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  1. #1
    Automated Home Ninja Viv's Avatar
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    Default Cortex using Windows 8.1 Tablet.

    20150302_134255(0).jpgWe have recently being trying Cortex on some low cost Windows 8.1 with Bing
    Tablets. These tend to use Intel's 1.8 GHz Intel Atom Z3735F Bay Trail processors
    and appear to provide a cost effective means of automating an IDRATEK
    network. Considering the tablet provides screen, input device (no
    requirement for additional keyboard and mouse) and intrinsic battery backup
    it is an attractive proposition.

    The tablet we tried first was a Pipo W4 8" model and at the time cost
    around 70 (from China). It has 16GB of disk storage and 1GB ram. With Windows, minimal
    applications and Cortex it had very little disk space left. So although it worked
    its not a very practical specification. However its biggest drawback was the fact that
    charging power is supplied via the USB port (which is very common in these devices).

    This is a drawback because when the tablet is being charged it becomes a
    peripheral rather than a controller.In other words you can't then easily use it to
    connect to a PCU in order to communicate with the IDRANet. Having said
    that, most such tablets support USB OTG which may allow this but you'd have
    to have some special in between hub or adapter (we think) so all a bit messy.

    In summary: not a practical proposition.

    The second device we tried was a Guleek i8. This was like a tablet without a screen.
    It contained a battery and had beter connectivity including a separate USB port.
    Similalry priced and using Windows 8.1 with Bing. It had 16Gb of memory which
    soon went down to zero after Cortex and a few applications were installed. Also
    not having an integral screen made it more difficult to handle out of the box. Strangely
    it had an Android rather than Windows based remote user inteface and limited
    graphics configurations made it difficult to work well with an older TV/monitor inspite of HDMI.
    In any case some kind of keyboard interface still required. Conclusion: Not practical as it
    stands.

    The third device tried was a Cube iworks 8" tablet again purchased from
    China and cost approx 85. This was specifically choosen as a result of
    the knowledge gained from the above two. Firstly it has a seperate power
    jack rather than power via USB socket. So it could be powered from the mains
    and at the same time connected to the PCU. It has 32GB of ROM so plenty of space for
    History files etc. It also has 2GB ram. One slight drawback is the
    volume out of the audio jack was quite low but a modification to the PCU
    can help boost that for IDRANet usage.
    The cameras can also appear in Cortex but this has not been tested much.
    MS Windows was configured for the Chinese market so took a while to
    configure for UK use.

    Speed of operation is acceptable for small and medium installations
    but probably not suited for the heavily automated systems.

    Our main focus so far has been testing for use as a secondary backup PC in
    a dual Cortex PC network configuration. In such a scenario the tablet will connect
    to the network via its own PCU. This allows the two PCs to be aware of each other through
    IDRANet and for the backup PC to automatically take control if it does not 'hear' the
    main PC. Note that backup PCs still need Cortex licences but in recognition
    of such usage we are providing discounted pricing for such licences (see web site)

    Configuring and installing a network is best done having a larger screen
    with keyboard and mouse which can be temporarily attached to the tablet.
    However you can simply copy the database from the main PC and change a 'few' things.

    Note: This information is provided in good faith and without any warranty, implied or otherwise.

    Viv
    Last edited by Viv; 28th March 2015 at 10:55 AM.

  2. #2
    Automated Home Guru JonS's Avatar
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    Thanks for providing this information Viv, it is very enouraging that an affordable tablet can be used for cortex. I am still on XP as it still works and while I use W8.1 I don't like it on a desktop. However the fact that a low-cost device with built in battery back-up can be used is very encouraging. I for one hope W10 improves the user experience without adding bloat etc. If so, and suitable as main controller, it might ween me off XP and into the world of tablet-controller, although a Pi-controller appeals.
    Thanks
    Jon
    PS my current controller is a Dell D600 which I bought second hand and put a new HDD in. It has been running 24-7 for 8 years and has required 1 replacement fan. It will be hard to beat for reliability!

  3. #3
    Moderator toscal's Avatar
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    You might be interested in the MeeGoPad 8.1. This is essentially a stick with an HDMI plug on it that runs windows 8.1, has bluetooth connectivity so you can use a bluetooth mouse/keyboard. Has a micro usb input for power and one usb socket.
    IF YOU CAN'T FIX IT WITH A HAMMER, YOU'VE GOT AN ELECTRICAL PROBLEM.
    www.casatech.eu Renovation Spain Blog

  4. #4
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Quite amazing really how much can be packed into a stick. As for the tablets in relation to Pi, well you are getting a touchscreen, WiFi, Bluetooth, cameras, audio, battery backup, full Windows 8.1 and the charger and one or two cables :-) for close to the 75 mark these days. As far as I'm aware the Pi cannot run full W8.1. Reliability will of course be of interest to judge but I suppose having no moving parts is going to help.

  5. #5
    Automated Home Ninja Viv's Avatar
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    It says the MeeGoPad comes with a trial version of Windows not Windows with Bing which is fully operational on the other tablets. So extra expense?

  6. #6
    Automated Home Ninja Viv's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=I am still on XP as it still works and while I use W8.1 I don't like it on a desktop. [/QUOTE]

    It might be of interest that whilst using the tablet and a seperate monitor I could have desktop on one screen and modern UI on the other,

    Viv

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