Alcatel wants its new 17.3-inch Xess tablet to be a multipurpose hub for the family, providing recipes in the kitchen, films in the living room, and a digital whiteboard for to-do lists and upcoming events. However, the severely underpowered Android device doesn't seem to be capable of entertaining even a single individual, let alone a whole household. The device has a fine 1920 x 1080 display, but an unspecified 1.5 GHz processor and 2GB of RAM mean that even swiping through pages of apps becomes a chore as icons are dragged slowly across the screen. Alcatel has stressed that the Xess is still a prototype at this stage, but it's in need of some serious upgrades.
Carrying the Xess feels like lugging a monitor around
The tablet certainly aims at functionality, with a multi-position stand that can angle the screen at 75, 50, or 30 degrees (for watching videos, cooking, and drawing, says Alcatel). There's also a stylus and carrying handle built into the back, as well as a pair of USB ports that pop cleverly out of the rear circular hub. However, neither stand nor handle feel particularly solid, and both are awkward and stiff to position. Plus, the weight of the device means that carrying it feels like you're lugging a monitor not a tablet around.
The display itself supports 10-point multitouch (good for multiplayer tablet games like Fruit Ninja), and Alcatel has also included hands-free gesture control, meaning you can wave in front of the screen for simple controls like skipping a video. In theory this allows anyone using the device in the kitchen to operate it without getting food on the screen, but the sensors aren't perfect, leading to quite a bit of handwaving. Alcatel hasn't yet announced pricing or availability for the Xess, but for most users an ordinary tablet would probably be a more sensible alternative.