Over the last few years, we have seen attempts at 8-inch tablets running Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. And while there was a desire for such a device, none besides the Dell Venue 8 Pro took hold. A lot of that had to do with the OS as the presence of a Windows desktop always threw off the tablet experience.
Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile are different, however, and Alcatel OneTouch is one of the first companies to put Windows 10 Mobile on a tablet. We spent a few hours playing with the new Pixi 3 at CES 2016 and frankly, I'm stunned. This tablet was announced this morning and it is the tablet experience I think Windows users have wanted. And even better, since this has LTE 4G support you get full telephony and GPS support. That means besides using maps and messaging you can technically make calls with it (there is no earpiece, but you could use a headset or the speakerphone).
Without further ado, here is our hands-on and tour of the Alcatel OneTouch Pixi 3 with Windows 10 Mobile. You don't want to miss this one!
Alcatel OneTouch Pixi 3 with Windows 10 Mobile
- 8-inch IPS WXGA (1280 x 800) TFT 5 point multi-touch display
- 209 x 124.9 x 8.3 mm
- Three colors: white, gold and volcano black
- Windows 10 Mobile build 10586.29 with support for direct OS updates from Microsoft
- Micro SIM: GSM 850/900/1800/1900; UMTS 900/2100 MHz; LTE B1/3/7/8/20
- CPU: Quad Core 1.3 GHz Snapdragon 210 (MSM8909)
- Wifi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth 4.1
- 5MP rear camera; 2MP front-facing
- 8GB internal storage with microSD card support
- 1GB RAM
- 4060 mAh battery
- Voice call enabled, GPS
- Micro USB connector
- Headphone jack
- $199 street price
Make no mistake the specs on this thing are not high-end, but that misses the point. The Pixi 3 with Windows 10 Mobile is, for all intents and purposes, a full-fledged 8-inch phone. It's primary use, however, is a tablet with full support for all of those Windows Store apps and games, GPS mapping, Skype calls and email and the internet wherever you are in the world.
For those wondering about OTG support, Alcatel OneTouch did not know off-hand, but they did note the Android version of this tablet does support OTG, and we know Windows 10 Mobile does too, so… We'll make sure to follow up on that bit of info as we learn more. Stay tuned.
Picking up the Pixi 3 for the first time and seeing Windows 10 Mobile was certainly eye opening. At first, it was almost hilarious because my phone's OS was suddenly so big on this tablet. However, once I started to use it the Pixi 3 just made sense. Whether it was the on-screen controls, the familiar apps, the app list, or Cortana, I immediately wanted this on the couch, that train ride, on the airplane and more. And since you can adjust the text display size and enable 'Show more tiles' the experience was, even more, personal.
Alcatel OneTouch could have easily gimped this with no telephony support, but once you add in an LTE SIM this tablet becomes a great GPS navigation system for your car. Or perfect for Skype calls in the hotel room. Or just right for checking your email in between classes and more all on a roomy display.
I also had flashbacks to Dom Joly and Trigger Happy TV, but that's another story.
I was also surprised how well the Snapdragon 210 handled Windows 10 Mobile. Apps opened with no issues, and it felt smooth. Even better, Alcatel OneTouch confirmed that Windows 10 Mobile updates come directly from Microsoft, meaning this tablet and their next Windows 10 Mobile devices will be continuously updated. The Windows 10 Mobile experience is still in the early days, but it can only get better and this tablet, like all Windows 10 devices, will be part of the Windows as a Service (WaaS) paradigm.
Great price, but what about the U.S.?
Considering the Pixi 3 will sell for a flat price of $199 that is a pretty crazy deal. Alcatel OneTouch did announced immediate plans to release this device in the U.S., instead focusing on other global markets. But Alcatel OneTouch told me that the response has been so positive at CES that they are now re-thinking a U.S. launch.
Personally, I would love to see Microsoft and Alcatel OneTouch sell this direct through the Microsoft Store and eventually through U.S. carriers. If you are on board with Windows 10 Mobile for your phone than the Pixi 3 makes the perfect companion tablet. In fact, this is no different than the iPhone and iPad ecosystem that so many users buy into.
While the color scheme of Pixi 3 is more limited including white, gold and volcano black, the company is interested in possible other colors too. I told them a Windows 10 Blue or Cyan would look great, but I am interested in what you would want, so let me know in comments.
For now, the Pixi 3 with Windows 10 Mobile is slated for an April release in Europe and Latin America. However, if they see demand, a U.S. launch could happen too, so let them know you if you want one.
Alcatel OneTouch bullish on Windows 10
Finally, the other significant bit I can share is Alcatel OneTouch as a company is very excited about Windows 10 Mobile. In fact, I have now heard this bullish stance from numerous OEM partners here at CES. I am not taking the usual spiel about selling this device, but rather what is coming down the road.
Alcatel OneTouch said they will scale up Windows 10 Mobile to the high-end this year, and they are very convinced Microsoft has nailed the OS message with Windows 10. This tone differs from the one I used to hear from partners, which was a more muted 'We'll see where this goes' approach. The shift from a cautious and experimental to one of excitement is palatable here at CES. In fact, I see more doom and gloom from people here in comments than I have from manufacturers who now believe in what Microsoft is doing.
Will the market respond? I sure hope so. Using the Pixi 3 with Windows 10 Mobile made me immediately want such a device for my own personal use. Then my mind started racing with the possibilities that manufacturers could bring to the table. Intel RealSense? Xbox gaming support? Full Continuum to scale up to a larger display? Pause and think about that folks and let your imagination run.
Of course, until some of the real big names in hardware get on board for Mobile, the uphill climb will still be massive. But I see hope here, at least. Now we have to see the market response.
Windows Central will be sure to continuing covering this tablet and others in the coming months, but for now, we want to hear from you. Let Alcatel OneTouch know what you think of the Pixi 3, what you want to see next, and whether they should bring this to the U.S. I assure you, they'll be reading your comments, so let's have at it.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.