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The Grounds of Alexandria meets the new HP Omni10 Windows 8 tablet

This review of the HP Omni10 Windows 8.1 tablet starts at a very popular Sydney location, a renovated warehouse full of industrial and rustic chic. I’m talking about The Grounds of Alexandria – home of Kevin Bacon the resident pig!

You can find The Grounds of Alexandria on the corner of Huntley and Bourke St or if you need a map, click here.

Located in an old pie factory from the early 1900’s, The Grounds is easily the icon of Alexandria and for many reasons too: fresh produce grown onsite, open air market-style carts with mixed wares, onsite florist, and of course the cafe. The site has a large outdoor seating space with a kids play area and a petting zoo.

The best part? The site hosts a coffee research and testing facility! 

The beans used at The Grounds are selected for their unique qualities and sourced from all around the world. Each origin has its own flavour characteristics; Brazil; sweet and woody, Colombia; smoky with spicy overtones, Ethiopia; wildly sharp with fruit undertones, India; rich and syrupy, and Uganda; aniseed with dark chocolate.

The Grounds is serving me coffee from Carmo de Minas. This is a town and municipality in the state of Minas Gerais in the Southeast region of Brazil. I’ve chosen to order the Iced coffee from the menu to get me through this review. 

And now for the review…

First impressions count. I, for one, must enjoy the un-boxing experience and first few minutes of handling a gadget: the surface, weight, contour, colour and overall aesthetic.Then, the operation or capability of the gadget.

I can honestly say that the un-boxing experience with the HP Omni10 tablet was simple yet sufficient.

The package contains the tablet, the power cable/charger and the OS licence certificate. And that’s it. 

Picking up the tablet, I’m immediately appreciative of the matte black or ‘graphite’ soft-touch finish on the body and the high resolution screen on the front. We’ll get into specs in a bit. Stepping through the setup process for Win8.1 is a breeze and I tether to my Nokia Lumia 1520 for a few minutes to complete activation and assign my Windows account.

The brilliant 10.1” screen (1920×1200 IPS panel) makes the modern UI tiles look sensational. The clarity and the definition makes looking at just the tiles alone a joy.

Ice coffee has arrived…. brb.

Flicking my way around the menu and apps, the most noticeable feature is its performance, especially when compared to HP’s ‘corporate’ WinTab, the ElitePad 900 G1. The Omni10 uses the new quad core Intel Atom ‘Bay Trail’ CPU which smokes the ElitePad’s dual-core ‘Clover Trail’ CPU. I’m sure HP’s next release will bring the ElitePad 900 up to speed with quad-core, but for now, this puppy is impressing me…. a lot.

Looking at the storage and expansion, its a little light on for what I personally expect, but for most, 32gb eMMC storage is sufficient. I would like to think that any new tablets coming out with Windows 8.1 in 2014 would have a starting capacity of 64gb. But to keep the starting price down, at least HP has included a MicroSD slot to bump the built-in capacity up by another 64gb memory card (that’s what I’ve done with my ElitePad 900!).

A nice touch, although not unique or unexpected, is the haptic feedback on the Windows button on the front face. I don’t know why I value that as much as I do, I simply prefer it to a mechanical button – keeps the face of the tablet unspoiled.

The volume rocker is well-placed, in reach of any user’s index finger on the right side of the back of the tablet, contoured with the device’s curvature keeping it neatly tucked in.

There is a front and rear facing camera – nothing ground breaking here: 2MP front support 1080p HD video and a little indicator so that you know you’re on-the-air. The rear lens is an 8MP piece of glass, supporting HD video recording with auto-focus built in too.

Battery life should not be an issue – remember we’re using the Atom CPU here, not an i-Series (like Surface Pro). Throughout my visit and usage, the battery indicator hasn’t moved much at all, but that’s largely due to the fact that this unit does not have a 3/4G broadband module in it. Wi-Fi doesn’t seem to drain it too badly. I should see about 8-10 hours on it, depending on what i’m doing (disclaimer: I’m not guaranteeing 8-10hrs).

Lastly, the audio is important to me. If I’m listening to music or watching a show or movie, I’ll normally plug in my Beats headset – nuff said, audio is fine. But! If I’m sharing the screen to watch something, or got a group of people huddling over YouTube videos for a laugh, the in-built speakers need to hold their own. The Omni10’s stereo speakers stand up to the challenge and I am satisfied with them *except* when the tablet is resting on its bottom edge. The bottom firing speakers are easily muzzled and the audio suffers. Maybe a folding compendium can take that problem away by keeping the edge off the resting surface and giving my arm a break from holding it up at the right viewing angle!

If I had to summarise the pro’s and con’s, the list of con’s would only be a few:

  1. lack of built-in mobile broadband provision (not a deal-breaker for most, so let’s not count this one); 
  2. non-universal MicroUSB charge port (just so i only need to carry one type of cable in my bag/glove box – fussy much??!)
  3. stereo speaker placement causes audio muzzle in some usage modes
  4. seemingly no HP genuine accessories at this stage – would be nice to have a dock or a compendium of sorts

Pros? Besides what I’ve stated throughout this post, lets start of with the Australian RRP. Starting at around $399 you are already in front. Everything else is a bonus ;P

  1. HP Connected Music « give this a go if you don’t have a subscription with any other service. HP Connected Music leverages Tunein Radio and 7Digital Music store, plus your own library of files that you can import
  2. HP Connected Photo (Snapfish service)
  3. HP ePrint (print from your tablet from anywhere if you have a compatible HP printer)
  4. Microsoft Office (try/buy)
  5. Box (with 50gb free cloud storage)
  6. Screen sharing through Miracast or WiFi Direct or HDMI cable

So, all in all, for the average and enthusiast consumer, I would have no problem recommending the Omni10 Windows tablet from HP. 

I’ll wrap this post up with a few ratings out of 10:

Location/Ambiance – 9

Gadget – 7

Coffee – 8

Thanks for reading!


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