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Android tablet

Well after reviewing the tablets that were available at the time my buddy Lance and I selected one. What made this one different was bigger battery, faster processor and TV out. The price was $139 so not a huge risk. What Lance wanted it for was a glorified picture frame, some web browsing and maybe movies. Personally I wanted to look at it from a more general point of view, but at least I got to play thanks to Lance!

By the way, this segment of the market is moving fast and furious. Deal Extreme now has Android 2.x models as well as 8″ screens and more. I highly recommend you get one with at least Android 2.0 and 2.2 if you can. The improvements in 2.2 are HUGE.

Let’s level set, this is a cheap chinese iPad knockoff. There now we can move on 🙂

Here are the specs:
Operating System: Google Android 1.6
Processor: Samsung S3C6410 CPU Frequency: 667MHz
Ram: 256MB DDR Flash: 1GB
External memory: Support micro SD/TF card up to 32GB
Display: 7″ TFT LCD with resistance screen touch
Resolution: WVGA 800*480-pixel resolution
Touch Control: Full size touch operation, sliding menu, functional icon dragging
Orientation Sensors: With accelerometer, automatic steering display screen
Network: IEEE802.11b/g Wi-Fi network connection
Microphone: Built-in Speaker: Built-in 1 speaker
Slots: 1 * TF card (support up to 32G)
1 * 3.5mm earphone
1 * OTG
1 * USB Host
1 * TV Out
1 * Power supply
Software: Google Browser, Google Maps, iReader, MSN, QQ and so on
Language: Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously
Battery: Built-in 3000mAh Lithium battery
Input/Output Adapter: Input: 100-240V (EU plug)
Accessories: 1 * AC power adapter
1 * USB data cable
1 * USB host cable
1 * English user manual
Manufacturer’s Warranty: – 12 Months excluding physical damages (see specifications for terms and details)

From what we can tell the unit is made by Parkly

The unit got shipped quickly but got stuck in customs for over 7 days. I think they were playing with it. When I got it the unit had been opened and there were access points on the list. Not sure what all they did and why … This caused some issues in that the battery had not been properly cycled and the initial setup was already run messing up the device. The device for some odd reason ignored the software factory reset and I was not able to get it back to the setup screen.

Out of the box the unit is very much an iPad knock off. Too much so in fact. More about that later. Size is good and weight is good. This is definitely the right size for me. A 5″ would be too small and anything bigger would be too big. The unit is 100% plastic. This will in no way be durable and likely will break on first drop.

The plug for the power adapter on this unit is barely adequate and does not make good contact with the device. I suspect it does not have enough juice to run the unit and charge a fully drained unit. The cable on it is also too short. They recommend that you completely charge the unit before first use and it really is necessary for Android to get a handle on the the battery. Otherwise it shuts down unexpectedly and the battery gauge is inaccurate. Interestingly enough the size they chose for adapter is such you can plug into a number of wrong places. Including audio connector 🙂

Processor on the device is quite adequate and returns reasonable battery life. Given the HUGE 3000mAH battery this should last a while.

Memory on the device is good leaving lots of room for programs without having to resort to hacking such as Apps2SD.

Sounds quality is adequate on music playback and movies too.

Display quality is adequate and can be seen somewhat in direct sunlight. This display isn’t winning any awards. Put this next to my Nexus One and your going to be sadly disappointed.

The number one problem with this device is the screen. The only way you have to interface with this device is a touch screen. For keyboard for browsing, everything. There’s no D-pad, no trackball, no hope of bluetooth keyboard (unit does not have bluetooth) nada. So what this means is you are VERY dependent on the touchscreen to enter anything. This unit’s touch screen is terrible. It is inaccurate and insensitive. Typing anything on this screen is an act of EXTREME patience. Not that I have much to begin with 🙂 Dragging and swyping require a fair bit of pressure on the screen making these challenging operations. I would frequently select something when I was trying to drag or swype.

The unit includes a USB host plug which can be used to add a USB keyboard and mouse. I used a USB hub to connect both and it worked welll. It did take a reboot to get recognized but once there it worked fine. I tried a USB bluetooth dongle and it did not seem to work. I tried a USB flash stick but that also did not work. The drive may have been there but not mounted I am by no means an Android guru and no command prompt is available by default. In addition the device is not rooted limiting what you can do.

Android assumes a number of buttons: menu, home, back and power. In their pursuit of making this look as much as possible like an iPad they made bad decisions. The Home and menu are on the top of the unit and you have to remember which is which. The back button is nicely on the front but there is no power button. After a lot of frustration I discovered long pressing the back button powers the unit off. But I think it’s an abrupt power off versus a gentle shutdown. By the way a long press on the back button during power on turns it back off? Huh?

The unit NEVER goes to sleep, the screen stays on. This is silly. They need to add some software shortcuts to be able to shutdown the unit at the very least.

Software load is VERY light. Almost nothing on the unit. The good thing is the marketplace provides you with almost anything you need, and a lot of it free. I had a lot of trouble getting the market place to reliably download programs. I still don’t know why. Google contacts and calendar are syn’d with the device but they did not include the programs to interface with contacts and calendar. No idea why. At least the contacts are there for use in emails and the like.

The device does include a program for handwriting recognition but without a stylus and with the poor responsiveness of the screen this is totally useless. I tried it with a stylus and it was reasonably ok for capturing doodling and scribbling. Not sure how you would convert that to text if you wanted to.

Google maps is included but when you install the update it thinks it is a new program and you end up with two Google maps on the device. Huh? The good thing is it gives you google places and Navigation (not that that’s useful without a GPS).

There is no GPS, and no bluetooth on this device. This means location aware programs are blind. Too bad these are one of my favorite categories of programs.

WIFI seemed weak to me dropping connections while my laptop had no trouble. This may mean you need to bring an access point closer to you …

The mini USB plug can be used to mount the microSD card to your PC for copying stuff on and off. It does however not charge the unit. So your tied to the included inadequate charger. No options.

The orientation sensor on the device does not work or the OS ignores it. Some programs that insisted on portrait layout such as facebook would rotate just fine, but overall the layout of this device is landscape.

MicroSd support was simple and trouble free.

All in all the unit is exactly what it is suppose to be an iPad knock off. It’s fine for watching movies (forget DIVX the processor is too slow, I converted to iPod formated MP4s), playing music, surfing the web (no flash support this requires Android 2.x), and reading books. The Kindle reader for Android works just fine.

This is a frst cut at the review for the unit. I will update it as I live with it.

Deal Extreme

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September 24, 2010 - Posted by | Android, Electronic gadget reviews

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