If you’re unsure whether to buy the new Ubuntu tablet the following video probably won’t help.
And things didn’t go well.
The 10 minute hands-on with the slate, which the marketing says ‘can replace your PC’, should’ve been a prime promo opportunity. A chance to show off the new hardware.
Instead, its performance makes for difficult viewing.
None of this is the fault of Bohn. He ably rolls through the core features and selling points of the tablet, including its much-hyped ability to transition from full-screen apps to windowed ones when attaching a keyboard and mouse.
It’s just sad that the tablet doesn’t live up to its end of the deal.
Prepare to see stuttering, lagging, tearing and crashing. And, before the 10 minutes are up, the entire tablet comes to one huge grinding halt…
Ubuntu Tablet In Car Crash Review
Hit play on the video below to watch the
car-crash review happen in realtime. But be warned: if you’re of a sensitive disposition you may want to give it a miss and enjoy the rest of your day:
Can’t, won’t or don’t want to watch the video above? I don’t blame you! But you may still be interested to hear what the executive editor of The Verge had to say.
So allow me to surmise.
Things start off well. Dieter speedily relays all the pertinent information (info that regularly readers will have duly imbibed by now):
“This tablet runs Ubuntu natively. It’s made by a Spanish company called Bq. It’s a pretty straight-forward, relatively low-end tablet. It’s got a MediaTek processor, which is generally code for ‘not very good’. It has 2GB RAM […] 16GB storage [and] costs around $250-300 US.”
“The reason you might be interested in this tablet is if you are, you know, a hardcore Linux user. You might want to be able to get into things like GNOME XChat or jump into the terminal to access your server… that sort of stuff.”
We’re all fans of “that sort of stiff”, right?
“[The tablet] works pretty darn well …if you’re used to Linux…”.
“…[But] it’s crazy slow. And this is the sort of thing where you can use it as a regular tablet in a pinch, but if you’re looking for a consumer tablet this really isn’t for you. You’re gonna wanna get an iPad or an Android tablet.”
Oh. ‘Crazy Slow’ doesn’t sound too good. Surely there are some positives, right?
“If you really want full Linux apps and you want to do your full Linux administrative work in a pinch this thing will do it for you.”
Full Linux apps, now that sounds more like it.
The M10 tablet ships with a curated choice of pre-tested, pre-installed legacy x11 apps. But let’s not oversell them: these aren’t flawless. You can’t use the on-screen keyboard with them, you can’t copy/paste between them, and there’s no multi-window mode.
These gaps in the Mir, XMIr and Unity 8 stack are only temporary, but it does mean, for example, a fix for copy and paste support is, according to one Ubuntu developer speaking at Ubuntu Online Summit this week, “at least 3-4 months away”.
But sure, I can get busy with the command line. I can enable write mode. I can create isolated containers that may (or may not) run an app from the archive. I can’t run, say, Google Chrome, Steam or Spotify on this thing.
Back to the review: who should buy this?
“My advice is: if you really think you need a Linux tablet look into this thing. But you really need to want Linux, or you can probably get by with something else.”
I do want a Linux tablet, Dieter. I really do.
“If you’re looking for lots of apps you’re gonna be loading a bunch of Linux apps that haven’t been designed for touch. What you wanna get this thing for is to get in there, load up the terminal, and go to town coding and accessing your server and whatnot.”
You make me sound dangerous.
Damning Conclusion: ‘Don’t Buy It’
In summing up Dieter says:
“My advice is: don’t buy it. Which is pretty harsh but the number of people who need this thing is relatively small, and if you think you need this you probably already know. If you really want a cheap Linux device to carry around with you and do Linux stuff in a pinch you might be impressed with this thing.
“But if you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive general purpose tablet for reading eBooks, browsing the web, and that sort of thing …this thing is probably not going to do it for you.”
Dieter Bohn is the executive editor of The Verge. He heads up the ‘hottest new tech blog’ in Circuit Breaker. He is a well-known, well-respected journalist.
And quote honestly, he’s a lot kinder to the M10 Ubuntu Tablet than he needed in view of klutz-a-rama that unfolded before him.
Dieter’s opinion of the B1 M10 Ubuntu tablet is no more valid that anyone else’s (and hopefully no-one will pitchfork the guy for having an opinion that falls on the ‘less than enthused side’).
But does his advice that viewer ‘not buy’ the tablet matter? Probably not.
Dieter himself says in his review that most of the people who are going to be interested in this device will already know about it (and be happy to put up with it, warts and all!).
Let’s remember that this tablet is a development device aimed at developers and enthusiasts. Or rather it’s supposed to be. The marketing of the M10 has, thus far has been a little … optimistic about its capabilities.
Which is why I question the merit in giving a mainstream technology publication, which are read by mainstream technology users with mainstream expectations, access to review units ahead of niche sites read by the exact people they want to sell these to…
Do reviews like the one featured above hurt rather than help the mainstream perception of Ubuntu on mobile devices?
Even Your Reviews Say The Tablet Could Be Better
It’s not just The Verge who find the M10 to be a little rough around the edges.
Since it began shipping last month, a bunch of you have bought the tablet have been in touch with your opinions (which we super appreciate by the way). The general consensus thus far is pretty mixed: a number of you say you’ve taken the drastic step of returning your device because it doesn’t live up to the marketing hype; others say they’re now using the tablet to do everything.
We held a poll on Twitter in the week. The results there were more encouraging: 30% of buyers say they ‘love’ their device as is, though a sizeable 56% say they’re still undecided. 14% say they’re disappointed.
Do you have a Bq M10 Ubuntu Edition tablet? Has this review put you off buying one? Share your take in the comments section below.
H/T to Ronnie