(Part 2) Android Tablet – Initial Impression

Yesterday you may have read about the unboxing of my newest toy – a 7 inch Android Tablet – that I picked up for R700,00 shipped (was on special).

Today’s post is about my initial impression of the device.

The reason for me buying this Tablet , besides the price, was that I wanted to have a Tablet that:

  1. I could use to read EBooks on (eg. Kindle alternative),
  2. Use to view PDF books on,
  3. Be able to watch the occasional YouTube or video clip on,
  4. Maybe use for notes in meetings instead of a laptop,
  5. Play the occasional game or Skype/Fring on,
  6. See what the fuss is with the growing tablet craze…

Size and Build Quality:

The Tablet is made of plastic and is 19.85cm × 12.7cm × 1.68cm in size and weighs 750g.  There are no screws and it looks like that one has to remove the protective screen covering the LCD screen (no doubt held in place with strong double sided tape) to get to the internals – please note I have no intension to perform a teardown on the device anytime soon.

The back cover is a silver matt colour, and there is no pattern on it to hide scratches or marks, I fear that with age it will show scratches and marks like the iPod Touch’s back plate.  I am considering ordering a sticker of sorts to enable some sort of protection for it.

The display panel in front is also plastic, and not glass like the iPad/iPod Touch and Samsung Galaxy Tab.  This is no doubt to make it more responsive on the resistive touch screen…more about that later.

 

It is comfortable to hold upright in one hand, and the position of the MENU and VOL+ and VOL- switches on the top right side of the device are positioned comfortably enough to use the in the Kindle app to turn the pages with.  Turning it horizontally obviously gives it a wider viewing area and I tended to use it more in this position than vertically.

Device is light enough to hold and balance in one hand while using it like an E-Reader.

Display:

The G-Sensor is very sensitive and while laying in bed using the device I found it would want  flip the screen between vertical and horizontal at the slightest whim.  Loading the app Quick Settings I was able to turn the auto rotation on and off, the only problem (maybe for some) is that it locks it in horizontal view – will look for app that allows vertical locking.  The transition between vertical and horizontal takes about a second or three depending on what app you currently have open

The biggest thing to remember is that the touch function is resistive type. As a user of a HTC Desire as my primary phone, the screen on the HTC Desire reacts to ones finger tips, if you use a finger nail or stylus the HTC Desire does not respond.  The Tablet is exactly opposite. You need to use your nail or stylus for it to react. The first time it used the device I thought that there was something wrong with the screen 😕  then I tried my nail and immediately it responded.

I tend to keep the protective film on electronic equipment as long as I can, and then promptly replace it with a screen guard. With the film still on the screen (air bubbles and all) it is responsive to tapping, so I will not be ripping it off anytime soon.

One thing I did notice about the display is that it’s rendering of shades was not that great and tended to display it as “grainy” areas where the colours were shaded.  This is obviously noticeable if  you reading an E-Magazine more than if you are reading an E-Book.

Battery and Power:

Like I said, unfortunately they shipped a US plug instead of the European round type that I asked, but luckily I had an Ellis charger that could charge the device up.

To power up you need to hold the power switch in for  about 4 seconds and the device will vibrate and start booting. Just pressing it in (no vibrate) its off state makes the green LED come on and then turn off again and the device stays off.

Charging takes typically about 4 hours and then using the device non-stop on WiFi I was able to get 2 1/2 hours usage out of the device.

The battery icon on the status bar at the top of the screen SUCKS!  It shows “full” until about 3 minutes before the device warns about battery level and then a minute later the Tablet switches off.  I want to download Battery Gauge Widget that I use on the HTC Desire so that I know what it really is…

If the battery has little charge you cannot boot the device 😥  and unfortunately you cannot charge it via USB neither.  If the battery is flat you charge till at least 10% and then you can use it.

Connectivity:

The device only has WiFi, no GPS or Bluetooth, and for me that is fine.  If I am not at home I can always use my HTC Desire HotSpot functionality if I really want to browse the internet on the tablet. I cannot remember when last I used Bluetooth, and for GPS I can use one of the 3 dedicated units I have.

The WiFi connectivity is not as bad as some reviews have stated, I get 3 bars signal strength in my bedroom with the router that is 2 walls and 2 cupboards away.

The one area where connectivity does bother me is the USB Transfer Box that comes with the device.  It’s connector is very thing and I can just see how one day it will bend and break off. Luckily it will only be used when I need to connect a USB device to the Tablet or a RJ45 network cable.   I will however put it on my “To Purchase” list if I can find a spare somewhere online.

The TF-Card slot is easily accessible to insert and remove MicroSD cards.  I put a 8Gb one in and it reads the full capacity without issue.

Interface:

The device does not support the Google Market, however there are ways to get around this (see Part 3 – Software). Overall the interface is pleasant to use and finger nail friendly.  Typing on the on-screen keyboard is obviously easier in horizontal display mode over vertical, but is still very usable in the vertical mode thanks to the size of the screen (I would hate to use a resistive touch display on a 4.3 inch screen).

The launcher that they use is nifty and the MENU and BACK and VOL+ and VOL- are always displayed on the status bar on the top of the screen.  To add items to the home screen or launcher all you need to do is go into the Application Menu and then press and hold the app you want to add and then when the Home Screen shows just move it to where you want it.

Summary:

For the price I paid I cannot complain about not being able to access the Google Market.  I primarily wanted to get a tablet so that I could use it as an E-Book Reader, and it will no doubt be performing this task adequately going forward.  Would I buy another one? Most probably one for my wife yes, but I first want her to give it try.

This tablet will tide me over nicely no doubt until I order and get a HTC Flyer Tablet 😆

MadMike posted at 2011-4-23 Category: Android

One Response Leave a comment

  1. #1Phyllis Brown @ 2012-12-4 23:44 Reply

    Have you found anywhere to buy a new transfer box yet. My son is looking for one. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind Regards.

    Phyllis

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