Gigabyte came to CES with a pair of Windows 8 tablets, the S1082 and S1185, in hopes of making a splash in a US market that still tends to associate the company name with PC motherboards. We had the opportunity to try both, and came away intrigued -- there's a handful of touches on each that separate them from the pack. Read after the break for our impressions and video tours.
Gigabyte S1185 hands-onSee all photos
Gigabyte S1082 hands-onSee all photos
The 11.6-inch S1185 is the real standout. While the low-voltage Core i5 chip (there's a Core i3 option), 1080p IPS-based screen, 5-megapixel rear camera and front 1.3-megapixel shooter don't scream for attention by themselves among higher-end Windows 8 slates, there's an optical trackpoint and mouse buttons that make themselves genuinely handy in the non-Metro desktop. Built-in HSPA+ (at least on the model we tried), a claimed 7-8 hours of battery life and between 64GB to 256GB of flash storage are appreciated, too. It's reasonably weighted for the size at two pounds, although it's clear the S1185 is still big enough and heavy enough to be better-suited for a lap or desk. Gigabyte must know this, as there's a Surface-style kickstand to prop it up as well as a very thin magnetic keyboard and trackpad combo dock. We found that the prototype dock had somewhat mushy keys and stiff buttons. Americans intrigued by the concept should see the S1185 around late March for about $1,000, with the dock adding another $100 to the price tag.
We see the S1082 as a different beast -- it's an evolution of an existing design that's really meant for business users. The 10.1-inch tablet is considerably chunkier than the S1185, but that space affords it extra options for road warriors, such as Ethernet (!), VGA and up to a 500GB conventional hard drive, all on top of more common features like the trackpoint. Gigabyte's media dock carries over to this generation, as well. It's easier to hold in the hand than its bigger sibling, but the $649 price (with second battery and keyboard case) manifests itself in the components: there's just a 1.1GHz Celeron, five hours of battery life, no rear camera and a 1,366 x 768 TN-based display with narrow viewing angles. If you'd like more power than an Atom processor while keeping the price in check, however, the S1082 could still be a solid choice when it ships to the US in February.