Ergo launches the GoNote Mini, a 7-inch Android tablet / netbook hybrid, we go hands-on

We first encountered Ergo Electronics at last year's Gadget Show Live, and since then the Birmingham-based tablet maker has graduated from its humble back-of-the-hall origins to become a major player. Its product range has swelled beyond its original budget ICS slates with a range of AIO PCs, thin-and-light laptops and even a Windows 8 tablet that has more than a few strong hints of a KIRF Surface about it. Now it's launched the GoNote Mini, a scaled down 7-inch version of the education-ready tablet / netbook hybrid that's been doing the rounds since last summer. We got to spend a few minutes playing around with the first production prototype and if you'd like to know more, after the break is where you want to be.%Gallery-184764%

We're not sure too many people are wistful for the halcyon days of 2007, but this Android-powered clamshell netbook certainly pulls a retro heart-string here or there. Clad in off-white plastic and designed for the education market, it's already demonstrated its sturdy credentials after it suffered an accident against the concrete earlier in the day -- with only some scuffing on the corner that bore the brunt of the impact. It's certainly solidly built and we couldn't find any weaknesses or "give" in the outer shell, compared to some of the kiddy-devices that we've seen.

Spec-wise, you'll be staring into a 800 x 480 capacitive LED-backlit touchscreen that can register up to five points of multitouch. Running the show is a single-core 1.2GHz Rockchip RK2918 that's been paired with 1GB of RAM, and while it'll do the job, it suffers from the same blight as many other pre-Jelly Bean Android slates -- with gestures taking a moment to register and programs meandering their way into view. The keyboard isn't enjoyable to type on for adult hands, and the keys themselves have a springy feel, as if you're typing into the rubber membrane beneath the keys. On the other hand, in addition to the touchscreen, you also get a trackpoint, which is useful when you want to nudge your cursor without resorting to jabbing at the display. Connectivity-wise, you've got 802.11 b/g/n WiFi, mini USB, full UB and a mini HDMI port. You'll talk into a VGA forward-facing camera that's been paired with a 2-megapixel shooter 'rounder back. You can also complement the 4GB of onboard storage with the microSD card slot. The unit will be available for £99 ($150) towards the end of the month, but for that same price, you could also snag something a little more stylish.

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2nd April, Birmingham, UK

Today at the Gadget Show Live, Birmingham NEC, launches the GoNote Mini, the UK's first 7" Capacitive Touchscreen Notebook. GoNote is one of the first Android products specifically designed to help school-children get access to the best Learning Apps & Games, while becoming familiar with a 'notebook' form factor. GoNote Mini also aims to bridge the digital divide for children of all ages, from toddlers to schoolkids and beyond, and at a breakthrough price of only £99 that is affordable and inclusive.

Why GoNote Mini?
Sam Goult, Design Director comments, "Five years ago while launching the UK's first sub £100 laptop, I met David Cameron MP and discussed the importance of children benefitting from access to computers, and how this shouldn't be determined by family wealth or upbringing. Five years later, David Cameron is now Prime Minister but not much has changed, everyone's still talking about the digital divide. We hope the GoNote Mini can help bridge the digital divide- it's a device that children, parents and teachers alike will love to use and at only £99, its at a price which isn't exclusive to the wealthy. The future is undoubtedly digital, and children with a solid computing know-how, even from the earliest age, will become tomorrow's leaders.

Goult continues "There are apps for everything to help children learn, whether that's Phonics to French, or their Times Tables to the Origins of the Solar System. We also believe that it's equally important to use apps that you wouldn't initially consider to be 'educational'. Apps like 'Angry Birds™' and 'Cut the Rope™' give children an iterative approach to problem solving to complete the game, as well as a basic understanding of Mechanics and the Laws of Physics, and all in a fun and 'stealth' way."

GoNote Mini is the ultimate 'first computer' to help children learn and play, in a fun way. GoNote Mini is ideal for using Apps, its natural and intuitive for children to touch, swipe & pinch the 7″ capacitive touchscreen rather than reaching for a mouse. In addition, its got a 'child friendly' QWERTY keyboard, so kids can get familiar with a laptop layout from an early age. Its comfortable to use and the large, clear buttons make it easy for children who've never used a keyboard to get to grips with typing- an absolutely invaluable life skill.

Apps for Learning, for fun, for everything
With the Google Play Store there are thousands of apps from 'Education' to 'Brain and Puzzle' to 'Productivity'. With so many for free there's something to help every child learn and achieve their potential. GoNote Mini grows with a child as the GoNote Mini can be tailored with apps to suit the child now, then install new apps as their thirst for knowledge develops and matures. There are apps to help children learn right from the earliest years, right through their school years and education.

GoNote Mini Hardware
Its powered by a 1.2GHz ARM CPU with 1GB RAM, and runs the hugely popular Android 4 OS (Ice Cream Sandwich). There is a front webcam and rear camera so GoNote Mini is ideal as a child's 'first camera', letting kids document their own life and cherish special moments. GoNote Mini has expandable Micro SD storage capability, and the ability to play apps or video on an HD TV via its mini HDMI Port.

Also- launched at the Gadget Show today is the 10" GoNote 2. The upgraded return of the vastly popular 10" GoNote. Now with 10" Capacitive Touchscreen, Dual Core CPU, Android Jelly Bean and 16GB Storage, the GoNote 2 retains its unbelievable price point of only £149.

GoTab Mini is the latest addition to the 'Go' range that includes the hugely popular GoTab Android Tablets, GoNote, GoBook eBook Reader, and GoTV range of products. GoNote Mini is currently being showcased at the Gadget Show Live at the NEC Birmingham, Stand D230. For more information see or email press[at]
7" GoNote Mini GNT7 availability: Mid April – £99.