Microsoft’s Surface Windows tablets haven’t exactly set the world on fire. But there are other manufacturers still trying to find some sort of winning formula for Windows tablets. Gigabyte’s S1185 is probably too heavy to appeal to ordinary home users, but it does have some interesting features that could find a niche with certain types of business users. See all tablet reviews.
The 11.6-inch S1185 is currently only available in a single configuration, priced at £574 with a 1.8GHz Intel Core i5 processor – a dual-core Ivy Bridge part – with 4GB of memory and 128GB solid-state storage. Like the Surface, the S1185 only has about 80GB of free space available for your own files, but there’s a microSD slot that will allow you to add some extra storage when you need to. See also: Group test: what's the best tablet PC?
The screen is a bright, attractive IPS panel with full-HD resolution (1920 x 1080) and wide viewing angles that works a treat for watching video or browsing the web.
However, the S1185 is also rather chunky by any tablet standards, weighing a full kilogram and measuring 13.5mm thick. You can’t easily hold it with one hand and then tap on the touch-sensitive screen with the other, so this is no tablet for relaxing with your feet up on the sofa. The built-in speakers are also feeble, and can barely be heard from even a few feet away.
But, clearly aware of the weight issue, Gigabyte has equipped the S1185 with an optical sensor that is located on the right-hand edge of the tablet (when in landscape orientation). This allows you to control the mouse cursor with your thumb when you’re working on ye olde Windows desktop – which, as anyone that’s tried to use Windows by touchscreen has discovered, is actually quite tricky when using just the touch interface.
You can press this sensor to perform a simple left-click action, while set into the left-hand edge of the tablet there’s also a pair of small buttons that act like left and right mouse buttons. This arrangement took some getting used to – and certainly seems counter-intuitive on a touch-screen device – but it does give you more precise control when working in the Windows desktop. That could be useful for people who need to stand up and move around while they’re working – perhaps for data entry or stock-taking in a shop.
There’s a 5Mp front-facing camera for taking pictures on-site, and a slot for a SIM card – described as ‘3.5G’ – for mobile comms when you’re out and about. The S1185 isn’t ‘ruggedized’, though, so you’d need a padded case to protect it on the move.
Gigabyte does include a detachable, portable keyboard as standard, so you can sit down and treat it like a laptop when you need proper keyboard input. The keyboard does make rattling sounds as you type, but the keyboard panel is quite firm and sturdy and the keys have enough travel to feel quite comfortable when typing.
The S1185 certainly has the performance to match a proper laptop, with its solid-state storage and the main processor’s 2.7GHz Turboboost capability helping to a healthy score of 4300 points in PCMark 7. That’s more than adequate for running Microsoft Office and even some more demanding CAD or graphics applications.
The main Achille’s heel is the S1185’s battery life. The powerful processor and IPS screen mean that the S1185 could only just creep past the 4-hour mark (242 mins) when streaming video over its built-in Wi-Fi. It’s not very impressive for a mobile device that is clearly intended for use on the move.