Operating System: Google Android 4.0
CPU: RK2918(ARM+DSP+GPU) 1.2GHz
SDRAM: 1G DDR3
Screen Size: 9.7" TFT LCD, IPS, 10-point capacitive touch screen
Screen Definition: 1024*768 High definition
Wi-fi: USB WIFI (BlueTooth optional extra)
Sound: External stereo speaker and Built-in microphone
Cameras: 0.3mp (front) and 2.0mp (rear)
External Slots: 1x MicroSD (support up 32gb MicroSDHC)
Connectors: 1x Mini USB2.0, 1x Stereo 3.5mm earphone slot, 1x Mini HDMI, 1x OTG Port, 1x DC-IN Jack
Video Support: Max.1920*1080 MKV(H.264 HP) AVI RM/RMVB FLV WMV9 MP4
Audio Support: MP3/WMA/APE/FLAC/AAC/OGG/AC3/WAV
Picture Support: Max.8000x8000 JPEG BMP GIF PNG
Digital Data Support: 3g SIM supported
Battery: 3.7V 2760mAH
Power adapter: 110v/240v out DC 9V 2A (Some models may require plug adaptor)
So... finally I get to play with an android device that's bigger than the palm of my hand - Wicked! BUT... what to do? Seems a waste to sit and play "7 Words" on it... and "Robo Defence" was fun for an hour or two... and it doesn't have Bluetooth so I can't use it to run Skype effectively... so what DO the boffins do with their tablets?!
To find out, I had to go and ask another reviewer what he does with his iPad... his answer didn't leave me many options: "Give it to my wife, stand back, and leave her to it so I can get my laptop back!" Right... so it was time to browse the Marketplace, now rebranded as the "Google Play" app. For someone who is determined that devices such as these fall fair-square in the "tools not toys" category, that's a really off-putting name, but alas, it is what it is. So, in the end, after many hours of wandering aimlessly through a few hundred apps before I got a headache, I resorted to logging on to KIWIreviews using it via WiFi and seeing how well I could write a review using it. Not too shabby, though some issues (one known, one previously unknown) did arise.
KNOWN ISSUE: When this device is plugged in and charging, the calibration of the touchscreen wanders. This can sometime be as little as a few millimetres, but sometime it wandered quite a lot, to the point where buttons along the left edge of the screen were not where they appeared to be... meaning I pressed the PICTURE of Button A, and instead triggered Button B, a good 50 pixels away. Thus, it was decided that while the unit charges, it does so in peace. Besides which, it was well-known as far back as the mid laptop era, that using a device powered by a Lithium battery while it's on charge can seriously damage the battery, not to mention generate a lot of extra heat. Lose:Lose situation. Just Say No!
PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN ISSUE: If the unit is turned on, and is on charge, and goes into hibernation/standby mode... if left for more than 10 minutes in that state it's a flip of the coin as to whether you can turn it back on, or it crashes. I found it crashed 3 out of 5 tests... so the simple rule that comes from both of these issues: When ready to charge it, turn it off. Solves both issues, and prevents little hands playing with it while older backs are turned. (Any parent should understand that by now!)
So, could I play movies on it and pipe them out to a TV? Sure could, even though I had to buy a better player because I didn't like the one it comes with. No surprises there, you never get a unit with pre-installed "premium grade" software on it... so do your research and find a player that suits you. You might be fine with the default, so be sure to try it out before you go spending your digital coins, but don't expect much from it.
Now, this unit does have 3G/4G capabilities... but if you prefer not to have a SIM plugged in that could be stolen then it's still no problems if you have a good smartphone with WiFi and the Android O/S v2.2 of higher. Set your phone as a WiFi Access Point (or "bridge") and away you go! I would strongly suggest you have a robust data plan or bundle on the phone though. perhaps explore some of the offerings from www.2degreesmobile.co.nz as they seem to offer some pretty tidy deals. (Note: This is not a paid endorsement, and we received no remuneration in consideration of it. We are on the 2degrees network and have found their data plans to be very competitive, is all.)
The beastie comes with 16gb of storage, but can also accept a MicroSD card up to 32gb... this means there is plenty of room to store the movies you shot with it, all the pictures you took and downloaded, plus all the apps your heart could desire. I did find though, that I wasn't able to use a portable hard-drive, even with a suitable plug adaptor, because the unit wasn't able to supply a constant voltage for more than about 10 minutes. However if I used an externally-powered drive then it was brilliant! A bit of recycled polystyrene packaging, a long-bladed craft knife and some creative lateral thinking had me a neat little docking station with external keyboard (because let's face it, on-screen keyboards are NOT designed for prolonged typing!) and hard-drive, that had the tablet propped up to a good angle.
Overall, how does this compare to other, more popular devices? I have no idea to be honest. I have played with all three versions of iPad and found them to be, basically, little different from each other unless you are really driving them hard. I haven't played with many other tablets... so I think that allows me to have a fairly 'fresh' approach to this one. Would I buy one? In a hot second, if I had the money! The ability to do 2-way video chats, shoot movies at a fair resolution and have a screen that allows me to actually SEE what I am shooting, the multi-functionality of a tablet, and most importantly the ability to work on the go for short periods of time... well, it's a good investment and for the price, it's a damned fine unit. Do I think it needs more work? Ummm... yeah, a bit more still to go. Where to go? Assassin Imports is the only place I can find this unit at a decent price, so that would be my vote... and it probably will be when it comes time for me to either get a tablet or just retire.
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