to drop back its clockrate anyway.) Tablet Kiosk engineers are cautiosly evaluating this issue but there is no resolution yet.

- No case included in the box. Cases have now been received by Tablet Kiosk. Customers without cases will receive them with the recovery CD.

- No recovery CDs in the box. This is being finalised and will be sent to customers.


A superb Ultra Mobile PC. The docking station sets it in a class of its own and proves that the UMPC can be used as a mini-pc on the desktop. Price is high so you’ll need to think carefully about justification before purchase. Digital photographers wanting an SD-capable storage, review, editing and communication device will find the i7210 the best UMPC solution yet. Lightwieght touchscreen lends itself well to finger-based operation. Its a shame there’s no car-mount available. Battery life is nothing exceptional.

Availability and Pricing.

Available now through Tablet Kiosk resellers. Pricing depends on location. Guide prices available in the product portal.