It’s been quite some time since I last mentioned Tangent’s Tycoon Tablet. Part of the challenge with also getting to often evaluate technology during my ‘day job’ is that I’m often not the only one who needs to work with it during any given time. After it got the once over by a few of my colleagues, I (finally) got it back and can now give you my full review. So how does this Windows 7 Professional tablet stack up to the competition? While I don’t believe you’ll be rushing to exchange your shiny new iPad 2 for the Tycoon, I was very pleasantly surprised by this tablet. It’s aiming for a different audience, for sure. The Tycoon has its sights squarely on the enterprise.
So let’s see the Tycoon up close and personal. While it may not have the fan fare that Apple’s iPad 2 has received, it is certainly worth a very close look for businesses. Let’s take a closer look…
Right to it. The Tycoon tablet is not an iPad. You won’t find the same fit and finish on this tablet — and that’s not entirely a bad thing once you set your expectations to what the Tycoon actually is: An extremely portable Windows 7 PC that happens to be a tablet. The Tycoon is heavier than the iPad at 1.87 lbs. The iPad 2 is a scant 1.33 lbs for the WiFi model — or 1.35 lbs for the 3G model.
I don’t believe anyone waiting in line for an iPad will be experiencing buyers’ remorse and go get a Tycoon, either. But that should not detract from the Tycoon. It does what it does very well — and that is to make a Windows PC more palatable in tablet form. Tangent, the company that manufactures the Tycoon, was very smart to include a specialized Touch UI on top of Windows 7 Professional (and I want to take a moment to emphasize that I loved the fact Windows 7 Professional is on the device right out of the box when other tablets — like the Asus Eee Slate EP121 comes with Windows Home premium). That small difference in OS versions means that, out of the box, the Tycoon — quite literally — means business.
Capturing a Photo while using the Tycoon’s integrated webcam
10.1 inch wide LED Tablet PC
Intel 1.66Ghz Atom N455 CPU
Windows 7 Pro OS
- 2GB RAM
- 3800mAH Battery
2GB DDR2 memory
2.0 Megapixel CMOS WebCam
802.11b/g/n + Bluetooth 2.1 Wireless
Built-in Stereo Speaker
Connect wired or bluetooth peripherals (keyboard, mouse)
Weight: 1.87 lb
Dimensions: 9.6″ x 6.9″ x 0.6″
The Tycoon can be put on a corporate network and managed just like a PC. There’s no need for your application teams to huddle together and figure out how to re-write anything for a(nother) mobile platform. Your Windows enterprise applications should work as well as they do on a typical desktop or laptop PC. You get a webcam, integrated microphone, stereo speaker, two USB 2.0 ports, microphone jack, headphone jack, and VGA port.
This means you have a ton of options for connecting and using the Tycoon. Have a wired keyboard and mouse? Great, plug ’em in and use ’em. Prefer to use Bluetooth peripherals? No problem. You can connect to a larger external monitor if needed, further making the Tycoon more of a business machine that’s geared for the business traveler that wants the portability of an iPad but, at the end of the day, needs to do corporate work for ‘The Man, Inc.’ so he (or she) can simply plug into a keyboard and mouse on site if needed. In that vein, you can easily connect the Tycoon tablet to any networked printer at work (use the very same method you use for any other PC), to make mobile printing a breeze — and it won’t even require a ‘special’ printer 🙂
The USB ports on the Tycoon are a huge asset. Not only can you connect the regular USB peripherals, thumbdrives, etc. You can also connect a USB aircard. This brings me to a very important piece of information regarding the Tycoon. It has no integrated 3G capability. You can connect via a WiFi network, use your smartphone to tether (or as a wireless hotspot if you’re running Android or iOS), or ….if you are already equipped with an AirCard, just plug that bad boy in and you’re set. This makes the Tycoon very flexible as far as connectivity goes.
Left to Right: iPad (first-gen), Tycoon and Samsung Galaxy S
You can also opt to get a ‘VIP’ Leather case with Bluetooth keyboard. While nice, and useful, the case does add bulk and makes the Tycoon thicker and heavier. If you use a netbook for your travels today, you may find the Tycoon + bluetooth keyboard case is actually larger than what you’re carrying.
Bluetooth Keyboard — connects easy, but still a plastic feel for typing.
As far as the Bluetooth keyboard case goes, I found I much preferred just using the onscreen keyboard or my separate (Apple) bluetooth keyboard. The ‘give’ on the case’s keys weren’t much for my liking, but I can’t argue that for business the convenience may outweigh personal preference for being able to hammer away on the keys to type out those TPS reports 😉
View of the Tycoon screen while in the case.
The Tycoon, of course, has to differentiate itself further from the iPad for potential business users — or IT staff — wanting to promote security and tablet use in the office. This, of course, can be debated as the two tablets are completely different ends of the spectrum with regards to user experience. While the Tangent Tycoon tablet is a business workhorse, I just don’t envision too many people pulling it out at home to surf the web, watch a movie, or use some non-work applications. You can certainly do it, I just don’t believe the Tycoon is going to target that user group.
‘The Facts’ — Tangent’s words, not mine!
The Tycoon also supports using a stylus if you need to take notes or require signature capture:
One of the best use cases for the Tycoon may be healthcare — and they know it. They’ve already optimized one Tycoon style tablet with an antimicrobrial chasis and have a ‘SmartCart’ as an option for the healthcare industry to use their tablets. You can view a few shots of both the ‘HealthPad’ and cart in the gallery below.
Overall, I can definitely see Tangent’s Tycoon tablets being used in the enterprise. Business users needing (or simply wanting) a tablet form to use on the go and perhaps as even a full Laptop/Desktop replacement may get away with the Tycoon. IT and security should welcome it as it can be managed just like any other PC. While it certainly won’t turn as many heads as the iPad, the Tangent Tycoon tablet fills a different role. It won’t make you ‘love’ Windows and it certainly isn’t like the iPad in terms of ‘Hey, I can pick this thing up and know exactly how to use it’. It is, after all, a PC 😉
MSRP: $750 (model tested) – from Tangent.com.
What I like: Tablet is equipped with Microsoft Windows 7 Professional. Responsive and easy to use touch user interface. Ability to switch between a real touch Windows 7 OS and a more specialized Touch/Icon (dubbed ‘finger friendly’) user interface. Ability to easily capture handwritten notes and signatures. Companies can put the Tycoon tablet on their networks and use standard security/antivirus and asset management tools (same as for PC today). Runs standard Windows OS compatible applications, so you won’t have to do any specialty ‘mobile’ development. You can use your wired or wireless (Bluetooth) keyboard and mouse. Integrated webcam.
What needs improvement: The Tycoon tablet has a very ‘plastic’ feel to it (you don’t want to drop this guy…). No gorilla glass protection. Accessories will likely be restricted to the manufacturer themselves (Tangent). The leather Bluetooth folio case adds quite a bit of bulk and forfeits some of the ‘mobile factor’, making the Tycoon heavier and larger than a typical netbook
Bottom line: Companies that primarily run on Windows and have a requirement to improve the mobility their work force via a tablet may find the Tycoon to be exactly what they’re looking for. Healthcare can take advantage of the Tycoon’s ‘HealthPad’ version with an antimicrobrial chasis