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May 20, 2009

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ZhongYi S101 vs Nokia N810 - The battle of ARM-based MIDs

(由微腦狂人於11年零1個月之前發表)

Text: amanda_lam (invited editor from 《 Da Da 寫意空間 》)


Introduction



Earlier UMPC Fever / DIgital XY had posted an unboxing article of S101, the Mobile Internet Device (MID) from Chinese manufacturer ZhongYi. Albeit it's made in China, the article described the ZhongYi device as an enhanced version of the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet, which has attracted many readers' attention. So how's the actual performance of the device? How does it compare to my Nokia N810? With the help of UMPC Fever / DIgital XY and forum member SKY, I manage to borrow the Internet Tablet-like device to take a good look of it. I will compare it with my Nokia N810 in every aspect, so stay tuned and see if this made-in-China replicate suits your needs.




Outlook


Although many people claim that the ZhongYi S101 looks pretty similar to Nokia N810, it looks more alike the N810-predecessor Nokia N800 in many aspects - from the keyboard-less design, screen and port layout, and even the design of the direction keys, they all make an impression that the S101 is simply an OEM replicate of N800. In fact, the ZhongYi S101 is slightly larger than N800 / N810 in physical size, while keeping its weight very close to the N800. It lacks the metal-like feel of the Nokia Internet Tablet series; it has a case with a plastic-like feel instead.




↑ Thickness Comparison: Nokia N810 on the left, ZhongYi S101 on the right


↑ Power, Bluetooth and Wifi indicators



"Unique" design of the Expansion Unit and the meaningless phone feature


Although they look very much the same, the ZhongYi S101 is simply not a replicate of Nokia Internet Tablets. It has some very unique selling points, most notably the Expansion Unit that provides extra peripheral support such as a LAN port, a USB port, a D-Sub VGA port and phone / SMS support (there's a slot for SIM card). The way to connect the Expansion Unit to the S101 body is rather extraordinary, however --- bundled with the ZhongYi S101 body and the Expansion Unit is a tiny Mini-USB Male to Mini-USB Male adapter that acts as a "bridge" between the Expansion Unit and the S101 body. The adapter is very tiny, easy to get lost, and rare to find in the market; it also makes the S101 with Expansion Unit look very awkward.



The Expansion Unit weights nearly the same as the S101 body. This simply implies that if you would like to make a call with the S101, you need to sustain twice the weight of the S101 body (because the SIM card slot is located in the Expansion Unit), and a much larger physical size. What's worse, whenever I tried to connect to the Internet using EDGE mode, the system keeps forcing me to use Wifi mode instead, even though I had already turned off the entire networking feature. (Not to mention how worst is the Bluetooth support... read on and you'll know what I mean ) If you are interested in ZhongYi S101 simply because its native phone support, you will probably need to consider the above factors.

↑ ZhongYi S101 weights 210 grams.



↑ ZhongYi S101 Body with Expansion Unit weights 420 grams, which is double the weight of the body itself.



↑ My Nokia N810 weights 227 grams.



↑ The total weight of my Nokia N810 and my Nokia 6120 classic is still lighter than ZhongYi S101 with Expansion Unit.



The other "unique" feature of the Expansion Unit is that it also requires a separate rechargeable battery for its operation. That said, don't expect you can recharge the S101 body through the Expansion Unit. Unlike the typical "docking station" concept that most people would expect from its outlook, the Expansion Unit is in fact a Display-LAN-Phone-Combo USB hub. Therefore, once you connect the Expansion Unit to the S101 body with USB connection, not only the S101 body would never obtain power from the Expansion Unit, but it would even use up the power of both the body and the Expansion Unit, and hence affecting the battery life of both units. And since the ZhongYi S101 body and Expansion Unit require independent power supply, you will need an independent charging cord to charge both units at the same time (or using the same charging cord to charge the body, and then the Expansion Unit). Thank you ZhongYi, that's a very "smart" design!!




Despite its very "unique" design, the Expansion Unit still does its jobs pretty well. The LAN socket works pretty well, and so does USB keyboard, mouse (mouse is not easily supported on N800/N810 so far) and thumbdrives. Connecting to external monitor is okay too, although the screen resolution outputted on the external monitor remains as 800x480, and some horizontal stitches can easily be observed whenever a video clip is played. Phone and SMS features are also working. Yes, some hacking workaround solutions are available for Nokia Internet Tablets to provide limited USB host mode support, but the features provided by the ZhongYi S101 Expansion Unit works out of the box, which is rather remarkable.










Next Chapter : Performance











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