A short review on the RCA Cambio W101 V2 tablet with Windows 10

Nowadays most people do everything from their smart-phones. However, there’s always something that doesn’t work on mobile. For example, I’ve had a few issues buying things online when it comes to finishing the transaction; filling in the information required might make a mobile site go on a loop, or the browser force-closes in the middle of the transaction. Even more annoying is having to download an app for something that I’ll probably do only once in my life, so that’s where a PC comes in.

But here’s my problem: I don’t like the idea of being tied to my desktop computer for things that I could very well be doing from the couch, or on the go. I have a heavy 11-year-old HP Pavilion laptop running Linux with one foot on the grave, and an Asus Transformer tablet running Android 6 that can’t honestly replace a laptop if it can’t properly display websites in desktop mode. With that in mind, I’ve been looking at the possibility of either getting a new laptop, or a tablet PC that runs a full OS like Windows or a Linux distro.

Because of the price tag, I decided to give up on the idea of getting one of those 2-in-one laptops that bend into a tablet. But then I found out about the RCA Cambio W101 V2 running a full 32 bit version of Windows 10, and under $100.

RCA Cambio W101 V2

I decided to give this relatively inexpensive Windows tablet a try, and these are my impressions so far.

The Pros

  • Powered by an Intel Atom CPU at 1.33 GHz
  • Full desktop version of Windows 10 Home 32 bit
  • Still a full version of Windows even in tablet mode
  • Regular desktop software runs fine
  • Screen is pretty responsive (though stylus might be needed)
  • 2GB of RAM (compared to most 1GB RAM cheap tablets on the market)
  • Micro-USB, USB, and mini HDMI ports
  • Can be connected to external display via HDMI
  • USB hub can be used to connect mouse and keyboard
  • Price; relatively inexpensive for a tablet running a desktop OS
  • Working keyboard base with actual mouse pad (left and right buttons do their job)
  • Can be recharged via Micro-USB cable
  • Supports Flash like any regular computer
  • Comes in different colors

The Cons

  • It’s only got 32GB of internal storage.
  • Can only run up to 32GB SD card
  • The screen glass is not strong like other more expensive tablets, dropping it may break the screen
  • The keyboard base doesn’t have any extra ports
  • A USB/Bluetooth mouse could be more useful than the base pad
  • Battery may realistically only last up to a little over 4 hours
  • Back of tablet may run hot under stress, or during long video playback
  • Windows updates may take up a lot of internal storage
  • Reset button confuses people used to smartphones
  • Comes with proprietary AC adapter instead of Micro-USB charger, which it supports
  • Some people might dislike the type of plastic the outside is made of, might feel cheap
  • Full version of Windows looks small in a screen that size

I’ve been using it for a few days, and I’m loving it so far. It’s like using a netbook, and not only does it do what other mid-range tablets can’t, it does it well. It’s great for surfing the web, checking in on things, and online transactions. Flash and Java is supported like in any other Windows computer, so everything looks like it should. Having a tablet that runs the same OS as my desktop computer is really cool, although I definitely recommend getting a stylus, it works way better than trying to use a finger to click on small things.

rca-cambio_blueAlso, the keyboard base can be easily detached and reattached, and the keyboard itself feels pretty good. However, I’m absolutely sure people who have never used a keyboard that small will definitely find it uncomfortable at first. I bought the keyboard base for my Asus tablet, so I already knew first hand how to work on a small keyboard. In that case, I think getting a USB hub to connect an external keyboard and a mouse might be a better idea.

As for the storage capacity, some folks have reported being able to use 64GB and 128GB Micro SD cards with it after formatting it to FAT32, but the file transfer has been really slow. In that case it might be a better idea to get a 32GB Micro SD card like the manufacturer recommends, and just use a portable hard drive via USB to increase storage capacity even further.

Speaking of storage, because the internal storage is not that great, keeping an eye of the space left after a major Windows update is a must. After Windows installed the long cumulative update 1511, I ended up with only 10GB left in the internal storage, and I only installed a couple of browsers and had no files. I used Windows Disk Cleanup to get rid of the unnecessary junk from the update and recovered 12GB.

  1. Use the search bar next to the Start menu to look for Disk Cleanup. It may not ask you what drive, but if it does then select the one where Windows is installed, most likely C:.
  2. Click on the button that says “Clean up system files.”
  3. Select “Previous Windows installation(s),” and if you see “Temporary Windows installation files” select it as well.
  4. Hit OK.
  5. It might give you a warning, so just hit OK.

Here’s a guide with pictures if what if you’re lost.

Before buying it I noticed this question in quite a few places, so I’m gonna go ahead and try to answer it; could it work as a HTPC? Well, it does have the potential; by adding an external hard drive, a USB TV tuner, and the proper software to watch and/or record shows, it could very well turn into an inexpensive Windows 10 HTPC with OTA viewing capabilities. However, there’s no telling what type of damage keeping it plugged to the AC all the time may cause.

As for installing Linux on it, I’m pretty sure it can be done, but the internal storage is not enough to run a dual system, so running it from a USB stick, or replacing Windows 10 entirely might be a better option.

Let’s close this by saying that I’m not expecting it to last a lifetime, or to replace a full desktop or laptop computer, but it feels really good to be able to run a desktop OS for a fraction of the price. And yes, I got me the blue one.

By the way, it made me smile how most reviewers complaining about the reset button had no idea it only reboots the machine. Apparently, they thought it was a “factory reset” option, like you would find on most smart-phones. I guess it’s been quite a long time since consumer computers came with a reset button, and now I feel old.

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