Remember Netbooks? Windows 10 makes them good again!

And rather better than a US$35 tablet, if you need a Windows 10 machine lurking around


Netbook upgrade vs. Landfill Windows tablet

By way of comparison, I also got my hands on what Netbooks have became – landfill tablets - in this case, a seven-inch PendoPad packing an Intel Atom Z3735G, a Bay Trail model with four cores humming at 1.33GHz and a solitary gigabyte of RAM.

The PendoPad was on sale down here in Australian for $49.99 of our dollars, or about US$35/£25.00. That price was to be had at the Post Office, which thanks to its enormous network of stores is a decent vendor to run a fire sale of an unloved product.

Like my Netbook, the PendoPad had Windows 8.1 aboard. Upgrading was tedious, in part because feeding the machine my Microsoft ID meant it downloaded the contents of my OneDrive without asking. Which filled the tablet's drive to the point at which it didn't have the free 8GB needed for a Windows 10 install. Nor did the insertion of a Micro-SD card help: the Windows 10 installer will only work on the C:/ drive.

You'd think that Microsoft would make it easy to say “I want this file in the cloud, but not on this device.” But it doesn't. So freeing up disk space for the upgrade was a bit of a horror.

Windows 8.1 eventually updated itself to the point at which Windows 10 nagware appeared, but even that wouldn't play nice with the SD card. In the end I had to run Disk Cleanup, which found enough space after clearing out the 133 Windows updates I'd had to install.

Well played, Microsoft. Well played.

Upgrading took a couple of hours, but did result in the tablet deciding it had more disk space than Windows 8.1 could find which was nice. A single pixel on the screen died during the upgrade, a failure that didn't surprise as the PendoPad oozes the opposite of quality. The tablet's screen makes for rotten viewing on almost any angle and may be able to handle five-point touch but won't do it accurately. Perhaps because the screen's coating started bubbling after a week's use. Even as a spare Kindle, it's a nasty device.

Windows 10 has made the tablet a bit slower. It's now a bit laggy and often takes a second or two to get things done. Windows 10's tablet mode is pretty good, if only because there's no obvious way to the desktop so I find myself spared the mixed metaphors that made Windows 8.x such a mess. But the Start button is way too small for the PendoPad's unresponsive screen: there's more than a few repeat pokes needed to get things done.

The device also came with free Office 365 for a year, making it a tough deal to ignore at AU$50.

If you must have a working Windows 10 machine in your home or office but won't work on it all day and don't want a new PC, I think an upgraded Netbook will do a better job. For even slightly serious work, go buy something with enough grunt to stay out of landfill for a couple of years. The PendoPad's basically got one port in the grave already. ®

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