Pendo Pad 7 Windows Tablet Review

Earlier this year I did an experimental purchase of a Pendo Pad 7” Windows Tablet from Australia Post for $99.  The Pendo Pad 7 came with a one year Office365 subscription which in itself retails for at least $89 so I reckoned even if the tablet was “shite” I could use the Office365 subscription which I have done.

The major reason I bought the Pad was to start to get some experience with Windows Store apps to see how they compared with other app stores like the Android App store and the price seemed right.

The Pendo Pad 7” came with Windows 8.1 (Standard, non-Pro) and the full Tablet specs are here:

http://www.pendo.com.au/pendopad/pendopads-windows-8/pendopad-7-intel-quad-core-windows-tablet-pndppw81q716blk/

In short, it’s a challenging device to use and I have probably spent way too much time working around minor and not so minor issues with the Pendo Pad 7 Windows Tab.

My high level observations are:

  • Microsoft Windows is not meant to be used on a small screen and even the annoying Modern (Metro) interface in Windows 8 doesn’t address that.
  • The Tab only comes with 16GB or storage and Windows 8 and a recovery partition take over 13GB of that so there is not much C:\ drive left for actual applications. If you then install Office 2013 which is available as part of the included Office365 subscription it takes about 1.5GB of the 2.8GB you have available so you are left with just over 1 GB for any App store apps … getting kind of a close to useless.  You can install an SD card as a D:\ drive (and I have a 32GB card in it) but sadly when you install Office 2013 over the wire from Office365 you can’t nominate where it goes.  It goes on C:\ drive whether you like it or not.  There are posts from people who have managed to move the Office 2013 files after installation to a D:\ drive by hacking the registry but I haven’t yet been brave enough to try that.
  • The WiFi drivers are crap. The Tab uses a Realtek RTL8723BS aggregated WiFi and Bluetooth radio chipset and the WiFi and Bluetooth interfere with each other.  I’m not completely sure whether the problem is that the Tab is underpowered or if the drivers are bad but the WiFi will regularly drop out and lose packets.  It’s worse (almost unusable) when Bluetooth is on, almost useable if you turn Bluetooth off.

Other than that, it’s a semi-functional low end Tablet.

A bit more about my experiences.

Office365 Subscription Issues

When I first tried to “activate” the included Office subscription I kept getting error 0x803D0006.

When I tried to access the Windows Store I kept getting “Error 1053 Service would not start”

Multiple reboots eventually seemed to fix it.  I never actually worked out what was going wrong but it did come good and I was able to activate the subscription.

After I got it running seemingly ok Windows Update offered me 78 Windows 8.1 updates which I installed but it took a fair chunk of time … I basically had to leave it running overnight.

 

Windows 8 (Std, non-Pro) limitations

The Pendo Pad 7 Windows Tab comes with Windows 8.1 (standard, non-Pro) which is basically the “Home” version equivalent and this version has some reduced/cutdown functionality.

It’s actually really annoying not having some of this functionality.  Things that are missing are:

  • No Users and Groups GUI

You have to manage your users through the Control Panel User Accounts setting dialog boxes which are not as easy or as functional as the Windows User and Groups GUI in Computer Management MMC.

There is actually no way to manage groups through the Control Panel User Accounts functionality, but you can use the Net USER and Net Localgroup command line commands.

  • No RDP for remote management but you can do Remote assistance

In Windows 8 (non-Pro), Remote Desktop (RDP) is disabled so you can’t remote into the Tab from another machine.  It would be handy to do this when you are doing things on the tablet like installing and configuring stuff that you need a keyboard and mouse for. The onscreen keyboard and touch screen are a poor substitute for a proper keyboard and mouse in Windows.

You can use programs like ThinStuff that provide this functionality but once the ThinStuff trial version expires it becomes annoying to use and the cost of a non-trial version of ThinStuff basically doubles the cost of the Tab.

  • No GPEDIT.msc

GPEDIT functionality is also disabled in Windows 8 (non-Pro).  This is not generally a big deal unless you are trying to adjust something that is only adjustable using Group Policy

Windows 8 (non-Pro) also can’t be added to a Windows Server Active Directory Domain but this is not really a problem for a personal Tablet device.

Power Profiles Missing

Windows 8 Tablets seem to have a new power setting called  Connected Standby (CS) … I believe that this is to allow the tablet to go into standby mode but still stay connected to something and wake up for events like alarms.

Connected Standby seems to obscure other power plan profiles such as High Performance.  It looks like if you disable Connected Standby in the registry you can choose High Performance (where you lose the sleep setting) and then re-enable Connected Standby and you get sleep back and also retain visibility to the High Performance profile.

How to disable connected standby:

https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkPad-Tablets/How-to-disable-connected-standby/m-p/1367197/highlight/true#M27364

Connected Standby also seems to adversely affect Tablet power consumption. There is a bit of a discussion about it here:

http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/disable-connected-standby-get-advanced-power-profile-access-and-reduce-cpu-power-usage-by-25-by-undervolt.62929/

The High Performance power profile becomes important when we talk about the WiFi performance below.

Power Charging

While on the subject of Power, the Pendo Pad 7 needs greater than 500mA to charge properly so a normal USB charger may not do it. The power adapter that comes with the Pendo Pad 7 is 1500mA output and you need to use this or another high power USB charger to keep it charged.

The WiFi networking seems to regularly drop packets

This is probably the most annoying issue with the Pendo Pad 7 Windows Tab and one that I had hoped would be fixed by just getting the right network drivers but after a lot of effort I still can’t find drivers or configuration settings that make it work as reliably as I would like.

The “out of the box” Realtek drivers are really old – like 2006.

I couldn’t find newer drivers for the Realtek RTL8723BS on the Realtek site (http://www.realtek.com.tw)

I installed updated Realtek drivers (Aug 2014) from the Dell site

http://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/Drivers/DriversDetails?driverId=CFMTN

I had to extract the drivers and manually install them because the Dell install program won’t work on this tablet.

Some other drivers are also available from HP

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/softwareDownloadIndex?cc=us&lc=en&softwareitem=ob-140101-1

These seemed a bit older so I went with the Dell ones.

One thing that does seem to make a difference is running the Pad on with the High Performance Profile (see discussion above on how to enable this).   It drops fewer packets on High Performance.

The RealTek RTL8723BS has a parameter setting called WiFI Config.  Setting the RTL8723BS NIC WiFi config parameter to “WiFi” reduces the number of ping packets it drops but the Rii Bluetooth keyboard I use then stops working.  Basically all Bluetooth stops working.

If you set this parameter to “Performance” it seems to drop more packets but the Rii Bluetooth Keyboard and track pad I use seems to work.

Turning off QOS settings also seemed to make a difference and reduced the dropped ping packets by about 75%.

I’m out of ideas on how to fix this dropped packet issue so I’m going to investigate upgrading to Windows 10.

If you are thinking of getting one of these or another Windows Tablet think very carefully.

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Can’t see Cursor in Windows Azure Powershell Window

Lots of people seem to be having this issue, from a far back as 2012 to even now in Jan 2015.

You can install the Windows Azure Powershell Command Line tools but when you open the Azure Powershell command window there is no blinking cursor to tell you where you are typing.  If you want to correct or modify a previous command there is no indication of where your cursor is so you can’t easily modify the command.

Fortunately this is easily fixed by entering the following command in the Powershell window:

[Console]::CursorSize=25

which then presents a small blinking cursor.

You will have to do this command every time you open or re-open the Azure Powershell window, so it could be best to add this command into your Powershell profile script.  To edit your Powershell profile script type:

Notepad $profile

Add the [Console] line above and save and close your profile script.

If you don’t already have a Profile script then Notepad will prompt you to create one.

This could be a machine or OS specific issue as it happens to me on my Windows 7 machine but not on my Windows 2012 R2 server.

Many people have blogged this answer so thanks to you all.  Too many to give everyone credit but an early blog that I found was:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/25394160/how-to-show-cursor-in-powershell

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Hyper-V New-VM and Remove-VM Powershell cmdlets require Administrator privileges

If you want to script the creation of a new VM in Windows 2012 Hyper-V (and possibly Azure) using the New-VM cmdlet you have to run a Powershell session with elevated privileges (Run as Administrator) in order for the command to work even if you are already a member of the local admins group.

Running the command in a normal session will present you with the nice red error:

“You do not have permission to perform the operation or the Virtual machine Management Service is not running on the target computer or installation has been corrupted”

 Image

Perhaps more intriguing is the error you get when you try and run the Remove-VM command without Administrator privileges:

“The parameter is not valid.  Hyper-V was unable to find a virtual machine with name ……..”

 Image

It’s not that any parameter is invalid, it’s just that without Admin privileges the command can’t find the VMs.  

Annoyingly the Technet article about the New-VM command at :

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/hh848537(v=wps.620).aspx

makes no mention of needing elevated privileges to perform these commands.

It’s a fairly obvious thing to try when you see errors like this but you can still waste a chunk of time making sure that that is the real problem.

A chunk of time I’ll never get back but hopefully this will save someone else some time.

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0x80040ca0 error attempting to install OneDrive (Skydrive) on Windows 7 64bit

This error has driven me crazy for weeks and has cost me about 12 hours in diagnostic effort.

Image

When trying to install the OneDrive (formerly Skydrive) desktop client in a Windows 7 Enterprise 64bit machine I was getting a 0x80040ca0.

The following article offers advice that it is caused by a registry permissions issue and offers a process to fix the permissions issue but on its own it did not fix the problem.

http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/onedrive/forum/sdoptions-sdother/hi-cannot-install-skydrive-on-my-laptop/ad1a360f-ede8-4297-afbf-1324ae564a88

After making the registry permission changes suggested in the article above it still wouldn’t work.

Running the install when logged in as local admin seemed to work ok but when I then re-logged on as a normal user I still had to rerun the install program for that user to get access to the client and again it failed.

I tried adding the normal user to the local admins group and even turning off UAC but to no avail.

At one point after attempting the OneDrive client install and it failing I wasn’t even able to open the OneDrive documents through the web interface.  Thankfully a reboot seemed to fix this.

Finally after noticing that the OneDriveSetup.exe is a 32bit program and I was trying to install on a 64bit version of Windows 7 is looked at the compatibility settings of the OneDriveSetup.exe  and set it to Windows XP SP3 compatibility mode and finally it worked.

 Image

I suspect that the complete solution is a combination of the registry permission settings and the .exe compatibility setting but this has cost me over 12 hours of diagnostic effort and I’m not going to spend any more time on it trying to find out the exact cause.

I’m stunned that Microsoft can build lots of other 32bit programs that work fine on a 64bit OS but not this one.  They don’t even seem to have a 64bit version of OneDrive.

Hopefully this will help other people hitting the same problem.

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Visio objects won’t move

I got hit by this one tonight …. 

I tonight opened a multi diagram Visio file I have been working on for a few months and strangely I couldn’t get any of the shapes to move.  I could resize them and edit text but the shapes would not move … it was like they were glued in place.

I can’t explain it but a machine reboot fixed the problem.  Visio version is 2010.

A few other people have had the same issue … with pretty much the same resolution ..

http://help.wugnet.com/office2/move-shape-visio-work-ftopict764776.html

http://www.experts-exchange.com/Software/Office_Productivity/Office_Suites/MS_Office/Visio/Q_25112337.html

This might help a few others 

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Initialising or creating an empty array in Powershell

I regularly forget to do this or forget how to do this in my Powershell scripts but its very easy.

$array1 = @()     # create or initialise array

will do it for you.

If you don’t reinitialise when looping and you use the “add to array” construct

$array1 += $something    # add/append to array

then you can end up with a bigger array than you expect.

Plenty of useful guidance from other Powershell’ers on the Net including

http://blog.coretech.dk/jgs/powershell-how-to-create-an-empty-array/

Thanks to others …

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Aldi Bauhn 8” Android Tablet – Google Play Services Issue

So the Bauhn 8” Android tablet that Aldi had on sale on the 21st of August (2013) for $169 has a problem with Google Play Services out of the box.

When you install and try and run some Google applications that rely on Google Play Services (e.g. Google Keep)  you will get the following error when you try and run the application.

GooglePlayServicesError

The applications appear to install fine it only when you try and run them that they fail.

Google Play services are installed on the tablet out of the box so typically you would try and reinstall or update the version of Google Play services to address this issue but there are still a few challenges ahead.

Firstly, Google Play services can’t seem to be found in the Google Play store so you have to search for it in the browser …

GooglePlayServicesDownload

Next try and install it from the browser.

GooglePlayServicesUpdate

Looks promising, it recognises that Google Play services is already installed and offers to update it, so click UPDATE and you get:

GooglePlayServicesPackageError

“Package file was not signed correctly …”

So it appears we have a mis-functioning  version of Google Play Services on the tablet and this causes other Google applications that rely on Google Play Services e.g. Google Keep, YouTube Player etc to fail.

The good news is that Tempo Australia (http://www.tempoaustralia.com.au/tempo/home) who are the importers/supporters of these Bauhn Tablets have released an updated firmware that appears to fix all these issues.  See here to find out about this update:

http://www.tempoaustralia.com/sw/hdc-08/update.htm

My next step is to install this update …

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