Sahara Slate PC i440D 48-Hour Demo
48 Hours. 48 hours; it seems like it should be a lot of time. But, ironically, when you’re feeding your new tablet craving, 48 hours is barely any time at all!
A few months ago, I contacted Allegiance Technology Partners ( www.alltp.com ) and signed up for a 48-Hour demo of the new TabletKiosk Sahara i440D Dual Touch slate PC. The wait turned out to be a bit longer than I expected, but last week, the long-hoped-for e-mail arrived! The i440D would be delivered just after the 4th of July, on its way back to Pennsylvania after having been unboxed (on video no less) by Rob Bushway at GBM. I could short-stop it for 48 hours and then had to turn it loose so that it could continue back to its new home at Allegiance in Horsham, PA.
The 440 arrived a tad ahead of schedule (bless you, FedEx!) and because Rob did such a good job in his unboxing video ( http://tinyurl.com/3cxjtr ), I’ll spend only a few sentences describing the contents of the box. Of course, it contained the i440D, packed in a nice anti-static plastic bag, a soft padded sleeve (case) with the TabletKiosk logo and an accessory box. The accessory box contained the battery (~35 W/Hr if memory serves), the AC adaptor and 3-wire AC cord, a large (12″) and very nice blue microfiber cleaning cloth, a somewhat sketchy color brochure which points out all the i440D features, and a stand. The stand turns out to be very, very special!
Of course, the star of this show is the i440D itself. This unit featured a 1.83 GHz L2500 Core Duo, with 1GB of RAM and an 80 GB hard drive. Compared to the prototype that I saw in late February, the production unit has turned out to be very handsome and incorporates some interesting changes. The bezel or frame is a pearlescent white, against which the TK logo contrasts nicely. It is very attractive, but I think my own preferences still run to the non-slip black case finish, but that’s just me.
The screen is still integrated into the bezel with a very shallow ledge or step. The surface of the screen is, of course, the touch overlay. Maybe it’s just faulty memory on my part, but this screen / touch surface felt firmer and more rigid to me than the prototype. (Note: In a recent posting, TK says that the touch overlay has a glass, not plastic, surface.) In direct light, it appeared to be finished with a very fine matte finish which was not very reflective at all. It felt like a perfectly satisfactory writing surface.
Of course, all the LEDs, switches, buttons, speakers, mics and fingerprint readers that we’ve all seen in press-release photos were there, along with an exceptional assortment of ports which included PCMCIA, monitor, Ethernet, modem, full-sized FireWire, two USB 2 ports, headphone, external mic and an e-SATA port! Curiously, there was no dummy insert in the PCMCIA port, making for a relatively large ‘hole’ in the side of the case. It turns out that its a missing accessory; when this particular slate shipped, the inserts had not yet arrived. TK says that all future units will sport a proper insert.
If you read my previous review ( http://tinyurl.com/yusp6w ), you will remember that I was somewhat critical of the i440D case shape; I thought it a bit boxy. Well, for whatever the reason, the
production unit looks sleeker and a bit less boxy. One reason for this is that the back of the case has been significantly re-engineered! The stubby, “table leg” rubber feet that I complained about are gone, replaced by lower rubber buttons that don’t spoil the clean lines of the back. It’s a significant cosmetic improvement, but the back of the slate probably gets hotter than it used to as a consequence.
But bigger changes …