Saturday, June 18, 2016

China cheapies - Chuwi Hi12

When first tier manufactures move on to new and better screens, or just pass the exclusive on the screens in the their latest and greatest, second tier Chinese manufacturers get the chance to use them. You can now get a dual-booting, Windows and Android, Intel Atom based tablet behind an iPad retina screen from the likes of Onda, Teclast, Chuwi and others you've probably never heard of, all in the $200-$300 range.

You won't see them at BestBuy and you'll pay a premium if you want to get them from a place like Amazon or eBay. Your best bet, if you're brave enough, is to order direct from China through a place like GeekBuyingBangGood, or GearBest (see a theme?).

But, it's been a while since I've been willing to tolerate a 9.7" screen for sheet music, so while the idea of Windows/Android on that screen is interesting, it's not particularly useful to me, especially since none of them support pen. However, now that Microsoft has moved to a bigger, higher density screen for the Surface Pro 4, the Surface Pro 3 screen is now available to these Chinese manufacturers.

Chuwi has slapped one of these Surface Pro 3 screens on their Hi12, packed it with an Atom processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 64 GB SSD for a fantastic sub-$300 price. Of course you have to order direct from a Chinese deal site like banggood or gearbest and hope you get a good one, since things like warranty support and quality control will also be second tier. It might be worth it in the case of the Chuwi Hi12 to get a 12", 1440p screen with, get this - an active digitizer!

So of course when one showed up on my local craigslist, how could I not get it? I mean, I totally don't have the patience to wait for shipping from China, but if I can just email some random person and go buy it, that's totally going to happen. The guy suggested a dessert place near his local BART stop, so we loaded up the kids and headed out. The kids loved the restaurant and I'm typing this on my shiny new-to-me Chuwi Hi12.

You'll notice it came with a mouse. If you're reading this, you've probably got another tab open with reviews. (I highly recommend techtablets to learn more about these machines) and everything you'll read about how terrible the trackpad is is true. I actually like the springiness and stiff feedback of the keyboard itself, but the trackpad is really terrible.

If I were buying new, I'd skip the keyboard and grab the HiPen (yes, that's what it's called) instead. Stock comes and goes on those, so to get one in a reasonable amount of time, I went with one listed on Amazon. It's still shipping from China, but it was in stock and ready to go. It'll probably be another week before it shows up, and I'll have a more in depth look at the tablet then.

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