Welcome to my review of the 7” MID Witstech A81/ W1060. I’ve been looking forward to this review for some time now. As many of you can see, the mobile device market is literally exploding with new devices, and 2010 promises to be a year with at least double the number of new devices to be released. This of course is a double-edged sword, as many of us will be torn on which device to use. Some of you are aware of my quest to find the perfect multi-function device, so hopefully I can help people understand at least some of the devices being released
The 7” MID W1060, also known to many as the Witstech A81, is a brand new MID (mobile internet device) using the Cortex A8 processor which is the same processor being used in the iPhone and the Archos 5 Android Tablet. WireLession is a distributor of the A81, and has re-branded it with their own designation (W1060) and logos.
Specifications (see numbered notes below specs for some details)
Processor: ARM Cortex A8 600M, Dedicated DSP Graphic Core
Operating System: Windows CE 6.0 Embedded
Screen: 7-inch TFT Touch Screen, 800x480 Resolution
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11b/g and Bluetooth Built-in (1)
GPS (2) Built-In
Sound: Stereo High Fidelity Output 3D Surround, Adjustable Volume
Memory: 256MB RAM (3), T-Flash (microSD) slot supports up to 32GB
Video Formats Supported: AVI, MPEG4, MPEG2, WMV, H.264 and others (MKV support coming soon)
Battery: Rechargeable Lithium Battery (3000mAH), 5 to 8 Hours Operation
Weight: 0.39kg battery included
Size: 18L×11W×1.5D CM
1 – The review unit’s firmware has Bluetooth working.
2 – The review unit has the GPS Module built-in –costs an extra $20
3 – The review unit seemed to only see 128MB of RAM. I’m not sure if that is a firmware issue or a hardware issue. The specs I was given say it is supposed to have 256MB of RAM.
UPDATE: The unit does indeed have 256MB of RAM. It is a WinCE functionality that the other 128MB is set aside to be used by the Operating System.
Packaging and Build Quality
The device box is a solid black color, not something you would find on a store shelf and not much larger than the device itself. It was shipped inside another box (with the box containing the W1010 as well). Everything that was supposed to be included with the device was there (cables, battery, adapter, and the device).
The device casing felt very sturdy, but it appears to be of a high quality plastic and not metal as I had been previously informed. As the pictures show, the device is jet black and shiny. When I held the device it felt extremely solid and good to hold, noticeably lighter than the SmartQ7 I reviewed previously. There was no flexing and, as a whole, it was smaller than I thought it would be from the pictures. The build quality is impressive, and reminds me quite a bit of holding a bigger Archos 5 Android Tablet.
EDIT: In the original post I forgot to mention the very handy and sturdy stand built into the back of the device. The stand is made of metal and is one of my favorite features on this device. My apologies for missing this on the intital posting!
After putting in the battery and charging the device for a while, I turned it on and was immediately impressed with the quality of the screen. It is clear and vibrant, and clearly responsive to touch. To the naked eye it seems brighter and clearer than my SmartQ7’s screen. See the pictures of the included in this post for a comparison. The interesting thing is that the screen on the JE-100 eBook Reader (see my review) seems a little better than this, but it is very close. There is one big problem with the screen though – there is no way to rotate it, except within certain applications. WitsTech has said they are working hard on screen rotation and I was told it would be about 12-15 days before we say an update for it. If they can’t get some type of screen rotation, that could be a deal-breaker for many users, especially ebook-reading users.
Battery Life and Charging
I tested the device for a couple weeks, during which time I watched video, read eBooks and comics, and browsed the internet. The battery life is as advertised, which is to say 5 to 8 hours depending on the task. Listening to music and reading can take you to the battery-life max of 7-8 hours. Video or web browsing and you won’t get more than 3-4 hours.
To charge the device, simply use the included adapter or plug it in to your computer via USB cable. It will charge faster via the adapter, but the USB can also be very convenient. When charging, the power button lights up, turning green and red. When fully charged, the power button light turns completely green. It actually looks pretty cool. You can also see it is charging by looking in the tray on the bottom right of the screen in WinCE.
Again, the device is running Windows CE 6 Embedded. The version included here is 100% English and has all the bells and whistles you would expect from a complete version of the OS. It was nice to know that I didn’t have to worry about converting it to English, and missing certain applications because they were only in Chinese. USB and Windows Mobile Device Center worked perfectly on the device without having to do anything like load drivers (at least on my Test PC, which is running Windows Vista).
Word from the Manufacturer (WitsTech) is that Android will be available for this device by the end of December. That would certainly make some people very happy and open up a whole group of customers who don’t like WinCE.
The device can be switched from ActiveSynch to Drive mode. This works exactly how it sounds. If you change it to ActiveSynch (in the settings application included with the device), the device will try to launch Windows Mobile Device Center or ActiveSynch 4.5 (depending on your OS) and allow you to synch up as usual. If you switch the device to Disk Drive mode, it will simply allow you to access the microSD contents on the device just as if you were using a card reader on your PC.
Someone asked me in a post at MobileRead if the device had a USB Host mode. I tried the device in both settings with a USB mouse and USB mini keyboard and I could not get the W1060 to host either USB device. I don’t believe the device has a USB Host capability. If someone from WitsTech or WireLession would like to respond and correct me that would be fantastic.
Re: Use the OTG to connect a USB device or USB Hub. The USB device demanded driven-power should be less than 100 mAh，port 2.0.If you use a USB hub, the USB device demands more than 100mAh,it is better to be externally powered.
The W1060 Device Settings Screen
Performance – Overall
The device takes roughly 13-14 seconds to boot, which is pretty darn fast. I’ll be going over specific performance features in the topics below, but I was quite happy with performance on this device with the notable exception of Internet Explorer and browsing the web. Every screen rotation utility I have for WinCE crashed the device.
I tried to load many different eBook applications on this device with varying degrees of success. Below is a list of eBook Readers I tested:
AlReader 2 – successful
MobiPocket – successful, Support screen rotation
KingReader – starts but won’t display file (only reads TXT files to begin with)
uBook – successful, but need to rotate screen to portrait to see complete configuration and settings screen.
HaaliReader – successful, but in Russian
Microsoft Reader – failure to run (I’m still trying though!)
At the end of the day I was very happy with this device as an eBook reader. A crisp and colorful screen that didn’t hurt my eyes, it is lightning fast for turning pages, and many of the applications I like to read with work on the device.
Viewing PDF Files
Once again, I used a demo version of Foxit PDF Viewer to view a PDF eBook. I also loaded “Ancestor” by Scott Sigler. Just like the SmartQ and the JE-100, this device is best for viewing PDF while in landscape mode. Going to portrait might make things a little too small for to read. Going from page to page was nearly instantaneous. I really like how fast the device loaded a PDF and performed while viewing it.
Music on this device is a real treat. The sound that emits from the speaker is nothing to brag about, but putting a good set of headphones on it will really make you happy. It has a rich sound, much like your Zune or iPod, with good bass and treble. The two players I use most are Nitrogen and GSPlayer. Nitrogen even supports resume, which can be very handy when listening to audio books. The great battery life and clear music make this a very enjoyable device for reading or browsing while listening to music.
The device arrived with Windows Media Player and an application called “WMPlayer” by WitsTech. I’ve tested AVI, MPEG4, and WMV files to good effect. It seems the best framerate came from the AVI file. The MKV file I tested did not function, and I was told that MKV support would be coming soon. Still, this device is great for watching video, and the power of the Cortex A8 shines through here. We finally have a MID that can read, watch movies, and listen to music. Unfortunately, the internet isn’t perfect. Read on my friends!
Using MangaMeeyaCE English to view comics on this device is pretty much just like the SmartQ7 or the JE-100, with one noticeable difference. It is very fast to change pages. The bright and clear screen makes it easy to see the small text you usually find with a comic book. I’ve found the best way to view comics is in full screen portrait mode.
The Device’s Future
Now that I have reached this part of the review I can say that I’m still excited about the device. First of all, I’ve been told Android would be available by the end of the year. Next, they are working on fixing screen rotation right away. Since the device is firmware based, and it is very new, you can expect to see many improvements to the firmware. If they can fix the memory problems I encountered with Internet Explorer, bring MKV to the device, and adjust a few other things, this will be a very nice device in the future.
There are many great things about this device. For everything except web browsing it is extremely fast and a pleasure to use. The form factor is just about perfect. Not too heavy and not too light. It feels good in your hands. The build quality is fantastic! On the other side, the lack of true screen rotation is a real problem. The issues with Internet Explorer and memory are frustrating. It doesn’t have USB Host mode, which many folks have come to expect in their multi-function devices these days.
I’ve heard that WitsTech is going to release a version of this device with Android Operation System a few months. With that in mind, and considering some of the issues we are having right now, only the die-hard device enthusiasts should pick this device up before the firmware is updated or the capacitive version is released. I’ve been asked to hold on to this device and keep the community updated as the bugs are worked out. I’m happy to do so, and I hope they can fix these things soon, because it really is a beautiful machine.Kathyzhong6699@hotmail.comKathycoco6699@yahoo.com