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My First Tablet – SmartQ 7

Today I decided to pull my first tablet out of the closet for a retrospective.

The SmartQ 7 was released in the summer of 2009 with a retail of around$250. It’s based on a 7″ (800×480) resistive touchscreen, and it ran a custom version of Ubuntu (Linux) on an 800 MHz CPU. It had a SD card slot, microphone, speakers, stylus, a kickstand, and USB Host.

It was pretty much the only cheap tablet on the market in 2009, which is why I bought one.  Remember, this was before the ereader price war, before the iPad, and before the Android tablet explosion of 2010. It was a decent device for its day.

The original firmware was based on a basic Ubuntu build with little to separate it from the standard desktop install. It wasn’t all that easy to use, and you had  to be fairly skilled as a Linux geek if you wanted to install anything or change any settings. But the later firmwares gradually fixed the shortcomings and by the time the fifth firmware (early 2010) rolled out this was a pretty good Linux tablet.

There was also optional Android and WinCE firmwares, but I never really got into them. Neither firmware worked all that well, and after seeing the Linux firmware get updates while these were ignored, I lost interest.

It shipped with an out of date version of FBReader, and it worked just fine as an ereader. BTW, FBReader released an official version for the SmartQ devices back in February 2010. It’s worth getting if you have this tablet.

I’ve reviewed this tablet before, in early 2010. It was a decent value then but I wouldn’t recommend that anyone get it now. It’s not just that Honeycomb is coming (although you can run v3.0 on a NookColor); you have so may good options now. There are a bunch of Android tablets on the US market that are cheaper and locally supported. Trust me, that matters.

The SmartQ 7 also isn’t all that capable by today’s standard. It works okay, but it’s really only as good as your ordinary $150 Android tablet. And it doesn’t have the software support that Android does.

P.S. Here’s a photo of my SmartQ 7, with the Pocketbook IQ on one side and the 7″ black Pandigital Novel on the other. It weighs only slightly more than the other 2 tablets even though it was noticeably thicker.


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monopole April 29, 2011 um 11:25 am

My first 7″ tablet was a SmartQ7 as well (I have the n770, n800, and n810). I used it constantly until I got an Archos Home Tablet 7. It was the first tablet device that really made manga readable.

There were some excellent custom firmware out for it, and other than the limited video capability it was quite capable. There are pretty good Android 2.2 implementations out for it.

The real limitation of the software was that it was effectively impossible to operate with finger touches alone, you had to use a stylus. The real advantage of Android is that everything is scaled to the footprint of a finger.

Hardware wise the SmartQ7 had the android standard features iPad still doesn’t have, USB client and OTG ports, and a SD card slot. All industry standard.

All in all an excellent tablet.

curiosity killed the.. April 29, 2011 um 5:08 pm

that reminds me nate ive been meaning to ask you is there any chance since my 7″ pandigital novel white has been unable to get those updates from pandigital themselves that i could flash some sort of Linux either Ubuntu or hell even puppy linux on this thing so i can use it for something other than reading a ebook? it frustrates me to no end knowing there’s nothing i can do about it not allowing me to update the pandigital to be an open system as it stands.

curiosity killed the.. May 3, 2011 um 12:23 am


Nate Hoffelder May 3, 2011 um 6:46 am

Whoops. I missed this.

I don’t know of any projects that are working on linux distro for the Pandigital tablets, no.

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