Meet Quaduro System's Quadpad 2, a 10in tablet PC that can find use in industry and luxury home automation systems.

The tablet PC remains something of an oddity, neither fish nor foul; neither a workable laptop nor a pocketable PDA. But even if it can't replace a consumer portable PC, it has found limited uses outside the mainstream - namely in industry and in home automation applications.

In industry it can be useful in automotive mobile diagnostics and warehouse stocktaking, we're told, while ambitious home cinema and custom installation projects can find a use for a tablet PC as a large touchscreen remote control.

Imagine a swish, minimalist apartment with an expansive coffee table, showing off a magazine-sized touchscreen remote control propped up and facing you. It can be the control-centre hub of your home entertainment world, ready to summon up ambient room lighting, operate automatic blinds and lower a projection screen before you select a film for an enveloping home cinema experience.

Companies like Crestron have built their names on such control interfaces, using advanced and customised programmable interfaces that make it simple for non-technophile users to get around by simply pressing large touch-sensitive screen buttons.

Quaduro System's Quadpad 2 could be coerced into such duties, too, although it would require a whole new ‘skinned' user interface to be installed. At heart it's just a mini Windows XP laptop without a keyboard.

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Actually, the Quaduro Quadpad 2 is less a laptop made into tablet, more netbook turned slate. Its specifications is exactly that of just about every netbook we've tested to date - only sans keyboard, and with a 10in touchscreen.

So inside the Quaduro Quadpad 2 we have an Intel Atom processor, Intel integrated graphics chip, 160GB hard disk - and here's a treat - 2GB of RAM. The operating system is Windows XP Home; there are three USB ports, an SD card slot, ethernet, webcam, and audio in and out jacks.

The only thing seemingly missing that most netbooks predictably include is an old-fashioned VGA analogue video output. But slide open a plastic hatch on the Quaduro Quadpad 2's left, and you'll find the usual D-Sub output.

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Meet Quaduro System's Quadpad 2, a 10in tablet PC that can find use in industry and luxury home automation systems.

In design handiwork, the Quaduro Quadpad 2 will win no awards, as it's uninspired function over form. So the dark grey plastic case has the look of a 1990s' laptop, somewhat square, and chunky too at over 30mm thick. Tipping the scales at 1.2kg, it's not overly heavy, yet despite weighing the same as most netbooks, it somehow feels heavier.

Essentially, it's not the sort of remote control you'd want to casually pass among the family by outstretched arm.

And like the cheapest netbooks we now see, it only has a small 3-cell 4400mAh rechargeable battery. In our MobileMark 2007 battery tests, we saw only 194 mins - about 3.25 hours - of unplugged life.

Overall system speed of the Quaduro Quadpad 2 was right on the Intel Atom netbook average of 35 points, as measured using the WorldBench 6 real-world speed test.

But where the Quaduro Quadpad 2 does step away from conventionality is in its touch-controllable screen. This adopts the usual netbook size 10in diagonally and 1024x600 pixels, a rather crude low resolution for normal use but actually of some benefit in this application, as the larger icons are more easily clickable by a fingertip.

Unlike up-to-date capacitative touchscreen technology as found on the iPhone, for example, the touch interface here requires some pressure and is not especially clever at recognising delicate fingertip position. So for the most part, you'll need to use the plastic stylus that clips into the top of the Quaduro Quadpad 2 bodywork.

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Other than basic touch-clicking, there's not much tactile interaction with on-screen GUI elements - in other words, you'll find here none of the useful multi-touch gestures that even budget notebook trackpads now offer.

As a concession to the keyboard-less design, the Quaduro Quadpad 2 has an additional software app that provides a full-width virtual keyboard, summoned up from a slide-out onscreen tab that nestles halfway up the screen's right side.

This EyesBoard software, designed by Taiwan-based company PlazaLogic, also includes a graphical touch way to alter volume and screen brightness. Which is just as well, as there are no hardware keys on the unit for these basic operations. Quality control on the software is rather lacking, leaving a glaring typo on the ‘Battery Stsus' button.

With the help of this full-width qwerty keyboard, it's a little easier to input basic text into form fields on the Quaduro Quadpad 2; but it's very far from being touch-typable. Try to tap out more than a line or two of text and you'll be begging for a proper keyboard.

Various accessories are available for the Quaduro Quadpad 2, including a rubber bump case, 12V/24V car charger units, and mounting kits and table stands for use in conjunction with the Quadpad's rear VESA-mount screwholes.

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Quaduro Quadpad 2: Specs

  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
  • 533MHz FSB
  • 10.2in (1024x600) touchscreen LCD display
  • Microsoft Windows XP3 Home
  • 160GB 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • Intel GMA 950 graphics controller
  • VGA
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 100Mb/s ethernet
  • 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth
  • SD card slot
  • mic in, headphone out
  • stereo speakers
  • mic
  • 1.3Mp webcam
  • 4400mAh Li-ion battery
  • 192x252x28-36mm
  • 1202g
  • 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270
  • 533MHz FSB
  • 10.2in (1024x600) touchscreen LCD display
  • Microsoft Windows XP3 Home
  • 160GB 5400rpm SATA HDD
  • 2GB DDR2 RAM
  • Intel GMA 950 graphics controller
  • VGA
  • 3 x USB 2.0
  • 100Mb/s ethernet
  • 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth
  • SD card slot
  • mic in, headphone out
  • stereo speakers
  • mic
  • 1.3Mp webcam
  • 4400mAh Li-ion battery
  • 192x252x28-36mm
  • 1202g

OUR VERDICT

Considering the average build quality and limited technology on board, the Quaduro Quadpad 2 is overpriced for most users, while the limited additional touch-input software is not enough to overcome the traditional frustrations of Microsoft’s tablet concept. This particular tablet PC is short on any true innovation other than to put an insensitive touchscreen onto a slow netbook. For industrial and professional applications, though, the Quadpad 2 could earn its place as a compact and keyboardless Windows XP input device.

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