John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Coby Internet table 7015

I last played with an Android table back in Sept and reviewed it then. The device was cheap and felt so but quite usable in spite of Android 1.5. The biggest limitation of the device was the very unresponsive resistive touch screen. It was virtually impossible to type on.

A friend bought this device so I had a chance to play with it. So I bought one. It is quite a solid device. Reasonably heavy. Seems well built. The back of the device is metal! It even comes with a nice carrying case. So far it is impressive. I bought it from Dell but it is also available from Tigerdirect and a few other places.

One of the first things I had to find was a Reset button that is on the back of the device, completely hidden by the carrying case.

Coby on their web site have a Firmware upgrade for the device but from what I can see give you little help in figuring out what to do with it. Pressing power and the front button (home) and holding them at power on takes you to a recovery screen that allows you to install the firmware update. As usual be sure your battery is charged and better you are connected to AC. Upgrade takes less than 5 minutes. You might as well update it right away because it wipes the device.

These Android tablets are all trying to be knock offs of the iPad. To this end they only put one button on the front of the screen and put the commonly used home and back buttons on the top of the device. A dumb decision made ONLY to satisfy idiots.

Another MAJOR oversight on this device is they did not put a hardware volume control on it. So when your full screen in a video you have no choice but to stop it go back to the home screen and change the volume. Very dumb.

A number of the tablets do not come with the Android Market place for some odd reason. No idea why. On this device it comes with something called Appslib. Right off the bat they screwed up and the one included in the ROM does not work. So you need to update that. Oops. There is a well documented simple procedure on the Coby web site to fix this problem. Once installed you can download apps from it. I’d prefer market place …

The device comes with a mini USB to USB plug for mounting the internal storage, (2.7GB) the microSD card and for debugging. As usual Windows does not have the device driver for the USB debugging feature to you have to find that one on your own. A common problem with Android devices. A dumb one. If Android is going to have mass appeal it has to move away from this kind of silliness. The USB plug does not unfortunately charge or even maintain the battery on the device, you use an AC adapter to do that.

It also comes with a USB host to allow you to plug in a keyboard and mouse. This plugs into the same port as the one you would connect the PC to so it’s one or the other at a time. The keyboard and mouse were auto detected without a reboot but no mouse pointer showed up. This made the mouse not all that useful. The previous device the mouse worked well. You will need a USB hub to plug in both since there is only one USB plug.

I also tried a USB flash drive formatted in FAT and it was recognized and worked perfectly. Oddly enough it showed up in the iscsi directory.

I tried a USB 2.5″ hard drive but there was not enough power for it to turn on. A powered drive might work.

I also tried plugging in my HTC Desire and mounting the flash card from it but that didn’t work either.

One of the things that is important to note is flash drives etc need to be formatted in FAT32. This creates one major issue which is that the max file size for FAT32 is 4G. This is a barrier for large movie files.

The OS load on this device is VERY light. No built in GMAIL client. So you are relegated to POP3, IMAP or exchange. No Gtalk client. No Google maps (although there is no GPS so not a big loss). There’s also no Contacts Ap. They did not even include a file manager which to me is a must. The list goes on. Suffice it to say, light load. The apps in Appslib is also light, a bad combination.

The WIFI on the device is quite good and noticeably better than the last device. In addition it easily connected to my WIFI tether off my Andorid 2.2 HTC desire which is perfect for on the go without having to endure another data plan. Something you can’t do with an iPhone. Well done Android!

The device came with a nice leather carry case that makes it look like a paper binder. It also has the ability to act as a stand for holding the device upright while you use your keyboard or watch movies etc. Clever design.

This device includes an accelerometer which allows it to detect how it is turned. A useful thing to have.

There is no bluetooth in the device which is a major limitation. A bluetooth keyboard or GPS would be nice but optimistic. Since it does support USB you might be able to use the proprietary wireless keyboards. I tried adding a bluetooth USB dongle but the bluetooth stack seems to be left off or at least there seems to be no GUI to configure it. A shame and a pretty big (but expected) limitation.

When you push and hold the power button you get a quick menu. Unfortunately the left out a reboot option. Not unusual and only a minor annoyance.

The device comes with 4G of internal storage, but it seems to make 2.7G of this available as space to act like an SD card. A waste. I wish they had left this as system storage for programs.

All of the Android tablets I have looked at have a resolution of 800×480 which is good and bad. On the good side this is the same as phones meaning programs written for phones work just fine. On the bad side this is a VERY low resolution for a 7″ display.

The unit has a mini HDMI output jack. I connected the tablet to HDMI, on my TV sees it as 1080p 30HZ. There is also a setting for 720p which also worked just fine. The picture is fairly clear and very smooth. The audio is clear but I am not sure if it was surround sound. Unfortunately plugging in the HDMI cable did not disable the on board speakers. A minor oversight. The picture is a little more white than normal and the screen compared to the tablet is a little out of adjustment. A small bit of the bottom of the screen is cut off. This is really nit picking. Overall I was quite impressed with the HDMI output.

Video playback is one thing this device does really well. Out the box it supports XVID, MP4, MKV (no MOV support) so conversion of the file is not necessary. It also seems to have enough horsepower to insure it can playback smoothly. I wanted to do some testing on hi res sources and quick ran into the problem that not everything that says it’s hi-res (for example might have 1080p or HD in the title) actually is. I found a program called Media Info that tells you exactly the resolution of the video you have and supports AVI and MKV. I was actually able to play a full 1080p video on this device ending up playing VERY smoothly. The connection to WIFI can make it a little busy from time to time causing slight jittering in the playback but this is easily overcome (disable WIFI). This can even happen as it is searching for WIFI.

So compared to a full feature smart phone this is missing a camera, GPS, bluetooth and compass.

The web browser is pretty good but does not support pinch to zoom since this is a resistive touch screen. It also does not have Adobe Flash and since this is 2.1 is not officially support.

Also missing because this is Android 2.1 is the ability to store installed cards on the SD card so the internal memory (the 1G left over after they waste memory simulating an SD card as mentioned above) is what you have to install apps. Now I must say it’s still a reasonable amount of memory.

I found Ultimate Coby guide which detailed exactly how to update it. You will need and want to do them all. Once done you get Google Aps such as market place, maps, gmail etc back. And you have a much more functional tablet.

The device even comes with a stylus and a place for it. I have not needed it so far but it’s nice to have a place for it on the device is a must or it will just get lost.

This device is flash upgradeable and there are some “cooked” (non-official) ROMs out there. As usual check to see what isn’t working before you start and remember, changing the ROM can brick the device if done wrong. So be careful. Out of the box the recovery ROM will only allow Coby signed updates. So if your burning anything else you need to replace the recovery ROM. Coby has a check to see if you have replaced the recovery ROM and puts their’s back but there is a fix out there for that too.

In summary a while back around Android 1.6 I loaned my G1 Android phone to my buddy David. His response was so appropo … he said it’s a programmers phone. I hadn’t though of it but he was right. This tablet is just like that. The device is immature. The OS load is so light and the lack of marketplace mean you HAVE to do a bit of work to make it more generally usable. They have come a long way in a short time and this device is MILES better than the last one I played with a mere 5 months ago. The inexpensive price makes it hard to pass up. It does just fine as an ebook reader and media player. Google are working on an OS upgrade to support tablets. It’ called 3.0 or Honeycomb or so the rumors go.


January 15, 2011 - Posted by | Android


  1. A major annoyance is the lack of audio volume buttons, so it’s very inconvinient to change volume during media playing.

    As a matter of fact, ext2 filesystem on SD card is mountable. However it takes a mount command “mount -t ext2 /dev/block/mmcblk0p1 /sdcard” (or something like that). Supposedly some changes are needed to enable automated mount of ext2 partition.
    So far the hacks are about mounting the ext2 partition during system boot (init.rc, install-recovery etc.), which is not ideal.

    Comment by sean | January 16, 2011 | Reply

  2. I like the durability of it with a low cost.Memory is 4G of internal storage.The color black is classic, but it has disadvantages for the average price paid out.

    Comment by pomjai | March 8, 2012 | Reply

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