The Kupa X11 Lux is one of the few Windows 7 tablets to surface in recent months as most PC manufacturers sit and wait for Windows 8. Priced at $1,069, the X11 Lux is Kupa's most premium model, supporting both pen and touch input and combining an Intel Oak Trail processor with 128GB of solid-state storage. This business-friendly tablet also features a fingerprint scanner and TPM for security. Is that enough to justify the price?
Weighing 2.2 pounds and measuring 10.7 x 7.3 x 0.6 inches, the Kupa X11 is thicker than the Samsung Series 7 Slate (0.5 inches) and is 0.4 pounds heavier despite having a smaller screen. The Samsung made up for its bulk and size by offering a larger display and laptop-grade components; the Kupa X11 is thicker and heavier, and offers neither.
In addition to being hefty, the design is also uncomfortable. The dark gray plastic and squared edges may have a certain industrial-style charm, but it doesn't have the luxurious feel of brushed-aluminum or the comfortable curves of the Samsung.
Wide bezels are further widened by extending the chassis below the display. This extension is tapered for greater comfort, but it mostly just adds bulk to an already chunky design. On back of the tablet you'll find a large teardrop-shape vent, but you won't need to worry about fan noise as there is no fan.
The Kupa X11 Lux's screen isn't very bright. It registered 178 lux on our light meter, less than half that of the Samsung Series 7 Slate (398 lux). Ambient light sensing adjusts the screen brightness automatically, but the screen always seemed relatively dim.
The 10.1-inch display has 1366 x 768 resolution, which matches the display of the larger Samsung Series 7 Slate and is a common resolution among tablets of this size. Watching the rowing race from "The Social Network," colors looked natural with rich saturated tones. In the film's many low-lit scenes, however, details were often lost in shadow and dark colors muddied.
We also weren't thrilled with the glass surface. At times, glare and reflections made it difficult to clearly see the display. The viewing angles offered on the X11 are also rather narrow. Even at a slight tilt, the colors would begin to invert, creating a negative effect.
Despite two relatively large speakers at the bottom of the tablet, audio was barely passable. While we could make out movie dialogue with the volume turned up fully, Trent Reznor's superb soundtrack was often barely noticeable, and sounded like background noise. Listening to "The World Has Turned and Left Me Here" from Weezer's Blue Album, the speakers provided tinny sound with almost no bass. The speaker placement may also be a problem; if you rest the tablet against a pillow or your stomach, the sound is muffled almost completely.
The Kupa X11's capacitive touch screen allows two touch points at a time, allowing simple gesture control such as zooming and rotating images, but little else. The capacitive screen was fairly responsive, executing gestures with only a little lag. Kupa tries to compensate for Windows 7 touch-unfriendliness with oversize icons on the desktop, but selecting small menu items or files from a list was an exercise in frustration. We accidentally selected the files above or below the ones intended, even after calibrating the digitizer.
Kupa does offer a stylus to use with the X11 in order to alleviate the fat finger effect, but like the Samsung Series 7 Slate, there is no built-in storage or tethering for the pen. Both finger and stylus inputs are enhanced by the fact that the capacitive touch screen offers pressure-sensitive input.
Screen rotation is automatic, but slow -- taking as much as two seconds -- and often inaccurate. Turning the tablet 90 degrees was often sufficient to confuse the X11 Lux, with the auto-rotate function flipping 90 degrees in the wrong direction. Holding the tablet at anything but an upright angle also seemed to confuse the slate, causing random rotations, or failing to register rotation at all.
The X11 Lux comes with a digital pen that comes in handy for everything from filling out forms and taking notes to drawing. The pen is pressure sensitive, so in an included app like ArtRage 2.6 you'll be able to create thinner or thicker lines based on how hard you press down. When writing in Windows Journal, the inking was smooth and responsive, and the X11 Lux exhibited good palm rejection. It's just a shame that you can't dock the pen in the slate itself.
The keyboard used is the standard Windows on-screen keyboard, which is serviceable, but not fantastic. The buttons respond slowly when typing, and it's really best suited to entering Web addresses and short messages rather than typing longer documents. The Swype keyboard on the Samsung Series 7 Slate is much more intuitive.
User Interface and Apps
With an Atom processor, the Kupa X11 is limited to running the 32-bit version of Windows 7 Professional. Where many tablets add a custom interface over Windows to improve the touch experience, Kupa has instead tweaked Windows itself, with oversize icons on the desktop and widened scroll bars. However, these enhancements pale in comparison to the Series 7 Slate's Touch Launcher, which makes it much easier to run apps using nothing but your finger.
Unlike tablets running iOS or Android, the Kupa X11 Lux has no app store. Instead, the tablet accesses software used by any standard Windows PC, along with Web apps and desktop widgets.
Along the right-hand edge of the Kupa X11 Lux you will find two USB 2.0 ports, a mini-HDMI port, a headset jack combining headphones and mic, and a power input. A SIM card slot opens up the possibility of 3G mobile broadband (and voice calling), and Kupa has unlocked the device so that it will work with any compatible SIM card. On the bottom of the tablet are two switches, one to toggle the 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connection and Bluetooth 2.1, and the other to toggle mobile broadband. An integrated fingerprint reader and TPM chip add easy-to-use security.
The Kupa X11 Tablet features a rear-facing 3MP camera for shooting still photos and video, and a front-facing 2-MP camera for video chat. Though it has lower resolution, the front-facing camera produced much clearer images, with bright colors but noticeably grainy pictures and video. The rear-facing camera had significant problems, producing shadowy images in all but a brightly lit room. These images were especially grainy.
All the more frustrating, the Web Cam app included on the tablet caused the X11 to freeze up in two instances. In one case, we were not only unable to take a picture, but had to restart the tablet completely.
The Kupa X11 tablet uses a 1.7-GHz Intel Atom Z690 processor paired with 2GB of RAM. Comparing the Oak Trail-powered Kupa X11 to the Sandy Bridge-equipped Samsung Series 7 Slate, with its 1.6-GHz Intel Core i5 2467M, is like comparing a netbook to a desktop replacement laptop. The Kupa X11's Geekbench results confirm this delta with a score of 819, well below the average score for netbooks; and a PCMark 07 score of 892 is equally low. Not surprisingly, the Series 7 Slate blows past the Kupa X11 in every performance test, scoring 2,053 in Geekbench, for instance.
The X11 Lux is equipped with a 128GB solid-state drive (SSD), which allowed it to complete the LAPTOP File Transfer test in 1 minute 55 seconds, copying nearly 5GB of mixed-media files at a rate of 44.2 MBps. That showing is better than your typical hard drive but well behind the 67.8 MBps of the Samsung Series 7 Slate. That same drive makes for speedy wake times, but it still has a boot time of 1:23, about a minute longer than the Series 7 Slate. Kupa has taken a cue from Intel's Ultrabooks, and encourages hibernating the tablet instead of fully shutting down, touting speedy resume times and up to 30 days of standby time on a single charge.
The Kupa X11 fell even further behind on our OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, where it crawled through at 31 minutes 56 seconds. The Samsung Series 7 Slate, on the other hand, completed the test in 12:45, which still lags behind the ultraportable laptop category average by 4:18. Bottom line: you wouldn't want to use the X11 Lux for anything other than basic productivity chores.
With an Intel Atom processor and integrated Intel GMA 600 graphics, we weren't expecting much in the way of graphics performance, but we were still disappointed. The Kupa X11 was unable to even run 3DMark 06. The Samsung Series 7 Slate, on the other hand, not only ran the test, but scored 1,642 points.
The Kupa X11 is sufficient for rendering Web pages and video, but not much more than that. Gaming is also out of the question. Compare this to the integrated graphics capabilities of the Samsung's Core i5 processor, and it's little wonder that the Series 7 Slate was able to run "World of Warcraft," albeit at an unplayable 13 frames per second.
The Kupa X11 has a leg up on the Samsung and other Windows tablets in one key area, battery life. The X11 lasted 7 hours 32 minutes in the LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing via Wi-Fi), outlasting the Series 7 Slate (5:49) by 1:43, and the average tablet by about half an hour.
Software & Warranty
The Kupa X11 comes with several programs pre-installed, but you won't find much in the way of trialware, because Kupa has instead chosen a combination of full programs, like Microsoft Word 2007 and Microsoft OneNote, and freeware, like Daum PotPlayer, a media player hailing from Korea. Instead of a 30-day trial of security software, Kupa provides Microsoft Security Essentials. The one sample you'll find on the Kupa X11 is a trial version of ArtRage 2, a paint program included to show off the screen's pressure-sensitive touch input. It works best with the included pen.
Kupa backs the X11 Lux Tablet with a one-year warranty covering parts and labor.
There are three configurations of the Kupa X11 available, distinguished by the SSD size and availability of 3G mobile broadband. The base model, the X11 Classic, sells for $799 and boasts a 64GB SSD but is Wi-Fi only. The Kupa X11 Pro ($899.00) adds a SIM card slot for 3G, while the $1,069 Kupa X11 Lux (the model reviewed here) offers 3G and a larger 128GB SSD.
Kupa America has informed us that all three models of the Kupa X11 tablet will be available with Windows 8 this fall. When we tested the Kupa X11 Lux with the Windows 8 Consumer Preview, we saw minor improvements in performance and boot time, but it remains to be seen how the tablet will perform with the final build.
Kupa is hardly a household name, but the X11 Lux tablet has some things going for it, including long battery life and fairly accurate pen input. However, the bulky design and relatively dim screen give us pause. For just $30 more, we prefer the Samsung Series 7 Slate. It offers a faster Core i5 processor, a smaller but faster 64GB SSD and a larger, brighter display in a lighter package, not to mention a more touch-friendly interface. But if you want longer endurance and a quieter design, the X11 Lux is worth a look.