This is an amazing little gadget. And an amazing bargain if you play your cards right. The Winbook TW700 has been out for a while, and I learned about it only recently through an APRS reflector post from WA8LMF TW700 Review.
It is a simple Windows 8.1 machine, available only at MicroCenter, and there’s no MicroCenters here in Arizona. However, fortunately I have been traveling to Chicagoland on occasion and there are a couple of MicroCenters there.
Searching the MicroCenter website for pricing on the TW700, it ranges from about $44 to $80, depending on whether it’s new, open box/returned, or bare units without the accessories. And stores only have whatever is available in their store, so you might walk in and find that only new units are available, or they might have a number of open boxes, etc. I was very fortunate to get one at a good price, open box, and I didn’t need the few cables and charger that the new ones come with.
Like I said, these are extremely simple Windows 8.1 tablets, and quite tight on expansion. The one that I picked up had a 32 GB microSD card installed, which has turned out to be quite handy. Also, there’s only 16 GB of permanent storage in the machine, so Windows 8.1 takes up about 6 of that, and there’s about 8 GB in a restore partition. So there’s very little extra storage in the inboard “drive”. There’s also only 1 GB of RAM, and that can be tight unless you have low expectations. The Atom processor is plenty fast, and the screen bright and easily readable. The whole thing can run off its internal battery for hours at a time (maybe 4?).
Through WA8LMF’s and others’ web postings, I was able to increase slightly the available storage on the inboard drive even after the zillions of 8.1 updates that ballooned the size of the base Windows configuration. I have about 2 GB of inboard drive storage available now, which is plenty for my applications.
Speaking of applications, the main reason I got this was that I’m into wardriving using Vistumbler and WiFiDB, excellent tools written and supported by Andrew Calcutt and Phil Ferland. For a while, when working or visiting somewhere without my truck and its built-in Vistumbler wardriving setup, I had to make do with a notebook PC and its built-in dual-band Wi-Fi, and my Garmin GPS jacked in to the PC USB port. Was very bulky, and difficult to observe the results in real-time.
The TW700 changed all that. I also got a $10 USB hub (the TW700 has one regular USB port), a GPS receiver board from Sparkfun, and a very inexpensive TPLink dual-band Wi-Fi USB dongle. Borrowing a better dual-band antenna from the junkbox, I now have a pretty competent pedestrian/mobile warwalking/wardriving setup.
This is an incredible little warwalking setup. I’ve even rode the bicycle around with this in the backpack, and it is really a nice performer. I taped the TPLink dongle / dual-band antenna to the top of the truck, across from my big Cisco dual-band antenna feeding the truck’s wardriving setup, and got essentially the same results while driving the neighborhood. Excellent sensitivity and lots of access points. The TW700 runs smoothly and supplies enough power to run both the GPS and the Wi-Fi dongle, so I didn’t have to bring along an extra battery to run the hub.
I still have to package the TPLink dongle, GPS and the USB hub together in a single package, so that there’s only the USB cable to the TW700.
You can read more about wardriving, Vistumbler, and the WiFiDB at the techidiots forum.