How a brief mishap trying to connect to a public WiFi network lead me to do a full system recovery.
I bought one of these and set it up from new – funny how it’s like an Apple Mac or Google Chromebook – you need to be online for it to work the best. Both have a locked ecosystem, and this is no different, Microsoft have now adopted the same business model as the other major players.
I wanted to get into Windows 8.1 because my main laptop is an HP running Windows 7 64bit and I wanted to try out the Microsoft tablet ecosystem so as to keep up with the latest offerings in that space. I naturally wanted to pay as little as possible for a decent solution that would allow me to experience the full UI.
For around $500 (on special offer) it offers a combination of a 10.1 inch Windows 8.1 Tablet running a Bay Trail Quad Core Intel Atom CPU with 64Gb SSD, 2 Gb Memory, 1.2 MP forward facing camera and an included keyboard that turns the tablet into a Windows 8.1 Netbook. It also comes with micro-USB port for data and charging, micro-HDMI port, mini-SD card reader, and headphone jack. The keyboard includes a single USB3 port to connect peripherals.
Construction standards are fairly low end plastic for the tablet case and the keyboard, and the screen fingerprints badly compared to an iPad. However it was obviously built to a price so the keyboard could be included in the hardware bundle.
The software bundle is also a bonus, you get ASUS Cloud storage for 1 year, MS Cloud (Skydrive) and it also includes MS Office Home and Student, which really makes the ASUS T100 a great value proposition – full marks to ASUS.
Performance wise I’m actually quite astounded. Compared to the older Dual Core Atom Clovertrail tablets this has a far snappier response time, and it comes with Intel 4000 graphics as well, which are more than adequate for the 1360×768 screen. It looks bright with good contrast, and wide viewing angle. Overall a very nice and smooth little unit, the touch is accurate and responsive.
Only one problem has occurred that took some dedicated fixing. It started when I attempted to connect to the Free WiFi at my regular cafe shop. There was a connection, but no Internet. Everything began to run strangely and then locked up. I manually powered down and then powered up again, but the tablet was a mess and wouldn’t respond to touch or keyboard and trackpad. It gave every indication of being totally bricked, and I began to think the unit was faulty.
I needed somehow to restore to Factory Defaults, and reload a fresh copy of Windows from the Recovery partition on the SSD. I managed to succeed by using the hardware key combinations:
- To power up to BIOS, hold down Volume – key and the power button
- To power up to inbuilt diagnostics, hold down Volume + key and the power button.
Once I was able to start the diagnostics (by choosing the Windows Bootloader option) the Firmware concluded it needed to be recovered and provided a number of menu options – I picked the one where everything is reset to Factory Default – it also had the option of a reset but leaving user data untouched.
It successfully restored the Factory image, and then restarted, so I could set the tablet up again from scratch.
Moral of the story is even though it looked like it was a brick, it wasn’t, and it is now running as I’d hope. I won’t attempt another WiFi connection at that Coffee Shop. Wonder what would have happened if I wasn’t an IT guy and knew what steps to follow. An RMA claim followed by denial that there was an issue ?