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Solved Tesco Connect Tablet - First Impressions


DavidY

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#1
I bought a cheap Windows 8.1 tablet just after Christmas, called a Tesco Connect, and I've finally got round to setting it up, so I thought I'd post some thoughts on my first impressions.

What is it?
It's a 7 inch tablet, running Windows 8.1 with Bing (32 bit). It has an Intel Atom (Z3735G) Quad-Core running at 1.33GHz, 1GB of RAM, and a 32GB drive of some solid-state technology or other. The screen is 800 x 1280 pixels. There's also a micro SD slot, a micro HDMI output, micro USB, Bluetooth, a couple of cameras and a headphone socket. I believe it probably uses WIMBoot technology to squeeze the data into 32GB? (It only has 3 partitions, on a GPT disk.)

As I understand it, it's an own-brand device specifically for big UK Supermarket chain Tesco. This probably makes this post rather UK-specific, so apologies to readers in other countries.

Why did you buy it?
It was cheap! When I bought it, it was reduced to £60. Considering it includes a 1-year licence for Office 365 Personal, which Microsoft also sell in the UK for £60, if you wanted Office 365 Personal you could activate the licence, move it to another computer, throw the tablet in the bin and still not be out of pocket. The tablet is £69 as I write this, which still isn't a high price.

Also, I wanted a tablet for travelling and some other times when I've time to kill which I've not been using profitably.

What software does it have on it? Is there a lot of bloatware?
I was pleasantly surprised here.

In Programs and Features when I first switched it on, it just had a list of installed drivers and Office 365. And nothing else. :)

Over and above the default ones, there are a couple of Modern/Metro apps for Tesco (not unreasonably) and one for Blinkbox.

But the upshot is that I haven't needed to uninstall anything! :D

What is support like?
Seems pretty appalling to me! There's a leaflet in the box with a toll-free number to call, but that seems to be about it. The instructions consist of a flimsy leaflet in which there is one page of warnings and precautions, one page with a diagram showing what all the buttons and connections do, and rest is all about how to use Windows 8.1 rather than the tablet itself. The leaflet has tiny writing and is hard to read. I can't find any documentation in a PDF or similar on the device itself, either.

I couldn't find any manuals, drivers or similar online (although 'Connect' is a really unhelpful name when you're trying to Google for device drivers :sarc: ).

In fact that lack of support is one reason I wanted to post this, in case the information here helps someone.

What's Battery Life like?

I don't know yet, but what I do know is that it takes ages to charge. It seems that for an hour of use on battery you have to charge it for almost an hour beforehand.

There's only one USB port, which also doubles as a charging port, which means you can't charge and use USB devices at the same time. For anyone getting one of these, I recommend leaving it to charge for a few hours before you initially use it.

This also means buying a Bluetooth keyboard is probably a 'must' for users such as myself, so I can still type on it while it's charging, without a USB keyboard.

What did you do when you turned it on?
Well I'm paranoid about having a good backup of computers, especially when they're brand new, and what I wanted to do is take a backup with Macrium Reflect Free of the device before I'd even set it up.

I knew that Audit Mode exists (Ctrl-Shift-F3) in the Out of Box experience and that was enough to get me into the UEFI menu, where I could slow down the BIOS booting process (by having it wait 5 seconds on startup and show the BIOS manufacturer).

The keys to get into the BIOS seem to be:
Esc or Del : Setup of the BIOS/UEFI
F7 : Boot Menu where you can choose what you want to boot from - that is either a bootable USB or the main system drive.

It was the F7 that it took me ages and trial and error to find.

Obviously there are no actual keys on a tablet, so you need to connect to a USB keyboard before switching on to get into the BIOS in that way.

What also took me ages was that I was foolishly trying to boot a 64-bit Macrium USB, but since that uses 64-bit WinPE, this was failing every time. It was only when I remembered that the OS might be 32-bit (and checked in Audit Mode) that I used a 32-bit Macrium USB instead and started to make more progress. :doh:

Luckily it still booted from USB even when the Macrium USB was plugged in via my 4-port USB hub which also had the mouse and keyboard connected at the same time.

Once I was into Macrium, I could connect another USB device - an external disk drive, and backup onto that.

I couldn't figure out how to make Macrium Free use the SD card or WiFi. I tried copying in what I thought were the correct drivers, but it didn't seem to work. But I'm no expert with Macrium so perhaps I was doing something wrong.

But I'm glad I backed it up and know how to get back in to restore it. Obviously the drive is non-user-replaceable, which limits the times when a restore would be better than using a Refresh or Reset, but if it gets corrupted so I cant get into them, I'll know how to attempt a restore from a bootable USB.

Once I switched it on and went through the 'out of box experience', there was then the inevitable long list of updates to work through. :(

What's it like in use?
As it's running full Windows 8.1 (as opposed to RT) you get all the desktop functionality. However on a 7 inch screen, my fingers are too pudgy (is that even a word?) and my eyesight not sharp enough to use it effectively. So I'll be looking for good Modern apps to run on it.

However plug an HDMI screen in, and a mouse and keyboard, and it's a normal computer (albeit a slow one), especially with the full set of Office programs, even MS Access and Outlook.

I tried playing a TV programme that I'd downloaded with the BBC iPlayer downloader. This was reasonable, although I wasn't trying to play it at high quality (not much point with a small screen) and I think it did start to drop a few frames when another process fired up. But it would be very usable for that sort of thing.

There is a Windows key, but it isn't in its rightful place at the bottom centre of the screen, instead it's a button around the top edge.

I'm not sure there should be a folder called TEST_TOOL left behind on the C: drive ...

What about Office 365?
For me, I think the desktop Office is too fiddly and touch unfriendly to be used much on a small tablet. It might be OK once I connect a screen and keyboard but that's not really what the tablet is intended for.

Office 365 Personal is sold as having a licence for a 1 PC or Mac and 1 tablet. However on the myaccount page for Office, it lists the installation for my tablet in the section for PC and Macs, so it's not clear to me if a Windows tablet is counted as a PC for that purpose (which will be a bit mean if true)? I am hoping to be left with a free licence to put Office 365 on my laptop.

Will you put Windows 10 on it?
Presumably I will eventually, when it's released and it's free-upgrade time.

However before then I'm still in 2 minds on whether I'll put the Preview on before that. For one thing I think the WIMBoot means I can't just do an upgrade install. And the pitiful support means I can't download a set of drivers from the Manufacturer's website, so it would be the luck of the draw whether Windows 10 TP has the right drivers already in its ISO.

Is it encrypted?
No it seems not. One of the announcements with Windows 8.1 was 'Pervasive Device Encryption' which should be present on devices with Connected Standby, which this one does have. So I was hoping it might be encrypted. However I believe that because it's 32-bit... no encryption. :(

Overall Verdict

I'm fairly pleased with it. A Windows 8.1 computer for £60 (which seems to be about US$90 at present) including a year's Office, has got to be good value, especially if I can use the Office licence on my laptop too for the year. Time will tell how much I use it though; I think the decider for me will be whether I can find some good Modern/Metro apps to make better use of that small screen.

I think in hindsight that if there was a bigger screen size tablet at a price that wasn't too much more, then that would probably be better value for me.
 

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SIW2

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#2
I think I remember hearing about the that Tesco thing being cheap. No idea what it is like, though.

Why not export/backup the drivers from your current install?
 

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DavidY

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#3
Why not export/backup the drivers from your current install?
Yeah that's what I was trying to do - but for some reason I didn't do it correctly. Perhaps I didn't find the right driver files?

It's no big deal though as I probably ended up with the best route (2 USB drives, one big, one small) connected at once.
 

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#4
Is it encrypted?
No it seems not. One of the announcements with Windows 8.1 was 'Pervasive Device Encryption' which should be present on devices with Connected Standby, which this one does have. So I was hoping it might be encrypted. However I believe that because it's 32-bit... no encryption. :(
I'm going to add some more info here, as I've figured out how to enable the Device Encryption. The 32-bit status isn't a problem at all.

The issue was that Secure Boot was not enabled on the device, and it seems that the Windows 8.1 Device Encryption relies on it.

But I have figured out how to enable Secure Boot. Although the setting in the BIOS was set to enabled, apparently it needed the factory keys to be loaded. The BIOS said that Secure Boot was in Setup mode and the keys hadn't been loaded.

Then, based on a clue here:https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn441535.aspx
Enabling Secure Boot
  • On some PCs, select Custom, and then load the Secure Boot keys that are built into the PC.
I did this:
  • Boot the device into the UEFI Firmware settings
  • As mentioned earlier there is no documentation that I can find for this device, so looking at some other devices it says that to change Secure Boot you need a Supervisor password on the BIOS. So I set a password (in the Security tab) in case it helped, not sure if this was needed or not.
  • Go into Security and then lower down the screen go into Secure Boot Menu
  • Note that the System Mode said Setup at this point
  • Set the Secure Boot Mode to 'Custom'
  • Set Default Key Provision to 'Enabled'. I suspect this step won't be reversible...
  • This brings up a dialog asking 'Do you want to install Factory Default Secure Variables now?'. I said Yes. This changes the Default Key Provision to 'Enabled'.
  • Then Esc out of that screen and set Secure Boot Mode back to Standard. Note that the System Mode now says User
  • Esc out to the main menus, select Save and Exit menu and select the option to Save Changes and Reset. This reboots the device
  • The system was now in Secure Boot mode.
  • To enable Device Encryption, you also need to sign in with a Microsoft Account with Administrator rights. This is so it can save the encryption keys in your account.
  • To verify the status, go into Change PC Settings (in the Metro/Modern screens, eg. by selecting Windows-I) then 'PC and Devices' then 'PC Info'. If is encrypting then a message will appear here. There is also a Device Encryption icon which appears in Control Panel
  • I later went back into the BIOS and removed the Supervisor password. (Just enter a blank one and it asks if you want to clear it.

So I now have encryption enabled on my device, so my data should be safe if I lose it. :)

There's more info on the Windows 8.1 Device Encryption here if anyone's interested:Help protect your files with device encryption - Windows Help
 

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DavidY

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#5
To answer another comment elsewhere:
I know as much about it as I do about WIMBoot. I've seen one or two posts on WIMBoot. I think there was a post on it in the News section a while ago too. Basically you boot from an image file. It saves hard drive space when its at a premium. You've likely researched it more than I have. There must be way to update the image? That PC does Windows updates doesn't it?
Here's a shot of how that WIMBoot (assuming that's what it is) looks in Disk Management. Note there are only 3 partitions (the 4th one is an SD card which is inserted). The main system drive is a GPT disk.
DiskManager.png

And yes it does do Windows Updates - it had a lot to download when new, just like all other new PCs I've come across.
 

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#6

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DavidY

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#7

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#8
Have a look at this;
Windows Image File Boot (WIMBoot) Overview > https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn594399.aspx
Create WIMBoot Images > https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn621983.aspx

EDIT: Lots of info there, not sure I understand all of it though?
Me neither!

If I had time to spare I'd be quite tempted to try and make a Windows 10 version (in a VM) though. It may not work but I'd probably learn something.
I don't have a device that uses WimBoot so reading up on it is likely as far as I'll get. ;)
 

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Slartybart

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#9

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DavidY

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#10
Thanks for that.

Assuming it's accurate, it does confirm the problem I had with the Media Creation tool (which I mentioned over on the tutorial thread), because the 'with Bing' (aka CoreConnected) version isn't offered for download, and the key doesn't work with Core.
One thing we do know is that these new SKUs require new keys, CoreConnected can’t be activated with a Core serial and ProfessionalStudent can’t be activated using a Pro key.
 

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#11
Hi everyone.

I have a Tesco Connect tablet and the flash drive got completely corrupted and messed up the OS and the recovery partition. Does anyone know where I can download the drivers for this tablet?
I've installed Win 8 32bit from a USB drive but for starters I really need wifi and touch screen drivers,

Any help would be great.

Thanks.
 

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DavidY

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#12
I'm not sure where to download them, to be honest. I've looked before and Tesco seem to have abandoned these. :(

I can fire mine up later on this evening and list the drivers mentioned in Device Manager, which might help?
 

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SIW2

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#14
Strange, the tesco page appears for a second, then redirects to another, which never appears.

@David,
Why not post the drivers up in a zip file?
 

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DavidY

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Strange, the tesco page appears for a second, then redirects to another, which never appears.

@David,
Why not post the drivers up in a zip file?
Hi SIW2

Thanks for the suggestion, although I'm not 100% sure of the technique on how to extract them from my device? I think I may need guidance from one more expert than I am!

Is this the command I should be using?
Code:
Dism /online /Export-Driver /Destination:{myFolder}
And how would blodbraken install them again?

Thanks
 
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DavidY

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Awesome thanks! That info should get me up and running.
You might find that the drivers are tricky to find though. I looked for a couple and couldn't find them on a manufacturer's site, and although many sites on the web claim to offer drivers, I'm never sure which are safe to use.

It might be worth posting a thread over in the Drivers and Hardware section of the Forum, as people there may know of good sources.

Alternatively if I knew how to save the drivers as suggested by SIW2, I could take copies from mine.
 

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#19
I've had no luck finding any drivers after updating to windows 10 and forgetting to make a backup of the original drivers. Can anyone help me out, i've got no sound or touch on the screen. Thanks
 

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#20
I've had no luck finding any drivers after updating to windows 10 and forgetting to make a backup of the original drivers. Can anyone help me out, i've got no sound or touch on the screen. Thanks
You haven't filled in your system specs or even mentioned what make and model of PC you have? That makes it a bit tough don't you think? ;)
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Asus
    CPU
    AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS M4N68T-M V2 µATX Motherboard
    Memory
    8GB 4GBx2 Kingston PC10600 DDR3 1333 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Geforce GT640 2 Gig DDR3 PCIe
    Sound Card
    VIA VT1708s High Definition Audio 8-channel Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    22" LG E2242 1080p and 2 19" I-INC AG191D
    Screen Resolution
    1280x1024 - 1920x1080 - 1280x1024
    Hard Drives
    Crucial MX100 256 GB SSD and 500 GB WD Blue SATA
    PSU
    Thermaltake TR 620
    Case
    Power Up Black ATX Mid-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Stock heatsink fan
    Keyboard
    Logitech Wireless K350 Wave
    Mouse
    Logitech M570 Trackball and T650 TouchPad
    Internet Speed
    80 Mbps Down 30 Mbps Up
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    HP DVD1040e Lightscribe - External USB2

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