Review: Pendo Pad 8

100% human

As usual, gestures work here — swipe from the right edge to the left a little bit for Microsoft charms, while the top edge to a little down gives you options in some apps — and you’ll even find the pinch to zoom working a treat here.

The screen is also quite surprising, though it’s missing out on brightness when you take angles, washing out slightly. It’s not the best screen ever, but Pendo even manages to out-do some of the first-generation efforts from other small Windows tablets we’ve seen, with a better screen than Acer’s W3 from last year. We guess this stuff is just more important these days.

Battery life is decent for the size, with around four to five hours likely, though we were relatively relaxed on usage, taking it for writing, web surfing, and emails. Get to using the processor even more, and you’ll find even less time, but at least Pendo isn’t forcing you to use the specifically tiny power port it encourages.

Yes, you can charge it with the supplied power charger, but you can also switch to microUSB, plugging it into the microUSB port on the tablet and getting the 8 inch Windows Pendo Pad charged, which will likely be far more helpful if you don’t have your charger in a pinch since microUSB is an international standard and found on so, so many devices.

But then there are the sour points, and it kicks you in the back of the head, reminding you that the word “budget” can mean so many things.

For instance, while the Pendo Pad 8 is inexpensive and obviously geared at consumers, it also comes with quite a few caveats, and these are things which seriously dent the performance of the tablet.

One is the lack of built in storage, and with only 16GB found inside the unit and yet a full version of Windows, you’ll find barely 2GB available to you once Windows is installed and ready to go.

That’s nothing, and while the Pendo Pad 8 is marketed as a 16GB device, you won’t get anywhere near that much to play with.

Thankfully, there’s a microSD slot to play with and expand this, but it’s a small comfort. Basically, if you buy the Pendo Pad 8, be prepared to buy a microSD card, because you’re going to want one.

Performance is also a bit of a problem, with a mixed bag of issues. On the one hand, you can use the tablet, but on the other, you’ll be using it slowly.

Some of the time, apps ran without any problems, and we were able to take notes and surf the web, but others, the apps loaded at a snail’s pace, with our keystrokes registering gradually but not fast enough on the screen.

We don’t expect the Pendo Pad to be on par with Apple’s new iPad Air 2 either, but we don’t want words disappearing into the ether as the computer struggles to deal with our statements, necessary since we’re recording them on the gadget.

As far as we can tell, you’ll more or less want to keep apps to a minimum on the Pendo Pad 8, because with only 1GB RAM, the Intel Atom powered machine struggles. You might get lucky with performance, mind you, but we didn’t have a whole lot of luck here, and even found as we were typing that the computer would occasionally switch off and be very hard to pull back from standby.

What would help with the typing would be a keyboard, because the screen sensitivity isn’t fantastic, with on-screen typing issues galore.

While the display is viewable from more than just dead on (though it does need more brightness), the excellent sensitivity you need for a tablet is a little lost in transmission, with strokes lost, words misspelled, and sensitivity in the lower left hand corner of the screen severely lacking, an experience that made selecting one of our email accounts a little difficult.

Viewing angles aren't terrible, but there could be more brightness. At least it doesn't wash out terribly or invert colours.

At least Pendo makes a keyboard case for its 8 inch Windows slate, and with a price of $40, it’s one of those accessories you’ll probably want to grab, since it will make typing less reliant on the weak touch panel of the tablet and more reliant of Bluetooth, which should handle its own far better than the screen.

There are some other things to note on the Pendo Pad 8, too, such as the strange placement of the Windows home button, which normally sits below the screen as a Windows icon, but on this model, it’s up top next to the volume button. Strange.

We’ve noted it briefly, but during a note taking session, we had the unit power down and was only able to be brought back when the power was plugged in. It wasn’t out of battery either, with around 20 percent left.

We expect this is one of those stray bugs you might find in your travels with the Pendo Pad 8, and if you do, hold the power down for a while or plug it back in. It seems to return to life after this, but it is an odd issue to say the least.

You don't need to use the slimline power charger if you don't want to because the microUSB port will also charge the Pendo Pad 8.

Conclusion

At $199, you can’t expect the Pendo Pad 8 to be an iPad killer, and we don’t expect it to be.

What you can get out of it, though, is a budget Windows tablet for people who need Windows and don’t want to spend much.

With a one year subscription to Office included in the box, and paired with a keyboard, the Pendo Pad 8 could well be one of the best budget student options out there right now, though more budget options are coming from the likes of HP (Stream) and Toshiba (Encore Mini), which should make the budget Windows area a little more populated.

For now, the Pendo Pad 8 is compelling if you need Windows on a budget, because that’s what is offered, you’ll just have to be prepared to put up with some performance issues and little space to work with, because both of those come part and parcel with the package, too.

Overall
Features
Value for money
Performance
Ease of Use
Design
Reader Rating1 Vote
A budget Windows tablet; Full version of Windows 8; Pretty decent viewing angles; Uses microUSB to charge; Comes with a one year subscription to Office 365;
Performance can lag quite often; Screen sensitivity needs work; Virtually no storage for you to install things on; Windows home screen button is in a very unusual place: at the top of the tablet;
3.1