Last Sunday I came across an odd little Android netbook/tablet, and like my many other gadgets I couldn’t resist buying one. Well, I’ve made similar mistakes before. Live and learn.
There are multiple problems with this device and I wouldn’t recommend that anyone get it. But when you consider it as the proverbial dancing bear, it’s rather interesting.
First things first. I must caution everyone from buying this device from Meijer (where I got mine). They sent me a used unit, not new. The box was open, the device was scuffed, and someone’s Google account was already set up. I even have access to their Yahoo email account. So this unit was not only used, it wasn’t even reconditioned before they sent it out again. Sloppy, that.
I can confirm the specs I found on Sunday (more or less). I’m not completely sure about the CPU (800MHz WM8650), but it is running Android v2.2 and it does have all the ports mentioned. The build quality is poor, much more so than any of my Android tablets. The keyboard feels okay, but the screen is mounted in a flimsy frame and is sensitive to being pushed from behind.
And I just noticed that my unit is falling apart. The base is coming apart at a seam, but luckily I managed to get it to snap back together.
The pivot hinge turns through 270 degrees. It can wobble significantly, so much so that if you’re not careful you’ll scrape the keyboard (or possibly even snap off the screen). You’ll also need to be careful how you hold it while it’s in tablet mode; hold it in the wrong spot and you can accidentally put it in sleep mode.
Though that might be a good thing; there’s no visible power button when it’s in tablet mode. But since you can press in the right spot to trigger the power button hidden beneath the screen you can wake it up.
The screen is 7″, making the keyboard awfully small. It’s not easy to type on, but it is easier than the stock on-screen KB that ships on most Android devices. It is a full KB with number and function keys. Best of all it works like one too; all the special characters are in the usual places (@,#,$, etc) so you don’t have to hunt and peck for them in the on-screen KB.
It also has a couple non-standard buttons; the Android menu and home buttons are on the bottom row on either side of the spacebar. There’s no back button on the KB, but the escape key looks to be set to work like one.
The trackpad is reminiscent of other crappy 7″ netbooks I’ve seen, but this one functions better than most. It’s tiny but it seems to be reasonably accurate.The right button is set to act as the Android menu button, while the left one behaves like you’d expect.
The best that can be said about it is that it kinda works. Yes, it runs and you can install apps. It comes with a decent suite of apps, including the basic email, web browser, calendar, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. That last doesn’t seem to want to work, unfortunately. This device also has a voice recorder, the SlideMe App Market, basic media players, and it has utilities to support a 3G dongle and the ethernet port, though I have no way to test them.
But sometimes it’s difficult to get it to wake up from sleep mode. And sometimes the Wifi refuses to work, necessitating a hard reboot. And sometimes it will run an app and sometimes it won’t. Sometimes it freezes, appears to wake up, and then goes back to sleep. And sometimes the apps crash.
It takes its own sweet time to install apps, but you can do it. Just don’t plan on running too many at once; it tends to freeze. It’s a pity the software isn’t better; it could have salvaged some value from the poor hardware.
And please note that I’ve seen all these issues after playing with it for only a day or so. That’s not a good sign.
I’m still not sure yet about the battery life, but I would estimate that you should get around 3 hours of use out of it. It should also be good for at least a couple days in sleep mode.
It doesn’t ship with Android Market, but I did figure out a way to get it to kinda work. I grabbed the vending.apk that is in the ZIP file mentioned here. None of the other apk files in that ZIP file would install, but vending did. Android Market works about as well as the rest of this device, so I guess it’s not that bad. I have managed to install a couple apps, which is more than I was expecting.
But I was not able to install Angry Birds, so I cannot run the basic test I always do.
This post ended up far longer than I intended. I’m not going to recommend this device as a serious tool, but as a toy it’s not bad.
In any case, I hope I’ve given enough details that you can make up your own mind; good luck.
- Android 2.2
- 7″ (800×480) resistive touchscreen
- 800 MHz CPU
- 256 MB RAM
- 4GB Flash storage
- microSD card slot
- 10/100 ethernet
- USB Host
- UPC: 044902055348